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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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  12.8-16.8.2019, No. 781  
    Archiv / Archives
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Table of contents

DPRK

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Xi hails Sino­-Brazilian ties on their 45th anniversary (China Daily)
2019-08-16
President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that he stands ready to make joint efforts with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to lift the comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level to benefit the two countries and their people. He made the remark when exchanging greetings with Bolsonaro on the 45th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations. Since their diplomatic ties were forged 45 years ago, the China-­Brazil relationship has grown stronger as time goes by, with fruitful achievements in all areas, bringing concrete benefits to people of the two countries, Xi said. China and Brazil have set a good example of unity, cooperation and shared development between developing countries, he said. Xi said both countries are now at a critical period of national development, and bilateral cooperation has huge potential and a promising future. Bolsonaro said in a message that his nation is proud that the two countries have been adhering to the goal of mutual development and bilateral cooperation. That cooperation has become mature and diversified since the two countries established diplomatic ties, he said. Two-way trade and mutual investment between Brazil and China have been growing continuously and the two countries enjoy good cooperation in strategic fields such as space, which fully reflects the mutually beneficial nature of the Brazil­-China relationship, Bolsonaro said. The Brazilian president added that he is willing to work with Xi and jointly plan for further development of bilateral ties to benefit the nations' people. ^ top ^

China to take countermeasures against US additional tariffs (Global Times)
2019-08-15
China vowed on Thursday to take necessary countermeasures against a US decision to impose 10 percent tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods starting on September 1. The US decision has severely deviated from the consensus reached by the top leaders of the two countries during the G20 Summit in June as well as the right path of solving differences, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council, China's cabinet, said in a statement on Thursday. China is forced to take necessary countermeasures, said the commission. The US Trade Representative's office announced on Tuesday that it is delaying planned duties on a range of popular consumer goods including cell phones and laptops to December 15, while retaining the 10 percent additional tariffs on certain Chinese products starting on September 1. US President Donald Trump said on August 1 that he would impose a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods. "Based on the experience of tit-for-tat rounds, the timing of China's announcement is within expectations as the US government is good at going back on its word," said Song Guoyou, director of Fudan University's Center for Economic Diplomacy. "Despite the timing, China is sticking firmly to its consistent stance toward the US' maximum pressure by fighting back," Song told the Global Times on Thursday. Reciprocal tariffs on US exports to China as well as halting of US farm-product imports are likely to be among the countermeasures, said Song. An insider close to China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Global Times on Thursday that specific measures will be rolled out after the US tariffs start at the beginning of September. "China firmly defends its own interests and will not bargain with the country's core interests," Liu Jianying, an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of MOFCOM, told the Global Times on Thursday. The imposition of tariffs is not the solution to the trade problem, but China has to take necessary countermeasures responding to the US move to tear up the agreement. China is confident and has the ability to weather the storm, Liu noted. The tariff war is harmful to both China and the US. The two sides should resolve differences through consultation on the basis of mutual respect and on an equal footing, said Liu. "Bilateral trade talks scheduled to be held in September might be affected if the two sides cannot fix the current situation in the next two weeks," Song said. The next round of high-level trade talks between China and the US will be held in the US in September, MOFCOM spokesperson Gao Feng said in a press conference on August 1. China and the US held the 12th round of trade talks in Shanghai from July 30-31. ^ top ^

Beijing starts military exercise in disputed South China Sea as tensions with Vietnam rise (SCMP)
2019-08-15
China started a series of military training exercises near the Paracel chain of islands in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, amid growing tensions with Vietnam over the vital maritime trade route. Ships were prohibited from entering three locations in and near the Paracels from Tuesday morning until Thursday afternoon, according to three brief notices published on the Maritime Safety Administration website on Monday. No details were given of the purpose of the training, nor which military units would be involved. Tensions in the South China Sea re-emerged last month, with a week-long confrontation between Chinese and Vietnamese coastguard vessels around the energy-rich Vanguard Bank, after Chinese survey ship the Haiyang Dizhi 8 entered the area, which Hanoi has declared part of its exclusive economic zone. Vietnam's foreign ministry has also complained about the presence of Chinese coastguard ships near its oil rig operation off the Vanguard Bank. On Tuesday, Vietnamese police said they had dispersed a brief protest outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, in which about 10 people demanded the departure of the Chinese ships from Vanguard Bank. The protest came just days after a Vietnamese fishermen's association publicly urged the government to take stronger action to remove the ships, which it said had disrupted fishing in the area. While observers said this week's training could be part of China's regular military exercises as Beijing seeks to consolidate its control of the Paracels – also known as Xisha in Chinese and Hoang Sa in Vietnamese – many believed it also could be a message to Hanoi. Song Zhongping, a military analyst based in Hong Kong, said the Paracel chain was an important foothold for Beijing in the South China Sea. "China can be expected to want to improve its defence capability in the waters near the Paracels, in response to challenges from countries like Vietnam, as well as the US with its freedom of navigation operations," he said. Song said China regarded the regular US operations sending surveillance ships and planes close to the 12 nautical mile limit of its claimed territory in the area as reconnaissance activity near its territorial waters, which also posed a threat to Beijing's claims in the South China Sea. Song said the military exercises also could be part of Beijing's efforts to improve its search and rescue system in the Paracels, which are claimed by Beijing, Hanoi and Taipei. Adam Ni, a China researcher at Sydney's Macquarie University, said that, with no sign of Beijing or Hanoi stepping back from their dispute at Vanguard Bank, the Chinese drills would be interpreted as "a clear message" that China was willing to use force, if necessary, to defend its territory in the South China Sea. "This is a clear message to Vietnam that a continuous stand-off with China, and a hard-line confrontation with Beijing in the South China Sea, would not be in Hanoi's interest," Ni said. But, he added, Vietnam was unlikely to be deterred, especially when the ongoing dispute also involved a Russian oil company and a Japanese rig operator – as well as expressions of support for Hanoi from the US. "To Hanoi, by backing down you are really condoning Chinese coercion so if it takes a soft line then Beijing would become more emboldened to coerce Hanoi in the future," Ni said. ^ top ^

US puts Chinese nuclear giant, subsidiaries on Entity List to ban exports (Global Times)
2019-08-15
The US has added China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN), China's largest state-owned nuclear company, and several of its subsidiaries to its Entity List, barring US companies from selling products to those enterprises. Experts said that the ban is part of a series of US moves to crack down on China's high-technology sector, but those moves have in effect accelerated China's efforts to seek technological independence. The US government said that companies on the entity list have been acting "contrary to" the US' national security or foreign policy interests, according to a statement published by the Federal Register on its website. Commenting on the US' move, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Thursday that the US is abusing the use of export control measures. It is not only hurting Chinese companies but also affecting overseas companies including those from the US, Hua said. "After preliminary evaluation, the incident's influence on CGN is controllable," CGN said in a statement it sent to the Global Times on Wednesday. Some of the nuclear power plants being built by CGN are reportedly based on technology from US nuclear plant builder Westinghouse Electric. The US announced in October 2018 it would tighten controls on China's imports of civil nuclear technology to prevent its use for military or other purposes amid China-US trade tensions. "How much the ban hurts CGN and its subsidiaries depends on whether those Chinese companies need to import some irreplaceable but key technologies or products from the US. As far as I know, the answer is no," Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Thursday. Another nuclear expert told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that China has been striving to end its dependence on foreign technology and products in recent years. "The third generation of Chinese nuclear technology, the Hualong One, was independently developed by China. Although some components of the nuclear reactor were imported, it's already a significant improvement compared with the AP1000 technologies whose control and instrumentation systems are entirely imported," the expert said. Wu Chenhui, an independent energy expert, said that the US ban on nuclear exports shows that the ultimate intent of the US trade war with China is to thwart China's development in the high-technology sector. "In recent years, China has shifted its focus to high-technology research and development, and the trade war has added to China's determination to be self-reliant in high technologies as well as accelerated this process," Wu told the Global Times, but cautioning that domestic technology companies should have "reserve plans" when cooperating with overseas partners. ^ top ^

China urges Japan to honor its commitment, take actions to win Asian neighbors' trust (Xinhua)
2019-08-15
China on Thursday urged Japan to earnestly honor the statement and commitment it has made so far, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. "China has taken note of the negative move relating to Yasukuni Shrine from the Japanese side," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, adding that this has once again reflected some Japanese politicians' erroneous attitude toward history. She said Japan needs to take practical actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community. The offering by the Japanese prime minister came as Japan observed the 74th anniversary of its surrender in World War II. According to reports, some Japanese cabinet members and lawmakers also paid tribute to the controversial shrine. ^ top ^

China backs Pakistan's request for UN Security Council to discuss Kashmir this week, diplomats say (SCMP)
2019-08-15
China on Wednesday backed Pakistan's request for the United Nations Security Council to discuss India's decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, asking for the body to meet behind closed doors on Thursday or Friday, diplomats said. However, France responded to the request by proposing that the council discuss the issue in a less formal manner – known as "any other business" – next week, diplomats said. It will be up to Poland, president of the council for August, to mediate an agreed time and format among the 15 members. The Himalayan region has long been a flashpoint in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours. The August 5 decision by India blocks the right of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there. Telephone lines, internet and television networks have been blocked and there are restrictions on movement and assembly. "Pakistan will not provoke a conflict. But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote in a letter to the Security Council on Tuesday. "If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self-defence, with all its capabilities." UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to refrain from any steps that could affect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Guterres also said he was concerned about reports of restrictions on the Indian side of Kashmir. The UN Security Council adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute between India and Pakistan over the region, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of the mostly Muslim Kashmir. Another resolution also calls upon both sides to "refrain from making any statements and from doing or causing to be done or permitting any acts which might aggravate the situation". UN peacekeepers have been deployed since 1949 to observe a ceasefire between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. ^ top ^

Chinese immigration and visitor visa applications to Canada plunge since arrest of Huawei's Meng Wanzhou (SCMP)
2019-08-14
Chinese applications for Canadian immigration and visitor visas both fell to their lowest levels in recent years after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver and Beijing issued a travel warning to its citizens about "arbitrary detention" in Canada. The explosive growth rate in Chinese tourism that had seen mainlander arrivals in Canada nearly quadruple since the start of the decade has also plummeted, official figures show, with potential losses of hundreds of millions of dollars in visitor spending. There were 1,574 mainland Chinese immigration applications in June, the lowest monthly total since March 2015, according to the latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). And this February's 1,754 applications had represented a 45-month low at the time. Jean-Francois Harvey, a Hong Kong-based immigration lawyer, said three mainland Chinese immigration consultants had told him that Meng's December 1 arrest and the resultant diplomatic chill had had an effect on business, although it was not necessarily a "deal breaker". But one consultant told him that now "people simply choose not to even look at Canada as an option so they [the consultants] do not hear about it". "More importantly, he mentioned that his staff are definitely not too keen about the [Huawei] situation, hence it may influence their view and therefore what they recommend to the clients," said Harvey, who is Canadian. Meanwhile, mainland Chinese "temporary resident" applications – a category made up mostly of tourism-type visitor visas – plunged 35 per cent year on year to 30,334 in January, then fell again to 26,075 in February. Those were the two lowest totals for any months since February 2015. Chinese temporary resident applications appear to have since recovered from those depths, but every month to June was down compared to the same month in 2018. The six-month total of 320,743 was down 24 per cent on 2018's first-half figure. Temporary resident applications by mainlanders had previously soared since at least 2010 at an average of 16.5 per cent a year. They went from 262,011 in 2010 to 878,713 last year. Chinese residents made 757,205 actual trips to Canada in 2018, up from 200,033 in 2010, according to Statistics Canada. Visa applications do not match visitor arrivals because most Chinese now visit on multiple-entry visas valid for 10 years, and because not all applications result in a visa or travel. The effect of recent visa application declines on Canadian tourism is likely to be still filtering through. Although the most recent figure for approvals of Chinese visitor visas in May was down 41 per cent compared with a year earlier, actual arrivals of Chinese visitors have so far only plateaued. Chinese arrivals in Canada for the first five months of 2019 were up by 3 per cent compared with the same period in 2018. Nevertheless, this diverges substantially from the steep and consistent increases for those five months every year since 2010, averaging 19 per cent. This year's failure to match that historic growth rate represents a potential loss of about 38,000 visits by Chinese tourists and C$128 million (US$97 million) in spending so far. If that continues for the rest of the year, it would represent the loss of about 120,000 potential visits and C$410 million in spending. Rémi Larivière, a spokesman for IRCC, offered no comment on whether Meng's arrest and the tensions between Canada and China may have affected immigration and visitor visa applications. "While we can't speculate on the specific reasons for the decrease in [permanent resident] and [temporary resident] application volumes for Chinese nationals, we can say that generally, January and February are the lowest months for visa applications from Chinese nationals," Larivière said. Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport sent relations between the two countries into a tailspin and triggered a Canada travel warning from the Chinese government on January 15. It cited the "arbitrary detention" of a Chinese citizen on behalf of a third country. Canadian police arrested Meng, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, at the request of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on bank fraud charges relating to a suspected breach of US sanctions on Iran. She has been released on bail in Vancouver amid what promises to be a lengthy extradition process. Two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, were subsequently arrested by China and face espionage charges, but their detentions are widely believed to be retaliation for Meng's arrest. Overall, Chinese immigration applications in the first six months of 2019 fell to 14,527, a drop of 17 per cent compared to the same period last year. First-half applications had previously held steady at more than 17,000 since 2014, although there was a sharp dip in 2015 amid a revamp of immigration rules. June suffered a year-on-year fall of 32 per cent, while February's fall was 22 per cent. In the temporary resident category, January's tally was down a whopping 66 per cent compared with December 2018. But this was amplified by an unusually high December figure of 89,845 – some of those travellers may have been trying to beat the December 31 introduction of Canadian rules requiring visa applicants to submit their fingerprints and a photo, IRCC's Larivière suggested. This could also have exaggerated year-on-year declines, with December's heavy load sapping away applications that might otherwise have taken place in early 2019. The Globe and Mail newspaper was the first to report steep declines in Chinese applications for visitor visas. Visitors typically make up about 70 to 80 per cent of temporary resident applicants, with the rest made up mostly of students and work permit applicants, categories that have experienced little change this year. Chinese travellers are Canada's third biggest tourist market, behind Americans and Britons. In 2018, Canada issued nearly 592,000 visitor visas to Chinese nationals, an increase of 8.3 per cent over 2017, IRCC said. In 2017, Chinese visitors spent an average of C$3,400 in Canada per trip, for a total of C$2.4 billion (US$1.8 billion), according to Statistics Canada. Worldwide, applications for Canadian permanent residency and temporary residency visas are otherwise little changed so far this year. ^ top ^

New era demands cooperation between China and Japan (China Daily)
2019-08-14
In line with the demand of a new era, the China-Japan Strategic Dialogue concluded on Saturday with the two sides reaching a consensus on strengthening bilateral relations. Held after a gap of seven years, the dialogue was marked by candid exchanges on bilateral ties, and regional and international issues. Started in May 2005, the China-Japan Strategic Dialogue is aimed at helping the two sides better understand each other's policies to expand cooperation and sound out each other on conflicting interests. The dialogue therefore lays more emphasis on genuine discussions than on specific agreements, although the possibility of such deals being reached cannot be ruled out. No wonder the dialogue was more symbolic than substantive. Despite that, the two sides decided to propel bilateral ties forward and create the needed atmosphere for President Xi Jinping's proposed visit to Japan next spring. This is of great significance and reflects the changing international landscape and the two sides' developing relationship. More important, building a bilateral relationship in line with the demands of the new era and the two sides' commitment to developing bilateral ties at the dialogue are expected to be the theme of Xi's proposed visit. A number of structural contradictions such as historical and territorial issues and inherent military distrust have troubled the two neighbors for decades, and they are expected to do so in the foreseeable future. Yet it is unwise for the two sides to be obsessed with these differences and lose sight of the opportunities of fruitful cooperation and mutual progress. The 21st century is fundamentally different from the 20th century when people had to endure the two world wars and many a local war which claimed millions of lives and destroyed many economies. Peace and development are the trend of the 21st century, and China and Japan have to heed the call of the times and find new channels to meet the demand of the Chinese and Japanese peoples for development and common prosperity. To make that possible, new paths to improve Sino-Japanese ties need to be explored. First, the structural problems and contradictions that cannot be resolved in the short term should be shelved to prevent them from impeding the development of bilateral ties. The two neighbors have no choice but to devise a more harmonious way of coexisting peacefully despite their differences. Since it is a waste of time and resources to resort to confrontation, the two sides should prevent problems from holding bilateral ties to ransom and obstruct the development of bilateral ties. Second, Sino-Japanese cooperation should be deepened to enlarge the highest common factor of collaboration. And intensifying trade and economic cooperation through more open bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements is the most effective way they can stimulate the regional economy as well as boost regional economies' development. Therefore, China and Japan must make greater efforts to finalize the China-Japan-Republic of Korea free trade agreement which would deepen the integration of the three countries' markets. Also, China and Japan should try to work out a bilateral free trade agreement if the trilateral accord cannot be finalized in the short term owing to the trade conflict between Tokyo and Seoul. It is hoped the two countries would seize the good momentum provided by the latest Sino-Japanese dialogue to substantially improve bilateral relations. They should also focus on tangible trade and economic cooperation, instead of general political and security strategies, to strengthen a mutually beneficial relationship, as that is the right way to continuously improve bilateral ties. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

New corridor to boost western growth (China Daily)
2019-08-16
China is developing a new land-sea corridor in its western region in a bid to speed the opening-up and high-quality development of the region and deepen international economic and trade cooperation, the country's top economic planner announced on Thursday. The development plan, unveiled by the National Development and Reform Commission on its website, aims to build an economical, efficient, convenient, green and safe land-sea corridor for the western region. By 2035, the new land-sea corridor will be fully completed, with better transportation capacity and world-class customs clearance and logistics services, officials said. The new land-sea corridor will extend primarily from Chengdu in Sichuan province and Chongqing to a group of Beibu Gulf ports in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Yangpu Port in Hainan province. It also will better connect China's inland northwestern region to major ports in the south. The new route includes a network of railways, roads and air connections, with Chongqing and Chengdu serving as two key logistics hubs. Experts said the plan will help give full play to the unique regional advantages of the western areas and create new strategic anchors for their opening-up and development. It also will form a key corridor connecting the Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Chen Liuqin, founder and director-general of Beijing-based Qin Dian Think Tank, said building a new land-sea corridor is of great significance. It will be mutually reinforcing with other national strategic plans and form multifield, multilevel and multichannel bilateral ties with economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. "The corridor will deepen the connection between the northwestern areas and the southwestern region. Its multimodal transportation will help shorten transportation times and reduce costs, fostering a promising future for economic and trade development," Chen said. "From a long-term perspective, the new corridor will connect different strategic regions in the nation and closely link the vast western inland regions to the vibrant Southeast Asia market. The route will significantly boost connectivity between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and further promote the two sides' economic and trade cooperation." Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said, "The new route will help boost both domestic and international trade." "Compared with the traditional route via the North China region, the new route offers a new path to further connect the northwestern region with ASEAN countries, allowing the inland region to benefit from the development of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. Under the plan, goods from ASEAN countries will be able to be transported to the Central Asia market via the route, which will bring new development opportunities for the northwestern China region," Mei added. Also, in May, Chongqing and eight provinces and autonomous regions in western China-Guangxi, Guizhou, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Ningxia and Shaanxi-signed an agreement to build the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. That corridor is being jointly built by the western Chinese provincial areas and ASEAN countries under the framework of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, which the two sides signed in 2015. ^ top ^

China's new aircraft carrier to pack more jet power than the Liaoning (SCMP)
2019-08-15
China's first domestically built aircraft carrier will take 36 fighter planes to sea when it is commissioned, 12 more than its sister ship the Liaoning, according to state media. The new Type 001A was an upgraded version of the Liaoning, a former Soviet Kuznetsov-class carrier, with a much smaller control tower "island" but greater displacement, Hu Wenming, chief of the ship's construction programme, said in an interview with CCTV on Tuesday. "The two carriers look similar, but from a design and research and development perspective they are essentially different," Hu, president of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), was quoted as saying. While the Type 001A retained the Liaoning's ski-jump flight deck, at 315 metres (1,033ft) it is 10 metres longer. The new ship has a full displacement of 70,000 tonnes, compared with the Liaoning's 58,600 tonnes. Unlike the Liaoning, the new carrier has a Type 346 "Star of the Sea" digital radar system and hangar space for 12 more J-15 fighters than its sister ship. The Liaoning carries 14 helicopters and has a crew of about 2,000. Both ships are powered by four-shaft conventional steam turbines, although the top speed of the Type 001A is 31 knots, slower than the Liaoning's 32. The Type 001A went through its seventh trial in the Yellow Sea earlier this month. In earlier trials, everything from basic ship propulsion to aircraft operations was assessed. "China has accumulated more experience with the Liaoning and that has helped in the construction and operation of the Type 001A," said Song Zhongping, a military commentator based in Hong Kong. The Liaoning, formerly the Varyag, was sold to China by Ukraine in 1998 as the unfinished second ship of its class. State-owned CSIC retrofitted the vessel from 2005 at its Dalian shipyard and delivered it to People's Liberation Army Navy in 2012. The ship was named after the province where the shipyard is located. The Liaoning's main role is to train navy pilots and crews for carrier operations and, as China's sole commissioned aircraft carrier, it is also said to be "combat ready". CISC began work on the Type 001A in 2013 and launched it in April 2017. Its maiden voyage came in May 2018, and it is expected to be commissioned later this year. In April, CCTV aired a 23-second video shot during the Type 001A's fifth sea trial in February and March, which revealed the bridge interior, control panels, radar system and mast structure, and a weapons system designed to counter incoming fire. ^ top ^

China's top legislature schedules bi-monthly session (Xinhua)
2019-08-15
China's top legislature will convene its bi-monthly session from Aug. 22 to 26, according to a statement issued after a chairpersons' meeting Thursday. Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), presided over the meeting. The meeting suggested the upcoming session's agenda to include reviewing a draft revised drug administration law, draft amendments to the laws on land administration and urban real estate administration, draft laws on resource taxes and promotion of basic medical and health care, and draft sections on personality rights and torts of the civil code, among others. The NPC session is also expected to decide whether to ratify extradition treaties with Sri Lanka and Vietnam respectively. Reports of the State Council and the NPC on various topics as well as personnel issues are also expected to be discussed. ^ top ^

Tighter rules for patent agents announced (China Daily)
2019-08-15
The National Intellectual Property Administration recently announced new rules for patent agents and agencies. They will include supervision, punishment and law enforcement. NIPA called for patent agencies to conduct self-regulation and sign a pledge to act lawfully and ethically. It also called on local authorities to investigate lawbreaking patent agents and agencies and punish them. NIPA will supervise related illegal cases if needed and make sure they are well dealt with. NIPA said it would collect information about illegal behavior from members of the public, investigate and transfer tipoffs to local bureaus. NIPA plans to withdraw policy support for agencies which applied for unlawful patent applications in the first half of 2019. By the end of August, NIPA will launch an investigation into agencies that applied for improper patent applications in 2019. It also called for the cooperation of local authorities to investigate the improper validation of IP-related certificates. In addition, NIPA will investigate and punish bad behavior aimed at attracting business for patent agents. This is for those who placed dishonest advertisements and committed fraud by pretending to be a staff member of State organs. NIPA will also guide the industries to self-regulate, record all claims of illegal acts by patent agents from the public, train employees of patent agencies to increase their professional awareness and strengthen regulation of patent agencies and agents, according to the announcement. In April, NIPA initiated a campaign to crack down on improper and illegal patent agents. The campaign will run from April to November during 2019-20. "Patent agents and agencies play a key role in transforming innovative results into patents," Lei Xiaoyun, director of the IP utilization and promotion department at NIPA told Xinhua News Agency. The campaign aims to strengthen supervision of patent agents, so as to optimize the innovation and business environment in the country, she said. With the application of the campaign, NIPA will have a diversified supervision system in a bid to promote its supervision efficiency, she added. ^ top ^

China builds intelligence command system for celebration of 70th founding anniversary (Global Times)
2019-08-14
China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has requested local-level police organs speed up efforts in building an effective intelligence command system to prepare for the upcoming celebration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China. To better maintain nationwide security and political security, police intelligence departments should hasten building "a unified, efficient and authoritative intelligence command system," Zhao Kezhi, minister of the MPS said at a conference held in Beijing on Tuesday, cpd.com.cn, a site affiliated with the ministry reported on Wednesday. The intelligence team needs to strengthen their capability to analyze, speculate, send out early warnings, rapidly react, command and deal with emergencies, Zhao said. Chinese analysts said a solid intelligence command system could allow police to crack down and prevent crimes more effectively and accurately. Ahead of the major event, police across the country need to be alert to all kinds of criminal activities especially potential sabotage from overseas anti-China forces and pro-secession forces since "recently rioters have been creating chaos and violence across the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region under the support of foreign force," Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China institute of contemporary international relations in Beijing, told the Global Times. Some domestic violence and mass incidents are also likely to challenge the police during the special moment, which needs an intelligence system to monitor, Li said. The intelligence departments from different places are relatively independent. If unified, police could make more effective judgment in dealing with the emergency, said Wang Hongwei, a professor at Renmin University of China's school of public administration and policy in Beijing. MPS announced that police across China will be required to conduct combat drills to improve their ability to safeguard national political and social stability. Police departments will strengthen basic training of all police officers and focus on improving abilities to prevent major risks and maintain stability and security, the MPS announced on its website Friday. ^ top ^

Typhoon Lekima leaves 49 dead, 21 missing in China (Xinhua)
2019-08-12
Typhoon Lekima has left 49 dead and 21 missing in eastern Chinese provinces of Zhejiang, Shandong and Anhui, wreaking havoc there with strong gales and torrential rains. By Monday morning, the death toll in Zhejiang Province has risen to 39 while nine others remained missing, said the Zhejiang provincial flood control headquarters. The ninth and strongest typhoon of the year has affected 6.68 million residents in Zhejiang, among whom 1.26 million were evacuated. It damaged 234,000 hectares of crops, inflicting a direct economic loss of 24.22 billion yuan (about 3.4 billion U.S. dollars). Lekima landed at around 1:45 a.m. Saturday in the city of Wenling in Zhejiang. It made a second landing at 8:50 p.m. Sunday on the coast of Qingdao in Shandong Province. In Shandong, it has left five people dead and seven missing, affecting 1.66 million people and forcing the relocation of 183,800 as of Monday morning, said the provincial emergency management department. Heavy rains and strong gales have damaged 175,400 hectares of crops and toppled 609 houses in Shandong, inflicting a direct economic loss of 1.48 billion yuan, it said. Floodwater inundated 18,000 vegetable greenhouses in Shouguang, a major vegetable production base in China. The average precipitation in the city of Weifang, which administers Shouguang, reached 217.5 mm between 6 a.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, the largest rainfall since the hydrologic record started in 1952, said the local flood control and drought relief headquarters. In the neighboring Anhui Province, four people were killed and five others remained missing. The typhoon has affected more than 130,000 residents in the province and 20,000 people have been evacuated as flooding damaged houses, crops and roads and disrupted electricity and telecommunications. As of 1 a.m. Monday, Lekima had damaged nearly 6,000 hectares of crops, toppled 364 houses and damaged 439 houses in Anhui, causing a direct economic loss of 437 million yuan, said the provincial emergency management department. The typhoon also affected Liaoning Province as it moved northward. More than 106,000 residents have been relocated, 28 trains disrupted and all major tourist destinations closed. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

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Shanghai

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Guangdong

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Tibet

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Xinjiang

White House appoints Uygur-American Elnigar Iltebir to top China policy advisory job (SCMP)
2019-08-15
The White House has appointed a Uygur-American academic to a top position on China policy in a move meant to put more pressure on China over mass detentions in the far western region of Xinjiang, analysts said. The appointment comes as Beijing faces intense international pressure over reports that up to one million Uygurs and other Muslims have been held in camps in Xinjiang, camps that Beijing says are vocational training centres. It also comes as China and the United States remain deadlocked in a trade war after more than a year of negotiations and tit-for-tat tariffs. Citing serving and former American officials, US-based Foreign Policy magazine reported on Thursday that Elnigar Iltebir, a Harvard-educated academic and daughter of a prominent Uygur intellectual, was appointed the US National Security Council's director for China. In the role, Iltebir will advise the president and senior White House officials on US policy towards China and coordinate the implementation of that policy among government departments and agencies. The administration of US President Donald Trump has been criticised by both Republicans and Democrats for not taking a strong enough stand against China over human rights violations in Xinjiang. Trump met a member of the Uygur community publicly for the first time in Washington last month during a meeting of victims of religious persecution from around the world, but he did not appear to know in detail about the internment camps. Sean Starrs, assistant professor of international relations at City University of Hong Kong, said Iltebir's appointment was another way to increase overall pressure on China and to indicate a changed US foreign policy position towards China. "Part of Trump's platform is saying that all previous presidents were too benevolent to China, and so the Trump administration is taking a more confrontational stance toward China – appointing a Uygur academic is certainly part of that," Starrs said, noting the move was more likely to have been driven by hawkish US cabinet members rather than Trump himself. "The symbolism of her ethnic identity in itself is a poke in the eye to China." Jared Mondschein, senior adviser at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, said previous China directors were heavily involved in coordinating foreign policy, as well as meeting both the president and Chinese diplomatic counterparts. "This is an important and critical role, especially in this administration, especially given how central China is in their focus," Mondschein said. "Having someone there, across the table [with her background], the visuals of that are really powerful." While Trump has not made human rights a focus of his foreign agenda, members of his administration have continued to pressure China over Xinjiang. Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China's treatment of its Uygur Muslim minority the "stain of the century", a sentiment echoed by Vice-President Mike Pence. Mondschein said the appointment could signal the administration's stronger focus on human rights. "They were holding back on human rights criticisms to get a better trade deal, but it seems like at this point things are only heading in one direction so it doesn't hurt too much to draw more attention to an obvious human rights violation," he said. The administration twice considered and abandoned plans to impose economic sanctions on China over mass detentions in Xinjiang. The most recent sanctions package was quashed just before the Group of 20 summit in Japan in late June, over fears that it would disrupt talks between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the trade war. There are few publicly available details about Iltebir, who gained a doctorate from the University of Maryland in 2015. During her masters work at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, she crossed paths with former US defence secretary Ash Carter, according to a note in her dissertation on Turkey's foreign policy. A Washington Post photo shows her at a protest rally at the Chinese embassy in 2009. Attempts to contact the National Security Council and Iltebir went unanswered. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong police say 748 arrested during summer's anti-gov't protests, as weekend demos banned again (HKFP)
2019-08-16
Hong Kong police have banned two upcoming protests planned for this weekend. The force also revealed that they have arrested 748 people since the mass anti-extradition law protests began in June. Saturday's marches in Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan, organised by district activists, as well as a Sunday protest organised by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) from Causeway Bay to Central were both banned over public safety concerns. On Sunday, only a static rally in Victoria Park against police violence will be allowed to proceed on Sunday. "We are very dissatisfied with this decision, and believe this decision will impose a danger to a large number of participants," the CHRF said in a statement. "We have already applied for an appeal. Will give further notice to media when more details are revealed," In previous weeks, efforts to ban or restrict anti-government and anti-police demonstrations have failed, with protesters appearing anyway, and clashes often breaking out on the frontlines with police. Timothy Lee, president of the group Synergy Kowloon who applied for Saturday's march, said Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan have seen huge influxes of mainland Chinese tour groups, turning the two districts into budget tourist shopping areas, affecting the liveability of the communities. A march from Hung Hom Ferry Pier to Sung Wong Toi Playground was proposed, but police said serious conflicts had broken out at recent protests which were out of the applicants' control. The police also said the use of the Sung Wong Toi Playground was not approved by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, thus Lee's application for a letter of no objection was rejected. Lee said the police ignored residents' rights to assembly under the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: "Hong Kong people are very angry at the cold-blooded regime led by Carrie Lam. I believe that, even if I tell people not to do anything on Saturday, their anger will not disappear," he said. Lee burned the rejection letter issued by the police in front of reporters. Lee said he will appeal the police decision, as he urged police not to use excessive force and expired tear gas in the areas on Saturday. At their Thursday press briefing, police said that 748 people had been arrested in relation to the summer's protests since June 9 – 115 of them have been charged. The force confirmed that they fired 35 rounds of tear gas and one rubber bullet during the Sham Shui Po operation on Wednesday night, and arrested 15 men and two women aged between 15 and 61. ^ top ^

Upholding rule of law only way to make things right in HK: mainland experts (Xinhua)
2019-08-15
In the face of serious violence, the only way to resolve the problem in Hong Kong is to return to the framework of the rule of law, a mainland legal expert said Thursday. Han Dayuan, a professor of law at the Beijing-based Renmin University of China, said at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office Thursday that law-based governance of Hong Kong should safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, maintain Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, and protect the rights and freedom of Hong Kong residents as enshrined in the Basic Law. Noting that the rule of law in Hong Kong is facing various challenges, he stressed that the rule of law has the strength to resolve all disputes, bridge differences and regain consensus so that order and security can be restored as soon as possible. Recently, the violent acts of radical protestors have severely violated multiple laws in Hong Kong, said Zou Pingxue, director of the Center for Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions of Shenzhen University. Zou called on Hong Kong residents, students' parents and educators to oppose and resist with a clear stand against any actions that aim to incite and instigate young students to take part in illegal activities. Many countries, including the United States, consider extremist, violent acts as acts of terrorism, said Zhang Jian with the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. To curb the tendency of resorting to terrorism, the public ought to show zero tolerance towards violence, said Zhang, adding that the effort also requires strict law enforcement by the police and judicial authorities. As for foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs, Zhao Kejin, deputy dean of the School of Social Sciences at the Beijing-based Tsinghua University, said Hong Kong-related issues have a profound international background. After the return of Hong Kong, the United States has become even more blatant in interfering in Hong Kong affairs rather than changing its Hong Kong policies developed during the Cold War, which is one of the root causes of Hong Kong's chaotic situation, Zhao said. Foreign forces should give up their colonial and Cold War mentality, and stop attempting to use Hong Kong to contain China's development, he added. ^ top ^

Hong Kong reveals multi-billion dollar relief measures and subsidies, as finance chief cites poor economic outlook (HKFP)
2019-08-15
The Hong Kong government announced a series of relief measures on Thursday that totalled more than HK$19 billion, with policies targeting small and medium enterprises, students and low-income families. Financial Secretary Paul Chan said that the policies are expected to boost the economy by 0.3 per cent. He also cut Hong Kong's real growth forecast this year to zero to one per cent, citing "significant downward pressure" and a worsening global economic outlook. Tax cuts previously announced for this year's budget will be beefed up: salaries tax, tax under personal assessment and profits tax for 2018-19 will be reduced by up to 100 per cent, with a ceiling of HK$20,000. Chan estimated that 1.43 million taxpayers will benefit from the measures, which will cost the government HK$1.84 billion. The government will also provide one extra months' payments to social welfare recipients, as well as those receiving the Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance and the disability allowance. Students in kindergarten, primary school and secondary school will each receive a HK$2,500 subsidy. Households will receive a one-time HK$2,000 subsidy for their electricity bill, and lower-income tenants living in public housing will have their rents waived for one month. Chan added that the Community Care Fund was in the process of developing one-off subsidies for low-income families not currently benefiting from the government's welfare policies – also known as the "N-nothing" demographic. The government also announced that 27 types of fees and charges would be waived, among a set of measures aimed at benefitting small and medium enterprises. Appearing before the press with four other top ministers, Chan did not mention the ongoing anti-extradition bill protests in his announcement, saying that the relief measures announced on Thursday were purely economic. "Are the relief measures meant as a response to the political pressures brought by the anti-extradition bill protests? I can clearly tell everyone that the two are unrelated," he said. "The measures were designed based on our assessment of the economy, and as a safeguard against future economic situations." However, pro-democracy lawmaker Helena Wong said that the government was trying to change the focus and sidestep the current political crisis by giving handouts. Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said that the main reason behind the faltering confidence in Hong Kong's economy was political in nature, and that the economy will only grow if the government becomes accountable. Some of the newly announced relief measures will require approval from the legislature, while measures that are administrative in nature – such as the rent reduction – could be implemented as early as October. Asked why he did not implement a HK$8,000 cash handout scheme, as proposed by the pro-establishment New People's Party, the finance chief replied that the sweeteners should be more targeted in nature. ^ top ^

Donald Trump urges Xi Jinping to meet Hong Kong protesters, clarifies earlier tweet interpreted as an offer to meet Chinese president (SCMP)
2019-08-15
US President Donald Trump on Thursday urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to meet with anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, apparently clarifying comments he made a day earlier that were taken as a suggestion that Trump himself should meet with Xi over the matter. Retweeting his own Twitter post from about 14 hours earlier, Trump said: "If President Xi would meet directly and personally with the protesters, there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem". He repeated the suggestion to White House reporters later on Thursday, adding that he has a phone call scheduled with Xi "very soon" and that he expected another round of trade talks next month. In the earlier tweet, in which he praised Xi as "a great leader", Trump said that he had "ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?" Trump's tweets on Wednesday regarding China and semi-autonomous Hong Kong, where unrest has led to violent clashes between protesters and police and forced the cancellation of thousands of flights at the city's international airport, covered a range of topics, appeared to link trade talks with China to US Federal Reserve monetary policy and to the Hong Kong protests. When discussing trade talks with reporters on Thursday, Trump said talks between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi in the US on Tuesday were "very productive" and that Beijing wanted "to follow through very quickly" on purchases of US agricultural products", without offering more details. The Chinese government has not responded to any interpretation of Trump's tweets on Wednesday or Thursday relating to Xi meeting anyone, instead referring to comments the US president made earlier this month, in which he emphasised that Hong Kong is part of China. "That's between Hong Kong and that's between China, because Hong Kong is part of China," Trump said in the August 2 remarks to reporters in Washington. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement on Thursday that "I hope the US can really do what it has said", referring to the August 2 remark. However, Trump's comments on Hong Kong are increasingly divergent from the ones that Hua supports, and "less damaging" to the interests of the protesters in the city, said Victoria Tin-bor Hui, an associate professor in political science at the University of Notre Dame. "Trump is realising that he's not the only one calling the shots on Hong Kong. There are so many voices calling for restraint by China in Hong Kong, so he wants to show that he can rely on his friendship with Xi Jinping to sort out the matter," Hui said. US lawmakers including Senators Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Ben Cardin, a Democrat, reintroduced legislation in June requiring the US secretary of state to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong's autonomy from mainland China for the city to continue enjoying its special trade and economic status. On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a start to political dialogue between Hong Kong's protesters and their government while French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian highlighted the respect for fundamental liberties under "one country, two systems". While Trump's messaging has become more aligned with others, domestically and internationally, on China's treatment of Hong Kong, Hui said that his attempt to connect the unrest to the bilateral trade war he started last year shows that the US president is only trying to use the stand-off between protesters and the city's government as a bargaining chip in the trade conflict. Trump "doesn't understand that Hong Kong is supposed to have autonomy," she added. "He should be telling [Hong Kong Chief Executive] Carrie Lam to insist that she is in charge and should be telling Beijing to take its heavy hand off of Hong Kong." Hong Kong's Basic Law was drafted as part of the Sino-British Joint Declaration covering the territory after its handover to China on July 1, 1997. The declaration stated that Hong Kong would be governed under a "one country, two systems" principle that guarantees the territory a capitalist system and individual freedoms for 50 years after the handover. The "two systems" side of the formula is what Trump appears to be overlooking, analysts said. "The thing that Trump is imagining, where Xi Jinping shows up [in Hong Kong to talk directly to protesters] is simply not going to happen," according to Eli Friedman, director of international programmes for Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. "The issue that Trump is getting at from a somewhat distorted perspective is that China's central government is playing a key role in how things are unfolding there," Friedman said. "Any kind of compromise would have to be presented as a process of negotiation by the Hong Kong government." Even if international pressure brings Hong Kong's largely leaderless protest movement together with government officials, the prospects for a long-term resolution remain dim because the structure of Hong Kong's economy has been shaped by a business community aligned with Beijing, Friedman added. In mainland China, "you exchange your democratic rights for improving livelihoods", he said. "That is effective there because they've seen 40 years of uninterrupted economic growth. "What we've seen in the past 22 years [in Hong Kong] is rapidly increasing economic inequality." Hong Kong is ranked ninth highest out of 157 jurisdictions in terms of family income inequality, according to the most recent data compiled by the US Central Intelligence Agency. Hong Kong received a score of 53.9, where zero is perfect equality and 100 is the most unequal. At 46.5, China is ranked 29th. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

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Economy

Huawei ecosystem starts to take shape (China Daily)
2019-08-16
Summer in southern China is known for being extremely hot and sultry. But the oppressive heat with temperatures as high as 38 C failed to prevent about 6,000 software developers and media professionals from all over the world flooding into Dongguan, Guangdong province, last week. They were there to attend the biggest-ever developer conference held by Chinese technology giant Huawei Technologies Co from Aug 9 to 11. At the event, the world's top telecom equipment maker and the second-largest smartphone vendor unveiled its much-anticipated in-house operating system HarmonyOS. The move marks Huawei's biggest push to build its own ecosystem centering on a powerful OS, a dream that many Chinese tech heavyweights entertain but none has turned into reality. Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group (CBG), said HarmonyOS is a next-generation operating system designed for the internet of things era. It is designed to deliver a smooth experience across different devices and Huawei plans to use it in smart TVs, automobiles, wearables and other hardware over the next three years. "You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices," Yu said. The ambition is great, but the key to success lies in whether software developers will embrace the new OS and make applications around it. Facing arguably its biggest challenge in its more than 30-year history, Huawei is determined to pour in hefty resources to realize the dream. The company is driven by a pressing need that if Washington continues to ban the use of Google's Android operating system in its overseas smartphones, Huawei has to bank on HarmonyOS for a replacement. Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Huawei, said in a speech on July 31 that the company's consumer business group, which chiefly involves smartphones and personal computers, will have to start a long march. "The CBG was left with two holes. Although (machine-gun fire) didn't hit the heart, it did hit the fuel tank," Ren said. The senior executive frequently describes Huawei as a gun-stricken plane returning to base while urgent work is carried out to fix the holes in its body. It alludes to what the company has gone through since the US government dissuaded its allies from using Huawei in 5G telecom networks and banned the company in May from purchasing any US-originated technologies without special approval. Ren admitted that it is by no means a one-off push to build an ecosystem. Persistence and consistent input are needed. He hopes the consumer business group can address any issues in two to three years. Specifically, Huawei will invest $1 billion to encourage software developers to be part of the HarmonyOS ecosystem, with 80 percent of the money going to applications for overseas countries. Foreign consumers are accustomed to Google's Android system, Google Maps and YouTube, but Huawei can't access the updates of these services in its existing smartphones and future models amid the current ban. Such a worry has already reduced Huawei's smartphone shipments in Europe by 16 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2019, a report from market research company Canalys showed. To solve the challenges, Huawei said it will focus on two aspects-to encourage Chinese app developers to go global and to attract as many overseas app developers as possible. Zhang Pingan, president of cloud services at Huawei's consumer business group, said the company has years of experience in more than 170 countries and regions, and it will share such experience, including knowledge about local laws, rules and cultural traditions as well as marketing know-how, with domestic app developers. Huawei also plans to unveil its own mapping service in October in case of a long-term inability to access Google Maps. Known as Huawei Map Kit, it is not directly for consumer use, but is designed to encourage software developers to come up with applications based on its mapping capabilities. Russian internet heavyweight and mapping service provider Yandex and US travel aggregator website Booking Holdings are among the software companies that are partnering with Huawei on the mapping service. Thijs Hodde, director of distribution partnerships at Booking, said the company has been cooperating with Huawei for five years and looks forward to expanding such cooperation. Zhang from Huawei said the company will also significantly reduce its cut from transactions on the platform and let application developers enjoy more profits than Apple and Google do on their Android and iOS app stores. Huawei is not the first Chinese company to try to develop an operating system. Internet giant Alibaba Group made a similar push, but it failed. "Compared with internet companies, Huawei's giant hardware base provides its biggest edge in promoting HarmonyOS. The company ships about 300 to 400 million units of hardware every year, including smartphones, personal computers and smartwatches," said Xiang Ligang, director-general of the telecom industry association Information Consumption Alliance. Just one day after the unveiling of HarmonyOS, Huawei launched the first product that is powered by the system-a smart TV called Honor Vision. Because of the ability of HarmonyOS to reduce the response latency of apps by 25.7 percent, Honor Vision can become a center for multi-device interaction and supports the playing of high-definition mobile games on smart TVs with low latency. But currently, only four video content apps are available on Honor Vision, including Tencent Video and MGTV. The lack of major videostreaming apps including Youku and iQiyi highlights the difficulty in attracting software developers. Still, analysts said Huawei made the right move by building Harmony into an open-source operating system and allowing it to be compatible with Android from the start. "This will prevent it from repeating the fate of Microsoft in promoting smartphone systems," said Jia Mo, an analyst at market research company Canalys. Microsoft failed to popularize the use of its Windows system in smartphones years ago. Huawei plans to partner with other companies to set up China's first open-source software foundation, which is expected to start operating in a month or two to expand the nation's software community. Shao Yang, chief strategy officer of Huawei's consumer business group, said the company knows that it is impossible for Huawei to build the ecosystem alone and a wide range of partners are needed to ensure its vigor. "Huawei will function as a platform. We will refrain from entering too many sectors. For instance, we won't make artificial intelligence-enabled table lamps or cars. We just want to enable cars to be connected to smartphones," Shao said. Ma Miao, a software developer, said he is willing to develop mobile applications for the Harmony operating system, but time is needed to see whether Huawei's tools are as easy and efficient as promised. On the night of Aug 10, Ma went to a concert Huawei held for developers. Loud music and songs resonated around the company's Songshanhu research and development base. It felt like just a bar and the hustle and bustle, and happy atmosphere made it hard to believe that Huawei has faced US government restrictions for three months. "I am impressed with Huawei's resilience amid mounting pressure. And I am happy to be part of its long march to popularize HarmonyOS," Ma added. ^ top ^

China pledges not to devalue yuan exchange rate after US currency manipulator designation (SCMP)
2019-08-12
China will neither devalue the yuan nor change the way it manages the Chinese currency exchange rate after the United States designated it as a currency manipulator last week, according to China's foreign exchange administration chief. The US Treasury officially designated China as a currency manipulator on Monday after Beijing allowed the yuan to weaken beyond the key threshold of 7 to the US dollar after having defended that level for more than a decade. But China will stick to its "managed floating exchange rate system" and keep the Chinese currency's exchange rate "basically stable" despite Washington's accusations that Beijing was manipulating the currency's value for its own benefit, Pan Gongsheng, a vice-governor with the People's Bank of China and the head of China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange, wrote in an article published on Monday. "China is a big responsible country. We adopted a responsible approach during the Asian financial crisis [in 1998] and the global financial crisis [in 2008]," Pan noted. "We will not engage in a competitive devaluation and won't use the exchange rate as a tool to handle international trade disputes". China's central bank set the midpoint exchange rate at 7.0211 on Monday, the third consecutive trading day that Beijing has set a rate weaker than 7 to the US dollar. Onshore yuan was traded at 7.0584 against the US dollar, while the offshore yuan price in Hong Kong weakened beyond 7.1 on Monday afternoon. The onshore yuan has declined 1.7 per cent to 7.0592 against the US dollar and the offshore yuan has dropped 1.8 per cent to 7.1012 since US President Donald Trump said he would impose a further 10 per cent of tariff on US$300 billion of Chinese imports on August 2. The decision by Trump to label China a currency manipulator caught the Chinese government off guard, with officials in Beijing, state media and economists joining together in a chorus blasting the move. Pan said Washington's decision was "part of the US strategy to start and to escalate trade disputes with China" and will be remembered as "a ridiculous case in global finance history". "Although the yuan exchange rate is subject to the impact of external factors, such as trade disputes, we expect no disorderly depreciation down the road," Pan said. He added that China will not restrict "normal" foreign exchange use by companies and individuals under the nation's current account, and will push forward the opening of the capital account, he said. An International Monetary Fund report issued on Friday gave no support for Trump's assertion that China is manipulating its currency for an unfair trade advantage, saying the yuan exchange rate was generally in line with the country's economic fundamentals. It is still unknown whether the US side will use the currency manipulator designation to justify higher tariffs on Chinese products or to exert additional pressure on Beijing to make concession in negotiations to end the 13-month trade war. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that "China wants to make a deal so badly. Thousands of companies are leaving because of the Tariffs, they must stem the flow". In China, economists have started to talk about the start of a financial war between China and the US, based on the currency manipulator designation. ^ top ^

PBC holds auction of yuan debt, showing central government's confidence in HK (Global Times)
2019-08-14
China's central bank sold 30 billion yuan ($4.28 billion) worth of bills in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Wednesday in its latest issuance, which was oversubscribed by 2.6 times. The move that offshore investors were chasing yuan-denominated debt despite the lingering chaos in the city attests to market optimism about the Chinese currency, analysts said, noting that the move also illustrates the central government's continued confidence in Hong Kong's role as a global financial hub. The People's Bank of China (PBC), the country's central bank, announced the issuance of 20 billion yuan of three-month bills priced at 2.9 percent and 10 billion yuan of one-year bills sold at 2.95 percent, according to its statement. The auction was welcomed by the market, generating subscriptions of more than 78 billion yuan, or a 2.6 times oversubscription, the PBC statement said. Among those bidding for the bills were a variety of offshore investors including commercial banks, funds, central banks and international financial organizations. "I believe that the PBC holds its yuan bill auctions in Hong Kong because it is an internationally recognized financial hub, which can attract more offshore investors from international backgrounds," Tan Yaling, head of the China Forex Investment Research Institute, told the Global Times on Wednesday. The increasing popularity of yuan-denominated debt among international institutions will also help stabilize the currency's exchange rate, Tan said. A phone conversation between China and the US on trade issues on Tuesday night prompted a rally in the yuan. In a matter of minutes after the news of the conversation broke, the yuan strengthened by more than 1,000 basis points (bps) to above the 7 mark against the US dollar before losing some ground later on. The yuan's daily fixing was set at 7.0312 per US dollar on Wednesday, a strengthening of 14 bps from the previous trading day. The oversubscription reflects market confidence in the longer-term strength of the yuan and the Chinese economy at large, Song Fengming, a professor of finance at Tsinghua University, said. The popularity of the bills among international financial institutions will facilitate the internationalization of the yuan, Song said. Wednesday's bill auction was the fifth sale of such bills since the first issuance in November 2018. With 120 billion yuan of central bank yuan-denominated bills having been sold thus far, a regular mechanism for these auctions in Hong Kong has been created, helping enrich the portfolio of yuan-denominated investment products boasting high credit quality and yuan liquidity management tools in the Hong Kong market, read the PBC statement. Offshore yuan-denominated debt issuances also improve the yield curve of these bonds in Hong Kong and the push for a globalized yuan, PBC said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

North Korea fires two 'unidentified projectiles' into sea – its sixth launch in a month (SCMP)
2019-08-16
North Korea fired two "unidentified projectiles" into the sea on Friday, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said – the latest in a series of such launches by Pyongyang. The South Korean military said the projectiles were fired from near the city of Tongchon of Kangwon Province into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan. "The military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches while maintaining a readiness posture," the JCS said. It was the sixth round of launches since last month, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un labelling them a "solemn warning" over US-South Korean joint military drills that began earlier this month. North Korea has always been infuriated by the war games, decrying them as rehearsals for invasion. Earlier on Friday, the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country released a statement saying it rejected comments by South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday that outlined his desire for unification, and said it had nothing else to discuss with South Korean authorities. In a speech marking the anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 rule, Moon outlined a goal of "achieving peace and unification by 2045", although his single five-year term presidency ends in 2022. The North's statement blamed the South for the deadlock of the "historic Panmunjom declaration", adding: "We have nothing to talk any more with the South Korean authorities nor have any idea to sit with them again." ^ top ^

UN investigating 35 North Korea cyberattacks in 17 countries (SCMP)
2019-08-13
UN experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for weapons of mass destruction programmes – and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing petrol to the country. A summary of a report from the experts said North Korea illegally acquired as much as US$2 billion from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges. The lengthier version of the report reveals neighbouring South Korea was hardest-hit, the victim of 10 North Korean cyberattacks, followed by India with three attacks, and Bangladesh and Chile with two each. It said 13 countries suffered one attack: Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam. The experts said they were investigating the reported attacks as attempted violations of UN sanctions, which the panel monitors. The report cites three main ways that North Korean hackers operate: attacks through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or SWIFT system used to transfer money between banks, "with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence"; theft of cryptocurrency "through attacks on both exchanges and users"; and "mining of cryptocurrency as a source of funds for a professional branch of the military". The experts stressed that implementing these increasingly sophisticated attacks was "low risk and high yield", often requiring just a laptop computer and internet access. The report to the Security Council gives details on some of the North Korean cyberattacks as well as the country's successful efforts to evade sanctions on coal exports in addition to imports of refined petroleum products and luxury items including Mercedes-Benz S-600 cars. One Mercedes Maybach S-class limousine and other S-600s, as well as a Toyota Land Cruiser, were transferred from North Korea to Vietnam for last February's summit between the country's leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, the experts said, adding that Vietnam said it asked for but was never provided a list of vehicles being brought into the country. The panel also said it obtained information that the Taesong Department Store in Pyongyang, which reopened in April and is selling luxury goods, is part of the Taesong Group which includes two entities under UN sanctions and was previously linked to procurement for North Korea's ballistic missile programmes. The panel recommended sanctions against six North Korean vessels for evading sanctions and illegally carrying out ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products. Under UN sanctions, North Korea is limited to importing 500,000 barrels of such products annually including petrol and diesel. The US and 25 other countries said North Korea exceeded the limit in the first four months of 2019. The panel also recommended sanctions against the captain, owner, and parent company of the North Korean-flagged Wise Honest, which was detained by Indonesia in April 2018 with an illegal shipment of coal. As for North Korea's military cooperation with other countries, the experts said Iran rejected an unnamed country's allegation that two North Korean entities under sanctions maintained offices in Iran – the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation known as KOMID, which is the country's primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, and Saeng Pil Company. The experts said they have requested information from Rwanda on a report that North Koreans are conducting special forces training at a military camp in Gabiro. And they said they are also waiting for a response from Uganda "to multiple inquires" about reports indicating specialised training is being conducted in the country, and KOMID and North Korean workers maintain a presence. As examples of North Korean cyberattacks, the panel said hackers in one unnamed country accessed the infrastructure managing its entire ATM system and installed malware modifying the way transactions are processed. As a result, it forced 10,000 cash distributions to individuals working for or on behalf of North Korea "across more than 20 countries in five hours". In Chile, the experts said, North Korean hackers demonstrated "increasing sophistication in social engineering," by using LinkedIn to offer a job to an employee of the Chilean interbank network Redbanc, which connects the ATMs of all the country's banks. According to a report from one unnamed country cited by the experts, stolen funds following one cryptocurrency attack in 2018 "were transferred through at least 5,000 separate transactions and further routed to multiple countries before eventual conversion" to currency that a government has declared legal money, "making it highly difficult to track the funds." In South Korea, the experts said, North Korean cyber actors shifted focus in 2019 to targeting cryptocurrency exchanges, some repeatedly. The panel said South Korea's Bithumb, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, was reportedly attacked at least four times. It said the first two attacks in February 2017 and July 2017 each resulted in losses of approximately US$7 million, while a June 2018 attack led to a US$31 million loss and a March 2019 attack to a US$20 million loss. The panel said it also investigated instances of "cryptojacking" in which malware is used to infect a computer to illicitly use its resources to generate cryptocurrency. It said one report analysed a piece of malware designed to mine the cryptocurrency Monero "and send any mined currency to servers located at Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang". ^ top ^

North Korea, Pakistan express support for China's stand on Hong Kong affairs (Global Times)
2019-08-12
North Korea and Pakistan were among countries which have voiced support for China's position on the situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), and oppose foreign interference in China's internal affairs. A spokesperson for North Korea's foreign ministry said on Sunday that North Korea fully supports the stand and measures of China to "defend the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the country and safeguard the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong," the Korean Central News Agency reported on Sunday. Foreign forces have become outspoken in their attempt to destroy the security and order of Hong Kong society by interfering in the Hong Kong affairs and the internal affairs of China, the spokesperson said, noting that "North Korea expresses its concern over this attempt and opposes and rejects it." The spokesperson stressed that it is North Korea's principled stand that any county, organization and individual should not be allowed to destroy the sovereignty and security of China and the "one country, two systems," as Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong, according to the Korean Central News Agency report. This is the second time that North Korea has officially expressed its support for China over the Hong Kong situation. Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's official newspaper, published an article in late July supporting the measures taken by the Chinese government in response to the recent situation in Hong Kong. "The affairs of Hong Kong are the internal affairs of China, and should be settled in conformity with the desire of the Chinese people without any external interference," the article said. Other than North Korea, Pakistan also showed its support to China on the issue. The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said at a press briefing last week that Pakistan believes Hong Kong's affairs are China's internal affairs, according to the ministry's website. "We, therefore, understand the measures taken by the Central government of China and the Hong Kong SAR government to safeguard national sovereignty and Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," said the spokesperson. The spokesperson added that "We believe stability and prosperity in Hong Kong would soon resume. We also believe that all countries should uphold international law and the basic norms of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries." ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

President of Mongolia to deliver speech on Mongolia-US relations (Montsame)
2019-08-15
The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) is going to host the President of Mongolia Battulga Khaltmaa, who recently paid a visit to the United States of America, and the U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia Michael S. Klecheski to its August Monthly Meeting. The guests will deliver speeches and have informative and constructive discussions on "U.S.-Mongolia Relations: Moving Forward with Strategic Partnership". The meeting will be held on August 26 at Blue Sky Hotel & Tower in Ulaanbaatar. The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Mongolia is an independent membership-driven organization that seeks to build, strengthen, and protect business between the United States and Mongolia and to actively promote Mongolia as a destination for American investment. AmCham Mongolia is accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as its official affiliate in Mongolia. ^ top ^

360 entities registered to take part in Mongolia-China Expo (Montsame)
2019-08-15
The third Mongolia-China Expo will be held in Hohhot, Ulanqab, and Tongliao cities of Inner Mongolia, China between September 6 and 10. MNCCI, Supporting Association for Mongolian Entrepreneur, and Misheel expo on August 6 started registering the forum's participants from Mongolia and 360 entities have been registered. The third expo's co-organizers are Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Road and Transport Development, Customs General Administration, General Agency for Specialized Inspection, Ulaanbaatar Railway JSC, and the Agency for Standardization and Metrology. Head of Department of SME and Cooperative Policy Implementation of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry Ya.Erdenesaikhan said, "Meetings and forum on the development of economic cooperation and trade and investment discussions will be held at the expo besides a trade fair for promoting Mongolian-made products to the Chinese market." A cashmere forum, exhibition, and fashion show are also planned to be organized. Furthermore, an exhibition about Mongolia's culture and traditions will be mounted in one of the three venues, Ulanqab. The expo's theme will be about tourism, agriculture, and mining. One of the events featured in the expo program is the Northeast Asia Regional Cooperation Forum to be attended by around 700 representatives. Other events include a forum on Mongolian and Chinese legal services in trade, Mongolia-China standardization cooperation forum, Mongolia-China-Russia education forum, second Mongolia-China technology transfer forum, and cashmere forum between Mongolia, Russia, China, Italy, and South Korea. Officials highlighted that the Mongolia-China Expo 2019 coinciding with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and China will be of importance in achieving the goal to bring trade turnover between the two countries to USD 10 billion by 2020. ^ top ^

Energy industry's winter preparation 70 percent complete (Montsame)
2019-08-14
Prime Minister of Mongolia U.Khurelsukh worked at the Ulaanbaatar Heating Network Company and Ulaanbaatar Thermal Power Plant No.3 and 4, to keep abreast with their operations and preparation works for 2019-2020 winter season and got acquainted with the construction of the Songino Substation. As of August 10, wintering preparation is 70 percent complete, according to officials. With the purpose of ensuring energy consumption growth and creating an energy source reserve, the Government of Mongolia resolved to increase the installed capacity of high pressure boiler of the Ulaanbaatar Thermal Power Plant No.3 by 75 MW and renovate turbo generator of the Ulaanbaatar Thermal Power Plant No. 4. The works are presently underway. Some 885 maintenance works on facilities and equipment, 677 investment works and 412 works on technical reorganization are planned for the wintering preparations of factories and companies of the energy industry. By August 10, 70 percent of those planned works is complete. The Prime Minister reminded corresponding officials and plant employees to perform quality works on schedule. He also gave an order to enhance the construction works of Songino substation and electric power transmission line of "Big Circle" project and put them into operation as soon as possible. Built in 1953, the Ulaanbaatar Heating Network Company is responsible for year-round reliable and continuous supply of heating and hot water using the electric power generated from the Thermal Power Plant No. 2, 3 and 4 and Amgalan Thermal Power Plant to 3163 contract consumer entities connected to the Ulaanbaatar city's central thermal network, 16 Public service centers of the Apartment and Public Entity Authority and 10.5 thousand apartment buildings of 54 private companies with special licenses. Moreover, construction of a heating transmission line to supply "Bayankhoshuu sub-center" is in progress. Thermal Power Plant No.3 was commissioned in 1968 and as of now, it supplies 17.3 percent of electric energy demand of the central region, 34.8 percent of the capital city's thermal energy consumption and 55 percent of steam consumption of manufacturing technologies. 41 plans are being implemented for the wintering preparations and 69 percent is fulfilled. Established in 1983, the Thermal Power Plant No.4 is the largest power plant of Mongolia that provides 58 percent of electricity usage of the central region and 55 percent of Ulaanbaatar city's thermal energy. The power plants' preparations for wintering is being done as scheduled. A state entity "Mongolian Energy Economics Institute" carried out technical and economic feasibility study of an extension project of the Thermal Power Plant No.3 and introduced them to the Science and Technology Council of the energy industry, which backed the study. By an order of Ulaanbaatar city's Investment Agency, construction works of Songino substation and electric power transmission line of "Big Circle" project started in 2012 with "EKHBUT" LLC as a contractor. ^ 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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