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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
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  13-16.5.19, No. 768  
    Archiv / Archives
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Table of contents

DPRK

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Trump orders national emergency on information security; Commerce Department follows with Huawei restrictions (SCMP)
2019-05-16
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday declaring a national emergency, barring the use of telecommunications equipment made by companies that are deemed a threat to national security, clearing the way for an outright ban on products made by Huawei. The Executive Order did not name China or Chinese companies specifically. However, separately, and soon after the order was signed, the US Commerce Department did just that. The Commerce Department added Huawei and 70 affiliates to its "Entity List" after it concluded that the Chinese company was engaged in activities "contrary to US national security or foreign policy interests". Inclusion in the list means that a US company, person or government agency purchasing Huawei equipment now requires a specific license "to export, reexport and/or transfer (in-country)." The US government claims Huawei's equipment poses a security risk because the company might acquiesce to demands from Beijing to allow access to networks and private user data – claims that the company and its chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, have repeatedly denied. Meanwhile, Trump's order says foreign adversaries are taking advantage of the US by exploiting vulnerabilities in the information and communications technology and services sector. "This Executive Order declares a national emergency with respect to the threats against information and communications technology and services in the United States and delegates authority to the Secretary of Commerce to prohibit transactions posing an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States persons," the White House said in a statement. Speaking to reporters, a senior Trump administration official said the executive order was "company and country agnostic". Huawei's inclusion in the Commerce Department's list was based upon US Justice Department allegations that Huawei violated US sanctions imposed on Iran and engaged in "obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of those alleged violations of US sanctions," the department said in a statement after Trump signed his order. "This will prevent American technology from being used by foreign owned entities in ways that potentially undermine US national security or foreign policy interests," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in the statement. According to a senior administration official briefing reporters, the Commerce Department will spend the next 150 days writing the rules to back up the order, issued under the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which will cover any transaction pending or completed as of the order's signing. The administration official repeated that the order was aimed at "any transaction involving information and communications technology or services controlled by or subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary", declining to specify China. However, lawmakers including South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as Democratic Senators speaking at a congressional hearing on 5G communications technology security on Tuesday, have pointed to China as a key threat in this area. "It's not about overseeing Huawei. It's about overseeing China," Graham said. Democratic Senator from Maryland Chris Van Hollen, who has sponsored several bills aimed at increasing scrutiny of operations at Huawei and ZTE – another Chinese telecom equipment maker that faced US government sanctions – also piled on. "For months we have raised the alarm on the clear and present danger that companies like Huawei and ZTE pose to American national security," Van Hollen said. "In Congress, I will continue working on a bipartisan basis to protect our national security interests from the threats posed by Huawei and ZTE." The US government has already prohibited its agencies from using devices made either by Huawei or ZTE. Inclusion on the Entity List broadens this prohibition. Huawei Chairman Liang Hua said on Tuesday in London that the company, the world's largest telecommunications equipment supplier, would include provisions in its government contracts not to facilitate "back door" espionage by Beijing. Banning the use of Chinese-made 5G, or fifth-generation, technology comes at a critical time in US-China relations, given the imposition of tariffs by both sides over the past several months on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods. More punitive duties are likely to come in the weeks ahead unless the world's two leading economies can reach a trade agreement. On Tuesday, Reuters reported Trump was due to sign the executive order sometime this week. Seemingly in response, Geng Shuang, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said during a press briefing translated by the South China Morning Post, that the US was "abusing its power to maliciously smear and beat down on certain Chinese companies". "We urge the US to stop using the pretense of national security to carry out its unreasonable suppression of Chinese companies, and to provide a fair and just environment for Chinese companies investing and operating normally in the US that is free of prejudice." In December, Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer and daughter of founder Zhengfei, was was detained by Canadian authorities at the request of the United States government. US authorities accuse her of defrauding HSBC bankers by falsely depicting Huawei's alleged operations in Iran, in breach of US sanctions. She is fighting extradition. The US is playing catch-up against foreign rivals, including China. Last month it unveiled plans for the largest-ever auction of radio spectrum to support the development of 5G, the mobile communications technology predicted to revolutionise the so-called internet of things. At the time Trump called the competition to develop 5G a race "America must win". 5G, which promises wireless communications delivered 100 times faster than current standards, could enable the development of autonomous driving, smart cities and virtual reality, and bring billions of dollars in economic benefits to nations that can keep up with the technology. Its importance was highlighted by its inclusion in the December 2017 US National Security Strategy outlined by the Trump administration. The US stance has split many of its European allies. Britain's foreign intelligence chief has said that an outright Huawei ban may be excessive, while Italy's deputy prime minister asserted that his country's intelligence had no security concerns about the Chinese company. German economy minister Peter Altmaier has said that any restrictions cannot involve targeting specific companies but will have to involve security standards for all potential service providers. While China has its 5G champion in Huawei, Finland has Nokia and Sweden has Ericsson. The US, however, has no hardware maker ready to come to market with scale and depth. ^ top ^

Xi stresses equality, respect among nations (China Daily)
2019-05-16
All countries should uphold equality and respect and abandon pride and prejudice to promote dialogue and harmonious coexistence among different civilizations, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday. Xi made the remarks in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations. The conference was proposed by Xi at the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia in 2015. There are only different civilizations, and there are no superior or inferior civilizations, Xi said, adding that those who think their races or cultures are better, and try to change or replace other cultures, are wrong in their mindset and are doomed to fail. Every civilization is rooted in its own soil, which embodies the extraordinary wisdom and spiritual pursuit of a country and its own values, Xi said. He pointed out that if human civilizations were all in one tone and had one model, the world would be monotonous. In his speech, Xi called on all countries to create conditions for other civilizations to develop while maintaining their own vibrancy. "We should allow all civilizations of the world to fully bloom," Xi said. There would be no clash of civilizations as long as people are able to appreciate the beauty of them all, Xi said. Xi pointed out that if countries are completely isolated from each other, human civilization will lose its vitality. Noting that Asian people expect an Asia of peace, common prosperity, openness and integration, Xi said maintaining peace is a responsibility that every country should uphold. Seeking goodwill with neighbors and harmony with all nations is the Chinese way of engaging with the world, Xi said. Asian people hope that all countries will work together to promote open, inclusive, balanced and win-win economic globalization, eradicate poverty and backwardness, create a carefree life for children and bring happiness and joy to every family, Xi said. In his speech, the president called for promoting the connection of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people, and building a community with a shared future for Asia and mankind. Asian people have made incredible cultural achievements over the past thousands of years and they have engaged in cultural exchanges since the earliest days, Xi said, citing as examples the ancient trade routes that helped take silk, tea, ceramics, spices, paintings and sculptures across Asia. Representatives of 47 Asian and other invited countries are participating in the conference. It is aimed at providing a platform for interaction among young people, local communities and the media. ^ top ^

Fears of China and WeChat as Australia heads to the polls (SCMP)
2019-05-16
When a Sydney council chose Chinese-language newspaper Vision China Times to sponsor its Lunar New Year celebrations last year, the Chinese consulate in the city warned the inclusion of the "anti-China" newspaper would harm China-Australia relations. Correspondence seen by Australian media outlets, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, showed a political affairs official had written to the council, which covers Sydney's southern suburbs, a day before a council official confirmed it would ban the newspaper as a sponsor. For the newspaper's owner Vision Times Media, the ban was the latest episode of political pressure for refusing to toe the Chinese Communist Party line. The paper, distributed in major cities and with a readership of 100,000, had published pieces critical of the party. Maree Ma, general manager of Vision Times Media, said the paper's advertisers had also faced intimidation. In one incident, state security agents occupied the office of one of its China-based advertisers until he pulled his contract with the paper, while other advertisers had been called into the Chinese consulate in Sydney for a "chat", Ma said. Calls to the consulate earlier this week seeking comment for this story went unanswered. "Australia is a democratic country so anyone is free to be pro-Beijing if they choose but it becomes a problem if Beijing uses this freedom to silence others, especially in the cases of local governments, whose first priority is to be responsible to the local community," said Ma, who maintained the company was an Australian-owned organisation not affiliated with any political or religious group. Details of what transpired between the council and Vision China Times were revealed last month, and have once again cast the spotlight on allegations of Chinese influence on Australian lawmakers and businesses, which compelled Canberra to pass sweeping anti-foreign interference laws last year. Beijing has repeatedly described the accusations as groundless, saying Canberra is needlessly whipping up anti-China hysteria. But fresh concerns have emerged ahead of Australia's general election on Saturday. About 5 per cent of the country's population of about 24 million – or 1.2 million people – self-identify as having Chinese heritage and they comprise naturalised Australians and recent migrants with diverse political preferences. The 2016 census estimated about 600,000 speak Mandarin at home and by virtue of this, are possible consumers of news produced by more than 60 Chinese-language media outlets in Australia. But Australian analysts say the number of independent-minded Chinese language outlets like Vision China Times is dwindling, as more outlets demonstrate stronger links to the mainland. In a number of swing seats, including Reid and Banks, in Sydney, and Chisholm, in Melbourne, people who self-identified as having Chinese heritage constituted as much as 20 per cent of the voting population. Some of the biggest media groups targeting this audience – including Chinese Newspaper Group, based in Sydney, and Melbourne-based Global CAMG Media Group – are part-owned by Chinese state-owned media entities such as China Radio International. Global CAMG Media Group was recently included in Australia's register for organisations undertaking activities on behalf of foreign entities. The register was launched last year under the nation's updated foreign influence laws. Analysts say the changes in the media scene took place in recent years, as earlier waves of ethnic-Chinese migration from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia began to be supplanted by mainland Chinese. "Sensitive news stories involving issues such as Tibet and Falun Gong are commonly dealt with through omission," a 2016 report by the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney said. It added "premium and welcoming coverage" of visits by Chinese leaders and the activities of local consular officials had become the norm in Australia's Chinese-language media. Experts attribute the friendlier stance towards Beijing by the media outlets to ongoing outreach by the Chinese government under the auspices of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department The unit explicitly seeks to unite "overseas Chinese" – who number about 60 million and according to Chinese officials could rank as the 24th largest nation in the world by population – to help achieve Beijing's goals. These goals might include positive coverage on Chinese President Xi Jinping 's ambitious strategy to boost global trade known as the Belt and Road Initiative. But defenders of the outreach campaign say it is also meant to encourage positive ties between countries, not sow discord. Lin Hongyu, dean of the Overseas Chinese Institute at Huaqiao University in Xiamen, said Beijing viewed overseas Chinese as a group connected by common heritage – no matter when they or their relatives left China. "The overseas Chinese are a bridge between the state where they live and mainland China," Lin said. "Overseas Chinese in Australia can play a role in making the relationship between China and Australia more harmonious." The rise of social media usage for political information has also given media academics cause for concern. A recent study by Wanning Sun, a media studies professor at the University of Technology Sydney, found that 56 per cent of Mandarin-speakers in Australia expected to receive most of their information about the parties' policies via WeChat, mostly through subscriptions to Chinese-language media. WeChat, owned by web giant Tencent and the world's top standalone messaging app in terms of number of users, uses algorithms to automatically censor content such as news articles, blog posts, and even chat messages deemed sensitive by Chinese leadership. With more than 1 million monthly users in Australia, it has become so widely used that both Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the leader of the conservative Liberal Party, and his challenger Bill Shorten, the leader of the centre-left Labor Party, recently joined an effort to engage Mandarin-speaking voters. Last week, a team of cyber propaganda researchers at the University of Canberra's Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis released a report that showed 47 of WeChat's top verified accounts in China – 29 of them aligned with the CCP – had mounted a sustained campaign of negative coverage of Morrison's government. In February, one post mocked Morrison joining WeChat. Titled "Cosying up to China? This troublesome country has done a huge about-face", the post said: "There is a country whose head has been kicked hard by kangaroos and now seeks to cosy up to us." Another post on news sites in January scorned the idea of WeChat being used to influence the vote, arguing: "British media said some Australian security experts warn Beijing may use WeChat to spread propaganda to influence the Australian federal elections, but the reasoning appears baseless." Another asked: "Will whether Western public opinion is 'reasonably suspicious' soon be the basis for judging Chinese creations? Not Huawei, not DaJiang, now the filthy object is WeChat." "It's not like we are talking about a free and open marketplace of ideas in the Chinese community," said Alex Joske, a researcher at Canberra's Australian Strategic Policy Institute. "It's something where the Chinese Communist Party has really distorted that market and makes sure it has the final say on what kind of content gets disseminated through channels like WeChat." "This is a serious confrontation between communist despotism and liberal democracy," said Feng Chongyi, China studies professor at the University of Technology Sydney, who was detained in China on national security grounds. The platform's emergence as a tool for political campaigning has raised concerns about the possibility of Australian politicians becoming influenced by Chinese censorship or disinformation campaigns. The app even became the focus of campaign controversy in recent weeks as each party accused the other of posting doctored content to influence voters. "It's very disturbing that you'd have a situation where, in a democracy, Australian politicians are trying to communicate with Australians and they are being directly censored by Beijing," said Fergus Hanson, the head of the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. But Huaqiao University's Lin, who is also a member of the advisory committee of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, said: "We don't need propaganda, we have to spread true information. "The hope, on the part of the government as well as overseas Chinese people, is that we have a better relationship between China and the nations where overseas Chinese live." Despite amendments to Australia's Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme last year requiring entities acting on behalf of foreign powers to register, some still worry that this requirement may not be enough. Before the scheme was implemented, Kelsey Munro at Sydney's Lowy Institute wrote in The Interpreter that the event that catalysed the laws – the resignation of a senator who received donations from a China-born billionaire after he espoused Communist-Party-friendly positions – would not have been caught by the new foreign interference regulations. The regulations make registered entities liable for criminal prosecution if they are found to be interfering in domestic matters. Yeung Wai-ling, the former head of Chinese studies at Curtin University in Perth, who researches Chinese interference in Australia, said Beijing had increased its influence over Australia's Chinese diaspora through "dominating the Chinese-language media, taking over traditional community groups and sponsoring new home town associations". "The intention is to silence opposition and to garner support for Xi Jinping's dream of national rejuvenation," she said, adding that she thought the efforts would fail. "The Chinese diaspora in Australia is made up of diverse groups of migrants and their descendants," Yeung said. "Regardless what Beijing says or wants, China does not represent Chinese Australians." Some Chinese Australians have decided to fight back with information campaigns of their own. John Hu, a former Sydney councillor, in 2016 founded the Australian Values Alliance, which actively promotes democracy and has advocated that mainland Chinese students studying even for a short time in Australia should be required to learn about the nation's guiding principles. Hu said he had faced pressure from consular officials to cease meeting practitioners of Falun Gong, which China has banned as an "evil cult". "I am not their subject," said Hu, who was born in Shanghai but migrated to Australia in 1990. "They have no authority upon me." Some warn the undercurrent of distrust could damage the nation's economic and diplomatic relationship with China, and question the narrative of pervasive Chinese interference. Paul Keating, Australia's prime minister from 1991-1996, courted controversy last week when he claimed the country's spy agencies were being led by "nutters" who were jeopardising Sino-Australian relations by fixating unnecessarily on Beijing. The focus on Beijing's influence on the Chinese diaspora has also created unease among Chinese Australians who claim it inflames historical distrust of China and racism toward Chinese Australians. On Monday, former foreign minister Bob Carr, who has repeatedly described allegations of Chinese interference as exaggerated, dismissed questions about the loyalty of Chinese Australians as a "collective smear that would not be tolerated for one moment if it were directed at other migrant communities because of pride in their homeland or residual support for a foreign policy position". "Australia has a long history of racially motivated policy," said Erin Chew, co-founder of the Asian Australian Alliance advocacy group. "A lot of that feeling of the Chinese invading Australia is still there, and mobilised by certain political parties." While many among the new wave of Chinese immigrants to Australia used WeChat, Chew added most Chinese Australian voters probably had a broader selection of information sources. She noted that while Australia's foreign interference laws were modelled after those in the US – and designed to stop interference by any country – Australians commonly associated the issue with China. "Australia needs to change its tune about how it views Chinese Australians and being Asian Australian," she said. "This will take advocacy, and getting more Chinese Australians active in politics." ^ top ^

Senior official stresses sharing experience on governance for Asia's progress (Xinhua)
2019-05-16
Senior Chinese official Huang Kunming on Wednesday underscored increasing governance experience sharing among Asian countries for their common development and the progress of Asian civilizations. Huang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a sub-session of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC). The keynote speech President Xi Jinping delivered at the opening of the CDAC offered Chinese wisdom for the joint building of a community with a shared future for Asia and humanity, and will inspire Asian countries to improve governance and achieve development and prosperity, Huang said. He noted that China has always been committed to a development approach that is people-centered and driven by reforms and opening-up, and has unwaveringly strengthened and improved Party leadership. The session was one of the six parallel sessions held during the ongoing CDAC, with the others focusing on issues including global influence of Asian civilizations, safeguarding the diversity of Asian civilizations, people-to-people exchanges, young people's responsibility in carrying forward Asian civilization heritage, and mutual learning among Asian civilizations. ^ top ^

US lawmakers want to bar Chinese military scientists from getting student or research visas (SCMP)
2019-05-16
Republicans in Congress want to bar Chinese military scientists from obtaining visas to study or work in the United States, drawing criticism on Wednesday from Beijing. Companion bills in the House and Senate would compel the White House to identify a list of research and scientific institutions that the president determines are affiliated with or funded by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The PLA Visa Security Act introduced on Tuesday would prevent people currently or formerly employed or sponsored by such entities from entering the US on student or research visas. The legislation landed as the two global powers are locked in a fierce trade showdown that has bruised US-China ties, roiled world markets and led US President Donald Trump to boost punitive tariffs on Chinese merchandise imports. Senator Tom Cotton, a bill co-sponsor, said "keeping PLA scientists out of our research laboratories is a basic act of self-defence". "Student and research visas ought to be reserved for those foreign nationals who want to contribute to our universities and research institutions, not for our foreign adversaries and spies that wish to do us harm," Senator Chuck Grassley added in a statement. China's Foreign Ministry said the exchanges are in line with the countries' common interests and should not be politicised. Washington has "without evidence suspected the motives of Chinese scholars, students, and scientific and technical personnel in the United States, unreasonably restricting and harassing them", ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. It was not immediately clear whether the measure would pass the Democratic-led House of Representatives, but a leadership aide said the issue "ought to be examined". ^ top ^

China's lunar rover Yutu ends 60-year riddle of moon's mantle with discovery of mineral olivine (SCMP)
2019-05-16
China's lunar rover, Yutu, has made a groundbreaking discovery that proves what scientists have been thinking for decades: that the moon has a mantle. Scientists have long suspected that the moon has a mantle under its crust, just like the Earth, but for the past 60 years lunar explorations, including the US Apollo missions, have failed to provide proof. While there were clues, there was no direct evidence. "Now we have it," said Professor Li Chunlai, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatory of China and a lead scientist on the Chang'e-4 mission that put Yutu, or Jade Rabbit as it is known in English, on the moon. The findings, published in the latest issue of journal Nature on Thursday, answer some fundamental questions about the moon, such as its internal structure and history of its formation. During its first mission on January 3, Yutu discovered olivine, a green, crystallised mineral usually found deep underground – like the upper mantle of the Earth – in surface samples collected near its landing site. Further analysis showed that the olivine was not local, but had originated from a 72km diameter (45-mile) crater nearby. The far side of the moon has more craters than the near side, which faces the Earth, and a meteor strike probably penetrated to the mantle and brought up materials to the surface. Yutu's landing site used to be littered by rocks, but cosmic rays and solar wind weathered them to dust, Li said. "What we found is the first direct evidence of materials from deep below the lunar crust," though how deep is still unknown, he said. It is generally believed that the moon was once covered by oceans of molten rock. Lighter substances rose to the surface and formed a crust while heavier ones sank to form the mantle and core. The new findings support that theory. China is the first country to land a rover on the far side on the moon and is planning to send a larger spacecraft there later this year to bring back samples. The first Chinese astronauts will land on the moon between 2025 to 2030, according to Beijing's latest schedule. The Apollo missions brought back many rock samples, some of which contained olivine, but some scientists suspected they might have come from a volcanic eruption. China, the United States and other nations have all announced plans to launch missions to exploit the moon's resources within the next decade or two. Yutu's discovery could help scientists to draw a more accurate map of those resources, including the volume and distribution of minerals, researchers said. US President Donald Trump gave Nasa an additional US$1.6 billion budget to put Americans back on the moon by 2024. Li said Chinese scientists were willing to work with their colleagues in the US, but Washington had blocked any such collaboration. "Our door remains open," he said. ^ top ^

Xi rejects zero-sum theory (Global Times)
2019-05-15
Chinese President Xi Jinping refuted the clash of civilizations theory and warned that it was "foolish to believe that one's race and civilization are superior to others, and it is disastrous to willfully reshape or even replace other civilizations." Xi delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing on Wednesday. His remarks were rewarded with rounds of applause. Chinese experts said that the attendees from different civilizations to the conference, especially from non-Western civilizations, shared the opinion of Xi and China, as there were too many examples of Western countries creating conflicts in the non-Western world due to their arrogant thoughts and disastrous approaches to Westernize others. "Xi didn't specifically name any country that holds a foolish thought or uses a disastrous approach to reshape or even replace other civilizations, but the answer is very clear," said Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University's Institute of International Relations in Beijing. The US and its allies used "democratization for other civilizations" as an excuse to expand their influence in many regions worldwide, including the Middle East, Northern Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and so on, Li said. "This kind of action has made too many people suffer from conflicts and instability." The thoughts of the West have a historical reason, said Zhang Weiwei, director of the China Institute at Fudan University in Shanghai. After the industrialization that empowered Western countries to surpass others in the 19th century, they launched colonial wars on non-Western civilizations. Asian civilizations including China and India were both victims, Zhang said. "The West also creates a kind of narrative: The West is civilized and the non-Western world is uncivilized and barbaric," noted Zhang. On the contrary, Chinese civilization holds a very different idea on the relationship between civilizations, which is more about respect for differences and emphasizes equality, Chinese experts noted. Xi underscored in his speech the importance of mutual respect and equal treatment among civilizations. He also summarized the essence of Chinese civilization: "Seeking goodwill with neighbors and harmony with all nations is the Chinese way of engaging with the world. Benefiting the people and providing them with stability and prosperity are the distinctive values of Chinese civilization," and "Keeping reforming and innovating, and advancing with the times are the unchanged spirit of Chinese civilization. Following the rules of nature and uniting human and universe are the philosophy of existence for Chinese civilization." Rem Bahadur BK, secretary of the Federation of Nepali Journalists who came to Beijing for the conference, told the Global Times on Wednesday that "Western countries' culture dominated the world for a while," and now "we [non-Western countries] want to achieve development." Under the development of others, Asian people have begun to realize the importance of reviving their cultures, he said. The ongoing conference has drawn more than 2,000 government officials and representatives from 47 Asian countries and other countries outside the region, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Visitors to the media center will see 48 pictures on the walls showcasing the heritage, cultural relics and major cities of the 48 Asian countries participating in the conference. There will be discussions on topics, including tourism, culture, people-to-people exchanges and sharing of governance experience. Other activities such as an Asian cultural carnival, Asian civilization week and an Asian food festival will also be held. Xi's keynote speech was also a strong response to the clash of civilizations theory held by some US politicians who believe in a zero-sum relationship between different civilizations, Chinese observers noted. Xi said "There is no conflict among different civilizations at the beginning…We should not only make our own civilization full of vigor and vitality but also create conditions for the development of other civilizations so that all the world's civilizations will flourish." On April 29, Kiron Skinner, director of policy planning at the US Department of State, argued that China-US competition was a "clash of civilizations," CNN reported. Skinner described competition with China as "a fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology, and the United States hasn't had that before." Compared to the zero-sum idea held by some Western countries, China's mentality or culture is much more suitable for the modern world when dealing with others, Li said. "That's why the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has won confidence and support from both non-Western and Western countries, and its determination to uphold multilateralism and reform globalization have improved its image greatly," Li said. Unfortunately, at the same time, the US is being engaged in trade friction with its trade partners and irresponsibly withdrawing from international deals and organizations, which has caused great damage to its image and interests, Li noted. Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hemaida Mohamed Mazen told the Global Times that "all civilizations in the world can help build a shared future with each other, and no country can solve its problems alone in the modern world. Countries need to cooperate with each other to solve global problems like global warming and terrorism." "The old cooperation on the ancient Silk Road is a good example - mutual cooperation with each other and sharing experiences with each other," Mazen said. ^ top ^

Italian government's China expert urges EU to let member states deal with China individually (SCMP)
2019-05-15
The European Union should adapt its trade policy to make it easier for member countries to conduct business with China, according to an Italian government minister. Michele Geraci, undersecretary of state at Italy's Ministry of Economic Development, said the European Commission should take into account the trading interests of individual countries in crafting the bloc's common policy. "We will make sure that the European trade policy, not just with China but with the rest of our partners, is more analysed on a country-by-country level," said Geraci, who spent years working in China as an academic before entering government. "When they discuss trade policy with, let's say China, the goal is to maximise the benefit for Europe as a whole because Europe is a single market. "This is good, but we also want to add an analysis on a country by country level … because only then will the citizens of Europe see clearly the potential for trade with China." Italy was the first Western European nation to sign up for China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative when Chinese President Xi Jinping made a high profile visit to Europe in March, and its support for the trade and investment scheme has greatly bolstered ties between Rome and Beijing. Geraci was speaking as Beijing and Washington remained entrenched in a 10-month-long trade war that has cast a long shadow over world's economy. Both China and the US have reached out to their European counterparts for support and economists have warned that fallout from the trade war could be global and long-lasting. Geraci, a fluent Chinese speaker, leads the China task force in Rome and has been credited with tilting Italy closer to China. After Italy signed up to the Belt and Road Initiative, he attended the Boao Forum in China's Hainan province and later toured Germany and Holland to defend the decision against criticism that the initiative would saddle partner countries with unsustainable debts or that Beijing had wider geopolitical motives. "Little by little, all the critics have died out," Geraci said pointing to the agreements signed by Switzerland and Luxembourg in recent months. "I tell you now, I think other countries in other parts of the world will join. People are really understanding that this is a commercial agreement," he said. Geraci also said Italy would be "unfairly punished" if US President Donald Trump goes ahead this Friday with his threat to impose global car tariffs. If that happens, he said Italy would appeal to the European Union for compensation. Since he became president in 2016, Trump has turned to tariffs to force trading partners to renegotiate trade deals with the US. Despite criticism, Trump has claimed credit for his tariff diplomacy arguing the policy has benefited the American economy and added revenue to the US coffers. Geraci will head to Osaka of Japan for the G20 summit next month, where he will present World Trade Organisation and anti-dumping reform proposals he has discussed with other European trade ministers. "It takes time for 20 countries to agree on something important," he said. "It's a slow process, this big international organisation can take a long time, but this is one of the main reforms, since the world now changes much faster than before." The G20 limelight will be dominated by a highly anticipated meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping as the world watches if the two leaders can reach a deal to end the trade war. Geraci said that Italy was concerned about the possibility of further tariffs but saw the Osaka meeting as a "great occasion" for Trump and Xi to reach a deal, even suggesting that Italy could help mediate between the two sides. "I am very optimistic – I have never seen tariffs last for too long," Geraci said. "People make loud noises, and there is a problem of mianzi [face]. It's not just economics and substance, it's face and personality because at the end of the day, it is people who are negotiating." ^ top ^

Confucius Institutes promote UNESCO vision (China Daily)
2019-05-15
By establishing 548 Confucius Institutes and 1193 Confucius Classrooms in 154 countries and regions, China has taken the initiative to spread the Chinese language and culture overseas in a peaceful and mutually beneficial way. And in so doing, China has used its limited resources to put the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity into practice. The teaching of the Chinese language and culture promotes global diversity and is an important channel for advancing common development that benefits China as well as the host countries. It also provides other developing countries with an example of how to promote their own cultures and languages worldwide by using limited resources. Understandably, different countries have different views on Confucius Institutes, and some have used the so-called cultural expansion, cultural invasion and cultural threat theory in an attempt to mislead global public opinion, although many have commended China's efforts. Perhaps a better understanding of China's efforts to promote its language and culture would help other countries to see the Confucius Institutes in a better light. First, unlike a zero-sum game, all parties can benefit from win-win cooperation through the Confucius Institutes. Second, the Confucius Institute programs are inclusive and every country is welcome to take part in them. And third, the programs are non-competitive in nature, albeit the most competitive performer can set an example for the others to follow. The Confucius Institutes offer other countries a unique model to promote their languages and cultures through bilateral cooperation, which is distinct from the developed countries' general practice. Considering the relatively low investment and high benefits, it is a rather successful mutually beneficial model for promoting global cultural diversity, which developing as well as developed countries can draw experience from. For human beings, cultural diversity forms the core of communications and the fountainhead of innovation. And it is essential to human beings' cultural prosperity just as biodiversity is to the ecological balance. After 10 years of remarkable development, it is imperative for each of the 548 Confucius Institutes to promote the localized teaching of Chinese based on the host country's cultural and social realities. And Hanban, or the Office of Chinese Language Council International, the executive body of the Confucius Institute, should avoid adopting a unilateral approach to funding, dispatching of talents and donating of books in the host countries. The Confucius Institute, despite being more than a language-teaching program, cannot replace the Chinese-teaching methods adopted by other institutions across the world. Nor should the program compete with the current Chinese-teaching system. As a window, a bridge, and a flagship, it should promote cultural exchanges by advancing Chinese teaching methods. And a business model that combines the interests of the cause and the industry should be adopted to create a positive cycle and realize sustainable development. Language teaching and cultural exchange are long-term processes. So apart from being constantly dedicated to the cause, Chinese teachers should also educate themselves about the world's advanced cultures while trying to spread the Chinese language and culture, because that would help make the Confucius Institutes truly respected and popular facilitators of cultural development in the modern world. Confucius said, "the superior man on literary grounds meets with his friends, and by their friendship helps his virtue". As such, China should make friends and open a dialogue with the world by using the Confucius Institutes to teach the Chinese language and culture. To continuously promote the development of the Confucius Institutes abroad, China should focus on the following aspects. First, it should adopt a differential approach to suit each host country's condition. Second, it should view language teaching and cultural exchanges as the two wheels of a cart that should move simultaneously. Third, China should strengthen academic research to generate effective theories, thus making the Confucius Institute the host country's research center on China. Fourth, it should conduct two-way cultural exchanges through the Confucius Institutes so they become a window on not only China, but also other countries' languages and cultures. And fifth, China should follow the philosophy of developing a cause and adopting an industry-like operation model to realize sustainable development, while optimizing its limited resources by preventing overlapping of functions and unnecessary competitions. ^ top ^

Belt, Road, exchanges feted during meeting with Greek leader (China Daily)
2019-05-15
The Belt and Road Initiative and the proposal to build a community with a shared future for mankind are aimed at promoting exchanges among different civilizations and boosting cooperation between countries, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday. Xi made the remark while meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Pavlopoulos is making a state visit to China from Sunday to Thursday. He will also attend the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations. Noting that Greece is an ancient Western country, Xi said that the Greek president's visit has great significance to promoting exchanges of a cultural and civilizational nature between Asia and Europe. Xi said that Chinese civilization has developed in an inclusive rather than exclusive manner since ancient times. Through the Silk Road, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and Mediterranean culture, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam all entered China and blended and coexisted with Chinese culture, Xi said, adding that China has never had civilizational conflicts and religious wars with other nations. When Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and admiral Zheng He led his powerful fleet to distant shores some 600 years ago, he brought silk, tea and porcelain rather than war to the world, and he did not occupy any land along his navigation route, Xi said. Since ancient times, Chinese have considered national interests a top priority, Xi said, adding that the happiness of individuals is based on the country's unification and prosperity. Chinese people have a high degree of unity and firm resolution in safeguarding national unity, interests and sovereignty, Xi said, adding that socialism with Chinese characteristics is a choice made by both history and the people. He said China would like to enhance practical cooperation with Greece and jointly build the Belt and Road with the European nation. Pavlopoulos said that the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations has great significance in promoting exchanges of different cultures. It is wrong for some people to advocate the theory of civilizational conflict, and different civilizations can learn from each other through dialogue and exchanges, he added. He spoke highly of Xi's thought on world civilizations, the Belt and Road Initiative and the proposal of building a community with a shared future for mankind, adding that China has kept its promises in international affairs as a responsible major country. The Greek people admire China's great developmental achievements, and Greece would like to take the historic opportunity of jointly building the Belt and Road and promote cooperation with China, he added. ^ top ^

Political prejudice of West exposed in granting asylum (Global Times)
2019-05-14
Grace Meng, the wife of former vice minister of public security Meng Hongwei, said Monday that France has granted her asylum request, according to a report from the Associated Press (AP). Grace Meng, also known as Gao Ge, said France's asylum had saved her and her two son's lives. Meng Hongwei was indicted on Friday. According to the official indictment, Meng used his job to gain benefits and accepted huge bribes. Granting Meng's wife an asylum request will not change the fact that Meng is accused of taking bribes. Meng used to be a senior official and his acts were under the supervision of China's National Supervisory Commission. Because of suspected violations of laws, Meng was investigated. This is absolutely justified. Meng has been expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and dismissed from public office over serious violations of CPC discipline and laws, according to a statement issued March 27 by CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission. The statement said Meng used his influence to "secure a job for his wife and let her take advantage of her post to seek private benefits." Such an official conclusion should have already made the whole case clear. But Grace Meng claims there are so-called "political reasons" in her husband's case. She said that her husband was a victim of political persecution and her lawyer argued that she would be in danger if she returned to China, AP reported. Grace Meng's act seems clever - labeling the investigation "political persecution" may help her win political asylum. But this also shows that France and some Western countries harbor a prejudice and have serious misunderstandings of China's politics. What her husband did would be legitimately investigated in any Western country. Western countries use their so-called politics to cover Meng's violations of the law, which only shows that Western laws are unfair. In 2018, China adopted the Supervision Law which was expected to be a guiding law for anti-corruption. The investigation of Meng shows the effectiveness of China's legal system as well as the country's tenacious resolution in cracking down on corruption. We understand that France granted Grace Meng's asylum request on the basis of the country's own law. But in the case of bribery, France's law should accord with China law. Some Western media deliberately used words like "disappeared" to describe China's investigation. This is mere provocation against China's law. Meng is also former president of Interpol, but just like France's asylum, it cannot make him escape his investigation. Anybody who violates China's law will be punished and there should be no exception. The purpose of China's anti-corruption campaign is to build a clean and fair society for Chinese people and other countries should end their illusions about interfering in it. ^ top ^

China-Russia relations are unrivalled, Beijing warns before US' Mike Pompeo meets Vladimir Putin (SCMP)
2019-05-14
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has issued a veiled warning to the United States not to undermine China's relations with Russia and criticised "outside interference" in the relationship between the two countries. Visiting Sochi on Monday for meetings with counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin – a day before the Russian pair met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – Wang said China-Russia relations set an example "beyond compare", while the world was "in chaos and disorder". "Unilateralism runs rampant, conflicting the current international system and basic norms of international relations," Wang said, according to a statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday. "Rumours and smears are used as tools to attack other countries, as if a lie repeats a thousand times and becomes a fact," he said. Wang's comment came after Beijing and Washington dramatically escalated their tit-for-tat trade war, imposing extra punitive tariffs on each other's exports after the two sides failed to agree a trade deal last week. Pompeo has warned of the dangers of Russian militarisation and Chinese investment in the Arctic, which he said had become "an arena of global power and competition". He has also called on the US' allies not to use Chinese telecoms company Huawei's equipment to build their 5G networks. Lavrov and Putin were expected to meet Pompeo on Tuesday afternoon to "discuss the full range of bilateral and multilateral challenges", the US State Department said. In a joint press conference with Lavrov, Wang told reporters that China, Russia and the US should get rid of unnecessary suspicion and misunderstanding and continuously expand cooperation with each other, according to Xinhua. The China-Russia relationship, in particular, had set an example for the international community in this regard, Wang said. "We are ready to settle differences and strengthen cooperation with other countries including the United States on the basis of mutual respect, so as to strive for more peace, security and stability for the world," he said. In Sochi, in a separate meeting with Putin, the foreign minister warned of "outside interference" into China-Russia ties. Wang said he hoped that the two governments "will continue to be able to reinforce mutual trust and mutual support", according to a transcript released by the Kremlin. China and Russia should "prove to the world that our relations are not vulnerable to obstruction or outside interference and that we will always maintain the rapid pace at which our bilateral relations are progressing", Wang said, without elaboration on the details of the "obstruction or outside interference" he was referring to. Putin expressed his support for China's transcontinental infrastructure strategy the Belt and Road Initiative, and said his country's relations with China "are being successfully developed in the most literal meaning of this word". Late last month, Pompeo's top policy planning official at the State Department, Kiron Skinner, told a think tank event that the US viewed China as a "different civilisation" and "a great power competitor that is not Caucasian", according to a Washington Examiner report. By contrast, Skinner said that the US' competition with the Soviet Union had been "a fight within the Western family". Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said the ongoing US-China trade war would deepen ties between China and Russia. "Any major US squeezes on China will strengthen Beijing's motivation to move nearer to Moscow, whose relations with Washington have no hope of improving substantially now," Shi said, "because of US domestic politics and international hotspots like Iran and Venezuela, and arms control treaties." ^ top ^

South China Sea: Beijing unveils US$23.5 million contract for coastguard ship to patrol Paracel Islands (SCMP)
2019-05-13
China has announced an expansion of its non-naval presence in the disputed South China Sea with a 161.4 million yuan (US$23.5 million) contract for a coastguard vessel that will patrol the Paracel Islands. The Maritime Administration Law Enforcement Bureau of Sansha, based on Yongxing Island, the biggest of the Paracels, has commissioned Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group – a Wuhan-based subsidiary of state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Company – to construct the 1,900-tonne vessel. Sansha is a prefecture level city of Hainan province. It would have a crew complement of 50 and be 102 metres (112 yards) long, the Hainan government's website said. Cruising speed will be about 18 knots, its maximum speed 23 knots and its range about 6,000 nautical miles. The Sansha government, which administers several island groups and undersea atolls, including the Spratly Islands, the Paracels and Scarborough Shoal, said in its five-year plan in 2016 that it expected to expand its maritime law enforcement fleet from one ship to 20. The vessel was part of an effort by Beijing to expand its non-PLA Navy presence in what analysts said was a strategy to consolidate its hold on the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia and Taiwan also have claims. Admiral John Richardson, US chief of naval operations, said China's coastguard had complicated US efforts to conduct "freedom of navigation operations" in the South China Sea, which Washington has used to constrain Beijing's sovereignty claims. Richardson said Chinese naval and "militia" vessels such as coastguard ships and fishing boats would be dealt with the same way by the US Navy in any encounters. Beijing said such exercises by the US and other powers had undermined stability across the South China Sea. China has been working with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on a code of conduct for unplanned encounters in the contested waters, although progress has been slow. On Monday, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Chinese claims over the South China Sea were "a bit overboard" and his country would seek to address them through Asean instead of bilateral agreements. "We always tell Beijing that we will discuss the South China Sea on a group level. It may not necessarily have to be that rigid, but as far as Malaysia is concerned, it has to be in a group," the Kuala Lumpur-based Malay Mail separately quoted him as saying. Xu Liping, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, said China had taken a double-track approach to dealing with South China Sea issues. "Negotiations with Asean as a group are to ensure the stability and peace of the region, and bilateral negotiations address territorial sovereign issues of the disputed islets and islands," Xu said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Senior official stresses all-round revitalization of rural China (Xinhua)
2019-05-15
A symposium was held Wednesday calling for in-depth study and implementation of the discourses of Xi Jinping on agriculture, rural areas and rural residents to achieve all-around rural revitalization. Hu Chunhua, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chief of the central rural work leading group, attended the symposium and made a speech. He said that the important discourses of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, represents the latest theoretical innovation of the party in advancing the work concerning agriculture, rural areas and rural residents and is an important part of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Hu called for better use of these discourses to guide and advance relevant work as well as greater determination, more specific goals and more effective measures in this regard to write a new chapter for the revitalization of rural areas. ^ top ^

Senior official calls for deepening belief among Party cadres (Xinhua)
2019-05-15
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Chen Xi on Wednesday called for conscientious efforts to maintain deep belief in and faithfully practice "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era." Chen, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and president of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks while attending the opening ceremony of the school's 2019 spring semester for the second intake of students. He asked for in-depth studies to strengthen beliefs and conviction in Marxism, socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation as well as to forge a keen sense of responsibility. Chen also stressed fighting formalities for formalities' sake and bureaucratism and called for maintaining moral integrity. ^ top ^

Faster and cheaper internet services to benefit Chinese economy (Xinhua)
2019-05-15
China will extend gigabit broadband connection to more than 300 cities and cut the average service rates by 15 percent for small and medium-sized enterprises this year. The decision was made at the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday in an effort to achieve multiplying effects of expanding domestic demand, boosting employment and improving people's lives. The Chinese government puts high importance on work relating to broadband connections at reasonable rates. Premier Li Keqiang emphasized that solid efforts must be made to make internet services faster and more affordable and sharpen the country's international competitiveness in this regard. Figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology show that gigabit broadband has been piloted in more than 100 Chinese cities. The country now has over 3.76 million 4G base stations and 1.17 billion-strong 4G network users. The meeting noted that as required by the Central Economic Work Conference and the Government Work Report, efforts must be intensified to make the country's internet services faster at a lower rate. This will not only benefit and provide convenience to companies and the people, but also help boost effective investment and allow digital economy to give a stronger boost to China's economic and social development. "We need to upgrade our internet services. This is a key measure to boost consumption and meet the needs of our massive cellphone users." Li said. The meeting said that upgrading and expanding the capacity of internet infrastructure can be a primary means to boost effective investment. By the end of this year, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) ports relative to all broadband ports will be raised to no less than 90 percent, gigabit broadband will be extended to more than 300 cities, and base stations for mobile internet will be upgraded with expanded capacities. The goal is to expand gigabit broadband to both fixed-line and mobile internet services. Broadband networks will cover practically 97 percent of primary and middle schools nationwide this year, and dedicated internet services will be made available over time in hospitals and medical consortiums above the county level. "Industrial internet, education and medical care are our priorities in upgrading internet services in order to boost industrial development, improve access to quality medical resources and promote fairness in education." Li said. Basic telecommunication service providers will be encouraged to further lower prices. The goal is to cut the average broadband service rate for small and midsized enterprises by 15 percent, the average rate for mobile internet services by no less than 20 percent, and roaming charges for internet traffic between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao by 30 percent by the end of this year. A "floor-price" rate will be set for low-income populations. Basic telecommunication service providers will be urged to ensure that cellphone users nationwide can switch service carriers without changing phone numbers by the end of November this year, and any extra term required for this service will be looked into. These companies will also be urged to straighten out their service packages to trim the packages available by 15 percent within this year, bringing more benefits to consumers. "There is huge consumer demand for internet services in our country. We must encourage fair competition, and ensure that our measures to lower internet service charges are fully delivered as they are an important part of our efforts in improving people's lives," Li said. ^ top ^

Beijing tightens rules over uncivilized behavior on subway (Global Times)
2019-05-15
Beijing announced it would ban "uncivilized behavior" in subways from Wednesday, including eating and playing loud music, and those who fail to adhere will get stains on their personal credit reports. Subway passengers will be banned from eating, occupying extra seats, promoting sales or using folding bicycles, auto-balancing bikes or scooters inside subway cars or in the subway station, according to the newly revised regulation released on Wednesday by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport. The regulation also forbids the use of electronic cigarettes, loitering around near emergency areas at subway stations, using fake tickets and misusing escalators. To better enforce the regulation, the commission said violations will be included in personal credit records. For those who refuse to stop misbehaving, it said subway stations could deny them service. A bad record in the personal credit system may affect applying for loans or taking high-speed trains or flights. A total of 381 people with bad credit records were banned from flying in July 2018, according to data from creditchina.gov.cn. China plans to build a government-led national social credit system by 2020 to assess individuals, enterprises and government agencies on credit, according to an outline issued by the State Council in 2014. Many uncivilized behavior on subways do not violate laws, but giving them bad credit records would serve as a warning to others, Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday. Bad records could be removed if violators volunteer their services at subway stations, the commission said. ^ top ^

Pilot project to eradicate urban waste gets underway in 16 cities (China Daily)
2019-05-14
China officially launched the "no-waste city" pilot program in 16 areas on Monday as it steps up efforts to recycle its increasing waste stockpile. The pilot program covers the entirety of 11 cities, including Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and Weihai, Shandong province, and sections of the other five cities. The central government has made arrangements to offer support to the pilot areas in policy, technology and funding, said Zhuang Guotai, vice-minister of ecology and environment, at the launch ceremony in Shenzhen on Monday. He said an expert committee has been established to guide the pilot program and evaluate progress, and seven groups have been put in place to offer technical support. Financial support will be provided for the construction of infrastructure to dispose of domestic waste and hazardous solid waste. State-owned banks will contribute some of the funding needed as the two-year pilot program moves forward, Zhuang said. "We hope governments of provincial regions enhance their support of these pilot areas and also encourage them to launch their own pilot programs if their conditions permit," he said. The State Council unveiled the "no-waste city" pilot plan in January, aiming to minimize generation of waste, maximize its utilization, safely dispose of solid waste and reduce landfills. It also pledged to establish an index system for "no-waste cities" and an institutional and technical system for the management of such cities by 2020. By that time, it's hoped the pilot cities will see their industrial waste storage stop growing and their agricultural waste fully used, it said. With a stockpile of 60 to 70 billion tons, the country generates about 10 billion tons of waste every year. The annual amount of waste generated has been growing, said Qiu Qiwen, head of the ministry's solid waste and chemicals management department. Du Xiangwan, an academic from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the pilot program will play an important role in exploring a multi-trillion market for waste recycling in China. He added it will bring huge social and economic benefits. The value of recyclable waste in major urban areas across the country stands at 2.14 trillion yuan ($311 billion). The economic benefit from recycling all waste in rural areas and major industrial sectors could reach 3.97 trillion and 1.35 trillion yuan respectively, he said, adding this could create 40 to 50 million job opportunities. However, Du added that it's a difficult task to realize a no-waste society across the country. "A large group of people need to be mentally prepared to overcome various difficulties and also contribute their wisdom to the process. It will take years to achieve the zero-waste target in the country," he said. ^ top ^

China to soon commission 1st homemade aircraft carrier (Global Times)
2019-05-14
A full year has passed since China's second aircraft carrier, or the first domestically made, the Type 001A, conducted its first sea trial, leading analysts to suggest the ship might soon officially join the country's naval service. Their prediction is based on the experience of the country's first carrier, the Liaoning, which took a little more than a year from its maiden voyage to enlist in the PLA Navy. As of Monday, lane markings have been painted on the Type 001A's flight deck. It also conducted a replenishment drill within the shipyard with the supply ship Hulunhu in late April, news website wenweipo.com reported on Monday. The first domestically developed carrier undertook its first sea trial on May 13, 2018. Four others have been conducted over the past year. The sea trials successfully tested the warship's propulsion system, combat and supply capabilities, China Central Television reported in April. Chinese military enthusiasts had hoped the second carrier would make it to a maritime parade on April 23 to celebrate the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's 70th anniversary in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province. However, it remained in its shipyard in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province where it continued to be painted. The interval between the Liaoning's first sea trial and its commissioning to the PLA Navy was a little more than a year, so analysts believe the domestically made carrier will very likely be commissioned within two months, the wenweipo.com report said. As the commissioning of the Type 001A appears to be on track, military observers are beginning to shift their focus to China's third carrier. The construction of the second domestically developed aircraft carrier has begun, the PLA Daily reported on April 21. The Xinhua News Agency also reported construction was underway in November 2018. Reuters reported on May 7 that the third carrier is being constructed at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, citing recent satellite images. Chinese military experts told the Global Times previously that the third carrier will likely be bigger than the previous two and feature a flat deck instead of jump-rack deck. It might also use new technologies including an electromagnetic catapult to launch its aircraft, they said. The Chinese Ministry of National Defense has yet to confirm the third aircraft carrier is being built. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Nepal probes journalists for Dalai Lama news amid fears of growing Chinese influence (HKFP)
2019-05-14
Three Nepali journalists are being probed for circulating a news item on the Dalai Lama, officials said Tuesday, in a sign of growing Chinese influence on its small Himalayan neighbour. The journalists, who work with Nepal's national news agency Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS), were asked for clarifications after translating a wire report about the Dalai Lama's discharge from a hospital and his return to Dharamshala in April. The circulation of the translation coincided with the visit of Nepal's president Bidhya Devi Bhandari to China on invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hari Adhikari, chairman of RSS, said that a committee has been formed and the management will decide whether to take any action against the three after it submits a report. "As the national news agency, we don't carry news that is against the foreign policy of our country and affects the relationship with our neighbours," Adhikari said. Nepal, home to around 20,000 Tibetans, is under intense pressure from its giant neighbour China over the exiles, and has repeatedly said it is committed to one-China policy. China is among the top development partners for the impoverished nation, pumping in over US$58.7 million in the last fiscal year into developing hydroelectricity, roads and infrastructure. In May 2017, Kathmandu signed up to Beijing's ambitious Belt and Road initiative, a massive infrastructure drive that critics say is at the centre of the Asian giant's push to expand its global influence. "China's interest and influence of China has been consistently increasing in Nepal and our government is also positive towards addressing their security and strategic concerns," said Geja Sharma Wagle, Kathmandu-based foreign policy analyst. Once a safe haven for Tibetans, increased police crackdowns in Nepal have discouraged protests and even celebrations within the community. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Baloch versus Beijing: how Chinese investment in Pakistan has energised a violent separatist movement (SCMP)
2019-05-15
A vast Chinese-funded infrastructure project in Pakistan has become a major trigger for separatist insurgents, galvanising their movement as they employ new tactics – including suicide attacks – in an escalation that could rattle Beijing, observers say. A deadly weekend attack by gunmen who stormed the luxury Pearl Continental hotel in Gwadar, a port on Pakistan's southern coast, was the latest high-profile assault linked to the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC – part of China's massive Belt and Road Initiative – would link the western province Xinjiang with Gwadar, giving Beijing valuable access to the Arabian Sea and facilitating new roads, ports, and airports for Pakistan. Pakistani authorities routinely tout Gwadar, a former fishing village, as "the next Dubai". The problem is that Balochistan, Pakistan's largest and poorest province through which much of CPEC runs, is a Pandora's Box of Islamist, sectarian, and separatist insurgencies. Saturday's attack was claimed by the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Chinese and Pakistani investors visiting the hotel, isolated high on a ridge overlooking the port, were the target, a spokesman for the BLA said. "We warn China to stop her exploitative projects in Balochistan and do not support Pakistan in the genocide of Baloch people, otherwise, we would respond with more attacks," the English-language message to media read. The BLA has attacked the Chinese in Pakistan before, said analyst Michael Kugelman of the Washington-based Wilson Centre. The desire and capacity to attack highly visible, well-secured Chinese targets is new, though, Kugelman said, citing another deadly attack claimed by the group on Beijing's consulate in Karachi last year. "There's good reason to believe that the Pearl Continental attack spooked [Beijing] in a big way, given that a major facility was struck in a city that houses one of the crown jewels of CPEC," Kugelman said. The project, he continued, "is a major trigger for Baloch insurgents". "CPEC represents everything the insurgents despise: a large infrastructure and development project undertaken by the Pakistani state and its Chinese ally," he said. Separatist groups in Balochistan have long demanded autonomy and a fairer share of resources. For years, the Pakistani military maintained a crushing grip on the insurgency, while brushing off accusations of serious rights abuses. However, analysts suggest Chinese investment appears to have infused the nationalist movement with new energy, inflaming the long-running grievance over resources and giving sometimes disparate groups a common focus. At the same time, Pakistan's determination to protect Chinese investment prompted the military to further intensify its stance, deepening resentment among the Baloch people. With positions hardening on both sides, one result is the relatively new phenomenon for Baloch separatists of suicide attacks, such as in the Karachi consulate attack. Nationalist politician Jan Mohammed Buledi described the development as previously "unimaginable and unthinkable" for a movement driven more by socialist principles than jihad. "When locals resist they are kidnapped, tortured and their mutilated dead bodies appear," he explained, before claiming young Baloch have "no option but to blow themselves up". "And now with the influx of Chinese, the Baloch separatists are getting international attention, so it seems the only way out," he said. Anger against the Chinese, seen as usurpers, is real and powerful, said Buledi – but the true enemy for the separatists remains the Pakistani state, with analysts warning that unless genuine grievances are addressed, a low-level insurgency could continue indefinitely. "They blame the state for its long and relentless predatory behaviour in Balochistan, and for the scorched earth policies used by the military," Kugelman agreed. Publicly at least, Beijing backs Pakistan's crackdown, and while the Pearl Continental attack was widely reported in Chinese media the claim that Chinese investors were the target was largely downplayed. Beijing's response remains uncertain. One tantalising suggestion came from a Baloch leader based in the US, who said some Chinese officials have sought help from exiled Baloch nationalists in exchange for bringing them home. "To the best of my knowledge they are still in contact with more than half a dozen nationalist leaders in US, UK and other European countries," he said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Avery Ng and other pro-democracy activists convicted over 2016 clashes outside Beijing office (HKFP)
2019-05-15
Avery Ng and several other pro-democracy activists received their verdicts on Wednesday over their involvement in a 2016 protest outside Beijing's office in Hong Kong. Ng, who is also chairman of the League of Social Democrats, was found guilty of two charges of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly. After the judgment was handed down, Ng told reporters that he planned to appeal. On November 6, 2016, hundreds surrounded the China Liaison Office in Sai Wan after a march opposing a Basic Law interpretation by Beijing. Some threw water and water bottles at police, as officers used pepper spray and batons to drive them back. Magistrate Peony Wong said on Wednesday that Ng had encouraged protesters to climb over the liaison office's barricades and police barriers, according to InMedia. At the time, Ng called on protesters to "climb over the barriers in an orderly way," but Wong said that the action of "climbing" was necessarily rough, aggressive and disorderly. Ng's actions left police officers and journalists at the scene fearing for their safety, she added. Ng's lawyer argued in court that the police did not heed the protesters' requests and arrange for them to march towards the liaison office. But Wong said that the police could not be blamed since the protesters decided to change their route mid-way. Wong also dismissed Ng's argument that police officers pulled at his genitals, saying that his claim was not supported by video evidence. Aside from Ng, five activists were found guilty of at least one charge: Sammy Ip, Chan Man-wai, Lo Tak-cheong and Cheng Pui-lun were each convicted of one count of unlawful assembly. Ip also faced an additional conviction for obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty. Activist Dickson Chau was found guilty of obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty. The sole defendant acquitted was Chow Shu-wing from People Power, who at 67 was the oldest among the group. The magistrate said there was not enough evidence to show Chow was associated with the other defendants. Two activists affiliated with Demosisto pleaded guilty at the start of the trial. Chairman Ivan Lam pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful assembly, while former member Derek Lam pleaded guilty to inciting others to behave in a disorderly manner in a public place. The activists were scheduled to be sentenced on September 11. ^ top ^

For our health, sanity and environment, it's high time for Hong Kong to roll out road pricing (HKFP)
2019-05-15
After a three-year lull, the Transport Department is back at it again, launching a dedicated website for the proposed electronic road pricing scheme. In a city with limited road space, electronic road pricing makes sense for Hong Kong. The benefits of alleviating congestion have been repeatedly stated in the past, but they deserve to be said again. Increased traffic speeds may seem relatively minor when they estimate only an increase of 3-5 km/h. However, when put into the context of peak hour traffic going below 10 km/h, this is a massive increase. For us, this doesn't just translate to shorter commuting time. Long commutes cause more stress – with the effects beginning as early as 15 minutes into the journey. Considering its role as a proxy to a multitude of diseases, having less stressful commutes is certainly a big plus. As a bonus – if you hate the incessant honking that accompanies traffic jams – smoother traffic should also calm road rage. Another benefit of congestion pricing is that it incentivises commuters to shift to public transportation. Vehicles are the main culprit of roadside air pollution. Aside from causing various respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, we now know that air pollution also harms cognitive development and can lead to cognitive decline and dementia. Getting cars off the road not only improves air quality directly by removing the offending emitters; it also improves the air quality indirectly by reducing stop-and-go congestion and allowing car engines to run more efficiently and tyres to not wear down as quickly. Of course, electronic road pricing alone is not going to solve traffic congestion. Some people will shell out the money for the luxury of not taking a bus; others need goods delivered at specific times. It will also not stop drivers from illegally parking. Electronic road pricing needs to be paired with traffic enforcement measures and a holistic transport policy – such as providing better transport infrastructure, taking back the reins of public transport development strategy, and controlling the growth of private cars. Hong Kong was one of the first cities, if not the first city to float the idea of electronic road pricing. Several decades later, we are still stuck at the planning stage. Cities like London and Singapore have already shown its effectiveness. Rather than wallow in traffic jams and choke on polluted air, it is high time that we put a price on congestion. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Mainland spokesman: Taiwan's future lies in national reunification (China Daily)
2019-05-16
Taiwan's future lies in national reunification and the well-being of its people in national rejuvenation, a Chinese mainland spokesman said on Wednesday. Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, made the remark in response to Foxconn founder and chairman Terry Gou's comments on the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle. Gou, who announced last month that he will enter the Kuomintang primaries and join Taiwan's 2020 leadership election, said the principle should be based on "respective interpretations". Noting that the mainland and Taiwan both belong to one China, Ma said the principle has clearly defined the nature of cross-Straits relations, which are not state-to-state relations. It is in the common interests of people from both sides to uphold the principle, to oppose agitation for Taiwan independence, to work for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and advance the peaceful reunification of China, he said. The two sides should work together to resolve differences based on the one-China principle, with responsibility for the Chinese nation and future generations, he added. Ma also criticized the words and deeds of Democratic Progressive Party officials and secessionists, and added that the mainland will never tolerate or be vague about the issue. Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen has recently made many visits to military camps on the island and has appealed to voters to support Taiwan independence. Ma said in response: "China's sovereignty and territory brook no division. We firmly oppose any attempt to damage the one-China principle and undermine cross-Straits relations." "We once again warned the DPP authorities that it is not reliable to bet on foreign forces for Taiwan independence," he added, referring to arms sales by the United States to Taiwan. The island's authorities have also tried to prevent exchanges between different sides. They amended rules to prevent some officials from the KMT visiting the mainland for talks with the Communist Party of China. Since 2002, Taiwan's education authority has prevented university students from joining the annual intern program organized by the China Association for Science and Technology. Ma said exchange programs play an important role in improving cross-Straits relations and enhancing the well-being of compatriots on both sides. "However, the DPP authorities have used every possible means to obstruct normal exchanges and describe the measures taken by the mainland to do practical things for Taiwan compatriots as a threat to Taiwan," he said. "Taiwan compatriots will recognize that the DPP is seeking its own selfish interest and the benefits of election at the cost of damaging the essence of cross-Straits relations." ^ top ^

Taiwan helps technology firms pivot production towards Southeast Asia as US tariffs hit mainland (SCMP)
2019-05-16
Taiwan, home to many of the world's leading electronics producers, is helping its manufacturers to expand beyond mainland China as increased US tariffs threaten the global technology supply chain. US President Donald Trump's decision to increase tariffs on US$200 billion of mainland Chinese imports last week will have convinced any undecided Taiwanese companies of the need to shift some production away from the mainland, Kung Ming-hsin, Taiwanese minister-without-portfolio in charge of economic affairs, said on Tuesday. After Taiwan, according to Kung, Vietnam and India were the next two preferred destinations for Taiwanese electronics companies. "Taiwanese companies may bring production of key, high-value components back home, but assembly and mass production of gadgets will go to Southeast Asia," he said. "Southeast Asian countries know there's an opportunity here." Technology companies from Apple to Dell Technologies have long relied on mainland China's immense labour force and manufacturing prowess to churn out everything from iPhones to computers. Now, the threat of punitive American sanctions, accusations of hardware spying and the rise of Southeast Asian economies have encouraged industry players to consider shifting at least some of their output away from the world's second-largest economy. Taiwan has been the primary beneficiary of that shift. Since the beginning of the year, 52 Taiwanese companies have pledged to invest around US$9 billion on the island as part of a government programme to persuade its companies with facilities in mainland China to take production home. While there is little chance that the mainland will cede its mantle as the world's electronics workshop soon, that trend is accelerating as Washington and Beijing clash in politics and business – and companies scramble to get out of the line of fire. That is splitting the global production chain from one centred on mainland China to a multipronged system with one based in the world's second-largest economy and another that serves the US and other non-mainland markets, Kung said. Despite a lack of formal diplomatic ties, Taiwanese officials are helping companies talk to governments across Asia about tax, subsidies and development of industrial zones, Kung said. But he and some of Taiwan's biggest technology companies share the concern that Southeast Asia's electronics manufacturing ecosystem still has some way to go before it can rival that of the mainland. "If a product line is moving, the whole supply chain needs to move together. There needs to be a cluster," Quanta Computer vice-chairman CC Leung said in Taipei on Tuesday. Quanta moved most of its server motherboard production to Taiwan from the mainland last year, and it is expanding facilities in the US, but now it could face 25 per cent US tariffs on its notebooks if Trump goes ahead with his newest threat to target another US$300 billion worth of mainland-made goods. "Right now, there is no consensus among the supply chain which Southeast Asia country would be best," Leung said. "If manufacturers are spread out in different countries, transport costs will remain high. All our profits will go to logistics companies and local customs agencies." ^ top ^

 

Economy

Will a falling yuan 'torpedo' China's trade talks with the US? (SCMP)
2019-05-16
The value of China's yuan dropped to a four-month low against the US dollar this week after the latest flare-up in US-China trade tensions as a promise by Beijing that it will not use depreciation as a tool to fight the trade war did little to allay investor concerns. The Chinese currency's 2 per cent decline over the last two days to around 6.90 has pared much of this year's gain on a strengthening view that Beijing might let the exchange rate weaken as part of its retaliation to mitigate the hardship from higher US tariffs and to spur exports to arrest an already slowing economy. Any further depreciation, analysts warned, would also test policymakers' resolve to prevent volatility in the partially convertible currency from spilling over to other Asian and global financial markets. At China's Belt and Road Forum in April, President Xi Jinping promised that China would keep the yuan stable "within a reasonable range" and would not engage in any "beggar-thy-neighbour" currency devaluation. So as long as Chinese authorities think that a trade deal was still possible, China would support the yuan's exchange rate, analysts said. But if tariffs were ultimately implemented on all US imports from China, Beijing would have less to gain from supporting the yuan than allowing the market to weaken it, said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics. China's exchange rate policy is at the heart of trade negotiations because the US administration has demanded that Beijing agree to limit the yuan's decline to the extent that it did not fully offset the US tariff increase – a condition that analysts said was acceptable to Beijing to end the trade war. US President Donald Trump's decision last Friday to more than double tariffs to 25 per cent on US$200 billion of Chinese goods that sent the yuan lower this week, however, has sparked concerns that Beijing may reconsider that agreement. In addition, the Trump administration is preparing to slap another round of tariffs of up to 25 per cent on US$300 billion more worth of Chinese goods, which could take effect as soon as July after a public consultation period. "The thing which would utterly torpedo trade talks right now would be if you saw a sudden and sharp depreciation of the yuan," said Rob Carnell, chief economist and head of Asia-Pacific research at ING Bank. "Everything else is fair game for policymakers to offset any negative consequence of the increased tariff, such as tax thresholds, or [value added tax rates], or import subsidies." While Beijing has countered tit-for-tat with a tariff increase on Monday on US$60 billion of goods, the size of the move underscores the much smaller scale of China imports from the US. Pressure on the yuan so far was also clear evidence that China had to bear most of the cost of the tariffs, wrote currency analyst Greg Gibbs in a research note published on the fintech research network Smartkarma, because the weaker exchange rate pushes up the cost of Chinese imports and reduces the purchasing power of Chinese consumers. "[The yuan's] fall is indicative of lost competitiveness, and the potential hit to sales the tariffs impose on companies in China that are exporting to the USA," Gibbs said. The Chinese currency's slump has dragged down other Asian currencies, with South Korea's won down to an 18-month low and Indonesia's rupiah trading at its weakest level against the greenback this year. Japan's yen is trading near a three-month high, given its safe-haven status. Theoretically, China would have to allow the yuan to slide below the psychologically important 7.00 level against the dollar to fully counter a new 25 per cent tariff on roughly half of the US$300 billion of goods exported to the US, virtually all Chinese goods not now subject to tariffs, according to Cliff Tan, East Asian head of global markets of MUFG. The yuan has not breached that threshold since the 2008 global financial crisis because policymakers have cautiously kept the level in check, as a sharp fall could dampen the confidence of Chinese investors and businesses, triggering a vicious cycle of currency depreciation and capital outflows. It would also tighten domestic credit conditions, making it more costly for consumers and companies to borrow, as well as resulting in repayment difficulties and more debt defaults. China's boom-to-bust equity market cycle in 2015-2016 was accompanied by a sharp yuan devaluation that not only roiled global stock and currency markets, but also led to significant capital outflows and a slowdown in the Chinese economy. "There's still a very fresh memory of the panic. The equity market meltdown and the devaluation of the currency triggered concerns about China's policymaking process," said Tommy Dongming Xie, economist at OCBC Bank. "As sentiment turns, people become more cautious. They start to worry about their investments and they start to worry about their consumption." Since then, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) has implemented strict regulatory measures to ward off capital outflows by blocking channels through which Chinese residents and companies can send money abroad. It has also customarily used moral suasion, its daily yuan reference rate, as well as administrative and capital controls to stabilise the yuan's exchange rate. On Wednesday, the PBOC issued 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) each of 3-month and 1-year yuan-denominated bills in Hong Kong, which will result in a withdrawal of funds from the city's banking system, effectively supporting the Chinese currency offshore, the yuan's exchange rate outside the mainland. Analysts warned, however, that no matter how strong China's capital control framework was, there would always be ways for capital outflows. A deal to end the trade war was still possible, but the volatility of the yuan may continue in the run-up to next month's G20 Summit in Osaka, where Trump said he would meet with Xi, they said. "China has installed back stops to slow down the movement of its currency, but in the end it is still decided by the market," Xie said. "The 7.00 level is no magic level and ultimately [the pricing of the yuan] would depend on events, how people think, and their expectations." ^ top ^

China is capable of warding off any external risks, shocks: FM (Xinhua)
2019-05-15
China has the confidence and capacity to fend off any external risks and shocks, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing on Wednesday, amid escalating China-U.S. trade tensions. The U.S. trade protectionist measures may affect the Chinese economy to a certain extent, but it can totally be overcome, he said. According to media reports, the U.S. side has painted a gloomy picture regarding China's economy, claiming China is "very eager" to strike a trade deal with the United States. Rebutting U.S. remarks as "groundless," Geng said China's economy has maintained steady growth with positive momentum, citing a 6.4 percent economic growth for the first quarter, which is faster than expected. "It is worth mentioning that domestic demand has become the major engine driving China's growth, with consumption accounting for 76.2 percent of the economic growth last year," Geng added. In a recent report on global economic prospects, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has upgraded its growth forecast for China, the only such one among major economies, according to the spokesperson. Noting China is blessed with a complete system of industries, a rising capability in scientific and technological innovation, the largest middle-income group in the world, and a huge domestic market for consumption and investment, Geng said China is fully confident of its economy and will be resolutely promoting reform and opening up as well as high-quality development in accordance with its own timetable and road map. In response to widespread worries about global economic uncertainties incurred by a new round of tariff hikes, Geng said escalating trade tensions "serve no one's interests," and will "tie down the world economy as well." Geng pointed out that it is the United States who started the trade disputes, who first imposed additional tariffs on Chinese products, and who repeatedly applied maximum pressure on China, noting what China has done so far was a purely self-defense to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests as well as to uphold multilateralism and the free trade system. On the U.S. claim that its consumers will not pay for tariff hikes on Chinese products, the spokesperson said this is against common sense. U.S. soybean, corn, wheat and other agricultural organizations have voiced opposition to tariff hikes against imports from China in a joint statement, Geng said. He also cited a study by U.S. economists, which indicates a loss of 4.4 billion U.S. dollars per month last year for U.S. consumers and importers as a result of tariff increases against China. Calling on the United States to "carefully weigh its gains and losses, grasp the situation and get back on the right track as soon as possible," Geng urged the U.S. side to meet China halfway in achieving a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement on the basis of mutual respect. ^ top ^

 

DPRK
North Korea's latest missiles may be copies of Russian designs able to evade US-made defence systems, officials say (SCMP)
2019-05-16
A newly tested North Korean short-range ballistic missile appears to be a copy of an advanced Russian design that could greatly improve Pyongyang's ability to evade US missile defence systems, according to US officials. US President Donald Trump, who has sought unsuccessfully for the last year to persuade North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons, has dismissed the new missile as "very standard stuff." But military and national security officials see a potential threat to US forces and allies in northeast Asia. Three of the missiles were test-fired on May 4 and May 9 from northwest North Korea. They flew on a low trajectory, never exiting the Earth's atmosphere before plunging into the Sea of Japan. Pictures showed the missile closely resembles a short-range Russian missile, called the Iskander, right down to the solid fuel engine and four fins on its tail for making in-flight course adjustments. The similarities are so strong that some experts dubbed Pyongyang's version "the Kimskander" after the tests. A low-flying missile with a satellite guidance system, as the North Korean missile appears to have, is potentially far harder for US anti-missile systems deployed in South Korea to intercept, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal assessments. The weapon also could be hard to destroy on the ground because it relies on a mobile launcher that carries two missiles and can be moved. It is likely more accurate than North Korea's ageing arsenal of short-range Scud missiles. The tests appeared aimed at increasing pressure on the White House to resume negotiations that stalled after a Trump-Kim summit in February failed to make any progress on getting Kim to abandon his nuclear arsenal and weapons production facilities. "This is a missile designed to evade" countermeasures, said a senior US official familiar with assessments of the North Korean test launch. "This is their way of saying, 'We have an advanced weapons programme that's continuing to do new and different things. Now let's get back to negotiating.'" A new version of the Patriot interceptor missile defence system in South Korea could hit the missile in mid-flight. But if Pyongyang fired several at once, it could overwhelm the Patriot system, a US official said. The flattened trajectory also could make it better able to avoid the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, US missile defence systems deployed in South Korea against Pyongyang's medium- and long-range missiles. On the recent flight test, the missiles never exceeded an altitude of about 30 miles high, according to a statement by the South Korean Joint Chiefs. That means for most of its flight, the missile flew too high for all but the most advanced Patriot interceptors and too low to be hit by THAAD, according to experts. For his part, Trump downplayed the potential threat and the signal it represented from Kim, insisting the tests did not violate Kim's pledge last year to halt intercontinental- and medium-range missile and nuclear weapons tests while negotiations are underway. "They're short-range and I don't consider it a breach of trust at all," Trump told Politico last week. "I don't think they're ready to negotiate." Trump defends his talks with Kim, arguing that the test pause has eased tensions with Pyongyang, at least for now. And some missile experts and diplomats say the White House is right not to overreact to the latest provocations from Pyongyang. But US intelligence officials say Kim has little intention of fully giving up North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes and is likely to ramp up testing again if the US does not agree to ease punishing economic sanctions in exchange for other concessions. "What we're getting now is just a light taste" of Kim's response if no deal is reached by the end of this year, said Joshua Pollock, a North Korean missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, a graduate school. US intelligence officials and outside experts have pored over data since the tests to try to understand the new missile's capabilities. It's unclear how many missiles Pyongyang has produced and how closely their capabilities match the Russian Iskander, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and has a range of 250 to 500 miles. One of the mysteries is how Pyongyang produced a missile so similar to the Iskander, which Moscow is prohibited from selling to North Korea under United Nations sanctions. Some experts believe Pyongyang illicitly acquired one of the Russian weapons from one of Russia's allies and copied it. Moscow has sold a version in the last decade to Syria, Armenia and Algeria. It's also possible that North Korea produced the weapon with secret help from Russian weapons scientists, or that it bought or stole blueprints for one. "I don't think the Russian government would sell this to North Korea, but it's possible they used illicit trade networks, maybe using a third party," said Michael Elleman, a former weapons scientist now at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank. "It's also possible they stole the design for it." North Korean pictures show support bands around the missile flying off during the launch in an almost identical configuration to the Iskander, evidence that is "compelling and fully consistent" with the Russian missile, Elleman wrote for 38 North, a non-profit research group and website focused on North Korea. David Shlapak, a senior defence researcher at the Rand Corp, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank, said he did not discount North Korea receiving direct help from Moscow, which has assisted Pyongyang for decades with its missile programmes. "I'm not certain why it would be surprising if the Russians did indeed collude in the provision of a small number of Iskanders," he said. "Pyongyang might have gotten its hands on a small number of missiles, mainly as sources or templates for technology and reverse-engineering, and decided to burn [ several in the tests]." Two of the missiles were displayed on their mobile launcher in a military parade in Pyongyang in February 2018, but they appeared to be mock-ups. ^ top ^

North Korean escapees give China a chance to show goodwill and respect for human rights (SCMP)
2019-05-16
The plight of a nine-year old girl and six other North Korean escapees being held in China and facing possible repatriation is disconcerting. It is little wonder that South Korea's seeming proclivity to look the other way has ignited a public outcry in Seoul, with calls to confront Pyongyang on rights abuses. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying recently that human rights is "not an issue to prioritise at the negotiating table." And why not? Is it not a matter of life and death? Meanwhile, the North Koreans in question remain in detention in China. Beijing's practice of forcible repatriation would almost certainly subject them to a dismal fate in Pyongyang. South Korea has long been a refuge for escapees from the North. Perhaps, as an act of goodwill, China will allow Seoul to take them in. A pause for thought. ^ top ^

North Korean slams 'unlawful, outrageous' seizure of ship and claims it violates the spirit of Trump-Kim summits (SCMP)
2019-05-14
North Korea said on Tuesday the seizure of one of its cargo ships by the United States was an illegal act that violated the spirit of a summit between the two countries' leaders, and demanded the return of the vessel without delay. The North's foreign ministry said in a statement that it rejected UN Security Council resolutions against it which the United States cited in impounding the vessel, as a violation of its sovereignty. "The United States committed an unlawful and outrageous act of dispossessing our cargo ship," an unnamed ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency. "The latest US act constitutes an extension of the American method of calculation for bringing the DPRK to its knees by means of 'maximum pressure' and an outright denial of the underlying spirit of the June 12 DPRK-US Joint Statement." North Korea's formal name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). It would be the "biggest miscalculation" if the United States believed it can control the North with force, the statement said, adding it will keep a sharp eye on future US behaviour. The US Justice Department last week said a North Korean cargo ship known as the "Wise Honest" was seized and impounded to American Samoa. The vessel was accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of sanctions and first detained by Indonesia in April 2018. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump held an unprecedented summit on June 12 last year in Singapore and pledged to establish new relations and a peace regime on the Korean peninsula. They held a second summit in Vietnam in February which collapsed without agreement. Tensions again have mounted since the failed summit. The US announcement of the ship seizure came hours after the North fired two short-range missiles on Thursday. The North Korean leader called for "full combat posture" following the US seizure of the North Korean cargo ship. The test of two short-range missiles on Thursday and the firing of a series of projectiles on Saturday were the first missile launches by the North since it tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November 2017. A senior North Korean foreign ministry official on Saturday lashed out at last week's statement by the US State Department that Pyongyang's regime subjected its people to "egregious violations" of human rights including 100,000 in political prison camps. But South Korea's President Moon Jae-in called the recent weapons tests a calibrated protest against Washington in the wake of the summit's breakdown and the North still wants to negotiate. Adam Mount of the Federation of American Scientists said the North's recent state media reports may signal an escalation of rhetoric, albeit relatively sedate. "If so, they would become part of an ongoing trend in which the regime sends increasingly alarming signals in an attempt to force a breakthrough in negotiations," Mount said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

President vetoes package law on taxation (Montsame)
2019-05-15
On May 14, President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga put a veto on the General Taxation Law, the Law on Corporate Income Tax, the Law on Personal Income Tax and the accompanying laws that were adopted. In this regard, an official letter was forwarded to Chairman of the State Great Khural G.Zandanshatar. The official letter says: "I have gained familiarity with the General Taxation Law, the Law on Corporate Income Tax, the Law on Personal Income Tax, and the accompanying laws that were adopted by the Parliament on March 22, 2019, and forwarded to the Office of the President on May 8, 2019. …With due consideration of the characteristic of a package law stated in Article 26 of the Law on Legislation and in accordance with Clause 1 of Section 1 of Article 33 of the Constitution of Mongolia and Section 8 of Article 12 of the Law on the President of Mongolia, I am putting a veto on the General Taxation Law, the Law on Corporate Income Tax, the Law on Personal Income Tax, and the accompanying laws that were adopted. I request you to consider and resolve the veto in compliance with the law." ^ top ^

Cooperation in military aviation with US to be developed (Montsame)
2019-05-15
Minister of Defense N.Enkhbold received U.S. Pacific Air Forces Commander General Charles Brown on May 14. Since establishing relations in the defense sector in 1991, Mongolia and the U.S. have been partnering in holding mutual high and mid-level visits, giving assistance in building the capacity of the army in being involved in peacekeeping, preparing military personnel, supporting international peace, sharing experiences for humanitarian actions and jointly participating in the measures of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command. At the meeting, they discussed training the air force of Mongolia, receiving aircraft from the U.S. as well as establishing an English language department for military aviators. In partnership with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the Mongolian Armed Forces is to organize the international exercise, 'Envoy of the Pacific Ocean - 2019', involving those in military hospitals, construction and engineering in Bayangol soum of Selenge aimag in August this year. ^ top ^

 

Jennia JIN
Embassy of Switzerland
 

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