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
  20-24.11.17, No. 697  
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Foreign Policy

Australia looks for balance to China's rising power in Indo-Pacific region (SCMP)
2017-11-23
Australia is seeking to work more closely with the major democracies in the Indo-Pacific as it calls for a greater US role to provide a balance to China's increasing power in the region. The country's Foreign Policy White Paper, published on Thursday, reiterated the country's support for the United States as it warned that the security network that it had relied upon in the past was under increasing strain given the shifting power dynamics. "To support a balance in the Indo-Pacific favourable to our interests and promote an open, inclusive and rules-based region, Australia will also work more closely with the region's major democracies, bilaterally and in small groupings," it said, adding Australia will enhance coordination with Japan, Indonesia, India and South Korea. "Our alliance with the United States is central to Australia's approach to the Indo – Pacific," it said, "Today, China is challenging America's position." The White Paper, unveiled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, is the third one in Australia's history. "In the past we could safely assume that the world worked in a way that suited Australia," Turnbull told reporters on Thursday in Canberra. "Now power is shifting and the rules and institutions are under challenge," he said. "We are experiencing unprecedented prosperity and opportunity but the liberal, rules-based order that underpins it all is under greater stress than at any time since its creation in the 1940s." The White Paper also warned that "political alienation and economic nationalism are on the rise in many countries", warning that powerful countries were "ignoring or undermining international law". The "Indo-Pacific" label, which US President Donald Trump used during his recent trip to Asia, recalibrates the focus on the region by moving the emphasis away from China – the key actor in the "Asia-Pacific" region – towards India and the Indian Ocean. The idea of the quadrilateral security initiative of "like-minded" democracies was first raised by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007 but, wary of their relations with China, India and Australia hesitated to take part initially. The Chinese Foreign Ministry earlier said regional cooperation should neither be politicised nor exclusionary. Xu Liping, an international relations expert from Chinese Academy of Social Science, said the call for a strong US role in the region reflected global changes. "The American First policy advocated by Trump administration weakens the traditional US-Australia alliance and makes Australia afraid; and as Beijing continues expanding its economic, diplomatic and military might, it's wise for Australia to adopt a more agile and flexible strategy in coping with Beijing," said Xu. A meeting between the US, Australia, India and Japan on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila earlier this month raised the prospect of a bloc emerging to counter China's strategic expansion. The White Paper said Australia was "particularly concerned by the unprecedented pace and scale of China's activities" in the South China Sea, where mainland China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims to sovereignty. "Australia opposes the use of disputed features and artificial structures in the South China Sea for military purposes. Elsewhere in the region, Australia is concerned about the potential for the use of force or coercion in the East China Sea and Taiwan Strait." The paper said Australia will continue to make engagement with China a priority, but called on Beijing to share responsibility for supporting regional and global security. "Closer engagement will be accompanied by friction arising from our different interests, values and political and legal systems. "Regular and substantive engagement at senior levels will be essential to achieve our ambitions for the relationship," it said. ^ top ^

White Paper reveals Australia's anxiety (Global Times)
2017-11-23
Australia issued its new Foreign Policy White Paper on Thursday. With the three words, "Opportunity, Security, Strength" on its cover, it then opens with a blunt assessment: "Powerful drivers are converging in a way that is reshaping the international order and challenging Australia's interests." "The United States has been the dominant power in our region throughout Australia's post-World War II history. Today, China is challenging America's position." The White Paper asserts US predominance into the near future and a deepening of the US-Australia alliance. The White Paper envisages China's GDP doubling by 2030. It states that Australia and China have "different interests, values and political and legal systems" and suggests Australia expand strategic relations with other countries, including a security dialogue with the US, Japan and India. Although the White Paper stresses the importance of China-Australia ties, people can sense the wariness toward China. Australia is geographically distant from China, but it has been trying to get involved in the disputes that China has with its neighboring countries. It has called on the US to play a balancing role and incited China's neighbors to adopt a tough attitude toward China. Chinese students and visitors bring huge sums of money to Australia every year. China is also the main buyer of Australian minerals and beef. Y et, criticism of China from Australian officials and biased reporting against China in Australia's media continues. Australia calls itself a civilized country, but its behavior is confusing. While it is economically dependent on China, it shows little gratitude. Being on the periphery of the Western camp, it has often tried to meddle in Asian affairs on behalf of the West. Australia's anxiety is fully revealed in this White Paper. Europe is grappling with its own affairs, and US President Donald Trump is retracting US' foreign strategy. Affected by China's rise, Australia has adopted a narrow-minded mentality toward this trend. As the US government welcomes China's peaceful rise, Canberra continues with its negative attitude. Australia is difficult to be reasoned with or be comforted. Fortunately, the country is not that important and China can move its ties with Australia to a back seat and disregard its sensitivities. Australia, with its limited strength, cannot sustain an influential foreign policy white paper. The newly released paper will neither evoke ASEAN countries nor affect Washington. For Beijing, the anxiety of the Australians shows how difficult it is for China's soft power to ascend. The rise of any major power will cause discomfort among other countries. This is not China's problem, but a reality China needs to face. China must handle its relations with Asian neighbors well. It should be capable of managing and resolving neighborhood disputes. The benefit that China's development can bring to its neighboring countries should outweigh their concerns toward China's rise. Australia after all is not part of the Asian continent. China should prepare both a friendly face and a cold shoulder. ^ top ^

China eyes closer military cooperation with Myanmar as it looks to expand sphere of influence near India's borders (SCMP)
2017-11-23
China has promised to seek closer military cooperation with Myanmar as it seeks to establish greater influence over the country. The pledge followed a meeting between senior military commanders from the two countries and follows increasing competition between China and India, which both share borders with Myanmar, to strengthen their presence there. Myanmar has faced intense international criticism for its campaign against the Rohingya Muslims, which has prompted 600,000 refugees to flee their homes, but China has so far been restrained in its comments on the crisis – a stance that could allow Beijing to present itself as a reliable source of support, according to one analyst. Li Zuocheng, who sits on China's Central Military Commission – the nerve of the People's Liberation Army – told Myanmar's Senior General Min Aung Hlaing that China's increasing prosperity offered an important opportunity for Myanmar's development, according to a statement from China's Defence Ministry. "In the face of a complex and changeable regional security situation, China is willing to maintain strategic communication between the two countries' militaries," Li was cited as saying in the statement issued late on Wednesday. Li expressed the hope that China would have greater contacts with the Myanmmar armed forces, including a greater role in training troops and more technical exchanges for peacekeeping operations along their shared border. It follows Myanmar's first joint warfare training exercise with India near Shillong in the northwestern state of Meghalaya this week. Collin Koh, a maritime security expert at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said both India and China were highly aware of the potential for military influence and cooperation with Myanmar. "Myanmar has traditionally not been siding with either India or China … which leaves it open [for the two powers to compete]," he said. According to 2011 figures from the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, China has been the major supplier of military hardware to Myanmar since 1988. It has supplied over 90 per cent of Myanmar's military transport and has also provided warplanes and ships. In May, the Chinese navy conducted its first exercise with its Myanmar counterpart. But India is also catching up. In 2013, India offered to supply artillery guns, radars and night vision devices to Myanmar's army. India is also reportedly considering supplying offshore patrol boats to India following talks between their military officials in September. Despite the overtures from China and India, Myanmar is under intense pressure for violence against Rohingya Muslims in its northwestern Rakhine state, with security forces accused of extensive human rights violations. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has offered to help Myanmar and Bangladesh, which has received an influx Rohingya refugees, to resolve the crisis. Wang called for a ceasefire and international efforts to help develop Rakhine. "At a time when Myanmar is being pressured so much by the international community on human rights issues, China saw it as an opportunity to show Myanmar in many ways that it is still a major regional player that they could count on," Koh said. Koh said Myanmar is an important strategic location for China as it could offer an alternative route for China to import it's the 80 per cent of its oil and gas supply that comes from the Middle East and Africa. Currently, the majority of the imported energy has been supplied through the Strait of Malacca after passing through the Bay of Bengal. The increasing tension in Sino-India relations over Doklam, which ended in August, and India's stronger alliance with the US has made China more afraid of being choked off by India in the shipping route, according to Koh. Li Jie, a Beijing-based military analyst, said a stronger Sino-Myanmar military would help stabilise China's position in the region and protect China's interest as Myanmar could become a main route of trade for China in the future. "Being close to Myanmar can lessen the threat western countries can cast on China for blocking its shipping route, reducing China's reliance on the Strait of Malacca, "Li said. "When China and Myanmar have developed trust over military in the region, the economic cooperation could also be smoother," Li said. China is currently investing in Myanmar as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, with work to build a 771km pipeline to transfer crude oil starting this year. ^ top ^

China offers loans to Djibouti as they vow to establish closer ties (SCMP)
2017-11-23
China vowed to establish a strategic partnership with Djibouti, the site of its first overseas military base, as leaders of the two countries signed an agreement on Thursday for Beijing to provide an undisclosed amount of loans to the Horn of Africa nation. The framework pact for preferential loans was signed during Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh's three-day visit to China, where he met President Xi Jinping after being greeted with a military parade and flag-waving children. Both leaders reiterated their commitment to deepened ties and cooperation, as they emphasised Djibouti's location at a strategic choke point near the Red Sea, en route to the important maritime artery that is the Suez Canal. Xi said China supported Djibouti to play a bigger role in regional and international affairs, and would provide medical assistance to the nation, state-run CCTV quoted him as saying. "China pays high regard to its relationship with Djibouti," Xi said. Guelleh, who has been in power since 1999, said he considered himself a "great friend of China's" and could not count the number of times he had visited. "Djibouti is known for being a country of peace, exchanges and meetings," Guelleh said. "I would like to recall the geostrategic position of Djibouti and its importance in this part of the world as an island of stability for Asia, Africa and the Middle East." Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong told reporters that Xi and Guelleh also discussed China's first overseas military base in Djibouti, which opened officially on August 1. "What I want to stress is that China building a logistics base in Djibouti benefits China to even better fulfil its naval protection, peacekeeping, disaster relief and other international work," he said. Many observers were initially wary of China's naval base, which Beijing officially calls a logistics facility, given the presence of other military bases in the country, including those of the United States, Japan and France. Christopher Alden, co-head of the Africa International Affairs programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said China's expanding interests with its naval base and the commercial and developmental impact of its infrastructure projects would be the main issues raised during Guelleh's visit. Chinese firms have invested heavily in the east African nation, including in a multimillion-dollar free trade zone, a water pipeline from Ethiopia, a railway to Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and a new international airport. "The focus would be on those sorts of concerns – are they delivering what Djibouti wants, how can they leverage their position there for access to more resources," Alden said. "The Djibouti government has really one thing to sell: it's strategic location." Martyn Davies, managing director of emerging markets and Africa at Deloitte Frontier Advisory, noted that China's strategy on Djibouti cannot be separated from its broader regional presence, particularly in Ethiopia. "China's really only gotten more traction and more interest in Djibouti as Ethiopia's economy has gotten much more grounded," he said. Ian Taylor, an expert in China's relations with Africa at the University of St Andrews, said Guelleh's visit to China this week is "emblematic of the growing ties" between the two countries, particularly as China seeks to slowly integrate the eastern coast of Africa into its maritime Silk Road – part of its signature belt and road infrastructure initiative. "Djibouti has now become quite an important pivotal kind of country for China in East Africa," he said. "China has become so embedded in the economies of Djibouti and also Ethiopia." He added that concerns over China's base in Djibouti had not come to light, although he said India may continue to be wary of Beijing's growing presence in the Indian Ocean under the belt and road framework. Michael Ehizuelen, an African studies researcher at Zhejiang Normal University, said the visit had "special significance" at a time when India was trying to establish its presence in Africa. "The present Chinese leadership has been targeting an aggressive expansion in Africa for decades," he said. "The expansion is expected to further increase after the visit." ^ top ^

Expect more US corruption probes involving firms with links to China, legal experts say (SCMP)
2017-11-23
More companies with Chinese ties could be ensnared in corruption investigations in the United States as Washington becomes more familiar with business practices in China, legal experts said. The assessment comes after former Hong Kong home affairs secretary Patrick Ho Chi-ping and former Senegalese foreign minister Cheikh Gadio were charged with violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and money laundering. Ho is accused of funnelling US$2.9 million in bribes to Chad's president, Uganda's foreign minister and co-defendant Gadio, in return for oil rights for a Shanghai-based energy firm Ho represents. The US Securities and Exchange Commission punished 26 companies for violating the act last year, 13 of them with a China connection, according to the SEC website. One of those was pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, which agreed to pay more than US$5 million to settle charges that it breached provisions in the act after its subsidiaries in China and Russia were found to have made improper payments in cash and gifts to health care providers so that they would purchase its products. The payments were not accurately reflected in the company's books and records. The act prohibits payments being made to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. It also requires companies whose securities are listed in the United States to meet its accounting provisions. Legal experts said that as more multinationals invested in China, and with more Chinese investing in the US, Washington could launch more corruption investigations against companies with links to China. US President Donald Trump has described the act as a "horrible law" that put US businesses abroad "at a huge disadvantage", but legal experts did not expect any let-up in enforcement. "[With more and more Chinese outbound investment] Chinese firms will become a focus for anti-corruption law enforcement globally," Chen Litong, a senior partner with Dentons in Shanghai, said. China's outbound investment totalled US$1 trillion at the end of 2015, with US$41 billion of that going to the US, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Hundreds of Chinese stocks are traded in the US – 142 companies are listed on the Nasdaq and 55 on the New York Stock Exchange. Kate Yunxia Yin, a lawyer at Beijing-based Fangda Partners, said the number of US investigations involving China had grown alongside Washington's increasing familiarity with Chinese business practices. She added that multinational firms in China were becoming more aware of compliance issues. "Companies are finding more problems themselves and self-reporting," she said. "The underlying reason is that companies are investing more and more money in China, and there is [still] corruption in China." But she said the business environment in China had changed for the better since Beijing launched its sweeping anti-corruption campaign, and there was now more scrutiny when luxury gifts, meals and bribes were offered. Jianwei Fang, a partner with Zhong Lun Law Firm in Beijing, said China had long been a target for cases brought under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, particularly those against multinational corporations working with companies in China. He said Ho's arrest could be a signal that US regulators were "becoming more aggressive in investigating China". The nationwide, ongoing anti-corruption drive had thrown a spotlight on business practices in China and prompted more investigations, he said. "I think investigations involving China and especially Chinese companies will become more and more common," Fang said. "China's anti-corruption enforcement will also remain very much active." ^ top ^

Chinese ambassador says "16+1" cooperation brings new vitality to China-Estonia relationship (Xinhua)
2017-11-23
The "16+1" cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries injects new vitality into the China-Estonia relationship, Chinese Ambassador to Estonia Qu Zhe wrote on Thursday. In an article titled "Advance '16+1' Cooperation into New Era Together" published by the Estonian financial newspaper Aripaev, Qu said that the "16+1" summit is now an indispensable platform for frequent communication between government leaders and has become essential for enhancing mutual trust and promoting China-Estonia practical cooperation in the fields of politics, economy and trade, culture and education, tourism as well as people-to-people exchanges. He expressed the confidence that leaders from China and the 16 CEE countries will take the opportunity of the sixth meeting of heads of government of China and CEE countries to be held in Budapest, Hungary next week to build on achievements over the past five years after the first meeting of heads of government of China and CEE countries held in Warsaw, Poland in spring 2012. The "16+1" cooperation compliments and provides added value to bilateral relations between China and each of the 16 CEE countries and the China-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, said the ambassador. "Based upon the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, China and the 16 CEE countries work hand in hand to strengthen practical cooperation in various fields," Qu said. Central and Eastern Europe is an area which sees active exchanges between Asia and Europe, and the alignment of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Investment Plan for Europe (or Juncker Plan) provides new opportunities for "16+1" cooperation, said Qu. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China that was held in Beijing in October came to the important conclusion that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered into a new era and the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved into a contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life. "The Party Congress drew up a two-stage development plan for the period from 2020 to the middle of this century. In the first stage from 2020 to 2035, we will build on the foundation created by the moderately prosperous society to see that socialist modernization is basically realized. In the second stage from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, we will develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful," Qu said. China's economy has contributed more than 30 percent on average to global growth for the past four years, and it will continue to be one of the main engines of the world economy in the years ahead, said the ambassador. "We are committed to deepening comprehensive reforms and opening our doors wider to the world. We are ready to work together with other countries to make global growth more invigorated, more coordinated, more inclusive and more sustainable so as to build a community of shared future for mankind," Qu added. In the coming five years, China is expected to import 8 trillion U.S. dollars of goods, attract 600 billion dollars of foreign investment and make 750 billion dollars of outbound investment, which will create a bigger market, more capital, more products and more opportunities for other countries, said the ambassador. The "16+1" cooperation between China and CEE countries is expected to enter a new era and usher in a new chapter for bilateral relations and China-EU cooperation, Qu said. ^ top ^

Chinese air force patrol South China Sea (Xinhua)
2017-11-23
The PLA air force recently conducted a combat air patrol in the South China Sea, said a military spokesperson on Thursday. A team of various bombers completed the routine patrol, said spokesman Shen Jinke. Chinese bombers also conducted training exercises after passing over the Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait. The H-6K bombers took off from an inland airport in north China, according to Shen. The Chinese air force started regular high seas training in 2015. ^ top ^

South Korea must keep THAAD's prying eyes away from China, foreign minister says (SCMP)
2017-11-23
Beijing has again urged Seoul to ensure that a US anti-missile system installed in southern South Korea not infringe on China's security interests. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi issued the call over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in talks with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha in Beijing on Wednesday. Wang said Seoul should be committed to its earlier statement of not joining the US-led regional missile defence system. "There is a saying in China that promises must be kept and action must be resolute. We hope that South Korea will continue to properly handle this problem," he said. The two foreign ministers were expected to lay the groundwork for a visit by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Beijing next month. Kang told Wang that the two nations needed to focus on normalising bilateral ties, something Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on at talks on the sidelines of this month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. She called for China to "resolve difficulties" facing South Korean firms in China and "promote people-to-people exchanges" ahead of Moon's visit. Moon's trip will be the first top-level visit between the two countries since ties were strained by China's strong opposition to South Korea's installation of THAAD. Although Seoul and Washington insisted the sophisticated radar and interceptor missile system was to fend off North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, Beijing argued that THAAD could seriously undermine its security by penetrating into China. The THAAD dispute froze economic and cultural links until the end of last month when the two sides made separate statements that they had reached some "initial" consensus. The consensus included South Korea agreeing to not deploy more THAAD batteries, to not consider joining a US-led missile defence system, and to not engage in trilateral military cooperation with the United States and Japan. It paved the way for meetings between Moon and Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. "We attach importance to such statements by South Korea," Wang told Kang. Wang Sheng, a professor of Korean affairs at Jilin University, said both sides had a strong desire to repair the relationship because economic ties were in both sides' interests. Wang said they also had some common ground on the North Korean nuclear crisis in that they were both demanding the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. But the installation of THAAD had damaged mutual trust, he said. "The THAAD issue left a deficit in mutual trust," Wang said. "So to Beijing it is very important that South Korea keep its word and THAAD must truly not pose a threat to China's security." ^ top ^

Mugabe's exit will make Zimbabwe even closer to China, say Chinese analysts (SCMP)
2017-11-22
Robert Mugabe's resignation in Zimbabwe after 37 years in power is likely to bring the African nation even closer to China, according to Chinese analysts. Former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa is poised to take over as head of state after a military takeover finally forced Mugabe to quit. China is already Zimbabwe's fourth largest trading partner and its largest source of overseas investment, but these ties are likely to deepen under the new leadership if it attempts to open up the nation's stricken economy, analysts said. The military takeover was sparked by the removal of Mnangagwa and fears within factions of the governing ZANU-PF party – particularly in the army – that Mugabe was attempting to make his wife Grace his successor. The former vice-president received his military training in China in the 1960s and also attended the Beijing School of Ideology, run by the Chinese Communist Party. Wang Hongyi, an expert at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Mnangagwa had a similar background to Mugabe in that he rose to power after fighting in the country's struggle for independence. Mnangagwa, however, appears less of a hardline nationalist in terms of his economic policies, according to Wang. "Mnangagwa appears to be a more open-minded leader after he spoke openly against Mugabe's nationalistic policies that have deterred foreign investment," Wang said. One example was his opposition to policies two years ago to make foreign firms sell stakes in their Zimbabwe ventures to local firms, said Wang. Mnangagwa also told the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV two years ago that Zimbabwe was working on a massive economic reform programme and was looking to "create an investment environment which will attract the flow of capital". Western powers have imposed sanctions on Mugabe's government over allegations of vote rigging and human rights abuses. Lenders such as the International Monetary Fund have also frozen financial aid since Zimbabwe defaulted on debts in 1999. Zimbabwe's ostracism by the West has encouraged Mugabe's government to foster closer ties with China. Wang at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said Sino-Zimbabwe relations would only benefit if Mnangagwa opens up the economy, now suffering from massive unemployment, but he cautioned that the new president would still rule with an "iron fist", with ZANU-PF still in control in Zimbabwe. "He is surely a hardliner or else the coup would not have happened and he would not have the military's support," said Wang. Mnangagwa was national security minister in the 1980s during a brutal crackdown against supporters of the rival ZAPU party, with thousands killed. Shen Xiaolei, another foreign affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Mnangagwa's China-friendly attitude would gain him support from local Chinese businessmen in Zimbabwe. "He is known to be very willing to join activities organised by Chinese groups across Zimbabwe," Shen said. "If he has learned his lesson from his predecessor, he will be willing to run the country with a more open mind and have friendlier policies for foreign investment." There are more than 10,000 Chinese people living in Zimbabwe, according to the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe, running businesses ranging from restaurants to manufacturing. Chinese investment in Zimbabwe includes extensive spending in the nation's energy sector. State-owned Power Construction Corporation of China signed a US$1.2 billion deal to expand a Zimbabwean power station two years ago. ^ top ^

Behind the five biggest Chinese investments in massive infrastructure plan's Pakistan arm (SCMP)
2017-11-22
The US$57 billion second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – an ambitious plan to integrate sea and land routes across Eurasia under China's Belt and Road Initiative – is moving along, guided by a joint cooperation panel's decisions at an Islamabad forum. The 7th meeting of the joint cooperation committee for the CPEC began on Monday. Decisions reached at the parley are expected to affect the corridor's ability, when completed, to link China's western provinces to Pakistan. The project, agreed to in 2013, is one of the most costly undertakings of the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive infrastructure plan which also includes motorways, railways, pipelines and power lines. Here are five of China's biggest investments in the Pakistan arm of the Belt and Road Initiative. 1) Gwadar Port: Gwadar Port is a main element of the CPEC because it could provide an alternative shipping route for transporting oil into China. Under the agreement, state-backed Chinese Overseas Ports will manage the free-trade zone on a 43-year lease with control of all the port's business affairs. The port is expected to go into full operation in three to four years. The deep seaport that sits next to the Strait of Hormuz, the major oil route in and out of the Persian Gulf, could help China reduce its reliance on shipping oil through the Malacca Strait, a route frequently patrolled by the US. The port is located in southwest Pakistan's Balochistan province, an area that has seen calls for independence from Pakistan. Violence also has been an issue, with reports that local al-Qaeda and IS groups are active in the region. Last month, local reports said a grenade was thrown into a group of men working on the Gwadar port, leaving 26 wounded. 2) Karot power station: The 720 megawatt Karot hydro-project is backed by the state-owned China Three Gorges Corp South Asia Investment Limited. The US$ $1.42 billion project that began in December 2016 could finish nine months ahead of its December 2021 completion date, according to the company. The station is located in a part of Kashmir that is under Pakistan's administration and to which India and Pakistan both claim territorial rights. India's foreign ministry has called Pakistan's work at Kashmir "illegal". 3) Direct current transmission line from Lahore to Matiari: The 660kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line from Lahore to Matiari would help solve an energy shortage in Pakistan. Once completed, the line would be capable of sending about 4,000MW of electricity from coal power plants to Northern Pakistan, helping Pakistan to satisfy an energy demand that is expected to grow by 6 per cent to 35,000MW by 2024. Local Pakistani media reported this month that the Chinese company involved in the project has put the $2 billion project on hold after just nine months owing to various problems, including differences with the government over the size of a revolving fund. 4 ) Karachi Circular Railway: The Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) in Pakistan's coastal city of Karachi was expected to be revived and upgraded by the Chinese government to meet a completion date of September 2020. After the railway was discontinued in 1999 it was taken over by a Japanese company in 2005. China's government agreed to assume responsibility for the project with a budget of US$2.07 billion this year. Although the project was targeted to begin early this year, its start was delayed to December. Local residents refused to leave shanty towns built near the railway track after police demolished their homes. 5) Karakoram Highway: Beijing announced in 2015 that it would finance the 1,300-kilometer Karakoram Highway that is currently the only overland cross border connection between China and Pakistan. Situated at the Karakoram mountain range at an elevation of 4,693 metres above sea level, the highway was built in 1978 but has been in deep disrepair owing to lack of maintenance and a 2005 earthquake. The border crossing that runs through the disputed areas of Kashmir has raised disapproving looks in India. ^ top ^

China's premier says ties with Japan 'gradually improving' (SCMP)
2017-11-22
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang says his countries ties with Japan are "gradually improving" and the two nations should further deepen cooperation. Li made the remarks during a meeting with a group of Japanese business leaders in Beijing on Tuesday, amid increasing signs that Asia's two biggest economies are on course to repair their relations at a faster space. "Recently, China-Japan relations have been gradually improving and there is a positive momentum," Li told the delegation at the Great Hall of the People. "We should value this and solidify the base for improving relations." Li said the business communities of the two countries have a large role to play by strengthening cooperation and exchanges. The delegation of the Japan-China Economic Association, led by Shoji Muneoka, chairman of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp, consists of about 250 people, the largest since the group started sending a mission almost annually to Beijing in 1975. The meeting took place after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed earlier this month in Vietnam to make a new start on the two countries' ties, which have often been strained by territorial and historical disputes. Just two days after the November 11 meeting, Abe and Li held talks on the sidelines of a regional summit in the Philippines and also agreed to make further efforts at repairing the relationship. For the third straight year, the Japan Business Federation and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry joined the group in China. The delegation, comprising executives from major Japanese companies, planned to discuss ways to promote trade in the Asia-Pacific region with Li. Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of the business federation, has also called for an early conclusion of a free-trade agreement between China, Japan and South Korea. The group was expected to touch on the Japanese private sector's interest in taking part in China's Belt and Road international trade initiative. Li last met with the Japanese business leaders in 2015, which marked the first time since 2009 that a Chinese president or premier had responded to a request for talks from the delegation. Sino-Japanese relations turned frosty in about 2010 over the disputed Diaoyu Islands, called by Japan the Senkakus, in the East China Sea, but have gradually thawed over the past two years. The business group met with Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli last year as Li was on an overseas trip. ^ top ^

Vatican, China exchange art amid stalemate in bid to heal ties
2017-11-22
The Vatican and China are planning a first exchange of artworks to display in museums as the two states forge ahead with soft diplomacy amid a stalemate in negotiations to heal decades of diplomatic estrangement. The parallel exhibits announced on Tuesday, involving an exchange of 40 works of art from the Vatican's collection of Chinese bronzes, ceramics, cloisonné and paintings, and 40 works from China, are due to open simultaneously in March in the Forbidden City and the Vatican's Anima Mundi ethnological museum. The head of the government's China Culture Industrial Investment Fund, Zhu Jiancheng, told a Vatican news conference that he hoped the exchanges would reinforce friendship, build mutual trust and contribute to the normalisation of diplomatic relations. The dual exhibitions would "open a new era in people-to-people exchanges between China and the Vatican", he said. The exhibit in China will travel to four other cities after its Beijing inauguration, including Xian and Shanghai. The investment fund is a Chinese government and Communist Party vehicle for monetising soft power initiatives in media, culture and exhibitions. Its shareholders include the Bank of China, the Ministry of Finance and China International Television Corporation, which operate under orders from China's cabinet, the State Council, and the ruling party's Central Committee led by President Xi Jinping. Pope Francis, and before him Pope Benedict XVI, has made normalising relations with China a priority. But the Vatican and China remain at odds over the Vatican's insistence that the pope has the authority to name bishops. China views the Vatican position as an infringement on its sovereignty. Scholars and human rights activists say they only expect Xi's attitude toward religious and ethnic minorities to become tougher following his appointment to a second term as party leader during a party congress last month. The Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, said there remained a mutual interest to keep the relationship going. "A lot of times cultural exchanges can be a lot easier than strict diplomatic exchanges and that is what's happening here," he said. Vatican Museum officials declined to enter into the diplomatic stand-off, or hopes that it might end, during Tuesday's news conference announcing the initiative, deferring to their Chinese guests. But the head of the Vatican Museums, Barbara Jatta, said beauty and art were an "extraordinary vehicle for dialogue". China cut relations with the Holy See in 1951 after the Communist Party took power and set up its own church outside the pope's authority. China has an estimated 12 million Catholics, many of whom worship in non-state sanctioned congregations faithful to the pope that often overlap with the government-sanctioned church. Francis broke through years of diplomatic stall in 2014 when he sent Xi and the Chinese people a telegram of greeting as he flew through Chinese airspace en route to South Korea. China responded formally in May of this year when it gave Francis two paintings by artist Zhang Yan in the name of the Chinese people, which are now in the collection of the Vatican Museums. One of the paintings will be included in the collection of Chinese artworks on display at the Vatican's show, which is called "Beauty that Unites: travels in the marvellous harmony of the Chinese people and Vatican Museums". The other Zhang painting will be part of the collection that the Vatican is loaning for the China exhibit, "Anima Mundi (Soul of the World): human, nature and harmony". ^ top ^

China completes border disarmament inspections with four countries (Xinhua)
2017-11-21
China has completed the last round of inspections of this year on the obligation of border disarmament agreements with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, according to the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The newspaper reported on Tuesday that China and a team representing the other four countries inspected each other's border defense forces in mid-August. In 1996, the five countries signed the Agreement on Confidence-Building in the Military Field Along the Border Areas. In 1997, they signed the Agreement on the Mutual Reduction of Military Forces in the Border Areas. The agreements opened the cooperation process of the "Shanghai Five" and laid down a solid foundation for the establishment and development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). During the past two decades, the two sides convened more than 30 meetings and organized more than 140 mutual inspections along the borders, which boasts over 7,600 kilometers between China and the other four nations, according to the report. Currently, the number of military personnel and amount of arms and military technology equipment are below the limits set by the agreements in applicable areas, said the report. The two sides also stepped up exchanges by visiting one another's border defense posts and border cities, as well as organizing literary and sports contests and military training and performances, it said. They have organized several "Peace Mission" joint military exercises under the SCO framework, carried out regular joint patrols, and regularly reported border situations to the other side, it added. "Though the staff are different in their professional backgrounds, language and culture, they can trust and understand each other and cooperate closely," Huang Xiaodong, head of the office for the obligation of border disarmament agreements, Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China, was quoted as saying. The report said the countries will continue to deepen implementation of the two agreements and cooperation on border defense. ^ top ^

China section of new road to Europe opens (China Daily)
2017-11-20
The Chinese section of a transcontinental expressway project linking China to Europe opened to traffic on Saturday. The key 10-kilometer section of road, in the border city of Horgos, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, connects a border inspection area with the Lianyungang-Horgos expressway. It marks the full opening of the expressway in China. The project - with a total length of 8,445 km - links Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, to St. Petersburg, Russia. China and Kazakhstan jointly proposed building the transport corridor in 2006. Construction began in 2008. Li Zhinong, deputy head of the regional transportation department, said the opening of the Horgos section of the expressway will help further open up China to the West and facilitate the economic and social development of countries and regions along the Belt and Road. Wang Haijiang, deputy mayor of Horgos, said the annual volume of freight exported through the Horgos port will increase to 3.5 million tons with the opening of the section. He said cargo sent from Lianyungang to Europe will take just 10 days to arrive - instead of 45 - when roads replace shipping by sea. According to the World Bank, the expressway project will help increase the volume of freight between China and Europe by 2.5 times, with new companies and supporting facilities along the way providing jobs for local people. Transport company Huaxin Co Ltd in Horgos has been sending Chinese consumer products, as well as machinery, to Kazakhstan by truck. "The old roads are in poor condition. The 370-km trip from Horgos to Almaty usually takes a whole day," company official Wang Yong said. The new expressway will help the company save time and reduce costs, Wang said. ^ top ^

Asean's 'landmark' South China Sea deal may not mean it will all be plain sailing in future (SCMP)
2017-11-20
The Philippines has concluded its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) with a series of landmark agreements. Of crucial importance, however, was the finalisation of the framework of a much-ballyhooed Asean-China Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. Both sides hailed it as a crucial milestone towards ensuring rule of law in the troubled waters. After years of non-stop tensions among claimant states, this is undoubtedly the right step in the right direction. The challenge, however, is to make sure that the final COC will be negotiated expediently and has a consequential impact on the management and resolution of the decades-long disputes. In its joint statement, Asean hailed the "adoption of the framework of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea" as a crucial prerequisite for the "conclusion of a substantive and effective" final document. The final stage of negotiations officially kicked off during the 20th Asean-China Summit on November 13, when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met his Southeast Asian counterparts and discussed ways to "maintain peace, stability, freedom of navigation in" the disputed waters and the skies over them. COC negotiations have created positive momentum towards confidence-building measures such as the successful testing of the Hotline to Manage Maritime Emergencies in the South China Sea among relevant foreign ministries. The two sides are also hammering out the operationalisation of the Joint Statement on the Observance of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea to avoid unwanted clashes in increasingly militarised areas as well as the high seas. At the moment, the priority is to freeze the cycle of escalation in the contested waters in hopes of achieving commonly accepted rules of the road before definitively resolving the disputes. Early next year, a technical team, or the so-called Working Group Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC, will meet in Vietnam to iron out the minute aspects and central provisions of the final COC. The Philippines, which just passed on its chairmanship to Singapore, will take over as the Asean-China country coordinator. Thus, Manila will continue to have significant influence on the trajectory of diplomatic negotiations between the two sides. Under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has prioritised improving bilateral economic ties with China in exchange for taking a softer approach to territorial disputes in the area. After his meeting on November 11 with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, the Philippine leader maintained that the South China Sea issue was "better left untouched". For Duterte, it's important that both sides focus on a diplomatic resolution of the disputes via mechanisms such as the proposed COC, whatever shape it may take. Yet, the devil is ultimately in the details. Fifteen years after the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea, the two sides have just managed to finalise the framework of a COC. In fact, the concept of a COC was proposed as early as 1996 during the 29th Asean Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta. Back then, regional states called for a legally binding COC in the South China Sea, which would "lay the foundation for long-term stability in the area and foster understanding among claimant countries". More than two decades thereafter, it isn't even clear if the final agreement will be legally binding or, similar to the DOC, end up as a fundamentally normative document. China has insisted on including there is "no major outside interference" in the situation and it is unclear whether Beijing is also demanding that Asean states stop any security cooperation with the US or Japan in the area. The outline of the COC's framework excludes the possibility that the final document could be used as "an instrument to settle territorial disputes or maritime delimitation issues." Instead of binding laws, it proposes a "rules-based framework" anchored by "a set of norms", which will govern the conduct of and cooperation among claimant states. Thus, the question that arises is whether the COC will carry any added value, since the DOC already represents a clear set of norms governing the conduct of disputing parties. Meanwhile, critics claim that China is using the COC negotiations as a diplomatic cover for its massive reclamation activities and militarisation of the disputes on the ground. Moreover, critics claim, the COC could be used to effectively bury the Philippines' landmark arbitration award against China by promoting an alternative set of rules and principles for addressing the disputes. The reality, however, is that Asean claimant states have little choice but to place their faith in dialogue and negotiations. After all, few have the willingness or capacity to confront Beijing, which has offered massive economic carrots to its southern neighbours. For a growing number of regional states, peace should be preserved at all costs, and the COC negotiations are one way of accomplishing that. ^ top ^

China welcomes balanced results of COP 23, urges talks on climate (Global Times)
2017-11-19
As the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) wound up Saturday in Bonn, Germany, China's special representative on climate change affairs, Xie Zhenhua, said that the dialogue on climate change, "while still not 100 percent satisfactory," did succeed in reflecting the concerns of all sides in a balanced manner and that he hoped developed countries would uphold their obligations in dealing with climate change. Xie said that a balanced negotiation document had been worked out covering all related issues for implementing the Paris Agreement. COP 23 also clarified plans for facilitative dialogues in 2018 and endorsed a number of arrangements to speed up implementation of pre-2020 climate actions to reduce CO2 emissions. He went on to say the flexibility and constructive actions of the participating countries laid a solid foundation for completing negotiations on implementing the Paris Agreement on schedule. "We hope that all sides adhere to the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities, and their respective capabilities, and consider the actual conditions of each country while pushing negotiations on implementing the Paris Agreement," Xie said. He said he also hoped that all sides would speed up ratification of the Doha Amendment that establishes the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, and that developed countries would continue to uphold their obligation to provide funds, technology and capacity-building to developing countries. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Officials vow loyalty to Party leadership as two more 'tigers' slain (Global Times)
2017-11-23
The investigation into one of China's former senior publicity officials has ignited the Internet with netizens giving a thumbs-up to the country's continuous anti-graft campaign. Lu Wei, former deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, is being investigated for suspected "severe disciplinary violations," China's top anti-graft watchdog announced Tuesday night. It did not provide details of the violations. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) which Lu used to lead held a meeting on Wednesday to reflect on the lesson left by Lu's severe violations of discipline and vowed to "more voluntarily" align themselves with the CPC Central Committee which has General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core. Lu was a typical "two-faced person," as he severely deviated from Party principle, contaminated the political ecology of the CAC, ruined the image of the cyberspace administration team and harmed the development of cyberspace, according to the CAC meeting. The probe into Lu's activities makes him the first senior official under the CPC Central Committee to be investigated since the 19th National Congress of the CPCs in October, which experts say sent an unequivocal signal that the Party's campaign to strictly govern itself will never cease. The announcement of Lu's probe by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) has drawn wide public attention, with the news being carried by People's Daily and its social media sites, which was viewed tens of millions of times after it was announced. A search on baidu.com shows the news generated millions of results as of Thursday. Chinese netizens hailed the CPC's anti-graft campaign and praised the hard work of the discipline inspection officials. Many said that they fully support the CPC to seize the corrupt officials. "Lu's probe shows the fight against corruption remains grave and complex as Lu had served the key posts of several key departments in China," Su Wei, a professor at the Party School of the Chongqing Committee, told the Global Times. Lu, 57, had long worked for the publicity department. He had served as the deputy head of the Xinhua News Agency and then head of the Beijing municipal government's publicity department before becoming the head of CAC in 2013. In 2014, he became the deputy head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee. Lu's fall has dispelled views from some people that the anti-graft campaign may be weakened or winding down after the 19th CPC National Congress and demonstrates the Party's resolve to fight corruption, Cai Zhiqiang, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee in Beijing, told the Global Times. On Thursday, the CCDI announced the investigation of another senior official, Liu Qiang, deputy governor of Northeast China's Liaoning Province, for suspected "severe disciplinary violations." "The fall of two 'tigers' shortly after the 19th CPC National Congress is faster than it was after the 18th CPC National Congress," Cai said. Disciplinary authorities have investigated 440 officials at or above the provincial level for corruption over the past five years, including 43 members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee, according to Yang Xiaodu, deputy secretary of the CCDI. "To ensure the fulfillment of all the goals we set during the 19th CPC National Congress requires that we must comprehensively strengthen Party discipline," Cai said. According to Su, the fight against corruption after the 19th CPC National Congress will be more powerful and effective with the establishment of supervisory commissions across the country. ^ top ^

Profit-based events banned at Buddhist, Taoist venues (Global Times)
2017-11-23
China will ban any individual or group who commercializes Buddhist and Taoist venues or profits from religious activities, according to a government notice on Thursday. The notice on the website of the State Administration for Religious Affairs said the government forbids any commercial use of the country's Buddhist and Taoist sites, and bans individuals and organizations from investing in such sites to protect the healthy development of religions and to curb the commercialization trend. The notice was jointly released by several government departments and Party organizations, including China's top religious, public security, finance and tourism bodies. The notice also regulates the number of planned Buddhist- or Taoist-themed cultural sites, bans large religious statues outside religious venues, as well as forbids individuals or groups from investing in their construction. The notice also says that government or Party officials or agencies should not promote religious events in the name of economic development, tourism and cultural prosperity and they should not make profits from religious affairs. It likewise forbids staff of those religious groups from participating in trade. The notice complements the country's previous religious affairs regulation, Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the Ethnic and Religious Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told the Global Times on Thursday. The notice is necessary and timely because it provides a clearer guideline against the commercialization trend in Buddhism and Taoism, which could spare the religions from being used as money-making tools instead of playing a positive role in society, Zhu said. Zhu added that Buddhism and Taoism have a long history of accepting donations, which some people have been exploiting. Information on religious services must be examined and approved by religious affair administration departments above provincial level before going online, according to the notice. ^ top ^

Seven held as Chinese police probe US$3bn underground currency racket (SCMP)
2017-11-23
Seven people have been arrested in southern China for alleged involvement in an underground banking scheme involving more than 20 billion yuan (US$3 billion). Economic crime investigators from Shaoguan police in Guangdong province said more than 10,000 suspects may be involved in a massive underground currency syndicate, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported. The seven suspects made huge profits exchanging yuan into Hong Kong dollars, the report said, without giving details. China's public security ministry cracked down on more than 380 illegal underground banks last year, involving over 900 billion yuan, as the authorities attempted to stem an exodus of cash flowing out of the country as the value of the nation's currency weakened. The authorities places limits on the amount of cash that can be moved out of China, leading some to use underground banks to get cash overseas illegally. After months of investigation Guangdong officers found suspects used 148 bank accounts across more than 20 provinces, registered with fake identification, police were quoted as saying at a press briefing on Wednesday. One suspect, whose full name was not given, deposited more than 50 million yuan over time into a bank account owned by the syndicate. The deposits were then channelled into smaller sums to different bank accounts before they were converted into Hong Kong dollars for the man's use after he travelled to Macau to gamble, the report said. The most recent arrest in the case was made earlier this month in Guangdong, with 30 million yuan in assets frozen. Guangdong police said the investigation was still ongoing. ^ top ^

Goodbye Skype. China's internet censorship juggernaut rolls on without its former cyber tsar (SCMP)
2017-11-23
Beijing is continuing to tighten its grip on cyberspace with the removal of internet phone services, including Microsoft's popular Skype application, from China's app stores. The app's disappearance came as the Communist Party's watchdog announced that former internet tsar Lu Wei had been detained on suspicion of "serious violations of party discipline", a euphemism for graft. Skype was not available in app stores in China overseen by Apple, Tencent and Qihoo 360 Technology. Alphabet's Google Play app store is not available in China. Asked about the disappearance of Skype from the App Store, Apple said late on Tuesday that it had removed several internet phone call apps from the outlet in China after the country's government said they violated local laws. "We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law. Therefore these apps have been removed from the App Store in China," an Apple spokeswoman said. "These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business." The Cyberspace Administration of China, which oversees censored technology, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The cyberspace administration was headed by Lu Wei until his abrupt removal from office more than a year ago. In an article posted on the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection's (CCDI) website on Wednesday, the watchdog said Lu's fall from grace was "not surprising", referring to a special disciplinary inspection in April that uncovered a series of problems at the administration. The powerful department, once a branch under the central government press office, was upgraded into a full government agency in 2014 to support the operations of Chinese President Xi Jinping's newly founded leading group on cybersecurity and information technology. As the head of the administration, Lu was the public face of Beijing's tight and ever-broader online censorship. "Lu did what [Xi's administration] wanted," University of Hong Kong associate journalism professor Fu King-wa said. "I don't think there is any change to the tightening internet control." On Lu's watch, legions of outspoken and influential commentators on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, were silenced and once-lively debates on politics and policy shut down. He also helped launch the World Internet Conference, a platform Xi used to promote "equitable global internet governance" to the international information technology elite. Nevertheless, the CCDI criticised the administration for failing to ensure "political security" and carry out Xi's directives on time. Officials at the administration were also accused of forming "small circles" and having a weak capacity to steer clear of corruption, the CCDI said. Rogier Creemers, an expert in Chinese law and governance at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said Lu was "a very big driver" of the institutionalising of China's internet policies but he was not a policymaker. "Lu Wei has been out of the scene for a while now. His influence disappeared when he was fired from that position. What happened since then has clearly demonstrated the direction of travel," Creemers said. He said what happened to Lu was more or less "happening to him personally". But a Beijing-based media researcher said Lu's fall would likely make his former colleagues more cautious. "The result is further tightening of their control in the short term," he said. Five months into the tenure of Lu's successor Xu Lin, the national legislature passed a controversial cybersecurity law despite objections from governments and companies overseas. In January, authorities launched a 14-month campaign to crack down on unauthorised VPN services, tools used by Chinese internet users to bypass the "Great Firewall" and access blocked sites. Domestic censorship has been expanded from politics to cover the more freewheeling world of entertainment, with dozens of accounts on everything from celebrity gossip to movie reviews taken offline this summer. Users of the encrypted messaging app WhatsApp also experienced frequent service disruptions in the run-up to last month's five-yearly party congress. ^ top ^

New book shows global audience China through Xi's eyes (Xinhua)
2017-11-22
Inside a spacious factory building in the southern outskirts of Beijing, printing machines have been roaring and running around the clock for two weeks to publish a new book by Chinese President Xi Jinping. "About 500 of us workers have been working extra hours since Nov. 4," said Zhao Qing, an employee at Beijing Shengtong Printing. The company was contracted to print 1 million copies of the second volume of "Xi Jinping: The Governance of China," a collection of 99 of Xi's speeches, conversations, instructions and letters, as well as 29 photos of the Chinese leader from between Aug. 18, 2014 and Sept. 29, 2017. Since the Chinese and English versions of the book hit the market on Nov. 7, major bookstores in Beijing, including those in the city's busiest shopping areas of Wangfujing and Xidan, have displayed them prominently. "The first print run is about 5.46 million copies," said Xu Bu, president and chief editor of Foreign Languages Press, the book's publisher. "In the past few days, orders have flooded in and we expect more to come." Sales are likely to exceed those of the first book, which was published in September 2014 and has sold about 6.6 million copies worldwide in 24 languages. In addition to Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese versions from the Chinese publisher, another 15 languages versions of the first book were translated and published by local publishing houses, with Chinese editors supervising the final draft. Cooperation with local publishers helped make the book suitable for diverse cultures and traditions, Xu said. "Such a global promotion plan is rare for books by Chinese leaders. The second volume will follow suit," he said. According to Xu, Foreign Languages Press has worked with international publishing house Lagardere Services to distribute the book through bookshops at major international airports and will promote it through Chinese embassies and other Chinese organizations abroad. "We would also like to attract foreign readers who live in China or travel here," he added. Although they have the same title and almost identical covers, the second volume comes at a different time -- "a new era." For David Ferguson, English editor of both books with Foreign Languages Press, the fundamental difference is that the second volume has been brought under a single overarching philosophy: Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. "Western audience sometimes do not quite understand how important aphorisms and axioms are in Chinese political discourse," he said. "When a Chinese leader comes up with a new idea, it matters to everybody in the Party and the wider society." Citing the subtle difference between "for a new era" and "in a new era," Ferguson said that the former suggests China is in control, while the latter indicates that it is reacting to something imposed by external forces. Robert Lawrence Kuhn, U.S. expert on China studies and chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, shared Ferguson's observation about China's political discourse, noting that articulation between theory and practice in China is greater than other major countries. "A founding theory of the Party is needed to develop certain specific policies that emerge out of it," he said. The two books by Xi have offered outsiders a resource to understand China's new guiding philosophy. "Within the books, you can see the historical development of Xi's idea," Kuhn said. "You can see it inducing itself as these ideas come together, building up to what has been crystallized as Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era." The two books give readers "a rich exemplification" of the specific elements that compose the thought, Kuhn added. "The new book is not only well received by our institutional clients but by many ordinary readers," said Xu Jin, employee at the Beijing Xidan Book Building. "I am touched by General Secretary Xi Jinping's words in this book. I find some of his expressions appealing, and the language he uses is charming, gentle and approachable," a college student surnamed Lyu told Xinhua at the Xidan bookstore. Although the two books are mostly collections of Xi's speeches and written instructions, they are organized by topic and include only the most important articles or the most essential excerpts, with footnotes helping foreign readers to understand the cultural context, according to editors. "The main reason why foreigners should read these books is that they are the first time that a Chinese leader has sought to capture his whole philosophy and communicate it to the international audience in so many languages," Ferguson said. "There is everything you need to know about where China is now and where China is trying to go."  ^ top ^

China to step up production of low-cost medicines (Global Times)
2017-11-21
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for the increased production and supply of a low-cost domestic medicine for leukemia patients following reports that the drug has been unavailable for months, a government website reported on Monday. Mercaptopurine tablets, a potent medication used for some types of acute leukemia in combination with other drugs has been unavailable at pharmacies across China. Many Chinese patients have had to get the needed drug overseas. The Global Times found patients started looking for new sources of the medication on China's social media platforms as early as January. Mercaptopurine tablets usually cost only 40 yuan ($6.03) a bottle but many patients have had to spend up to 170 yuan from alternative sources. "It is another heavy blow to the families suffering from leukemia," the Chinese premier said. "Related departments should take measures to increase the drug supply," he said, according to a statement released on the State Council website. There were six pharmaceutical companies qualified to manufacture the medicine in China, but four of them stopped production years ago and two others suspended production this year. A shortage of raw materials and low profits are the main reason the companies stopped making the tablets, news site thepaper.cn reported. Heeding the premier's call, Zhejiang Zhebei Pharmaceutical Corporation told the Global Times on Tuesday it has already restarted making the drug. A first batch of 2.95 million tablets is ready for delivery and more mercaptopurine tablets will be produced in accordance with market demand, an employee surnamed Tan said. Production was ramped up after the company's newly built warehouse received government approval on November 17, Tan said. "Government departments hastened the approval process for the new warehouse," he added. The other company still hasn't started production due to a shortage of raw materials. Acute shortages of drugs are not only a concern for leukemia patients. According to a survey by Saibailan, a Beijing-based medical think tank, more than 850 drugs were listed as "short of supply" between January and May. About 130 prescription drugs are occasionally in short supply, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. "Shortages in drug supplies have been a chronic problem in China. It's partly because of an inadequate national medical supply mechanism," Song Ruilin, executive president of the China Pharmaceutical Industry Research and Development Association, told the Global Times. A complete national supple chain - from approval to production to delivery - will solve drug supply shortages. Once a looming drug shortage is identified, medical organizations and governments should respond quickly through an effective reporting mechanism, Song said. Song also called on the government to support the manufacturing of low-profit drugs to ensure pharmaceutical companies don't lose money. In June, nine governmental organs jointly released a guideline to cope with shortages of prescription drugs. By the end of this year, China will put in place mechanisms for collecting, monitoring and managing shortages of certain drugs, according to the guideline. "It is a good guideline for the medical industry but it lacks specific clauses and compulsory reporting to tackle drug shortages. It will take a long time to fully realize the goal," Song Hualin, an associate professor of medical law at Nankai University, told the Global Times. ^ top ^

China's army organizes 19-unit standby peacekeeping force (Xinhua)
2017-11-18
The Army of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has organized a standby peacekeeping force of 19 units. An army statement on Saturday said the 19 units are divided into six services -- infantry, engineer, transport, guard, quick reaction and helicopter crew. China registered an 8,000-strong standby peacekeeping force at the United Nations in September, according to the Ministry of National Defense. Currently the army has nine troops serving the UN peacekeeping missions, accounting for 91.5 percent of China's peacekeeping force. With a standby force, China's peacekeeping force will improve its combat readiness and be able to respond to emergencies more efficiently, said You Haitao, vice commander of the PLA Army. About 36,000 Chinese servicemen and women have served in UN peacekeeping missions, with 13 sacrificing their lives in the past 27 years. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China defends soccer team's walkout over Tibet separatist flags (Global Times)
2017-11-20
China has defended its soccer team's move to stop an international competition after seeing flags suggesting "Tibetan independence" raised by spectators, saying that the country resolutely opposes any move by separatists. "China resolutely opposes any country, organization or individual to use any form or reason to support the activity of 'Tibetan separatists,'" Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily briefing on Monday. Lu's remarks came after the players of the Chinese under-20 team walked off the pitch and refused to play the match in Germany on Saturday when seeing spectators with flags suggesting "Tibetan independence." The Chinese players did not return to the pitch until the spectators put away the flags, and the match restarted after a 25-minute delay, forbes.com reported Saturday. "I have to stress that respect is what the host should pay for their guests and respect is mutual in any country," Lu said. "Tibet-related issues concern the core interests of China and the feeling of the Chinese people," Lu explained. Ronny Zimmermann, vice president of the Deutscher Fussball-Bund, German soccer's governing body, said he was disappointed by the protesters' move. But while Germany wants to be good hosts to the Chinese side, the games will be played "within the framework of freedom of expression," forbes.com reported. However, separatist moves should not be protected by freedom of speech and the Chinese should take a zero-tolerance attitude toward such moves, Sun Jin, a Chinese professor who is in Germany for academic exchange activities, told the Global Times. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang offers 15 years of free education to residents (Global Times)
2017-11-20
Uyghur Autonomous Region, in Northwest China, will offer free high school education to all students in the region starting in December benefiting nearly 860,000 students, education regulators announced. The move will provide every student in Xinjiang with 15 years of free education, covering three years of preschool, nine years of primary and middle school education and three years of high school or vocational training. Tuition fees will be waived for students who will also receive free accommodation and textbooks. Subsidies will be provided to students from low-income families, according to the Xinjiang Daily on Monday. Chinese experts say the policy not only showcases the government's ability to bring practical benefits to people living in less developed areas, but will also help sway Xinjiang youth from falling under the influence of extremist elements. "We should keep in mind that teens are teens no matter where they grow up in China. Xinjiang's youth grow up in a more complicated situation." La Disheng, a professor at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Xinjiang regional committee, told the Global Times. La stressed that providing universal free education in Xinjiang will serve as a foundation for their pursuit of a good life, and in turn help build a better China in the decades to come. The policy does not differentiate students based on their ethnic background, which showcases the program's equality, noted Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Beijing's Minzu University of China. Xiong told the Global Times that unlike previous policies favoring ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang, this reform is designed to lessen the sense of inequality felt by the local Han people. Xinjiang had previously implemented a pre-school to middle school free education program for students in Southern Xinjiang's Kashgar, Hotan and Aksu prefectures, while students in the Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture received a full 15 years of free education, according to People's Daily on Monday. Xinjiang has also set aside 2.58 billion yuan ($170 million) to finance the region's 15-year free education program, and students from low-income families in rural areas will be included in the financial aid program, said the report. Fruitful in the long run Xinjiang is not the first region to provide free education. In 2015, Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region began to provide free 15-year education from primary to high school, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Students in Qinghai Province's six Tibetan and Mongolian autonomous prefectures, together with those from poverty-stricken families in the provincial capital, were provided with the same 15-year free education in the spring of 2016. La says the programs show China has become more capable of taking care of people from less developed areas. Echoing La, Xiong said the move shows that China attaches growing importance to education, which will prove fruitful in the long run. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

New faces, new expectations but will Hongkongers in China's legislature deliver on conflicting demands? (SCMP)
2017-11-24
Thirty-six Hongkongers will join China's legislature for five years after a local vote next month, marking a changing of the guard as they seek to represent the city's interests in its vital but oftentimes tense relationship with Beijing. Critics have often dismissed the Hong Kong deputies in the National People's Congress (NPC), seeing them as pro-establishment types jostling to rub shoulders with the party elite in Beijing, while the deputies, who are not paid, insist they do not just rubber stamp policies. The NPC, the highest organ of state power, has the mandate to amend the constitution and oversee its enforcement. It also enacts and amends laws, elects and appoints members to central state organs and directs policy on key state issues. The five-yearly election, taking place on December 19, will see a third of the 36 current Hong Kong deputies unlikely to seek re-election. Many have served for decades. They include two women known as political heavyweights: Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, Hong Kong's sole representative on the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC), its top legislative body, and Maria Tam Wai-chu, convenor of the Hong Kong delegation to the NPC. Another two stepping down are Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun and Laura Cha Shih May-lung, both members of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's policy advisory body, the Executive Council. Waiting in the wings are several familiar faces from the ranks of the pro-establishment camp and the professional associations. They include Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, former Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs; Tam Yiu-chung, a former chairman of Hong Kong's largest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong;lawyer and opponent of the 2014 Occupy Central movement Maggie Chan Man-ki; former Law Society chairman Ambrose Lam San-keung and Fan's son Andrew Fan Chun-wah. There are 1,989 electors, most of whom are pro-Beijing with about 300 pan-democrats, including Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the co-founder of the 2014 Occupy Central movement, which led to a 79-day occupation of major roads in the name of civil disobedience for greater democracy. Pan-democrats previously said they might boycott this year's election, with their attempts in past polls to gain seats having fallen flat. But beyond a changing of the guard, this election is especially significant for other reasons. Hong Kong society is more politically polarised than it was at the last election in 2012, with Occupy driving both a rise in calls for self-determination, and conversely, the vilification of localists by pro-establishment supporters. These divisive positions have resulted in gridlock in the Legislative Council and clashes on university campuses between pro-independence activists and mainland students. The 36 delegates will have to grapple with two sets of expectations that are more likely than not to be in conflict with each other – the demand that they represent the full spectrum of views from Hong Kong, and Beijing's expectation that they articulate the central government's position to Hongkongers and get them to accept political realities. They will also need to strike a new relationship with Li Zhanshu, formerly director of the Communist party's Central Committee's General Office and effectively Xi's chief of staff, tipped to take over as NPC chairman from Zhang Dejiang next March, at China's "two sessions" or "lianghui". This is the annual meeting of the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which is the top political advisory body. Hopefuls in the race who spoke to the Post have pledged to advance Hong Kong's economic and social development and represent the city's interests, including safeguarding the city's preciously-held "one country, two systems" principle of governance, under which it is given a high degree of autonomy from the mainland. Michael Tien Puk-sun, who is seeking re-election for the third time, said: "We need to strike a balance between representing the 'one country' [China] … and representing Hong Kong in relaying the people's views," he explained. But the space to represent dissenting views has shrunk, with Beijing issuing new rules earlier this year that Hong Kong deputies to the NPC must pledge allegiance to both China and Hong Kong, and declare that they will uphold both the Chinese constitution and Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law. Earlier this week, NPC vice-chairman Wang Chen reiterated the rules, and stressed that Beijing would not tolerate any act to separate Hong Kong from the nation. In November last year, the NPCSC, led by Zhang, who is the Communist Party's third-ranking official, issued an interpretation of Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, and made improper oath-taking by the city's public office bearers punishable by instant disqualification. This came a month after two pro-independence lawmakers performed anti-China antics during an oath-taking ceremony. A Hong Kong court later ruled that the pair, as well as four other pro-democracy lawmakers, would lose their seats. Additionally, under new legislation recently approved by the NPCSC, anyone who maliciously modifies the lyrics, or plays or sings the anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way in public can be detained for up to 15 days or imprisoned for three years under the mainland criminal code. This law, seen as targeting Hong Kong football fans who boo the anthem at soccer matches, has since been inserted into Annexe III of the Basic Law, requiring Hong Kong to implement it by way of promulgation or local legislation. Both Tien and David Wong Yau-kar, who is seeking his second term,dismissed criticism that they and the other deputies had not done enough to "stop Beijing from undermining Hong Kong's autonomy" with those contentious decisions. "I think the interpretation was necessary," Wong said, referring to the oath-taking saga. If the NPCSC considered making another potentially contentious decision on Hong Kong, Wong promised to "reflect Hong Kong people's views and make a personal judgment" on how to handle it. Deputies to the NPC are required to attend study tours on the mainland and submit policy recommendations for Hong Kong. Mainland authorities are required to either adopt the recommendations or explain why not. Tien said he would be focusing on the city's economic development if he was re-elected "We need to advise mainland authorities on how Hong Kong is to take part in the country's development, especially in the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area project," he said. The "Belt and Road" Initiative is a strategy to open up trade along land and sea corridors spanning more than 65 countries, while the "Greater Bay Area" scheme aims to link Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland cities into an integrated economic powerhouse. He would also continue to urge Beijing to introduce incometax reforms to encourage Hongkongers to work in the mainland, especially in cities in Guangdong province such as Shenzhen. Wong agreed that the economy would be the area of focus for Hong Kong deputies in the coming years. "Hong Kong, which is governed under the 'one country, two systems' principle, will play a bigger part in the nation's economy," Wong said. On what the current crop of deputies had achieved, Wong said that they had raised Hongkongers' concerns a few years ago of mainlanders abusing a multi-entry system by coming to the city in droves and purchasing daily necessities. Their voice "could be seen" as a reason for why mainland authorities introduced a measure in 2015 to limit permanent residents to just one visit a week to Hong Kong, Wong added. "For issues related to Hong Kong, it's natural for us to speak up," he said. Fanny Law, who said she would not seek re-election after 10 years of service to "make way for others", said that apart from having some of her policy recommendations on environmental protection and anti-corruption issues adopted by Beijing, she was most gratified about "helping ordinary Hongkongers faced with problems on the mainland". Former legislator Tam Yiu-chung, who is seeking to be elected for the first time, said he wanted "a deeper understanding of the nation". He is widely tipped to be elected and to succeed Rita Fan as a member of the NPCSC in March. He has been a delegate to the CPPCC for 15 years. Tian Feilong, associate professor at the Beihang University's law school in Beijing, said he believed Beijing wanted the new deputies to be a "bridge connecting the central government to the hearts of Hongkongers" and to make their views on "one country, two systems" known. The criteria to be a deputy was that one had to love China and Hong Kong, he said, adding: "I think the direction for the NPC to go in the future, is that there can be more deputies with a political middle ground." Asked if this meant that Michael Tien, who was the only deputy to seek a response from Beijing after five booksellers linked to the Hong Kong store that sold books critical of the Chinese Communist Party vanished one after another last year, stood a chance to win re-election, Tian said Beijing was willing to accept constructive criticism as long as critics were not merely trying to "put up a show" to gain credit. Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of Beijing's top think tank on Hong Kong affairs, said that with Li, who was elevated to the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee last month, likely to take over from Zhang to lead the NPC, the course that President Xi Jinping set for Hong Kong's governance would be closely followed, with Hong Kong deputies expected to play a role. At last month's 19th Party Congress, Xi called for the melding of Beijing's "comprehensive jurisdiction" over the city with its high degree of autonomy in a natural or "organic" way. "Beijing has always expected the deputies to speak up for the central government, but as Xi emphasised 'ruling the country according to the law', NPC deputies around the country will be playing a bigger role," Lau said. He added: "As the implementation of 'one country, two systems' was included as one of Xi's 14 principles of [governance], local deputies will need to promote the accurate understanding of the principle and the Basic Law, to counter the opposition camp's perspective of the city as an independent or semi-independent entity." ^ top ^

Beijing seeks better understanding of Communist Party's work and goals from Hong Kong establishment (SCMP)
2017-11-23
Beijing mobilised a senior Chinese Communist Party theorist and its top official in Hong Kong to drive home an unusually direct message to the city's establishment on Thursday about better understanding and improving cross-border ties after China's recent leadership reshuffle. In a move reflecting the central government's more hands-on approach in steering the city, Leng Rong, head of the Communist Party's literature research office, and Wang Zhimin, director of Beijing's liaison office, gave a talk at government headquarters on President Xi Jinping's report at the Communist Party's five-yearly congress last month. His 240-strong audience included Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, her top policy officials, advisers and senior civil servants. Wang called for the careful handling of the differences between the city's residents and their mainland compatriots, citing it as key to the success of the "one country, two systems" principle and capitalising on the central government's development plans. Leng gave a detailed explanation of Xi's report and its importance to Hong Kong. Each official at the seminar was given three booklets on the Chinese constitution and the Basic Law, Xi's report at the party congress and a recent speech made by Wang. They were also given three DVDs of documentaries themed on China's "rule of law, glory and diplomacy", produced by state broadcaster CCTV. The session on Thursday came a week after Li Fei, a senior mainland official who specialises in the city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, warned at a seminar in Hong Kong that the city was paying the price for its lack of progress in enacting the local version of China's national security law. After last week's seminar, attended by local officials and broadcasted live at 50 schools, the event on Thursday was met with suspicion in some quarters. Opposition politicians described it as "unusual" and they warned it would be "dangerous" if socialist ideology was incorporated into the city's governance and policymaking. Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of Beijing's top think tank on Hong Kong affairs, said the event showed Beijing's determination to boost local officials' understanding of its ideas. "It is because the Hong Kong government has to be accountable to Beijing, which is the local government's source of power," he said. After the two-hour session, Executive Councillor Wong Kwok-kin said Leng had only focused on explaining the outline and highlights of Xi's report. Fellow councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said Wang had followed up with a speech on how to "manage the six sets of relationships underpinning the one country, two systems principle," under which Beijing has promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy. Ip listed them out as: the Chinese constitution and the Basic Law; Beijing's comprehensive jurisdiction over the city and the promised high degree of autonomy; the central and local governments; the nation and the city's development; "one country" and "two systems'; and the differences in thinking between Hong Kong and mainland people. In Xi's report, the president had called for a natural melding of Beijing's comprehensive jurisdiction with Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy. "Wang said it saddened him to see so many young people camping out [during the 2014 Occupy protests], and their misunderstanding about the country was rooted in the problems with education," Ip said. The two Beijing officials were not giving instructions for policymakers to follow, she added. "The civil service in Hong Kong is of a high calibre. They are perfectly capable of interpreting Mr Wang's comments and implementing what's best in Hong Kong's interest," she said. In a statement, a government spokesman said:"The seminars give politically appointed officials, senior government officials and those who take part in policymaking a better understanding of the issues concerned." The chief executive on Tuesday sought to play down speculation, saying the government had been organising a series of national affairs seminars in recent years. Yi Gang, a deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, was also in Hong Kong to speak to businesspeople on Thursday afternoon. While Yi briefed the audience on the key takeaways from the party congress, he also praised Hong Kong's role in China's development, especially in the early days of the country's opening up when the city supplied funds and management expertise to the mainland. Yi said closer economic links with the mainland had helped Hong Kong transform into the world's biggest IPO and asset management market in Asia, and to cement the city's status as an international financial centre. He noted that Hong Kong had further potential for growth through more financial integration with the mainland. ^ top ^

Beijing has 'zero tolerance' for separatism, mainland official warns Hongkongers seeking role in China's legislature (SCMP)
2017-11-22
Hongkongers aspiring to represent the city on China's legislature must swear to uphold the Chinese constitution and the "one country, two systems" principle, as Beijing would not tolerate any bid by Hong Kong to be independent, a senior mainland official said on Wednesday. National People's Congress (NPC) vice-chairman Wang Chen was speaking in Hong Kong to a 1,400-strong audience, made up of mostly pro-establishment politicians and businessmen, ahead of a poll that takes place every five years to choose 36 local deputies to serve in the NPC. Those at Wednesday's meeting are among 1,989 people eligible to vote at the December 19 election. Current NPC deputies from the city and pro-establishment figures seeking to get elected were seen collecting nomination forms at the meeting. Among them were Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, formerly Hong Kong's constitutional affairs minister, lawyers Ambrose Lam San-keung and Maggie Chan Man-ki, and former legislator Tam Yiu-chung. In his opening speech, Wang said it was of utmost importance that the deputies were patriotic and had a sense of national identity, as they would be members of the "highest organ of state power". "We would absolutely not tolerate any act that threatens national sovereignty and security," he said. Wang also noted that while the "one country, two systems" principle, that gives Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, had been "successfully" implemented, some Hongkongers had been advocating the city's independence or self-determination. "The central government's clear stance is that there is 'zero-tolerance' for independence advocacy," he added. At the meeting, the electors also endorsed the Beijing-nominated line-up of a 19-member presidium, which is tasked to oversee the election. The presidium includes the city's current chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, and two former leaders, Leung Chun-ying and Tung Chee-hwa. Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was invited to the meeting but was not included as a member of the presidium. Tsang was sentenced to 20 months in prison in February after being found guilty of misconduct during his term and has been out on bail since April, pending an appeal. In March, the national legislature endorsed a set of new rules for the election of Hong Kong and Macau deputies this year, making it mandatory for candidates to declare that they would uphold the Chinese constitution and Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law. The new rules also stated that candidates must pledge allegiance to both China and Hong Kong, as well as to declare that they had not and would not accept foreign sources of election funds. Wang said these rules "were the most basic requirement" for candidates. Separately, Ambrose Lau Hon-chuen, the spokesman for the presidium, said candidates who failed to make such declarations "genuinely" would be disqualified before or after the election. He appeared reluctant to explain whether Tsang was absent from the presidium because of his criminal record. "The presidium's formation followed a set of principles … There has to be representatives from different sectors and political groups," he said. But Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of Beijing's top think tank on Hong Kong affairs, said he believed that Tsang's criminal record explained why he was not included. "The central government might think that since Tsang has been discredited, he should not be elevated above the 1,989 electors," Lau said. The nomination period begins on Friday and ends on December 4. The 1,989-member election panel will choose the 36 deputies by block vote. The pan-democratic camp, which has about 300 electors, is expected to snub the poll following the change in rules, even though the size of its bloc means it has some power to influence the election outcome. However, its previous attempts to win seats have fallen short. ^ top ^

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says Beijing committed to city's semi-autonomy (SCMP)
2017-11-17
Hong Kong's leader played down concerns over Beijing's perceived tighter control of the city on Thursday, and said the central government was committed to upholding the "one country, two systems" principle that guarantees the city's high degree of autonomy. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor warned that "meaningless speculation and suspicion" could harm the principle. The comments came after President Xi Jinping told the 19th Communist Party congress in Beijing last month that the central government's "overall jurisdiction" over Hong Kong should be combined with the city's high degree of autonomy in an "organic" way. Lam told the RTHK television programme Legco Review that she saw no conflict between the two. "Sometimes it is because of some misunderstanding or oversensitive reaction," she said. "Sometimes someone says something out of their care for Hong Kong but it is seen as interfering in Hong Kong affairs. Sometimes the chief executive tries to explain the central government's policies but then I would be seen as currying favour with the central government. "This kind of meaningless speculation and suspicion does no good to the successful implementation of the one country, two systems policy." She said maintaining Hong Kong's characteristics under one country, two systems was not only the wish of the city's people, but also a commitment made by the central government. Lam also admitted "not enough" people in her government were familiar with the opportunities offered by mainland China's rapid development. She said she hoped the new civil service college that she proposed creating in her October policy address could help in that respect. Mainland experts or cadres from the foreign affairs ministry could be invited to give talks to civil servants on the topic, she said. The government has said that the proposed college aimed to enhance training for civil servants regarding one country, two systems, the Basic Law, and developments on the mainland. Lam also said Hong Kong could not afford to be complacent and warned it could lose out economically to mainland cities if it did not find ways to sharpen its competitiveness and seize the opportunities brought about by the development of the country. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

China asks US to properly handle issues regarding Taiwan (Xinhua)
2017-11-17
China Friday urged the United States to properly handle issues regarding Taiwan, and not to have any official and military contact in any form with the island. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks in response to a question regarding remarks from Randall Schriver, nominee to be Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs. In his nomination hearing Thursday, Schriver expressed support for exchanges of navy ship visits between the United States and Taiwan, adding such port calls were consistent with the one-China policy as the United States defines it. "China urges the United States to honor its commitment to the one-China policy and the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques, and stop military contact and arms sales to Taiwan," Geng said. The spokesperson said the United States should avoid harming the big picture of bilateral relations and stability across the Taiwan Strait. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Beijing gives private firms greater role in developing hi-tech 'global leading players' (SCMP)
2017-11-23
China's private businesses – from internet service provider Tencent to carmaker Geely – are to play a greater role in the country's top technology programmes and backbone infrastructure projects as Beijing seeks to give fresh momentum to its "Made in China 2025" initiative, according to a joint policy directive by 16 Chinese ministries. In addition to adding energy to the government's effort to comprehensively upgrade Chinese industry by tapping advanced technologies from artificial intelligence to robotics, the policy aims to "unleash private investment vitality", according to guidelines published on the government website this week. The assigning of a more prominent role to domestic private firms under the guidelines, led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, comes as Beijing's "Made in China 2025" plan raises concerns in the United States and European Union that China is putting pressure on foreign businesses to surrender their technology to continue operating there. Under the guidelines, private domestic companies are to set up government-supported, state-level laboratories in conjunction with an endeavour to develop "global leading players" in technology. Private businesses also are to be encouraged to take part in core projects, opening up private investment in areas such as industrial control systems, industrial software, computer chips, sensors and cloud systems customised to fit specific industries and intelligent platforms. Private firms that develop digital factories are to receive government support. In particular, the government is to allow more private players to enter the telecommunications sector, supporting private funding of technological research for both civil and military uses, according to the guidelines. A goal for China will be growing an army of "little giants" with specialities in one product or segment, the directive said. Despite a lack of details, the guidelines send a strong signal that Beijing is ready to let its private sector share more and more of the state research budget. What is more, the government is set to provide China's private companies with help previously reserved for state-owned enterprises. China's best-performing internet service giants already have received state aid. The Chinese government earlier this week identified internet giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – collectively known as BAT – and voice intelligence specialist iFlyTek as the first companies in China on track to spur development of next-generation artificial intelligence technologies. "The private sector is the major power and vanguard for Made in China," the government said in a statement. Meanwhile, Beijing is seeking to boost private investment by providing private businesses with orders and opportunities. Fixed-asset investment by private businesses rose just 5.8 per cent in the first 10 months of 2017 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the latest figures from the National Bureau of Statistics. That compared with 7.3 per cent growth for overall fixed-asset investment, the statistics showed. Whether Beijing's "fair play" promise to private businesses will motivate actual spending from the private sector remains to be seen. The State Council, China's cabinet, published a 36-point guideline in 2005, promising to give private investors better treatment and wider access. The results were mixed: while private firms boomed in the technology sector, private coal and steel businesses were largely squeezed out of those sectors. Ji Mo, Amundi Asset Management's chief economist for Asia excluding Japan, said private investment had typically been driven by China's vast market potential, rather than government promises. "Private investors are making decisions with their hard-earned money," Ji said. "The surge at the beginning of 2017 showed they are betting on the domestic market." Christopher Balding, an associate professor at Peking University's HSBC Business School in Shenzhen, said the slowdown in private investment might stem from improved productivity, with fewer machines or workers required to produce the same output. "As past research shows, the effort of government is minimal," Balding said. ^ top ^

'Inadequate' intellectual property rights hitting investment, says China's premier (SCMP)
2017-11-23
It is strategically important for China's economy that the country enhances protection of intellectual property rights, the state news agency Xinhua quoted Premier Li Keqiang as saying, as the cabinet promised to improve regulations. Inadequate protection of intellectual property had contributed to the decline in private investment, he added. Companies and foreign business lobbies have often accused China of doing too little to rein in risks related to intellectual property rights, despite having anti-piracy laws. To protect these rights better, the State Council, or cabinet, said the government would look into punitive fines for infringements. The cabinet plans to increase costs for those caught infringing on intellectual property rights and will make rights protection more affordable, Xinhua said. Private businesses will enjoy equal rights similar to public sector companies, it quoted a statement following a cabinet meeting chaired by Li as saying. "Enhancing the protection of intellectual property rights is a matter of overall strategic significance, and it is vital for the development of the socialist market economy," Li said. "Deficiency in [property rights protection] is a main cause for the slide in private investment … The wider opening up of the country calls for enhancing IPR protection." The cabinet vowed to "clear, revise or abolish" regulations or documents that were contradictory to the 2007 Property Rights Law and 2016 guidelines on improving property rights protection. "Wayward and arbitrary" law enforcement would be strictly prevented, it added. IPR law enforcement will be channelled towards cases related to the internet, exports and imports, as well as rural and urban areas, where counterfeiting is rampant. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

China's trade with North Korea sinks as UN sanctions cut business (SCMP)
2017-11-23
China's trade with North Korea fell to US$334.9 million in October, its lowest since February as imports sank to their weakest in years, data showed on Thursday – the latest sign that tough new sanctions cut business with its isolated neighbour. The total is down almost 20 per cent from September and compares with US$525.2 million a year ago, according to customs data. The data represents the first whole month since the latest United Nations penalties came into force on September 5, banning Pyongyang from selling coal, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood abroad. The world's second-largest economy bought goods worth US$90.75 million from North Korea in October, down sharply from US$145.8 million in September and the lowest on government records going back to January 2014, data from China's General Administration of Customs shows. Exports plunged to US$244.2 million, the weakest since February. That compares with US$266.4 million in September and US$286.9 million in October last year. Trade between the two countries has slowed this year, particularly after China banned coal purchases in February. But the pace and scale of the drop suggest the most recent curbs are hurting Pyongyang's ability to sell some critical commodities to one of its chief trading partners. The UN estimated the latest ban, imposed after its two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July, would slash North Korea's US$3 billion annual export revenue by a third. The data is also likely to underscore Beijing's strongly stated stance that it is rigorously enforcing UN resolutions aimed at reining in Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programmes. The data comes as US President Donald Trump ramps up pressure on President Xi Jinping to tighten the screws further on Pyongyang, with steps such as limits on oil exports and financial transactions. A more detailed breakdown by commodity will be released on Friday. ^ top ^

China takes aim at US sanctions on Chinese and North Korean companies (SCMP)
2017-11-22
China has lashed out at the United States for slapping sanctions on 13 Chinese and North Korean organisations for supporting Pyongyang, labelling Washington's action a wrong move. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing on Wednesday that China opposed unilateral action on North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programmes. "We consistently oppose any country adopting unilateral sanctions based on its own domestic laws and regulations and the wrong method of exercising long-arm jurisdiction," Lu said. "If other parties wish to have effective cooperation with China on this issue and really have a grasp of certain matters, they can totally share intelligence with China and cooperate with China to appropriately handle the issue." Washington adopted the sanctions this week after US President Donald Trump put North Korea on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. In most cases, the sanctions ban the organisations from using US-related bank accounts and foreign companies from doing business with them. The US action affects three Chinese companies: Dandong Kehua Economic and Trade, Dandong Xianghe Trading and Dandong Hongda Trade. The US Treasury Department said the three companies had done more than US$750 million in business with North Korea over five years until August 31, including in computers, coal and iron. Chinese national Sun Sidong and his company Dandong Dongyuan Industrial were also sanctioned for exporting over US$28 million worth of goods – including items associated with nuclear reactors – to North Korea over several years. The US Treasury Department also said Dongyuan had been linked to front companies "for weapons of mass destruction-related North Korean organisations". During his trip to the Chinese capital this month, Trump called on Beijing to work harder to prevent Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons. Beijing insisted that the crisis should be resolved through dialogue. Shou Huisheng, a researcher with Tsinghua University's National Strategy Institute, said the sanctions were an extension of Trump's policy on North Korea. "Trump will continue to use trade and investment issues to pressure China on North Korea. It is a very easy-to-use tactic for Trump, which may help him address the North Korea issue, but at the cost of failing to solve the root causes of the US-China trade imbalance," Shou said. James Acton, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said China was not willing to put more pressure on North Korea. "China made it clear not to [impose] a complete economic blockade because China is worried that it would lead to collapse of the North Korean regime," he said. Fears of a trade war between China and the US have also risen, with the US launching investigations against China, including one into Chinese regulations that force American companies operating in China to transfer technology and intellectual property rights to local business partners. Lu Xiang, a specialist on China-US relations with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that if the trade investigations led to major sanctions on Chinese companies, it would be a clear sign of damage to the bilateral relationship. ^ top ^

Air China suspends flights between Beijing, Pyongyang (SCMP)
2017-11-22
Air China has indefinitely suspended flights between Beijing and Pyongyang, citing poor demand as North Korea faces growing sanctions from the United States over its nuclear weapons and missile programmes. An official in the company's Beijing-based press office, who did not give his full name, said on Wednesday that flights were suspended because "business was not good". He declined to comment on when flights might resume. The suspension by China's national flag carrier comes soon after a visit by a senior Chinese envoy to the city and also coincides with a US decision to put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. Air China flights to Pyongyang, which have traditionally operated on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, began in 2008, but have frequently been cancelled because of unspecified problems, state media has said. Air China halted flights seasonally for winter last year, but resumed them in March. So far it is not selling tickets for any 2018 flights, according to Routes Online. One staff member in the company's Pyongyang office who declined to give his name, told Reuters that Air China can resume the flights whenever there is enough demand and the office will operate normally even while there are no scheduled flights between Beijing and Pyongyang. Air China's Beijing-based press office declined to provide further comment. The company cancelled some flights in April, but later said that it would increase their number in May. The United States has urged China to do more to press North Korea to stop what the United States sees as belligerent defiance of UN resolutions. China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it hoped all parties could contribute to resolving the issue on the Korean peninsula peacefully. It also said that it was not aware of the Air China situation, adding that airlines made their decisions based on market needs. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia attends ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting (Montsame)
2017-11-23
State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Davaasuren led the Mongolian delegation to the 13th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting held on November 20-21 in Nay Pyu Taw, Myanmar. The Meeting was attended by Foreign Ministers/ High-level Representatives of 51 Asian and European countries, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Political-Security Community. The Meeting convened under the theme 'Strengthening Partnership for Peace and Sustainable Development', providing the opportunity for ASEM partners to exchange views on relevant issues of common interests and explored most effective and efficient ways to create a stronger partnership between Asia and Europe for a future of shared, inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity. The attending Ministers held fruitful discussions on a wide range of regional and international issues as well as global challenges. During the meeting, State Secretary D.Davaasuren spoke about the 11th ASEM Summit held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in July, 2016, under the theme '20 Years of ASEM: Partnership for the Future through Connectivity' and the role of connectivity in productive cooperation between Asia and Europe. He also underlined the importance of connecting the two continents through not only ASEAN and the EU projects, but also non-ASEM programs and initiatives such as the Mongolia-China-Russia Economic Corridor. On the sidelines of the Meeting, the State Secretary held bilateral meetings with heads of delegations from Russia, Poland, Romania and the Republic of Korea. ^ top ^

Defense Minister meets DPRK Ambassador (Montsame)
2017-11-22
Mongolia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) exchanged views on the importance of Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security international conference, annually hosted by Mongolia. Minister of Defense N.Enkhbold appreciated the active participation of the DPRK in the international dialogue mechanism during his meeting with Hong Kyu, Ambassador of the DPRK to Mongolia on November 16, in connection to the completion of his tenure in Mongolia. Minister N.Enkhbold commended the contribution of Ambassador Hong Kyu into deepening Mongolia-DPRK relations. The meeting touched upon bilateral defense cooperation and its significance in strengthening military trust and mutual understanding in the region. Sides also discussed bilateral cooperation in education, culture and sports sectors and expressed mutual interests to maintain the traditional cooperation. ^ top ^

Education Minister meets ROK Labor Minister (Montsame)
2017-11-22
Minister of Education Ts.Tsogzolmaa met Kim Young-joo, Minister of Employment and Labor of the Republic of Korea on November 20. The Minister is attending the 6th ASEM Education Ministers' Meeting being held in Seoul, the Republic of Korea on November 21-22. During the meeting with Labor Minister Kim Young-joo, the Minister noted how bilateral relations are flourishing in all areas, underlining the need to pay attention to labor and employment issues. At present, more than 30 thousand Mongolians are living in the Republic of Korea. Sides exchanged views on rendering legal assistance to the Mongolian nationals in the country. The sides also discussed about conducting a study on possibilities of increasing the quota of Mongolian workers employed under labor contracts. The ASEM ministerial meeting is being attended by over 200 delegates representing ASEM member states and organizations. Lee Nak-yeon, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea delivered opening remarks at the meeting and also met the attending Education Ministers. ^ top ^

28th Congress of Mongolian People's Party begins (Montesame)
2017-11-20
The 28th Congress of the Mongolian People's Party began on November 20 at the Central Cultural Palace. The three-day meeting is being attended by 1,309 members of the party. M.Enkhbold, Chairman of the Party and Speaker of Parliament opened the Congress and delivered a speech reporting his works as the Party's Chairman for two terms, during which the Party was an opposition in Parliament (2012-2016), won majority of seats in the 2016 General Elections, and lost in the last three Presidential Elections. His speech touched upon the reasons for the Party's loss and future directions. In addition to the Chairman's report, the Congress will see reports to be presented by the Secretary-General and the Supervisory Committee. Moreover, the Congress will address political, social and economic issues of Mongolia and activities and accomplishments of the Party since the last Congress, and future objectives and directions. The MPP Congress convenes every four years to elect a new Chairman and leadership and revise the Party's Rule and programs. By far, Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh, MP D.Khayankhyarvaa and member of the MPP Conference N.Demberel are publicly known candidates for the post of the Party's Chairman. The Party's member, Head of 'Made in Mongolia' NGO G.Maitsetseg has reportedly presented her request to be nominated as well. ^ top ^

President: We should be reminded of Chinggis Khaan's wisdom (Montsame)
2017-11-20
In his speech on the National Pride Day, November 19, President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga underlined that a Government's most important purpose is to protect its people. "As Chinggis Khaan, founder of the Great Mongol Empire and Man of the Millennium taught us, protecting and caring for the people is a permanent policy of the government of Mongolia," said the President, pointing out how politicians and public servants are exploiting the ideals of governance and neglecting their duties today. Mongolia started celebrating the National Pride Day in 2012, marking the birth anniversary of Chinggis Khaan on the first day of winter on lunar calendar, as told by historians. This year, the National Pride Day was celebrated on November 19. "This day is of utmost significance to not only Mongolians, but also Mongol ethnicities spread around the globe, who are united by Chinggis Khaan's greatness, mighty honor and the wish to protect the Mongolian state rather than his own life," remarked President Kh.Battulga. "Mongolians will uphold the name of Mongolia under the glory of the Great Chinggis Khaan in the time to come," he said. The President's speech continued with an illustration of Chinggis Khaan's humble character, vision for a great leader and undeniable merits. "On this day, we should be reminded of the wisdom of Chinggis Khaan," the President said. Addressing his decision to present the Order of Chinggis Khaan to Olympic Champion N.Tuvshinbayar, the President spoke of the judoka's biggest merit – winning Mongolia's first Olympic gold medal, thus helping reunite the Mongolian people after the tragedy of July 1 Riot in 2008. "He is an excellent athlete who has never disappointed us by continuously demonstrating hard work and accomplishing great feats," the President said. President Kh.Battulga said that he wished to set an example, with the presentation of the Chinggis Khaan Order to N.Tuvshinbayar, in encouraging public servants, political figures and lawmakers to excel in their own works and serve the nation faithfully. "Without doubt, the Order of Chinggis Khaan shall be attainable to anybody, who are doing outstanding job and fulfilling their duties to the people and the nation with dedication and fairness," the President noted. ^ top ^

 

Julia Tran and 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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