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
  30.10-3.11.17, No. 694  
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Mongolia

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Switzerland

China's top legislator meets Swiss council of states president (Xinhua)
2017-10-31
Chinese top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Tuesday met with Ivo Bischofberger, President of the Council of States (upper house) of the Swiss Federal Assembly. China and Switzerland should push forward their innovative strategic partnership, said Zhang, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. China's NPC stands ready to work with the Swiss Federal Assembly to strengthen exchanges and cooperation, increase political mutual trust, and share experiences in legislation and state governance to boost economic and trade, as well as cultural cooperation, Zhang said. Zhang briefed the Swiss delegation on the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, saying China is working hard to realize the goals set at the congress. Bischofberger said he appreciated the sound Switzerland-China relations and the visit enabled him to learn about the goals set at the congress. The Swiss Federal Assembly will continue to play an active role in deepening friendship with China, Bischofberger said. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Five things to watch for on Donald Trump's first Asia trip (SCMP)
2017-11-03
US President Donald Trump's first official visit to Asia gets under way on Friday, with a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled for next week likely to one of the highlights. After a quick stop-off in Hawaii, Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines over the course of 12 days, taking him as close as he is ever likely to get to his greatest adversary – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. As well as holding talks with state leaders, Trump will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam and the US-Asean Summit in the Philippines. Although he pledged during his presidential campaign last year to be "unpredictable" in diplomacy, here are the five issues that we think are likely to dominate his visit: 1) US Asia policy: Trump's attitude towards the United States' long-term allies, as well as partner-cum-rival China during his trip could set the foundations for US foreign relations for the rest of his presidential term. In contrast to the "Pivot to Asia" approach adopted by his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump has made no bones about putting "America First". It will be interesting to see how rigidly he adheres to that policy in talks with his Asian counterparts. 2) North Korea: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and China's ambassador in Washington Cui Tiankai have both confirmed that the North Korea issue will top the agenda of the Sino-US meeting. The restive state has conducted 15 missile tests since February and claims to have developed the technology to land a warhead on US soil. In response, Trump has repeatedly pressed China to do more to contain its long term ally's weapons development programme and he is expected to further push Beijing to implement sanctions against Pyongyang and take additional steps to rein in its restive neighbour. Although China has cooperated with UN Security Council resolutions on Pyongyang, North Korea's official state media reported that Xi on Thursday expressed his hopes to promote ties between the two countries. Before meeting Xi, Trump will visit Japan and South Korea – the United States' closest Asian allies on the North Korea issue – and his talks there could well shed some light on how things might go in Beijing. 3) US military alliances: During his presidential campaign Trump made repeated claims that the US was bankrolling the defence of its Asian allies Japan and South Korea. Though he has yet to make any defence budget cuts, it will be of great interest not only to the United States' allies but also other nations in the region how much he commits to America's military development in Asia. With their shared and deepening concerns over North Korea's nuclear weapons capabilities, Trump's talks in Seoul may touch on the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence anti-missile system, an issue that has caused a year-long conflict between China and South Korea. In Japan, whose defence ties to the US date back to the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in 1960, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely hoping Trump will continue to honour the deal. In September, Trump said he would allow both Japan and South Korea to buy a "substantially increased amount" of sophisticated military equipment from the US. 4) Trade: Trump on Wednesday referred to the United States' US$347 billion trade deficit with China as "embarrassing" and "horrible". It should be expected, therefore, that while in Beijing he will be keen to rebalance that relationship by proposing new trade terms. The ongoing US investigations into China's alleged dumping of stainless steel flanges and Beijing's intellectual property practices could also be on the agenda. The United States' second-largest trade deficit – US$69 billion – is with Japan, so Trump may look to continue the talks he began with Tokyo earlier in the year covering tariffs on US agricultural products and American car sales in the Asian country. Trump has also called for a renegotiation of the 2012 US-South Korean free trade agreement which he blames for fuelling a US$28 billion trade deficit as it removed tariffs on more than 90 per cent of the goods traded between the two countries. In export-dependent Vietnam, the government is likely to push for more trade deals with Trump after the US pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership earlier this year. 5) Dealing with Duterte: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been keen to build closer ties with China, so Trump's visit to Manila should shed some light on the relationship the US and its once firm ally are likely to have in the future. During a visit to Beijing last year, Duterte, who has accused Washington of treating the Philippines "like a dog", announced his country's "separation" from its long-standing relationship with the US. Since then he has sought to resolve disputes with Beijing over the South China Sea, and recently said the two countries were discussing energy exploration in the waterway. Any and all of the above could have a significant impact on Sino-US ties. ^ top ^

Ivory Coast formally opens huge China-funded dam (SCMP)
2017-11-03
Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara has inaugurated a huge Chinese-funded dam designed to boost the country's power capacity by nearly 14 per cent. The four-turbine, 4km-long Soubre dam is expected to add 275 megawatts of power to the network's annual supply, said Amidou Traore, managing director of the electricity firm CI-Energie. China has provided 85 per cent of its cost, estimated at US$583 million. Construction began in 2013 and the first turbine went online in June. Large dam projects are widely attacked by environmentalists for their impact on river flow, which affects wildlife habitats. But Outtara, in his inauguration speech, noted the west African country's commitments under the 2015 Paris climate-change agreement to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 28 per cent by 2030, across all sectors. "The Soubre hydroelectric dam, by producing renewable energy, will help us to reach this goal," he said, adding that companies would also get a boost in competitiveness. The Chinese embassy described the initiative as emblematic of cooperation between the two counties. A major economy in West Africa, Ivory Coast launched a scheme to rebuild its electrical infrastructure after a bout of violent political upheaval in 2010-11. Production will double by 2020 according to the plan, which foresees investment of nearly 16 billion euros (US$18.6 billion), funded mostly from the private sector, by 2030. As the country's biggest hydroelectric scheme, Soubre will boost the share of renewables in Ivory Coast's energy mix to 45 per cent, Traore said. The rest is provided by fossil fuels. ^ top ^

Chinese president to attend APEC summit, visit Vietnam, Laos (Xinhua)
2017-11-03
Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Vietnam and Laos from Nov. 10 to 14, China's Foreign Ministry announced on Friday. Xi will attend the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, on Nov. 10-11, at the invitation of Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said. Xi will pay state visits to Vietnam and Laos from Nov. 12 to 14, at the invitation of Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, and Bounnhang Vorachit, general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee and president of Laos. ^ top ^

Donald Trump's national security adviser warns Beijing on Guam bomber runs (SCMP)
2017-11-03
US President Donald Trump's national security adviser issued a warning to Beijing about China's recent bomber runs near the US Pacific island territory Guam. "I think the United States recognises that any kind of military effort like that will not be in China's interest," H.R. McMaster told reporters in Washington, referring to reports of increased Chinese warplane operations in the area. "I think China recognises that as well." McMaster, briefing the media on Trump's upcoming Asia trip, said the US has the capability to "deter by denial", "which means convincing your enemy, or potential enemy that they cannot accomplish their objectives through the use of military force". China has been flying bombers near the US territory of Guam to test US defence zones in the area, the Military Times this week quoted unnamed US defence officials in the region as saying. China's H-6K Badger warplanes – with 1,600km range air-launched cruise missiles – and other military aircraft have flown with increasing frequency near Japanese and US aircraft, the American news website reported. The bomber runs targeting Guam have complicated tensions around North Korea's nuclear weapons programme and recent threats by Pyongyang to fire missiles near the island. North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un made that threat after Trump said in August that the US would respond with "fire and fury" to further provocations by Kim's military. The Chinese bombers patrolled the Scarborough Shoal area of the South China Sea – an area claimed by both Beijing and Manila – in July last year, according to state media. During the press briefing, McMaster said he welcomed the news that "China was lifting sanctions over South Korea and no longer punishing South Korea for defending itself". China and South Korea agreed to bring relations back to a normal state after a year-long standoff over deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, or THAAD, US missile defence system. China's president, Xi Jinping, and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in will hold talks next week on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang, Vietnam, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. The meeting will be "the first step in implementing an agreement to quickly [put] exchanges between the two countries on the right track," the report quoted Nam Gwan-pyo, a director of South Korea's presidential national security office, as saying. "I think what China has recognised is that you cannot sanction South Korea for defending itself against this very dangerous, rogue regime [North Korea], " McMaster said. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told lawmakers in Seoul on Monday that the country is not considering any additional deployment of the THAAD system. She repeated that the country will not be part of the US-led missile defence network. McMaster, however, said he doubted the foreign minister was being "definitive" in her remarks to lawmakers and was sceptical that South Korea "would give up its sovereignty in this area", meaning its say over decisions on the deployment of THAAD. The Chinese "have basically now acquiesced to THAAD", Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia studies at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, said in a conference call with reporters and analysts this week. "We all know that every time a Chinese official went to the US, that was right at the top of their agenda in terms of trying to get the United States to pull back from this. It's significant on the China side in terms of what they're giving up." Trump will leave the US on Friday as he begins his first official Asia trip. McMaster said the president will consult leaders across the region to understand better "what more we can do to resolve this crisis short of war". "Diplomacy is our main effort," he said. "But the use of military force is an option that we have to consider because of how grave that threat is." McMaster acknowledged that the US is "not talking with North Korea" directly. The US has to make sure that "we have all the capabilities we need should it become necessary to resolve that threat without the cooperation of the North Korean regime", he said. ^ top ^

How will Donald Trump's Beijing visit shape US strategy on China? (SCMP)
2017-11-02
US President Donald Trump's visit to Beijing next week will shape an ongoing White House review of China policy that will be used to formulate a coherent strategy for dealing with the world's second-largest economy, analysts said. Trump's demands and takeaways from his first state visit to China will "drive the whole process" of refining a China policy, Michael Green, a former senior director at the US National Security Council, told the South China Morning Post. "Whatever policy reviews [are] underway, they will throw them out and start over, or revisit them based on the [Trump's] trip," Green said. He is now a senior vice-president for Asia and Japan chair at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies. The White House has been quietly conducting an overall China policy review across US government entities since June. The review stems from a concern that the Trump administration lacks a coherent China approach. The administration mainly has focused on economic issues, including China's alleged intellectual property theft, technology transfer requirement for joint ventures and trade tactics, Politico reported. "I know the administration is really focusing on those specific areas that are very pragmatic," Green said. He said he doubted the White House has formulated a China strategy yet. Since Trump took power, the US has been pursuing a results-oriented approach aimed at getting China to make concessions that would reduce the bilateral trade deficit, increase American exports and gain more market access for US companies. A senior US administration official said on Tuesday during a White House press briefing that the president's visit would send "a clear message" that China must provide "fair and reciprocal" treatment to US firms and cease "predatory" trade and investment practices. Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, also told the Post in an email that the review process so far appears "disappointing and inadequately comprehensive". Paal said early indications are that the administration's policy is based on "an incoherent approach" that tries to fight change rather than grab it and steer it towards a higher set of objectives. "We are in a period of major power upheaval and the conceptual approach needs to be comprehensive and adaptive, not rigid and negative," Paal said. "And it needs to tie American foreign policy objectives to American domestic realities more closely." Bradford Jensen, a professor of economics and international business at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, said Trump's China trade policy is coherent. Trade is "the one thing that Trump has been most consistent on", Jensen told a Georgetown University event last week. Trump is trying to "leverage the US side to get a better deal". ^ top ^

Japan 'pushes for summit' with China and South Korea this year (SCMP)
2017-11-02
Japan aims to resume top-level talks with China and South Korea before the end of this year amid signs of easing tensions between the three East Asian neighbours, according to diplomatic sources and observers. The region's three top economies called off their annual summit scheduled for July as suspicions rose between Beijing and Tokyo, and China took offence at South Korea's decision to deploy a US-supplied anti-missile system. An ongoing reshuffle of officials in China would complicate efforts but the chances of restarting the talks had risen with the leaders of China and Japan cementing their domestic authority and signs of a thaw in relations between Beijing and Seoul, diplomats and observers said. Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidated his status at last month's Communist Party congress while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has just won a decisive third term. Observers said the summit would give Beijing the opportunity to bring the three nations together just as US President Donald Trump was trying to strengthen the US alliance in the region. Xu Liping, an Asia specialist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the trilateral summit was an important symbol of cooperation in East Asia but it had been weakened in recent years. "Now that it's clear that Abe will stay in power until 2021 and the leaders of [China and Japan] have consolidated their status domestically, it is time to resume exchanges," Xu said. But whether the summit was a success would depend on talks between the leaders at the East Asia Summit in the Philippines this month. A Japanese diplomatic source said Abe could invite Xi for a state visit next year if the three leaders met in Japan by the end of this year for the trilateral summit. There are signs such preparations are under way, with assistant foreign minister Kong Xuanyou meeting Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his deputy Takeo Akiba last week. Cheng Yonghua, China's ambassador to Japan, said China was "actively considering" the possibility of holding the trilateral summit and of high-level exchanges between China and Japan. But he also warned that "sensitive and complicated factors" persisted in bilateral relations. China Foreign Affairs University professor Su Hao said that despite Japan's eagerness to hold the summit, Beijing remained sceptical of Tokyo's strategic intentions due to the two countries' long-standing territorial disputes over the East China Sea and Abe's attempts to amend the country's pacifist constitution. Beijing was also concerned about Abe's efforts to counter China's rise in the region. "It depends on what Abe does during the Trump visit to Japan and whether he would display intentions to counter China," Su said. Trump and Abe are expected to discuss a trade and investment framework for the Indo-Pacific region. Japan and the United States are also considering security and economic strategies for much of the region, including India and Australia, to counter China's growing military and economic influence. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy asks for patience over Myanmar's Rakhine issue (Xinhua)
2017-11-02
A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Thursday asked for patience of the world organization and the international community over the issue of Rakhine state in Myanmar. The situation in Rakhine state is moving toward stabilization as a result of efforts by the Myanmar government, Wu Haitao, the charge d'affaires of the Chinese mission to the United Nations, told the Security Council. The issue of Rakhine state has complex historical, ethnic and religious factors and many differences and conflicts have been brewing for a long time, said Wu. The governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh are seeking solutions to the refugee problem through negotiations and consultations. The United Nations and the international community should have patience and provide constructive assistance to and cooperate with Myanmar for a proper settlement of the issue, he said. ^ top ^

Envoys to be sent across globe to explain CPC congress spirit (Global Times)
2017-11-02
The Communist Party of China (CPC) is sending an unprecedented number of envoys to foreign nations to elaborate on the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress, in a move that highlights the Party's growing global influence. An official surnamed Li from the International Department of the CPC Central Committee told the Global Times on Thursday that over 30 groups of envoys are set to be sent to five continents from November to early next year to introduce the spirit of the 19th congress to foreign political parties, political organizations, think tanks and media. The groups are said to comprise members who helped draft the 19th CPC National Congress report, officials from departments of the CPC Central Committee and officials from local Party committees and other experts. "It's the first time the CPC will have dispatched publicity-related groups on such a large scale across the globe. In the past, the Party would send envoys to a select number of countries, such as Vietnam, Laos and Cuba, to introduce the outcome of the CPC national congress. Many of these meetings were not made public," said Yin Yungong, an expert on the socialist system at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The new concepts brought up at the 19th congress, such as "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era," will be introduced by the envoy groups, as well as the Belt and Road initiative and the idea of building a community of common destiny, according to analysts. "China's policies, its future plans, its economic development and the country's resolve to continue carrying out reforms could also be discussed. The envoys are also likely to answer questions that address other nations' concerns," Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times on Thursday. Analysts believe that sending envoy groups to discuss the Party congress is in accordance with China's increasingly important role in the world and will help other countries better understand China's political system. "Many diplomacy-related concepts are now written into the revised CPC Constitution, including upholding an independent and peaceful foreign policy, carrying out the Belt and Road initiative and the idea of developing ties between the CPC and other foreign parties based on independence, equality, mutual respect and non-interference ideals," said Chen Fengying, an expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. "Given this new content in the CPC Constitution, it is natural that the Party would send out more envoy groups." The International Department of the CPC Central Committee on Tuesday held a briefing to elaborate on the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress to over 260 foreign diplomats and 140 representatives of foreign enterprises and international organizations. Song Tao, head of the International Department, said 454 major political parties from 165 countries have sent more than 1,340 congratulatory messages to the 19th CPC National Congress. "This has unprecedentedly affirmed China's historic achievement in the past five years under the leadership of Xi Jinping. The affirmation has shifted from a materialistic level to acknowledging the country's socialist path with Chinese characteristics, as well as its achievement in its political system," Song said. He noted that more countries wish to learn about China's political system and expect China to play a leading role in the international community. ^ top ^

Construction goes smoothly on China-Russia gas pipeline (Xinhua)
2017-11-02
Construction of two underwater tunnels on the China-Russia East-Route Natural Gas Pipeline is going smoothly, local government said on Thursday. Gas pipelines will be installed in the two tunnels, each 1,139 meters long, connecting Heihe in Heilongjiang Province, and Blagoveshchensk in Russia, the Heihe city government said in a statement. The underwater project passes through the Heilongjiang River along the Sino-Russian border. One of the two tunnels was completed recently, according to the local government. The Chinese section of the 3,968-kilometer China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline originates in Heihe and terminates in Shanghai. Work on the Russian part of the east-route pipeline began in eastern Siberia in 2014. The pipeline is expected to begin sending up to 38 billion cubic meters of gas to China each year from 2018. ^ top ^

Sanctions-hit Russia mulls payment system tie-up with China to cut reliance on the West (SCMP)
2017-11-01
Russia and China were considering linking their national payment system, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday, as he called for a more balanced global finance structure. Noting the rise of China's UnionPay system and Beijing's efforts to internationalise its currency, the yuan, Medvedev said in Beijing that Russia was developing its own payment system, known as Karta Mir. "At the present moment it is being discussed whether Karta Mir should be linked to Chinese payment systems," he said, while standing alongside Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. That would have "good prospects" and "avoid those problems that sometimes arise when you use American payment systems", Medvedev said, mentioning Visa and Mastercard without elaborating. Russia started to create the Karta Mir system after Western sanctions were imposed on the country in 2014, during the Ukraine crisis. The system is now widely accepted in Russia. After new US sanctions were imposed, Moscow promised to intensify work to cut dependence on Western payment systems further. Among other things, it wants to create more domestic financial services such as its own ratings agency. "I think that the more financial instruments there are in the modern world, the more stable the global financial system will be," Medvedev said. Visa and Mastercard stopped providing services to clients of one Russian bank after Washington imposed sanctions over Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Vasily Kashin, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said Russia and China would want to discuss alternatives to American financial institutions due to more potential US sanctions over Moscow's alleged interference in the 2016 US election. Kashin said the sanctions, which could affect 39 blacklisted Russian entities by early next year. "Under new circumstances, quite a lot of Russian corporate entities will need to avoid dollars and any exposure to the US banking system, and there is very significant potential for cooperation between Russia and China," he said. Around 14 million Mir cards, which translates as "World" or "Peace", have been issued in Russia, according to the Russian National System of Payment Cards (NSPK), or about 10 per cent of the country's population. NSPK was established in 2014 and is wholly owned by the central bank. More than 380 banks working in Russia accept the cards, which are issued by 120 banks. Practically all trade and service points, including cafes, shops, restaurants and service stations, accept them. Mir cards are also welcome in sanctions-hit Crimea where Western banks are banned from operating. ^ top ^

China and Asean mount maritime exercises in calmer diplomatic waters (SCMP)
2017-11-01
China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have held their largest joint maritime rescue exercise, signalling a lull in South China Sea tensions. The drill on Tuesday simulated a collision between a Chinese passenger ship and a Cambodian cargo vessel off Guangdong province. It involved about 1,000 rescuers aboard 20 ships and three helicopters, according to reports in Chinese state media late on Tuesday. China, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Brunei took part, with Vietnam notably absent. The exercise followed meetings between the Chinese and Singaporean defence ministers on the sidelines of the 11th Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting in the Philippines last month. China asserts sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea in the face of rival claims from its Southeast Asian neighbours, including four Asean members. It has rapidly reclaimed reefs, creating artificial islands capable of hosting military planes. Disputes have sometimes spilt over into confrontations as vessels from the competing countries spar over fishing grounds and resource extraction. But lately some have eased their opposition to China's claims. Last year a United Nations-backed tribunal, ruling on an application by the Philippines, rejected Beijing's claims to most of the South China Sea. Yet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to use the decision as leverage, softening his predecessor's policy in favour of billions of dollars in trade and investment from China. Vietnam, however, has continued to deliver sharp rebukes. In June a meeting between Vietnamese and Chinese generals over border issues was abruptly cancelled, with both sides citing a sudden scheduling conflict. Taiwan – which is not an Asean member – also claims almost the entire area, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas reserves. ^ top ^

China urges US not to withdraw from Paris accord on climate change ahead of Trump visit (SCMP)
2017-10-31
China's top climate change official has called on the United States not to withdraw from the Paris agreement ahead of an important conference on the subject and Donald Trump's planned visit to Beijing next week. Xie Zhenhua, the country's chief negotiator on the Paris accord, said on Tuesday that Beijing still wanted to cooperate with Washington on climate change negotiations. "We hope the US will come back to the big family of the Paris agreement … and make positive contributions to our home Earth," Xie said at a press conference in Beijing. "Whatever happens, China will implement the Paris agreement and fulfil 100 per cent of its commitments." A global climate conference will be held in Bonn, Germany, this month, with nearly 200 nations working on a "rule book" to implement the pact signed in the French capital in 2015. Developed countries should provide a clear timetable for reducing emissions and offer financial and technical support to developing nations to help tackle climate change, Xie said. As the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, China vowed to support the global campaign after Trump announced plans to withdraw from the agreement. At the recently concluded national party congress in Beijing, President Xi Jinping said China would cooperate with other states in combating climate change. China had become "a major participant, contributor and leader" in global environmental issues over the past five years, he said. Lauri Myllyvirta, a Beijing-based campaigner at environmental group Greenpeace, said China had a strong incentive to reduce carbon emissions from the use of coal as doing so would help it to improve its notoriously bad air pollution. While a surge in construction activity had caused a spike in CO2 emissions over the past year, the country was still on track to meet its target to reduce its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels, he said. "We expect the emissions to stabilise again as the economic reforms resume and the rapid growth of clean energy continues. China is helping the global campaign against climate change. We hope it will set more ambitious targets and encourage other countries to do so," he said. China's carbon intensity – annual carbon emissions divided by GDP – fell by 6.6 per cent in 2016 and by a further 4 per cent in the first nine months of this year, according to Li Gao, an official at the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning agency. However, the country still faced challenges in meeting its carbon-reduction goals, he said, adding that high-energy consuming industries were still expanding rapidly in some regions. The country was also working on regulations and trading systems to establish a nationwide emissions trading scheme, Li said. The government said in November last year that a national trading scheme would be launched this year. ^ top ^

China supports Spanish unity amid Catalan independence declaration (Xinhua)
2017-10-30
China Monday voiced support for the Spanish government's effort to maintain national unity after the Catalan parliament declared independence Friday. Shortly after the Catalan parliament's announcement, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his government and announced new elections would take place in the region on Dec. 21. The Spanish Senate approved the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which suspends the autonomy of Catalonia and hands control of key Catalan institutions to Madrid. "China's stance on this issue is consistent and clear. China regards it as a domestic affair of Spain and understands and supports the Spanish government's effort to maintain national unity, ethnic solidarity and territorial integrity," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said when asked for comment at a regular news briefing held in Beijing. "China opposes moves to split the country and breach the rule of law and believes Spain is capable of protecting social order and citizens' rights within the legal and institutional framework," Hua said. China has developed friendly cooperation with Spain in various areas based on the principles of respect for each other's sovereign and territorial integrity and non-interference in domestic affairs, the spokesperson said. ^ top ^

China provides emergency food aid to Afghanistan before winter (Xinhua)
2017-10-30
The Chinese embassy in Afghanistan said Sunday that China will provide Afghanistan with 4,242 tons of rice which is emergency food aid to the militancy-hit country. Chinese Charge d'Affaires Zhang Zhixin together with Afghan acting State Minister for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs Mohammad Aslam Sayas attended a handover ceremony here on Sunday morning. The Chinese side handed over the first batch of 502 tons of rice, the rest will arrive in Kabul before March 2018. Zhang told reporters at the ceremony that as winter draws near, some Afghans, particularly in rural areas, are faced with difficulties and that the latest food aid donated by China will help the needy people to receive assistance before winter. As a friendly and close neighbor to Afghanistan, China hopes to work with the Afghan government in helping the Afghan people get through the food crisis, he said. Sayas told reporters that the first batch of the donated food will be transported to five most vulnerable provinces in the mountainous country. He also expressed gratitude to China for its cooperation with the government and the people of Afghanistan. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Writers urge China to release Liu Xia, widow of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner (SCMP)
2017-11-02
More than 50 celebrated American and international literary figures have written a joint letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping appealing to his "sense of conscience" to release Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xia, a poet, painter and photographer, has been under house arrest in China since 2010 despite never having been charged with any crime. She was last seen in public on July 15 when she took part in a memorial service for her husband, two days after he died of cancer. Friends, journalists and diplomats have all been prevented from meeting her. She is reported to be suffering from depression and a heart condition, the letter said. The 52 writers who appealed for her release, in an open letter organised by PEN America, a group set up to advance literature and defend free expression, include Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Chimamanda Adichie, Louise Erdrich, John Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler and Tom Stoppard. They called for her release in recognition of China's international obligations, including as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and its own constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and other rights. "We also appeal to your conscience and your sense of compassion," they wrote to President Xi. "Liu Xia has undergone great suffering for many years, simply for being the wife of a man that China has deemed to be a dissident. She has committed no crime and she has not been charged with any crime." Although Chinese officials claim she is free, she is in fact in "de facto incommunicado detention" – cut off from the outside word and barred from making free decisions on whom to speak with and where to travel, the letter said. "She is in poor health, she is isolated from those who care for her and she is grieving deeply for the loss of her husband. She should be free to meet freely with family, friends and members of the international community, free to travel where she wishes, and free to be reunited with the outside world." PEN America said it planned to call on President Trump to bring the letter with him on his state visit to China next week. The group has also opened it up for signature by members of the public. Liu Xiaobo died of cancer at the age of 61, seven years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his "long and non-violent struggle for human rights in China". The Chinese government sentenced him to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" in 2009. He took part in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests and was co-author of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for democracy and freedom in China. The authors said they were adding their voices to those of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the German embassy in China, calling for Liu Xia's release. ^ top ^

China needs urgent overhaul to treat billions of tonnes of waste (SCMP)
2017-11-02
China needs to improve law enforcement and make polluters pay to treat billions of tonnes of rural, industrial and household waste, the country's top legislator said in a report to parliament late on Wednesday. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People's Congress, said China generates nearly four billion tonnes of waste a year from livestock and poultry as well as 200 million tonnes of household waste in large and medium-sized cities. China also produces 3.3 billion tonnes of industrial waste every year, including tailings from mines, with the accumulated volume now amounting to 60 billion to 70 billion tonnes nationwide, he said. "There are currently many weak links in the management of hazardous waste in our country and it needs to be improved urgently," Zhang said in an address. Rural waste is "an even weaker link", he said, with basic environmental infrastructure seriously insufficient. He added that 57 per cent of villages lacked basic disposal and treatment systems while nearly 40 per cent of animal waste is not properly disposed of or utilised. Inspection teams sent out earlier this year to look at the enforcement of China's solid waste laws had found that local authorities were not taking enough responsibility for the problem. Local governments also needed to improve the way rules were enforced, he said. China is expected to require as much as 10 trillion yuan (US$1.5 trillion) in investment in environmental infrastructure over the 2016-20 period and will spend nearly 60 billion yuan on upgrading and extending sewage systems. Domestic and overseas firms have been positioning themselves to take part. But Zhang said new financing methods were required, including new taxes and payment mechanisms for polluters, with governments and society now bearing too much of the burden on treatment costs. Public-private partnerships should also be set up to invest in waste treatment, he said. China introduced new rules earlier this year aimed at improving recycling rates in key industries like electronics, plastics, textiles and household appliances. It also banned imports of solid waste, which amounted to nearly 50 million tonnes a year. But as it cracks down on illegal, polluting backstreet recycling plants, it has struggled to create the incentives to encourage industrial-scale recycling enterprises to fill the gap, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in August. ^ top ^

Xi protégé on high-powered propaganda team to spread president's message (SCMP)
2017-11-02
Three Politburo members, including a prominent protégé of President Xi Jinping, will embark on a nationwide tour this weekend to promote the president's ideology and policy initiatives. Observers said the decision to include Chen Miner, Xi's close associate and one of the youngest Politburo members, in the group pointed to his expanding role in the leadership. The Politburo trio will be part of a 36-member "central publicity team" that from Sunday will go to companies, villages, schools, communities and government departments to talk about the key points made in Xi's 3½-hour speech at the Communist Party's national congress last month, according to Xinhua. They would expand on the party's governance goals for the coming decades as well as Xi's new ideology, which was enshrined in the party's charter, the report said. The party usually deploys such groups to spread the message after each congress but this time the team is particularly high-powered. Besides Chen, the line-up includes Yang Xiaodu, the party's No 2 anti-corruption official, and Huang Kunming, head of the propaganda department. Three officials from the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, a shadowy body playing a growing role in economic policy, will also join the team. The advocates are expected to touch on Xi's calls to maintain economic development while addressing problems like poverty and pollution. The team also includes top officials in charge of agriculture, health and information technology. Two other members come from bodies related to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan affairs. It is a sharp contrast with five years ago when the 20-member group sent out to spread the word about former president Hu Jintao's report comprised mostly party theorists and policy researchers. There were also no Politburo members on board the 2012 and 2007 teams. Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, said the inclusion of high-ranking officials this year reflected Xi's efforts to strengthen the party's influence at grass-roots levels. He said the tour could help raise the profile of Chen, who is seen as Xi's favoured leadership contender. "The tour will be well reported and covered," Tsang said. "He can only get good publicity from it." At a preparatory meeting on Wednesday, Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning told the team to communicate face-to-face with local cadres and members of the public. They should also use creative ways to get their message across and respond to the concerns of grass-roots people, Wang said. Beijing-based political analyst Wu Qiang said that while the party's propaganda apparatus had mastered the internet and mass media, the direct approach of the publicity team was meant to shore up cadres' loyalty. "The talks are given in a religious atmosphere," Wu said. "When studying together, officials are more disciplined and can develop a stronger sense of party identity." Meanwhile, the party's foreign relations headquarters is on a mission to take Xi's word abroad, with the International Department of the Central Committee inviting diplomats from more than 150 countries to a briefing on the party congress this week. Foreign ministry officials in Hong Kong also held a session for consuls general in the city. The party said it had also been giving talks to visiting foreign politicians and raising issues from the congress during bilateral meetings. It is unclear whether state leaders visiting China are also being briefed but Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the first foreign leader to go to China since the party gathering, said in Beijing that decisions made at China's party congress were of strategic importance. "From the perspective of improving China-Russia relations, the achievements made at the 19th party congress are all very successful," People's Daily quoted Medvedev as saying on Tuesday. "They give us a lot of inspiration." ^ top ^

Security shake-up in store as new names tapped to run China's police and intelligence services (SCMP)
2017-11-01
China's intelligence agencies and its police force are in for a shake-up with the announcement of two key appointments at the top of the national security apparatus. Zhao Kezhi, 63, who has worked closely with two of President Xi Jinping's trusted aides, had taken over as Communist Party secretary at the Ministry of Public Security, the ministry said on Wednesday. Zhao's predecessor, Guo Shengkun, 63, is staying on as minister for now but also takes on a new role as the party's domestic security chief. As the head of the Central Politics and Law Commission, Guo now oversees not only police officers but also China's judges, prosecutors and intelligence agents. The announcements come about a week after Guo was promoted to the 25-member Politburo, one of the party's innermost circles of power. On Tuesday, Guo told the commission to work together on police and national intelligence services reforms, as well as changes to the judicial system. He also put various law enforcement bodies in charge of safeguarding the country from subversion, terrorism and religious extremism. Guo said security organs should beef up their "fighting capacity" with modern technology. Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has strengthened centralised oversight of China's security apparatus with new laws and leadership bodies. In a July directive reported by state media, Xi put an overhaul of China's intelligence agencies, which include the Ministry of State Security and the military intelligence unit, on Beijing's agenda. Over the past five years, Beijing enacted a slew of laws specifically covering national security, anti-terrorism, counter-espionage, cybersecurity and intelligence work. Xi also chairs the powerful National Security Commission he founded in 2013, which oversees both domestic and international security issues. Chen Daoyin, a Shanghai-based political analyst, said the reforms were designed to make China's security forces more professional and unified. "The powers of these security-related agencies are still fragmented," Chen said. "The trend is for them to be increasingly controlled from the top." Chen said the Ministry of Public Security played a key role in protecting the communist regime, and Xi had likely picked an official he trusted completely. If precedent holds, Zhao will take over Guo's ministerial job in the coming months and become a state councillor in March at the national legislature's annual sessions in Beijing. In his new role, Zhao vowed at a meeting on Tuesday to eradicate the "pernicious influence" of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, who was sentenced to life imprisonment on corruption charges in 2015. Zhou was also a public security minister before his promotion to party secretary at the Central Politics and Law Commission. Before joining the public security ministry, Zhao spent nearly two decades working in provincial government. This included a spell in Guizhou, a poverty-stricken province that has nurtured many top politicians now serving in Xi's administration. Zhao worked in Guizhou under Li Zhanshu, a top Xi aide who is now a member of the Politburo Standing Committee. After Li was promoted in 2012, Zhao was made Guizhou party chief with Chen Miner, a protégé of Xi, serving as provincial governor. Zhao was transferred two years ago to become party boss in Hebei province, a heavily polluted industrial heartland surrounding Beijing. ^ top ^

Xi leads Party oath at historic site (China Daily)
2017-11-01
The Communist Party of China's newly elected top leadership, headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, visited two revolutionary historical sites on Tuesday, underscoring the new leadership's firm belief to stay true to the Party's original aspirations and serve the people.Xi and the other six members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee — Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng — arrived in Shanghai from Beijing by air on Tuesday morning. It is the top leaders' first trip outside Beijing since they were elected last week at the First Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. At the memorial hall of the first CPC National Congress in Shanghai, Xi led the other six leaders in reciting the admission oath in front of the Party flag, reminding Party members to remain true to their original aspirations."The words of the Party's admission oath are not too many, and it's not difficult to remember, but it is difficult to observe for one's whole life," Xi said. In July 1921, 12 delegates attended the first CPC National Congress, representing more than 50 CPC members nationwide. With more than 89 million members, the CPC has become the world's largest political party. Noting that Chairman Mao Zedong compared the meeting room of the first CPC National Congress to the delivery room of the CPC, Xi said that the room is also Party members' spiritual home.No matter how far the Party has marched, the original road should not be forgotten, Xi said. The leaders traveled to South Lake in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, in the afternoon. In 1921, the first CPC National Congress reconvened in a red boat on the lake after it was interrupted by authorities in what was then the French concession in Shanghai. Beside the lake, Xi asked about patriotic education at the revolutionary site, saying that the red boat symbolizes the Party's spirit of bravery in taking the lead and devotion to the people. The leaders then visited an exhibition at the South Lake Revolutionary Memorial. In 2006, when Xi was Party secretary of Zhejiang, he laid the cornerstone of the memorial. The memorial was completed in 2011 ahead of the Party's 90th birthday.All Party members must adhere to the basic principle of serving the people wholeheartedly, Xi said at the memorial. He also called for joint efforts to fulfill the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Jose Leon-Manriquez, a professor of Chinese and East Asian history at Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City, visited the site in the afternoon."The place hosted this very important meeting that bears great historical relevance," he said, "it's interesting to see this place in person, to learn how a very small group of people started to organize one of the most important revolutions in the 20th century." Han Yaoguang, 33, a businessman who visited the Shanghai site, said that it is a place that every Chinese person should visit to learn how difficult the founding of the CPC was and cherish the nation's prosperous society now. ^ top ^

Troubled by Internet trolling? China may offer management inspiration (Global Times)
2017-10-31
Facebook said Monday that an estimated 126 million US users may have been exposed to content uploaded by Russia-based operatives over the last two years in its Russiagate testimony. It is time to reflect on why social media companies like Facebook can create such a huge influence and why the US governing system, which Washington once believed to be flawless, has become so passive and vulnerable when faced with the development of social media. All the investigations and criticism between Democrats and Republicans are for the moment nothing more than belated efforts. Most people naturally seem to prefer ideas or information that are similar to their own outlooks, and tend to filter out different opinions. That's exactly how social media works - the information they provide for you is highly likely to be what you wish to know. On Facebook, the links people click, share and like mostly come from their friends, who usually share similar interests, opinions and ways of doing things. In such a circle, any viewpoint or sentiment can be consolidated, magnified and generate a great impact on the group, ironically, just like Hillary Clinton's campaign motto, "Stronger Together. "With such power, social media can not only guide, but also mislead or even manipulate public opinion. The US, which used to emphasize freedom of expression, may have realized that their outdated management system should be blamed for the emergence of extremists on social media and the flood of fake news. Governments worldwide, including those in the West, are all looking for the most suitable way to regulate the Internet. In this regard, Washington has been using its experience of governing the real world as a reference to rule the virtual world, and it is convinced that its way is the only one, and the optimal one. Some in the US also presumptuously accuse other nations over their strict cyber-security laws, and encourage governments to step aside and let social media thrive. How has it turned out? Americans now see that the cyber world can turn the real world upside down.China, on the other hand, has made positive moves, such as its regulations for WeChat and Weibo, which instills greater discipline while at the same time providing greater freedom. Despite critiques from the West, the development of Chinese social media is more stable, which has far less impact on China's politics than those in the US. The Chinese government, in turn, can better build consensus and resolve social problems, rather than falling into a messy situation where the government's capacity for decision-making and execution are frittered away. Of course, Beijing is still adjusting and reforming its way of social media management. But its basic position is that government must not simply be a spectator. Perhaps the US can find some inspiration from Chinese experience. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing and neighbouring region to set up anti-smog agency (SCMP)
2017-11-01
The smog prone northern Chinese region of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province will set up a joint environmental protection agency in an effort to coordinate the area's war on pollution, the official China Securities Journal reported on Wednesday. The new agency, part of wider efforts to improve cross-region environmental governance, will be in place by the end of the year, the paper said, citing Ministry of Environmental Protection officials. The region, also known as Jing-Jin-Ji, was home to eight of China's 10 smoggiest cities in September and is involved in a winter campaign that will slash industrial output and restrict traffic in a bid to meet air quality targets. Creating unified environmental standards across the region was a key element of a regional economic integration plan launched by President Xi Jinping in 2014. According to academic studies, around a third of the smog drifting across the capital, Beijing, originates in neighbouring Hebei, China's biggest steel producing region and also a major producer of cement. Regulators have already promised to establish a unified system of environmental governance that will create cross-regional emission standards and prevent non-compliant firms in Beijing from shifting operations to neighbouring Hebei. They have also vowed to implement coordinated emergency response plans during heavy smog outbreaks. About 1.8 million Chinese died as a result of environmental pollution in 2015, according to a study published last month in the Lancet. The 1.8 million deaths reported for China was significantly higher than the 1.1 million estimated by the United States-based Health Effects Institute released earlier this year. In rapidly industrialising countries like India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Madagascar, pollution was responsible for up to a quarter of all deaths, the report said. Between eight million and nine million people die in China every year – according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics – which means, based on the study's data, that 20 to 22.5 per cent are linked to pollution. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Officials deny Tibet-Xinjiang water diversion project exists (Global Times)
2017-10-31
China dismissed a report that the country is testing techniques in preparation for the building of a tunnel to carry water from Tibet to Xinjiang, which experts also say is unrealistic. "This is untrue," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said when asked to comment at a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday about the South China Morning Post (SCMP) report.The SCMP on Monday quoted "experts" as saying that the ongoing construction of a 600-kilometer-long water tunnel in Southwest China's Yunnan Province would be a "rehearsal" of new technology, engineering methods and equipment needed for the tunnel, which is expected to extend as long as 1,000 kilometers, and would divert the Yarlung Zangbo River in the southern Tibet Autonomous Region to the Taklamakan Desert in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.China was now taking a "quiet, step-by-step approach to bring it to life," the report quoted an expert surnamed Zhang, who "has played a key role in many major Chinese water tunnel projects," as saying. The chief engineer of the Yunnan water tunnel project dismissed the report when interviewed by the Global Times. "There is no such direction from the central government, and I've never heard of any plan laid out for a Tibet-Xinjiang tunnel project," said Zhao Shijie, chief engineer of the Dianzhong water diversion project, a scheme in central Yunnan. Zhao told the Global Times that it is not the first time he has heard rumors about a Tibet-Xinjiang tunnel, but they are baseless.The Yunnan water diversion project which involves tunnel construction works exceeding 600 kilometers is designed to address a severe water shortage in the province's central region. It began on August 4.According to the People's Daily on August 7, with a total length of 661.07 kilometers, the diversion project will bring water from the Jinsha River to cities including Lijiang and Kunming. The construction is expected to take 96 months. The total fund for the Yunnan water diversion project is estimated at more than 78 billion yuan ($11.8 billion), according to a budget released in the second quarter of 2016, reported Yunnan.cn.The idea of sending Tibetan water to Xinjiang dates back to the late 1950s. "March into the Desert," a famous article by meteorologist, geologist and educator Zhu Kezhen (1890-1974) that has long featured in Chinese schoolbooks, advises diverting water to Xinjiang's arid plains.A plan to divert water from Tibet to the northern parts of China was heatedly discussed in the 1990s. Over the decade, 208 lawmakers and 118 political advisers raised proposals and motions on the plan, according to a 2006 report by the Southern Weekly.However, the dream of massive water diversions has never been approved due to concerns of the huge cost and potential for damaging the landscape."I firmly oppose the project, as Xinjiang cannot afford this project," said Mei Xinyu, an associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.The estimated cost of diverting water from Tibet to Xinjiang would be five times that of Xinjiang's annual GDP. It may depend massively on central government subsidies and the assistance of local governments in other regions, which likely would lead to social instability, Mei added. ^ top ^

Xi praises Tibet sisters for strengthening border (China Daily)
2017-10-30
President Xi Jinping encouraged a herding family in the Tibet autonomous region to put down roots in the border area, safeguard Chinese territory and develop their hometown. Xi, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks in a reply delivered on Saturday to Zhoigar and Yangzom - two Tibetan sisters in the township of Yumai in Lhunze county, which sits at the southern foot of the Himalayas. The two sisters wrote a letter to Xi during the 19th National Congress of the CPC, which ended last week, to report their experiences in safeguarding the country's territory and introducing development and changes in their town, while pledging to make continuous efforts to protect the border. Among their activities is keeping an eye out along the border and reporting suspicious activities like possible smugglers. Xi, in his letter, praised the family's safeguarding national territory for two consecutive generations, thanked those who made loyal contributions to safeguarding and strengthening the country's borders, and encouraged the herders to build their hometown into a beautiful one. There used to be only one family, consisting of the two sisters and their father, in the remote location. The town now has 32 residents in nine families. It's the country's least populous town. Steep slopes and rugged paths make it difficult to access. "Without peace in the territory, there will be no peaceful lives for millions of families," Xi wrote. He said he hoped the family would motivate more herders to put down roots in the border area "like galsang flowers", and become guardians of Chinese territory and builders of a happy hometown. Fresh from the 19th CPC National Congress, Xi told the family that the Party would continue to lead people of all ethnic groups toward better lives. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

National Anthem Law won't be enforced in Hong Kong before local legislation is passed, government confirms (SCMP)
2017-11-03
China's new National Anthem Law will not be enforced in Hong Kong before a local version of the legislation is passed, the government has clarified, contradicting claims from a member of the city's top decision-making body. Executive councillor Ronny Tong Ka-wah had said earlier on Thursday that once introduced into Annexe III of the city's mini-constitution, the national law would theoretically "be a part of Hong Kong law", meaning rule-breakers could be held liable. "From [introduction into the Basic Law] until passage in the Legislative Council, it is a grey area as to whether violating the national anthem law amounts to a criminal sentence or fine," Tong, a barrister, told a radio programme. "Legally, can we be so certain that someone cannot be charged? I'm not so sure." In response to an inquiry from the Post, a government spokeswoman said that this was not the case. "As national laws listed in Annex III to the Basic Law shall be applied locally by way of promulgation or legislation by the Hong Kong SAR, the National Anthem Law cannot be applied in Hong Kong immediately after it is listed in the annex," she said. In September, China's top legislature, the National People's Congress Standing Committee, approved the National Anthem Law, which came into effect on the mainland at the beginning of October. According to the law, anyone who maliciously modifies the lyrics, or plays or sings March of the Volunteers in "a distorted or disrespectful way in public", can be detained for up to 15 days and face criminal charges. The NPCSC is already considering introducing a clause that would increase the penalty to three years. If the standing committee endorses – as expected – a plan to introduce it into Hong Kong's Basic Law this Saturday, the city's government will need to make a local version of the law. This is because under the "one country, two systems" model, national laws do not apply and must be inserted into Annexe III of the Basic Law to take effect locally. One country, two systems is the principle by which Beijing rules Hong Kong, and guarantees the city a high degree of autonomy until 2047. Such legislation has been seen as a threat, not least to a contingent of fans of the Hong Kong soccer team, who routinely boo the anthem before matches. Secretary for Mainland and Constitutional Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said on Wednesday that the government would refer to existing laws against disrespecting the Chinese flag or emblem while drafting a new law protecting the anthem. He said the government would seek views from the public and Legco while drafting legislation, with a view to introducing it "as soon as possible". But Tong, a former lawmaker, was sceptical that such a law could be introduced before 2019, with controversial issues such as the high-speed rail immigration checkpoint arrangement and proposed changes to Legco's rules of procedure set to dominate the legislative agenda up until the second half of next year. The soonest he believed it could be tabled was October next year. "Once tabled, can they pass it in two months?" he asked. The pan-democrats have been calling for a three-month public consultation before the law is drafted. Tong said there had already been "adequate discussion" but agreed the public should be consulted before implementation. Speaking separately, University of Hong Kong principal law lecturer Eric Cheung Tat-ming disagreed with Tong's "grey area" argument. Cheung said that according to Article 18 of the Basic Law, the anthem law cannot be enforced in the city before local legislation is completed. "The article states that national laws listed in Annexe III shall be applied locally only through promulgation or legislation by the Hong Kong SAR. Since the local government has promised to implement it through legislation, it is already very clear," he said. But Cheung also said there was nothing wrong with Tong asking the government for clarification. "No matter how clear the article is, if Beijing or mainland political forces say there is a political need to interpret it in a different way … there is no rule to prohibit it," he added. Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok blasted the executive councillor's remarks as "irresponsible" and "uncalled for". "The law is very clear that until the legislation has been passed in Legco, it will not have legal effect," he said. ^ top ^

North Korean defector 'grabbed around neck' in mysterious attack in Hong Kong (SCMP)
2017-11-01
A North Korean defector was injured on Tuesday night in a mysterious attack at a residential block in Hong Kong, prompting a citywide hunt for a female suspect. The attack took place soon after 10pm when the victim, surnamed Kam, was returning to her flat at the Serenity Park housing estate on Tai Po Tau Drive in the New Territories after a badminton game. The woman told police she had been attacked from behind after exiting a lift on the seventh floor. "The victim claimed she was grabbed around the neck and dragged from the seventh-floor lift lobby to the fifth-floor staircase," a police source said. The attacker ran downstairs after the victim put up a struggle and shouted for help on the landing of the fifth-floor staircase, alerting a neighbour. Police went to the scene after they received a report from the neighbour. Kam suffered minor neck injuries. No property was stolen. She was taken to the nearby Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital and discharged after treatment. "The victim said her attacker spoke Mandarin," the source said. Officers scoured the area but arrested no one. By Wednesday lunchtime they had still made no arrest. In 2015 the victim was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for two years, after she pleaded guilty to fraud charges. She was also fined HK$16,000. She was born in North Korea before fleeing the hermit state with her sister when she was just six years old, leaving the rest of their family behind. She formerly went by the name Lau Shaun. In November last year she was involved in a theft where she was grabbed and dragged to the staircase of an office block in Wan Chai and robbed of HK$400 at knifepoint. It was understood she tried to take her own life in October last year. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Chinese mainland allows Taiwan lawyers to handle more cases (Global Times)
2017-10-31
The Chinese mainland will offer more professional opportunities for Taiwan lawyers by allowing them to handle a wider range of civil cases starting Nov. 1. Taiwan residents who have been awarded professional qualifications will be permitted to handle Taiwan-related civil cases on contract and intellectual property disputes as well as cases related to corporations, securities, insurance and negotiable instruments such as bills of exchange or cheques, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said Monday. Since 2008, Taiwan lawyers have been allowed to handle Taiwan-related marriage and inheritance cases. The new policies will bring more opportunities for the island's legal profession, and to young professionals in particular, and better safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of people on both sides of the Strait, Ma said. Starting in 2008, the Chinese mainland permitted Taiwan residents to take the National Judicial Examination, the only professional exam for lawyers, judges, prosecutors and similar legal professions. Since then, 308 have been awarded professional qualifications. In May, the Ministry of Justice made it easier for Taiwan residents to practice law on the mainland by allowing Taiwan law firms to set up representative offices in Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai. ^ top ^

Taiwan leader promises to raise defence spending as she praises 'unprecedented' friendship with United States (SCMP)
2017-10-30
Taiwan will increase its future defence spending by two per cent a year, President Tsai Ing-wen said during a visit to Hawaii where the United States expressed concern over a possible military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwanese media reported on Monday. In the event that Taiwan purchases arms from a foreign military, the island's defence spending could increase as much as three per cent a year, and could possibly increase further using a special budget if "significant purchase cases" are made, Tsai said in remarks carried by official media. Tsai made the comments in response to US concerns about a possible military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait expressed by Ambassador James Moriarty during a meeting. Tsai did not elaborate on when the increased defence spending would start. Tsai's comments were reflected by National Security Council deputy secretary general Tsai Ming-yen, who recounted to official media the conversation between Tsai and Moriarty, who is chairman of the US Mission in Taiwan, about expanding Taiwan's national defence policy. Moriarty had expressed concern about China's double-digit growth in defence investments in the past few years, and that Taiwan would need to address a possible military imbalance over the Taiwan Strait, deputy secretary general Tsai said. Tsai in turn said that Taiwan would develop a comprehensive plan in accordance with strategic needs, short-term needs, and long-term plans, to create defence forces on the island that would have "reliable combat effectiveness". Tsai visited Hawaii at the weekend on her way to three of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Pacific, despite China, which considers Taiwan a wayward province, calling on the United States to stop the trip. Her trip comes about a week before US President Donald Trump is expected to visit Asia. China has increased pressure on Taiwan since Tsai took office last year, suspecting she wants to push for formal independence. China has conducted more military drills around Taiwan and peeled away its few remaining diplomatic allies. Tsai described Taiwan-US relations as being "unprecedentedly friendly" in comments released by Taiwan's presidential office on Monday. "We are happy to see US promises of peace and stability for the Asia-Pacific region, and from meetings with the United States understand the necessity to increase investment in defence," it quoted her as saying. The United States and Taiwan have not had formal diplomatic relations since Washington established ties with Beijing in 1979, but the US is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself. Taiwan is well armed with mostly US-made weapons but has been pushing for sales of more advanced equipment, such as fighter jets, to deal with what Taipei sees as a growing threat from China and its own rapidly modernising armed forces. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control. It regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive and important issue between it and the United States and has been upset by US moves to expand military exchanges with Taiwan and continued US arms sales to the island. Tsai's stopover in Hawaii included a tour of a Pearl Harbour memorial, a banquet with the overseas Taiwan community, and joint speeches with Moriarty, the chairman of the US Mission in Taiwan, also known as the American Institute in Taiwan. It was her second US visit this year. In January, Tsai stopped in Houston and San Francisco on her way to and from Latin America. Tsai moves on to visit the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands from Monday during a week-long trip and will stop over in the US territory of Guam on her way back to Taiwan. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Strong yuan guaranteed support during Trump's Asian tour, underlining its solidity (SCMP)
2017-11-02
The yuan rose to its highest level in a fortnight on Thursday on expectations the authorities would keep the Chinese currency buoyed ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit to the country next week. Offshore yuan touched a intraday high of 6.5861 per dollar on Thursday, its strongest level since October 17, and a fifth straight day of increases – the longest winning streak since September 4. Ken Cheung Kin-tai, senior Asian currency strategist at Mizuho Bank, said the yuan will be guaranteed support throughout Trump's visit, to underline its solidity during what are likely to be tough China-US trade negotiations and ward off any opportunity for the US leader to re-kiddle his pre-US election accusations of China being a "currency manipulator" by keeping its value unrealistically low. On Wednesday, Trump called the US trade deficit with China "embarrassing" and "horrible" ahead of his Asia trip, that starts on Friday. His tour will take in Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam – where he will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on November 10 – and ends in the Philippines on November 13. "I won't be surprised if the yuan continues to move higher in coming days, even if there was downward pressure on the US dollar," said Jimmy Zhu, chief strategist at Fullerton Markets. The People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, has raised the currency's reference rate to its highest level in two weeks amid a dollar sell-off fuelled by reports Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell would be nominated as its next chairman. He is considered a supporter of very gradual interest rate rises and fiscal balance sheet normalisation. "We doubt that a Powell-led Fed would withdraw policy support faster than the current pace and also think he would reignite QE (quantitative easing) should circumstances require it," said Jeremy Lawson, chief economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. Xi Jinping's ascent to become "core leader" of the Communist Party following the 19th Party Congress is being viewed by analysts as having far-reaching implications, with China's own development now on a potential collision course with various US vested interests. "More trade conflicts could be likely, due to intensifying [Chinese] government support for SOEs (state-owned enterprises) via fiscal industrial policies," said Chris Leung, economist at DBS Bank. Leung expects an imminent announcement by China on the launch of yuan-denominated crude oil future contracts, another significant step in the currency's continued internationalisation agenda. But that could be disruptive, too, as it would allow countries to bypass US economic sanctions, providing an alternative route for oil shipments. Mizuho's Cheung agrees, warning that any hawkish shifts away from Xi's current stance on oil and other sensitive trade issues, after his power consolidation, could reignite tensions over the movement of goods between the world's two largest economies. ^ top ^

China suggests watered-down curbs on fishery subsidies at WTO, but nations don't take bait (SCMP)
2017-11-02
China drew a blank among other major fishing nations with a WTO proposal to selectively ban subsidies for illegal fishing as it resists pressure to curb its vast fleet. Better management of the world's fish stocks has been a major focus of attention of World Trade Organisation talks this year and hopes of a deal at a ministerial conference in December is widely seen to ride on China's willingness to accept such curbs. China's proposal to ban subsidies to vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing – which the WTO published just as a Chinese delegate presented it at the fisheries negotiations – came with several caveats. Developing countries and areas subject to territorial disputes would be exempted and national governments and regional fishing organisations, rather than experts, would determine what constituted illegal and unregulated activities. One official in the closed-door meeting told Reuters the text gave the impression of stalling on China's part and that it was clear it was not acceptable to other key states. China has the world's largest distant water fishing fleet, with more than 2,000 vessels, the not-for-profit group Stop Illegal Fishing said in 2015. It also lays claim to a large swathe of the South China Sea, overlapping rival maritime claims by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. Another official at the talks said the US representative voiced significant concerns as the proposal effectively gave subsidising countries a veto, while the European Union was "extremely hesitant" to accept a plan that gave countries such leeway to subsidise. Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Russia were among others with reservations. The officials in the meeting said the Chinese diplomat had effectively apologised for tabling the idea at an inopportune time and said China understood others might have doubts. The United States had previously told the WTO that it was sceptical but committed to trying to reach a deal to impose meaningful disciplines on fishery subsidies. The Chinese proposal follows at least seven earlier ones on fisheries – from the European Union, Indonesia, Norway and several groups of countries. They had tried to bring their texts into one to speed up the talks. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

Chinese bank banned from operating in US over North Korea ties (SCMP)
2017-11-03
The United States excluded China's Bank of Dandong from its financial system on Thursday, alleging that it has helped North Korea evade financial sanctions to launder funds. Washington had alerted other businesses in June that it planned to take the action, but it finally went into effect just as US President Donald Trump was to set off on an Asian tour. The US leader has demanded that Beijing do more to push its neighbour North Korea to stop efforts to build a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching American cities. Trump will bring this message to President Xi Jinping in Beijing next week, but China is reluctant to push sanctions so far as to destabilise Kim Jong-un's North Korean regime. Officials in Washington warn that, while they would prefer Kim to come to the table, Trump has not ruled out a pre-emptive strike to prevent him from crossing the missile threshold. But, alongside this sabre rattling, Washington is also slowly stepping up secondary sanctions on foreign institutions like the Bank of Dandong it accuses of funnelling illicit funds. This risks angering China, but hawkish commentators argue that it remains the only way short of war to force Pyongyang, and perhaps more importantly Beijing, to reconsider their strategy. "Banks and businesses worldwide should take note that they must be vigilant against attempts by North Korea to conduct illicit financing and trade," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. Along with the ban on Bank of Dandong, the Treasury also issued new guidance to international banks' risk and compliance officers to help them spot North Korean attempts to infiltrate world finance. Banks from China and around the world find it hard to operate if they are barred from the US financial system, which is a clearing house for most dollar-denominated transactions. As well as the financial sanctions Washington may also decide to re-designate North Korea as a "state sponsor of terrorism" – a formal blacklist that would add to sanctions pressure. Here, however, the Trump administration does not seem to be in a hurry, despite his anger over the death of US student Otto Warmbier after he was imprisoned and apparently brutalised in the North. Trump reluctantly enacted a law on August 2 that was forced on him by the US Congress pressing for new economic and political sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea. One clause of that act required the US State Department to say within 90 days whether North Korea should be named a terror sponsor – a deadline lawmakers say expired on Tuesday. The State Department said it had calculated the deadline differently and was working toward an announcement on Thursday, but as office hours came to an end there was no news. Congressman Ted Poe, chairman of the House subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade, was unimpressed and followed up with the State Department to ask about the delay. "To me, the very law is clear. The designation should have occurred by October 31," he said. Earlier, at the White House, National Security Adviser HR McMaster had said the designation was still an option that was under consideration and that news would come soon. He cited the murder of Kim's half-brother Kim Yong-nam, who was attacked in February with VX nerve agent at a Malaysian airport, as one reason the regime might be deemed terrorist. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping 'wants to improve ties with North Korea' (SCMP)
2017-11-02
President Xi Jinping has replied to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's message of congratulations after the Communist Party congress, with the Chinese leader saying he is hoping to improve ties between the two nations, according to North Korean state media. The message comes as US President Donald Trump is about to start his first trip to Asia while in office, with North Korea's nuclear weapons programme likely to be high on his agenda. Details of Xi's message were reported by North Korea's official news agency, but his remarks were not carried by Chinese state media. "I wish that under the new situation the Chinese side will make efforts with the DPRK to promote relations between the two parties … for stable development and thus make a positive contribution to providing the peoples of the two countries with greater happiness and to defend regional peace and stability and common prosperity," Xi was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency. Kim wished Xi great success heading China's government after the Communist Party congress concluded last month, a rare personal message from the North Korean leader to another head of state. Ties between the two countries and traditional allies are strained amid Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons, with China backing UN sanctions to rein in North Korea's nuclear programme. Analysts say Trump is likely to call on China to take tougher against North Korea during his trip to Asia, which begins on Friday. Trump has previously threatened to use military force to strike against Pyongyang. Xi has yet to visit North Korea since taking office and Kim has also not visited China since becoming leader in 2011. Guo Yezhou, vice-minister of the Chinese Communist Party's international department, said last month that communication channels between China and North Korea were open, but added it would depend on "mutual willingness" whether the two leaders would meet. China, the North's sole major ally, has grown increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang and has repeatedly called for restraint, urging all sides to negotiate to lessons tensions on the Korean peninsula. Xi has previously sent messages to Kim, most recently last year when he expressed congratulations on the staging of a party congress in North Korea. A senior Chinese official also handed over a letter from Xi to Kim during celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party two years ago. Hwang Jae-ho, an expert on Northeast Asia regional security at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, said the exchange of messages between Kim and Xi meant the two nations did not want their ties to further deteriorate. "Under the current situation, relations between China and North Korea cannot worsen any more," Hwang said. Wang Sheng, a professor studying Korean affairs at Jilin University in northeast China, said Xi's reply was a courtesy to Kim. "The interaction reflected that Sino-North Korea relations may warm up a little because there is no major obstacle between two countries except Pyongyang's nuclear programme," he said. ^ top ^

Pressing China can't help solve North Korean nuclear issue (Global Times)
2017-11-02
The Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Thursday that Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, sent a reply to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's congratulatory message on the success of the 19th CPC National Congress. The Xi-Kim exchanges suggest that party-to-party and state-to-state relationships between China and North Korea have held the bottom line, despite the fallout from Pyongyang's insistence on developing nuclear weapons. This is a positive signal to both countries and to the whole region. Many have speculated that North Korea was highly likely to conduct new nuclear or missile activities during the Congress. But this did not happen. Pyongyang sent a congratulatory message to Beijing as is the tradition between socialist countries, and Beijing responded with courtesy. China and North Korea have traditional friendly ties. Sustaining and developing such a friendly relationship is fully justified. But serious disputes over the Pyongyang nuclear issue are a bare fact, and this tests the Sino-North Korean friendly relationship. The issue has fallen into a pattern that is full of challenges, and the role China plays in it is particularly tricky. China is a neighbor and the largest trading partner of North Korea, the country that suffers the most in strategic security from the Pyongyang nuclear issue, the main mediator in the crisis, and a supporter and the main implementer of the UN sanctions. Such a sophisticated role determines that China is the most active in promoting a peaceful solution to the crisis. North Korea feels deeply insecure. As a result, it develops nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles despite all the risks, and expects the international community to eventually give in due to the concerns over the potential escalation of tensions. In response, the US intends to coerce North Korea to yield, and is pushing the sanctions on Pyongyang to the extreme. It has even increased the threats of war against North Korea given the less-than-expected effects of the sanctions. Washington's and Pyongyang's strategy of "deter" and "coerce" has had no effect in addressing the problem so far, except for pushing the situation into the direction of conflict, which neither expects. Generally speaking, the US has strength advantages, and thus is still attempting to simply exert more pressure on North Korea. Many analysts from Washington believe that US President Donald Trump's upcoming Asia tour will further pressure Pyongyang. But we hope that during his visit, Trump can learn more about the rationality of the China-proposed "suspension for suspension" and "dual track approach." These two proposals are the most realistic, least risky starting points that could lead to denuclearizing the peninsula. Given the serious divergences between Washington and Seoul on the use of force, and the contradictory statements by US officials, China's proposals consider the maximum interests for all, and are likely to be the only choice to address the crisis. The complexity of the nuclear crisis means that all sides may have to make some concessions to reach a peaceful solution. China is playing the most difficult role in the process, and is the real hope of peacefully addressing the crisis. Neither side should press China in an extreme way. ^ top ^

Will US President Donald Trump's Asia trip result in deals to rein in North Korea? (SCMP)
2017-11-01
South Korea's ambassador to China hopes US President Donald Trump's trip to Asia will result in deals to further contain North Korea from developing its missile and nuclear programme. The newly-appointed envoy, Noh Young-min, also said South Korea's President Moon Jae-in may visit Beijing as early as December. "Personally I think early December is a very good timing," said Noh, who served as chief of staff during Moon's two election campaigns in 2012 and 2017. "South Korea hopes that President Xi Jinping will be able to attend the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February next year and President Xi Jinping's visit could send a positive signal in regard to the peace and stability in Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia," Noh said in an interview in Beijing on Tuesday. Trump will kick off his first visit to Asia while in office on Friday. The trip is viewed by analysts as the latest attempt to help strengthen American alliances in the region after months of uncertainties surrounding Trump's Asia policy. He is due to visit Asian allies Japan and South Korea, as well as China, before heading to regional summits in Vietnam and the Philippines. North Korea's nuclear threat is widely believed to be high on his agenda. Noh said Trump's visit to Japan, China and South Korea would carry "important meanings" amid growing nuclear and missile threats from Pyongyang. "In the case of a heated tensions on the Korean peninsula, especially in the face of the repeated provocations from North Korea, I hope that state leaders of countries relevant to the Korean peninsula could reach constructive deals, and such deals are expected to help to prevent North Korea from its provocations and [force the North to] return to talks," Noh said. The remarks by Noh were made hours after Beijing and Seoul agreed to try to end a dispute over the deployment of a US-developed missile defence shield. China's foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that it strongly opposed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system, or THAAD, but both nations have agreed to communicate on the issue through military channels. "Both sides shared the view that the strengthening of exchange and cooperation between China and South Korea serves their common interests and agreed to expeditiously bring exchange and cooperation in all areas back on a normal development track," the statement said. China and South Korea have been locked in a diplomatic stand-off over the missile shield since Seoul announced its decision to deploy the system last year. South Korea says it is needed to counter the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons programme. China says the system poses as a threat to its security as its tracking systems can pry into Chinese territory. The Chinese government's criticism of the missile shield deployment led to a boycott by Chinese consumers of South Korean firms operating on the mainland. The South Korea retailing giant Lotte, which has closed most of its stores in China after the boycott, is planning to sell its retail outlets on the mainland. "Because of some outstanding issues South Korean companies in China are facing difficulties and economic cooperation between the two nations have been affected," Noh said, "but South Korea and China have carried out negotiation with the aims to improve bilateral relations … So I say, South Korean companies should not withdraw from China." ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Parliament overrides President's veto (Montesame)
2017-11-02
The Parliament discussed and agreed to override the President's veto on appointment of Ch.Khurelbaatar as Minister of Finance on November 2. President Kh.Battulga expressed his disapproval towards Ch.Khurelbaatar prior to the appointment on grounds of conflict of interest. "It is my belief that an individual with interest in mining business is unfit to work in the Cabinet," he said. The Parliament voted up the appointment of Ch.Khurelbaatar by 89.9 percent. Ch.Khurelbaatar has repeatedly denied accusations of license ownership. On October 26, the President put a veto on the Parliament resolution on appointment of the Minister of Finance. The Parliamentary Standing Committees on Security and Foreign Policy and Budget rejected the veto. ^ top ^

Mongolia to accelerate joint projects with China (Montsame)
2017-10-30
Deputy Prime Minister U.Enkhtuvshin exchanged views on the Mongolia-China relations and cooperation with Xing Haiming, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic China to Mongolia, on October 30. The Chinese Ambassador congratulated U.Enkhtuvshin on becoming Deputy Prime Minister, and he further expressed Chinese readiness to closely cooperate in all sectors and implement joint projects and programs in certain sectors. The Deputy Prime Minister noted that he would pay big attention on the bilateral relations and cooperation as he serves as Head of the Mongolian part at the Mongolia-China Intergovernmental Commission as well as the Cooperation Council on Minerals, Energy and Infrastructure Affairs. The parties exchanged views on accelerating ongoing and planned projects financed by a Chinese Government's soft loan and non-refundable aid on constructions of paved-roads and bridges. U,Enkhtuvshin pointed out that Mongolia aspires to maximize the trade turnover to USD 10 billion by 2020 after improving carrying capacity of the Gants Mod border checkpoint, reducing traffic jams at borders, increasing the export of mineral, agricultural and animal products. The sides also considered as necessity to intensify construction works of the economic cooperation zone in Zamyn-Uud and Erenhot and promptly launch joint feasibilities for establishing a free trade agreement. ^ top ^

Mongolia remains committed to IMF's program (Montsame)
2017-10-30
Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh met Geoff Gottlieb, Leader of the International Monetary Fund Staff Team, and Neil Saker, head of the IMF Representative Office in Mongolia. Geoff Gottlieb reported that IMF's 'Extended Fund Facility' program is to be resumed for stable implementation in Mongolia. "It was a crucial step that Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh sent a letter to the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde that the new Government also remains committed to the program, just after you took the office. In this context, it ensures to resume the program that was put on hold as a result of the change in the Government since June, 2017. It also provides an opportunity to investors and donors to grant financial assistance," underlined Geoff Gottlieb. In turn, U.Khurelsukh thanked for the IMF's decision, noting that the Government aims at improving budgetary disciplines, cutting budget losses, avoiding an issuance of Government bond and striving to decrease debts by surplus income and additional sources as much as possible. They also shared views on solutions for some pressing issues. ^ top ^

 

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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