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
  25-29.9.17, No. 689  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

Mongolia

^ top ^

 

Switzerland

Ai Weiwei attacks latest Chinese crackdown on free speech and sees little hope Communist Party Congress will bring changes (SCMP)
2017-09-25
Ai Weiwei denounced China's crackdown on lawyers and free speech on Wednesday adding that he had little hope that the upcoming Communist Party Congress would lead to more freedoms. The dissident artist spoke while inaugurating an exhibition in the Swiss city of Lausanne that includes some of his political works symbolising repression. "They are not accepting what we call common values such as democracy and freedom of speech and the freedom of religious practice and independence of the press or independence of a judicial system or people having the right to vote," Ai told a news conference. "China has been booming and become very powerful in the economic sense but at the same time it doesn't trust its own people," he said. "After 60 or 70 years in power, still its own people are not trusted to have a chance to vote." Asked about the five-yearly leadership reshuffle of the ruling Communist Party set to begin on October 18, Ai said: "You have a party that functions more like a family. It doesn't matter how many meetings they have, it's always closed-door. "So there's no trust remaining in society." Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that China has launched more rigorous investigations into rights lawyers and law firms that take on politically sensitive issues. Ai, who lives in Berlin but returns to China regularly, voiced concern about two friends who are human rights lawyers "ruthlessly put in jail" for five and 10 years, respectively. "So the danger is there but I have no fear for myself because I have been through everything and what I have done is not for myself. It's for my father's generation and my son's generation," the 60-year-old said. The exhibition It's Always the Others, will be on view at the Cantonal Fine Arts Museum in Lausanne until January 28, and brings together 46 works made in wood, jade, porcelain, bamboo, and silk, along with photographs and videos. Dragon in Progress, a 50-metre-long bamboo and silk kite hung from the ceiling, transforms a traditional symbol of Chinese imperial power with quotes from imprisoned or exiled activists including Nelson Mandela, Edward Snowden and Ai. A marble sculpture, Surveillance Camera with Plinth, depicts a camera set up outside his Beijing studio. "I'm a free man, that means I can go and come back. Which is fine. They kept their promise, they didn't touch me. "But of course when a state is not really ruled by law you can see that anything still can happen at any moment because it's unpredictable, you're not protected by law." ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

How Chinese cash shores up Myanmar's Rakhine state, despite international condemnation of Rohingya crisis (SCMP)
2017-09-28
Battered by global outrage over an army crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, Myanmar has found comfort in an old friend – China, whose unflinching support is tied to the billions it has lavished on ports, gas and oil in violence-hit Rakhine state. Close to half a million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in the last month after a militant attack sparked a vicious military campaign that the UN has called "ethnic cleansing". China – which was expected to speak on Thursday at a UN Security Council meeting on the crisis – has fallen out of step with much of the world in condemning the army-led crackdown. "We think the international community should support the efforts of Myanmar in safeguarding the stability of its national development," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said earlier this month. That support was far from unexpected from an ally who ploughed cash into Myanmar even as its economy choked under a half-century of military rule and US sanctions. Most of those sanctions were rolled back in 2014 as a reward for democratic elections. But those freedoms meant little to Beijing anyway. Between 1988 and 2014, China invested more than US$15 billion in the junta-run country, according to its official Xinhua news agency, mostly in mining and energy. It also propped up the pariah military regime with weapons. "They have a few major economic projects under way with the Myanmar government," said Sophie Boisseau du Rocher, Southeast Asia expert at the French Institute for International Relations. That includes a planned US$9 billion deep-sea port and economic zone in Kyaukpyu, south of the epicentre of the recent violence, by Beijing's massive CITIC investment group slated for 2038. China has already pumped money into the restive state. In April this year, a US$2.45 billion pipeline from Rakhine to China's Yunnan province opened, securing a key route for Beijing to import crude from the Middle East. That same month, Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose 'Belt and Road Initiative' strategy aims to hook in China's neighbours with huge trade and infrastructure projects, rolled out the red carpet for his Myanmar counterpart Htin Kyaw in Beijing. Rakhine, a vast area of farmland, coast and offshore gas reserves, has been roiled by communal violence for decades, pitting ethnic Rakhine Buddhists against Rohingya Muslims – labelled illegal "Bengali" immigrants by many in Myanmar. Clashes erupted last October when the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) carried out deadly attacks on unsuspecting border police. The militants attacked again on August 25, prompting an army crackdown that has forced some 480,000 Rohingya to flee into Bangladesh in the past month. Swathes of land have been abandoned with scores of Rohingya villages burnt to the ground allegedly by the Burmese army and Rakhine mobs. "The land freed by the radical expulsion of the Rohingya might have become of interest to the military and its role in leading economic development around the country," said Saskia Sassen, sociology professor at Columbia University. "Land has become valuable due to the China projects." The government said this week it would manage all fire-damaged land in Rakhine for "redevelopment" purposes, without elaborating. It is not clear what that might mean for the masses of Rohingya who have been pushed into Bangladesh over the past month – with questions looming about how or when they could return. Despite its natural resources, Rakhine is one of Myanmar's poorest states – some 78 per cent of the population live below the poverty line, nearly double the national average. Ethnic Rakhine, who remain deeply suspicious of the motives of Myanmar's Bamar majority, have seen scant benefits from increased investment in the area. There is also discomfort among the public with Chinese influence across Myanmar. "These massive Chinese projects in Rakhine state have deeply upset local populations who have not seen any positive fallout," said Alexandra De Mersan, Rakhine expert and researcher at the French School of Oriental Studies (Inalco). An August report by a government-backed commission on Rakhine's troubles, led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, echoed alarm about who is really benefiting from investments in the area. "Profit tends to be shared between Naypyidaw and foreign companies, and as a consequence, local communities often perceive the government as exploitative," the report read. But Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said that development is a top priority for the region, even as rights groups have warned against investing in Rakhine. "We have been continuing with our socio-economic development programmes in Rakhine," she said last week in her first national address since the latest crisis erupted. ^ top ^

China calls for patience with situation in Myanmar's Rakhine (Xinhua)
2017-09-28
A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Thursday called for patience with the situation in Myanmar's Rakhine State. "The question of Rakhine State is rooted in a nexus of complex historical, ethnic and religious factors. Many of the differences and antagonisms have been building up over a long time. There is no quick fix," Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council. China condemns the recent violent attacks in Rakhine State and supports Myanmar's effort to keep its domestic situation stable, he said. "We sincerely hope that order will prevail again as soon as possible so that no more harm will come to the innocent civilians, and so that social stability, unity among ethnic groups and economic development in Myanmar will be sustained." He asked the international community to view the difficulties and challenges confronting the Myanmar government "through objective optics," exercise patience, and provide support and help. "A viable solution will be one that goes in tandem with the reconciliation process in Myanmar," said Wu. China has taken note of a series of measures taken by the Myanmar government to ease tension in Rakhine and restore stability. The measures are conducive to a search for a long-term solution to the issue, he said. "As we speak, the situation on the ground is beginning to move toward stability. All parties should work constructively to help reinforce this momentum, de-escalate the situation and alleviate the humanitarian condition step by step," said Wu. China is ready to work with all parties concerned to contribute to the restoration of order and the return of peace and stability in Rakhine State, he said. China commends Bangladesh's efforts to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground and welcomes the Myanmar government's cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international bodies in humanitarian operations, said Wu. The international community should encourage dialogue and communication between Myanmar and Bangladesh so that they can properly address the mass exodus of Muslim populations seeking refuge in Bangladesh and find a once-and-for-all solution, he said. China, as a friendly neighbor both to Myanmar and Bangladesh, has been actively engaging with both countries to influence them positively and encourage them to address the issue through dialogue and consultation, he said. China has provided and will continue to provide assistance to accommodate the displaced people, he said. ^ top ^

China to offer $100m in military aid to African Union in next 5 years (Global Times)
2017-09-28
China will offer $100 million free military aid to the African Union in the next five years, a defense ministry spokesperson said. China is negotiating with the African Union to draft the implementation plan for the assistance, Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, said at a monthly briefing on Thursday. The assistance will be used to support the African Standby Force and rapid-response force, according to Wu. The aid was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in his first speech at the UN headquarters in New York City at the 70th session of the General Assembly in September 2015. During the Thursday briefing, Wu added that China has registered an 8,000-strong standby peacekeeping force at the UN, a target also mentioned in Xi's speech in 2015. The standby force will play a constructive role in maintaining world peace and regional stability, Wu added. Troops from China's ground force, navy, air force as well as its logistics force will undertake tasks such as combat readiness training and disaster relief in China before any missions overseas. As one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has dispatched the most troops on UN peacekeeping missions, and provided major funding for UN operations. Since joining UN peacekeeping operations in 1990, Chinese troops have been deployed 24 times, with over 36,000 personnel dispatched. A total of 2,506 UN peacekeepers from China are currently on missions in eight locations. ^ top ^

China registers 8,000 standby peacekeepers at UN (Xinhua)
2017-09-28
China has registered an 8,000-strong standby peacekeeping force at the UN, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MOD) on Thursday. Completed Sept. 22, it is in accordance with UN requirements for its new peacekeeping capability readiness system, said MOD spokesperson Wu Qian at a press conference. The standby force will play a constructive role in maintaining world peace and regional stability, said Wu. Troops from China's ground force, navy, air force and logistics force will undertake tasks such as combat readiness training and disaster relief in China before any missions overseas. As one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has dispatched the most troops on UN peacekeeping missions, and provided major funding for operations. Since joining UN peacekeeping operations in 1990, Chinese troops have been deployed 24 times, with over 36,000 personnel dispatched. A total of 2,506 UN peacekeepers from China are currently on missions in eight locations. ^ top ^

Time for peaceful US-China coexistence (Global Times)
2017-09-28
General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress Tuesday that "China probably poses the greatest threat to our nation by about 2025," during a hearing on his re-appointment for the position. "China is focused on limiting our ability to project power and weakening our alliances in the Pacific," he said. Meanwhile, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who visited the Chinese mainland this week, attacked China's fast-growing robotics industry on Wednesday in Hong Kong. He has previously warned that the "Made in China 2025" plan is an "attack" on "American genius." Although the China threat theory is nothing new in Washington, recently the tone has been used by more higher-level US officials in a harsher and more specific way. China is working in its own way to improve its strength in key areas and at a pace commensurate with economic development. We neither turn our progress into head-on competition with the US nor challenge the US development mode and pace. Thus the logic of the US rebuking China threats often seems strange in Chinese society. It took a long time for Chinese to basically figure out the US logic, but we still think this unreasonable view of China's development as threatening the US is hardly acceptable. We feel it unjust that Americans consider their development mode unquestionable and find fault with the Chinese one. Of course Chinese companies differ from American companies. Our two societies operate in different ways. Chinese always bring up the philosophy of win-win cooperation with which Chinese civilization has endured throughout its long history of cultural convergence. But this is hardly understandable to Americans, probably because Western civilization always believes in absolute conquest or even the uprooting of the other side. It's an unstoppable trend that China will catch up with the West in multiple areas. If the US government and its successors spend too much energy impeding China's modernization, then they will find they are heading in a wrongheaded, self-defeating, dismal direction. The US needs to accept the win-win logic and work jointly with China and other powers to make the world a better place. This looks like abasement to some US elites who believe the US, stronger than other nations, should contain and crush China like it did the Soviet Union. But this approach will beget difficulties because Chinese society has much stronger cohesion than the Soviet Union. The US needs to get down to preparing for peaceful coexistence with China. The world needs to step forward into seeking win-win results rather than conquest. Otherwise the US will be confounded by every Chinese step forward and waste its time calculating how to contain China's influence throughout the 21st century. While many ordinary Americans have realized the fundamental changes that globalization has brought to the world, the US elites should take a broader view and lead their country forward. They need to buy a new compass and try to see the world in three dimensions, not simply shadow every move China makes and declare it a threat. ^ top ^

Trump says enhancing people-to-people exchange with China extremely important (Xinhua)
2017-09-28
U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that it is extremely important to strengthen people-to-people exchange with China. Trump made the remarks when meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong in the White House. China and the United States held their first social and people-to-people dialogue on Thursday in Washington D.C., which was co-chaired by Liu and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. ^ top ^

What to watch for in Tillerson's China visit: North Korean crisis, Sino-US trade tensions (SCMP)
2017-09-28
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will arrive in Beijing this week with a full agenda, in the midst of an escalating crisis over North Korea's nuclear and missile weapons development and Sino-US trade tensions. The diplomat's second official visit to China will take place from Thursday to Sunday and pave the way for US President Donald Trump's inaugural visit to Beijing in November. Amid a difficult strategic landscape, here are some of the main points to watch for during Tillerson's trip. North Korea: Tensions on the Korean peninsula will undoubtedly play a primary role during the visit, given the ratcheting up in recent days of the rhetoric between North Korea and the US. Pyongyang has accused Trump of having "declared war" with his brashly worded tweet that stated that North Korea "won't be around much longer", dismissing leader Kim Jong-un as "Little Rocket Man." Washington also imposed additional sanctions on the reclusive authoritarian regime on Tuesday, attempting to slow North Korea's nuclear and military weapons programmes after its sixth and largest nuclear test earlier this month. Tillerson will likely repeat the need for China and the US to work together to restrain North Korea's nuclear ambitions and temper further escalation. Trump's first state visit to China: Trump is expected to make his inaugural state visit to China in November, around the time he will attend multilateral summits in Southeast Asia. Tillerson's visit will help lay the groundwork for this meeting, which has heightened importance given it follows the 19th Communist Party Congress, the key political gathering that reshuffles party leaders and sets policy direction for the next five years. "It makes it all the more sensitive in the sense that Trump is going to meet Xi Jinping for sure, and meet the new leadership that Xi Jinping has set up," said Sow Keat Tok, a Chinese foreign relations expert at the University of Melbourne. "The Party Congress is on Washington's radar, so part of [Tillerson's] job is definitely to find out what's going to happen." Deciphering US foreign policy: Contradictory voices on US foreign policy have been heard from Washington, with Trump sometimes undercutting statements made by other members of his administration, including Tillerson. Uncertainties about US stances have even forced North Korean officials to make sense of American policy by trying to meet with Republican-linked analysts in Washington, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday. Chinese officials may "have two minds about Tillerson," initially expecting him to be bullish as secretary of state, but later seeing him as a more reasoned voice from the administration, according to Tok. Beijing likely prefers dealing with Tillerson, even if it is "likely as confused" about US foreign policy, he said. Sino-US trade tensions: US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross met with Beijing officials on Monday, highlighting the US trade deficit with China and various trade frictions between the countries. Given these recent talks and Tillerson's broader diplomatic focus, the secretary of state may focus on other issues in the Sino-US relationship during this particular trip, according to Tok. But bilateral trade ties continue to loom large in the midst of US probes into Chinese imports and the latest investigation into Chinese intellectual property practices. Key regional issues: Tillerson's visit may also touch on other regional issues such as territorial contentions in the South China Sea. The talks may be a conduit for more coordination on regionalisation ahead of the Southeast Asia regional summits in November that Trump also will be expected to attend. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers recently endorsed a proposal for negotiations for a code of conduct in the waters for the Asean summit in the Philippines in November. Although tensions over the South China Sea have "somewhat faded into the background," Tok said, the issue nonetheless remains one of the major concerns in a potential US-China conflict. ^ top ^

Chinese human rights delegation visits Britain (Xinhua)
2017-09-28
The delegation of China Foundation for Human Rights Development (CFHRD) wrapped up its three-day visit to Britain on Thursday. The delegation, headed by Huang Mengfu, chairman of the CFHRD, visited British institutions including the British Parliament, the Bar Council and the Asia House, exchanging views with members of Parliament,experts and scholars on issues such as human rights protection and legal construction. Huang said that over the past five years, the basic rights of the Chinese people have been further protected as the economic, legal and democratic construction in China keep advancing. He stressed that as the world's largest developing country, China should uphold development as its priority. "The right to life and right to development are primary human rights for China," he said. Huang said that he believes it is normal for countries to have different views on human rights since they have different history and cultural inheritance, social system as well as development level. The British side said it is very necessary for the two countries to have communication and exchanges on issues concerning human rights, urging strengthened bilateral exchanges on the grassroots level as well as the government level in the future. ^ top ^

All nations have right to be involved in global security, Xi Jinping tells Interpol meeting (SCMP)
2017-09-27
All nations have a right to be involved in regional and global security issues, China's President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday in his speech to mark the opening of Interpol's general assembly in Beijing. "China is willing to work closely with other [Interpol] member states, international groups and institutions... and actively participate in global security governance," he said in a keynote address. Flanked by several of his top law enforcers, including party security chief Meng Jianzhu and Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun, Xi said China would also sponsor police training and tactical development under the Interpol umbrella. This would include setting up a police academy to train 20,000 law enforcement personnel for developing countries. China would also sponsor the establishment of Interpol communication systems and criminal investigation labs in 100 developing nations, he said. While the France-based agency has traditionally been dominated by Western nations – it has historically cooperated with the United Nations in which the United States has a strong influence – China has increasingly sought a more active role. "All countries have an equal right to participate in global and regional security issues," Xi said. He also said: "Countries, while maintaining their own security, should take into account other countries' security." Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has frequently called on Interpol for help in tracking down and repatriating suspects wanted in connection with crimes in China. Last year, Interpol elected Meng Hongwei, a vice-minister for public security, as head of the agency, the first Chinese national to hold the post. According to figures published by Xinhua on Tuesday, China requested Interpol issue 612 red notices – alerts sent by the agency to police authorities in member nations to tell them of criminals and crimes – in 2016 alone. On Monday, the official Legal Daily reported that in recent years the agency had issued about 200 such notices annually at China's request. Also last year, China made about 300 investigation requests through Interpol and handled more than 2,500 requests made by other countries, Xinhua said. While rights groups have raised concerns that China has attempted to use Interpol red notices to track down dissidents and political opponents, the agency's Secretary General Jurgen Stock was quoted by Reuters as saying that the organisation had "significantly increased" its vetting of red notice requests and that last year "99 per cent" of them complied with its internal regulations. Among those targeted by the system are dissidents such as Dolkun Isa, the general secretary of the Munich-based World Uygur Congress, and US-exiled pro-democracy activist Wang Zaigang. In April, Beijing also requested a red notice be issued for controversial fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui, who is wanted in China on corruption charges. Bates Gill, an expert on Chinese foreign policy at both Macquarie University and Australian National University, said it was likely that Beijing was seeking a greater role in Interpol as it has not been able to establish judicial cooperation with some countries and needed more help to track down suspects. "The problem for PRC [China] is that lots of countries don't believe in its justice system," he said. "They haven't been able to achieve the right kind of treaties and arrangements with other countries that would allow them to bring people they want back to justice." Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher at Human Rights Watch, said she was worried that China was trying to use Interpol to further its own interests. "The Chinese government is influencing these international organisations... it tries to export its world view internationally... to push for rules, changes to the rules, and to push for a world view that is more congruent to the Chinese government," she said. ^ top ^

Five trade issues the US and China need to tackle before Trump goes to Beijing (SCMP)
2017-09-26
During his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urged China to increase market access for American firms. Trade has long been a contentious issue between the world's two largest economies – especially in the wake of US President Donald Trump's efforts to boost opportunities for American workers and firms. To resolve their difficulties, the two governments negotiated a "100-day plan" in April, which included measures such as the resumption of American beef sales to China. However, there are major trade conflicts that still remain to be resolved and these are likely to feature prominently on the agenda when Trump visits Beijing in November. Trade deficit: The US trade deficit with China was US$347 billion last year – almost 1.87 per cent of total US GDP, according to the World Bank. The trade deficit exists because US exports to China were only US$116 billion compared with imports of US$463. The US has blamed the gap on China exporting cheaper goods in large quantities, benefiting from lower wages and exchange rate manipulation that helps keep down the cost of its products (see below). Market access: The US has complained that China has restricted foreign companies' access in sectors such as energy, telecommunications and cars. Chinese rules require foreign firms that want to enter these sectors to form joint ventures with local partners – and this often carries an additional benefit for the Chinese firms in the form of technology being transferred to them. Intellectual property: Beijing often insists on taking a close look at technology that foreign companies want to sell in China. This not only makes market entry more expensive for US companies but has fuelled accusations of industrial espionage. "Chinese government authorities jeopardise the value of trade secrets by demanding the unnecessary disclosure of confidential information for product approvals," according to a report released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China in April. In August Trump authorised an inquiry into accusations China was stealing US intellectual property, the first direct measure taken by his administration. According to a New York Times report that month, intellectual-property theft costs America up to US$600 billion a year, the greatest transfer of wealth in history and China accounts for most of that loss. Currency exchange rates: China's currency policies have long been a major irritant to the Americans, who have complained that Beijing is deliberately using exchange rates to make Chinese goods cheaper. China was last formally designated as a currency manipulator between 1992 and 1994, under the administrations of George HW Bush and Bill Clinton. Before his election Trump promised to do so again, and also threatened retaliatory measures such as tariffs, though he did not follow through on this after coming to office. Government subsidies: This problem is often raised during US government anti-dumping investigations into Chinese products, which are allegedly subsidised by the government, making them unfairly cheap on the US markets. The Trump administration said earlier this month that it would initiate a new anti-dumping and countervailing duty probe to determine whether stainless steel flanges from China are being dumped in the US. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy calls for political dialogue in Afghanistan (Xinhua)
2017-09-26
A Chinese envoy on Monday called for political dialogue in Afghanistan as well as international efforts to boost the country's defense capacity, governance and its integration into regional development frameworks. "Political dialogue is the only viable solution to the question of Afghanistan," Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told an open meeting of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan. "All actors in Afghanistan should put the country's long-term interests and people's welfare first and actively participate in the reconciliation process. The international community should continue to promote the realization of a broad, inclusive political settlement with Afghan leadership and Afghan ownership," said Wu. The international community should engage with all parties concerned in Afghanistan for the early launch of peace talks, he said. All political actors in Afghanistan must achieve unity and resolve their difference through dialogue and consultations, he said, adding that the international community must respect the Afghan people's will to choose their political system and development path. "Maintaining peace and stability is the basis for Afghanistan's reconstruction and economic development," he said. The international community should continue to boost the capacity of the Afghan security forces and the country's ability to defend itself so that Afghanistan can effectively respond to security threats such as terrorism, transnational crime and drug trafficking, said Wu. "Strengthening governance is an important guarantee of the peace and reconstruction process in Afghanistan," he said. The international community should provide targeted assistance to help the Afghan government improve governance. "At the end of the day, Afghan affairs should be handled by Afghans themselves." He also stressed the need for Afghanistan to be integrated into regional development frameworks. With its rich resources and geographical advantages, Afghanistan enjoys bright prospects in terms of regional cooperation, he said. China, which has always been playing a constructive role in promoting the reconciliation process in Afghanistan, will continue to support Afghanistan's security capacity development and its socio-economic development, said Wu. China is ready to work with the international community to strive for peace, stability and development of Afghanistan, said the Chinese envoy. ^ top ^

Xi, British PM discuss bilateral ties, Korean Peninsula situation over phone (Xinhua)
2017-09-26
Chinese President Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation on Monday with British Prime Minister Theresa May on bilateral ties and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. In the phone conversation, Xi recalled that during the Group of 20 summit held in July in Germany's Hamburg, he and May agreed to deepen the 21st century-oriented China-Britain global comprehensive strategic partnership and continue building the "Golden Era" of bilateral relations. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Britain at the ambassadorial level. The two sides should maintain high-level exchanges, promote institutional dialogue in various fields, preserve the robust momentum of China-Britain economic and trade and cultural exchange and cooperation, deepen the alignment of development strategies between the two countries within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, and strengthen coordination in preserving world peace and development, Xi added. A prosperous, stable and open Britain and European Union conforms to the interests of all parties, Xi told May, adding that China is willing to promote continued development of China-Britain and China-EU relations. Proposed by Xi in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. For her part, May said Britain attaches great importance to developing relations with China, sticks to the general direction of the "Golden Era" of bilateral ties, and is willing to work with China to make bilateral high-level contact closer, make good use of strategic dialogue, deepen partnership cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, security and culture, and promote the development of EU-China relations. Meanwhile, the two leaders exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula situation. Xi stressed that China adheres to the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, resolutely maintains the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and firmly safeguards peace and stability in Northeast Asia. He also said the Korean Peninsula issue should be solved through peaceful means including dialogue and consultation, which requires joint efforts by the international community. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China and Britain have responsibility and obligation to deal with the related issues from the perspective of maintaining regional and global peace, Xi said, expressing the hope that Britain will be actively committed to working for peace and facilitating talks and will play a constructive role in easing tensions and reopening dialogue. May said Britain is committed to preserving international and regional peace and stability, as well as peaceful solution of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. Britain values China's important influence on resolving the Korean Peninsula issue, appreciates the efforts China has made and is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China in this regard, she added. ^ top ^

Japan claims Chinese ships again sail close to disputed islands in East China Sea (SCMP)
2017-09-25
Chinese coastguard vessels sailed near disputed islands claimed by Japan and China in the East China Sea on Monday, marking the second such incident in less than a week. The four ships entered the waters surrounding the island chain, controlled by Japan and known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in China, at about 10am and were moving in a southwest direction, according to the Japanese coastguard. An online statement from China's State Oceanic Administration only said the four Chinese coastguard vessels were "patrolling in Chinese waters off the Diaoyu Islands". Japan's coastguard said it was the second time since Thursday that four Chinese ships had entered its waters. Japan has routinely complained that China is escalating regional tensions by regularly sending ships to the island chain despite repeated protests from Tokyo. The two countries have been locked in a long-running dispute over the islands, which are believed to harbour vast natural resources below their seabed, with China claiming them as its own. Beijing is also involved in maritime disputes in the South China Sea. It asserts sovereignty over most of the area despite rival partial claims by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. A UN-backed tribunal last July ruled that Beijing's claims were invalid. The US Navy regularly conducts "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea to challenge China's claims to control of the waters, angering Beijing. ^ top ^

China, Russia conclude joint naval drills (Xinhua)
2017-09-25
The last batch of scheduled exercises in the second phase of the 2017 China-Russia Joint Sea Drills was completed in the Okhotsk Sea near Russia's Far East Federal District on Monday. Starting in the morning, Chinese and Russian commanders simulated joint rescues of ships hijacked by pirates and ships in distress, and later in the afternoon, fleets of the two sides held a farewell ceremony after the completion of both exercises. During the entire week-long drills, major Chinese and Russian fleets conducted a string of highly challenging joint operations, including air defense, anti-submarine and anti-fleet actions as well as maritime search and rescue. "With the common goal of guarding the security and stability of the world ocean, the Russian and Chinese navies, through the 2017 Joint Sea Drills, have achieved new progress in coordinating actions and promoting communication levels," said Deputy Commander of the Russian Navy, Vice Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov, in the closing ceremony on Monday. The 2017 Joint Sea Drills, involving four major fleets of China and Russia, were divided into two stages and held separately. The first part was conducted in the Baltic Sea on July 21-28, with the aim of carrying out joint rescue missions and ensuring maritime economic activities. "Covering a wider territory and more in-depth exercises, and along with more standardized implementation and proficient use of information systems, the 2017 Joint Sea Drills signify that China and Russia have reached a new high level in conducting joint maritime drills," said Tian Zhong, Deputy Commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy. ^ top ^

The economic stakes for China in Myanmar's restive Rakhine (SCMP)
2017-09-22
In the west of Rakhine state, just 200km from the worst of the recent fighting between Myanmar's military and so-called insurgents is the KyaukPhyu Special Economic Zone. Covering more than 1,700 hectares, the area was established in 2013 as a joint venture between the governments of Myanmar and China, with the aim of providing an industrial and infrastructure base serving the two countries and wider trade channels. While the original investments were made at the state level, private firms have since become involved, with the largest Chinese investor now being a five-party consortium led by Citic Group. The three largest projects in the zone are: 1. Deep-water Port: At US$7.3 billion, this development is the most valuable within KyaukPhyu. According to a Reuters report in May, the Citic consortium, which includes three other Chinese firms and a Thai company – has proposed taking a 70-85 per cent stake in the project with the rest held by the Myanmar government. A port already exists at the site, though it is used mostly for the export of local goods and its operations are relatively small. Once redeveloped as a deep seaport, the facility will have an annual capacity of 7.8 million tonnes of bulk cargo and 4.9 million TEU – the standard unit for measuring the capacity of container ships. The port will be a strategic addition to the maritime infrastructure for China's "Belt and Road Initiative" and will complement existing facilities in Chittagong in Bangladesh, Gwadar in Pakistan, and Colombo in Sri Lanka. It will also provide an alternative, overland, route for the transport of cargo from Western countries to China. Currently, such goods – including the bulk of China's oil imports – have to pass through the Strait of Malacca, the world's busiest shipping route. 2. Oil and gas pipelines: Built at a cost of US$2.45 billion, these dual pipelines – known officially as the Thelong Myanmar-China Oil and Gas Pipeline Project – run 771km from the coast of Rakhine state to Yunnan province in southwestern China. Construction began in 2010 and the lines went into operation in April of this year. Owned by the China National Petroleum Corporation (51 per cent) and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, the lines are designed to carry 22 million tonnes of oil – up from 13 million tonnes currently – and up to 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. The oil is imported from Arab countries and shipped to KyaukPhyu via the Bay of Bengal. 3. Industrial zone: The second-largest development being handled by the Citic consortium is a USS$2.3 billion trading estate. According to the Reuters report, the group has agreed to take a 51 per cent stake in the project, the development of which began in early 2016. Once completed – in 20 to 30 years – the zone will cover 100 hectares, Xinhua reported. Its first phase will be divided into areas for agriculture, ecotourism development and industry. ^ top ^

How China and India can keep the peace in Ukraine (SCMP)
2017-09-21
Peacekeepers in southeastern Ukraine are suddenly back on the global policy agenda, and Asia now has its first major opportunity of this century to rescue Europe from itself – and, by extension, to save the world entire. The recent announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the BRICS summit in Xiamen to the effect that Russia was in principle open to a peacekeeping force in the Donbass comes over two years after the Ukrainian government first announced its own interest in a peacekeeping force. The Asian setting for the Russian announcement should not be lost on observers. If the Russian peacekeeping proposal, driven probably by the economic urgency of removing Western sanctions and the political need to "solve" the Ukrainian crisis before the 2018 World Cup and presidential election, comes some two years too late, it remains as true today as it was in 2014 that the continuing bloodshed in the Donbass cannot be staunched without an interposition force to separate the warring sides. Whether one calls this war, in which well over 10,000 people have died and which still holds hostage the future of the European continent, a civil war or a proxy war (or both), the fighting continues because the Minsk ceasefire regime has not been able to overcome the basic "security dilemma" driving the belligerents. This "security dilemma" means that, in the absence of trust between the warring sides (and there is no trust at all), every withdrawal by one side is perceived by the other as an opportunity to advance. In "game theory", if the game (the war) is viewed as indefinite, then a ceasefire can be seen by all sides only as a window to regroup and rearm before the next round of fighting. A United Nations peacekeeping force – professional, legitimate, with the right composition and mandate – is the only way to convince all warring sides that the game (the war) is definitively over. Of course, "ending" the bloodshed is not enough on its own to meet the larger interests and needs of Russia, Ukraine and key Western countries, and so a UN force must be packaged within a larger strategic agreement that has economic, political and military dimensions. What should be the composition of the UN peacekeeping force? It cannot be made up of soldiers from Nato countries, as this would be opposed categorically by Russia. It cannot, equally, be made up of soldiers from the countries of the former Soviet space (today's Collective Security Treaty Organisation), as this would be opposed by Ukraine. This leaves Asia as the lone continent able to supply peacekeeping troops that would be respected by, and acceptable to, both the Russians and the Ukrainians. Which countries in Asia? Answer: Likely India. Perhaps Indonesia. Chinese participation is not to be excluded. What is critical is that both Moscow and Kiev see the peacekeepers as neutral and professional. In the case of India, in particular, there is conspicuous historical sympathy among both Russians and Ukrainians for the Indians, many of whom were educated in the engineering and science faculties of the former Soviet Union. What should be the mandate of this Asian-led UN peacekeeping force? If the starting Russian position, as articulated at Xiamen – that is, that it should be limited to protecting OSCE observers in the Donbass – was manifestly too narrow, then Ukraine, the EU and the US should treat this as a starting position in a negotiation that expands the mandate to something that categorically ends the bloodshed – to wit, an interposition force along the ceasefire line, as well as along the Ukrainian-Russian border. To be clear, the roots of the peacekeeping idea in general, and for Asian peacekeepers in particular, come directly from the strictly neutral Track 1.5 work we at the Institute for 21st Century Questions have been leading in key capitals on three continents over the last three and a half years, starting in the days and weeks immediately following the Ukrainian revolution, the Crimean annexation and the start of the Donbass war in 2014, to find and drive winning algorithms to solve this major international conflict in its many dimensions. If the Ukrainians could perhaps live with peacekeepers alone, the Russians would not accept any broadened peacekeeping mandate without a broader set of conditions being met. While it may be too late (but perhaps not impossible), given the increasingly precarious political situation inside Ukraine, to include conditions relating to non-Nato membership for Ukraine or even significant constitutional concessions from Kiev within a broader (global) deal, Russia would certainly expect, in exchange for agreeing to peacekeepers, considerable sanctions relief relating to its activities in, and support for, the separatist campaign in the Donbass. While Europe may be able to deliver on partial sanctions relief in relation to Donbass (not Crimea), the US, politically unpredictable and preoccupied by any Russian connection to the 2016 presidential election, is unlikely to be able to deliver any meaningful sanctions relief for the foreseeable future. Back to Asia, and perhaps with China now clearly in the lead. A critical, underappreciated part of any global deal to stop the fighting in, and more generally to stabilise, southeastern Ukraine, and indeed Ukraine as a whole, must be a very large economic package that seeks, first, to rebuild the territories of southeastern Ukraine ravaged by war; and second, to resuscitate the near-bankrupt overall Ukrainian economy, including by reformatting it as an economic bridge between Europe and Russia (and why not with Asia also?). This economic restructuring or re-engineering can be funded principally by China, and perhaps by the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in particular, with subordinate support coming from Europe and Russia (although Russia today enjoys very little liquidity). Importantly, China can bring its proven expertise in 21st century infrastructure to bear on a country that, in spite of having a highly educated and cultured population, has fallen severely behind in building itself up for the challenges of the day. What Asia brings to the table in solving this conflict is new "energy" (in the figurative, human sense). Ukraine and Russia have both grown exhausted from the fighting and from the radicalisation resulting from war. For its part, despite the diplomatic heroism of France and Germany, Europe has run out of solutions and imagination. The continent remains vulnerable to any resurgence in or expansion of the Donbass conflict – something that could well occur should one or both of Ukraine or Russia become internally destabilised (and domestic collapse, political or economic, is not to be excluded in either country in the not too distant future). And any expanded conflict would, to be sure, quickly envelope the Asian continent – economically and, before long, militarily. It is a catastrophe to be avoided at all costs. Finally, for Asia, and perhaps for China in particular, there should be an especially satisfying irony in the prospect of coming to the rescue of the West (and of the former Soviet space to boot) for the first time since the end of the cold war. Such a rescue might prove once and for all that, between Gorbachev and Reagan, the real winner of the cold war was none other than Deng Xiaoping. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Confident Xi reaches out to trusted colleagues (SCMP)
2017-09-29
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will stay on as head of government for another term while President Xi Jinping's name will be enshrined in the Communist Party's charter alongside those of late leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, sources familiar with the situation told the South China Morning Post. With three weeks to go before an all-important national party congress that will decide China's leadership line-up for the next five years, speculation about the gathering's outcomes is mounting. Past congresses were defined by intense horse-trading between various cliques, but this time the discussion is dominated by Xi – the strongest Chinese political leader in decades. Still, sources said, the president would need to weigh his options carefully because his decisions would determine the party and country's direction for years to come. The first resolution will be for Li Keqiang, the party's second-in-command, to retain his position as premier. Some observers had suggested that Li, who has a PhD in economics, might emerge from the power reshuffle with a new post. But sources said Xi, now confident of his command over economic and financial policy, had decided to retain Li as premier. Li would keep his seat on the Politburo Standing Committee, the top echelon of Chinese politics. Although Li differs from the president in political background and temperament, he has proved to be a loyal enforcer of Xi's decisions. And after five years of working together, the two men had become used to each other's style, sources said. Li's role would be to complement Xi's, a contrast to the relatively free economic policy rein held by past premiers, from Zhao Ziyang to Zhu Rongji and Wen Jiabao. This was in part due to changing political priorities, sources said. After three decades of rapid expansion, China's economy is bottlenecked, with stiffer resistance to reforms dragging on growth. The country urgently needs to rebalance its economy, ease pressure on the environment and narrow the wealth gap. Global geopolitical uncertainties complicate the picture further. Sources said that under such conditions, the government – with Li as head of the State Council, China's cabinet – would need to work in much tighter executive step with the party. "The State Council will mainly focus on implementation when it comes to economic policies," a source said. Having Li stay on as head of government reflects the firm grip the president has on all aspects of policymaking through the various working groups he set up in his first term. Xi has also consolidated his position by being elevated to "core status", meaning he presides over other members of the Politburo Standing Committee instead of just being first among equals. His power will be cemented at the party congress when a new body of thought bearing his name is incorporated into the party's charter. This will elevate Xi to the same status as Mao and Deng, the only other leaders to have their name associated with a doctrine in the charter. Xi's predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao also had their own political theories written into the party charter, but the additions did not refer to them by name. While this kind of political manoeuvring may seem rarefied, Xi's elevation would give him unmatched prestige and authority over the ruling political elite. With his hand strengthened, Xi could afford to take a more relaxed view over other issues, such as the size of the Politburo Standing Committee. There had been suggestions the committee would be cut from seven to five members, further centralising power and minimising potential resistance. But sources said the number was unlikely to change because the president's firmer hold made a membership reduction less urgent. One addition to the Standing Committee is likely to be Li Zhanshu, the president's right-hand man. But the inclusion of powerful anti-corruption tsar Wang Qishan is less certain. At 69, Wang – nicknamed the party's "fire chief" for his political crisis management – has reached the unofficial retirement age but he is also the galvanising force behind Xi's popular anti-corruption campaign and an influential presidential ally. Even if he did not make it to the final seven, sources said it was unlikely Wang would go into full retirement and Xi could carve out a new position for him. Other likely candidates for the Politburo Standing Committee include Vice-Premier Wang Yang and Shanghai party boss Han Zheng. Wang Yang is a seasoned politician with a wealth of regional experience. He leads China's finance and trade talks with the United States and spearheads the country's poverty alleviation drive – a key element in Xi's "Chinese dream" cause. Wang Yang is also said to be the front runner for the executive vice-premier position overseeing finance policy. Other possible candidates for the job include Han Zheng and Guangdong party boss Hu Chunhua – the man some see as going further up the leadership ladder. Hu Chunhua will compete with party organisation chief Zhao Leji and Chongqing party boss Chen Miner for the remaining seats on the Standing Committee. Chen, who turns 57 on Friday, is widely seen as Xi's protégé and has been fast-tracked for promotion. He came to the president's attention when he worked for Xi in Zhejiang between 2002 and 2007. In 2012, Chen was transferred to Guizhou, one of the country's poorest provinces, overseeing its emergence as a leading data centre with a narrower wealth gap. He was appointed Chongqing's party chief in July after the shock downfall of Sun Zhengcai, once seen as among the next generation of leaders. Chen is a Central Committee member and promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee would mean a rise of two rungs up the political ladder. This would be an uncommon but not unprecedented move, with both Hu Jintao and Xi going directly from the Central Committee to the inner sanctum. Zhu Rongji was also merely an alternate member of the Central Committee before he assumed one of the seven Politburo Standing Committee seats in 1992. ^ top ^

China issues white paper on public health (China Daily)
2017-09-29
The Chinese government Friday published a white paper on public health, stressing that health is a precondition for the survival of humanity and the development of human society. The white paper, released by the State Council Information Office, introduced facts about the development of public health as an essential element of human rights in China. The right to health is a basic human right rich in connotations. It is the guarantee for a life with dignity, according to the white paper. Everyone is entitled to the highest standard of health, equally available and accessible, it said. It also includes facts about ensuring people's right to health based on China's conditions; continuous improvement of health environment and conditions; public health service capability improving steadily; great improvement in the quality of medical and health services; improvement of the national medical security system; significant improvement in the health of special groups; active participation in global health governance and international medical assistance. ^ top ^

China steps up security on North Korea, India and Myanmar borders for Communist Party congress (SCMP)
2017-09-28
China's border police will maintain the highest security on the country's frontiers with North Korea, India and Myanmar as the Communist Party gears up for its all-important national congress next month. The border forces under the People's Armed Police became the latest government agency to make a show of support for President Xi Jinping, saying officers would focus on the frontiers to ensure stability for the five-yearly gathering. They would also tighten monitoring of coastal areas and ramp up counterterrorism work, the police said in an online statement. "[We will] stick to the highest standards, strictest requirements and strongest measures to ensure absolute border security for the party's 19th national congress," the statement said. The congress, expected to start on October 18, is expected to see Xi named the party's general secretary for a second term and a dozen officials named to key positions. Security personnel have been out in force across the country to make sure the highly choreographed gathering is not disturbed by social unrest. But the build-up comes amid ethnic clashes in Myanmar and the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula. South Korea expects more provocative acts by North Korea next month to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean communist party. In a meeting with South Korea President Moon Jae-in on Thursday, national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said he expected Pyongyang to act around October 10 and 18, but gave no details. Ties between India and China have also been tested by a border row in the Himalayas. Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst and Asian security expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the border forces were trying to promote their role as guardians against what Beijing saw as potential threats. "Leading into the party congress, they want to seem to be successful, increasing their political strength and being proactive in dealing with these security situations," Davis said. Zhang Baohui, a Chinese politics specialist at Lingnan University, said that although the offshore conflicts were unlikely to pose any real danger to the congress, the police must declare their determination to stamp out risk. "They all have to do something to show they're doing their best for the 19th national congress," Zhang said. "It's a way to show loyalty." Authorities in border areas have also vowed to stem any cross-border unrest. At a security drill by armed police and firefighters on Saturday, Bayanqolu, party chief of Jilin, which borders North Korea, ordered the province to strengthen "frontline border control" in the run-up to the congress. "[We must] firmly prevent major incidents that will harm political security and border stability," he said. "[We will] take action to show absolute loyalty, pure loyalty to the party [leadership] and general secretary Xi Jinping." On the China-Myanmar border, authorities in Mangshi, Yunnan province, said they would "build a steel wall" of border security. Border personnel in Tibet also held a rally on Monday, pledging security and stability during the party congress. ^ top ^

Regions map out plans to maintain nationwide stability for 19th congress (Global Times)
2017-09-28
Provincial-level regions in China have vowed to maintain local stability during the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which will open in Beijing on October 18. On Wednesday, government and Party officials from East China's Jiangsu Province held a conference vowing to safeguard stability during the congress. Similar conferences have been taking place around China for the past month. Northeast China's Jilin Province held a conference on Saturday, vowing to strengthen border control and to crack down on any domestic or overseas trouble-making activities, newspaper Jilin Daily reported. Jilin shares a border with North Korea, which conducted its sixth nuclear test on September 3. On Sunday a conference themed with studying and arranging stability maintenance in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region said the success of the 19th National Congress is the most significant political task currently. The region should "insist on the direction of religious sinicization, and firmly crack down on illegal acts that undermine the unity of the country and that between ethnic groups, or that promote violent and terrorist activities by using the Internet," the Tibet Daily reported. The Tibet conference also demanded departments of the regional government to make full efforts to prepare for monitoring and inspections from the central government on its work to maintain stability in the region. On Monday, 2,000 police officers in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province, vowed in a drill to complete the task of keeping social stability during the congress. The standing committee of East China's Fujian Province held a meeting on September 22, pledging to complete the work of security and stability maintenance during the congress, as well as the work to promote and study the spirit of the congress, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Thursday. Fujian Province said it would upgrade the security work from the BRICS Xiamen Summit, which was held in early September in its port city of Xiamen. Technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence will be used to manage their work. Cai Qi, Secretary of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee, on September 12 demanded the city to firmly complete the security work for the 19th National Congress "to the highest standard, with the strongest organization, by the most practical measures and the best mode," the Beijing Daily reported. ^ top ^

Chinese moon missions will be delayed by rocket failure, report says (SCMP)
2017-09-28
Two Chinese lunar missions will be delayed by the failed launch of a powerful rocket in July, a state-run newspaper said, in a setback for the country's ambitious space programme. Beijing sees its multibillion-dollar forays into space as a symbol of China's rise and the success of the Communist Party in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation. Officials are still investigating why the Long March-5 Y2 rocket malfunctioned on July 2, Science and Technology Daily reported this week, citing Tian Yulong, secretary general of the China National Space Administration. It was China's second heavy-lift rocket and was designed to carry communication satellites into orbit. Authorities have not given any details about the incident. The failure means the launches of lunar probes Chang'e-5, originally scheduled to collect samples from the moon in the second half of 2017, and Chang'e-4, due to land on the dark side of the moon in 2018, will both have to be revised. New launch dates for the probes will be announced at the end of this year, Tian said. A core module for the construction of China's space station was also set to be blasted into space in 2018 but this will be delayed to 2019, Tian said on Tuesday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. China, which hopes to one day send humans to the moon, joined the United States and Soviet Union as the only nations to land on the Earth's natural satellite in 2013, when its lunar rover Yutu embarked on a 31-month mission beset by mechanical troubles. The following year the country completed its first return mission to the moon, with an unmanned probe landing successfully back on Earth. The Long March-5 Y2 had taken off in July with the Shijian-18 experimental communications satellite, which it was supposed to put into orbit. The satellite would have provided communications services over China's territory – boosting internet access and providing access to more television channels. Its failure followed successful space missions, including the June launch of the Long March-4B, China's first X-ray space telescope, to study black holes, pulsars and gamma-ray bursts. In April, the country's first cargo spacecraft completed its docking with an orbiting space lab – a key development towards China's goal of having its own crewed space station by 2022. China is also aiming to launch six rovers to Mars in 2020. ^ top ^

Chinese cyber police team up with search engine to crack down on rumors (Global Times)
2017-09-28
Chinese cyber police and leading tech firm Baidu have launched an online service to control the spread of rumors. The service is imbedded into the country's top search engine, and all news portals and online forums that Baidu operates. Baidu said the company used big data, natural language processing and artificial intelligence technology to gather suspicious messages on the Internet and forward them to the institutes, experts, and the police to verify. The company will help them write stories to dispell the rumors and send that information to a target audience. Internet users will also be warned of Baidu search results that contain suspicious messages. Baidu vice president Wang Lu said the company's search engine received nearly 3 billion requests to verify suspicious claims. Closer collaboration between the tech company and police will bring the dangers of false information down to a minimum, he said. Baidu said it would build a database with up to 1 million verified rumors and share the information accordingly. ^ top ^

China warns WhatsApp to stop spread of 'illegal information' (SCMP)
2017-09-28
China has attacked WhatsApp, saying the messaging service should act to stop the spread of "illegal information" as the country seeks greater scrutiny of the internet in the run-up to its once-in-five years Communist Party congress. WhatsApp should take proactive measures to intercept information to do with violence and terror, the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement in response to questions from Bloomberg News. China has the authority to tell institutions to take these measures, said the agency, without specifying details of content it considered illegal. "A country's cyberspace sovereignty should be protected," it added. A spokesman for WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, declined to comment. China is seen to be tightening the screws on WhatsApp, which has until recently been one of the only remaining major messaging services to operate unfettered in the country. Beijing has been employing cutting-edge surveillance technology to disrupt the messaging service as part of a longer-term online crackdown, according to Nadim Kobeissi, a cryptographer at Paris-based online security firm Symbolic Software. The interference – which saw WhatsApp's service interrupted across China at the weekend before it was resumed – marks a step up from July, when local users began experiencing sporadic problems sending images and voice messages. The government has slapped fines on media and technology companies for failing to screen content, closed celebrity gossip sites, and punished chat-group administrators on Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat service for hosting sensitive content. The congress, which is due to get under way on October 18, will see a twice-a-decade reshuffle of the party leadership. "China's internet is fully open," the administration said. "We welcome internet companies from various countries to provide Chinese internet users with good information services." ^ top ^

China has new standards on Marxist schools for ideological understanding (Global Times)
2017-09-28
Chinese education authorities have unveiled some standards for the study of Marxism at university, which experts have said shows China's new emphasis on Marxist education and ideology. The standards come from the Ministry of Education (MOE), with specific requirements for school facilities, faculty and courses, according to a post on MOE's WeChat account Wednesday. Part of China's guiding ideology is Marxist theory, which is at the theoretical foundation of China's political system and a great influence on the country's development, Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of Peking University's Government Integrity-Building Research Center, told the Global Times. Zhuang added that the standards show that China is making a greater effort to strengthen Marxist education and ideological work in universities. This is the first document in China to give detailed requirement on the subject, and it is especially significant as it offers verifiable standards for evaluation, he added. The document states that the university's principal and Party chief will have the main responsibility for Marxist work and need to hold at least one office meeting on that each academic year. Schools of Marxism are to be regarded as independent institutions, directly under the university, whose leaders are responsible for establishing the ideology and theoretical studies for all students. These quantifications are meant to help clarity the university's responsibilities in a Marxist education and to get their senior personnel to look for more practical applications instead of just talking about it, said Zhuang. "In this way, schools of Marxism can place more importance on its ideological power and not confine it to one department, but spread its message all over the university," he said. The standards also call for mid-to-small Marxism classes of no more than 100 students each. "Small classes have much better quality and a greater effect than large classes, because students can discuss things with each other and communicate with the teacher better," Zhu Andong, an associate professor at Tsinghua University's School of Marxism, told the Global Times. Most universities still need some time to achieve the standard required, mainly because of the limited number of full-time teachers, Zhu added. The standards also call for full-time teachers at these schools to be Party members at least in principle, and both part-time and full-time Marxism teachers have to have a related academic background. In the area of Party and ideological development at Marxism schools, students and teachers are asked to organize Party activities for at least half a day every month. ^ top ^

Xi calls for writers, artists to focus on the people (Xinhua)
2017-09-27
Chinese President Xi Jinping has asked writers and artists across the country to focus on the people, and keep producing excellent works. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks in an instruction on cultural and ideological progress. Those working in literary and art fields should record the work of the people and spread the power of positivity in their works, Xi said. The works should also promote the Chinese spirits, strengthen the people's faith, and provide strong spiritual power for reaching China's two centenary goals and realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, according to Xi. A commendation symposium on cultural and ideological progress was held in Beijing Wednesday. Addressing the event, Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, asked for efforts to follow Xi's instruction and produce more down-to-earth works. Liu said the works should show historical changes and achievements made by the Party and the country since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. Moreover, writers and artists across the country should express the aspirations of the people in their works with great passion, while prioritizing social benefits and fulfilling their social responsibilities, he added. ^ top ^

Weibo and Baidu fined for failing to control improper online content (Global Times)
2017-09-25
Beijing's cyberspace administrator said Monday that it imposed fines on China's Twitter-like Weibo and the Internet giant Baidu's online forum for failing to manage their platforms carefully. The administrator used its WeChat account to announce that Sina Weibo users had posted information and comments inciting ethnic hatred and had spread pornography, and that Baidu Tieba users had spread obscene, violent and terrorist comments in their posts. It said that the two social media platforms were given administrative penalties for failing to fulfill their management duties and violating China's Cyber Security Law. In August, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) asked the administrators of the cities of Beijing and South China's Guangzhou to look into Sina Weibo and Baidu Tieba after it received tip-offs from users about the platforms failing to manage their vulgar, violent information, as well as rumors about the threat to social stability and harmony. At the same time, more than 20 million items online with pornographic or obscene content have been deleted or handled in other ways in a 40-day crackdown by Chinese regulators, the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications announced on Monday. The office said it had reports from the public about various online platforms that it had scrutinized, including website portals, news apps, live streaming platforms, app stores, and online literature, gaming, video and forum websites. Wang Sixin, deputy dean of the Communication University of China's School of Literature and Law, said, "Netizens could be exposed to harmful or even terrorist information on the Internet if it isn't appropriately regulated," in a previous interview with the Global Times. The CAC published some regulations in mid-September on online chat groups, and said that people who start WeChat groups need to be responsible for them, to which Wang added that they really need to regulate the behavior of members as well as their posts in accordance with the law, user agreements and platform conventions. ^ top ^

LGBTQ people still being forced to undergo 'therapy' (Global Times)
2017-09-24
Three years after China's first gay conversion therapy case brought attention to the continued pathologization of homosexuality, a wider group of LGBTQ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) are still being forced by their family members to receive various forms of therapy. Clinics advocating conversion therapy are also reportedly prolonging the treatment process to make more money, and are also avoiding notorious forms of treatment such as electro-shock therapy that can be used as evidence in court. "We received three to four calls each month this year, seeking help to escape forced treatment," Peng Yanhui, director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China, a Chinese NGO, told the Global Times. Family members sent the victims, mostly middle school and college students, to psychiatric hospitals, clinics, psychological counseling agencies and even rehabilitation centers for drug and internet addicts, Peng said. According to statistics the NGO collected as of May, China has about 170 agencies, the majority of which are psychological counseling agencies providing various kinds of treatment to LGBTQ people. The third version of the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders (CCMD-3) in 2001 removed homosexuality and bisexuality from the list of disorders. Many clinics claiming to 'cure' homosexuality are repeatedly asking victims to undergo all kinds of tests including CT scans and blood tests in order to prolong the process and make more money, Peng said. "Some LGBTQ people were forced to run tests for several months before being prescribed with some psychotropics, and one spent over 10,000 yuan just on tests," Peng said. The plaintiff in China's first gay conversion therapy case, Xiao Zhen (pseudonym), recorded the entire treatment process, in which the psychological counseling center claimed to be able to 'cure' homosexuality and later gave him electro-shock therapy. The case ended with a Beijing court in December 2014 ruling that the psychological counseling center had to apologize and give compensation to Xiao Zhen. Despite the wide coverage the case received, these forms of therapy have continued. In the most recent case, a girl in her early 20s fled from home after being hospitalized for three months. She is still on the run, Peng said. "Her father asked her to quit her job and locked her in the home before she managed to flee. We'll help her after she settles down and will call the police if she is captured by her family," Peng said. The founder of a Guangzhou-based NGO, Trans Center, who identified herself as H.C., said that the center has received about three such calls each month since May. "Many transgender people have no time to seek help, as their families have cut themselves off from the outside world before sending them for forced treatment. Thus the actual number of victims is much bigger," H.C. told the Global Times. Peng's NGO is collecting information on clinics that offer conversion therapies. China has 170 such clinics, with the majority of them located in first and second tier cities. One listed psychological counseling center in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, claimed that the center has treated over 1,000 gay people since it was founded in 1995. "We normally offer medication and hypnosis to patients, and many of them were 'cured' eventually," a center employee surnamed Chen told a Global Times reporter posing as a client. When asked how she defines being cured, Chen said their parents reported that their behavior had gone back to normal. Earlier research in Western countries claims that the odds of "curing" homosexuality is near zero. Repeated media exposure of gay conversion therapy cases has failed to curb the practice, but according to Peng, more LGBTQ people have called for help before the therapy starts and no longer blindly obey their parents. Upon receiving help calls, Peng Yanhui will usually recommend local gay-friendly doctors and suggest that they collect possible court evidence, such as recordings and receipts. "For those who have already received therapy and are locked up at home, we would suggest they apply for a restraining order from the court," Peng said. Under China's first anti-domestic violence law, which took effect in 2016, victims can apply for restraining orders against their partners or family members without filing a case first. But helping transgender people has its own difficulties, as they prefer to use pseudonyms because their names on their ID usually indicates their original gender, H.C. said. Peng Xiaohui, a sexologist at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, Hubei Province, told the Global Times that it's hard to officially ban LGBTQ conversion therapy in China as many still believe sexual minorities are sick. Peng Xiaohui suggested that LGBTQ groups continue campaigns to claim their rights. "But LGBTQ groups should be independent of foreign political groups or foundations while claiming their rights," Peng Xiaohui warned. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

China sets 23 million population limit for Beijing (Global Times)
2017-09-27
China announced it would limit Beijing's population to 23 million by 2020 and build a world-class urban area around the capital, a move experts said would further transfer its non-capital functions to nearby areas. "The scale of the city should be controlled," the State Council said in response to The Beijing Urban Master Plan (2016-35) on Wednesday, urging the city to limit its permanent population to 23 million by 2020 and maintain it at that level, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday. The report said Beijing's permanent population was 21.7 million at the end of 2016. "We should defend the three red lines of the population, ecology and urban exploitation," the reply said, noting that the strictest water management system should be enforced to ensure the capital's water security. "Beijing's population has been gradually rising. Setting a goal is meant to allow more than a million people to enter the city," Niu Fengrui, a research fellow at the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "Limiting the population is also achieved by transferring Beijing's non-capital functions to retain the city's role as a political and international communication center, gradually reducing its functions as a cultural and innovation center," said Niu. He added that nearby areas, including Tianjin and Hebei, will take over those functions and develop together with Beijing. The reply also stressed the synergic development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, vowing to build a world-class urban area with the capital as the core. In April, the central government announced plans for the Xiong'an New Area, which will facilitate the coordinated development of Beijing and the surrounding region. The area, covering Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin counties, is about 100 kilometers south of Beijing. "Keeping the commute time from Xiong'an to Beijing within 30 minutes will be the next step," Niu said, adding that the plan and its implementation should be consistent to avoid setting unreasonable goals. The State Council also urged the preservation of the historic city and its features. Protecting the old city and the "Three Hills and Five Gardens," where imperial palaces and gardens are located, should be strengthened and the old city will never be demolished, it said. "Beijing's old city and environment have been severely damaged in the past decades. To protect Beijing's cultural heritage and ecology is essential to urban planning and management," Luo Yameng, a Beijing-based urbanization expert, told the Global Times. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Panchen Lama concludes Buddhist activities in Tibet (Xinhua)
2017-09-28
The 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu has returned to Beijing after two months of Buddhist activities in Tibet Autonomous Region where he visited Buddhist sites and conducted rituals. From July 25 through Sept. 27, the Panchen Lama visited several temples and held Buddhist activities in Lhasa, Shigatse and Qamdo. He also gave blessings to tens of thousands of followers and members of the public. The Panchen Lama currently serves as vice president of the Buddhist Association of China and a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, the country's top political advisory body. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang installs body scanners at checkpoints (Global Times)
2017-09-26
Xinjiang will use a new high-tech body security scanner for road security checks, a move to enhance counter-terrorism work before the forthcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). A division from the People's Liberation Army in Tumxuk, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, recently introduced 10 units of terahertz security scanners, which were installed at road security checkpoints. "It took these scanners only 10 seconds to scan one person, while the traditional hand-held scanner takes almost 50 seconds to complete the task," Xu Yongsheng, vice head of a road security check station, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Once the person steps into the body scanner, he or she is required to turn around, and an alarm will go off if the scanner detects metal or explosive objects. Xu said the new scanner protects the police as they do not need to have physical contact with those being examined. "We used to get into conflict with people when we examined them with hand-held scanners, especially women," Xu noted. A local Uyghur named Rozi, who had to undergo the scanner several times when passing through the station, said the new scanner is more convenient as it saves him time and protects his privacy. Xu noted many people are concerned about the possible health risks the machine might pose. "The human body naturally transmits terahertz waves, which can be received by the terahertz body scanner. So unlike traditional X-rays, it has no harmful effects," Li Gang, president of Beijing Aerospace Yilian Science & Technology Development Company, the manufacturer of the scanner, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Li said the Xinjiang military contacted him in February about introducing the machines "to meet the counter-terrorism demands in Xinjiang." Tumxuk and Kashgar are the gateways and major battlefields for Xinjiang's security work. The two cities are inhabited by many ethnic minority groups which move freely in large numbers every day, Qin Wenrong, a Xinjiang military officer, told the Global Times. Qin said that the Tumxuk government has invested heavily in these scanners to enhance their counter-terrorism work ahead of the upcoming 19th National Congress of the CPC, which will convene in Beijing on October 18. Qin said all 35 security checkpoints in Tumxuk will be equipped with the scanners in the future. Meng Jianzhu, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, called for the use of new technologies to fight terrorism during his inspection in Xinjiang in August. Apart from body scanners, Qin said that the Tumxuk government conducted massive security checks throughout the city a few days ago and urged government officials to pay attention to suspicious signs, such as a sudden increase of strangers in homes. Xinjiang has witnessed sporadic violent incidents. In February, three knife-wielding attackers killed five and injured another five in Pishan county, Hotan prefecture, the Hotan government said on its website. Tumxuk is around 600 kilometers north of Hotan. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

'Chinese interference' a threat to Hong Kong's ranking as top free market economy, institute says (SCMP)
2017-09-29
Hong Kong once again ranked as the world's the freest economy, but a Canadian institute warned its long-held position at the top could be threatened by Beijing's perceived interference in the city's affairs that could undermine the rule of law. The Fraser Institute of Canada ranked Hong Kong first in its Economic Freedom of the World report on Thursday. The report carried an ominous warning, a day after the World Economic Forum downgraded the city's judicial independence score, heightening scrutiny of the city's courts. "While Hong Kong is again the most economically free, there is a valid concern that interference from mainland China will ultimately lead to deterioration in Hong Kong's top position, particularly in rule of law, which helps ensure equal freedom for all," said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at Fraser Institute. The World Economic Forum on Wednesday lowered Hong Kong five places in its judicial independence score despite the city's overall rise to sixth in the forum's annual competitiveness index. This prompted justice minister Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung to defend the city's courts, claiming there were some "subjective perceptions" in international community. Hong Kong has held the top position on the institute's Economic Freedom report since 1980. Singapore continued to rank second, followed by New Zealand. China ranked 112th. McMahon gave a similar warning last year, saying that Hong Kong's ranking will drop "if China encroaches on its one country, two systems relationship with Hong Kong". His latest comments came at a sensitive time. Local courts have been increasingly accused of being influenced by politics after the recent jailing of democracy activists and the ousting of opposition lawmakers who insulted China or failed to take the oath of office properly. Last week, the city's leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, hit back at "disrespectful" and "disturbing" remarks by British politicians and commentators who objected to the jailing of three democracy activists last month. The jail terms were prompted by a successful push by Yuen for a sentencing review after the activists were initially given more lenient punishments. Still, Hong Kong's score in the Canadian report's "legal system and property rights" category remained unchanged from last year. While the Hong Kong government welcomed the institute's recognition of the city as the world's freest economy, it defended itself saying, "there are no objective facts showing judicial independence has been undermined". "We remain highly confident about the rule of law in Hong Kong, and will endeavour to enhance the proper understanding of the international community in this respect through different channels," a government spokesman said. The research institute measures economic freedom of 159 territories based on factors such as levels of personal choice, ability to enter markets, security of privately owned property and rule of law. The 2017 report was based on data in 2015. ^ top ^

Chinese military features Hong Kong in videos 'to lure young recruits' (SCMP)
2017-09-28
The PLA's Hong Kong garrison has featured in military videos released in an apparent attempt to attract new recruits. The People's Liberation Army also touted its advanced training and weapons in the two clips posted on the website of its television channel on Tuesday and Thursday. But analysts said the show of military strength could also be a shot at Hong Kong and Taiwanese independence. One of the videos showed live-fire drills in Hong Kong and on the mainland of advanced weapons that President Xi Jinping reviewed in a military parade in the city on June 30. The other video showed a regular sea and air patrol in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Military analysts said the footage of Hong Kong's well-equipped barracks and harbour views, along with the clips' conversational titles were aimed at potential young recruits on the mainland. Macau-based military commentator Antony Wong Dong said: "Hong Kong is always the best selling point to attract young recruits." "The popularity of the PLA's Hong Kong garrison has grown [on the mainland] since the Liaoning [aircraft carrier] was opened to the public for the first time during a visit to Hong Kong [in July]," Wong said. Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said Hong Kong's status as an international city and its well-equipped garrison also helped promote the PLA's public image and the country's defence industry abroad. "Many domestic military industrial enterprises want troops from the Hong Kong garrison to showcase their new products," he said. "Showing advanced weapon systems can [also] remind Hong Kong and Taiwanese separatists that independence is no way to go." Among the weapons on show were Type 99A battle tanks, the PHL-03 multiple launch rocket system, PLZ-05 self-propelled howitzers, and WZ-19 reconnaissance and attack helicopters. A notable absence was the HQ-6 mobile air defence system, which can destroy cruise missiles and drones, and is part of an air defence network for southern China. But Zhou said the PHL-03 system, with a range more than 100km, was enough to counter separatist threats. Competition for places in the Hong Kong garrison is fierce, even though recruits must meet higher education, political and physical requirements than applicants for mainland bases. Soldiers stationed in Hong Kong must also abide by many stricter social rules and are forbidden from dating local residents, according to troops from the garrison. ^ top ^

Justice chief defends Hong Kong courts after judicial independence ranking falls for third consecutive year (SCMP)
2017-09-28
Justice minister Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung put up a strong defence of Hong Kong's courts on Thursday after the city slipped five places in the judicial independence category of the latest global competitiveness ranking, compiled by the World Economic Forum. Although the city's overall competitiveness rose three places to sixth, its judicial independence score, one of a variety of factors used to define competitiveness, dropped from eighth to 13th place. Hong Kong's rank in this category has fallen for three years in a row. The report by the Geneva-based non-profit organisation did not give a reason for the drop, but it comes at a sensitive time when local courts have been increasingly accused of being influenced by politics due to recent cases involving the jailing of democracy activists and disqualification of opposition lawmakers. "Although we fell from No 8 to No 13, I am still fully confident in Hong Kong's judicial independence," Yuen said. The justice chief said while the government was concerned about the ranking drop, he saw nothing undermining the independence of the legal system in the past year. "Judges and judicial staff at all levels in Hong Kong have been handling every single case professionally, dedicatedly and independently," he said. Yuen acknowledged that in the local and international community, there were some "subjective perceptions" about the city's judicial independence. "We can't solely rely on subjective feelings but have to look at the facts," he said. Yuen promised to put more effort into explaining the independence of Hong Kong's legal system to people at home and abroad "so that they will have a more objective, comprehensive and accurate understanding of the situation". Last week, the city's leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, hit back at "disrespectful" and "disturbing" remarks by British politicians and commentators who objected to the jailing of three democracy activists last month. The three former student leaders were jailed over an illegal protest in the run-up to 2014's Occupy campaign. A group of 25 foreign politicians and activists, including former British foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind, had then condemned the sentences and demanded the release of "political prisoners". The jail terms were prompted by a successful push by Yuen for a sentencing review after the activists were previously handed more lenient punishments by the courts. From November to July, the courts also disqualified six pro-democratic lawmakers who insulted China or failed to take their oath of office properly. The disqualification came after Beijing effectively amended the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, to make improper oath-taking an offence punishable by disqualification. Law Society chairman Thomas So Shiu-tsung said he could not figure out why the city's judicial independence ranking had been downgraded, and urged the public to remain confident about the rule of law. When asked if the fact that courts in Hong Kong have to obey Beijing's interpretation of law affected the ranking, So said it was the right of the National People's Congress Standing Committee to interpret laws in the city. ^ top ^

Hong Kong must continue fight for democracy, Occupy co-founders say on third anniversary (SCMP)
2017-09-28
The co-founders of the Occupy Central movement on Thursday implored the people of Hong Kong to continue to fight for universal suffrage and defy what they say is Beijing's resistance to democracy in the city. Speaking on the third anniversary of the start of the pro-democracy movement, University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting said Occupy was the start of civil awakening. "Over the last three years, Hong Kong people have been facing increasingly tougher state power and oppression," Tai, who is one of three co-founders, said in a radio interview. "But their will to fight for justice has not changed. Their voices have become stronger." Another co-organiser Chan Kin-man, a sociologist at Chinese University, called on Hongkongers not to give up the fight. "Our thought [during Occupy] was that if we still couldn't achieve universal suffrage even after the movement, then maybe we would have to face a very long time to wait [for democracy]. As long as [President] Xi Jinping is still centralising power, it will be very difficult for Hong Kong to achieve universal suffrage. "But if Hong Kong people have given up on the belief of democracy, then when one day the chances do come, it will not be realised." Launched in 2014, the 79-day sit-in brought parts of the city to a standstill. In its aftermath, the pro-democracy bloc was split amid the rise of localist sentiment. Some young people, who had completely lost faith in Beijing and the "one country, two systems" policy, slammed traditional pan-democrats for being too moderate. They pushed for more radical protests and Hong Kong independence. Chan said many people blamed Occupy for a more divided society and the rise of extremist views. But he said the movement was a final attempt to achieve democracy peacefully amid a trend of more civil unrest. "In 2013 I wrote a newspaper commentary, saying Hong Kong had already been facing a political cliff," he said. "What I meant was if our political system still did not change, we would face a great governance problem. At that time I predicted there would be three trends, including localism, radicalism and pessimism. "The trends had already appeared. Occupy merely delayed the progress of the trends. We believed we should give peaceful movement one last chance." Chan, Tai and the third co-founder, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, are among the nine Occupy leaders charged over the demonstrations. Tai, Chan and Chu each face three charges: conspiracy to cause public nuisance, inciting others to cause public nuisance, and inciting people to incite others to cause public nuisance. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years in jail. Speaking on the same Commercial Radio programme, Chu said he was planning for prison life. He said he had thought of what topics to study, books to read and articles to write. "We have been fighting for democracy for over 30 years," Chu said. "The central government kept promising us we could get it but it kept taking [the promises] back. We value fairness. If there is no fairness in the system, society will divide." Writing in the British newspaper The Guardian, the imprisoned student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung said he had no regrets and remained proud of his commitment to the Occupy movement. "After reading Nelson Mandela's autobiography and the memoirs of the recently deceased Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, I can't help but think: what are these British-style marching exercises and the bad food here in Hong Kong compared to their sufferings?" wrote Wong, referring to Pik Uk correctional institution, where he is serving a six-month sentence. Wong claimed Hong Kong had already entered a heightened authoritarian era and it was a "new normal" for activists to risk becoming a political prisoners. Wong said his generation would not hold back until democracy arrives in Hong Kong, and called on the world not to forget the city. Wong, alongside student leaders Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang, were sentenced to six to eight months in prison for storming the government headquarters in the run-up to the Occupy movement in 2014. They were originally given community service but the High Court in August ruled in favour of the government's bid for tougher sentences. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao releases blueprint for tourism development in next 15 years (Xinhua)
2017-09-28
The tourism office of China's Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) on Thursday published the final version of the blueprint for tourism development in the next 15 years, consisting of key objectives, strategies and action plans for short and long term implementation. Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes told a press conference that the Belt and Road Initiative and Macao's vision to build itself into a world tourism and leisure center have opened up a new horizon of possibilities for the tourism industry in the SAR. In 2015, MGTO began studying and formulating a Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan to make systematic plans on building and managing the tourism economy. In the preparatory process, the office has conducted a range of studies such as international forums, questionnaire surveys, site visits, interviews and benchmark analyses. The master plan proposes eight key objectives, 33 strategies and 91 action plans for short-, medium- and long-term implementation. The key objectives include Diversify Tourism Products and Experiences, Rebrand as a Multi-day Destination, and Manage Tourism Carrying Capacity. The master plan also suggests that with those measures, Macao can enjoy the new opportunities by leveraging its extensive experience engaging in international tourism organizations, unique cultures and historical legacy, and become a core tourism city of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Following the release of the master plan, the SAR government will establish a cross-departmental coordination group, led by the secretary for social affairs and culture who will lead collaboration across departments and oversee the implementation progress of the action plans. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Wife of Taiwanese activist detained in mainland China asks for visit (SCMP)
2017-09-28
The wife of a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist put on trial in mainland China for subverting state power is asking for a visit with her husband amid tense relations between Beijing and Taipei. Lee Ching-yu said Beijing had no right to deprive her of the right to visit her husband, Lee Ming-che, and accused the authorities of denying her husband and family members basic legal guarantees. Lee Ming-che's detention is "not in compliance with any law or procedure and violates human rights conventions. [Mainland Chinese authorities] failed to notify family members, denied them the right to visit, and ignored the requests of a civilised society", Lee said. Lee Ming-che conducted online lectures on Taiwan's democratisation and managed a fund for families of political prisoners in mainland China. He was detained upon crossing the border in southern China on March 19 and was put on trial earlier this month. No verdict has been announced. At a news conference on Wednesday, a mainland cabinet spokesman did not comment directly on Lee's case, but said recognition of Taiwan as a part of China was becoming a global trend. A former Japanese province, Taiwan split from the mainland amid civil war in 1949 and Beijing cut off contacts with the administration of Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen last year after she refused to endorse Beijing's position that Taiwan is a part of China's territory. "We oppose various forms of Taiwan independence activities and are willing to continue to expand cross-strait communications, promote cross-strait economic and social integration and enhance support and close relations between the cross-strait compatriots," Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said. In response, newly appointed Taiwanese Premier William Lai reiterated that the self-governing island democracy of 23 million encompassed all the attributes of a sovereign nation, although it had yet to declare itself formally independent from mainland China. "No matter from which aspect, Taiwan is a sovereign country," Ma said. ^ top ^

China opposes any official contact, military links between US and Taiwan (Global Times)
2017-09-27
China resolutely opposes any official contact and military links between the United States and Taiwan, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said Wednesday. Ma made the comments when asked about the US National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision on mutual warship docking between Taiwan and the United States "The Taiwan issue concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and is also the most important and sensitive issue in China-US relations," Ma said. The spokesman said that China's stance remained clear and consistent. ^ top ^

Taiwan's new premier risks Beijing's wrath after affirming support for island's independence (SCMP)
2017-09-27
Taiwanese Premier William Lai Ching-te has openly identified himself as a supporter of independence for the island – a statement certain to incense Beijing. In delivering his first administrative report to parliament on Tuesday, Lai was questioned by opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party legislators over his stance on some sensitive cross-strait issues – including whether he supports Taiwanese independence and his views on the mainland. "I am a political worker who advocates Taiwan independence, but I am also a pragmatic pro-Taiwan independence theorist," Lai, who took office earlier this month, said. He is the first Taiwanese premier to openly acknowledge his pro-independence status. Beijing has dismissed the prospect of Taiwan becoming an independent country as impossible. Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, said Beijing resolutely opposed any form of Taiwan independence, by words or deeds. "The mainland and Taiwan belong to China, and their relations are never state-to-state relationships, nor one China, one Taiwan. As an inseparable part of the Chinese territory, Taiwan is never a country, and can never become one," Ma said in a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday. Beijing has repeatedly warned that it would attack the island if it declares formal independence. The timing of the comments – ahead of the 19th national congress of the Communist Party of China – is likely to deepen the mainland authorities' ire. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province of China that must be reunited with the mainland one day, if necessary by force. The island has had a separate administration since the end of the civil war in 1949 between Communist and Nationalist forces, when the defeated KMT forces fled to Taipei where they set up an interim government. During the legislators' queries, Lai, known as a pro-independence fundamentalist, also maintained that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are "independent of each other, with Taiwan being an independent sovereign state carrying the designation the Republic of China". Asked if his pro-independence stance contradicted a position he once described as being "pro-China, loving Taiwan", Lai insisted there was no contradiction at all. "Pro-China, loving Taiwan means showing goodwill and reaching out to China in a friendly manner, while keeping Taiwan at the centre," he noted. Addressing Beijing as China, Lai said what is most important is to strengthen Taiwan and to continue exchanges with "China, the Beijing authorities". He added: "We are willing to make friends with them." Taiwan's presidential office later issued a statement, saying that the government of President Tsai Ing-wen has never changed its position that "the Republic of China is a sovereign independent country", nor has it changed its dedication to peace in the region and maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait. It said Taiwan would not return to the old confrontational tactic in its dealings with the mainland and would keep its promise and show goodwill towards the mainland. In her inaugural speech in May last year, Tsai promised to maintain the status quo. She said she would handle cross-strait relations in line with the constitution of the Republic of China – the official title of Taiwan – a statement that essentially reflected her stance that she would not declare independence. Lai's comments have the potential to cause more trouble for Tsai's government as Beijing, already upset by her refusal to accept the "one-China principle", has suspended official talks and exchanges with Taiwan since June last year. "With China's Communist Party preparing for the 19th party congress to determine the course of the mainland in the next five years, what Lai said shows he has guts. "But I don't know if such guts will bring any risk and danger to Taiwan," said Yeh Yu-lan, a former professor of national security and cross-strait studies at National Police University. Liu Guoshen, director of the Taiwan research institute at Xiamen University, said the comments by Lai were an open challenge to Beijing's assertion that Taiwan and the mainland were never "independent of each other". "As premier, Lai should not have said something like this", Liu said, contrasting it with the relative leeway he had in his previous role as mayor of Tainan. Liu added that the comments would only "defeat the purpose of the Tsai government in staying restrained over its cross-strait policy in the past year or so". ^ top ^

 

Economy

China to deepen VAT reform (Xinhua)
2017-09-28
China will continue value-added tax (VAT) reform to support economic development and restructuring, Premier Li Keqiang has said. The country looks to push forward supply-side structural reform, deepen reform and opening-up, simplify administrative procedures, cut taxes and administrative fees, and create a business environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, promotes industrial upgrading and ensures fair competition, Li said at a symposium he chaired Wednesday. The reform of replacing business taxes with VAT was first piloted in Shanghai in 2012. It was expanded nationwide in May 2016. The reform has made good progress and saved 1.7 trillion yuan (about 260 billion U.S. dollars) of taxes for business owners, according to a statement released after the symposium. Li said the policy should be improved to ensure that tax burden on businesses is reduced across the board. Financial and construction industries, as well as small businesses, should be able to claim enough VAT credits, he noted. The premier expected study of ways of further reducing VAT for the manufacturing sector and to optimize the tax structure. Measures should be taken to simplify tax collection and crack down on tax evasion and fraud, he noted. Reform should match central and local governments' responsibilities with their fiscal expenditure, while the local tax system should be improved, according to the premier. ^ top ^

China to keep lead over West in developing consumer technologies, says UBS (SCMP)
2017-09-27
China will continue to lead the world in disruptive business-to-consumer technologies as it mines the commercial benefits of its vast e-commerce and social media platforms, according to UBS. The country's investments in research and development in those fields and other disruptive technologies are on track to surpass spending by the United States next year, analysts at the Swiss global financial services firm said. "In a lot of these consumer-based technologies, China is far better than the West," said UBS equity analyst Sundeep Gantori at a briefing on the sidelines of the company's Disruptive Technology CEO Summit on Tuesday. "Look at the way Chinese companies have monetised social networking apps, which is something that global companies are still struggling with." Tencent Holdings, the world's largest video game company by revenue, provides the best example of such commercial success with its social media and messaging platforms, WeChat and QQ, which had a combined 963 million monthly active users in the quarter ended June 30. Since its launch in 2011, WeChat has evolved into a must-have mobile app on the mainland, used for an array of activities, from shopping and getting food delivered to booking a doctor's appointment and paying bills. Gantori pointed out that China's e-commerce market leads that of the United States in the fast-growing online grocery segment. He estimated that China's online grocery sales have penetrated about 5 per cent of the domestic market, compared with around 1 per cent in the US. Alibaba Group Holding's Tmall.com and JD.com are the top online grocery providers on the mainland, according to grocery research organisation IGD. UBS forecast the online grocery segment to have a 6.6 per cent share of the total domestic grocery market by 2020, up from 3.1 per cent this year. In terms of business-to-business technologies, Gantori said Chinese companies remain behind their Western counterparts. The West leads China in the fields of robotics and automation, as well as financial technologies like blockchain, he added. "In artificial intelligence, China still lags behind the US, whether in terms of attracting investments or talent," he said. Management consulting firm Zinnov has estimated that the US had 65,000 people working in AI-related jobs in 2015, compared with 20,000 in China and 18,000 in India in the same year. Amy Lo, head of UBS Hong Kong, who also serves as chairman and head of greater China at UBS Wealth Management, said: "There will be an exponential growth in AI-related talent as the [Asia-Pacific] region transitions from old to new economy". By 2025, the combined AI-based talent pools of China and India will total 155,000, higher than the projected 110,000 in the US in the same period, according to Lo. A UBS report on innovation published on Monday predicted that China would already surpass annual research and development spending of the US by next year, without providing figures. ^ top ^

China steps up financial support to small and micro businesses (Xinhua)
2017-09-27
China will further bolster its small and micro businesses with more financial measures to increase vitality of the economy, according to a decision made at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. In order to boost policy support and encourage financial institutions to step up financial services, credit ceiling of VAT exemption for interest derived from bank lendings to small and micro businesses, farmers and self-employed will be expanded from 100,000 yuan to 1 million yuan between Dec. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2019. The stamp tax exemption for the borrowing contracts of small and micro businesses and the VAT exemption for those with a monthly sales volume of less than 30,000 yuan will be extended to 2020. More efforts will be made to put the inclusive finance departments of state-owned banks in place at grassroots levels. Commercial banks will enjoy cut in reserve requirement ratio if their total or percentage of increase in individual loans of less than 5 million yuan to small and micro businesses, farmers, people under poverty line, students and guaranteed loans for startups reach a certain standard. "The small and micro businesses have been a strong pillar for employment, offered strong support for large and medium-sized enterprises, and increased vitality of the society," Li said. "We should encourage financial institutions to lower their footing and strengthen capacities to serve the real economy." "Financial resources should flow more to the real economy, especially to agriculture and small and micro businesses to ease their credit crunch and high financing cost," he said. They have played a pivotal role in creating new jobs, as each small and micro enterprise can help create eight new jobs and each self-employed business creates 2.8 jobs, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The meeting decided that the government will make greater efforts to develop governmental financing guarantee and re-guarantee institutions, with a national financing guarantee fund also in the pipeline. Venture capital funds will be encouraged to devote more investment to small businesses in their early periods. "The development of inclusive finance should be a priority, so that the small and micro businesses and other weaker links can receive consistent support. The financing of small and micro businesses is a global challenge. But it is of major importance, and should be highly prioritized." Li said. "We managed to make some progress over the years, reaching targets of growth rate of bank lending to small and micro businesses no lower than lending across the board, number of individual loans and rate for loan approval no lower than the same period last year. Such measures have increased SME's chance of survival," he said. Policies for small and micro businesses should cover self-employed businesses and farmers as well to increase policy effectiveness, he added. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

No choice for US but to accept a nuclear North Korea, ex-CIA analyst says (SCMP)
2017-09-29
The US has no choice but to accept the nuclearisation of North Korea and China may need to live with a South Korea that is nuclear-armed or at least more heavily weaponised than the US's ally is now, said a northeast Asia analyst formerly with the CIA. US acceptance of a nuclear North Korea would need to come with military measures that include at minimum a robust missile defence system in South Korea regardless of how China might react to such a scenario, Su Mi Terry, who served as a senior North Korea analyst in the CIA under former President George W. Bush, told the South China Morning Post. "We can be creative about containment and deterrence," Terry, now a senior adviser at Bower Group Asia, a consultancy specialising in Asia-Pacific issues, said in an interview. A containment and deterrence policy "doesn't have to mean that we just sit around and say 'that's OK'. It may mean missile defence. It may mean ultimately after North Korea acquires its capability to attack the United States with a nuclear-tipped ICBM, it may mean that South Korea will have to go nuclear". Terry's remarks reflect what some analysts are saying about realistic outcomes for the stand-off on the Korean Peninsula, but run counter to the official line in Washington and Beijing. While the US and China have cooperated on passing unanimously a series of sanctions against Pyongyang and condemnations of the country's nuclear weapons programme, the deployment of a US missile defence system in South Korea has stirred China's anger. In addition to her role at Bower Group, Terry is also a senior research scholar at the Columbia University's Weatherhead East Asian Institute. China has consistently opposed the deployment of the US's Terminal High Altitude Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea, saying it would do little to deter the missile threat from North Korea while allowing the US military to use its radar to look deep into China's territory and at its missile systems. The US and South Korea have resisted such calls, arguing that THAAD is a defensive system only. Yet, an effective missile defence for South Korea would likely require even more than the existing THAAD deployment. "The fact is that neither THAAD nor Aegis, the two systems that are the most relevant to the defence of Japan and Guam, have ever been used against a missile fired in anger. What would happen if they were to do so is a question better left unanswered," Will Saetren, a research associate and nuclear weapons policy specialist at the Institute for China-America Studies, said in an opinion piece this week. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "would have to tell the US exactly when the test was going to happen, provide the exact location of the launch site, the trajectory of the missile and the intended target of the test," Saetren added. "That is not likely to happen." The likelihood that the US and China will clash over containment and deterrence options has risen following a volley of militaristic threats between US President Donald Trump and Kim. North Korea "will have to continue with the provocations, they will have to continue and complete their [nuclear] programme because Kim Jong-un has made it personal and Trump has made it personal", Terry said. "You see Kim Jong-un's statement which came out after Trump made his UN speech. I've never seen anything like that, where he says he takes it personally, writing in the first person on the front page of Rodong Shimbun (an official North Korean government newspaper) and putting his name to it. There's no way Kim Jong-un is going to back down from that. If he was going to back down he would not have made it so personal." Terry was referring to Kim's response to a threat Trump made in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last week to "totally destroy" North Korea. Kim said in his response carried by state media: "I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire." China and the US remain engaged in finding a solution to their concerns around North Korea, with both sides aiming for denuclearisation. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left Washington for Beijing on Thursday and will be there until October 1 for talks that will include Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes. Tillerson and his Chinese counterparts "will discuss a range of issues, including [President Donald Trump's] planned travel to the region, the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and trade and investment", the US State Department said in an announcement earlier this week. ^ top ^

All North Korean firms and joint ventures in China to be closed (SCMP)
2017-09-28
China announced on Thursday that all North Korean firms and joint ventures in China would be closed, as part of the latest sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons programme. All existing joint ventures with North Korean firms in China, as well as entities solely owned by North Korean companies or individuals, are to be closed within 120 days from September 11, when the sanctions were adopted, a notice from the Ministry of Commerce said. Joint ventures set up overseas by Chinese firms and North Korean entities or individuals should also be closed, it said. But companies approved by the United Nations Security Council sanctions committee – including non-profit and non-commercial infrastructure projects – would be exempted, the notice said. The UN Security Council voted unanimously on September 11 to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea – including a ban on textile exports and restrictions on its oil supply – in response to its sixth and largest nuclear test earlier this month. The sanctions were described as the harshest yet against North Korea and could result in Pyongyang losing about US$800 million a year from textile exports and another US$500 million a year from its overseas workers. The amount invested by North Koreans in China is small – direct investment totalled US$22 million from 2006 to 2015 according to the statistics bureau – and it has declined in recent years. It fell from US$11.2 million in 2010 to US$290,000 in 2014, according to commerce ministry data. And it was just US$70,000 in 2015 – the lowest level since 1997, according to the Korea International Trade Association in Seoul. Investments were mainly in restaurants – North Koreans run more than 100 across China, including 26 in Beijing, the trade association said in a report last year. Zhang Huizhi, a North Korean affairs expert at Jilin University in Changchun, said there were not many joint ventures in China between North Koreans and Chinese, but they were mostly restaurants. "The number of restaurants has been declining since last year, when South Korea asked its citizens not to visit North Korean restaurants in foreign countries," Zhang said. "Those restaurants don't generate a huge amount of revenue for the Kim [Jong-un] regime, so this ban won't fundamentally hurt the North Korean economy." But she said the ban would further damage relations between Beijing and Pyongyang. News of the ban had yet to reach some businesses, however. At one North Korean restaurant near the embassy in Beijing on Thursday, an employee told the South China Morning Post that it was business as usual and they had not heard about the shutdown. Another specialist in North Korean affairs at Jilin University, Sun Xingjie, said the ban would also affect North Korea's textile industry. Of the 188,300 North Koreans who travelled to China in 2015, some 25,900 said they were in the country for business, while 94,200 were there for work, according to the National Tourism Administration. ^ top ^

China makes "enormous" efforts in addressing Korean Peninsula nuclear issue (Xinhua)
2017-09-28
China has made "enormous" efforts to help address the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, said Wu Qian, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense on Thursday. "The core of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is the conflict between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States," Wu said at a press conference. "We hope countries concerned can take a responsible attitude and make remarks aimed at easing tensions and do something concrete," Wu said, asking those countries to look to themselves before criticizing China. ^ top ^

China insists coal imports do not breach North Korea nuclear sanctions (SCMP)
2017-09-28
China has dismissed concerns that it has violated United Nations sanctions against North Korea, after customs data showed that it imported coal from the reclusive state in August. A spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce Gao Feng said China had comprehensively implemented United Nations sanctions on North Korea. Gao told reporters in Beijing that UN sanctions gave a "cushioning" or buffer period for the implementation of the ban on coal and seafood imports from North Korea. The comment was in response to a question about data from China's customs administration showing it imported 1.6 million tonnes of coal from North Korea in August. The consignment was the first since February, when Beijing banned fuel purchases from its neighbour. The commerce ministry said in August it would allow any cargoes that were already at port to clear customs as usual before the UN sanctions – imposed following a series of nuclear and missile tests – came into force on September 5. Latest customs data showed that China's petrol and diesel exports to North Korea and iron ore imports from the isolated nation fell in August following the United Nations' latest sanctions. Petrol shipments fell by more than 96 per cent in August, compared with the previous month last year, although diesel exports – at 180 tonnes – were up from zero in August 2016. Traders and industry experts said it was likely that the coal shipments had been stranded in port since Beijing introduced the ban in mid-February, but then allowed into the country ahead of the latest round of penalties against North Korea. ^ top ^

Tillerson to discuss North Korea in China (Global Times)
2017-09-27
North Korea and US President Donald Trump's trip to China will top US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's agenda in his scheduled visit to Beijing this week. The recent war of words between US and North Korean leaders has increased the unpredictability of the situation, analysts said, but the US must continue its dialogue with China about non-military solutions as it has no better option. Tillerson will visit China on September 30 at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Wednesday, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The two sides will exchange views on bilateral ties, Trump's visit to China this year and major international and regional issues, Lu said. US State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday that Tillerson "will discuss a range of issues including … the Korean Peninsula and trade and investment," according to the official website. "The Korean Peninsula is a key topic of Trump's visit to China this year. Given that the current situation is getting more intense and unpredictable, communication on the peninsula issue is an essential part of preparation for Trump's visit," said An Gang, a US studies expert and a member of the academic committee at the Pangoal Institution, a Beijing-based think tank. "In the past, China and the US focused on the solution to the problem. Now due to the new situation, it is time to talk more openly about a contingency plan for any unpredictable escalation of the crisis." A military solution is not yet the US' first option, Diao Daming, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "The US is still using sanctions as the main measure because its domestic economic and political situation will not allow the Trump administration to launch a new war at this moment," he said. The US Treasury Department on Tuesday designated eight North Korean banks and 26 individuals linked to North Korean financial networks for sanctions, according to the official website of the department. "China opposes unilateral sanctions outside the UN framework and 'long-arm jurisdiction' from the US. To keep cooperating with China on this issue, the US will take China's position into consideration," An said. China has consistently contested the unilateral imposition of sanctions on third-party companies that the US believes to have ties with Pyongyang. The EU has also agreed on new sanctions against North Korea, according to Reuters. EU ambassadors reached initial agreement on imposing more economic sanctions on North Korea on Thursday including a largely symbolic oil embargo and a ban on investments. On Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called Trump a "mentally deranged US dotard," Pyongyang's official media the Korean Central News Agency reported. Previously Trump called Pyongyang a "band of criminals" and Kim "Rocket Man" on "a suicide mission," in his UN speech. On Friday Trump tweeted Kim is "obviously a madman." China and Russia urged Trump and Kim to stop the war of words and adopt more rational methods to solve the crisis. "We hope that politicians from both the US and North Korea realize that war is not an option to solve the peninsula problem or address their concerns," foreign ministry spokesman Lu said at the daily briefing on Tuesday. However, the word war hasn't stopped. On Monday, North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho accused Trump of declaring war on Pyongyang by tweeting over the weekend that North Korea "won't be around much longer." He also said North Korea has the right to shoot down US bombers any time, CNN reported. ^ top ^

What if worst comes to worst with North Korea? China 'must be ready' for war on the peninsula (SCMP)
2017-09-24
Beijing needs to come up with backup plans – either on its own or with Washington and Seoul – in case the crisis on the Korean peninsula escalates into conflict, a leading Chinese analyst has warned. But other observers said it was still too early to discuss a post-war Pyongyang with other countries, insisting there is no sign of the North Korean regime falling. In an article published in Australia-based online magazine East Asia Forum earlier this month, Peking University international relations professor Jia Qingguo called on China to work with the United States and South Korea on contingency plans. Analysts said it was rare for such a subject to be raised so publicly by a Chinese academic. In his article, Jia said four major areas needed to be addressed: North Korea's nuclear arsenal, an influx of refugees, restoration of social order, and post-crisis political arrangements on the peninsula. "So far Beijing has resisted the idea for fear of upsetting and alienating Pyongyang. But, given recent developments, Beijing may have no better choice than to start talking with Washington and Seoul," Jia wrote. "When war becomes a real possibility, China must be prepared." He said that if the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fell, most likely as a result of a US military strike, either China or the United States should be ready to manage North Korea's nuclear facilities to prevent the spread of the weapons. A safety zone should be set up in northeast China to shelter North Korean refugees, and Beijing should talk to Washington about whether to accept a unified Korea. Sun Xingjie, a North Korea specialist at Jilin University, agreed that preparation was necessary. "Being well prepared on the border to deal with a possible nuclear or refugee crisis is a good idea," Sun said. But he also said the prospect of war was low given that North Korea already had nuclear weapons and there had never been a direct conflict between nuclear-armed nations. China has taken various steps in recent months to signal its impatience with its neighbour, the latest being an immediate ban on imports of North Korean textiles and a tighter cap on oil supplies from next year. Nevertheless, China would not be willing to talk to the US about a contingency plan unless the ultimate sanction – a full oil embargo – was imposed, according to Cheng Xiaohe, an international relations researcher at Renmin University. Cheng said that turning off the oil taps completely would probably trigger an economic or humanitarian crisis or a pre-emptive strike by Pyongyang. No matter who made the first strike, China must safeguard its own interests, he said. To that end, authorities in the military, civil defence and border control would no doubt have strategies in place. "[China]must take quick action to minimise damage to China's own interests and earn a biggest say in the post-crisis arrangement," he said. There are signs that some preparations are under way, with Xinhua reporting that Central Military Commission vice-chairman General Xu Qiliang inspected troops from the Northern Theatre Command, which covers China's border with North Korea. Cheng said that in a post-crisis Korean peninsula, China's basis interests were to rid the region of nuclear weapons and to ensure US forces remained south of the 38th parallel. Other key considerations would be a border agreement, repayment of Pyongyang's debts to China and protection of Chinese commercial holdings in North Korea. "The Chinese military should move fast to secure important facilities and locations, prevent a refugee crisis and nuclear proliferation, and ensure a good position in the follow-up international settlement," he said. Lu Chao, from the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, agreed that a massive influx of refugees from North Korea would be the biggest concern for China and neighbours, but it was still too early to discuss it. "A precondition of making a contingency plan is the likely collapse of the Kim regime, but up until now we have seen no sign of it," Lu said.^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Kh.Battulga receives EBRD First Vice President (Montsame)
2017-09-28
On September 27, President of Mongolia Kh. Battulga received Philip Bennett, First Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Frans Weekers, EBRD Governing Board member representing Mongolia, the Netherlands, Macedonia and China and Svetlana Radchenko, EBRD Senior Banker in charge of infrastructure affairs. Beginning the meeting, EBRD's First Vice President Philip Bennett said it has been more than a decade since the Bank started operating in Mongolia, and the amount of investment from EBRD to Mongolia has reached about USD 1.6 billion. 100 percent of EBRD investment went to private sector. Bennett wanted to highlight that investment to Oyu Tolgoi was one of the largest. He underlined that EBRD set out four priorities in the strategy for Mongolia, and the priorities revolve around promoting non-extractive sectors. Investment of approximately USD 100 million was dedicated to promoting agriculture and land-farming, especially, to milk and dairy productions. EBRD has also been supporting cashmere production by acting as the main investor for Gobi Cashmere Company. Another focus is placed on renewable energy, especially on commissioning of wind mills, he noted. Bennett shared that he has dicussed with the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar about cooperating in urban development, solid waste procession, air pollution reduction, upgrading public transport, improving water treatment equipment, heat distribution and urban planning. Thus, EBRD is considering involvement in government-administered actions in addition to investing in private sector. The EBRD First Vice President reported on the Bank's ongoing operations in promoting small and medium enterprises, healthcare and finance. President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga shared information about the projects, which were initiated during his time as the Minister for Food and Agriculture and Minister for Road, Transport and Urban Development. He said, "Unemployment and poverty are the foremost priorities for our discussion. In order to improve the situation, we should support expansion of national businesses. Each year, Mongolians export a total of 10 million pieces of raw hides to China. Value of three pieces of sheep skin has fallen down to an equal amount to that of a cup of instant noodles. This is a tragedy. A major economic sector of Mongolia--Agriculture is being left out. The economy is revolving around mining. When I was the Minister for Food and Agriculture, we developed a project which would have a piece of animal hide added value of up to USD 300. The project was about producing final products from animal hides with utilization of Spanish technology. The idea has been tested successfully. The 10 million pieces of hide is the source of income for Mognolian livestock herders. Air pollution problem can be settled by separating the capital city into two sections: an administrative town and a satellite city. While working as the Minister for Road, Transport, Construction and Urban Development, I initiated a project which would train citizens in the field of civil engineering and allow mortgage loans for apartments. Drawing of the model satellite city was developed by German architects. The next priority is food. We organized a national forum about this issue. A part of Chinggis Bond investment went to financing greenhouse-farming, which resulted in increased harvest, during my term as the Minister for Food and Agriculture. It is possible for Mongolia to carry parts of ever-increasing trade turnover between Russia and China by building 1,100 kilometer long highway connecting Altanbulag and Zamyn-Uud. There is also a railway project. Number of workplaces should be increased dramatically in order to reduce unemployment and eradicate poverty," Bennett recalled his visit to Oyu Tolgoi while being in Mongolia, and said the Bank will focus on the issue of providing the mine personnels with food, uniforms and other needs produced by national companies. President Battulga agreed that this is entirely possible. The sides declared that their interests intersect in many areas. EBRD First Vice President Philip Bennett said he is pleased for the fact that someone who is experienced in quite a few sectors has been elected the President of Mongolia, and expressed his confidence in fruitful cooperation in the future. ^ top ^

General program on funding to be consent with Parliament (Montsame)
2017-09-28
The Cabinet Meeting held Wednesday discussed a draft general program on financing to be established between the Government of Mongolia and the Asian Development Bank. It will be consulted with a relevant Standing Committee of the parliament. The Government of Mongolia and the Asian Development Bank agreed on partnership strategy in 2017-2020, to cooperate in agriculture, finance, health, employment, nature protection, education and social sectors. ADB will allocate financial source of USD468 million to Mongolia in 2017-2018, USD404 million out of it will be financed from ordinary capital resources and USD64 million from concessional ordinary capital resources. The 2% interest loan will be repaid in 25 years, with exemption from loan principal repayment for the first five years. The projects to be financed from the loan will focus on economic diversification, improvement of business environment, stability of social protection sector and creating jobs. ^ top ^

Who will be the next Prime Minister of Mongolia? (Gogo Mongolia)
2017-09-26
The ruling Mongolian People`s Party (MPP) will hold a conference today to nominate a candidate for the next prime minister of Mongolia. Anyone can be nominated for the prime minister. MP U.Enkhtuvshin officially announced his nomination on Friday, Sep 22, while MPs U.Hurelsukh and N.Enkhbold are also in the race. Board of MPP decided that its 315 members will nominate a candidate for the next prime minister today at the conference. Then the new prime minister to be sworn on the first day of the fall session of Parliament and the new cabinet expects to be formed within the first 10 days of October. ^ top ^

Construction begins in China-Mongolia cross-border economic zone (Gogo Mongolia)
2017-09-22
China 22MCC Group Thursday signed an agreement on infrastructure programs with the municipal government of Erenhot, China's largest hub for cross-border trade with Mongolia, marking the official beginning of construction on the China-Mongolia economic cooperation zone. Under the agreement, China 22MCC Group is responsible for the construction of underground pipelines, office buildings, roads and plants within the Chinese section of the zone. The total investment for the projects is around 824 million yuan (125 million U.S. dollars). Construction of the infrastructure will take two years, and China 22MCC Group will be the operator of the facilities for another 13 years. In 2015, China and Mongolia agreed to dedicate 9 square kilometers on each side of the border to a joint economic zone, which comprises land in Erenhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Zamyn-Uud, Mongolia. In May 2016, the two countries formally agreed on a comprehensive plan for the economic cooperation zone, which is expected to bolster trade in the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. The zone is a all-inclusive platform integrating international trade, logistics and warehousing, e-commerce, tourism and entertainment, as well as international finance. ^ 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.
 
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage