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
  9-13.10.17, No. 691  
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Foreign Policy

China withdraws candidate to lead Unesco and backs Egypt after US and Israel quit heritage body (SCMP)
2017-10-13
China has withdrawn its candidate to be director general of Unesco in favour of Egypt's candidate Moushira Khattab. The announcement follows the decision by the United States and Israel to pull out of the UN's cultural agency in protest at what they claim is an "anti-Israel bias". The body has been critical of Israel in the past and the decision to nominate the West Bank city of Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site angered Israel, which wanted its long Jewish history to be recognised. The withdrawal of the United States, which is meant to provide a fifth of Unesco's funding, is a major blow for the Paris-based organisation founded after the Second World War to help protect cultural and natural heritage around the world. China had nominated Qian Tang, who has been serving as assistant director general of Unesco since April 2010, to be the agency's head, but decided to withdraw after the latest round of voting on Thursday. "China announces the withdrawal of its candidature to Unesco in support of Egypt," wrote Egypt's foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid on his official Twitter account. He described China as a "long-standing and true friend" in the tweet, Egypt's Ahram Online media reported. The head of Unseco is selected by a vote of its executive board members and Qian got five votes in the third round of voting on Thursday, while Khattab got 13 votes. The withdrawal of Qian in favour of Egypt should give Khattab 18 votes, which would put her on a par with two other leading candidates: Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari and France's Audrey Azoulay. Three other candidates remain in the running – Azerbaijian's Polad Bulbuloglu, Guatemala's Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria and Vietnam's Pham Sanh Chau. ^ top ^

China offers support to Spanish government amid Catalonia crisis (SCMP)
2017-10-13
China understands and supports the Spanish government's efforts to protect the country's unity and territorial integrity, Beijing said on Thursday, amid moves by Catalonia to declare independence. The wealthy region's intention to break away has plunged Spain into its worst political crisis since an attempted military coup in 1981, with Madrid threatening to sack the Catalan government if it goes ahead. China was paying close attention, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing. China "understands and supports the Spanish government's efforts to protect national unity … and its territorial integrity," Hua said. It believes Spain has the ability to guarantee social order and people's interests in accordance with the law, she said. Beijing says it adheres to a policy of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, but it generally takes a dim view of independence or secessionist movements around the world. At home, it contends with what it says are separatist movements in its western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, and also insists that the self-ruled island of Taiwan belongs to China. Though it generally remains officially agnostic on such issues abroad, Beijing has expressed more openness towards independence votes when both sides have agreed to them, such as Scotland's unsuccessful 2014 referendum to leave the United Kingdom, and South Sudan's 2011 vote in favour of independence from Sudan. ^ top ^

China, South Korea agree to extend currency swap deal, but does it mean tensions are easing? (SCMP)
2017-10-13
South Korea said on Friday it had agreed with China to extend a currency swap deal between the countries' central banks, a decision that could point to an easing of diplomatic tensions with Beijing over security issues. The US$56 billion currency swap, which was due to have expired on Tuesday would be extended for a further three years, according to South Korea's finance ministry and the Bank of Korea. A central bank official said the agreement was struck on Tuesday, ahead of the expiration, and that the extension commenced on Wednesday. The swap ensures both central banks have access to large amounts of each other's currency should extra liquidity be needed at short notice. Some investors had earlier speculated that the two countries might fail to sign a renewal ahead of the deadline due to political tensions over South Korea's decision to host the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system. Beijing had been unofficially restricting trade and tourism with South Korea in response to Seoul's decision to host the THAAD. China said the system's powerful radar could probe deep into its territory. An analyst in Seoul said China's nod to extend the currency swap deal was a sign the chill between the two economies was thawing. Lee Sang-jae, an economist at Eugene Investment & Securities, said the decision showed Beijing would not be burning its bridges with Seoul, even if it maintained its longer term criticism of THAAD. "It shows China may not extend the ongoing boycotts to its economic policies with South Korea. There will still be tension, but them agreeing to extend the deal is good news for Seoul," Lee said. However, Cai Jian, a Korean affairs expert at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the agreement to extend the currency deal was less a sign of warming ties and more to do with Beijing's desire to promote the yuan. "I don't think this suggests any obvious change in bilateral relations … after the THAAD deployment," he said. "The currency swap deal is an important part of a greater effort to push forward the international use of the renminbi, and it would harm the interests of both China and South Korea if the swap was not extended." Furthermore, with the situation on the Korean Peninsula becoming increasingly complicated it was unlikely that there would be any significant improvement in relations between Beijing and Seoul in the near future, Cai said. "There is little room for either side to make compromises," he said. ^ top ^

Japanese man indicted on unspecified charge in China reported to have gone on trial behind closed doors (SCMP)
2017-10-13
A Chinese court in August held its first trial session for a Japanese man indicted on an unrevealed charge earlier this year, a Japanese government source said on Friday. The first hearing for Hideji Suzuki, head of a Japan-China youth exchange association, is believed to have taken place at a court in Beijing. It was closed to the public and the charge against him remains unknown, the source said. Suzuki is known to have developed friendly ties with China, but while staying in Beijing in July last year to make arrangements for a symposium he was taken into custody on suspicion of endangering national security. The allegation is often applied in cases that Beijing regards as involving espionage activities. Suzuki was indicted in June, although he had long been treated by China as a friendly figure who made valuable contributions to bilateral ties. China has been tightening its watch over foreign individuals and organisations since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012. A number of foreigners have been arrested on similar allegations, especially since a counter-espionage law came into force in 2014 and a new national security law took effect in 2015. Since 2015, at least 12 Japanese nationals have been held on such allegations or for unspecified reasons. Four of them were released in July. But eight are still in custody and it has been confirmed by Japanese officials that Chinese closed-court hearings have already started for five of them, including Suzuki. ^ top ^

Serbian president lauds CPC's unique model of success (Global Times)
2017-10-13
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has managed to create an impressive model of success that fits China's realities, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said ahead of the upcoming CPC congress. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, "the specific model that China created so far has shown so many terrific results," the president said to Xinhua in an interview. "Socialism with Chinese characteristics means something very important -- that China keeps its independence, its foreign policy and its sovereign state," he said, noting that China always makes decisions independently and in accordance with international law. Meanwhile, innovation, reform and modernity have become keywords of China's progress and prosperity, and the CPC has led China to successfully implement a lot of difficult reforms in different fields and different social spheres, added the president. The reason for China's achievements and confidence, Vucic said, lies in the CPC's strict self-governance, commitment to reform and sustainable development, promotion of Chinese culture, and contribution to the world. He pointed out that anti-corruption forms the precondition for development and is essential to leading a party of some 89 million members. CPC members "symbolize the future of all other people" in China and "need to be a role model to all the others," said the president, who also leads the ruling Progressive Party of Serbia. The CPC's battle against corruption, he added, has given "significant strength" to the party's leadership to show the nation and the world that "China is very resolute" in the rule of law and in bringing higher living standards to the people. Moreover, he pointed out that because of the CPC's development plans China has continued its long stretch of impressive growth, registering 6.9 percent in the first half of the year. As a result, Europeans' skepticism of the Chinese model has faded away, noted the president. In a nutshell, "China should stay with something that fits you, that brings you good results, and that is socialism with Chinese characteristics," said Vucic. Since its 12th national congress in 1982, the CPC has always stressed "socialism with Chinese characteristics." The 19th congress, set to open on Oct. 18 in Beijing, is expected to set a blueprint for China to continue its growth and development plans. ^ top ^

US government quiet as Chinese agents cripple spy operations in Beijing (SCMP)
2017-10-12
A US consulate official was plucked off a street by plain clothes security officers last year in Chengdu, interrogated overnight and forced to confess his involvement in acts of treachery, Politico wrote, the latest in a series of similar reports by US media. Detained by China's security apparatus because they believed the American to be a CIA officer, he had to be "rescued" and immediately evacuated from China, Politico reported, citing anonymous US national security officers. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that the Chinese government killed or imprisoned more than a dozen agents working for the US in China between 2010 and 2012. Newsweek magazine followed The New York Times report with a piece detailing how, a decade ago, undercover Chinese agents began targeting American workers constructing the US embassy in Beijing by tempting them with sex workers. To this day, CIA employees in the embassy "are afraid to talk above a whisper in their own technologically insulated offices out of fear of bugs", Newsweek wrote. These reports suggest a more aggressive effort by the Chinese government to bribe, intimidate, and gather intelligence on US nationals. It's an issue the US government keeps quiet about for reasons including Washington's strategy towards North Korea and the damage a public outcry would do to US companies operating in China. Regardless of how prepared the US government is against espionage and counter espionage, Washington would not likely discuss with Chinese counterparts any details about detentions such as the one reported in Politico or the lost spies in Beijing either publicly or behind closed doors. "Even as nations spy on nations, they also cooperate with each other. If espionage is front and center, it makes cooperation more difficult," Robert Daly said in an interview with the South China Morning Post. "In the case of China if this was something that the US were howling to the press about, it would be harder for the US to cooperate with China on North Korea." North Korea emerged as the US's most pressing foreign policy and military threat after a series of nuclear detonations and intercontinental ballistic missiles that experts say could reach the US mainland. Pyongyang's military provocations will be at the top of the agenda when US President Donald Trump meets with his counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing next month as planned. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley worked with her Chinese counterpart Liu Jieyi to get two new sets of sanctions against North Korea unanimously passed this year in the UN Security Council. Liu recently left his post as China's UN ambassador and was appointed deputy head of the country's Taiwan Affairs Office. Espionage, infiltration and influence "are different things, but all part of China's quest for what it calls comprehensive national power, which it wants in order to create an international environment that's more amenable to the purposes of the [China's Communist Party]," added Daly, former Beijing-based diplomat and director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the US at the Washington-based Wilson Centre. "Within that context, and with China having the money that it has, that it would be more aggressive in the area of international espionage is no surprise" Espionage by China against the US became easier, Politico and other media have reported, after China's 2015 hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which delivered personal data on millions of US federal workers to Beijing's intelligence units. Information in that hack ranged from Social Security numbers and birthdays to details about personal relationships. "We have considerable vulnerabilities that Chinese are adept at exploiting," Daly added. "There have always been major problems with our being underresourced and with a lack of coordination particularly between the CIA and the FBI." Another reason why the US will not likely bring up espionage is the extent to which Washington conducts its own espionage and counter espionage operations against China. "What neither you nor I know is what the other side of this equation is. What does the US do?" Daly said. "Analogous stories of this kind will never be in the Chinese press because it's state controlled and they hold it much tighter." While reports of Chinese espionage have been more prevalent recently, that doesn't mean it is a new phenomenon. Spying on the US by China's Communists predated the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and Washington in the 1970s and the revolution in 1949 that brought the Communists to power. As with the OPM hack, a lack of vigilance caused some US vulnerabilities. Larry Wu-tai Chin, who worked as a translator for the US Army in China during second world war and then at the US Consulate in Shanghai after the war, supplied the names of Communist Party prisoners of war collaborating with the US government, noted China scholar John Pomfret pointed out in his recent book, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom. Responsible for the deaths of many Chinese soldiers returning after the war, Chin wound up working for the CIA in California, where he found ways to get classified reports to Beijing, according to the book. "During a polygraph test at the CIA, Chin admitted to being a ladies' man and a gambler with domestic troubles. Those admissions, bizarrely, did not set off any alarm bells, and Chin was granted top-secret security clearance." ^ top ^

Chinese frigate, jets drive away US warship from South China Sea (Global Times)
2017-10-11
China sent a frigate and fighter jets to warn and drive away a US Navy destroyer, after the latter sailed near islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday, China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Wednesday. The frigate Huangshan, two J-11B fighters and one helicopter were sent in response to the US Navy destroyer's presence, a MND spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the Chinese military will enhance its self-defense in light of the US military's constant provocation, and will firmly defend China's sovereignty and interests. The MND's response came after the US guided missile destroyer Chafee sailed near islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The report said the destroyer "carried out normal maneuvering operations that challenged 'excessive maritime claims.'" Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also denounced the mission as a violation of China's sovereignty and interests on Wednesday. "China strongly opposes the move and has lodged solemn representations with the US … and the Chinese government will continue to take firm measures to safeguard national territory, sovereignty and maritime interests," Hua said at a daily press conference. The MND added that the two countries' navies are in a crucial period of developing ties, and that China urges the US to correct its mistake and do more to improve bilateral ties. In August, the USS John S. McCain illegally sailed in waters near a reef in the South China Sea. MND spokesperson Wu Qian said in a statement that Chinese Navy missile frigates Huaibei and Fushun were immediately sent to identify the US warship, warn and expel it. ^ top ^

What new ambassador means for China-Malaysia ties (SCMP)
2017-10-11
China has appointed one of its senior Southeast Asia hands as its new Malaysia envoy, This Week in Asia has learned, a development foreign policy observers say is yet another show of the fast-deepening partnership between the two countries. Bai Tian, one of four deputy director generals in the Chinese foreign ministry's Asian affairs department, will take over as ambassador to Malaysia from Huang Huikang, who has held the position since 2014. Huang's ambassadorial tenure coincided with a surge in Chinese investments in Malaysian infrastructure and real estate projects, as well as heightened ties between the two countries militaries' and top political leaders. Huang, a former law professor, leaves his current appointment on October 18 to take up a position with the International Law Commission, the UN's top jurisprudence body. Multiple sources including current and former Malaysia diplomats as well as foreign policy researchers confirmed the impending appointment of Bai Tian. An embassy spokeswoman said she had "no idea of his agenda", when asked about the incoming ambassador's start date. Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan, chairman of the high-level Malaysia-China Friendship Association, said the appointment "reflects the importance China attaches to its relations with Malaysia, and further consolidates the friendship and trust that have been built over the decades". Shahriman Lockman, a Kuala-Lumpur-based foreign policy expert, said "Mr Bai Tian's appointment seems to suggest Beijing wants a steady hand at the helm of its embassy in Kuala Lumpur." Bai Tian has previously served as deputy chief of mission in Manila, and has been a mainstay in Beijing's delegation to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum, an annual summit involving the 10-nation bloc and its closest partners. "Even though this is his first posting as an ambassador, Mr Bai Tian knows Southeast Asia well and wouldn't have much trouble filling Dr Huang's shoes," Shahriman said. Oh Ei Sun, another expert on Malaysia-China ties, said along with Huang – who headed the Chinese foreign ministry's treaty and law department before becoming envoy to Malaysia – the latest appointment showed "China nowadays sends director level diplomats to Malaysia, testifying to their taking Malaysia very seriously". Huang has been feted by Malaysian officials ahead of his departure. At a farewell dinner last week, Malaysia's top ethnic Chinese political leader hailed Huang as "the most popular, hardworking and influential" Chinese ambassador since the two countries formalised bilateral ties in 1974. "In pushing for China's Belt and Road Initiative, you have led us to join the bandwagon. You have indeed done a meaningful job," said Liow Tiong Lai, the transport minister. Liow leads the Malaysian Chinese Association, a constituent party of Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition. Huang in reply reportedly said "I may not be the best Chinese diplomat, but I can boast that I am the most hardworking ambassador". Abdul Majid said while the two countries' political leaders catalysed the deepening ties, "Huang as the man on the ground … executed and delivered these policies successfully." The former diplomat said one of Huang's biggest achievements was restoring confidence in Malaysia among Chinese tourists after the March 2014 disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Most of the 239 people on board were Chinese nationals, and the incident caused a months-long dip in mainland Chinese tourist arrivals to Malaysia. Not everyone was as effusive, however. A Malaysian opposition lawmaker said there were concerns about the Chinese embassy's influence on domestic politics as Beijing's vested interests in the country grows. Huang caused a diplomatic stir in September 2015 for publicly declaring that China "opposed any form of discrimination against races and any form of extremism" ahead of a pro-Malay rally near the Petaling Street market in Kuala Lumpur, which is dominated by Chinese merchants and frequented by mainland tourists. The protest, involving pro-establishment groups, was demanding more Malay participation in the market. Some viewed Huang's comments as an act of interference in domestic affairs. The Malaysian foreign ministry at the time asked Huang to explain his comments behind closed doors, and later declared the matter closed. The opposition MP, who declined to be named, said eyebrows were also raised in February last year by the embassy's donation of 40,000 ringgit to eight Chinese schools in the parliamentary constituency of defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Diplomatic missions rarely make such targeted donations. "Huang has engaged both sides of the political divide … there is a question about his intention. The next ambassador will have to take extra care to avoid being seen as influencing local politics," the lawmaker said. In January, the Chinese embassy rebutted such criticism, and said Beijing "subscribes to a 'non-intervention' foreign policy and will not interfere with the domestic politics of other countries". But "we also do not hope to see people with an agenda to politicise our friendly bilateral relations," it said in a statement. Shahriman, the researcher with Kuala Lumpur's Institute of International and Strategic Studies, said the billions of dollars of Chinese investments was the main source of anxiety. Citi Research has said Beijing-led investments in Malaysian port and rail projects are poised to reach 400 billion ringgit in two decades. China has been Malaysia's largest trading partner for the last seven years. "The sudden surge in Chinese investments has caused unease among some Malaysians, which has made the job of the Chinese ambassador a lot more demanding," Shahriman said. "Dr Huang has actively sought to allay those concerns. That will also be the main challenge for his successor." ^ top ^

Naval might sign of growing global role (SCMP)
2017-10-10
China's growing naval might worries some in Asia and the West. They perceive recent exercises with Russia in the Baltic Sea and manoeuvres in the South China Sea as threats. Chinese warships moored for the first time last week in London were fretted over by a few Britons. But the presence of the vessels so far from home should be welcomed rather than feared. No nation has before acquired naval power at the rate of China. Warships are being launched at a furious pace, their capabilities arguably as up-to-date as vessels operated by the United States, the world's military superpower. In just three decades, the People's Liberation Army Navy has evolved from being limited to operating only close to shore to having a global reach, and some experts believe it will have caught up with the US in a matter of years. The first official visit to the British capital by the Chinese navy, part of a tour of western Europe that also included Belgium, Denmark, France and the Netherlands, ably reflected an ability to project power. But the flotilla, which included two guided-missile frigates and a supply ship, was also about building trust and cooperation. Before arriving in Europe, they were in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia on anti-piracy operations, during which information was shared with the British navy and other Nato members. The vessels escorted Chinese and foreign ships and apprehended three suspected pirate boats. While in London, they were open for public inspection and their crews took part in a humanitarian rescue symposium. There is every need for the Chinese, British and allied navies to interact in such ways; mistrust runs deep, stretching back to the humiliation of China by the European powers during the Qing dynasty. Beijing eyes Nato warily and still believes its warplanes intentionally bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999, killing three staff. Port visits and open days are some of the ways to take the chill out of relations, familiarising ordinary people with the sight of Chinese warships and crew and helping to normalise China's place in regional humanitarian and security operations. That can be further extended through participation in joint military exercises. China is fast closing on the US as the world's biggest economy. With expanding trade and investment comes the need to protect citizens and interests, and the Chinese military has a vital role. The same reason is made by the US so there can be no argument against China doing the same far beyond its waters. Londoners and others in the world need to understand that Chinese warships in their ports are going to become an increasingly familiar sight. ^ top ^

What's pushing Chinese high-speed train projects off the rails overseas? (SCMP)
2017-10-09
The multibillion-dollar Sino-Thai high-speed rail project has again hit a delay – this time an environmental assessment threatens to derail the beleaguered scheme. The assessment is just one of a number of barriers that China has come up against in its push to sell high-speed technology around the world and lead the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping's New Silk Road strategy to connect China to Europe and beyond. The stumbling blocks include: Local regulations: Since plans for the high-speed link between the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming and the Thai capital Bangkok were unveiled in 2014, the project has been dogged by repeated delays over loan terms, labour regulations, financing, land-use rules and environmental protection regulations. It has been a similar story in Indonesia, where transport officials say problems with land procurement are in part to blame for the lack of progress in the last two years on a high-speed link between Jakarta and Bandung. High costs: China has banked on its ability to build high-speed rail for less than its competitors in Japan and Germany. The World Bank estimates that Chinese high-speed lines cost between US$17 million and US$21 million per kilometre to roll out, compared with US$25 million - US$39 million per kilometre in Europe. But even China's price can be too much – high costs are believed to be one of the main reasons the Sino-Thai railway has stalled. China put the price tag at US$16.09 billion, or 560 billion baht, last year, well beyond Thailand's budget. After talks on designs and land prices, the projected cost was shrunk by more than two-thirds to about US$5.15 billion, or 179 billion baht. Rising costs have also posed problems for Jakarta – the budget for the Bandung line has blown out from US$5.2 billion to almost US$6 billion because of a design change that involves the purchase of some private land. Political and economic volatility: After civil war broke out in 2011, state-owned China Railway Construction was forced to abandon its US$3.55 billion project in Libya linking the capital Tripoli with Sirte, the hometown of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi. And last year plans for a 468km high-speed project in Venezuela, once billed as a first for South America, were left by the wayside as the country's economy collapsed. The Chinese builder said the cause was as lack of funding from Venezuela. Other reasons: In 2014, concerns about transparency in the bidding process prompted Mexico to abruptly revoke a US$3.75 billion contract for a line between Mexico City with the central city of Queretaro soon after it was awarded to a Chinese-led consortium. Two years later, private US firm XpressWest terminated a joint venture with China Railway International (CRI) to build a high-speed line between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. XpressWest cited "difficulties associated with timely performance and CRI's challenges in obtaining required authority to proceed with required development activities". The Los Angeles Times reported that the biggest challenge could be a US federal government requirement that high-speed trains must be made in the United States to secure regulatory approval. ^ top ^

China, India improve on crisis management as minister waves at Chinese soldiers: expert (Global Times)
2017-10-09
Sino-Indian relations is entering a new era of crisis management where Indian leadership should seek to fix stagnated ties, a Chinese expert warned on Sunday after India's defense minister visited the border and expressed her "goodwill." As Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the Nathu La Himalayan mountain pass that connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region on Saturday, she waved at Chinese soldiers across the border, the Indian Express reported. "Acknowledged a row of Chinese soldiers from across the fence who were taking pictures on my reaching Nathu La," she tweeted. The greeting sent a goodwill signal towards mending bilateral ties and putting relations back on track toward normality, Qian Feng, an expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, told the Global Times. Ties between China and India have been struggling in the last three years and China's image in India has even been demonized in some cases, said Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies in Beijing. The Doklam standoff shows that China and India have witnessed growing mistrust and misunderstanding and it has exerted a massive negative impact on cooperation between the two countries, said Qian. "Though leaders of the two countries are exploring more cooperation, the focus and priority of the two countries is to avoid friction and conflict," Hu said. According to Qian, the Indian government should show more determination for improving ties as its current Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys advantages towards achieving that goal. Sitharaman was accorded a guard of honor on her arrival at Nathu La. Chief of Eastern Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna briefed her about the Indian army's security preparedness along the border. Her scheduled aerial survey of Doklam and forward posts in border areas of Sikkim was canceled on Saturday due to bad weather, said a statement issued by the Department of Information and Public Relations, government of Sikkim. Sitharaman has, however, undertaken an aerial survey of Gangtok and surrounding areas from the new Greenfield Pakyong Airport in east Sikkim, the statement added. India's NDTV reported on October 5 that the Chinese army is back to building a road on the Doklam Plateau, just 10 kilometers from the location of the last conflict. However, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said the next day that the status quo prevailed in the Doklam region and there had been "no new developments at the face-off site and its vicinity since the 28th August disengagement." "India's army has a deep-rooted perception that China is a security rival for India and the army is taking a chance by bargaining for more support in the national defense budget," said Qian. ^ top ^

Trump needs foreign policy wins on Asian trip to reverse his soft power disaster (SCMP)
2017-10-07
US President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to Asia couldn't take place at a more crucial juncture. Under the controversial president's watch, America's decades-long regional hegemony is under stress as never before. More crucially, peace and prosperity in one of the world's most dynamic regions can no longer be taken for granted. The US leader is expected to embark on a marathon 12-day foreign trip in early November. He will visit three allied nations (i.e., South Korea, Japan and the Philippines), a new strategic partner (Vietnam) and Asia's most powerful nation (China). In Asia, Trump has his work cut out for him. On the one hand, he will have to manage rising tensions with China and North Korea lest he risk igniting a renewed cycle of military conflict in an already volatile strategic landscape. On the other hand, he will have to reassure friends and allies that the US will not shed its prior bilateral obligations and multilateral commitments in favour of unilateral isolationism. In China, Trump faces the challenge of soliciting maximum help with the North Korean missile threat. In exchange, he likely will have to find a mutually acceptable accommodation in the South China Sea and scale back punitive trade measures against Beijing. In South Korea and Japan, Trump faces an uphill battle to regain lost confidence in America's reliability. Recently, the US president has been at loggerheads with Seoul over diplomatic negotiations with Pyongyang, while Tokyo worries about Trump's appreciation, or lack thereof, of the complexity of strategic challenges in the region. While Japan and South Korea seek greater US resistance against perceived threats from either China or North Korea, or both, they also are deeply wary vis-à-vis unwanted military escalation. In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, old allies such as the Philippines increasingly have aligned with China. Under President Rodrigo Duterte, Manila has rapidly upgraded defence and economic ties with Beijing. Other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) such as Thailand and Malaysia have followed suit. Above all, the American president will have to reassure the world's largest economies that his country remains committed to a liberal international order. Trump will have to convince Asia that the US will underwrite the "three freedoms": free trade, free flow of capital and labour and freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters. This would be no easy task. In recent years, a growing number of regional states has come to question America's wherewithal to remain as an anchor of stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific theatre. This is precisely why former US President Barack Obama launched the "pivot to Asia" policy, which entailed a wide array of diplomatic and strategic initiatives. The Obama administration, for instance, launched the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) to re-create the American economic footprint amid the rise of China. The former US president also appointed a permanent ambassador to Asean, welcomed Indonesia into the elite G20 club, normalised relations with Vietnam, and signed new defence agreements with the Philippines and Malaysia. Obama also tried to regularly attend major multilateral forums in the region, while hosting Southeast Asian leaders for a special, intimate summit at Sunnylands, a California resort, toward the end of his term. But the Trump administration nixed the TPP negotiations while largely ignoring Southeast Asian countries throughout the president's first months in office. New strategic partners such as Vietnam, which heavily invested in the TPP project, were deeply disappointed by Trump's abrupt decision. SSThe steep decline in America's favourability in South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and other countries is nothing short of a soft power disaster. In contrast, China not only has emerged as an unlikely proponent of free trade, but has offered big-ticket infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. China's technology, manpower, policy banks and the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are expected to play a pivotal role in the transformation of the Eurasian economic landscape in coming decades. Moreover, the American president's bellicose rhetoric has rattled both allies and rivals alike, contributing to heightened tensions at multiple flashpoints, most especially in the Korean Peninsula. Trump's tempestuous and xenophobic pronouncements also have alienated hundreds of millions people around the region, heavily undermining American soft power. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 37 countries, global confidence in American leadership declined from an average of 64 per cent under Obama to around 22 per cent under his successor. In Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan, America's favourability plunged 71 per cent and 54 per cent respectively. In Indonesia, it suffered a whopping 41 per cent decline. This is nothing short of a soft power disaster. It will take a lot of diplomatic heavy lifting, a tangible display of American resolve and major foreign policy successes to reverse this trend. The combination of China's rising influence, North Korea's burgeoning missile capability and deepening despondency among regional partners and allies presents a compelling (if not overwhelming) package of strategic challenges for Trump. In coming weeks, Trump will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam as well as the East Asia Summit in Manila. All eyes will be on Trump and his message of continued American leadership in Asia. As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once memorably put it, sometimes "half of diplomacy is [just] showing up" at meetings. At least, Trump is set to do half of the job. ^ top ^

US intelligence expects China to expand network of military bases around the globe (SCMP)
2017-10-06
China's first overseas military base in the small African country of Djibouti is "probably the first of many" the country intends to build around the world, which could bring its interests into conflict with the United States, according to American intelligence officials. "China has the fastest modernising military in the world next to the United States", according to insights provided to Bloomberg on Thursday by US intelligence officials, who asked not to be identified. That will create "new areas of intersection – and potentially conflicting – security interests between China and the United States and other countries abroad", according to the officials. The People's Liberation Army announced the establishment of a logistics support base in Djibouti in July, saying it would support China's military's naval escort, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions in Africa and western Asia as well as military exercises and emergency evacuation. As part of China's expanding military and economic clout, the country is taking a stronger stance on territorial claims in the South China Sea, relations with Taiwan and in promoting its "Belt and Road Initiative". Where Chinese interests conflict with the US, Beijing is "actively seeking to undermine US influence", according to the officials. The rare comments on how US intelligence agencies view China's ambitions come as President Xi Jinping seeks to consolidate support at this month's Communist Party congress, held once every five years. US President Donald Trump plans to visit China next month and while the two countries have found areas of cooperation, including over United Nations sanctions against North Korea, they have unresolved disagreements over trade, Beijing's territorial claims and Syria's civil war. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, visiting Beijing last month, stressed his intent to cut the US trade deficit with the world's largest exporter through "increased exports of high-value US goods and services to China and improved market access". Ross also announced an investigation into China's stainless steel flanges for alleged unfair subsidies, the latest move after the US trade representative opened an investigation into China's intellectual property practices. According to the intelligence officials: "Chinese leaders see the US-led world order, most notably the US alliance network and promotion of US values worldwide, as constraining China's rise and are attempting to reshape the world order to better suit Chinese preferences and growing clout." Ahead of the national party congress, officials in Beijing have increased "control of domestic dissent". The world's second-largest economy was on track to reach its 6.5 per cent annual growth target, the officials said. China is fuelling that growth, in part, by seeking deeper technology collaboration with US companies. Former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon has called the transfer of US technology to China "the single biggest economic and business issue of our time", adding that "if we don't get our situation sorted with China, we'll be destroyed economically". The US intelligence officials suggested China's government is aware of the threat that perception poses to its ambitions. "Beijing is trying to downplay concerns that this state-led technology acquisition drive creates an unlevel playing field, forces technology transfer to China, limits foreign companies' access to the Chinese market, and is a threat to US and other countries' economic strength." ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

The rare moment when every vote counts at China's party congress (SCMP)
2017-10-13
While the election process for China's ruling elite is unlikely ever to be held up as a bastion of democracy, for the delegates at next week's 19th National Congress it does at least provide an opportunity to have a small say in who they think should stay and who should go. About 2,300 people will attend the twice-a-decade event, which opens on Wednesday and where one of the main orders of business will be the election of the 200-plus members of the party's Central Committee. There remains the possibility for disappointment and upset, as the candidates are listed by the number of votes they receive. Five years ago, Ling Jihua – despite once being a right-hand man to then President and General Secretary Hu Jintao – suffered the humiliation of receiving the fewest votes of the 205 people elected to the committee. "I remember there was uproar among the delegates … when it was announced that Ling had received the fewest votes," a party congress delegate five years ago, who asked not to be named, told the Post. "It was awkward and humiliating [for him]," he said. While the decision might not have been a surprise to everyone – three months earlier Ling had been removed from his position as director of the General Office of the Central Committee – it certainly sent ripples around the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, according to one of the people who was actually there. The candidate said: "We voted by elimination...We might not have the final say, [but every vote] does carry some meaning." A shortlist of candidates is produced by an electoral committee known as the presidium, this always exceeds the number of positions available, so delegates are given the rare opportunity to vote for their favourites, which they do by "eliminating" those they like least. There are usually two rounds of voting. In the preliminary round of voting – held at the start of the congress – each delegate nominates his or her least favourite candidates. The number of people they have to select depends on how many more candidates there are than seats available on the central committee. The ballots are then tallied and those candidates with the most votes are eliminated from the contest. The aim of the preliminary vote is to whittle down the number of candidates so that it exactly matches the number of seats available. A final vote is then held at the end of the congress in which all of the remaining candidates are guaranteed a seat on the central committee. Although Ling retained his position on the Central Committee by the narrowest of margins, the rank and file had made it clear how they felt about Ling. His card had been marked and his future was sealed. A subsequent legal investigation found him guilty of illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power, and in July last year he was sentenced to life imprisonment. But Ling is far from being the only one-time high-flyer to have had his wings clipped at a national congress. Another party veteran told the Post how former party propaganda chief Deng Liqun also fell foul of the popular vote. Deng failed to be voted on to the Central Committee at the 13th national congress [in 1987] even though he had been preselected to join the Politburo by party veterans before the meeting. At the time there was only one round of voting. Deng was known for his ruthless purge of liberal intellectuals throughout the 1980s and for being a strong critic of then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's reform policies. Similarly, in 1992, five years after Deng Liqun came to grief, Xiao Yang, then party boss of Chongqing – which although not the metropolis it is today was still a significant city – also failed to secure enough votes to land a place on the Central Committee. Before that year's congress, he had been slated to become an alternate member of the powerful Politburo. Time will tell if there are any major surprises or upsets at this year's event, but one thing is certain, the assembled delegates will not be without a voice. ^ top ^

China's legal reform progressing since 18th Party congress (Global Times)
2017-10-13
China's legal reform since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has progressed in many fields including the accountability of judges and prosecutors as well as the prevention and correction of false and unjust cases, experts said on Thursday. "One of the biggest achievements in China's judicial system in the past five years is the improved transparency of the legal system," Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. "The judicial authorities promote transparency not only in cases related to high-ranking corrupt officials but also ordinary people," Zhi said. For example, in July 2013, the trial of Bo Xilai, former Party chief of Chongqing Municipality, was broadcast live online, he noted. There was also progress with the prevention and correction of false and unjust cases in recent years, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Huugjilt, wrongfully executed in 1996, was found not guilty in November 2014 and Nie Shubin, wrongly convicted and executed for rape and murder in 1995, was cleared in December 2016. In the last five years up until July 1, a total of 34 wrongly judged cases were corrected, according to the website of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the CPC. Judicial reform also progressed. The third and fourth plenary sessions of the 18th CPC Central Committee, held in 2013 and 2014, issued 129 judicial reform tasks. A total of 118 received suggestions and 11 have set up a specific reform scheme, Xinhua said in July. The rule of law is also another key point of judicial reform. The Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC in October 2014 was the first meeting dedicated to the theme of "rule of law." The meeting, which included 200 members of the CPC Central Committee, was regarded as a landmark event that set the tone for the CPC to promote the rule of law in China in a comprehensive way, observers said. China's top legislature discussed two draft revisions of laws on the organization of courts and procuratorates at the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which opened on August 28 this year, Xinhua reported. One draft empowers prosecutors to lodge public interest lawsuits according to the law. Both drafts spell out protections for judicial personnel carrying out their duties. Judicial independence was enhanced by a pilot program in which local courts were administered by higher-level judicial bodies rather than local governments as stated in the decision of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2013. "What people expect and the essence of the rule of law is to reject the rule of man," Sun Xiaoxia, dean of the law school at Fudan University, told the Global Times previously. China's anti-corruption drive is in accordance with the rule of law as President Xi Jinping noted that "power should be restricted by the cage of regulations" parallel to the rule of law, Sun noted. More needs to be done on judicial reform, including that judicial departments should prevent interference from local governments, said Yang Xiaojun, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance. "Judges' professionalism also needs to be guaranteed. This includes better economic treatment, personal security, social status and more importantly, their independence to make judgments," said Zhu Zhengfu, a lawyer and a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member, told the Global Times on Thursday. ^ top ^

PLA guidelines to open units' doors (China Daily)
2017-10-13
The People's Liberation Army has published guidelines on how and when barracks of some units can be opened to the public, aiming to boost awareness of national defense. The guidelines were made and published by the Central Military Commission's General Office and have been put into effect. The idea is to display the PLA's "new images", strengthen the public's passion for the military and their respect toward service members and encourage officers and soldiers to dedicate themselves to building a strong military, according to a news release from the office. This is the first time the Chinese military has issued specific rules regarding open houses at its units. Previously, PLA units conducted such activities in accordance with their own plans and schedules. Fighting branches, such as the PLA Ground Force and PLA Navy and large military institutes like the Academy of Military Science, will select which of their units can be opened and then submit their choices to the commission's National Defense Mobilization Department. The department will then work with other agencies under the commission and related theater commands to review and approve the selection. Units to be opened to the public should be suitable divisions, brigades and regiments stationed in or near cities or towns. On certain occasions, battalions and companies near urban areas also can hold open houses. Selected units must receive approval from security management authorities of higher units before hosting an open house, the regulations stipulate. Open houses will mainly be held on national holidays, including National Day and May Day, as well as dates pertaining to the military such as the National Defense Awareness Day each September. Visitors from the public must be Chinese nationals unless the units are permitted to receive foreigners. After security checks, they will be given a guided tour to the unit's history museum, nonclassified training sessions, and soldiers' residences and entertainment venues. Facilities and exercises concerning combat command, intelligence, communications, sensitive documents, weapons and fuels will not be opened, according to the regulation. "An open house can offer visitors a good opportunity to see the military's barrack cultures, troops' high fighting spirit and achievements gained through the ongoing reforms," an officer of the PLA National Defense Education Office said in the release. "It can also enhance the public's understanding and confidence in our armed forces." ^ top ^

State Council appoints, removes officials (China Daily)
2017-10-13
The State Council, China's cabinet, announced the appointment and removal of two senior officials Friday. Liu Jieyi was appointed deputy head of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office and Zhang Ming was removed from the post of Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. ^ top ^

19th Congress to reinforce Party's future path (China Daily)
2017-10-12
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, to be convened in Beijing on Wednesday, is set to become a new milestone in the Party's success and in national rejuvenation. The CPC, with more than 89 million members, is not only the largest political party in the world and in history, but more importantly, it is the ruling party in the largest developing country — home to nearly one-fifth of the world population. The all-important meeting provides the Party an opportunity to explicitly declare which policies it upholds and which path it will take in the next five years before the next congress and even beyond, according to experts and researchers. As China is the second-largest economy, contributing over 30 percent to global growth since 2008, answers to these questions concern the world. Its rise along its own path over the past five years, while drawing points from many other countries, represents the constant improvement of that path. This is shown not only in stable growth and productive restructuring, but also in a larger say and role in global governance that has accompanied China's new type of major-country diplomacy, active participation in multilateral mechanisms and the Belt and Road Initiative. The path, which is officially termed "socialism with Chinese characteristics", is by no means a vague concept. It is a pragmatic path that has been adhered to and enriched by different generations of leadership since 1978, when the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee convened in Beijing. That session addressed the historical issues left by the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), ushering in a new era of reform and opening-up. Meetings are of vital importance to good governance in China. Some, though held decades ago, like the 1978 plenary session, remain fresh in the public's memory. They represent paradigm shifts in the operation of the country and influence people's lives. A recent example is the 18th CPC National Congress five years ago. It prioritized clean governance, innovative growth, green development and national confidence. The new leadership has ever since demonstrated the corresponding executive power to transform ideas into realities in an increasingly sure and predictable manner. The 19th CPC National Congress, which comes at a decisive moment in the construction of a well-off society by 2020, and at a key period in the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics, is expected to chalk up new guidelines, if not action plans, along the path. The meeting's results will directly concern three problems deciding China's future: the driving force and innovative power of social development; the balance, harmony and stability of social development; and good governance of society and the country, Han Qingxiang, a member of the administration committee of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, writes in People's Daily. Han said the meeting, while a Party gathering, will certainly inject new vitality into Chinese society. This will be seen in better solutions to problems in education, caring for the elderly, housing, medical care and income distribution. It also will be seen in advancing good governance in the fast-changing country by improving its efficiency and abilities in solving problems. Li Lin, director of the institute of law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the rule of law, which will definitely top the agenda of the congress, is a "profound revolution" in the realm of governance. He said the Party will unswervingly deepen the rule of law as one of the most important ways to modernize its governance system. It will send a clear message showing the Party's resolve in advancing the rule of law, Li said. China's political party system, a key component of the path, will be further strengthened by the meeting, Yuan Tinghua, former deputy head of the Central Institute of Socialism, said in People's Daily. Experience has shown the complexity of China's modernization requires a political party system that has an exceptional capacity for integration, always uniting different forces to strive for a common goal. China's political party system has just that ability, Yuan said. The system can only be strengthened with China's development, he added. Neither a two-party system nor a multiparty system fits China's national conditions, and would split society. The success of China's political party system provides a new paradigm for the development of party politics. The meeting also is expected to stick to some judgments that have not been changed. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has reiterated the necessity for Party members to understand the "largest practical national conditions". This could be summarized in the following points: China has remained and will remain in the primary stage of socialism; the main social conflict remains the gap between needs and production; and China has been and will continue to be the largest developing country. Tao Wenzhao, a professor of politics at Renmin University of China, said these national conditions are the starting points for policymaking, keeping decision-makers clearheaded and preventing China's drifting from its path. "The meeting, the last of its kind before 2020, will mark the start of the final sprint before accomplishing the goal of realizing a well-off society." ^ top ^

China launches toughest anti-smog measures for winter as govt urges factory upgrades (Global Times)
2017-10-12
Authorities China has launched its toughest anti-pollution campaign for the upcoming heating season, with 31 cities pledging to restrict activity in factories. Three cities recently joined other regions in northern China in implementing measures to fight air pollution as the heaviest pollution season approaches. Specifically, the environmental protection bureau of East China's Shandong Province requires the city of Linyi to shut down steel, iron, ferro-nickel and manganese iron production from November 15 this year to March 15, 2018. The government of Linfen, North China's Shanxi Province requires its steel mills to slash activity in half. And the government of Xuzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province requires the city's steel, cement, brick and glass factories to reduce activity by at least 30 percent. Experts said this shows the government's determination to fight air pollution this winter, as more residents grow increasingly concerned about health risks. "China has been taking tough measures in recent years to curb pollution and significant improvements had been made in the first half of last year. However, in winter, the smog bounced back, and several pollution alerts have triggered public concern. This year, the government is determined to impose far stricter limits on coal use and hasten economic restructuring away from the heavily polluting sectors," Wang Gengchen, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Atmospheric Physics, told the Global Times. China is targeting a drop of at least 15 percent in the level of PM 2.5 particles in 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as well as in Shandong and Shanxi provinces between October 2017 and March 2018. "The plan is based on previous experiences, and the target balances environment protection and economic development. It means the level of PM 2.5 particles this winter should be kept at an average of around 60 micrograms per cubic meter," Wang said. Widespread measures On Thursday, the city of Tangshan, Hebei Province began enforcing the odd-and-even license plate scheme, and local iron and steel plants began to limit production a month ahead of schedule, China National Radio reported. On Wednesday, the environmental authority of Shanxi, China's top coal producing region, vowed to cut PM 2.5 levels and sulfur dioxide by 40 percent from October to March, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Some cities in Shanxi have been plagued by high levels of sulfur dioxide in previous winter heating seasons. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection summoned top officials from Linfen, Shanxi as the density of SO2 in the city reached a high of 1,303 micrograms per cubic meter on January 4, 21 times higher than the national standard. "Some people may worry that the tough restrictions would stifle the country's economic development. However, the government is not shutting down factories but providing subsidies and guidance to companies to help them upgrade," Wang said. ^ top ^

Chinese university opens int'l trade negotiations school (Xinhua)
2017-10-11
A Shanghai university has opened China's first international negotiations school to train the country's future trade negotiators. The Shanghai University of International Business and Economics Wednesday inaugurated the trade talk school and the China institute for World Trade Organization (WTO) studies. The honorary dean of the school is Zhou Hanmin, a renowned national political advisor and law expert based in Shanghai. The school will produce graduates in five areas -- national representatives specializing in bilateral or regional agreement negotiations, national representatives for multilateral negotiations in international organizations, negotiators employed by international organizations, international dispute mediators and arbitrators, as well as lawyers specializing in international law. Sixteen years after China joined WTO, the country has transformed from a mere follower of international trade rules to one of the rule makers, Zhou said. "China urgently needs professional talent with a global vision, who are familiar with China's national conditions and adept in foreign languages, international rules and negotiation skills," he said. There are 450 Chinese employees in organizations affiliated to the United Nations, accounting for only 1 percent of the total employees, and many of them only hold entry-level positions. Zhou said the trade talk school will cooperate with the China institute for WTO studies to jointly nurture a team of Chinese experts in international negotiations. ^ top ^

Construction of new airport begins near China-Russia border (Xinhua)
2017-10-11
Construction of a new civilian airport has started on China's border with Russia in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, authorities said Wednesday. Construction of Dongning Airport began Tuesday in the border city of Suifenhe, with an estimated budget of 1.15 billion yuan (174 million U.S. dollars), said a city official. Covering around 2 square km, the regional airport is designed to handle 450,000 passengers and 3,600 tonnes of cargo annually, allowing nearly 4,800 take-offs and landings a year, according to the official. Direct flights are planned from the airport to Chinese cities of Beijing, Shenyang, Dalian and Qingdao, and international flights are also planned connecting the city to Russia. Trial operations are expected to begin in 2020. Located in the southeastern part of Heilongjiang, Suifenhe is the province's largest port to Russia. It sees nearly a million cross-border trips and a trade volume in excess of 10 billion yuan a year ^ top ^

'Dirty dozen or so' set to be dumped from Communist Party's inner circle (SCMP)
2017-10-10
The ruling Communist Party's powerful Central Committee is expected to expel nearly a dozen members brought down by President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption crusade, when it meets in full in Beijing on Wednesday. Xi's first term saw the downfall of more full and alternate Central Committee members than that of any of his predecessors. In all, 17 full Central Committee members and another 17 alternate members have fallen from grace since Xi took the party's helm in late 2012 – more than the total for the four previous Central Committees combined. While some of the disgraced members were replaced at previous Central Committee plenums – or full meetings – others snared in the last year or so are still on the books to be sacked this time around, ratifying the Politburo's earlier decisions to expel them from the party. This time, the list will be long – six full members and three alternate members have been expelled from the party while two other full members have been put on probation since the sixth plenum in October last year. The closed-door gathering will be the seventh and last plenum of the Central Committee's roughly 200 members before its five-year terms ends at an all-important national party congress next week. The congress, which starts on October 18, will select a new Central Committee, which will in turn endorse the line-up of the party's top rungs of power – the Politburo and its Standing Committee – for Xi's second term in office. The party assemblies take place behind closed doors but precedent and convention offer some clues as to the meetings' agendas. The Central Committee's seventh plenum has traditionally been a chance to make final preparations for the party congress – usually only days away. While the top leaders will have already made the key decisions, the Central Committee will still discuss three reports to be submitted to the party congress. Apart Xi's work report on his first term, the Central Committee will also discuss drafts on amendments to the party charter as well as the report by the party graft watchdog. It is widely expected Xi's theory will be enshrined in the party charter and observers are watching closely to see what the inclusion will be called. It is also the first time the Central Committee has reviewed a report by the graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, before the party congress. The full members to be sacked include former high-flying Chongqing party chief and Politburo member Sun Zhengcai, former top insurance regulator Xiang Junbo and Huang Xingguo, former acting party chief of the port city of Tianjin. The seats left by the eight full members will be filled by eight alternate members at the top of the waiting list. Some of the new candidates include Shu Xiaoqin, director of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, and Li Qiang, the Jiangsu party boss seen as a protégé of the president. In addition, two disgraced military generals – both full Central Committee members – and another alternate member are still under investigation. They might also be expelled if the results of their cases are announced at the plenum. Observers will also be watching closely for changes to the Central Military Commission, which has been through a personnel shake-up in the past few weeks, after a massive overhaul of the military. All of the Central Committee's members meet at least once a year and the first two gatherings focus on personnel matters. The first is held right after the end of the party's five-yearly national congress to unveil the new Politburo and its Standing Committee; the second proposes the list of candidates for government, legislature and political advisory body leaders. The other plenums approve broad policy directions, with the third seen as the most important because it is given over to political or economic reform. The fourth is about how to improve the party's governance and the fifth is usually dedicated to discussions about the government's five-year plans. The sixth plenum examines culture, and social and party morality. ^ top ^

Chinese Vice Premier: 2022 Olympic venues must be ready by end of 2019 (Xinhua)
2017-10-10
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Tuesday called for coherent efforts to ensure that the construction of the main Olympic venues for the 2022 Winter Games will be completed by the end of 2019. Zhang made the remarks at a high-level meeting which was attended by officials from relevant government departments, along with the heads of co-hosts Beijing and neighboring Hebei Province. He said that preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games have gone smoothly over the past two years, while still more work lays ahead. Zhang stressed that the main competition venues and relevant infrastructre projects like the high-speed railway between Beijing and Zhangjiakou must be ready by the end of 2019, and the construction work must be environment-friendly and of a high-quality. As highlighted in Beijing's bid plans, China pledges to encourage 300 million people to participate in winter sports ahead of the 2022 Games. Zhang also called for more efforts to expand participation in winter sports across China. ^ top ^

Guideline speeds access to drugs (China Daily)
2017-10-10
Drugs developed in other countries are expected to be available for use on the Chinese mainland more quickly under a new guideline released by the central government. Authorities in China will now accept data collected from clinical trials conducted outside the mainland for applications to register drugs and medical equipment, according to the guideline on reforming approval procedures, which was released by the State Council on Sunday. The data must be collected from clinical trials conducted at more than one center and must meet Chinese regulations for registration of drugs and medical equipment, the guideline said. "The purpose of the measure is to reduce the time needed for approval of drugs from overseas," Wu Zhen, vice-minister of the China Food and Drug Administration, said on Monday. China's current drug evaluation and approval system needs improving to expedite the use of new drugs in China, Wu said. Under current regulations, food and drug authorities cannot accept clinical trial data collected from overseas, and new drugs being developed overseas should finish their first phase of clinical trials overseas before developers can apply to start clinical trials on the mainland, he said. This has delayed the availability of some major drugs on the Chinese market, he said. Of 433 drugs approved for sale in developed countries between 2001 and last year, only 30 percent are available on the Chinese mainland. Over the past 10 years, patients on the mainland have had to wait five to seven years longer for some major new drugs than patients in Europe and the United States, he said. "This has caused an increasing number of people to buy drugs through the internet and from overseas, which has many potential risks," he said. "Recognizing data collected from overseas can reduce unnecessary trials, which reduces the cost of drug research and development and improves Chinese patients' access to drugs," said Wang Lifeng, chief of product registration for drugs and cosmetics at the CFDA. The CFDA will make more detailed regulations to better carry out the guideline, he said. Meanwhile, the administration will intensify its supervision and inspection of clinical trials conducted overseas, and send inspectors to clinical trial centers overseas for site inspection to ensure that the data collected are accurate, Wang said. The guideline also bans medical representatives from selling drugs and will hold them accountable if they have done so. ^ top ^

China's corrupt 'tigers' tipped to be a rarer sight but plenty of 'flies' left to swat (SCMP)
2017-10-09
Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive is likely to focus less on "tigers" – or senior officials – during his second term in office but there will be no respite for rank-and-file cadres, or "flies", experts said ahead of a plenary session of the country's graft-busting agency in Beijing. About 120 members of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will hold the final plenum of their current term on Monday and Tuesday, before a new line-up is announced at the five-yearly Communist Party national congress, which opens on October 18. The two-day session is expected to review the agency's work report for the past five years, which will later be submitted to the party congress for endorsement. Its members will have much to consider after the CCDI spearheaded an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign that has brought down more than 250 senior officials – including military generals and corporate executives – and seen about 1.4 million cadres disciplined, according to official figures. Xi has repeatedly pledged that the clampdown on corruption and political disloyalty – launched soon after he took the party's helm in late 2012 – will continue. In July, while outlining the broad agenda for his next term, Xi told the party's ruling elite that the "comprehensive strengthening of party governance" would always be on the agenda, and that they should not be "complacent or blindly optimistic" about what the campaign had achieved in the past five years. Although the party has fought graft for decades, the crackdown initiated by Xi is defined by its focus on high-level corruption. Breaking the unwritten rule: The scale on which senior officials, of vice-ministerial rank and above, have been targeted is unprecedented in the history of communist China. Xi also broke the unwritten rule that serving and former members of the Politburo Standing Committee were exempt from criminal investigation when he oversaw the expulsion from the party of Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the all-powerful committee who oversaw China's security, intelligence and judicial systems. Zhou is now serving a life sentence for corruption. Critics of the campaign say it has been used to weed out political rivals and crush dissent within the party. Despite Xi's determination to continue the fight against corruption, some pundits said the "tiger hunt" was unlikely to be of the same ferocity in the president's second term, as many of the country's highest ranking officials were, or soon would be, his own men. At the upcoming 19th congress, Xi is expected to stack the powerful 200-strong Central Committee and its top decision-making bodies – the Politburo and its Standing Committee – with loyal supporters, many of whom have been fast-tracked for promotion in recent years. "[Xi] now faces the possibility of having to take out people he selected and promoted ... [which] might be seen as a sign that he failed to adequately screen them before selecting them, or that they were not deterred by the anti-corruption campaign and Xi's vows to eradicate corruption," said Andrew Wedeman, professor of political science at Georgia State University in the United States. "Conversely, if Xi has been careful in selecting honest officials, and the anti-corruption drive has been successful in convincing them that engaging in corruption is a bad idea, the number of tigers would – in theory – fall over time, hence making it less likely that Xi's 'hunters' would be able to find more big tigers," said Wedeman, who is writing a book on the anti-corruption campaign. Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of Peking University's Clean Government Centre, agreed. "Since the 18th party congress, most of the problematic high-flying officials have been eradicated. The officials who remain have either passed the test or been newly promoted by the top leader," he said. As a result, over the next five years, the focus of the corruption crackdown would shift to rooting out graft at the local level, meaning more flies could be caught, Zhuang said. Fighting corruption, curbing growth: One of the biggest criticisms of Xi's anti-corruption drive is that it has damaged economic growth by curtailing consumption and investment. As well as cracking down on official extravagance – from lavish gifts to expensive dinners – it has left many local officials reluctant to approve new investment projects out of fear that doing so would lead to graft accusations against them. As a result, businesses have complained that they cannot communicate with government officials, who turn down not only gifts and banquet invitations but also legitimate business requests. The party is not unaware of the damage this unintended side effect has had. In August, the official Qiushi Journal warned that when officials avoided business dealings out of fear of being targeted by the anti-graft campaign, "the consequence is equally serious – and the impact equally damaging" as corruption. But Wedeman said that the fear factor would likely diminish as the campaign rolled on and officials got used to the idea of conducting business deals legally. "If the number of flies doesn't rise significantly, at some point, officials will start reassessing the risk [they face]," he said. The need to meet economic growth targets as part of their annual performance evaluation would also force people into action, he said. Despite the success of the anti-graft campaign, a businessman from eastern China's Zhejiang province, whose company sells textiles to Europe, said it was still common to take officials out for meals, albeit in a more low-key manner. "In the past, officials of all ranks would ask me [to treat them]. I spend less on that now and the profile is much lower," the 54-year-old said, asking not to be identified. He said he did not expect things to change much in the next five years. "Every stage [of business] requires officials' help, because without a connection, we have no idea what a certain policy means or how a certain regulation will be carried out," he said. "A slight tightening of the crackdown won't have much effect because these practices are ingrained in the system." Creating a monster: Zhu Jiangnan, an associate professor at Hong Kong University whose research focuses on corruption, said she expected the anti-graft drive to slow down and become more of a routine supervision. "Instead of the current intensive 'war', they [the party] will want to rely more on institutional means to control corruption, such as central inspection teams and possibly the national supervision commission," she said, referring to the new overarching anti-graft body that will combine the powers of the CCDI and other graft-fighting departments in the procuratorate and government. Pilot schemes are already under way in Beijing and the provinces of Zhejiang and Shanxi, while the national commission is expected to be established in March at the annual gathering of the country's legislature. More province-level commissions are likely to be set up down the track. While the party's anti-graft bodies have the authority to discipline only party members, the new commission will have jurisdiction over all major public organisations – including schools and hospitals – and their non-Communist Party members. Li Ling, a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna who has been studying the anti-graft campaign, said the new commissions would "significantly increase the party-state's anti-corruption investigative capacity and allow more cases to be processed, and processed more quickly". Introducing such a reform would not be easy, however, Peking University's Zhuang said. "How to balance the interests of different departments and how to unify the thinking of teams from those departments will be a major challenge," he said. Wedeman agreed, saying that while merging departments and institutions could improve coordination and efficiency to some extent, it might also create new problems. "The power of the discipline inspection commissions lies in shuanggui, [a disciplinary process] which means they can detain people indefinitely, and where the burden of proof is on the accused. That gives them tremendous leverage," he said. "The procuratorate on the other hand is subject to criminal procedure law. Putting those two together you kind of create a monster institution that has both judicial and extrajudicial power." This week's CCDI meeting will also approve the list of nominations for the commission's next membership, which will be signed off at the party congress. CCDI chief Wang Qishan, one of Xi's trusted allies and arguably the most feared man in the party, has been the formidable face and galvanising force of the campaign over the past five years. However, at 69, he has reached the party's unofficial retirement age, and the chances of him remaining at the helm of the anti-graft drive are looking increasingly slim, sources say. Li Zhanshu, Xi's chief of staff and another prominent ally, is favourite to replace Wang, though observers say the change is unlikely to have any major implications for the campaign. "I don't think it will have a dramatic impact on the anti-corruption crackdown because ultimately it is Xi who will decide whether to keep the intensity high or to back off," Wedeman said. Zhuang said that given the scale of the crackdown under Wang, it would be difficult for his successor to make any breakthroughs. "What he can do is to carry out the policies and reforms established by Wang, such as rolling out the National Supervision Commission plan," he said. Li from Vienna said the CCDI's functions would not change, whoever took over the reins. "After the 19th party congress it will continue to perform the tasks of overseeing the anti-corruption campaign and policing party discipline ... with or without Wang Qishan," she said. ^ top ^

CPC discipline watchdog holds key plenum, approves work report (Xinhua)
2017-10-09
The 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held its Eighth Plenary Session on Monday. The meeting discussed and approved a work report to be submitted by the CCDI to the 19th CPC National Congress, scheduled to open on Oct. 18. The report will also be submitted to the Seventh Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which will be held on Oct. 11, for discussion. Wang Qishan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and secretary of CCDI, addressed the meeting. ^ top ^

Online chat hosts responsible for deleting comment under new rule (Global Times)
2017-10-09
Starting Sunday, anyone administering group chats, such as WeChat and Sina Weibo, will need to be responsible for managing the group, according to a new national regulation on Internet group chat. The regulation, from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), states that anyone administering WeChat, QQ and other Internet group chat must "inspect the conduct of group members and the information posted in groups so that it accords with the law, user agreements and online platform conventions," according to the CAC website. "Service providers and users of such online groups must promote socialist values and encourage a positive and healthy Net culture," read the regulation. A WeChat group host surnamed Liu told the Global Times that she and many other group chat hosts have been warning their members about the need to stop passing illicit content now. "It's reasonable for cyberspace regulators to strengthen their online investigation since Internet violence was getting rampant. Now, users will have to be more careful in sending group messages," Liu concluded. "The new regulation can serve as an alarm for all Internet users to show them that they need to be more cautious in posting comments," Wang Sixin, deputy dean of the Communication University of China's School of Literature and Law, told the Global Times on Sunday, "In the case of those online service providers that used to turn a blind eye to illegal online comments, they'll have to be more responsible for the illicit content and controlling their users now that the new regulations have come out," Wang added. Service providers will need to check the qualification of a group's hosts by examining their real identity or credit rating, the regulation states, and that service providers need to enforce the real-name registration of all their users before they post any comment, but users can choose not to reveal related information on the user pages. Qin An, the head of the China Institute of Cyberspace Strategy, told the Global times on Sunday that the real-name registration could still protect the online users' need for virtual identity, while helping the country clean up its Internet world. Qin said that the regulation complements China's Cyber Security Law, while Wang adds that to make full use of the regulation, law enforcement officials also need to turn to China's Criminal Law and related laws since the regulation does not specify penalties for violators. Since the Cyber Security Law took effect in June, several net users have been fined or detained for posting illegal content via social media. Last month, police in East China's Anhui Province detained a man for five days for posting insults concerning traffic police in a chat group. Sina Weibo has also announced in late September that it will hire 1,000 reviewers to closely watch the content on its platform to better regulate its content. The 1,000 people will be responsible for detecting and reporting pornographic, illegal, or other harmful content to the administrator to help the company deal with illicit content more effectively. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Anyone – including last governor Chris Patten – could be barred from Hong Kong, Carrie Lam says (SCMP)
2017-10-13
Hong Kong's leader on Friday would not rule out former colonial governor Chris Patten being barred from the city, days after a British human rights campaigner was denied entry without an official explanation. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor sought to make clear that immigration matters come under the purview of Hong Kong but that that remit ends when foreign affairs are concerned, when asked about the last governor's ability to visit the city in the future. "I can't exclude any possibility because immigration matters will change depending on the case," she said on a morning radio programme. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had said he was "very concerned" by the decision on Wednesday to bar Benedict Rogers, a human rights campaigner and deputy chairman of the UK Conservative Party's human rights commission, who insisted he was on a personal visit to the city. There has been no explanation from any authorities for the reasons behind the refusal. Rogers earlier said he was launching a group to monitor the city's affairs, especially on the human rights front. China's foreign ministry criticised external interference and said Rogers knew "well enough" of his intentions to meddle in the rule of law and internal affairs of Hong Kong. Critics have expressed concern that the incident is yet another sign that Hong Kong's rights and freedoms are slowly being eroded despite the "one country, two systems" framework, in place since the city was handed from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong before the handover, told The Guardian that barring Rogers was disturbing and inexplicable. "He was travelling on a valid British passport, met all the requirements for a UK citizen visiting Hong Kong and was not told the grounds [on which] he was sent away," Patten said on Wednesday. He said he had contacted the UK Foreign Office as well as the British consulate in Hong Kong over Rogers' case. Asked on Friday if Patten would be the next one barred, Lam said she could not comment on individual cases, and that Patten had visited the city before. Lam also sought to clarify misunderstandings that arose after the incident. "I want to clarify any worries, misunderstandings, that this whole matter of immigration is now being taken over by Central People's Government. That's certainly, definitely not the case," she said. She declined to reveal why Rogers was denied entry, and reiterated that individual immigration cases should not be discussed in public. She would only say that "decisions of this nature [would] not be taken arbitrarily" and that there "must be clear evidence". "Immigration matters under the Basic Law [Hong Kong's mini-constitution] are under Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy. But if immigration matters become matters of foreign affairs, then under the Basic Law, foreign affairs – like defence – are matters for the Central People's Government," Lam said. Lam also dismissed concerns that Beijing was encroaching on the city's autonomy. "I think that is undue worry. Every day in every jurisdiction, there are these sorts of cases," she said. ^ top ^

China lodges representation to UK over HK remarks (Xinhua)
2017-10-12
China has lodged a solemn representation with the UK over its foreign secretary's remarks about Hong Kong affairs, Hua Chunying, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said Thursday. Hua made the remarks at a routine press briefing on Thursday in response to a question on a British human rights activist's barred entry to Hong Kong. According to reports, Benedict Rogers, the British activist and co-founder of the Conservative Party's Human Rights Commission, was denied entry to Hong Kong, after arriving from Bangkok on Wednesday. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said London needed an explanation from Hong Kong and Beijing as "Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, and its rights and freedoms, are central to its way of life and should be fully respected." Hua said Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) of China, therefore its affairs are China's internal affairs and that it is China's sovereign right to deny or approve anyone's entry into Hong Kong. "Rogers himself is clear about whether his trip to Hong Kong was intended to interfere in the SAR's internal affairs and judicial independence," she concluded, reiterating that China firmly opposes any government, organization or personal interference in China's domestic affairs. ^ top ^

Forget reconciliation in the Hong Kong legislature, expect total war (SCMP)
2017-10-10
"The opposition will never do things the same way as the pro-establishment camp. So-called reconciliation may be no more than a delaying tactic. I feel it's more like sugar-coating a poison pill. When they are in full force, they will attack you." Let's play a guessing game: who do you think made the above statement? Sounds like something a pan-democrat would say? Actually, I took the quote from Chan Kin-por, chairman of the Legislative Council's powerful Finance Committee and a key establishment figure, during a TVB interview. He was referring to new proposals to restrict the ability of the opposition to carry out filibustering and other delaying tactics, but was also commenting on the bigger political scene. But you are not entirely wrong. Several opposition politicians have said similar things. In other words, both sides basically agree that any talk of reconciliation across the political divide is just bad faith, a trick. I have no doubt that many on either side want nothing better than to destroy or at least discredit the other side. But there are also moderates who want some kind of accommodation. For them, on policies and programmes that can win over the public without having to challenge fundamental principles, both sides should indeed work together. But, if this is the definition of moderation, then I am afraid extremism will win out. For those moderates in both camps are like suspects in the famous prisoner's dilemma. Both suspects know they will be better off if they don't rat on each other, but they end up doing it anyway. As the new Legco session opens, two new battles have already started, with many more to come. Rewriting procedures to restrict filibustering include limiting the number of non-binding motions proposed by each lawmaker on an agenda item to one; banning lawmakers from requesting an adjournment of both the meeting and the discussion of an item; and/or barring lawmakers expelled by the chairman for inappropriate behaviour from joining the next session on the same day. With six opposition lawmakers disqualified, a simple pro-government majority can be easily obtained to force through the new rules. Meanwhile, the opposition is set to go all out against the proposed joint customs and immigration clearance at the upcoming cross-border express rail terminus in West Kowloon. Grand reconciliation? Expect total war. ^ top ^

Hong Kong soccer matches may be played behind closed doors if anthem boos continue, chief secretary warns (SCMP)
2017-10-07
Hong Kong's soccer team may be forced to play international matches behind closed doors if fans jeer at the Chinese national anthem again during next week's match with Malaysia, the city's chief secretary has warned. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung issued the ultimatum to soccer fans on Saturday ahead of the city's Asian Cup qualifier match, which will take place on Tuesday at Hong Kong Stadium. The warning followed an appeal on Friday by the local Football Association which described such catcalls as "stupid" and "meaningless" after boos were heard at a friendly against Laos at Mong Kok Stadium on Thursday. Hong Kong has seen a rise in anti-mainland sentiment in recent months, with some even calling for the city to break away from Chinese rule after the city's pursuit of democracy clashed with Beijing in 2014 resulting in the 79-day Occupy sit-ins. Cheung, after a public event on Saturday, said Hong Kong people must respect the national anthem and the national flag. "[The booing] is absolutely unacceptable," he said. "I hope the public do not have these behaviours any more, because if it happens again next week in the match against Malaysia, Hong Kong may have to play behind closed doors in international matches, which will not be a good thing for any football fan and will greatly damage Hong Kong's image. I hope some people reflect on this seriously." The trend of booing the anthem began two years ago in the wake of Hong Kong's Occupy pro-democracy protests. The association, which is liable for improper conduct among supporters of its team, has been fined twice by soccer's international governing body Fifa for failing to control crowd behaviour. Cheung added that mainland China had passed a national anthem law and Hong Kong would also need to adopt the law through its separate legal system. "We will have to handle [establishing the law] eventually, so I think this is an issue we cannot evade in our legislation agenda," he said. "Of course, we need to have our colleagues in the Department of Justice provide legal advice, and it needs to be passed on to the Legislative Council." He did not indicate when the Hong Kong law was due. Across the border, the law was passed last month by the National People Congress, China's top legislature, stating that "attendees at events where the anthem is played are required to stand straight and remain solemn for the song". 'Offenders on the mainland are liable to 15 days in detention, but Hong Kong residents will not be affected until a local version of the law is passed. Fifa previously fined the association 10,000 Swiss francs (HK$79,900) over boos for the anthem before a home game against the China team in November 2015, and warned that further infringements would lead to harsher sanctions. Another fine, of 5,000 Swiss francs, was issued in the same year after attendees booed the anthem during a World Cup qualifier against Qatar at home. Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang said the Hong Kong government should conduct a public consultation after it finished drafting the law. Kwok, who sits on Legco's security panel, said he would focus on whether the law was clear in its details, such as what constituted respecting the anthem. "The government needs to ask why some citizens would [boo the national anthem] and think how it can solve what people are upset about," Kwok said. "I don't think setting up a law is of much use. It will only cause more conflict between the police force and people." ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan leader's soft words aren't fooling anyone (Global Times)
2017-10-11
Taiwan "president" Tsai Ing-wen delivered her "National Day" address Tuesday. It's jaw-dropping that Tsai spared no word in glossing over her awful political performance yet kept silent about Taiwan's problems and challenges. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration is undoubtedly the world's No.1 in vaunting its alleged achievements. Tsai claimed that there are more than 30,000 "social housing units" under construction or planned across Taiwan. This figure is laughable to the Chinese mainland, which completed 36 million units of affordable housing in the last few years and whose population is 60 times that of Taiwan. Tsai elaborated at length on Taiwan's "democracy and freedom" and its place in the new international order. Yet these remarks, by implication, are all about how to deal with the mainland. Tsai attempts to use so-called democracy and freedom as a weapon to push for Taiwan independence and expand Taiwan's "international living space" to highlight the "fact" of Taiwan being an independent sovereign country and realize the sustainability of the Taiwan independence campaign. Tsai has put great efforts in her use of words. Taiwan is depicted in her speech as the most democratic, free, united and strongest "country" with greatest achievements in the world. Tsai's speech again evaded the 1992 Consensus and made no mention of the "1992 historical fact." Tsai only reiterated her "consistent position" that "our goodwill will not change, our commitments will not change, we will not revert to the old path of confrontation, and we will not bow to pressure." Tsai even claimed that the DPP administration has "exerted maximum goodwill." Is it goodwill that Lai Ching-te publicly supports Taiwan independence upon being appointed as the island's executive head? Tsai has been challenging the 1992 Consensus and the political status quo of the One China policy, and pushing forward all types of "implicit" and "cultural" Taiwan independence since assuming office. There's no doubt that tensions are rising across the Straits. No matter what words Tsai tosses about, what she depicted in her speech is completely false or merely delusional. The DPP is pushing cross-Straits relations toward a "cold peace," and Taiwan has overindulged in its self-fabricated world. Tsai should be ashamed of Taiwan's "diplomacy." Panama, its only influential "ally," recently announced the severing of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The World Health Assembly and the International Civil Aviation Organization both shut out Taiwan. How dare Taiwan label itself a "country" without UN acknowledgement? The West supported separatist forces in non-Western countries in the past, but the declining economy and politics of the West, as well as rising separatism in Europe, are fundamentally affecting Western countries' attitudes toward separatism. The West firmly opposes Catalan independence and it can be predicted that Taiwan independence forces will receive decreasing support and sympathy from Western countries. The central government is capable of deciding the boundary of its Taiwan policy, regulating the DPP administration and preventing Tsai from crossing the redline. China's Anti-Secession Law is taking effect in Taiwan and Taiwan's reunification is a historic trend. Tsai's efforts will end in failure. ^ top ^

Taiwan warned choice of pro-independence premier will see relations with mainland China worsen over next three years (SCMP)
2017-10-09
Taiwan's relations with the mainland are likely to sour further over the next three years due mainly to the island's recent appointment of a hardline pro-independence politician as premier, Wang Zaixi, a former deputy director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, has warned. Wang also warned that if the island authorities insisted on pushing for independence, it would only accelerate the pace of cross-strait unification. In an interview published by the state-run Global Times newspaper on Sunday, Wang predicted cross-strait relations might worsen now that William Lai Ching-te has been appointed as premier. "Lai is a highly ambitious and is known for his hardcore pro-independence stand among members of the younger generation of the Democratic Progressive Party," Wang said, adding because Lai wants to replace Tsai Ing-wen as the island's president, he intentionally plays up his stance to win support from the radical pro-independence camp. Wang noted Lai's appointment was the result of pressure from the hardline pro-independence leaders. Lai, a former mayor of Tainan in southern Taiwan and four-term legislator, was appointed to his current role in September after Tsai's close ally Lin Chuan resigned as head of the cabinet, taking responsibility for the government's poor performance and Tsai's falling popularity. He described himself as a "political worker who advocates Taiwanese independence" during his administrative report to parliament, becoming the first senior official to publicly support this position. Lai's move has irked Beijing, which has repeatedly warned the island's political leaders against promoting the island's independence. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province subject to eventual union, by force if necessary. It suspended exchanges and talks with Taiwan soon after Tsai, from the independence-leaning DPP, became president in May last year and refused to accept the "one-China" principle. Wang said Lai's move was obviously targeting Tsai, who has vowed to maintain cross-strait status quo. "From what Lai has said and done, it would be hard to maintain such a status, and the already sour relations between the two sides are feared to deteriorate further," Wang said of Lai's performance. Asked if the mainland would force the island to reunify by 2020 as many have speculated, Wang said the reunification issue was rather complicated. He added that it not only depended on the political situation on the island, but also on the state of affairs on the mainland. "Regarding resolving the Taiwan issue, we got to have a sense of pressure, yet we also need to have certain patience," Wang said, adding it was not an easy matter to give a concrete timetable. "But what is certain is if the Taiwanese authorities choose to hasten the pace of independence, it would only serve to speed up cross-strait unification." Discussing cross-strait relations over the next three years, Wang said the mainland has a set policy that which would not be altered by changes on the island. If Taiwan continues to push for independence and distances itself from the mainland, cross-strait tensions will escalate, he said. "But in general, we think we are able to basically control the big picture, though more trouble is expected," he said. Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, which charts the island's policy towards the mainland, had yet to comment Wang's remarks due to a two-day public holiday that started on Monday. ^ top ^

Vatican insists it will continue to recognise Taiwan despite reports of thaw in relations with Beijing (SCMP)
2017-10-07
The Vatican's official recognition of Taiwan will remain in place, a senior Roman Catholic official has insisted following reports that the Holy See is seeking to normalise ties with Beijing – a move that could result in the termination of its formal relations with Taipei. The Vatican is the only European state that maintains formal diplomatic relations with Taipei. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, declared on Thursday in a reception hosted by Matthew Lee Shih-ming, Taiwan's ambassador to the Holy See, that the Vatican would continue to honour its relations with Taiwan. He was quoted by Taiwan's semi-official Central News Agency as telling Lee that he could "guarantee that the Vatican would continue as a committed partner" of Taipei, and that he supported any constructive dialogue between the two parties to improve and enhance their exchanges. Gallagher said since Chiang Kai-shek's government and the Vatican established official ties in 1942, there have been many changes in the world, but the friendship and cooperation between the two have never changed. His comments followed reports that the Vatican had engaged Beijing in dialogue over normalising their relationship in recent years. Rumours have it that the Vatican might switch recognition from Taipei to Beijing after Cardinal Jospeh Zen Ze-kiun, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, said in an interview with a local news media on Tuesday that the Holy See was highly likely to make such a move. He called on the Taiwanese government to be prepared for such a development. Anna Kao, director general of European affairs in Taiwan's foreign ministry, said Taiwan was an important political ally in the Holy See's international humanitarian and charitable work. However, she said Taiwan will closely follow any developments between Beijing and the Vatican. Beijing broke ties with the Vatican in 1951 two years after the Communists won the Chinese civil war that also sent Chiang's Nationalists to Taiwan, where they set up an interim government. Since then, the Communist Party has closed churches and imprisoned priests. Catholics may legally practise their religion only in state-sanctioned churches, which are not overseen by the Vatican and have bishops that are appointed by the Beijing authorities rather than the Pope. Earlier this year, Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen acknowledged that China-Vatican dialogues have focused largely on the issue of who could appoint bishops. But analysts said as soon as the two sides reach a consensus on episcopal appointments – one of the key topics in their talks – the Vatican might have to drop Taipei for Beijing because it would be impossible for the mainland to allow the Holy See to retain formal ties with Taiwan. "Beijing is likely to woo away the Vatican in an attempt to further suppress Taiwan," said Yen Chen-shen, a research fellow at National Chengchi University's institute of international relations in Taipei. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province subject to eventual union – by force if necessary. It has suspended talks and exchanges with Taiwan and convinced Panama and Sao Tome and Principe to switch their recognition from Taipei to Beijing since Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, became president in May last year. Tsai refuses to accept the "one China" principle and Beijing has said it will only resume cross-strait exchanges and talks when she does so. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Minimum wages on the march in China as labour pool shrinks (SCMP)
2017-10-13
More Chinese provinces are raising minimum wages this year, reflecting persistent labour cost pressure as the supply of workers shrinks in the world's second-biggest economy. In all, 17 provinces and municipalities have raised their wage floor so far this year, compared with nine for all of last year. Jilin, on the border with North Korea, became the latest province to do so when it announced last month that it was lifting the minimum benchmark by 20 per cent to 1,780 yuan (US$270) per month from October 1. The inland areas of Henan, Shanxi and Ningxia also unveiled 5-12 per cent increases in minimum wages, effective from the start of this month. Shanghai leads the mainland with a statutory minimum wage of 2,300 yuan, followed by Shenzhen with 2,130 yuan, Tianjin with 2,050 yuan and Beijing on 2,000 yuan. Zhao Yang, chief China economist at Nomura International in Hong Kong, said China's minimum wages were set to rise further in the coming years as average wages increased and the economy expanded. "It's also guided by the top leadership's emphasis on poverty alleviation and sharing more of the fruit of growth with the disadvantaged," Zhao said. Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to wipe out poverty by 2020 as part of the Communist Party's centennial goal to build a "moderately prosperous society". Poverty alleviation is likely to be one of Xi's main policy priorities during his second term in office after a key national party congress next week, according to analysts. Tsinghua University economist Yuan Gangming said consumption had lost steam in recent years, showing incomes were not keeping up with economic growth. "If people cannot benefit from economic expansion, the growth will be unsustainable," Yuan said. "Governments will have to raise minimum wages further in the future to offset rising living costs to attract migrant workers." China had 282 million migrant workers at the end of last year, with more than a third of them working in eastern coastal areas, the National Bureau of Statistics said in April. The average migrant worker was aged 39 and earned 3,275 yuan a month in 2016, the bureau said. And of the 40,000 migrant worker households surveyed by the bureau, nearly half of them had no refrigerator or washing machine in their rented flats; 14 per cent had no tap water; 23 per cent no place to take a bath; and 30 per cent had to use a shared toilet. China's Gini coefficient, a gauge of income inequality, was 0.465 last year, one of the highest in the world. A reading above 0.4 is seen as a mark of a society ripe for unrest. There are also least 43 million people living in absolute poverty, or with an annual income of less than 2,800 yuan, according to official data. In a report released on Tuesday, HSBC economists led by Julia Wang said that even as wages rose at a faster pace, they were still less than those in most established manufacturing economies. Wages have stayed low because urban employers have been able to draw on a ready and abundant supply of workers from rural areas. These workers made up a large, flexible and mobile labour force that was easy to retain, train and even combine flexibly with automation, the report said. But Yuan warned that relatively low wages would not always give China the edge. "While labour costs are rising in China, China may lose out to the US and some European countries as investors, especially those from developed countries, find China's tax arrangements and legal environment less attractive," he said. In December, Cao Dewang, chairman of manufacturer Fuyao Glass, cited "more advantageous" tax rates in the United States for his decision to invest US$1 billion in the US. Cao said that everything in China except labour was more expensive than in the US. ^ top ^

IMF raises China growth forecast for 2017 to 6.8 per cent (SCMP)
2017-10-10
The International Monetary Fund raised its growth forecast for China on Tuesday but again warned of risks stemming from the build-up of debt in the world's second largest economy. The fund's latest World Economic Outlook gives President Xi Jinping a boost but also a warning as he prepares to accept a second five-year term as general secretary of the Communist Party at a major congress next week. The report also projects strengthening economic growth across most of Asia, raising its forecast for Japan but reducing it for India. The fund expects China's economy to expand by 6.8 percent this year, up from its previous estimate of 6.7 percent, due to stronger recorded growth in the first half. If realised, the growth rate will outdo last year's 6.7 percent, which was China's slowest pace of expansion since 1990. For 2018 the IMF raised its estimate to 6.5 percent from the 6.4 percent forecast in its July World Economic Outlook. In raising the growth targets, the fund said it expects authorities to maintain a high level of investment-fuelled growth "to meet their target of doubling real GDP between 2010 and 2020". The uptick in growth will result in greater debt levels over the long term, the IMF said in the report, raising the prospect of a "sharp growth slowdown in China". The fund urged authorities to intensify efforts to rein in the expansion of credit. Its latest World Economic Outlook predicts strengthening economic growth globally, building on healthy data from the first half of 2017. China's booming economy continues to propel Asia and drive worldwide economic growth. But despite the rosier near-term outlook, the fund is concerned about growing debt in the country. China's slower transition from an investment-based economy to a consumption-based one, the report said, "comes at the cost of further large increases in debt". The pace of China's credit growth has alarmed analysts in recent years. Since the global financial crisis in 2008 its debt load as a percentage of gross domestic product has grown more than 10 percent per year on average, according to IMF estimates, which assessed the ratio had ballooned to 234 percent of GDP by 2016. Earlier this year ratings agencies Standard and Poor's and Moody's cut their sovereign rating on China, with both citing rapidly accumulating debt. Analysts will look for signals about China's future economic and financial policies during the week-long Communist Party congress which starts on October 18. The government will publish third-quarter growth data on October 19. Elsewhere in Asia, the fund raised Japan's growth forecast to 1.5 percent this year from 1.0 percent last year. But it was less optimistic on the country's long-term prospects, citing the shrinking Japanese labour force. In India, the "growth momentum slowed" due to the impact of a currency exchange initiative and the launch of a nationwide goods and services tax. The IMF lowered India's forecast growth to 6.7 percent from the 7.2 percent predicted in July. Strong global demand has also been a boon for the rest of Asia, where the fund forecasts sustained growth. "In the rest of emerging market and developing Asia," the fund wrote, "growth is expected to be vigorous". ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China and Russia urge restraint after new round of Trump tweets on North Korea (SCMP)
2017-10-10
Russia and China called for restraint on North Korea on Monday after US President Donald Trump warned over the weekend that "only one thing will work" in dealing with Pyongyang, hinting that military action was on his mind. When asked what Russia made of Trump's comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call: "Moscow has called and continues to call on the parties involved in the conflict and on those who have anything to do with this issue to exercise restraint and to avoid any steps that would only worsen the situation." In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying repeated China's position that all parties exercise restraint, describing the situation as extremely complex and serious. China hopes all sides do nothing to irritate each other or worsen the problem and speak and act cautiously, she told a daily news briefing. In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, all in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland. Trump repeatedly has made clear his distaste for dialogue with North Korea. Last week, he dismissed the idea of talks as a waste of time, a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington was maintaining open lines of communication with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's government. "Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars&getting nothing. Policy didn't work!" the US president said in a Twitter post on Monday. Trump's comments seemed to further suggest that military action was on his mind. On Saturday, Trump made a similar comment on Twitter about how negotiations have failed for 25 years and said "only one thing will work" with North Korea. US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday told the US Army to be ready with military options on North Korea, but emphasised that efforts to deal with Pyongyang were being led diplomatically. "There is one thing the US Army can do and that is you have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our President can employ if needed," Mattis said in a speech at an annual US Army conference. "We currently are in a diplomatically led effort and how many times have you seen the UN Security Council vote unanimously, now twice in a row, to impose stronger sanctions on North Korea," Mattis said. ^ top ^

US, N.Korea 'lost their way,' complicating nuclear issue (Global Times)
2017-10-10
China said on Monday that the US and North Korea "lost their way" when seeking national security and complicated the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. "The essence of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is the security issue… national security is the intent of the US and North Korea, but they have lost their way in chasing that goal and tightened the knot," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing on Monday. The US wants North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and drop any nuclear plan, while North Korea expects the US not to attack or invade the country with conventional or nuclear weapons, Hua said. Hua was responding to a question on whether tweets from US President Donald Trump on Saturday about North Korea are a sign of military action. "US presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid," Trump said in a tweet on Saturday. "...Hasn't worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of US negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!" Trump added in a follow-up tweet. The situation on the Korea Peninsula is complicated and severe, Hua said, urging relevant parties to stop heated words and provocative deeds to prevent the conflict from escalating. "Relevant parties should show greater sincerity, sit down and talk to increase mutual trust, find an effective solution to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue," the spokesperson added. ^ top ^

Beyond THAAD: the real reason why China is angry with South Korea (SCMP)
2017-10-08
Empty shops, deserted streets and silent restaurants make for an unusual Jeju this "Golden Week" holiday. The so-called Hawaii of South Korea has been bearing the brunt of China's anger, with Beijing banning travel agencies from selling package tours to South Korea in protest against Seoul's decision to deploy an American missile defence system. Once a favourite destination of Chinese tourists – who comprised 90 per cent of Jeju's tourist footfall – the island has since turned into a ghost town. Jeju's problems embody the tensions between China and South Korea, which marked the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations this August. The 15th and the 20th anniversaries were celebrated with lavish high-profile joint events underscoring rapidly growing bilateral ties. Five years ago then Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping paid a visit to the South Korean embassy in Beijing along with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi with great fanfare. This time, no joint events were held. The highest-ranking Chinese official to attend a reception at the South Korean embassy was the science and technology minister. The Chinese media barely covered the event. President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in. But in contrast to Moon's message focusing on the achievements and prospects of their bilateral ties, the Chinese leader emphasised his readiness to address the differences between the two countries. China clearly won't let South Korea forget its displeasure at the deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence), which China insists can be used to spy on its own missile programmes. The approval of the system deployment was given by Moon's predecessor Park Geun-hye in July 2016. The first two THAAD batteries went operational in April this year. In the wake of escalating North Korean provocations, the Moon administration is to deploy four more. In retaliation, Beijing is effectively embarking on economic sanctions. Apart from the pullback of Chinese tourists, Lotte's business in China has taken a hit, while sales of Korean restaurants in the Beijing area have plunged by a third year-on-year and sales of Hyundai and Kia Motors have fallen by half. Many small and medium-sized Korean businesses in China are leaving the country. All of this makes this the toughest time for Sino-South Korean relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, compounded by the onset of an economic rivalry. The 1992 diplomatic breakthrough was followed by an economic and geopolitical honeymoon. While business ties dramatically expanded, Seoul moved from relying completely on the United States to balancing between Washington and Beijing. A stand-off with Japan over history textbooks, comfort women and disputed territories also helped to bring it closer to China. In September 2015, President Park was the only Washington ally to attend a commemorative military parade on Tiananmen Square. During these 25 years, solid economic links have made China-South Korea relations one of the most important bilateral relationships in Asia and in the world. In 2015, bilateral trade turnover hit US$227.4 billion. South Korea exports to China more than any other nation in the world, its goods accounting for more than a tenth of the latter's total imports. China's share of South Korea's total exports exceeds one fourth, twice as high as the share of the United States. Chinese goods comprise a fifth of South Korean imports, roughly equalling the share of American and Japanese goods combined. South Korea is among the top five foreign direct investors in China. One of the major driving forces behind the expansion of Sino-South Korean economic links was complementarity coupled with geographic proximity. Korean companies have supplied parts, materials and equipment for China's electronic, general machinery and other industries, supporting their phenomenal growth. Bilateral trade in auto parts, insignificant in the early 90s, has grown at a remarkable pace. In the same time, both countries' dependence on auto parts imports from Japan has decreased. Many Chinese looked at South Korea as an example to follow: the next-door neighbour with a rags-to-riches history. Various kinds of Korean goods, from electronics to fashion and cosmetics, as well as movies and popular music and content products are highly popular with Chinese consumers, especially younger generations. In December 2015, the two nations enacted a bilateral Free Trade Agreement pledging to remove tariffs on almost 90 per cent of traded goods within two decades. But this stage of the complementarity-driven expansion of economic ties seems to be over, giving way to rivalry. Having increased its exposure to China, the export-oriented South Korean economy is grappling with the "China challenge" rather than capitalising on the "China opportunity". Chinese companies are directly competing with their South Korean counterparts in the areas where the latter used to dominate. The number of Chinese content providers is increasing dramatically, exposing Korean firms to competitive pressures never seen before. And at the top level, a cohort of Chinese electronic giants lead by Huawei and Haier is significantly increasing global market shares, vigorously competing with Samsung, LG and other South Korean heavyweights. From autos and shipbuilding to chemicals, any industry where South Korean companies used to have an edge is now feeling the heat of Chinese competitors, often supported by the state. These changes are creating a new context for the bilateral relationship, adding to the North Korean factor. Several years ago, when Beijing-Seoul relations were at their peak, Korea experts in Tokyo were telling me that South Korea always tends to gravitate towards the strongest regional player, which at the time was China. That drift seems to be over: Seoul has drifted back to the Washington camp. The North Korean threat has divided Asia, largely along the old cold war lines, and the deteriorating relationship between Beijing and Seoul is a major manifestation of this division. But North Korea is also a mere symptom of the far deeper problems that beset the relationship. ^ top ^

Waiting game for North Korean workers in China as shutdown deadline looms (SCMP)
2017-10-06
On a quiet street in the embassy district of Beijing, a neon-lit national flag forms an impressive backdrop to an almost empty North Korean restaurant as young waitresses sent from Pyongyang stand around waiting for customers. "Business has been going down for a while," one of them said as she flipped through a menu featuring North Korean seafood and Australian beef. "It's not doing well." Their future is uncertain – the restaurant is one of many that will be forced to close after the Chinese government ordered all North Korean businesses to shut down within 120 days from September 11. That was the date the United Nations Security Council imposed a tough new round of sanctions against Pyongyang over its repeated ballistic missile and nuclear tests. There are an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 North Koreans working in about 50 countries, most of them in China and Russia, earning the regime some US$500 million a year, according to South Korea's intelligence agency and the United States. But many of those working in China may have to return home soon because – in line with the latest UN sanctions – Chinese companies cannot hire new North Korean workers or renew existing contracts. A source close to the business community in Dandong, the main Chinese gateway to North Korea, said companies were told in mid-September not to hire new North Korean workers. Some of these workers are employed in the mining sector, but many of them work in the service industry, particularly in restaurants. It was unclear how long North Koreans already on contracts could remain in China, the source said, but "the authorities are serious about implementing these sanctions". In the restaurant in Beijing, the waitress, in her 20s, would not discuss her future in the city but explained how she had ended up there. "We came here on a three-year contract – we're all from Pyongyang. There's no one from any other part of the country," she said. "We don't have a choice – our jobs are assigned by the government. I studied hospitality management at university and I was sent to Beijing. I didn't know any Chinese when I arrived," she said, describing a situation that would be considered forced labour under international laws. The source in Dandong said workers sent from Pyongyang were carefully vetted to make sure they were "politically reliable", and some were the children of senior North Korean officials. "For example, one condition is that they should have family members still living inside North Korea," the source said, suggesting the authorities would hold workers' relatives accountable if they defected. China has been under mounting international pressure to stop funding the North Korean regime, especially since US President Donald Trump came to power. North Korea's annual investment in China is tiny – it fell from US$11.2 million in 2010 to just US$70,000 in 2015, according to figures released last year by the Korea International Trade Association in Seoul. One diplomat in the city expected some North Korean businesses would find a way to remain operating after the deadline passed. "The 120-day period gives these enterprises enough time to restructure so that they can continue operating in China in another form," the diplomat said. "If they're no longer owned by North Korean investors – by transferring ownership of the business to Chinese nationals – they need not be closed down." But Lu Chao, director of the Border Study Institute at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said most North Korean companies in China, particularly the restaurants, will close "given the seriousness of a Ministry of Commerce order". "I expect all the workers will be asked to leave," Lu said. Back at the restaurant in Beijing, however, the imminent threat of closure did not appear to be bothering the staff. Nearing closing time, a cheerful manager – with badges of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il pinned to her shirt – emerges from a back room to check the day's takings with the cashiers and joke with the waitresses. Her restaurant, and two other North Korean restaurants in Beijing visited by the South China Morning Post this week, showed no sign of closing their doors – and it was unclear when they would finally flick the switch on that neon-lit flag. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia-EU Framework Agreement adopted (Montsame)
2017-10-11
The Council of the European Union adopted a decision on the conclusion of the Mongolia-EU Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation on October 9. The negotiations for the Mongolia-EU Framework Agreement started in 2010 and were concluded in 2013. As all EU member states approved the Agreement at parliamentary levels, the European Parliament gave its consent to conclude the Agreement on February 15, 2017. After the European Parliament's approval that paved the way for the Agreement's entry into force, the EU Council has thus adopted the conclusion at its meeting this week. The Council decision on the conclusion of the agreement closes the ratification procedure and allows the agreement to enter into force. The Agreement will enter into force on November 1, 2017. Once it enters into force, The Agreement will supersede the current legal framework of the 1993 Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the European Economic Community and Mongolia. It will provide the basis for a broader and more effective engagement by the EU and its Member States with Mongolia moving forward. The Agreement will broaden the scope of Mongolia-EU partnership and strengthen bilateral cooperation in commerce, economy, development assistance, agriculture, rural development, energy, climate change, research, innovation, education and culture. The Framework Agreement consists of 65 Articles with a Preamble and nine Titles, which include the nature and scope of the Agreement; bilateral, regional and international cooperation; cooperation on sustainable development; cooperation on trade and investment issues; cooperation in the area of justice, freedom and security; cooperation in other sectors; means of cooperation; the institutional framework; and final provisions. The Agreement covers a number of cooperation areas of mutual interest such as trade and investment, sustainable development, financial services, taxation, industrial policy and small and medium-sized enterprises cooperation, science, technology, culture, energy, transport, environment, health, civil society and tourism. The Framework Agreement's entry into force will allow Mongolia to intensify its cooperation with the EU, cooperate in new fields and take bilateral relationship to a new level. The Framework Agreement will also become a stimulus to strengthen Mongolia's relations with EU member states. The EU adopted a decision to establish its Representative Office in Ulaanbaatar in July, 2017. ^ top ^

Candidates for ministerial posts confirmed by MPP (Montesame)
2017-10-11
The Mongolian People's Party (MPP) has reached an agreement on the new Government members' candidacy, except three nominations. Candidates for the Deputy PM, the Defense Minister and the Minister of Construction and Urban Development are not confirmed yet, according to MPP General Secretary D.Amarbayasgalan. The other 11 candidates are:
1.G.Zandanshatar for Minister of Head of the Cabinet Secretariat of the Government
2.Ch.Khurelbaatar for Finance Minister
3.Ts.Davaasuren for Energy Minister
4.S.Chinzorig for Minister of Labor and Social Protection
5.D.Sarangerel for Health Minister
6.Ts.Tsogzolmaa for Minister of Education, Culture, Sciences and Sports
7.Ts.Nyamdorj for Minister of Justice and Home Affairs
8.B.Batzorig for Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry
9.J.Bat-Erdene for Minister of Road and Transportation Development
10.D.Tsogtbaatar for Minister of Foreign Affairs
11.D.Sumyabazar for Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry
These candidates are members of current parliament and no one from the dismissed Government has been re-nominated. ^ top ^

 

Mr. Valentin Jeanneret
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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