espace

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
espace
espace
  5-9.2.18, No. 708  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
espace
Table of contents

Mongolia

^ top ^

 

Switzerland

Cooperation spheres for Mongolia discussed (Montsame)
2018-02-02
On February 1, Yo.Baatarbileg, MP and head of the Parliament's Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science, and A. Undraa, MP and member of the Standing Committee, held a meeting with Gabriella Spirli, Director of Cooperation, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). To begin the meeting, MP Yo.Baatarbileg appreciated SDC for its continued cooperation with Mongolian Parliament since 2002. During the meeting, the MP expressed an interest to cooperate in three spheres. He requested the SDC to collaborate in implementing a project to publisize vocational education, introducing international advanced technology for air pollution reduction, and protecting children's rights in cyber space, combating defamations on social network and preventing from distribution of false information. In turn, Gabriella Spirli thanked MPs for audience and introduced about the SDC's cooperation strategy for the next four years. She gave overall information about ongoing projects on agriculture, vocational training center and strengthening governance and reported the SDC's decision to continue its project having implemented in Zavkhan and Khovd aimags and in Ulaanbaatar city. The project, funded with the Government of Germany, aims at reducing heat losses of school and kindergarten buildings and increasing indoor temperatures in the freezing Mongolian winter. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Rex Tillerson meets China's top envoy amid trade and North Korean tensions (SCMP)
2018-02-09
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi for a working lunch on Thursday amid tensions over a possible US-China trade war and North Korean nuclear threats. Speaking before the meeting, Tillerson said: "We've had many, many good discussions, and we're going to continue these very important discussions about US-China relations. And I very much warmly, warmly welcome him here." Yang responded by thanking Tillerson and promising to "carry out the agreement between our two heads of state and push forward our very important relationship." The details of what the pair discussed in the meeting have yet to emerge, but it comes after multiple US investigations into China's trade practices. Former policymakers have warned that President Donald Trump's administration will soon announce retaliatory measures based on these investigations. In August, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer launched the Section 301 investigation into Chinese regulations that force US companies operating in China to transfer technology and intellectual property rights to local business partners. The countries are also divided on how to deal with North Korea, with China repeatedly warning the US not to attempt a pre-emptive strike on the country and Trump reportedly mulling precisely that. Concerns were also raised at the end of January, when a prospective US ambassador to South Korea was dropped from his planned post, reportedly because he objected to the idea of a so-called bloody nose strike to cow Kim Jong-un. Trump's search for a US ambassador to Seoul, a position that has been vacant since he took office, continues. ^ top ^

China plans sea-based anti-missile shields 'for Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean' (SCMP)
2018-02-08
China is developing sea-based anti-missile systems and plans to deploy them in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, according to military experts. The assessment came as Beijing announced it had carried out a successful test of its ground-based mid-course defence system on Monday. Testing of the anti-ballistic missile system that could shield China from a ballistic missile attack is part of efforts to catch up with the top nuclear nations with anti-missile technology, the United States and Russia. China previously carried out tests of the system in 2010 and 2013. Beijing is also working on a sea-based system for the Asia-Pacific region to breach the cold war era line of containment, according to observers. The "first island chain" is a series of archipelagos lying between China and the world's largest ocean that Beijing says has been used by the United States as a natural barrier to contain it since the cold war. "China's sea-based anti-missile system aims to defend both its territory and overseas interests, because sea-based defence systems will be set up wherever its warships can go," said Song Zhongping, a military commentator on Phoenix Television. "The first area it will target is the Asia-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean to protect its overseas interests." China has been trying to build up a blue-water navy that can operate globally and safeguard its maritime interests. Observers have said Beijing plans to have four aircraft carrier battle groups in service by 2030. And with three-quarters of its oil imports passing through the Indian Ocean or Strait of Malacca, Beijing is looking to boost maritime defence. "With the US and other countries taking on the Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China, Beijing will definitely deploy anti-missile systems in these areas in response," said Song, a former member of the People's Liberation Army's Second Artillery Corps. Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong said China had developed a new generation sea-based HQ-26 anti-missile system with an ultra long-range 3,500km cruise missile. The system is expected to be installed on the country's biggest destroyer, the Type 055, which has a maximum displacement of 13,500 tonnes. Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said sea-based mid-course interceptors were designed to destroy enemy warheads in space, which is not covered by international law. The latest mid-course anti-missile test was conducted amid simmering tensions over North Korea's nuclear ambitions and rising concerns about India's growing missile capabilities. Military analyst Zhou Chenming said Beijing was sending a message that they were still relatively small nuclear nations. India successfully tested an Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on January 18 that, with a range of 5,000km, could land a nuclear warhead almost anywhere on the Chinese mainland. And in November, North Korea claimed to have successfully launched a Hwasong-15 ICBM with an estimated range of 13,000km – meaning it could land a nuclear warhead on the US mainland. "China's mid-course anti-missile system is powerful enough to shoot down missiles from North Korea and India, though it's not clear whether it could intercept an ICBM from the US if they start firing at each other," Zhou said. He added that China needed anti-missile shields to defend itself. "The US... owns 6,800 nuclear warheads, while China has just a few hundred – that's why Beijing needs to develop anti-missile systems for defence," Zhou said. ^ top ^

Boosting ties with 'good neighbours' in Asean top priority, Chinese defence minister says (SCMP)
2018-02-08
China's defence minister told a meeting with his Asean counterparts that improving ties in Southeast Asia was a top priority for Beijing, calling on the two sides to tackle obstacles in the way of better relations. Chang Wanquan, who is also a State Councillor, made the remarks on Tuesday at an informal meeting with defence ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore, according to a statement from the ministry on Thursday. "China regards Asean members as good neighbours, good friends and good partners that can... prosper and endure shared threats together," Chang told the ministers. The meeting wrapped up on Wednesday with Singapore's defence ministry announcing that Asean and China would hold their first maritime military exercise at the end of this year. The two sides agreed to hold a "table-top exercise" – simulating an emergency situation – in China, possibly in October, Kyodo reported. That would be followed by a field training drill in the waters of an Asean member, possibly the Philippines, in late November or December. The Asean defence ministers also said they wanted to expedite negotiations on a code of conduct for the South China Sea and another for unexpected encounters in the air over the disputed waters. The talks came after a senior US diplomat touting American weapons at a Singapore trade show called on Southeast Asian nations to take a stronger stand on their interests in the South China Sea. Separately on Wednesday, China's air force announced that its Su-35 fighter jets, one of its most advanced warplanes, had recently taken part in a combat patrol over the waterway. The People's Liberation Army Air Force said the military drill was a "pragmatic action" aimed at fulfilling "its mission in the new era". Diplomatic observers said Chang's remarks were intended to ease Asean's growing security concerns about China's military build-up over the South China Sea. "Chang's words reflect China's desire to diminish US influence in the region, and they're also aimed at reassuring Asean about its concerns and suspicions towards China," said Dai Fan, a Southeast Asian affairs expert from Jinan University in Guangzhou. "But I doubt the Asean members will be convinced. They'll be keeping a close eye on what China actually does, rather than what it says." Collin Koh, a military expert from Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, noted that it was uncommon for a senior Chinese official to offer such reassurance, but agreed Asean members were more interested in its actions. "The words present an increasingly mixed and somewhat uncertain picture to Asean countries," Koh said. "On the one hand, China has put its military forces to good use for international security, such as countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden. But on the other hand, China's increased muscle flexing in the region and island building could add to Asean's wariness." The US is meanwhile edging closer to Asean members as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy. Washington has announced that one of its aircraft carriers will next month make a port call in Vietnam – once America's foe but now the most vocal regional opponent to Beijing's vast claims to the contested waters. And in his first state-of-the-union address last month, Trump named China as a major US economic and military competitor. He also vowed to boost American defences to counter threats from China and Russia. Asean comprises 10 member states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ^ top ^

Why Asean wants a code of conduct for the skies over the South China Sea (SCMP)
2018-02-08
As Singapore tries to get Asean members to agree this year on a code of conduct to manage unexpected encounters in the skies over the South China Sea, China is planning to step up flight drills in the area. Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen expressed the hope that Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries could expedite negotiations at a meeting of defence ministers on Wednesday. Chinese President Xi Jinping has meanwhile vowed to build a combat-ready military with more regular land, sea and air drills. A code of conduct for unexpected encounters on the water in the South China Sea was signed between Asean and Beijing in February last year. A similar code covering airspace could reduce the risk of miscalculation and mishaps, and provide measures for de-escalation should they be needed for air force encounters in the area. Beijing insists it has sovereignty over almost all the South China Sea but Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taipei and Vietnam also have claims to the waters. Here are some of China's major aircraft activities over the South China Sea: February 2018: The air force said on Wednesday its fighter jets recently flew over the South China Sea. Photos on the People's Liberation Army Air Force official Weibo page showed Sukhoi Su-35 jets that it said were in the region on "combat patrol". It did not say when the exercise took place but said it was part of the air force's blue-water training. China has confirmed that it bought 24 of the Su-35 jets from Russia in November 2015. The Su-35 is the latest of Russia's Flanker series – a fifth-generation combat aircraft designed for ground attack and air defence missions. February 2017: A Chinese and a US military plane came "inadvertently" close near the disputed Scarborough Shoal on February 11 last year, in what the US Pacific Command officials described as an "extremely rare" and "unsafe" incident, the Navy Times reported. The two planes – a US Navy P-3 aircraft and a Chinese KJ-200 airborne early warning aircraft – flew within 305 metres of each other in the general vicinity of the disputed islets. The report said the US plane altered course to avoid a collision. Meanwhile, an unnamed Chinese defence official was quoted by state-run Global Times as saying that the US plane "approached within close proximity" of the Chinese plane, which was on a routine mission, and that the Chinese pilot took "legal and professional measures" to handle the situation. April 2001: An intercept of a US EP-3 aircraft by a Chinese fighter jet resulted in a mid-air collision that killed pilot Wang Wei and forced the Americans to make an emergency landing in Hainan province in April 2001. The crash occurred about 80km (50 miles) southeast of China's Hainan Island above the South China Sea. The US aircraft, which had taken off from the American air base in Okinawa, Japan, landed on Hainan but the Chinese plane crashed into the sea. China held the 24 US crew members for 11 days after the collision in a stand-off that caused turmoil in US-China relations. The plane was kept in Hainan for three months until it was sent back to the US base. ^ top ^

China dismisses accusations that it is 'buying up the Maldives' (SCMP)
2018-02-08
China dismissed accusations from the former leader of the Maldives that it is attempting to effectively buy up the Indian Ocean island state, while the Maldives government said on Thursday it is sending envoys to three countries to explain its ongoing political crisis. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Chinese economic assistance came without political conditions and called recent remarks by exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed "totally groundless". "China's aid to the Maldives has no political strings attached and does not harm the Maldives' sovereignty and independence at all, still less jeopardise security in the Indian Ocean," Geng said at a regularly scheduled news conference. Nasheed is wrapped up in the political turmoil that has swept the archipelago nation since the Supreme Court ordered his release in absentia as well as the release of several other jailed opposition leaders. Current President Yameen Abdul Gayoom rejected the order and declared a state of emergency this week in which two of the justices were arrested. Yameen has cracked down on civil liberties since coming to power in 2013, imprisoning or forcing into exile nearly every political leader who opposes him. Nasheed told reporters late last month in the neighbouring country of Sri Lanka that Yameen has opened the doors to Chinese investment without regard for procedure or transparency. China, Nasheed said, "is busy buying up the Maldives", adding that this year's presidential election could be the last chance to extricate the Maldives from increasing Chinese influence. During a visit by Yameen to Beijing in December, the two countries signed a trade agreement that eliminates most tariffs on Maldivian exports, primarily fish, and opens the Maldives to Chinese goods and services, including in finance, health care and tourism. The Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands with fewer than 400,000 citizens, more than one-third of them living in the crowded capital city, Male. Tourism now dominates the economy, with wealthy foreigners flown to hyper-expensive resort islands. China is already the Maldives' primary source of tourists and is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in an airport expansion, housing development and other projects. China considers the Maldives a key cog in its "Belt and Road Initiative" along ancient trade routes through the Indian Ocean and Central Asia. The initiative is Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature project and envisages building ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a vast arc of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe. China's massive lending to poor nations for such projects has raised concerns about their ability to repay, as well as fuelling fears in rival India that Beijing is methodically working to shrink New Delhi's influence in the Indian Ocean. Already, Beijing has taken over ports it developed in Sri Lanka and Pakistan on long-term leases. Highlighting China's importance to Yameen, it was among the three "friendly nations" to which the Maldives said it was sending envoys to explain the current political situation. The others are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Yameen's government has close ties with all three nations. Nasheed, meanwhile, sought aid from neighbouring India earlier this week, asking it to intervene in the crisis that erupted on February 1 with the Supreme Court ruling. India has said it was monitoring the situation in the Maldives and has expressed concern about the state of emergency but little more.On Thursday, Maldives ambassador to India Ahmed Mohamed tweeted that his government was also eager to send an envoy to New Delhi, but the dates proposed for the visit were "not suitable" for Indian officials. "We await the convenience" of the government of India, he added. On Monday, Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency, giving his government sweeping powers, including to make arrests, search and seize property, and restrict freedom of assembly. Hours after the state of emergency was declared, security forces in riot gear and blue camouflage uniforms stormed the Supreme Court building to arrest Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed. Saeed's lawyer said his client was forcefully dragged on the floor from his chambers by security personnel. Lawyer Hisaan Hussain said he was gravely concerned by the government's reaction to the court ruling, saying it is a "blatant violation and completely erodes the doctrine of separation of powers". He called for his client's immediate release. The acting national police chief, Abdulla Nawaz, said on Wednesday that police had proof of bribes and found "piles of cash under the bed" of an arrested judicial official who is accused of influencing the court justices. Since the detentions, the three Supreme Court justices who were not arrested have annulled the court's order to free the imprisoned opposition politicians. The United Nations, India and other foreign governments have expressed concern over the state of emergency and have urged Yameen to respect the earlier court order. ^ top ^

India missile tests have China as obvious target (Global Times)
2018-02-08
India's frequent missile tests are aimed at China as an enemy, specialists said after India reportedly test-fired a Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile on Wednesday. India successfully launched its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile on Wednesday from a test range in the eastern state of Odisha, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported on Wednesday, citing an Indian defense official. "India's frequent missile test launches are aimed at China. India regards China as its enemy which is unfair as China has never regarded India as a threat," Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. "China does not seek an arms race in Asia. India's economy is still underdeveloped and China hopes to maintain peace and stability in the region alongside India," Hu said. The Prithvi-II has a strike range of 350 kilometers and is capable of carrying 500 to 1,000 kilograms of warheads, PTI reported. The launch came after the trial of an Agni-5 missile on January 18 and another Agni-1 missile test conducted on Tuesday. The Prithvi uses combined guidance which makes its accuracy higher than the Agni series and it is capable of carrying either nuclear weapons or normal warheads, according to Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert and TV commentator. This makes it more practical in military conflict, he noted. On Monday, China conducted a successful test of its ground-based mid-course defense system, the Ministry of National Defense announced Tuesday. The missile interception test was defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country, the ministry said. China's anti-aircraft missile systems are surely capable of intercepting India's missiles, no matter whether they are Agni or Prithvi series, Song said. ^ top ^

Faki refutes report accusing China of spying on AU (Xinhua)
2018-02-08
The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said Thursday that accusations that China was spying on the AU are just rumors. Faki made the remarks while meeting press with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi after they co-hosted the 7th China-AU strategic dialogue in Beijing. It was Faki's first visit to China since he assumed office in March 2017. Faki said the ties between China and AU were "unshakable," and such reports could not damage their relations. Faki noted that it was impossible and unnecessary for China to spy on the AU. The French newspaper Le Monde has said China had bugged the AU Conference Center it had built and gifted to the AU in 2012, and had been downloading data from servers in the building. "Now we are willing to cooperate more with China to benefit African people, and such rumors will not distract us," Faki told reporters. Calling the AU Conference Center a symbol of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, Wang said China would never allow any person or any force to smear such a relationship. "The AU and African people are best qualified to speak on the cooperation between China and Africa," Wang said. Having dubbed the accusations as "the mindset of sour grapes," Wang said all such rumors were futile and attempts to sow dissension between China and Africa were doomed to fail in front of fruitful China-Africa cooperation. ^ top ^

Chinese president meets Dutch king, calls for closer cooperation on B&R construction (Xinhua)
2018-02-07
China and the Netherlands on Wednesday agreed to carry out more mutually beneficial cooperation through joint implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2018. The agreement was reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Dutch King Willem-Alexander during their meeting in Beijing. The president welcomed the royal couple's visit, from Feb. 7 to 8, ahead of the upcoming Chinese New Year. Xi recalled his state visit to the Netherlands in 2014, when the two sides set up an open and practical China-Netherlands comprehensive cooperative partnership. "Through joint efforts by both sides, the consensus we reached and the outcomes of our mutual visits have been implemented," said Xi, noting that bilateral relations have entered the best period in history. He lauded the growing political mutual trust, mutual respect of each other's core interests and major concerns, as well as the fruitful cooperation in trade, investment, innovation and culture between the two countries. China-Netherlands relations are currently at a new starting point, said Xi, suggesting the two sides carry out more mutually beneficial cooperation through the Belt and Road construction. For his part, King Willem-Alexander extended his Chinese New Year's greetings to President Xi and the Chinese people. He wished China more achievements in the new year and new development in bilateral ties. Congratulating on the success of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the Dutch king said China has a bright future for its development. The Netherlands has always attached great importance to developing relations with China, he said, adding the Netherlands would like to actively participate in the Belt and Road construction. He said the Netherlands is willing to participate in the first China International Import Expo, which is slated to be held in Shanghai from Nov. 5 to 10 this year. The Netherlands hopes to enhance cooperation with China in international and regional affairs, the king said. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also met with the Dutch monarch on Wednesday. Li said the Netherlands is a world leader in terms of agriculture and agricultural technology, port logistics and port management. China is willing to enhance cooperation with the Netherlands in the aforementioned areas, expand bilateral trade, strengthen the exchange of technology, facilitate customs clearance, and better dovetail the Belt and Road Initiative with Dutch development plans, said Li. Saying that the relations between the Netherlands and China are at their best time in history, the king noted that his country is China's third-largest trade partner within the European Union and can serve as China's gateway to the European Union. He encouraged China to expand investment in the Netherlands, calling for more trade exchanges and cooperation on agriculture, logistics and transportation between the two countries and advancing two-way opening of their markets. This is the Dutch king's second visit to China since he ascended the throne in April 2013, following the abdication of his mother, Queen Beatrix. ^ top ^

China calls on foreign enterprises to follow basic ground rules (Xinhua)
2018-02-07
China on Wednesday called on foreign enterprises to follow basic ground rules, after Mercedes-Benz apologized for putting a poster with quotes from the Dalai Lama on its Instagram account. "Correcting one's mistakes is a fundamental basis for one to behave and do business," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Wednesday at a daily press briefing. This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. And cooperation with foreign enterprises over the past 40 years is not only beneficial to China, but also brings huge profits to foreign companies, said Geng. China will continue to cooperate with foreign enterprises and hope that they will follow basic ground rules, he added. ^ top ^

China to invest 800 mln USD in B&R project in Abu Dhabi (Xinhua)
2018-02-07
Twelve Chinese companies will invest more than 800 million U.S. dollars in a Belt and Road project in Abu Dhabi, creating more than 2,000 jobs. Agreements have been signed between the companies, 10 of which are from east China's Jiangsu Province, with the Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company (JOCIC), which is in charge of developing 2.2 square kilometers of land at the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad). China will build the industrial cooperation demonstration park within Kizad to boost practical cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. The government of Jiangsu said it will build the industrial park into a landmark program of China's Belt and Road Initiative, attracting companies from both inside and outside the province. Construction of the industrial park started in January. ^ top ^

Surging Sinophobia in US shows lack of confidence (Global Times)
2018-02-06
Increasing concern and worry about China's so-called "infiltration" shows a lack of confidence among Western countries, said experts, suggesting it's a clear sign of unwarranted Sinophobia. Since the concept of "Sharp Power" - a disparaging term invented by Western academics to describe "rising authoritarian influence" - emerged last year, many Western countries have shown increasing concern about China's global outreach. Politico, a US political news website, reported on Monday that US Republican Senator Marco Rubio is now pushing five Florida educational institutions to end partnerships with China's worldwide culture and education program known as the Confucius Institute. Rubio accused the institute, which are often small on-campus offices run mainly by volunteers, of attempting to "infiltrate American classrooms." In Europe, some scholars are also adding fuel to the fire. "Political elites in the EU and its close neighbors have started to embrace Chinese rhetoric and interests, including where they contradict national or European interests," said a study released Monday and financed by two Berlin-based think tanks - the Global Public Policy Institute and the Mercator Institute for China Studies. A report by the European Council on Foreign Relations released last December came to similar conclusions. China has an ancient saying, "the magistrates are free to burn down houses, while the common people are forbidden even to light the lamps," which is what the West is doing now, said Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China. Many Western media, think tanks, education organizations, foundations, NGOs and enterprises with links or sponsorships from Western governments and politicians have been trying for decades to affect China's policymaking and public opinion, and now that China has the ability to "return the favor," the West has suddenly taken offense, Wang said. With China's rapid and stable development, the demand for cooperation and exchanges with China among the Western countries are real and unstoppable, and negating these normal activities is meaningless, and only shows a lack of confidence, Wang said. Face reality Western countries should learn to respect China's legal and reasonable interests, and not harm China's core interests, otherwise it would only make them more divided, "because China is already capable of effectively influencing them," said Song Luzheng, a France-based scholar and research fellow of Fudan University's China Institute. This situation also reflects that the West is getting less and less confident, Song added. "In Europe, because of Brexit, populism and the migrant crisis, European integration is facing challenge, so it is understandable to see the EU being worried and suspicious." Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) and some other EU members hold drastically different views than the EU on China's cooperation with these countries, which is actually helping to boost their economic power to deal with the EU's pressure, Song further noticed. During the 16+1 summit between China and the CEEC last year, the EU expressed concern about China's influence in Europe, but leaders and elites from CEEC said that the EU had failed to help the block of countries improve their economies. "China will continue to support the unity of the EU and European integration, and China, just like any other major powers, has the right to safeguard its interests and shape its international image through economic and cultural measures. As long as the EU is friendly to China, it has no need to worry," Song said. ^ top ^

State-run Chinese paper confident Beijing will establish ties with Vatican (SCMP)
2018-02-06
Beijing and the Vatican will establish formal diplomatic relations sooner or later because Pope Francis has the "wisdom" to resolve problems between the two sides, a state-run Chinese newspaper said on Tuesday. A framework accord between the Vatican and Beijing on the appointment of bishops was ready and could be signed in a few months in what would be a historic breakthrough in relations, a senior Vatican source said last week. An even partial resolution of the thorny issue of who gets to appoint bishops could open the way for a resumption of diplomatic relations nearly 70 years after they were cut. Beijing has so far said little about the talks. However, the widely read tabloid the Global Times said a deal between Beijing and the Vatican would be "tremendously beneficial to Catholics". "Despite the difficult process, China's vast numbers of non-Catholics have never been strongly against the Vatican. The Chinese public generally respects each Pope," it said in an editorial in its Chinese and English-language editions. "Beijing and the Vatican will establish diplomatic relations sooner or later … Pope Francis has a positive image with the Chinese public. It is expected he will push China-Vatican ties forward and solve related problems with his wisdom," it said. The newspaper is published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, but, unlike its sister publication, does not speak for the party or the government. The moves have not been without controversy in the church. Cardinal Joseph Zen, 86, the outspoken former bishop of Hong Kong, caused a stir with a Facebook post last week that was highly critical of the Vatican's recent overtures to Beijing. Another source of friction with Beijing is the Vatican's maintenance of official ties with self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a wayward province to be taken back by force if necessary. "The Taiwan question isn't Beijing's top concern in handling its relations with the Vatican as the mainland has many tools to pressure Taiwan," it said. The Vatican is Taipei's sole remaining European diplomatic ally. Beijing has been ramping up the pressure on Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party won presidential elections in 2016. ^ top ^

Chinese worker killed in 'targeted attack' after his car was riddled with bullets in Karachi, Pakistan (SCMP)
2018-02-06
A Chinese man working with a shipping company in Pakistan was shot dead on Monday in what police described as a targeted attack in Karachi, police and hospital officials said. While there was no claim of responsibility and the motive was not immediately clear, the China government in December warned its nationals in Pakistan about plans for imminent attacks on Chinese targets there. The man, identified as Chen Zhu, 45, was in his car when he was attacked in an upmarket area of the port city of Karachi. At least 10 shots were fired at the car, and Chen suffered a single bullet wound in the head, police said. Hospital officials said Zhu was admitted in a critical condition, but later died. "The incident appears to be [a] targeted attack, [it] doesn't look [like] a mugging," said Azad Khan, deputy inspector general of Karachi's south zone. "The victim is associated with Cosco Shipping Lines Co, a Chinese shipping company. We are trying to get further details," Khan added. Another officer, Javed Akbar Riaz, confirmed that Chen had an employee ID from Cosco. The shipping company could not be reached for comment in Karachi on Monday. Tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have come to Pakistan, but the new arrivals face dangers, creating a headache for Pakistani security officials. Chinese presence is growing in Pakistan as Beijing has pledged US$57 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship "Belt and Road" project that first focused on Chinese firms building roads and power stations but is now expanding to include setting up industries. Islamic State's abduction and killing last June of two Chinese nationals in the southwestern province of Baluchistan highlighted the security risks that have put off many Western companies. Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, still has a reputation for gang shootings and other violence, despite a paramilitary crackdown that began in 2013 and sharply reduced killings. Two employees of a shipping firm were targeted in an upscale neighbourhood while out shopping for groceries on Monday. Khan says the perpetrators fired nine shots before fleeing in a car. He says one victim was shot twice in the head and died at a hospital while the other was shot in the leg. China has invested heavily in transport projects in Pakistan as the two countries have strengthened ties in recent years. ^ top ^

Land reclamation to expand in South China Sea islands (Global Times)
2018-02-05
China is concentrating on civil - not military - construction on islands in the South China Sea and will expand land reclamation, Chinese experts said on Monday. "Most of the construction on islands in the South China Sea were completed in 2015 and the pace then slowed. Civilian facility construction is the major focus of the South China Sea islands building and the portion of defense deployment is relatively small," Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times. China has almost finished transforming seven reefs in the South China Sea into "island fortresses," and the move is to "dominate" the South China Sea, according to an exclusive report published in the Philippine newspaper the Inquirer on Sunday. The size of some South China Sea islands will be further expanded in future through more dredging in the South China Sea region, Chen said. The relationship between China and other Southeast Asian countries, such as the Philippines, has becalmed in recent years, providing a golden opportunity for China to upgrade these areas, he said. Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told the Strait Times last week the South China Sea was "much more calm now," and that Singapore will help broker talks on a maritime code of conduct. Balakrishnan's remarks reflect China's confident cooperation with Association of Southeast Asian Nations on maintaining regional peace and stability, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday. China and the Philippines are enjoying good terms as President Rodrigo Duterte maintains a friendly policy toward China, Chen said. "But there is still some domestic pressure that urges Duterte to take a tough stance on China and the South China Sea issue," Chen said. Foreign media liked to hype China's construction in the South China Sea as they try to make excuses to prevent China's activities in this region, Zhuang Guotu, head of Xiamen University's Southeast Asian Studies Center, told the Global Times. "China has the right to build whatever it needs within its territory," Zhuang said. China's military deployment in the South China Sea region was "not for military expansion," but to defend its security and interests, he said. Zhuang and Chen warned the US is the biggest threat to stability in the South China Sea. "The US, Australia, Japan and other allies will constantly provoke China over this issue and that will incite other neighboring South China Sea countries to do the same," Zhuang said. China's construction projects in the region covered about 290,000 square meters in 2017, including new facilities for underground storage, administrative buildings and large radar, according to a report released in December on the nanhai.haiwainet.cn website run by the National Marine Data and Information Service and People's Daily Overseas edition. The guided missile destroyer USS Hopper came within 12 nautical miles of Huangyan Island in January and Chinese missile destroyer Huangshan immediately drove it away, China News Service English service reported in January. ^ top ^

Red Cross Society promises further aid to Syrian, Palestinian refugees (Global Times)
2018-02-05
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will continue to provide assistance to refugees who are in urgent need of help, IFRC's Vice Chairman Chen Zhu said Sunday. Chen made the remarks during his visit, accompanied by Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian, to the Guob Elias Syrian refugee camp located in the Beqaa Valley in eastern Lebanon. The IFRC senior official was briefed by the Red Cross staff on the current conditions of the camp, before talking to the refugees in the camp over their living standards, as well as their medical and educational circumstances. Earlier in the day, Chen took a trip to the al-Nasira hospital in Beqaa Valley, during which he hailed the hospital's efforts in providing medical assistance to Palestinian and Syrian refugees. Chen, who is also head of the Red Cross Society of China, said that the Red Cross Society of China is looking forward to enhancing cooperation with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society to better help the refugees worldwide. Chen arrived in Lebanon's capital Beirut Saturday and held talk with the Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. ^ top ^

China firmly opposes U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (Xinhua)
2018-02-04
China firmly opposes the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) published by the United States Department of Defense, a spokesman from China's National Defense Ministry said Sunday. The U.S. document presumptuously speculated about the intentions behind China's development and played up the threat of China's nuclear strength, spokesman Ren Guoqiang said. The 74-page report cast China as "a major challenge to U.S. interests in Asia," saying the U.S. strategy for China is designed to "prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding that it could secure an advantage through the limited use of its theater nuclear capabilities or that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable." Ren reaffirmed that China will resolutely stick to peaceful development and pursue a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. China has adhered to the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances. Under no circumstances will China use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones, he said. China has always exercised the utmost restraint in the development of nuclear weapons and limited its nuclear capabilities to the minimum level required for national security, he added. The United States, which possesses the world's largest nuclear weapons arsenal, should conform to the irreversible world trend of peace and development rather than run in the opposite direction, Ren said. "We hope the U.S. side will discard its 'cold-war mentality,' shoulder its own special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament, understand correctly China's strategic intentions and take a fair view on China's national defense and military development," he said. He urged the U.S. side to meet China halfway to make military relations between the two sides a stable factor in bilateral relations, and jointly safeguard global peace, stability and prosperity. ^ top ^

China continues to pursue major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics (Xinhua)
2018-02-03
China will continue to break new ground in pursuing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era, said an article under the byline of Foreign Minister Wang Yi. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a developing country, China needs to consider and contribute to global wellbeing, shoulder its due international responsibilities and play its role as a major country in promoting common development, according to the article carried by the China International Studies, a bi-monthly periodical. "We will take a longer and broader perspective, and be even more open-minded and resourceful in our diplomacy," Wang said. "We will give more consideration to the overall interests of the world and humanity, and work in a proactive manner." China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, and strengthen friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, Wang said. "We will firmly uphold the existing international system with the UN at the core, and protect and expand the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries," he said. China will follow the principle of achieving shared benefits through consultation and collaboration in engaging in global governance, and strive for a more equitable and fairer international political and economic order, according to Wang. China will continue to treat all countries as equals, address international disputes through peaceful means, and work for greater democracy and rule of law in international relations, he said. "We will continue to act as a responsible major country to contribute to world peace, promote global development, and uphold the international order," Wang said. ^ top ^

Beijing sends in new envoy in sign it wants bigger role for Afghanistan in 'New Silk Road' (SCMP)
2018-02-02
Beijing is poised to step up security and economic engagement with Afghanistan, naming an official who has worked on President Xi Jinping's signature trade initiative as its new envoy in Kabul. The appointment of Liu Jinsong as ambassador is a sign that Beijing wants the war-torn nation to play a bigger role in the strategy, observers said. Liu was raised in the northwest Xinjiang region and was a director of the Silk Road Fund established under the "Belt and Road Initiative", a sprawling plan to boost trade and infrastructure links with nations from Asia to Africa and Europe. Xi's announcement on Monday that Liu was the new envoy came after Beijing said it wanted to include Afghanistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, under which China is developing the Gwadar port, where it is reportedly planning to build a military base. "The appointment of Liu is a carefully considered one – he was raised in Xinjiang and has experience in South Asia," said Liu Zongyi, a senior fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. "China is spearheading economic cooperation and development for regional security, especially around its neighbours." Liu was born in eastern Zhejiang in 1972 but was raised in the restive region of Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uygur minority. Beijing has claimed Uygur extremists receive jihadist training in neighbouring countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan before returning to the region to launch violent attacks. Liu joined the foreign ministry's Asian affairs department in 1993 and became deputy director of its international economic cooperation office. He was one of the directors of the Silk Road Fund from 2012 to 2015. The 100 billion yuan (US$15.88 billion) fund was established by Beijing to foster investment in countries involved in the belt and road plan. He was previously counsellor at the Chinese embassy in India. China has been calling for trilateral cooperation with Pakistan and Afghanistan. In December, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing and Islamabad would look at extending the US$57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Kabul, as Beijing called for more talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan at a time when their relations have become strained over Taliban insurgents. Six projects have been earmarked for cooperation, including a motorway linking Peshawar and Kabul, and a trans-Afghan highway linking Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. "China has stepped up engagement with Pakistan and Afghanistan, hoping to improve the relationship between the two nations and help promote security in the region through infrastructure and economic cooperation," Liu Zongyi said. "Liu Jinsong's experience in India and the foreign ministry international economic office make him a suitable choice for the job." In a seminar in Kabul on Wednesday, the new ambassador said China would spare no effort to boost cultural and economic relations between Beijing and Kabul. Liu said China would continue to support the reconstruction process to create a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. But observers said China would find it difficult to achieve its goals because of uncertainty over the US strategy on Afghanistan, with US President Donald Trump sending in more troops. "This may lead to armed forces in Afghanistan and Taliban intensifying their attacks, creating security risks," said Du Youkang, director of the Centre for South Asia Studies at Fudan University. "How is it possible to boost economic cooperation when the situation is so chaotic?" ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China stresses absolute Party leadership over courts (Xinhua)
2018-02-06
A senior Chinese official has called on courts at various levels to uphold the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Guo Shengkun, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a national meeting on courts Monday. The defining feature and strength of socialistic rule of law with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the CPC, said Guo. He asked those working in courts to strengthen their consciousness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core, and remain in alignment. They were also called on to fully understand the Party's decision in pushing forward a partial revision of the Constitution and to consciously safeguard the authority of the Constitution. In addition, judges were asked to exercise their adjudicative power independently and impartially in accordance with the law. Guo also called for further reform of the courts to boost their credibility. Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, attended the meeting. ^ top ^

China's military fires up world first in revolutionary rail gun technology (SCMP)
2018-02-06
China is believed to be testing the world's first ship-mounted rail gun, a technology that military experts say has the potential to fire shells with enough force to destroy a warship and precision to shoot down a satellite. The controversial development comes as China seeks to transform its navy into a blue-water force capable of rivalling the United States and projecting power far from home shores. Photographs of a rail gun mounted on a warship docked in Wuhan, Hubei province, have surfaced on Chinese military websites in the last week, indicating the People's Liberation Army Navy is testing the electromagnetic weapon and has been able to make it more compact. Rail guns fire shells using electromagnetic force rather than traditional explosive propulsion systems. They are designed to fire the projectiles with more accuracy and power and over a longer range, but are also extremely expensive. The US has researched and tested rail guns for years, with prototypes firing projectiles at up to 7,800km/hour over a 150km range. The cost of the projectiles was reportedly US$1 million per round. But the Chinese device appears to be the first mounted on a ship. The rail gun uses electromagnetic technology known as IEPS that state media confirmed last year would power China's first home-grown aircraft carrier. The system was developed by a team headed by decorated PLA naval engineer Rear Admiral Ma Weiming, who told state broadcaster CCTV in July that his ultimate goal was to install weapons such as rail guns on the carrier. China's state-run Science and Technology Daily reported on Monday that the cutting-edge technology would be deployed on the Type-055, the country's biggest guided-missile destroyer designed as part of future aircraft carrier battle groups. But sources close to Chinese military told the South China Morning Post that the destroyer's propulsion system and internal design were not suited for the rail gun. The gun in the photographs was installed on a Type-072 landing ship refitted to house the bulky electrical equipment. Song Zhongping, military commentator and former member of the PLA's Second Artillery Corps, said future generations of the destroyer could be fitted with the weapon down the track. Song said China was closing the gap with the US and it was possible that China could eventually abandon explosives in favour of electromagnetic systems. "China has spared no effort to catch up the US' electromagnetic technology, to turn the new technology into an all-purpose propulsion system for wide use in ship-mounted weapons and maglev trains and even to replace rockets to launch satellites into the space," he said. "The leaked photos show China is now not only catching up to the US in ship-borne rail gun technology, but may surpass the US in next five to 10 years. This is because the US needs more time to approve budgets while China's political system allows it to put more funding into special projects." The US Naval Institute reported last month that the US Navy scrapped plans in 2016 to buy 2,000 rail gun projectiles but would continue to monitor new technologies that could be incorporated into its existing systems. Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said the purchase stalled because of the expensive technology's low return on investment. "The US is hesitating because the cost of the new weapon's development is huge, while its practicability is debatable," Zhou said. "Proponents argue that [rail guns] can hit targets several thousand kilometres away guided by the space-based Global Positioning System. But [the US] air force can hit long-range targets easily by dropping cruise missiles from their stealth bombers or fighters, something that is much more cost-effective." Military insiders said the high cost of and Ma's involvement in the Chinese rail gun project also made it contentious. "The decision to develop the costly electromagnetic rail gun also provoked debate because so far only Ma and his team are the only electromagnetic experts developing it," one insider said. "But Ma's team has the backing of the leadership and that is also the reason why the electromagnetic technology has been developed so fast in China." Last year Chinese President Xi Jinping awarded Ma, 57, the country's highest military honour, the Order of August 1. ^ top ^

Chinese police increase use of smart tech in arrests (Global Times)
2018-02-06
Police in Central China's Henan Province used a new type of smart glasses to arrest wrongdoers in the province's railway station. Police at the Zhengzhou East Railway Station arrested seven people suspected of being involved in kidnapping and hit-and-run cases, China News Service reported. Twenty-six others who were using fake IDs were also arrested. "The facial information captured by the glasses will be sent back to a database for comparison with the information of suspects on the wanted list," Zhang Xiaolei, an employee at the publicity office of Henan's Department of Public Security, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Zhang said the new technology only requires one facial image for a similarity comparison in the database. Previously multiple facial pictures from different angles were necessary to achieve the same result, he added. Zhang also said that the main targets of the similarity comparison are wanted people whose information is stored in the database. Police have been using the smart glasses at the four entrances to the Zhengzhou East Railway Station in Henan since the Spring Festival travel rush began on Thursday. The train station sees around 60,000 passengers a day and is expected to peak at 90,000 people per day during the rush, Zhengzhou-based Dahe Daily reported. "I took the high-speed train from Zhengzhou East Railway Station on Sunday, and it didn't feel any difference from my previous trip. I didn't notice any police using special devices," Wang Chuanxi, who often runs errands between Beijing and Zhengzhou, told the Global Times on Tuesday. It's not the first time police use smart equipment in China. During the National Day holidays in October 2017, police on a highway in Lanzhou, Northwest China's Gansu Province were seen wearing a special type of smart glasses called X-Mars, which were used to help police record the law enforcement process, local newspaper Lanzhou Morning Post reported. Police in East China's Anhui Province have also ramped up efforts to make use of the voice recognition and analysis system to crack down on crimes such as telecoms fraud, drug deals and kidnappings, the Xinhua News Agency reported in October 2017. The voice recognition technology could identify a suspect by accent, or provide information on gender, height and weight, according to the report of Xinhua. ^ top ^

China unveils action plan for improving rural living environment (Xinhua)
2018-02-05
The Chinese central authorities unveiled a three-year action plan on Monday for improving rural living environment as part of the country's effort to revitalize the vast countryside. The action plan was jointly released by the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council. ^ top ^

Former vice governor of NE China province expelled from CPC, public office (Global Times)
2018-02-05
Liu Qiang, former vice governor of northeast China's Liaoning Province, has been expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and public office for multiple offences. Liu was found in serious violation of the Party's political code of conduct and rules, including soliciting votes through bribery and lobbying, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Monday. ^ top ^

China's credit ratings plan: from social media to medium of social control (SCMP)
2018-02-05
"Ratings," former junk bond king Michael Milken likes to say, "are not credit". Milken should know. In the 1980s, he made a multibillion US dollar fortune dealing in the debt of companies deemed by the credit rating agencies to be below investment grade. In effect, he was arbitraging the inbuilt inaccuracy of credit ratings. China's leaders would do well to heed Milken's words as they move towards rolling out a "social credit rating" system intended to cover each and every one of the country's entire 1.4 billion population. The latest step towards this goal came last week, with internet giant Tencent's nationwide launch of a new individual credit scoring system within its popular WeChat mobile app. According to the company, the app aggregates data across five areas – trustworthiness, security, wealth, consumption and social networking – to allot users a personal score of between 300 and 850 points. Users with high scores then get to enjoy special "privileges", such as cash loans, consumer credit and even deposit-free bicycle hire. Tencent is one of eight companies licensed by Beijing to create individual credit rating databases based in part on people's online behaviour and payment histories. Enthusiasts for the initiative say it will play an important role in the development of an advanced consumer economy in China, where until now ordinary people have been denied access to credit because of the lack of individual ratings. Backers like to compare the new scores to the consumer credit ratings compiled in Western countries by companies like Experian and Equifax. That is hardly encouraging. It is not just that Western consumer credit rating companies have been beset by data privacy problems, or that they have been fined for selling misleading credit scores to the consumers they rate, or that they have been accused of assigning ratings based not on individual creditworthiness but by residential area, in effect discriminating against ethnic minorities. The real problem is that there is a fundamental flaw in the whole rating methodology. Credit scores are awarded to consumers on a range of measures including the length of credit history, their total debt, the speed it has grown, their credit mix, and their payment record. The problem should be obvious: to get credit, or even just to access financial services like insurance, you have to have a credit rating. And to have a credit rating, you have to be in debt. If you have never been in debt, you are not deemed to be creditworthy, and you are denied access to financial services, regardless of your actual ability to pay. In short, the whole design of individual ratings inevitably means they are inaccurate. Ratings are not credit. If Chinese officials simply wanted a viable personal ratings system to support the growth of consumer credit, those drawbacks should be enough to give them second thoughts. But Beijing's plans go far, far beyond compiling straightforward financial credit ratings. The scores China's leaders have in mind will rate citizens not just according to their willingness and ability to repay debt. They will take in a wide variety of factors, including online behaviour, social media connections, educational background, employment records and legal history. So ratings will be awarded not simply on objective financial measures, but according to subjective political factors. And scores will not just determine consumers' ability to obtain credit, but citizens' access to a whole range of private sector and government services, from promotions on groceries to education for their children. For example, actions considered "virtuous", like transferring money to ageing grandparents, could be rewarded with bonus points. In contrast, "untrustworthy" behaviour, perhaps including complaining online about forced evictions, could trigger a ratings downgrade. And while citizens with high scores could be rewarded with tempting travel offers, an individual with a poor rating might find his or her application for a driving license repeatedly rejected. As a September 2016 policy document put it: "If trust is broken in one place, restrictions will be imposed everywhere." But that is not the half of it. Scores will also be awarded to citizens according to who they associate with. If your social media connections consist exclusively of senior government officials and respectable party ideologues, the chances are the presiding algorithm will allot you the equivalent of a triple-A rating. But if you happen to have exchanged messages with someone who is friends with a human rights lawyer or the imam at the local mosque, you could rapidly find your status cut to junk. And that is the whole point. With so much hingeing on their social credit ratings, people will quickly take to policing their own friends and family to ensure their behaviours and contacts only conform with those the Communist Party deems desirable. Everyone is forced to participate, and everyone voluntarily polices everyone else. Mobile technology, social media and big data take over the roles previously played by work units and neighbourhood residents' committees, in what the party calls self-optimising "social management". Dissent and opposition become all but impossible, and should they arise, officials will quickly be able to nip them in the bud. The problem, of course, is the one pointed out by Michael Milken. Ratings are not credit. Credit ratings are flawed by their very structure. And that will apply as much to China's social credit scores as to the hundreds of triple-A ratings awarded by US agencies to structured products which then defaulted in the financial crisis. Inevitably there will be mistakes and miscarriages on an unimaginable scale. Unaccountable and opaque black box algorithms will unfairly assign sub-par social ratings to millions of innocent Chinese, who will then be denied not just access to credit, but even their basic rights as citizens. China's social credit rating scheme is going to be a gross social injustice. ^ top ^

Chinese police capture over 200 people for online illegality (Global Times)
2018-02-04
Chinese police captured more than 200 people suspected of illegally deleting posts and sensationalizing events on the Internet during a national campaign since May 2017, the Ministry of Public Security said Sunday. Police also solved more than 40 such cases involving about 100 million yuan (about 15.88 million US dollars), shutting down over 5,000 Internet accounts linked to illegal paid dissemination of rumors, the ministry said in a statement. Nearly 10,000 such websites were shut down during the campaign, it said. The ministry also published details on a series of such cases, in which the detainees were suspected of illegally influencing public sentiment and obtaining and reselling personal information. The Cyberspace Administration of China issued a regulation Friday requiring microblog service operators to establish systems to address rumors found on their platforms. Service providers should take measures to dispel such rumors once they discover false information has been published or spread by their users, the regulation said. The CAC said that the regulation is aimed at ensuring the healthy and orderly development of microblogging services, protecting citizens' rights and interests, and safeguarding national security and public interests. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Mercedes-Benz deletes Dalai Lama quote from Instagram feed, apologises to Chinese consumers (SCMP)
2018-02-06
Mercedes-Benz apologised to Chinese consumers on Tuesday for an Instagram post showing one of its luxury cars along with a quote from exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, whom Beijing considers a dangerous separatist. In a statement on its official Weibo, the German carmaker said it had deleted the post immediately, and offered its sincerest apology to Chinese people, in a sign that foreign brands are growing warier of the reputational damage that missteps on touchy political issues can bring. In a "MondayMotivation" hashtagged post on Instagram, Mercedes showed one of its white cars on a beach along with a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama: "Look at the situations from all angles, and you will become more open." The post soon drew criticism from eagled-eyed Chinese netizens. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, though the Nobel Peace Prize winning monk says he simply seeks genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland. "We will promptly take steps to deepen our understanding of Chinese culture and values, our international staff included, to help standardise our actions to ensure this sort of issue doesn't happen again," the company said in the statement. Foreign brands in China are trying to court Chinese shoppers who have growing purchasing power, but consumers and regulators are increasingly willing to challenge brands over actions that go against what Beijing deems appropriate. Last month, firms including Delta Air Lines and Spanish apparel maker Zara were reprimanded by authorities for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on their websites. China claims sovereignty over both areas. Marriott International had its website in China shut down by regulators after it caused a similar uproar, inviting boycotts from Chinese consumers. China is the biggest overseas market for many international brands and the government is pivoting to a new economic growth model that is driven more by consumption rather than manufacturing and investment. ^ top ^

Tibetans celebrate New Year without ethnic Han influence (Global Times)
2018-02-05
Tibetans residents of China's Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province continue to celebrate Tibetan New Year without the influence of ethnic Han people, as this year's Tibetan New Year falls on the same day as the Lunar New Year. The two festivals usually occur up to one month apart because the two groups use different calendars, but meet each other on the same day this year, which is "very rare in history," said Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Beijing's Minzu University of China in Beijing. "Most of the Tibetan residents would celebrate Tibetan New Year. But we watch the Chunwan, China Central Television's Spring Festival Gala on Lunar New Year's eve," Dolma, a Tibet resident who lives in Lhasa city, told the Global Times. Dolma said that like the Lunar New Year, they also have dinner with family on Tibetan New Year's eve, but the meal mainly features beef and mutton. On the first day of the New Year, they will spend time with the family in their own home, and visit other relatives on the second day. Also, because it is difficult for shepherds and farmers to take a shower, they do so at 23:30 on New Year's eve. She added that not all Tibetans celebrate New Year on the same day. "People in Nyingchi Prefecture celebrate in October because they live in a relatively low altitude, so they can harvest early." Recent reports claimed that some local governments in Qinghai Province issued a notice, asking residents to celebrate New Year in accordance with Tibetan traditions, in order to resist the influence of ethnic Han. However, an employee from the Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture government denied the rumor to the Global Times, saying that "it is impossible for us to issue a notice." "The Chinese government always respects ethnic minorities' customs and traditions. It will never force one ethnic minority to change its traditions nor impose anything on such groups," Xiong said. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

11 Uygur escapees from Thai jail detained in Malaysia, and China wants them back, sources say (SCMP)
2018-02-08
Eleven ethnic Uygur Muslims from China, missing since their dramatic escape from a Thai jail last year, have been detained in Malaysia and Beijing wants them back, according to sources familiar with the matter. A total of 20 Uygurs broke out of a cell near the Thai-Malaysian border in November by digging holes in the wall and using blankets as ladders. The escapees were part of a group of more than 200 Uygurs detained in Thailand in 2014. Members of the group identified themselves as Turkish citizens and asked to be sent to Turkey but more than 100 were forcibly returned to China in July 2015, a move that sparked international condemnation, including from rights groups who feared they could face torture in China. Malaysia said two days after the escape that it had arrested one of the Uygurs who had crossed the border to its northern state of Kedah, and that he would be handed over to Thailand. But the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian country has not disclosed any further Uygur arrests since. Beijing accuses separatist extremists among the Uygur minority of plotting attacks on China's Han majority in the restive far western region of Xinjiang and other parts of the country. Beijing has been accused of rights abuses in Xinjiang, torture of Uygur detainees and tight control on their religion and culture. It denies wrongdoing. Over the years, hundreds, possibly thousands, of Uygurs have escaped unrest in Xinjiang by travelling clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey. Three sources who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter said Malaysia had detained the 11 Uygurs in recent weeks in the north of the country. They said China was in talks with Malaysia on their deportation. Some Western foreign missions were trying to dissuade them from sending the Uygurs to China, the sources said. "They [Malaysia] are under great pressure from China to hand them over to China and not to Thailand," one of the sources said. Malaysia's home ministry and the prime minister's department did not respond to a request for comment. When asked about the case, China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he was not aware of it. However, combating illegal immigration was, in principle, the shared responsibility of the international community, he told a news briefing. "China will continue to deepen law enforcement and security cooperation with relevant countries and will crack down on illegal immigration activities in accordance with the law, to jointly protect regional security and stability. This accords with the common interests of all sides," he said. China earlier urged Thailand to "quickly bring to justice" the 20 that broke out of the detention centre. Despite saying in November it would send the one escapee back to Thailand, Malaysia has in the past sent some Uygurs detained in the country to China. In September, deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia had since 2011 arrested 29 Uygur "militants" involved with Islamic State and deported them to China, Malaysian state news agency Bernama reported. In 2014, Malaysia detained 155 Uygurs, more than half of them children, who were found crammed into two flats in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. It is not clear if they were sent to China. Two of the sources said Malaysia had not yet made a decision on whether to send the recently detained 11 to China, while the third source said deportation to China was likely. Malaysia may be reluctant to hand the Uygurs to China due to "lack of transparency" on what happened to those sent back before, one source said. Exiled ethnic Uygur leader Rebiya Kadeer called on Thailand and any country that may find the Uygurs to treat them according to international law and not hand them over to China. ^ top ^

Chinese netizens slam self-proclaimed Muslim for 'spreading extremist thoughts' (Global Times)
2018-02-06
Chinese netizens have criticized a self-proclaimed Muslim who describes himself as "passing positive energy online" for broadcasting "extreme religious thoughts," with many demanding that he be brought to justice. A video posted by a Sina Weibo user shows the man wearing a white Muslim cap, who says that "salaam" is prohibited in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The man also criticized the degradation of modern Muslims, saying that "Muslim women used to wear hijab down to their chest…now their hijab hardly cover their necks." The video was posted on Monday by Changpinghouweiqing, a Sina Weibo user with 120,000 followers. Another man, who is not seen but heard, said that women should not appear in public or on the internet. "Women cheat, become mistresses, and trigger misconduct in some men," he said. "Women who wear hijab on live broadcasts are cursed," he added. The man, who appears in the video, calls himself Ma Xueli on Kuaishou, a popular video sharing app in China. Ma said he is from Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province. He has 40,000 followers on Kuaishou. The video could not be found on Ma's Kuaishou page on Tuesday. The video sparked heated discussions online. Many netizens said the police should bring Ma to justice, claiming that he is "spreading extreme religious thoughts." "The man's speech, especially the part that discriminates against women, will have a very bad influence on Muslims. It is also not in accordance with the principle of gender equality, Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at Beijing's Minzu University of China, told the Global Times. He said that China has always tried to guide the religion to fit socialist core values, and this man's speech is totally against the principle and against the law. China's new regulation on religious affairs, which took effect on Thursday, says that "no organization or individual may … preach, support or subsidize religious extremism, or take advantage of religion to destroy ethnic solidarity, split the State or carry out terrorist activities." The internet has become a hotbed for religious extremists, thus the government should focus on regulating the internet, Xiong said. China's top legislature adopted the Cybersecurity Law in 2016, stating that any online activity that undermines national unity is against the law, which also forbids acts that incite ethnic hatred or discrimination, or spreads violent and obscene content. In January, Xinjiang's Party committee vowed to use the internet as a tool to help instill the correct ideology. On January 30, cyber space officials in Xinjiang released 14 cases of storing and spreading illegal information online. Among the cases, a 26-year-old Uyghur man was detained for storing and spreading photos promoting jihad and religious extremism. In February 2017, the Xinjiang government cracked down on seven times that individuals spread extremism and illegal content online after receiving tips, the Xinjiang-based news site ts.cn reported. ^ top ^

Xinjiang ups anti-terror efforts (Global Times)
2018-02-03
The discipline inspection committee of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region vowed to strengthen efforts on counter-terrorism and anti-corruption, a move which an expert said would clear corrupt low-level officials and help maintain social stability. "[The discipline inspection committee in Xinjiang would] strengthen efforts on the CPC discipline construction and strictly abide by the political disciplines, especially those on anti-separatism in 2018," read a document approved by a meeting of Xinjiang's discipline watchdog, Xinjiang Daily reported on Sunday. The watchdog also promote anti-separatism education among Party members, urging Party members and officials to hold a firm stance and attitude against political violations, and it would focus on inspections over two-faced officials in the work of counter-terrorism and anti-separatism, the document said. "Compared with other regions in China, the anti-corruption drive and work on strengthening Party disciplines and building a clean government in Xinjiang are unique as they are closely related to counter-terrorism and anti-separatism," said Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Beijing's Minzu University of China. Xiong told the Global Times that corrupt officials would affect Xinjiang's counter-terrorism work and promoting construction on Party disciplines would greatly support anti-separatism work in the region. The discipline inspection committee of Xinjiang would also focus on cases involving corruption in people's lives, especially Party members or officials who protect vicious groups, according to the document. Turgunjan Tursun, a professor at Zhejiang Normal University, told the Global Times that political disciplines for Party members in Xinjiang include those involving anti-separatism and counter-terrorism. Party organizations at all levels and Party members should keep pace with the CPC Central Committee and the Xinjiang CPC Committee, especially on issues related to safeguarding national unity and fighting separatism, and firmly implement policies, according to a 2015 document, the Xinjiang-based ts.cn reported. "To remove corrupt officials and Party members, especially those at the grass-roots level, would benefit grass-roots social governance as well as maintain social stability and win over local residents. The fall of some officials, especially in southern Xinjiang, was hailed by local residents, and they were impressed by the CPC's self-governance," said Tursun. A total of 84 officials were found violating laws and Party disciplines and the discipline inspection and supervisory departments filed 34,000 cases in Xinjiang in 2017, local news site ts.cn reported on Friday. Xinjiang also launched an accountability system to promote strict Party discipline and maintain social stability. It met with 1,038 county heads and 3,132 village heads over their incompetent work in 2017. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defends controversial decision to seek jail terms for Occupy trio (SCMP)
2018-02-07
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Wednesday defended the government's contentious decision to ask for jail terms for three Occupy student activists a day after the city's top court set them free. Lam urged the lawmakers who challenged the government's decision to carefully study the landmark judgment handed down by the Court of Final Appeal, which she said had endorsed the strict sentencing guidelines for illegal protests that were put forward by the Court of Appeal despite quashing the activists' jail terms. The lower court had jailed the trio – Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang – for six to eight months last August for their role in the run-up to the Occupy movement after the government complained that their initial non-custodial sentences were too lenient. The chief executive's stern retort was in response to questions raised by Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung during her 30-minute question time in the Legislative Council. Hui said the top court's decision to free the trio had proven the government was wrong to ask for stiffer sentences. "Would you concede the government has made a mistake?" he asked Lam. "Is it a mission for you to jail all activists?" Lam said she had expected the pro-democracy lawmakers would come to such a conclusion based on the ruling, accusing the camp of reading the judgment too simplistically. "The judgment yesterday did not find the Department of Justice had made a mistake – as suggested by Hui – in reviewing the [activists'] sentences … It has even acknowledged part of the work done by the Court of Appeal," Lam said. For instance, she said, the top court had said it was appropriate for the lower appeal court to emphasise deterrence and punishment in large-scale unlawful assembly cases involving violence, amid the increasing incidence of unrest and a rising number of huge public protests in Hong Kong. She added the judges also ruled that civil disobedience, though recognised in Hong Kong, should carry "little (if any) weight" as mitigation when the acts committed infringed upon criminal law and involved violence. Wong on Tuesday described the judgment as a "sugar-coated harsh punishment" which might limit the city's freedom of assembly in future, while legal scholars said it had sent a signal of caution for those interested in engaging in civil disobedience. Speaking on a radio programme on Wednesday morning, the trio said the judgment would increase the government's control over protests and rallies in the future and the political pressure on courts. "We basically hoped that the Court of Final Appeal would have adjusted such draconian sentencing," Wong said. "In the past few years, first offenders of civil disobedience would have just been sentenced to community service. But since the Court of Appeal ruling last August … all civil disobedience participants – even those without records – would be immediately sentenced to six months [in jail] or above." Wong, who is on bail pending an appeal over a different case, involving contempt of court, disagreed that the storming of Civic Square – the forecourt of the government headquarters – amounted to violence and that the protesters' motives should have been taken into account. "I believe there is a big difference between taking a stand in the public interest [in civil disobedience] and pursuing one's own self-interest," he said. Chow said the judgments did not take into account the political and social context of the time in 2014 and argued that the events leading up to the outbreak of the Occupy movement had been restrained and peaceful. And Law, who was disqualified last year as a lawmaker, said he was concerned about the ability of courts to make decisions free from "self-censorship" in the future. As for the future of his party Demosisto, now effectively barred from taking part in elections in the city since the disqualification of Agnes Chow Ting, Law said the group would have to ponder a future outside legislative politics. "The closure of the government's gate [to us] is already quite apparent," Law, the Demosisto chairman, said, adding rhetorically: "How will we fine-tune our plan; will we still call ourselves a political party since we aren't able to participate in elections? Or will we become a civic organisation or a pressure group?" With the court case out of the way, Law and Wong said they would go back to school to finish their undergraduate studies in the autumn, while Chow would return to the US to continue his doctorate. Meanwhile, Lam reiterated that she had no concrete timetable for local legislation of the national security law, as required by Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution. Lam said she was aware that it was the constitutional responsibility of the government to work on such a bill, but emphasised the legislation would require a favourable environment in the city. The government was forced to shelve the controversial bill in 2003 after half a million people took to the streets for fear their freedoms and rights would be curbed. ^ top ^

China confirms Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen and Hong Kong bookseller, is in detention (SCMP)
2018-02-07
Beijing confirmed on Tuesday that it had detained Swedish citizen and Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhai, after his daughter said Chinese police had seized him from a train last month. Gui was abducted in Thailand while on holiday in 2015, one of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing that year and later appeared in custody in mainland China. The four others have returned to Hong Kong. Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a guarantee of wide-ranging freedoms, including freedom of speech, but critics accuse Communist Party rulers in Beijing of creeping interference in the city's affairs. Angela Gui, his daughter, said in January that her father was taken from a Beijing-bound train while in the company of two Swedish diplomats who were escorting him to seek medical attention for a neurological disorder. "Gui Minhai broke Chinese law and has already been subjected to criminal coercive measures in accordance with the law by relevant Chinese authorities," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. The term "coercive measures" generally refers to detention in China. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said in a statement on Monday that Gui's continued detention was a "very serious matter" and that China's "brutal" intervention in Sweden's attempts to help Gui, who Chinese authorities had said was free, represented a contravention of international rules on consular support. "We demand that our citizen be given the opportunity to meet Swedish diplomatic and medical staff, and that he be released so that he can be reunited with his daughter and family." Asked about Wallström's demands, Geng said China could not accept such "irresponsible" statements from Sweden. "Although Gui Minhai is a Swedish citizen, the case he is suspected of must be handled in accordance with Chinese law," he said. Sweden should understand the serious nature of the case and the "disgraceful" role played by certain Swedish people, Geng said, without giving details. China's foreign ministry had previously said that Gui, who published books on the personal lives of Communist Party leaders, was released in October last year after serving a sentence for a traffic offence in 2003. ^ top ^

Why Hong Kong Occupy trio are my Nobel Peace Prize guys (SCMP)
2018-02-03
The New York Times last year suggested the Nobel Peace Prize for Occupy protest leaders Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang. Now, Republican Senator Marco Rubio has led a group of US Congressmen to join the chorus and made a formal nomination. Of course, anyone can nominate anybody, so it's neither here nor there. The Nobel committee receives hundreds of nominations every year, many of them frivolous, meaningless or politically tainted. The yellow-ribbon people in Hong Kong are ecstatic. The "bluer" commentators and politicians, though, have expressed outrage and bafflement. I am, however, merely jealous. If only my column had the same impact and got lawmakers to do my bidding! The Times' proposal was a hyperbole, made by an editorialist to make a point in comparing the trio to such 20th century giants of human rights as Andrei Sakharov, Vaclav Havel and Aung San Suu Kyi. I doubt even the writer herself seriously thought our three young leaders were in the same league as those world figures. Perhaps she now regrets mentioning the Myanmar leader, no? But failed presidential candidate Rubio and his friendsare taking the idea seriously. Rather than arguing against it, I think it would be the height of entertainment to watch one or all of the three stand on stage in Oslo to deliver a lecture on … whatever. Would they speak in English or Cantonese? They should write their own speech. Imagine getting a Nobel for serving a few months in jail for storming the government headquarters and breaking glass? In the unlikely event that they win, it would be less a statement about them or the city, but about the prize itself and those who make the nomination. Rubio and fellow Republican Christopher Smith pursue an anti-China platform, and Hong Kong is just a convenient tool for the two to exploit. But if the committee sees fit to cheapen itself for such naked anti-China opportunism, well, what could anyone say? Many of its choices have not inspired confidence: Malala Yousafzai for being shot by the Taliban; Barack Obama for getting elected and not being George W Bush; Yasser Arafat, a self-professed terrorist; Shimon Peres, father of the Israeli nuclear weapons programme. I wish our trio get the prize. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Japanese quake rescue team arrives after Taipei rejects Beijing's offer (SCMP)
2018-02-09
A day after Taiwan rejected Beijing's offer to send help following a powerful earthquake that killed at least 10 people and injured 272 others, a seven-member Japanese team arrived in Hualien on Thursday to assist with rescue efforts. The seven people still missing are five mainland Chinese from the same family, including a 12-year-old boy, and a Hong Kong couple with Canadian citizenship. All of them were staying at the Beautiful Stay motel which was part of a residential tower block that collapsed, the Central Emergency Operation Centre said. The Japanese team brought with them two sets of the latest equipment to detect signs of life among earthquake debris. Japan was among the first to offer assistance and support after the magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck 21km (13 miles) northeast of coastal tourist city Hualien just before midnight on Tuesday. Local media and observers said Taipei's decision to allow the Japanese team to assist in the rescue operation but reject Beijing's offer was understandable at a time when cross-strait ties had deteriorated. Beijing, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province, suspended exchanges and talks with Taipei after President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016 and refused to accept the "one China" principle. Relations worsened last month when Beijing opened a new flight route close the island without Taipei's agreement. On Wednesday, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said the island had enough manpower and resources for the rescue efforts and it did not need outside help. But Tsai's spokesman Alex Huang said the decision had nothing to do with politics. "It is true that we don't need external manpower and resources because we have all these things," he said, adding that the government accepted help from Japan because it had cutting-edge equipment that would make the search for survivors more effective. Philip Yang, director of the Taiwan Association of International Relations, said from a humanitarian point of view, there was nothing wrong with accepting assistance from Japan and using its equipment in the rescue operation. But he said Taiwan should have accepted Beijing's help. "The government should also have accepted the offer from the mainland because at least nine people – four who died and five who are still missing – are from the mainland," Yang said. Earlier on Thursday, rescuers pulled the bodies of three mainland tourists from the rubble of the Beautiful Stay motel, taking the number of mainlanders killed in the quake to four. The bodies of the three women, identified as Wei Jia, 52, Yang Lirong, 47, and Lee Yangqi, 19, were found in a bedroom at the motel, the Central Emergency Operation Centre said. The women arrived in the city on Tuesday and were sharing a room, according to the Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official agency set up to deal with the mainland in the absence of formal relations. On Wednesday, another woman visiting from the mainland, Yu Fei, 40, died in hospital from a serious head injury sustained in the quake, the Mainland Affairs Council said. Council officials said the foundation had passed on the information about the people killed to its mainland counterpart, the Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats). Yu's husband arrived in Taipei on Wednesday, the foundation said, adding that it was helping Yu's mother and brother, as well as the families of the three other women killed to travel to Taiwan to retrieve the bodies. Rescuers on Thursday also found the body of an employee of the Beautiful Stay motel in a first floor room that was crushed when the building listed, the centre said. In the evening, the body of a Filipino aged care worker was also pulled from the collapsed building. The motel was part of an 11-storey residential building that had been built on the Milun Fault that lies below Hualien. "There was no problem with the materials used in the construction of the building as the structure from the fourth floor up was still intact despite the collapse," said Liu Yen-hu, president of the Hualien County Architecture Association. "It tilted mostly because it was built on top of the fault, and because there were balconies on just one side of the building," he said. Steel beams have been used to stabilise the building while rescuers try to find survivors on the opposite side, Associated Press reported. The rescue operation has been interrupted several times by strong aftershocks. Three tremors of magnitudes between 4 and 4.8 were recorded on Thursday morning, while a magnitude 5.7 aftershock was reported on Wednesday night. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese official stresses Xi thought on Taiwan affairs (China Daily)
2018-02-03
A senior Chinese official stressed that studying and implementing the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and General Secretary Xi Jinping's important thought on Taiwan affairs will be a primary political task at present and for years to come. Vice Premier Wang Yang, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at an annual meeting of central and local officials in charge of Taiwan affairs, which was held in Beijing from Thursday to Friday. The thought on Taiwan affairs is an important part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and serves as a basic principle and guide to action for the work on Taiwan affairs in the new era, Wang said. He urged efforts to uphold Xi thought on Taiwan affairs for the long term and make new accomplishments in the new era. The work on Taiwan affairs has withstood major tests and witnessed important progress while ensuring stability, Wang said. He also stressed improving economic and cultural cooperation and deepening the integration of economic and social development across the Taiwan Strait. While noting situation across the Strait at present becomes more complicated and grim, and will remain so for some time to come, Wang said the work on Taiwan affairs face challenges. "The Chinese mainland will uphold the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus and resolutely oppose and deter separatist elements advocating 'Taiwan independence' in any form," he said. More policies will be adopted to help Taiwanese compatriots in studying, starting businesses, working and living in the mainland and to help them enjoy the same treatment as local people. "We should remain true to our original aspiration, keep our mission firmly in mind, and fully implement the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee," Wang said. He called for promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and making new contribution to advancing the process toward the peaceful reunification of China. Wang stressed the importance of upholding centralized and unified leadership of the CPC in handling Taiwan-related affairs, exercising strict Party governance, improving conduct and building integrity in building a high-quality workforce responsible for Taiwan-related affairs. The meeting was presided over by State Councilor Yang Jiechi. Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, delivered a work report at the meeting. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China "strongly discontent" with EU trade investigations (Xinhua)
2018-02-08
China is "strongly discontent" with unfair treatment of Chinese steel producers in trade investigations by the EU, an official said Thursday. "The EU still uses data from Brazil to calculate prices and costs of Chinese steel companies to artificially raise their dumping margins," said Wang Hejun, head of the trade remedy and investigation bureau under the Ministry of Commerce. The approach the EU adopted is called a "surrogate country" approach, which facilitates trade remedies by using production and price data in a third country to calculate the degree of dumping. It expired on Dec. 11, 2016 according to the protocol on China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) nearly two decades ago. "The EU should fulfill its duty written into the WTO protocol and treat Chinese firms fairly in its trade investigations," Wang said. The European Commission on Thursday announced its final ruling to slap import duties ranging from 17.2 percent to 27.9 percent on corrosion resistant steel from China, the latest signs of friction on steel trade between the two economies. Weighed down by shrinking demand, the world is still grappling with serious steel overcapacity. "Hasty trade remedy measures will not help solve the problem," Wang said, urging joint action from countries involved to stabilize the global economy. Wang said China is willing to improve communication and dialogue with the EU to properly handle the saturated steel sector. The Chinese government has initiated an ambitious campaign to downsize steel production, with more than 50 million tonnes of crude steel capacity eliminated last year. ^ top ^

Punitive US trade action against China 'imminent', former top trade negotiator warns (SCMP)
2018-02-07
A former US government trade official warned that Washington is likely to announce trade retaliation measures against China "imminently". US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer "has [US President Donald Trump's] ear on China, and as such he has initiated a Section 301 investigation on Chinese unfair trade practices on intellectual property, including the practice of so-called forced technology transfer, and we are expecting actions to be announced against China imminently", former acting deputy US trade representative Wendy Cutler said. "There is a real convergence of different views on how to handle these issues going forward," Cutler said during a panel discussion at the New York-based Asia Society. "We're going to see more trade actions taken against certain trading partners in the coming weeks. The announcement that was made just two weeks ago on import protection for washing machines and solar panels is just the beginning of a series of announcements that will be coming. " Cutler's comments reflect a harder line Trump has taken against China since he wrapped up a state visit to China in November. Trump hailed a raft of business deals and investments worth about US$250 billion, which he said would help offset a yawning trade imbalance in China's favour. Since then the deficit has grown, reaching a record US$276 billion for full-year 2017. The US Chamber of Commerce, which counts IBM, Ford Motor Co and other multinationals operating in China among its members, hailed the prospect of imminent action by Trump. The industry group's president and CEO, Thomas Donohue, called for an international "response to China's state capitalism". The warnings reflect gathering momentum in a trade war that has so far been one way. Last month, Trump implemented a 30 per cent tariff on fully assembled imported solar panels and the cells used to make these panels, a move the US leader said was needed to protect American jobs. Trump will impose a 20 per cent tariff on the first 1.2 million imported large residential washers in the first year, and a 50 per cent tariff on machines above that number. In August, Lighthizer launched the Section 301 investigation, authorised under the US Trade Act of 1974, into Chinese regulations that force US companies operating in China to transfer technology and intellectual property rights to local business partners. Soon afterward, Lighthizer's office began taking testimony from US companies, seeking verification that the Chinese government "uses a variety of tools, including opaque and discretionary administrative approval processes, joint venture requirements, foreign equity limitations, procurements, and other mechanisms to regulate or intervene in US companies' operations in China, to require or pressure the transfer of technologies and intellectual property to Chinese companies", according to USTR documents. The investigation could lead to unilateral US trade remedy actions, such as tariffs meant to compensate the US for losses American companies have sustained from Beijing's trade regulations, or a dispute settlement process within the World Trade Organisation. "The White House is right to focus on China's industrial policies and their challenge to the global economy," Donohue said in an exchange with the South China Morning Post. "This includes Chinese market access restrictions, subsidies, data and cyber policies, forced tech transfer, and IP theft. "The status quo is not sustainable, but we need a smart approach," he said. "We need to work with allies in Europe, Japan and elsewhere to forge a common response to China's state capitalism." Under the terms of China's entry to the WTO in 2001, Beijing was allowed to limit foreign ownership of companies in important industries including media, telecommunications, finance and vehicle manufacturing. These limitations forced many foreign companies into joint ventures with Chinese entities, many of them state-owned, effectively a form of technology transfer. US government negotiators agreed to these allowances because Chinese companies were not competitive internationally at the time. US companies and government officials largely approved of these stipulations to gain access to Chinese markets. The growth of companies such as Huawei, now a global manufacturer of telecommunications networking equipment and a competitor to US companies such as Qualcomm and Cisco, underscores how those conditions have changed. Cutler said "Lighthizer really has the president's ear on trade". The US trade representative is "someone who's well known in the trade area. Knows trade, knows US law, and has worked in Congress", she said. "He's very hard-line. He has very different views on trade than past Republican and Democratic administrations that I've worked for." China's trade practices "may inhibit United States exports, deprive United States citizens of fair pay for their innovations, divert American jobs to workers in China, contribute to our trade deficit with China, and otherwise undermine American manufacturing, services and innovation", Lighthizer's office said when it announced the investigation. Section 301 investigations must be completed within a year. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

US lawmakers to clash with Donald Trump as they push closer South Korea ties and he 'wants North Korea strike' (SCMP)
2018-02-09
US lawmakers are moving to strengthen Washington's relationship with South Korea, setting up a confrontation with President Donald Trump, who may be planning a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea. Lawmakers from the US's two main parties have joined a newly established congressional body tasked with fostering direct contact with their South Korean counterparts, one of only four such bipartisan congressional study groups in the US legislative branch. The inauguration of the Congressional Study Group on Korea (CSGK) comes just days after Trump reportedly dropped a Seoul ambassadorship candidate for not supporting a limited attack on North Korea – dubbed a "bloody nose" strike – to achieve the president's goal of removing nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula. While efforts to establish the study group were underway before Trump took office, "given the heightened concern and attention over developments on the Korean Peninsula, this may have expedited" the process, Thomas Byrne, president of the New York-based Korea Society, said in an interview with the South China Morning Post. The developments Byrne referred to include Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test and its test-firing of more than 20 missiles, including some that could strike the US, all performed in 2017 in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions. These actions provoked a series of military threats by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, directed at each other. In the back-and-forth, Trump threatened in November to "totally destroy" North Korea if the missile tests continue. Reflecting the concerns of the South Korean government, President Moon Jae-in said in August that the US agreed not to take any military action against North Korea without first getting Seoul's approval because of the potential for loss of life in any retaliation by Pyongyang. Some 25 million people, representing roughly half of South Korea's population, live in the greater Seoul region and within North Korea's artillery range. Around nine million people would be killed or injured if North Korea launched a nuclear attack on Seoul, according to one hypothetical scenario analysed by 38 North, a database about North Korea maintained by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Constitutional and statutory restraints on Trump's ability to launch a first strike would not necessarily prevent such a move. The US Constitution says Congress has the "sole power" to declare war, and the War Powers Act of 1973 compels the president to seek congressional approval for military action against another country. However, the US Constitution considers the occupant of the White House to be commander in chief of the US Army and Navy, a designation that has prompted some presidents to ignore the legislative branch's position on military decisions. "After President Harry Truman bypassed Congress to go to war in Korea, presidents have paid almost no attention to the constitutional requirements," Slate reported soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US. Because of these limitations, some lawmakers are trying to put more barriers between Trump and the nuclear buttons. For example, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and California Representative Ted Lieu, both Democrats, have sponsored legislation that would require the president to receive congressional approval before initiating a first-use nuclear strike. The establishment of CSGK may help to channel bipartisan concern about Trump following through on his threats into a more unified voice. Reports that the president abandoned Victor Cha as his pick for the ambassador's post because Cha disagreed with the president's wish to hit North Korea with a military strike have reinforced concerns about Trump's intentions. Cha is a former director for Asian affairs in the White House's National Security Council and a top adviser for Korean affairs under former US President George W. Bush. "There's a worrisome march towards conflict, and I think those of us who were around for the Iraq war hear analogous drumbeats," Sarah Kreps, a Cornell University peace and conflict studies professor, said in an interview. "The rumours are that because [Cha] didn't support this 'bloody nose' strike he wasn't considered appropriate, so I think there's some interest in creating some drag on this march to war," Kreps said. "There is a bipartisan interest in seeing this not result in some conflict on the [Korean Peninsula] and I think they're trying to exert some voice and influence to temper the inclinations that we seem to be inferring about the administration." Republican lawmakers, including senators John Cornyn of Texas and Bob Corker of Tennessee, have also called for Trump to exercise more restraint in his approach to North Korea's military provocations. Massive casualties throughout the Korean Peninsula and a nuclear winter are not the only risks foreign policy experts associate with a pre-emptive strike by the US. Such a move risks putting Washington in a weaker position because it would alienate allies in the region and strengthen China's influence, said Scott Snyder, director of US-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. "There are two dimensions to the security situation on and around the Korean Peninsula," Snyder said in an interview. "One is the immediate threat from North Korea and the other is the longer-term threat in terms of China's rising influence in the region, which the administration has identified as a concern through its national security strategy." "There are limited resources to be balanced to meet both of those threats. If you put all of your focus on the near-term threat, you might end up with too few resources to deter China and less resources in terms of friends and allies to be able to deal with that." Mike Kelly, a Republican representing a Pennsylvania district, and Ami Bera, a Democrat from California, will lead the CSGK on a trip to South Korea in the next few months. CSGK is the fourth congressional study group to be established by the US Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC), a bipartisan, non-profit organisation "committed to increasing bilateral and multilateral dialogue with the United States' strategic allies". The association established similar groups for Germany in 1983, for Japan 10 years later and for Europe in 2011. "At a time when focus on the Korean peninsula and its neighbours is sharper than at any time in the past several decades, FMC programming will allow the congressional study group on Korea to provide education and discussion about Korea's vital role in the region, political interactions, economic and trade challenges to members of Congress and their senior staff," the FMC said in a statement this week. ^ top ^

Chinese, S. Korean leaders meet in positive atmosphere on China-S. Korea ties, peninsula situation (Xinhua)
2018-02-09
Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy Han Zheng and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a meeting Thursday on enhancing bilateral ties and improving the situation on the Korean Peninsula in a cordial and friendly atmosphere. Further enhancing china-s. Korea ties: Han, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, conveyed greetings from Xi to Moon and the Chinese president's wishes that the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will achieve great success. It is the first time for South Korea to hold a Winter Olympic Games, and also the first large-scale international event held under the Moon administration. During their meeting, both sides noted that Han's attendance at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Friday not only demonstrates China's strong support for South Korea in hosting the event, but also shows the importance China attaches to bilateral ties. Moon asked Han to convey his cordial greetings to Xi and thanked Han for attending the opening ceremony as the Chinese president's special envoy. The two presidents agreed that China and South Korea are close neighbors geographically and natural cooperative partners. Since the establishment of the China-South Korea diplomatic ties in 1992, their bilateral relationship has developed in an all-round manner, Han said. Recalling Moon's successful state visit to China in December and his telephone conversation with Xi at the beginning of the year, Han noted that the two leaders had reached important consensus on developing bilateral ties as well as strengthening coordination on key international and regional issues. Guided by the consensus of the two presidents, China is willing to work with South Korea to uphold mutual respect and support, to fully embark on communication and dialogue at all levels, and to further boost exchanges and cooperation, Han said. The two countries should also properly address sensitive issues and increase mutual understanding as well as trust, in order to push for constant progress and development of China-South Korea relations, Han told Moon. Noting that bilateral ties are now at a new starting point, the South Korean president said his country is willing to make positive efforts with China to enhance political mutual trust and friendship, increase exchanges at all levels, deepen pragmatic cooperation, and strengthen communication as well as coordination on international and regional affairs, in order to achieve new progress in their strategic cooperative partnership. Opportunity to improve situation on peninsula: On the Korean Peninsula issue, Han said the situation on the peninsula is undergoing positive changes recently as South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have taken the opportunity of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics to restart dialogue and commence cooperation, adding that the relationship between the two sides has been improved and seen progress. Moon is scheduled to have lunch Saturday with the high-ranking DPRK delegation, led by Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. Among the delegation was Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un. She serves as the first vice director of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK). South Korea's presidential Blue House saw a visit by Kim Yo Jong to the South Korea-hosted Winter Olympics as meaningful to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. China supports the conciliation and cooperation between South Korea and the DPRK, and hopes that the relevant parties will meet each other half way and to make joint efforts in further easing the situation on the Korean Peninsula and pushing forward the political settlement process on the peninsula issue, Han said. Expressing his appreciation for China's positive role on the Korean Peninsula issue, Moon said his country is willing to maintain communication and coordination with China to push forward the inter-Korean dialogue facilitated by the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, to settle the peninsula issue through peaceful means and to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity in the region. Han was invited by Moon and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. ^ top ^

Can inter-Korean détente last after Olympics? (Global Times)
2018-02-08
The Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games begins on Friday. Delegations from North and South Korea will march under a unified flag at the opening ceremony, showcasing a new easing of tensions on the peninsula. US Vice President Mike Pence, North Korean top legislator Kim Yong-nam and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will be present at the event simultaneously in an inconceivably harmonious scene. Many anticipate a decisive turning point for the peninsula situation. Others assert such hopes are unrealistic dreams and after the Games, the peninsula will revert to intense confrontation. But it's a real moment. All parties involved should seize it. Any other approach would let down all the people on the peninsula and betray the best hopes for peace. February 8 marks North Korea's Army-Building Day. The annual parade was reportedly smaller and took a shorter time. This has been seen as Pyongyang coordinating its posture for the Pyeongchang Olympic Games. Apparently, Pyongyang is adjusting strategy and Seoul has picked up on the signal. While the Games is currently a priority for South Korea, the country must be enjoying the calm and would miss it should it be lost. The maintenance of reduced tensions and the crafting of a solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis are more appealing than antagonism. The US is key to the issue. So far Washington hasn't shifted one iota from its determination to push Pyongyang to the limit. For Americans, South-North interactions at the Games are meaningless to addressing the nuclear crisis. Washington will want to revert to confrontation after the Games. Washington seems as obstinate in its Pyongyang policy as Pyongyang is about its nuclear ambitions. If that's the case, then this year's Games will be the last moment of stability on the peninsula. South Korea has cards to play. For example, Seoul can demand fewer joint military exercises with Washington. This might offend the US, but it will also lower the risk of confrontation. Seoul should be clear about what goal it really wants. South Korea is supposed to be a major player, but Seoul has been almost marginalized. It is not in the country's best interests that it chooses to be led by the US. By so doing, the country is giving up on its responsibility to the entire peninsula. When no side seems willing to blink, it falls upon South Korea to act to change the status quo. If Pyongyang wants to ease tensions, Seoul can encourage Washington to refrain from radical action. If Seoul is unwilling to take this bold move, then in the meantime it needs to prepare for a deteriorating situation on the peninsula. ^ top ^

China denies SK report of sending anti-missile troops along N.Korean border (Global Times)
2018-02-06
China's defense ministry denied on Monday a report that it had sent troops to intercept missiles along the North Korean border. South Korea's Chosun Ilbo, citing Radio Free Asia (RFA), reported on Monday that the Chinese People's Liberation Army has increased troops to intercept missiles along the Yalü and Tumen rivers in northeastern China. The Ministry of National Defense told the Global Times on Monday that "the report is untrue." The report quoted a China-based North Korean source as saying that after China arranged an armored division in Longjing, Jilin Province, it built a missile interception base in Helong near Longjing toward the end of 2017. Another source was quoted as saying that China organized missile interception forces in Malugou, Baishan city in Jilin in 2015 and positioning interceptors in North Korean reservoirs near the Yalü and Tumen rivers and border.  ^ top ^

UN report may spur new sanctions on N.Korea (Global Times )
2018-02-04
The US and its allies are likely planning to take new action in response to reports that North Korea has earned millions through smuggling schemes but additional unilateral sanctions may only serve to hinder the ongoing inter-Korean dialogue, said Chinese experts. North Korea earned nearly $200 million from exporting coal and other banned commodities in 2017, in violation of UN sanctions, CNN reported on Saturday citing a new UN report, which was authored by a panel of experts investigating North Korea and has been sent to a UN committee on North Korea. The UN report also indicates that North Korea exported coal to China, Malaysia, Russia and Vietnam, and falsified documents to conceal the origin of the coal. "China has fully implemented the UN Security Council's resolutions and has undertaken strict inspections to prevent smuggling of military goods to North Korea. The part in the report which involves China is not accurate," Lü Chao, a researcher on North Korea at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday. Lü said that previous rounds of sanctions on North Korea have greatly affected its economy, especially its chemical engineering and textile industries. "Almost all North Korean factories along the China-North Korea border that used to process textile products have been closed. China's tourist and travel programs to North Korea have also been suspended. Chinese companies doing trade with North Korea in border cities, especially Dandong, have suffered great losses. No one should make groundless accusations against China," Lü said. Investigators say North Korea "is already flouting the most recent resolutions by exploiting global oil supply chains, complicit foreign nationals, offshore company registries and the international banking system," the document states, CNN reported. The head of Germany's BfV domestic intelligence agency told a German broadcaster that North Korea has been using its embassy in Berlin to procure parts for its missile program, Reuters reported. "If the report is true, it shows the effectiveness of the past sanctions as they may have forced North Korea to explore illegal ways to make profits under huge pressure," Li Kaisheng, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "The reports indicate a skeptical attitude in the international community toward North Korea and it may hinder the ongoing inter-Korean dialogue," Li said. Experts said that the timing of the release of the report is suspicious as it serves to increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula. "These reports may be used by the US and its allies to impose more sanctions on North Korea. The situation on the Korean Peninsula is not optimal considering inter-Koreans dialogues have not touched on the denuclearization issue. The US may keep up military pressure through its joint drills with South Korea after the Olympic Winter Games and North Korea may also take actions in response," Lü said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Foreign Affairs Minister visits DPRK (Montsame)
2018-02-07
On February 3-5, Minister of Foreign Affairs D.Tsogtbaatar paid an official visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea at the invitation of DPRK Foreign Affairs Minister Ri Yong-ho. The Minister D.Tsogtbaatar paid a courtesy call on Kim Yong-nam, the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and held an official meeting with Ri Su-yong, vice chairman for International Relations at Politburo of the Workers' Party and member of the State Affairs Commission. Moreover, D.Tsogtbaatar held official talks with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho. During the official meeting and talks, the sides emphasized successful development of Mongolia-DPRK traditional friendly relations and cooperation and agreed to celebrate the 70th anniversary of establishment of the diplomatic relations, which occurs this year, in respective countries. Kim Yong-nam, the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, recalled that he accompanied then-North Korean leader Kim Il-sung's visits to Mongolia twice. He underlined that Mongolia-North Korea relations reached the present level, overcoming challenges and relied on earnest aspiration and friendship of the people of the two countries over the past 70 years. At the official talks of Foreign Ministers, the sides affirmed to develop bilateral relations sustainable. Within the anniversary celebrations, the sides agreed to organize scientific conference, photo exhibition and cultural events. Moreover, they expressed commitment to promote Mongolia and Korea studies respectively, train specialists and researchers and support Mongolian and Korean language training. In addition, the sides discussed about maintaining cooperation not only in bilateral level, but also in international and regional levels. N.Korea expressed its support for Mongolia's initiative 'Ulaanbaatar Dialogue' which aims at ensuring regional peace and security. Minister D.Tsogtbaatar congratulated for recommencement of talks between DPRK and the Republic of Korea and decision to participate jointly in PyongChang Winter Olympics. He also expressed his hope that the talks will continue further and give an important impetus to stabilize the region. In the scope of the visit, a Memorandum of Mutual Understanding was signed by authorities of the National Emergency Management Agency of Mongolia and State Committee for Emergency and Disaster Management of the DPRK. Meetings and talks ran in friendly atmosphere and became a significant event for future cooperation of the two countries, reported the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Mongolia. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
2018-02-07
The Cabinet made following decision at its meeting on February 6. The Cabinet reviewed the results of Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh's visit to the Republic of Korea on January 15-17, and agreed to submit the document to the National Security Council. Deputy Prime Minister U.Enkhtuvshin reported on the challenges in earthquake disaster prevention, risk reduction and preparedness. The matter will be forwarded to corresponding Parliamentary Standing Committees. Head of Cabinet Secretariat G.Zandanshatar reported on the financial status and activities of the Development Bank of Mongolia. The Cabinet adopted a procedure on state monitoring of disaster protection and a state inspection procedure on accounting. ^ top ^

Agricultural products export to be increased (Montsame)
2018-02-05
The Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, B.Batzorig met with Li Jun, the Vice Director of the Department of Commerce of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China on February 2. Minister B.Batzorig emphasized a great importance of 'Mongolia-China Expo' in widening bilateral relations in fields of trade, economy, culture, sport, science and business and establishing partnership ties and briefed about the current state, policies and further objectives set in this sphere. The Minister also punctuated potentials for broadening bilateral cooperation in increasing exports of agricultural products. Mr. Li Jun forwarded proposals on adding types of goods to be promoted and sold at trade fairs held in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China and on setting up a quarantine zone and a meat factory based on Zamyn-Uud and Erenhot free zones. At the meeting, the parties also exchanged views on reviewing and intensifying realization of projects and a memorandum which were signed during the second expo. Moreover, they agreed on promoting the event at the international level as a brand, enhancing its efficiency and scopes, improving organizational coherence and creating database and also decided to form a joint working group for ensuring lead-up to the third expo which is scheduled in 2019. ^ top ^

 

Valentin Jeanneret
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage