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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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  22-26.6.2020, No. 822  
    Archiv / Archives
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Table of contents

DPRK

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

India 'holds' Chinese goods from clearance, to backfire and hurt global industrial chains: expert (Global Times)
2020-06-25
India is reportedly putting some containers from China on hold during clearance for all-round inspection and scrutiny amid the recent stand-off between the two nations, following a fatal border clash. It is a stupid choice which will backfire and hurt global industrial chains, a Chinese expert said. Boycott campaigns of some Indian residents may still be understandable to express anger, while it is a foolish move for the country to play such tricks to obstruct cross-border logistics, as they will hinder the operations of India-based firms and their investment environment, Long Xingchun, the director of the Center for Indian Studies at China West Normal University, told the Global Times on Thursday. Reuters reported that Apple, Dell and Cisco products were also in the containers and have been held up in ports, as well as pharmaceutical consignments, which rely heavily on Chinese supplies. Indian officials claimed that the move was not related to the recent border tensions, media reported. Hard hit by the coronavirus, the Indian economy is having a hard time trying to recover from months of lockdowns, and a prolonged shipment of Chinese raw materials and parts is self-destruction, Long noted. India-based US firms have already felt the impact of the availability of components usually shipped from their facilities in China, and have reached out to the Indian government for help, Indian Express reported on Thursday. Chinese firms are only part of global value chains. The containers facing prolonged scrutiny broke an industrial chain which may include Japanese or US suppliers in the upstream and India-based manufacturers in the downstream, Long said. For instance, Apple's factory in India depends on components and parts from China, Long noted. The latest commander-level bilateral talks have eased tensions between the two countries, and India, after a deadly provocation, realized it was not wise for the country, Long said. He thinks the scenario will not last long due to India's huge economic costs. ^ top ^

Ministry: India betrayed accords (China Daily)
2020-06-25
India was completely responsible for this month's clash on the Sino-Indian border and China always wishes to safeguard the peace and stability of border regions, Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian said on Wednesday. Wu told a regular ministry news conference in Beijing that the June 15 clash happened because India's front-line border force violated accords and consensuses reached by both sides and made provocations by trespassing into territory on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan Valley. When Chinese troops were trying to negotiate about the matter, they were suddenly attacked by Indian officers and soldiers. That led to fierce physical conflicts between the two sides in which the Chinese troops used defensive measures and fought back to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity, Wu said. The entire incident was caused by India's betrayal of consensuses and unilateral provocations and took place on the Chinese side of the line. China demands India punish those responsible for the matter, strictly control its front-line forces, and make sure such incidents will not happen again, Wu said. After the clash, China and India communicated and negotiated through military and diplomatic channels, he said. Officers from both sides exchanged views on easing tensions and maintaining the border area's peace and stability during a second round of talks between high-ranking officers at the level of group army commander on Monday. He said the two sides were also discussing the holding of a teleconference between their defense ministers. As peace and stability in border areas are in the interests of both sides, China hopes India will work with it to fulfill the consensuses reached by national leaders from both countries, honor agreements and accords between the two sides, address related issues via talks and negotiations, and strive to ease border tensions, Wu said. At another news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China hopes India will strictly follow and carry out bilateral agreements and take concrete steps to restore peace and stability on the border. ^ top ^

Threat of a "complete decoupling" from China remains an unappealing prospect: US media (People's Daily)
2020-06-25
Trump's threat of a "complete decoupling" from China remains an unappealing prospect as global appetite for Chinese assets continue to grow, US media outlet Fortune reported on Monday. Citing a new report by the Rhodium Group, a global consultancy, the article argued that despite the chorus of political decoupling and economic re-shoring talk, as long as China represents a sizable share of global growth, foreign appetite for assets in China will remain robust. Since two years ago, US President Donald Trump's administration has stepped up pressure on China with tariffs, and the COVID-19 outbreak has strained US-China relations even further. Trump took to Twitter last Thursday to threaten China with "complete decoupling". "However, "over the past 18 months, we have recorded levels of foreign M&A into China that were not seen in the previous decade," said the report. The report also finds that foreign investment in China remains resilient. According to China's Ministry of Commerce, foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded by 7.5 percent year-on-year to 68.63 billion yuan in May. The report's authors, Hanemann and Rosen, argue the big factor behind the global appetite for Chinese assets is that foreign firms are betting on the secular rise of China's middle class, using for example of Pepsi's $700 million acquisition of Chinese snack brand Be & Cheery in 1Q 2020. It also helps that Beijing has loosened restrictions on foreign ownership in key sectors including auto and financial services, enabling global firms to buy shares in their own joint-ventures. In addition, the report pointed out another factor behind the investment trend is that in some industries, Chinese businesses have now become leaders – partly through the rise of start-ups and government policy support. "For the first time, therefore, it is attractive for foreigners to buy technology and industrial assets rather than build from scratch," the authors wrote. "The market in China is very big and lots of these foreign (corporate) investors, they are looking at the long-term business development in China," Martin Wong, managing partner of the insurance sector for the financial services industry at Deloitte China, told CNBC. Even during the COVID-19 outbreak, foreign investment in China has been rising steadily since January and that so far this year the value of foreign M&A deals in China exceeds the value of Chinese outbound deals—the first time that's happened in a decade. The article attributed the rising investment to China's effective response to the virus. "China has been far more effective in containing the virus than Western economies, the China-based operations of global businesses have been able to reopen quickly than operations in North American and Europe," the article said, adding that China's economy is expected to post solid growth in the second half of this year. "All of which means that 'decoupling,' however sure-fire an applause-getter on the campaign trail, remains an unappealing prospect in many boardrooms," it said. ^ top ^

China firmly opposes Japan's so-called name-changing bill concerning Diaoyu Islands (China Daily)
2020-06-23
China firmly opposes Japan's adoption of a so-called name-changing bill concerning the Diaoyu Islands, and has lodged stern representations with Japan through diplomatic channels, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said Monday. Spokesman Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a routine news briefing that the Diaoyu Islands are China's inherent territory, and China is determined and resolved in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty. "Japan's adoption of the so-called name-changing bill is serious provocation against China's territorial sovereignty. It is illegal, null and void, and cannot change the fact whatsoever that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China," Zhao said. Zhao said that China has lodged stern representations with Japan through diplomatic channels and reserves the right to make further responses. ^ top ^

Chinese in India say they are being harassed amid rising anti-China sentiment following border clash (Global Times)
2020-06-24
Some Chinese living in India say its unsafe for them to go out in public and have closed their shops amid a boycott that has included anti-China graffiti and the burning of Chinese flags. Some of the right-wing Indian nationalists have been detained for their actions, said media reports.The wave of anti-China sentiment in India erupted after a border clash in Galwan Valley between China and India. Since then some Indians have launched campaigns calling for a boycott of Chinese products and businesses. Anti-China protests are being held in many cities. Chinese living in India reached by the Global Times said anti-China sentiment has impacted their daily lives, and some have had to close their stores and restaurants because of boycotts. They said they're concerned strong Indian nationalism and anti-Chinese sentiment in the wake of the border clash could erupt at any time. They frequently see news reports of protests at local Chinese-owned factories and the destruction of Chinese products.They say they're frightened by radical and illegal anti-China demonstrations and hope the border clash doesn't destroy the friendship between Chinese and Indian people. Chinese expatriates in India have called for the two countries to rebuild mutual trust. China and India have agreed to take necessary measures to de-escalate the situation. The two sides also agreed to maintain dialogue and work together to promote peace and tranquility in the border areas, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, announced on Tuesday. Cheng Feng (pseudonym) a Chinese expert studying China-India relations has seen "Boycott China" graffiti written in Hindi and English in popular New Delhi markets. Cheng, who has been living in India for two and a half years, said some Chinese are protecting themselves by carrying a stick when they have to venture outside.The right-wing student group Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) staged a sit-in and chanted anti-China slogans outside the Chinese Consulate General in Kolkata. In New Delhi, members of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), were detained by police during an anti-China demonstration, according to media reports.Members of another right-wing group, Hindu Sena, defaced the sign outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday, Indian media PTI reported.A Chinese employee living in Mumbai, told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that police, carrying a stack of documents about Chinese living in his community, came to his home on June 18 to check his ID and asked personal questions about his stay in India. Another Chinese living in Gurgaon, 30 kilometers from New Dehli, said on social media that police had visited local Chinese and advised them to avoid going out in public and to protect themselves from violent anti-Chinese street protests.Indians of Chinese descent have been attacked simply because of their Chinese facial features, according to media reports. An Indian of Chinese descent, surnamed Wu, told the Global Times on Monday that his beauty salon and Chinese restaurant in Bangalore have been forced to close because of the boycott, and that even a sign in Chinese characters can incite anti-Chinese sentiment among locals."People will even burn Chinese flags in front of our stores," he said. "But this kind of behavior mainly comes from the lower and middle classes in Indians who are more easily incited. Many lost their jobs during the epidemic and are venting their discontent through anti-Chinese protests."Some Indians of Chinese decent have even posted signs on their doorstep to emphasize they are Indian, said Wu. "But not all Indians are anti-Chinese. The majority of Indians, especially those who are educated or in the upper-class, have remained rational and friendly to Chinese," he said. Cheng Feng told the Global Times that "Boycott China" protests are more often held in remote areas and in Hindi-speaking regions. Anti-Chinese sentiment was further inflamed by the Indian government's high-profile funerals of the Indian soldiers who died in the border clash, he said.After the clash, Cheng received a phone call from an Indian expert who also studies international relations, asking him if China was going to "invade India." All of the incidents shows the latent hostility some Indian people have toward China, Cheng said."'Boycott China' reflects a serious lack of mutual trust between the two countries," he said, adding that "this is the result of the Sino-India border conflict in 1962, the Dong Lang (Doklam) standoff in 2017, and the longstanding unresolved issues of border water resources, a trade imbalance and terrorism."To rebuild long-lasting and stable mutual trust between the two countries, it is important to end anti-China sentiment by better informing Indians about China, Cheng noted. ^ top ^

China-dependent Australia unwise to risk trade war with Beijing, says ex-Canberra diplomat (SCMP)
2020-06-23
There is little chance of a second trade war erupting between Australia and China as Canberra would be "cutting off its nose to spite its face", as well as jeopardising national security, if it tried to take trade action against Beijing, says Australia's former ambassador to China. While a trade war is unlikely to take off, geopolitical tensions will continue to escalate due to Australia's loyalty to the United States, which is set on pushing back against China's rise, and Beijing's own aggressive "wolf-warrior" diplomacy, Geoff Raby said. "Could [Australia] take measures against China? I mean, why would we? It wouldn't be a smart move," he told the South China Morning Post in an interview on Monday. "There is a big debate in recent years if we are too dependent on China but the reality is there is a massive complementarity between the Australian and Chinese economies." Australia-China trade war only 'wishful thinking', says former ambassador Geoff Raby Raby, who was Australia's ambassador to China between 2007 and 2011, now runs Beijing-based business advisory Geoff Raby & Associates. In his 27 years of public service, he held several positions in foreign affairs, including as Australia's ambassador to the World Trade Organization. The former diplomat, who has been made Friendship Ambassador to Shandong Province and an Honorary Citizen of Chengdu City, said "weaponising" an anti-China stance was counterproductive because preserving economic ties was integral to Australia's national interests. "The fundamental element of national security is economic security. It is not illegitimate to be wanting a better relationship [with China], it is actually core to our own national security to have a strong economy and for better or for worse, Australia derives its strong economy from China." Australia rules out trade war retaliation with China despite barley tariff escalation 21 May 2020 Australia is the world's most China-dependent developed economy, with nearly 33 per cent of its exports shipped to the country. Exports of agricultural goods, as well as the sale of international education and tourism to China, are big revenue earners, while about half of its merchandise exports to China is iron ore. Are Xi Jinping's China and Donald Trump's US destined for armed conflict? However, since China slapped a tariff of 80.5 per cent on Australian barley last month following calls by Canberra for a coordinated international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, pundits have started labelling the spat between the countries as "Trade War 2.0". Relations have soured further over China's decision to suspend beef exports from four Australian abattoirs and warn Chinese travellers and students to reconsider visits to or study plans in Australia due to a surge in racism towards Asian Australians. Hundreds of Asians have reported incidents of racism to the Australian Human Rights Commission and other groups like the Asian Australian Alliance since the beginning of the outbreak. Australia has not retaliated against China with trade sanctions, although it fired warning shots last week when it accused a "sophisticated state-based actor" for cyberattacks. Some parts of the Australian media have wrongfully accused a well-known think-tank, China Matters, of having its federal funding cut because it was pro-Beijing. Even if Australia was serious about starting a trade war, it had no real means of doing so, Raby said. Inflicting damage on China by cutting off access to Australia iron, for example, would leave Australia stuck without a replacement market, he added. It is wishful thinking that somehow we might replace China with India but that's not going to happen for many reasons Geoff Raby "It is wishful thinking that somehow we might replace China with India but that's not going to happen for many reasons, and China is many more times bigger than India economically and ultimately you go where the money is and China has the money," he said. "I don't think we would be restricting trade [and if we do] the Brazilians will be more than happy to fill in the shortfall in iron ore from Australia and so it is not in Australia's interests to do anything like that." While a US-style trade war may not be possible, Australia will continue to seek other means to engage in combat with China to show support for US policy, according to Raby. "What is particularly pernicious is that commentators and even politicians are weaponising the relationship and delegitimising economic interests," Raby said. "There are some people, in the media, in the think-tanks, which I find quite disturbing, who see a bad relationship with China as a badge of honour. "If serious businesspeople speak in favour of improving a positive bilateral relationship, these people quickly get demonised for putting economic interests over so called national interests, so-called values." It would now be difficult for Australia to restore the balance in the relationship, a condition made worse by China's own aggression in this affray, particularly in its economic coercion and its "wolf-warrior" approach of tackling Australia head-on in public, rather than through diplomatic channels, Raby said. China's rise as a global power has made many of western countries such as the United States and Australia uncomfortable, he added. In turn, China has chosen to headbutt its way through the confrontations because it has not been able to match American or Western European soft power. In the past, Australia has not previously been afraid of being enmeshed with China and Asia in terms of trade, particularly during the "old order" where global leadership was provided exclusively by the US, Raby said. Australia had been "shocked" out of its comfort zone and was still adjusting to a new system, he said. "We will one day, but for the moment we are in quite a bit of pain," Raby said. "And part of that stems from the US adopting a strategic competition with China. Australia has become a collateral damage in this great power contest. What is in Australia's interest is to get the relationship back on track Geoff Raby "You might expect the dominant power to adopt that posture but we should not be part of that. We need to work out how to to develop for ourselves a more independent policy where we value our policies and principles." The fear that China would "somehow control the minds" of Australia's institutions was also greatly exaggerated, Raby said, adding there was room to work together despite differences. Although further economic coercion by China would be unproductive, Australia has its work cut out for it in trying to restore the relationship due to an ill-disciplined government which "says whatever it wants", he warned. Australia and China's moment to set things right might come when changes potentially sweep through US politics after November's elections. "Australia has become a collateral damage in this great power contest," Raby said. "What is in Australia's interest is to get the relationship back on track. ^ top ^

De-escalating tensions on China-India border paramount (Global Times)
2020-06-23
According to Indian media reports, India gave "complete freedom of action" to commanders deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to "handle situations at the tactical level." Moreover, the commanders would no longer be bound by restrictions on the use of firearms in "extraordinary situations." If this is proved to be true, the latest development seriously violates the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the Line of Actual Control in the China-India Border Areas. Although border face-offs occasionally erupt between China and India, the troops of the two countries haven't opened fire on each other for decades. If Indian soldiers use firearms against Chinese soldiers in the future, there will be a different picture in the border areas. I must warn Indian nationalists: If your soldiers cannot even defeat Chinese soldiers in unarmed clashes, then guns and other firearms will not help them. The reason: The military strength of China is much more advanced and stronger than that of India. Some Indians arrogantly believe that the modernization of Indian troops will allow them to defeat the Chinese People's Liberation Army and take revenge on China for India's defeat in the 1962 border war. I'd love to tell them that there was not much difference between China and India in terms of economic strength in 1962, but today, China's GDP is about five times that of India and China's military expenditure is over three times that of India according to Western estimates. If India escalates the border dispute with China into skirmishes or even local wars, it would be like an egg dashing itself against a rock. China doesn't want to escalate conflicts with India, but we have sufficient capacity to smash any provocations from the Indian troops. It's hoped that Indian troops can remain sober and Indian elites keep rational. It's in the India's interests to work with China to put the border disputes under control. ^ top ^

China joins Arms Trade Treaty for right reasons (Global Times)
2020-06-22
China's lawmakers on Saturday approved the decision to join the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) at a legislative session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, running from Thursday to Saturday. The ATT is a multilateral treaty which attempts to regulate the trade of conventional weapons and crack down on illegal arms transfers. The treaty stipulates that arms cannot be sold to those who might facilitate terrorist attacks, gender-based violence, or violent and organized crimes. China's decision to join the treaty demonstrates its commitments to multilateralism and embodies its stance as a responsible major power. China's participation can help better maintain safer standard of the global arms trade and international arms control. It is beneficial for every country across the world to have certain rules and regulations in the arms trade. Legal and normal arms trade can enhance national defense capabilities, boost regional and world peace and security. Suppressing illegal arms transfer will mitigate risks of weapons from falling into the hands of rampant terrorists and criminals. China sets an example to countries that haven't signed the treaty. The trade of weapons should be regulated and China's move to join the ATT displays its efforts to make contributions to world peace. On one hand, the Trump administration announced in April 2019 it would withdraw from the ATT signed by the US under the tenure of Barack Obama in 2013. On the other, the Trump administration is increasingly set on trying to bring Beijing into the nuclear arms negotiations between Washington and Moscow. What are its considerations? When it comes to international organizations or international treaties, the primary concern of the US is whether they benefit or constrain US interests. The US disregards the well-being of people all around the world, which is in sharp contrast to China. This explains why the US has pulled itself out of a string of international organizations and treaties such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and so on. The US wants to include China into the US-Russian nuclear disarmament talks. This is not because the US hopes to make greater peace with China. In fact, it aims to monitor and limit China's nuclear weapons' development by demanding China to be more transparent in its nuclear programs. It also wants to make sure that development of China's nuclear arms will be always far less than that of the US. The decision of China to join the ATT is out of benign intention to safeguard the world's peace and stability. Unlike China, the US hasn't acted in line with what a responsible big power is supposed to do. Major power competition, geopolitics and hegemony are top priorities of the US. Pulling the US out of the ATT means the country is likely to act unscrupulously when it comes to arms deals. Weapons of mass destruction may fall into the hands of terrorists or criminal groups. This will bring greater threats to regional and world peace and harm the development and ultimately survival of people across the globe. ^ top ^

Xi will meet with two top European Union leaders (China Daily)
2020-06-20
President Xi Jinping will meet with the presidents of the European Council and European Commission via a videoconference during the 22nd China-EU leaders' meeting to be held next week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday. The leaders' meeting will be co-hosted by Premier Li Keqiang, council leader Charles Michel and commission leader Ursula von der Leyen on Monday. It will be the first official meeting between the Chinese leadership and the new EU leaders, both of whom took office in December. "China highly values this meeting and stands ready to work with the EU to push for positive results from it," Zhao said, adding that the meeting plays a significant guiding role in the China-EU relationship, established 45 years ago. China will join hands with the EU to strengthen cooperation in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and reaching economic recovery, Zhao said. They also will deepen pragmatic cooperation in such areas as trade and investment, interconnectivity, climate change and scientific innovation, and enhance policy coordination on pressing regional and international issues. China will also work with the EU to jointly uphold multilateralism, deal with global challenges, push forward the development of China-EU relations after the epidemic and make contributions to maintaining world peace and stability as well as promoting the global economic recovery, Zhao said at a regular news briefing in Beijing. As a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, a series of political agendas between China and EU, including the leaders' meeting, which was scheduled in March, have been postponed. In a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel this month, Xi said that a series of significant events in China-EU political exchanges were under discussion. China is willing to keep close communication and coordination with Germany-which holds the EU's rotating presidency for the year's second half-and with the EU to ensure the success of these events and lift China-Germany and China-EU relations to higher levels, Xi said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China regulator stresses protection of data security (People's Daily)
2020-06-25
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has urged enhanced protection of data in the telecom and Internet sectors as risks including data leaks and abuse have become major public concerns. A notification issued by the MIIT called for strengthening targeted campaigns on online data security and assessing whether data management meets regulatory requirements. China will also accelerate the building of institutions and standards for date security and improve technology support to enhance data protection, according to the notice. The MIIT called on local regulators as well as major telecom and Internet companies to fully realize the importance and urgency of data protection and work out detailed plans for the tasks listed in the notice. As China's population using the Internet surges, online data security has become a major public concern, prompting authorities to tighten regulation to prevent illegal data leaks and abuse. ^ top ^

Standing committee of China's top political advisory body concludes 12th meeting (Xinhua)
2020-06-24
The Standing Committee of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) concluded its 12th meeting on Wednesday. Wang Yang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, presided over the closing meeting and delivered a speech. Speaking highly of the suggestions on winning the battle against poverty, the topic of the meeting, Wang asked political advisors to summarize the CPPCC's long-term practice in poverty relief and come up with institutionalized measures, in order to provide a helpful reference for the CPPCC to improve its work in the new era. He stressed efforts to speed up the establishment of major systems and mechanisms of the CPPCC, such as the rules of its consultation process, and explore new approaches for political advisors to unite people from different sectors. Wang also called on standing committee members of the CPPCC National Committee from Hong Kong to stay connected with the public to create strong positive energy for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security, as well as for the steady and sustained implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle. The three-day meeting was held partly on site and partly via video link. The main venue setting was in Beijing, with branches in Hong Kong and Macao. ^ top ^

Political advisors discuss poverty alleviation in panel discussions (Xinhua)
2020-06-23
Chinese political advisors held panel discussions on Tuesday to discuss winning the battle against poverty and establishing a long-term mechanism to address relative poverty. The discussions took place at an ongoing meeting of the Standing Committee of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Wang Yang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, attended the panel discussions. Applauding the major decisive achievements in poverty alleviation, political advisors called for unrelenting efforts in winning the battle against poverty. This year marks the end of China's fight against poverty, but new challenges were brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic. To overcome the impact of COVID-19, advisors noted that priority should be given to supporting the employment of poor workers, stressing providing assistance to people who become poor, or sink back into poverty due to the epidemic. Sub-venues were set up for the panel discussions, allowing political advisors and grassroots representatives from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Chongqing, Sichuan and other places to attend the discussions via video link. ^ top ^

China Urged to Drop Family Planning Controls, Reform Pension System to Combat Aging Society (Caixin)
2020-06-23
China should scrap all restrictions on family planning, overhaul its pension system and boost productivity in order to cope with the problems of an aging society and declining labor force, a government think-tank has urged in a new report. The falling birthrate and shrinking workforce will make it increasingly difficult for the economy to support the rapid growth in the number of elderly, the China Development Research Foundation, an organization affiliated with the State Council's Research Development Center, wrote in a report released on June 11. The population aged 65 and over in China is estimated to rise to about 314.8 million by 2035 from an estimated 181.6 million in 2020, according to the China Development Report 2020: China's Population Aging Development Trends and Policies. The cohort will account for 22.3% of the total population in 2035 and 27.9% in 2050, compared with 12.6% in 2019. The working-age population, defined as those aged 15-64, will drop to 900 million in 2035 from 980 million in 2019, the report estimated. As a result, the proportion of people of working age in the overall population will decline to 63.9% from 70.4%. By 2035, 10 workers will be needed to support three retirees, the report estimated, up from 1.7 retirees in 2018 and 1.16 in 2009, according to government data. The government needs to speed up its overhaul of the pension system given the growing burden of an aging society, Zheng Bingwen, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' World Social Security Institute, said at a June 11 online press briefing to discuss the report. China currently doesn't have a national pension system — rather each provincial-level government has its own pension, health care, unemployment, occupational injury and housing funds. Contributions come from individuals, enterprises, and government subsidies. In some provinces, pension funds are running deficits as the central government has ramped up efforts to support businesses by slashing pension contributions. The government has been taking steps to change the state pension system. In July 2018, for example, a central adjustment fund was set up to collect revenue from the pension pots of provincial-level governments and put it into a national pool that would redistribute funds to regions struggling to pay their retirees. The report put forward several proposals and targets for reform of the pension system, including achieving a nationally coordinated and managed basic old-age insurance system by 2030 at the latest and narrowing the gap between urban and rural workers' old-age insurance. Zheng said that the government should also allow individuals to work longer if they want to, as the current retirement age is relatively low compared with other countries. In China, men can give up work when they reach 60, while the retirement age is 55 for female government workers and 50 for female blue collar workers. That compares with 65 in the U.K and 66 in the U.S., although governments in both countries are gradually raising the threshold. Tackling the aging problem from the other end, the government has gradually relaxed its long-standing one-child policy and in 2016, it issued a policy allowing couples to have two children. But the policy hasn't been as effective as the government expected as younger couples have been unwilling to have more children amid concerns about high costs and the lack of childcare facilities. In order to boost the population and the supply of labor, the report urges further policy changes that should be included in the 14th Five-Year Plan period which will run from 2021 to 2025. These include scrapping all restrictions on the number of children couples can have and supporting the implementation of fertility service policies. The government should implement policies to encourage childbirth, including parenting support, in areas where the population is aging most rapidly. Measures also need to be taken to improve the quality and productivity of the workforce, the report said. These include allowing the free flow of labor between urban and rural areas through the reform of the household registration and land systems, so as to achieve the optimal allocation of existing labor resources and improve labor productivity. Support must also be stepped up for the transfer of surplus rural labor to towns and cities, according to the report. Zhou Xiaochuan, a former governor of the central bank, warned earlier this year that China's aging population has become an increasingly pressing problem and put forward four proposals to improve the sustainability of the pension system, including raising the retirement age and incentivizing workers to increase their pension savings. ^ top ^

Virus in Beijing's Xinfadi from Europe, but older: China CDC (People's Daily)
2020-06-22
The novel coronavirus found in Beijing's recent outbreak at Xinfadi market has come from Europe, but it is older than Europe's most recent virus, said Chinese health officials. Although the coronavirus found in Beijing's Xinfadi market has come from Europe, it differs with their current outbreak, as it is older than the current European coronavirus, according to preliminary research results, said Zhang Yong, assistant director of National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the website of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). "The large amounts of samples found in Xinfadi wholesale market indicate that the virus has been around for some time. If it had only just arrived in the city for a short period of time, there may not have been so many positive samples found; however, we need more data before making an informed decision about its origin," Zhang said. Genomic epidemiology is the one of the main methods used to determine the lifespan of the virus. "We need to first sequence the whole genome, before putting all the different viruses together to see which virus has more mutations; that is, those with more mutations normally suggest an updated virus, whereas those with less mutations closer to the original virus, and they are much older, circulating for a longer period of time compared to recently discovered viruses," Liu said, adding that some calculation also needs to be completed using mathematical models. Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Tuesday that the Beijing's recent outbreak probably did not occur in late May or early June, but it probably started spreading a month earlier. "In this specific outbreak, many asymptomatic or mild cases were detected, and that is why the environment has such a large amount of recorded samples," said Gao. In fact, the novel coronavirus will spread more easily in dark, humid, and polluted environments, which may catch some residents unexpected. If locals at the wholesale markets had been infected, it would have likely been exposed to many people very quickly, Gao added. In regard to the virus' first transmission into the country, there are several possibilities being discussed. "For example, the virus may have remained in imported frozen foods, and did not mutate due to frozen environment throughout the entire storage and transportation period, from overseas all the way to China," Zhang said. It is also possible that the virus may have been lurking in dark, humid environments, which have not been properly disinfected and sterilized, before it was then exposed to local residents, causing its slow evolution. "In the end, what we see is that this virus is closer to the old European virus," Zhang said. Epidemiological investigation and big data may find connections between cases, but it may also fail to determine which individuals have been spreading the virus. "We hope that through laboratory tests and genome sequence analysis, that we can learn the transmission routes," Zhang said. The Institute is taking the lead in establishing a nationwide virus monitoring and tracing system based on the entire viral genome, so as to deal with the current problems surrounded with virus traceability, which is a matter deeply related to national security, Zhang said Chinese scientists are working day and night to find out exactly how did the virus from Europe arrive at Beijing's Xinfadi market. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing hotels, tourist sites to reject visitors from COVID-19 risk areas (Xinhua)
2020-06-23
Beijing's hotels and scenic spots will not receive visitors who have been in medium- or high-risk areas or who arrived from overseas within 14 days, an official said Tuesday. Zhou Weimin, an official with Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, told a press conference that personnel from markets where COVID-19 cases were reported will also be rejected. The city's scenic spots will not open their indoor facilities, while a cap will be placed on the number of visitors to their outdoor spaces, Zhou said. Also at the press conference, an official with Beijing's municipal committee of the Communist Party of China said the city will only mark the coming Dragon Boat Festival through online activities. Beijing reported 13 new confirmed domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases, two suspected cases and one asymptomatic case on Monday, the municipal health commission said Tuesday. From June 11 to 22, the city reported 249 confirmed domestically transmitted cases. ^ top ^

Beijing infection rate 'too low' for Phase III COVID-19 trials (Global Times)
2020-06-22
The current coronavirus outbreak in Beijing is not large enough to support a Phase III clinical trial, which can only be conducted if an outbreak becomes a pandemic, experts said. Wang Junzhi, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and deputy head of the vaccine research and development group under the State Council, told China Central Television on Saturday that completing Phase III clinical trials is crucial for the success of China's vaccine research and development. Five COVID-19 vaccines are undergoing clinical trials in China, and three have completed Phase II trials, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Health Commission announced on Friday. All research, development, evaluation standards and technical guidelines are in line with international standards, Wang said, and the next step involves Phase III clinical trials to gauge the effective protection rate of a real vaccine in a large population. Phase I trials focus on the observation of safety index; Phase II on the observation of immunogenicity and safety indicators; Phase III on the observation of whether the vaccine can prevent infections and the protection rate in the epidemic population and areas, Wang said. The rate of protection is calculated by comparing the number of people who took the vaccine but became infected after the epidemic cycle with those got a placebo and became infected. "We need Phase III clinical trials, where the vaccine is tested for effectiveness over an epidemic period," Wang said. The Beijing Municipal Health Commission said 22 new local confirmed cases were reported on Saturday, taking the total to 227 since June 11. There are two high-risk areas and 34 medium-risk areas in Beijing. The cluster of cases in Beijing has spread to Northeast China's Liaoning, North China's Hebei, Southwest China's Sichuan, East China's Zhejiang and Central China's Henan provinces. Netizens have asked if Beijing has the conditions to complete Phase III clinical trials in this outbreak. The answer is no, Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based vaccine expert, told the Global Times over the weekend. "Beijing is currently under strict control and the infection rate is too low. The confirmed cases that have been announced are all related to the outbreak in Xinfadi Market. These cases were already in the incubation stage and are now becoming apparent. There are not enough real new infections to justify a Phase III clinical trial," Tao said. In a Phase III study, volunteers who get the vaccine should have the same infection rates as those who get a placebo. But researchers require a sufficient sample size within a sufficient observation period. "For all stages of a vaccine clinical trial, one prerequisite is that volunteers are all healthy. They are randomly assigned to each group, where it's ensured that they have the same chance of getting infected," Tao noted. Wang Peiyu, a deputy head of Peking University's School of Public Health, told the Global Times on Sunday that Beijing is not qualified for Phase III clinical trials. Like Jilin, Beijing only has scattered infections. According to media reports, in May the research team led by epidemiologist Chen Wei and China's CanSino Biologics entered into a co-development agreement with Vancouver, British Columbia-based Precision NanoSystems for an mRNA lipid nanoparticle vaccine against COVID-19. In June, China's Sinovac plotted a pivotal COVID-19 vaccine trial in Brazil after a positive phase 2 trial. On June 11, the Philippine Department of Science and Technology said that the Philippines is in negotiations to join a Beijing-based biotechnology company on the novel coronavirus vaccine human trial, and that it is likely to join the Phase III trial. That's good news, said Tao. In China, Phase III trials should be done in places with many incidents. The experiment location will take the outbreak situation, as well as the partnership between China and the country, into consideration. Brazil is at the epicenter of the epidemic, which is beneficial for research on the actual protection effect of vaccines, which is the key to China-Brazil cooperation. "Cooperation in human clinical research on vaccines is of low technical content, but tests both sides' organizational and cooperative ability." As of 6 pm local time on Sunday, there were 1,067,579 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brazil, according to Brazil's Ministry of Health. As to whether China's vaccine research and development is facing the challenge of coronavirus variations, Tao said that the nation "can use the existing vaccine. If the virus mutates and the existing vaccine is not good enough, we can analyze the key components of the mutated virus in the current vaccine. It is a common solution." Zhang Wenhong, a prominent infectious disease expert and leader of Shanghai's COVID-19 medical team, has told the media that "a second wave of the epidemic in autumn and winter is certain." An anonymous expert agreed that it will be hard to avoid a second wave this year. If necessary, human coronavirus infection tests can be conducted under closed and safe conditions and on the premise that the safety of subjects is ensured. Sweden, Germany and other countries have conducted human infection tests. This means exposing healthy volunteers to the virus and checking if those who have been vaccinated are protected from infection. It's a risky process and must be carried out carefully, the expert stressed. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Dominant global viral strain found in Beijing cases (Global Times)
2020-06-23
The coronavirus mutation discovered to be currently dominating the world has been pinpointed as the cause of the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing, which experts say indicates that the virus was imported from outside China. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released the viral genome sequence from the recent clusters of COVID-19 infections related to Beijing's Xinfadi wholesale market late Thursday, which came from both COVID-19 case samples and environmental samples. The CDC has submitted the relevant genome sequence to the World Health Organization and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data to share the data globally. Data shows that the virus carries a point mutation in the Spike protein D614G. According to previous research and media reports, the mutation Spike D614G began spreading in Europe in early February, and increased significantly to 26 percent of the total isolated sequences available in the GenBank. In May, this viral strain had become the most dominant strain spreading around the world, presenting itself in 70 per cent of sequenced samples in the Genbank. According to a research paper released on the bioRxiv on June 14, the mutation can increase transduction of the virus across a broad range of human cell types, including cells from the lung, liver and colon. The mutation is also more resistant to proteolytic cleavage during production of the protein in host cells, suggesting that replicated viruses produced in human cells may be more infectious due to a greater proportion of functional (uncleaved) Spike proteins per virion. The mutation Spike D614G has been discovered in the virus spreading around Europe, Taiwan island and Colombia in South America. But it has not been discovered on the Chinese mainland so far, media reported citing a virologist. Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the Pathogen Biology Department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times on Monday that the results potentially indicate that the virus causing the latest outbreak in Beijing was imported from outside China. Yang said the fact that cases in Beijing rocketed from zero to more than two hundred in just more than one week indicate that the virus is more contagious than the strain that spread in Wuhan, which Yang deemed maybe a reason for why the epidemic outside China still cannot not be controlled while most parts of China have not witnessed new domestic cases for months. From June 11-21, Beijing reported 236 COVID-19 cases, all of whom have been hospitalized. Another 22 asymptomatic cases are under medical observation, Beijing health authorities said. According to the Hubei provincial health authority, COVID-19 cases in Wuhan reached 270 as of January 20, nearly one month after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the city on December 27. Concerns mounted if the more contagious strain would increase the difficulty for Beijing authorities to curb the outbreak. Experts explained that with the path of the virus causing the clustered infections at Xinfadi Market being clear along with the infection source, the outbreak in Beijing can be quickly controlled. Beijing discovered nine new cases on Sunday, the first time the city's new daily cases fell below single digits since June 12. Some experts reached by the Global Times estimated that the outbreak could ease within the week due to Beijing's strict measures and city-wide screening. ^ top ^

Shanghai job fair offers 3,000 medical positions (China Daily)
2020-06-22
A job fair in Shanghai offered nearly 3,000 positions to medical workers on Sunday, aiming to deepen the city's talent pool and ensure public health safety. Many applicants, mostly students who graduated from medical school this year, said they had been inspired by the selfless dedication shown by doctors and nurses during the novel coronavirus outbreak over the past few months and hoped to follow their example and contribute to public health. Fifty-one medical institutions, including top hospitals, those specializing in traditional Chinese medicine, community health centers and city-and district-level disease control centers, offered jobs at the fair for doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists and scientists. The Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, where confirmed COVID-19 cases are treated in the municipality, was one of them. It said the line of applicants waiting to submit their resumes was related to Shanghai's excellent performance in curbing the spread of the virus and treating cases. This year, more applicants were medical graduates from outside Shanghai, and they showed greater interest in positions at institutions specializing in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, said Hui Jingjing, a human resources manager at the center. "Front-line Shanghai medical experts' hands-on treatment solutions for COVID-19 patients were spread in medical circles around the world, and a book integrating their experience and comprehensive understanding of the pandemic has been published in Chinese and three foreign languages," Hui said. "Many young graduates aspired to join this team with pride." The number of jobs offered to doctors, nurses and researchers focusing on viruses and infectious diseases was almost double that of last year. Ninety jobs alone were offered to nurses. "The increased need was also driven by Shanghai's goal of becoming one of the world's safest cities in public health by 2025," Hui said. Li Chengang, who has a master's degree from a medical school in Jiangxi province, submitted his resume to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center. He wants to become an anesthetist. He said that because most patients at the center had infectious diseases, that gave the work special social significance, which appealed to him. "I won't be afraid of my own safety there as I believe the center will abide by standards and strict infection control within the hospital to best protect the medical staff and patients," Li said. The city's disease control centers also increased the number of vacancies for specialists in infectious disease prevention and control and laboratory professionals. The Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention plans to hire 111 specialists for such positions, roughly double the number of jobs offered last year. "It's partly because the COVID-19 epidemic is still lingering," said Liu Yanhui, head of recruitment at the Shanghai CDC. "It's also because we wanted to provide more job positions for graduates to cope with employment pressure this year." Peng Xiaojun, who majored in nursing at Anqing Medical College in Anhui province, was looking for a job as a pediatric nurse. "Nurses accounted for nearly 70 percent of the medical workers dispatched from all over the country to Hubei province, a region hit hard by the outbreak, to give support during the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country," she said. "I was very much inspired and am eager to join such a brave team." ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Shenzhen's outbound investment surges (Xinhua)
2020-06-25
Companies in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, invested 4.02 billion U.S. dollars in foreign non-financial enterprises in the first five months of this year, up 61.78 percent year on year, according to the city's commerce bureau. The investment in 168 enterprises from 28 countries and regions covered wholesale and retail, manufacturing, leasing and other fields. During the period, the city's companies made new investment in 38 enterprises and institutions from 13 countries and regions along the Belt and Road. By the end of 2019, Shenzhen's companies had set up 7,038 enterprises and institutions overseas in 141 countries and regions, with more than 100,000 overseas employees. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Muslim religious activities in Xinjiang unhindered by epidemic (China Daily)
2020-06-23
Muslim religious activities in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region remain unaffected by COVID-19, thanks to the region's effective anti-virus measures, said the regional religious affairs bureau. Religious activities have not been interrupted in the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, and the daily five-time prayer services are held every day. According to the institute, students are required to wear masks and maintain a social distance of over one meter while taking part in the service. Besides, they must undergo temperature screening before entering the service hall. Hadrejan Abulihamit, a student from Manas county, said they are required to sanitize hands with alcohol before meals and their dormitories are disinfected every day. Abla Rexit, 75, who used to be an imam at a local mosque in Artux, has chosen to worship at home since the epidemic befell. "I pray every day for my family's health and well-being," he said. Ruzi Mollak, a farmer in Aksu prefecture, goes to the mosque near his home every day to make his prayers. He said that the air conditioning makes the mosque cooler than his home. "Except temperature checks and hand sanitization before entry, everything is as usual," he said. Mahmut Usman, head of the regional religious affairs bureau, said the regional government has fully implemented epidemic prevention and control measures to ensure safe and orderly religious activities for the public. ^ top ^

Xinjiang's counter-terrorism, de-radicalization achievements undeniable (People's Daily)
2020-06-22
The so-called "Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020" recently signed into law by the U.S. deliberately defames the human right conditions in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, slanders the autonomous region's achievements in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization, and grossly interferes in China's domestic affairs. It once again exposed the double-standards and hypocrisy of the "American human rights." To protect human rights is not the aim of the U.S., but a disguise for the White House to undermine China's stability and development. Under the banner of human right protection, the U.S. is indeed seeking for hegemony. Xinjiang is a major battlefield of China regarding counter-terrorism and de-radicalization. The essence of Xinjiang-related issues is not about human rights, ethnicity, or religion, but about combating terrorism and de-radicalization. From the 1990s to the end of 2016, thousands of violent terrorist attacks happened in Xinjiang, inflicting heavy casualties and property losses and greatly impeding the economic development and social progress of the autonomous region. It's a consensus now that without secure and stable social environment, the rights to life and subsistence of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang will be endangered, let alone other rights and interests. The rights to life, health and development are the most basic human rights. Counter-terrorism and de-radicalization are a common responsibility of the international society, and also a necessary approach to safeguard human rights. Over the years, multiple countries and regions have actively explored the ways to combat and prevent terrorism and extremism based on their own conditions. Learning the international experience on counter-terrorism and starting from its own conditions, China has been making intensive counterterrorism and de-radicalization efforts. Upholding the principle of fighting and preventing terrorism at the same time, the autonomous region has been taking aggressive action against violent terrorist crimes, and at the same time, addressing the problem at its source. It has been making every effort to protect the fundamental human rights of citizens from violation by terrorism and extremism. Specific measures include improving public wellbeing, promoting knowledge of the law through education, and offering education and aid through vocational education and training centers in accordance with the law. The country has laid a solid foundation for Xinjiang's social stability and lasting peace. Specifically, the vocational education and training centers established in recent years have effectively curbed the breeding and spread of terrorism and extremism, as well as the frequent occurrences of terrorist activities, helping the autonomous region achieve important phased victory in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization. Over the past three years, there has not been a single violent terrorist case in Xinjiang. Peace and harmony have returned, and local people have a much stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. The counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts aims to eliminate the tumors that impede people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang from achieving a better life, and have led to social harmony and stability, as well as healthy development in the autonomous region. Rumors are dispelled by truths and lies are laid bare by facts. Compared with the hearsay and distortion in the so-called Act, those who have actually visited Xinjiang have more say on the autonomous region's real conditions. Since the end of 2018, over 1,000 people, including foreign diplomatic envoys to China from nearly 100 countries and regions, UN officials, Geneva-based senior diplomats of various countries, as well as more than 70 groups (or delegations) from political parties, civil society organizations, news media, and religious organizations of various countries have visited Xinjiang's vocational education and training centers. They believe that the vocational education and training centers are in keeping with the purposes and principles of the UN to combat terrorism and safeguard basic human rights, and have found experience of counterterrorism and de-radicalization for the international society. They hold that the successful example of China is worth learning from. Terrorism and extremism are a common enemy of the human society. Therefore, the efforts to combat them made by countries shall be free from double-standards, and must not be distorted in a way that goes against international justice and human conscience. The U.S. is also a victim to terrorism, and shall understand and support China's counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts. However, it is repeatedly interfering in China's domestic affairs and viciously attacking China's efforts in this regard in the name of human right protection, which certainly triggers the strong indignation and opposition of the Chinese people. The U.S. had better reflect on its own institutional problems of human rights, and not make troubles under the banner of human right protection. If it keeps going toward the wrong direction, what lie ahead will only be discredit and self-damage. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Exclusive: Why Hong Kong political artist Kacey Wong is optimistic despite the looming threat of censorship (HKFP)
2020-06-26
In an exclusive live interview with HKFP, artist Kacey Wong has said that the future of Hong Kong dissident art will be new, alternative platforms, adding that the national security law will only galvanise creativity in Hong Kong. The Cornell-educated artist – who describes himself as a "cultural fireman" – is known for his political performance art. He has targeted issues including the Tiananmen Massacre, Chinese censorship and the national anthem law. His 2018 protest performance piece, "The Patriot", shows him playing the Chinese national anthem on an accordion from inside a red cage outside the Chinese Government complex of Hong Kong. Addressing fears surrounding the looming national security law and its potential effect on political art, Wong said the law was – instead – likely to be targeted at seizing capital from the city's wealthy. "For people like you and me, they will just send police and hooligans to beat us up," he says, "That's how it works in the mainland: they rule by fear." He added that the fear of offending China within the Hong Kong art world existed long before the introduction of the national security law: "We have been seeing [within] government-run art institutions, curators and higher management self-censoring. This is understandable, as most museums are under LCSD [Leisure and Cultural Services Department], which is under Home Affairs." Wong said that the recent government promotional campaign in favour of the national security law may result in tighter self-censorship. "The Home Affairs is basically a local propaganda machine… Can museums and critical [decision makers] bypass their influence? I think the answer is no. [Museums] will watch… which kinds of artists they are hiring and exhibiting very closely." In the near future, Wong – well known for his public performance art – eyes alternative and online platforms for exhibiting art "to keep pushing the boundaries of what art and where art can be." "If you continue to think in the old paradigm you will never be able to have true freedom." Since the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, Wong has sought to push the boundaries of art as a means of political dissent on the streets. "I'm not saying art on the street is better than traditional art galleries…but it's important to think out of the box. This is how we can do something authentic [for] the society. Art is about how artists feel about the spirit of the time." The popularity of the growing number of grassroots art spaces, like Parallel Space in Sham Shui Po gives him hope: "These spaces are very small…but if you go there you see the queue waiting to go in. They go around the block, almost." "We're in a stage where we don't have to rely on traditional venues," he adds. "Authenticity and genuine care and love are more valuable than a prestigious venue. This is why you see so many people…even under the conditions of a pandemic queue [ing] up to support the yellow economy. This is a game changer for business and culture." According to Wong, the future of Hong Kong dissident art also lies outside of the city. "Since the [2014] Umbrella Revolution, there was a lot of concern abroad. A lot of genuine curiosity about how the Hong Kong people fight for freedom and liberty in support of democracy. They want to learn from us." He has exhibited his work about the Hong Kong struggle internationally in the past year, with exhibitions in Paris, Japan and Taiwan. "We have to continue to test the water. In the past five years, I have been experimenting." He points to his work from 2018, when he joined the July 1 protests in a pink tank. "But that time of freedom is already gone, it's not possible right now. The streets are becoming more and more dangerous." Wong is not just referring to police brutality: "I'm talking about the blue ribbon uncles [who] will suddenly beat you up…or the triads. This is a very disturbing time." he says. "In terms of my own art, I [have] started to do hidden performances, rather than with props. The reason is very practical, when shit hits the fan, you can run really fast. " Commenting on the recent cancellation of an RTHK comedy programme and the value of satire, Wong believes the form is a fundamental part of Hong Kong identity. "I think it's in the spirit of all Hong Kong people. In the 80s, Hong Kong was super famous for producing silly, satirical movies we exported around the world,' he says,' this [has been] part of our lives since day one." Wong thinks the attempt to quash comedy is futile. "Once you start to stop people from laughing, there are two possible reactions. One is you laugh even harder," he says. "The power of comedy and satire is that it helps people to relax," he adds, "If you let people vent out their anger by laughing, the anger will dissipate… If you stop them from laughing, they get angrier and angrier. This is what's happening in Hong Kong. It doesn't help the society." When asked how the new law will affect the future of art in Hong Kong, Wong is optimistic. "I have been teaching for 16 years and something I've learnt about creativity… it needs limitation. The greater the limitation, the greater the creativity." "I'm so glad to see so many brave young HK artist who are stepping up against this unjust law. That's why you see all these nice, interesting shows popping up everywhere in Hong Kong right now. Even if they pass [national security law], they'll just change the code a bit." He is confident the oncoming security law won't be a deterrent: "You can't stop people from laughing, it's like stopping them from breathing. They'll laugh more." ^ top ^

Hong Kong's Carrie Lam defends plans to give chief exec. power to select judges in national security cases (HKFP)
2020-06-23
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has defended plans to give her the power to appoint judges to handle national security cases amid concerns over threats to the city's judicial independence. The provision was among others included in a draft of the impending Beijing-promulgated national security legislation for the city. It was first reported by state-run Xinhua News Agency on Saturday. At a weekly press briefing ahead of the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam hit back at criticisms of "executive interference" into the judiciary. She said the Basic Law outlined the chief executive's "dual identities" as leader of the executive branch, as well as the head of the entire HKSAR. The proposed law would allow the chief executive to draw up a list of judges from different levels of courts, rather than assigning individuals to handle particular cases, she added. "When there are national security cases, the judicial branch is still responsible for allocating judges from this list to hear them." Lam said her position is responsible for the appointment of judges at all levels of the courts, according to Article 48 of the city's mini-constitution. Article 88 also stipulates that the leader shall base the appointments on recommendations provided by an independent commission comprised of legal sector personnel. "The designated judges mentioned in the national security legislation still come from those who have been through this process. To put it simply, the chief executive does not pick a random person on the street and appoint him as the judge," she said. On Tuesday, former chief justice Andrew Li wrote in Ming Pao that it would be "inappropriate" for the chief executive – who would reportedly chair the national security commission – to make the selection on his or her own. He said the leader would lack the required knowledge of judges' experience and expertise. "This would be detrimental to the independence of the judiciary," Li wrote. Li added if this view was not acceptable, the arrangement should at least provide that the chief executive's selection is based on the chief justice's recommendation or that of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission. Asked if she would take up Li's suggestion, Lam said she would: "This is reasonable. As the chief executive, how do I know so many judges? So I think I would definitely consult the chief justice." ^ top ^

European Union leaders urge Xi Jinping to drop Hong Kong national security law, or risk 'negative consequences' (SCMP)
2020-06-23
European Union leaders warned President Xi Jinping of "very negative consequences" over Beijing's plan to introduce a national security law in Hong Kong, while pressing for progress on market access and climate change in a sign of Europe's hardening approach to China. In a show of EU's impatience, Ursula von der Leyen, who leads the European Commission, called on Chinese leaders to step up the political attention for the ongoing investment talks by the "end of summer" in order to clinch a treaty by year end. Xi, on his part, fended off the EU's categorisation of China as a rival, pledging to work together with the bloc on cooperation and upholding multilateralism. Xi's call with von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel followed the duo's summit with Premier Li Keqiang earlier in the day, where Covid-19 related economic issues, EU-China relations, Hong Kong's situation and other international issues were on the agenda. Chinese state media made no reference about what Xi and Li said on Hong Kong. The national security legislation for the city is expected to be passed by June 30. "The national security law risks seriously undermining the 'one country, two systems' principle," von der Leyen said in a press conference after the summit. "We also conveyed that China risks very negative consequences if it goes forward with imposing this law." "The European Union is in touch with our G7 [Group of Seven] partners on this, and we have made our position very clear to the Chinese leadership today and urge them to reconsider," she said. "Of course they have a different standpoint than us, but this is our very clear standpoint we conveyed to the Chinese leadership." On the investment treaty, von der Leyen said: "We continue to have an unbalanced trade and investment relationship … We expect now to step up and to lift the negotiations that so far have been on a very low level to a higher political level. "We need to follow up on these commitments urgently. We also need to have more ambition on the Chinese side in order to conclude negotiations on an investment agreement," she said. The EU's complaints also touched on climate change, despite China's official stance in support of the Paris Agreement. "China has repeatedly projected itself a leader in global climate issues, and China is indeed on our side on this. However, being a leader brings responsibility to follow up with actions," von der Leyen said. The duo urged China to commit to climate neutrality as soon as possible after 2050, with von der Leyen adding: "We count on China to live up to its commitments under the Paris Agreement and step them up and lead by example." But the Chinese leader focused on partnership with the EU at a time when Beijing is facing ongoing confrontation with Washington. "China is a partner, not a rival," Xi told the EU leaders, according to Chinese state media. "China and the EU do not have fundamental conflicts, and cooperation is far bigger than competition." Hong Kong's national security law is like 'anti-virus software', top Beijing official says He also offered the EU leaders "close communications" to push through major bilateral agendas – an indirect reference to the investment agreement. China and the EU, Xi said, "should respect each other, create common grounds and accept the differences". According to the EU's press release, the two leaders also addressed the "deteriorating human rights situation, including the treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and of human rights defenders, as well as restrictions on fundamental freedoms". They also touched on "the continued arbitrary detention" of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai and Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were charged by the Chinese authorities of spying. ^ top ^

China's top legislature likely to enact national security law for HK at next session by July 1 (Global Times)
2020-06-22
Hours after China revealed the details of the draft of the national security law for Hong Kong, the country's top legislature set the date for the next session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, during which the highly anticipated law is likely to be enacted to end the chaos and rampage throughout the city that has become "a base of subversive activities" instigated by the West over the years. The Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, will convene its 20th session from June 28 to 30 in Beijing, according to a chairpersons' meeting held on Saturday, chaired by Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee. Though the national security law for Hong Kong was not on the official agenda when the NPC Standing Committee announced it for the upcoming session, observers said that the draft could be proposed by the chairman of the NPC Standing Committee during the session. Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the NPC Standing Committee from Hong Kong told the Global Times on Sunday that it is expected that top lawmakers may vote on the law during the committee's upcoming session before July 1. According to a statement released after the three-day meeting of the 19th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee which concluded on Saturday, the central government would set up a commissioner's office for national security affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the HKSAR should establish a commission of safeguarding national security. By proposing to set up the two agencies, the law would mirror "the maximum trust" granted by the central government to the HKSAR government and give "maximum protection" to Hong Kong people's human rights and the rule of law, observers said. It also takes into account both Hong Kong's common laws while ensuring the law is implemented in the most effective way, they noted. However, some Western media outlets, local opposition groups in Hong Kong and secessionists such as Jimmy Lai and Joshua Wong have not given up on smearing the legislature, calling it "controversial" and claiming that it would profoundly change the way Hong Kong people live and end the so-called political freedoms enshrined under "one country, two systems." "Like I expected a few days ago, some lawmakers from opposition groups and others rushed to take their consistent tactics by spreading frightening rumors, smearing and demonizing the draft in order to attack the central and HKSAR governments," Carrie Lam, chief executive of the HKSAR government, said in a post published on her Facebook page after the details of the draft law were released. Attempts at smearing the law or seeking help from foreign countries or associations to interfere in the matter are doomed to fail, as the determination of the central government to push forward the law and safeguard national security will not be shaken, Lam noted. Still, when Western media, politicians and some NGOs depict the draft law on national security for Hong Kong, some characterizations have been filled with misinterpretation, prejudices and unfounded claims that question not only the high degree of autonomy enjoyed by the HKSAR but also the future of "one country, two systems." Some have not even taken a look at what the provisions of the draft law are really about, which has drawn a clear line between responsibilities and power of the central authorities and HKSAR. Photo taken on June 13, 2020 shows the cable cars in the Ocean Park in Hong Kong, south China. Hong Kong's iconic theme park Ocean Park resumed operations on Saturday after being temporarily closed for more than four months due to the COVID-19 epidemic. To ensure the health and safety of visitors, employees and animals, the maximum instantaneous in-park capacity will be reduced to 9,000 people, 25 percent of the usual level, in the first two weeks following the reopening. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaochu) A real threat? Some US media such as The New York Times said the upcoming law would "punch a hole" in Hong Kong's judicial system, citing "pro-democracy" politicians while the Wall Street Journal, citing opposition groups and foreign governments including the US, criticized the move as compromising the high degree of autonomy enjoyed by the city. Other media like Reuters said the HKSAR's freedoms are in doubt, citing critics, and said the law signals "the deepest change to the city's way of life" since the city returned to the motherland in 1997. After some observers in Hong Kong and the mainland carefully went through details in the draft law, they came up with the same conclusion: the draft is conveying the message from the central government to respect law enforcement and judiciary systems in the HKSAR on national security matters. "Only when HKSAR authorities can't handle a very few cases will the central government step in and exercise jurisdiction," Tam said. The details of the draft law indicated that the central government would establish a commissioner's office for national security affairs to assess national security situations in the city and make recommendations on key strategies as well as major policies in maintaining national security. It will also oversee, guide, coordinate and support the HKSAR to fulfill its duty to protect national security, collect intelligence and handle criminal cases concerning national security in accordance with the law. "It's necessary to set up a commissioner's office in Hong Kong to share intelligence, pass on experiences, provide technical support and help work arrangements on national security matters. It will support the HKSAR in implementing the national security law in a fully fledged, effective and accurate manner," said Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies. The threat to national security posed by some forces in Hong Kong has become very serious, and the HKSAR has even become an "intelligence base, infiltration base and subversive base" for different countries, especially for the West, observers said. The social turmoil over the past year showed that the HKSAR lacks sufficient capability and experience to safeguard national security due to the absence of an effective legal and law enforcement mechanism, as a result, guidance and supervision from the commissioner's office for national security affairs is urgently needed, which would closely coordinate with HKSAR authorities, Lau told the Global Times. The new central government office will not interfere with Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) operations, as there will be a clear division of rank and work, where the commissioner's office will handle complex national security cases that cannot be handled by the police force, observers said, giving further explanation about why it is not a move to undermine "one country, two systems." The office's relationship with the Hong Kong police is akin to that of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation with local police and that of the UK's MI5 Security Service with local police, Lawrence Tang Fei, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times. "For instance, in the US, the FBI works at federal government level while each state and city has their own police force. When it comes to major cases that can't be handled by single state, they require the deployment of the FBI," he said. Specifically, the commissioner's office for national security affairs will handle cases that involve cross-border crimes that are beyond Hong Kong's jurisdiction and involve foreign diplomats who enjoy diplomatic immunity. "These cases are very hard for [local police and judiciary system] to handle and the central government must step in," Tang said. Children attend an event marking the new semester at Yaumati Catholic Primary School in south China's Hong Kong, Sept. 2, 2019.Photo:Xinhua Judicial independence ensured Under the draft law, the HKSAR government will set up a special commission chaired by the chief executive to protect national security. It also allows the chief executive to appoint judges to handle national security cases. Critics raised concerns that the independence of the city's judiciary system will be jeopardized. However, the draft law clearly states that the HKSAR shall exercise jurisdiction over criminal cases that endanger national security, from the investigation phase, to prosecution and trial and punishment, unless there are special circumstances. "The draft showed that it will thoroughly activate and use the existing forces within the HKSAR government to execute the law-enforcement missions regarding national security affairs," Tian Feilong, a Hong Kong affairs and legal expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times. According to the content of the draft law, the jurisdiction power could be divided into "jurisdiction over normal and special cases," Tian said. The national security commission in Hong Kong, led by chief executive, incorporating nine departments such as Chief Secretary for Administration, Director of the Chief Executive's Office, Financial Secretary, Secretary for Justice, Secretary for Security, Commissioner of Police, head of national security department of the HKPF and Director of Immigration Department will be in charge of the normal cases, the expert noted. Once the case goes beyond the law-enforcement capability of HKSAR authorities, for example if it brings huge impact to public order and the legal system of the city, or HKSAR agencies face unprecedented pressure and difficulties with intelligence collection, case investigation and judgment, central authorities must step in to take ultimate responsibility, Tian said. "The turmoil that started in June 2019 against the extradition bill fits the standard of the special situation," he said. A growing number of legal experts and observers have been discussing whether cases related to the riots triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill since last year should be handled by the HKSAR or the central government, Tian said. The cases relevant to the riots go beyond the capabilities of local law enforcement agencies, which had a huge impact on the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong, the expert noted. "The new law could apply retroactively to these cases, as the riots are not a past event but still ongoing," Tian added. When it comes to the appointment of judges, some are concerned that Hong Kong will not be ruled by law, but by people. Senior Counsel Ronny Tong Ka-wah rebutted the claim. "It's indeed strange to say appointing judges would harm the rule of law, as the Basic Law already states that judges of the courts of the HKSAR shall be appointed by the chief executive," he said. Tong noted that while he previously did have some concerns over the upcoming law, which he feared might harm the city's judicial independence; he was reassured after he read the details of the draft law. "Especially after I read the relevant articles about Hong Kong residents' rights according to the Basic Law of the HKSAR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights," he said. Accelerate at full speed While some countries like the US and UK continue to criticize China over the upcoming national security law for Hong Kong, lawmakers and observers said the external pressure will not have any impact on the central government's political will and legislature agenda on handling domestic affairs, particularly when they touch the country's core interests and the bottom-line. "The decision made by the NPC on May 28 clearly stated the necessity and urgency of formulating the law. The NPC standing committee has the constitutional responsibility to accelerate the law's formulation to implement that decision," Tian said, noting that local and external forces inside and outside Hong Kong have been stepping up efforts to undermine the legislative process, which would instead help accelerate this process. Meanwhile, the G7 statement on Hong Kong has exposed the severity of foreign intervention, and accelerating the legislative process of the law at full speed would demonstrate the central government's strong will and determination to strike down foreign interference and protect national security, he said. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan firms put more employees on unpaid leave (Xinhua)
2020-06-24
The number of employees taking unpaid leave in Taiwan, a common measure to cut costs when business is slow, has exceeded 30,000, reaching the highest over the past decade, the island's labor affairs department said on Wednesday. As of Tuesday, a total of 1,334 companies had put 30,505 employees on unpaid leave across Taiwan, up 11 and 667 respectively over the figures released a week ago, the department said in a statement. The number of companies adopting this policy is also at its highest since statistics were first formally issued in January 2009. A total of 16,047 employees in manufacturing were put on unpaid leave as of Tuesday, up 1,010 on the previous week, the largest figure for any sector. The main reason for the slow business in manufacturing was a reduction in overseas orders, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China releases new negative lists for foreign investment (People's Daily)
2020-06-25
China has unveiled new, shortened negative lists for foreign investment, as part of efforts to further open up the economy and improve its business environment amid the novel coronavirus epidemic. The number of sectors that are off-limits for foreign investors will be cut to 33 in the 2020 version of the negative list from 40 in the 2019 version, according to a statement jointly released on Tuesday by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce. China also unveiled its 2020 negative list for foreign investment in pilot free trade zones, cutting the number of prohibited industries to 30 from 37. The two new negative lists will take effect on July 23. According to the new lists, foreign ownership caps on securities, fund management, futures, life insurance companies, as well as commercial vehicle enterprises will be removed. Ownership by foreign investors in wheat breeding and seed production can be raised to up to 66 percent. Foreign investors will be allowed to invest in sectors including prepared slices of traditional Chinese medicine, the smelting and processing of radioactive minerals, and the production of nuclear fuel. In the area of infrastructure industry, foreign investors will be allowed to take majority shares in joint ventures that engage in the building and operation of water supply and drainage networks in cities with a population of more than 500,000. In education, wholly foreign-owned institutions for vocational education will be allowed. ^ top ^

Ti Chinese yuan can be a trade currency: Ex-HKMA head (People's Daily)
2020-06-24
In a recent interview, Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, former chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, said that more and more people have used the yuan in terms of current accounts, namely for trade. He believes that the Chinese yuan has a potential to be a trade unit in the capital market and is a direction for Hong Kong's development. ^ top ^

Cainiao Network vows to halve cross-border air delivery time (Xinhua)
2020-06-24
Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group, has announced that it would ramp up investment to double cross-border air-freight efficiency. The announcement is Cainiao's latest initiative to build its global logistics infrastructure since Alibaba Group increased its stake in Cainiao in 2019, with the goal of delivering packages throughout China within 24 hours and within 72 hours elsewhere in the world. Cainiao will, specifically, increase its chartered export flights from 260 to 1,260 over the next nine months, which means air-freight time should be halved to 3-5 days from the current 7-10 days. The logistics firm will also expand its overseas warehouse network from 30 warehouses spanning 1 million square meters to over 2 million square meters in the next three years. Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises will be able to pre-stock their goods in these overseas warehouses, allowing 90 percent of cross-border orders to be fulfilled within 72 hours in 100 cities. "Today, logistics has become a game changer and key differentiator that sets one business apart from another," said Cainiao President Wan Lin. "Our investment to establish a global smart logistics network, including international shipping routes and warehousing facilities, will provide businesses with greater operational efficiency, cost savings, transparency and accuracy in their supply chain management." ^ top ^

Alibaba, JD.com likely to be included in mainland-HK stock link programs: experts (Global Times)
2020-06-23
Chinese mainland-based technology giants that recently went public in Hong Kong are expected to be included in the stock link programs between the mainland and Hong Kong, director of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Charles Li Xiaojia said. His comments are a signal that Chinese mainland investors would be able to trade the shares of Alibaba and JD.com via the stock link programs, analysts say. According to Li, it's just matter of time for overseas-listed, mainland-based companies that shift to the Hong Kong bourse to be included in the mainland-Hong Kong stock link programs, though he didn't reveal any timing for the reform, reported sina.com.cn. "We haven't reached a deal with the mainland stock exchanges, so it's hard to predict the timetable for the inclusion," Li said. Li's comments sent a message that it's highly probable that Alibaba and JD.com, two mainland tech giants that went public in Hong Kong recently, would be included in the stock link programs, experts said. Alibaba was reportedly blocked from being included in the Hong Kong-mainland stock link programs earlier this year because of secondary listings and weighted voting rights. "In terms of financial conditions, companies like Alibaba and JD.com are qualified for the inclusion," said Li Daxiao, the chief economist at Shenzhen-based Yingda Securities. "I think the mainland stock exchanges want to make sure that the connection between secondary listings and mainland markets can be smooth and don't trigger too much volatility," he told the Global Times. He also said that there might be some technical issues that involve secondary listings to be included in the stock link programs, but they will only be a temporary hindrance to the inclusion of companies like Alibaba. Xi Junyang, a professor at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said that the chances are great for such inclusion amid a trend for US-listed Chinese companies to shift their listings and when the mainland is pushing for financial opening-up. He predicted that the mainland will further broaden its links with the Hong Kong stock market by incorporating more companies into the stock link programs and further lifting the trading quota. But as the mainland already has reforms to implement, such as expanding experiments of the registration-based IPO system, so reforms of the stock link programs will likely be carried out in 2021 instead of this year, Xi said. Charles Li Xiaojia also said that Hong Kong welcomes qualified companies listed overseas to list on the Hong Kong bourse, whether they are primary or secondary listings. "We believe they chose to return because the US market environment can't bring enough confidence," he said, but added that Hong Kong does not welcome companies that were forced to delist from the US because of their own flaws. The Hong Kong bourse ranked first globally in terms of IPO proceeds in 2019, completing 169 IPOs and raising funds of HK$314.5 billion ($40.6 billion), cementing its position as the world's leading IPO hub. ^ top ^

Coronavirus only a blip for China's belt and road plan, says former central bank chief (SCMP)
2020-06-23
Global monetary easing and low interest rates could benefit the Belt and Road Initiative, China's former central bank governor said on Monday, brushing aside concerns about the future of Beijing's top geopolitical project as the global economy is hammered by the coronavirus outbreak. Zhou Xiaochuan, who was governor of the People's Bank of China for more than 15 years until March 2018, said the initiative has encountered setbacks as some projects had stalled during the pandemic, while the debt burden of some participating countries had worsened. But he added that there was a silver lining. "The current environment is good for its development as global capital is ample and the cost is relatively low. It's a good opportunity to raise funds or optimise existing financing arrangements," Zhou said at a forum organised by Chinese media outlet Caixin via video link. The belt and road plan is a flagship policy of President Xi Jinping, which seeks to link Asia, Europe and Africa with a network of ports, motorways and railways. While Washington views it as a strategy from Beijing to expand its global influence, the Chinese government is selling it as a multilateral initiative to promote infrastructure investment. As the coronavirus has spread around the globe, concerns have mounted that the initiative may lose steam as some projects become financially unsustainable due to delays and cost overruns. Chinese companies invested US$6.5 billion in belt and road countries in the first five months of this year, up 16 per cent year-on-year, the Ministry of Commerce said. That accounted for 15.5 per cent of the nation's total outbound investment, an increase of 2.9 percentage points from a year earlier. But debt levels are rising among some countries involved in the plan and Beijing is reluctant to continue bankrolling all projects. Xi announced an economic strategy shift last month that will see China turn its focus for growth to its massive domestic market, though it will maintain its diversified relationships with developing countries, including more than 60 along the belt and road plan. "Despite negative comments or criticism, a slowdown in the progress of projects or a decline in the amount of fundraising is actually a normal phenomena as a pandemic prevents workers from gathering. Overall, the demand for infrastructure in belt and road countries is rising," Zhou said. Criticism over the debt sustainability of some projects was made by people with "an ulterior motive", the former central bank governor said, adding there was no effective international mechanism to address high debt problems. Zhou said solutions for debt-ridden countries were improving productivity, reforming domestic systems and integrating into the global economy, hinting that debt forgiveness is not the answer. The Belt and Road Initiative could also help boost the internationalisation of the yuan, the use of which had stagnated in recent months amid the pandemic, Zhou said. The Chinese currency's share of international payments dropped to sixth position, or 1.79 per cent of the global share in May, far behind the US dollar on 40.88 per cent, the Euro on 32.9 per cent and the Japanese yen on 3.53 per cent, according to SWIFT data. Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong special administrative region, said at the same event that Hong Kong's economic future will be linked to the belt and road plan. "Belt and road strategy will allow Hong Kong enterprises and professional services to better counter the change of international trade environment," she told the summit on Monday morning. "We'll grasp the opportunities of Asian growth, belt and road and Greater Bay strategies, to recover Hong Kong and elevate it to a new level." ^ top ^

 

DPRK

DPRK suspends military action plans against S. Korea (Xinhua)
2020-06-24
A military meeting of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has decided to suspend the military action plans against South Korea, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Wednesday. The KCNA reported that the country's top leader Kim Jong Un presided over the preliminary meeting for the fifth meeting of the Seventh Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) through a video conference on Tuesday and made the decision. "At the preliminary meeting, the WPK Central Military Commission took stock of the prevailing situation and suspended the military action plans against the South brought for the fifth meeting of the Seventh Central Military Commission by the General Staff of the Korean People's Army," the report said. "The meeting examined agenda items of major military policy to be laid before the fifth meeting of the Seventh WPK Central Military Commission, and made a study of a report and decisions, which will be submitted to the fifth meeting, and some documents carrying the state measures for further bolstering the war deterrent of the country," it said. A week ago, the army announced a detailed military action plans in protest against the South Korean authorities for failing to stop "defectors" from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets to the North. The action plans proposed by the General Staff of the Korean People's Army include redeployment of troops to the Mount Kumgang tourist area and the Kaesong Industrial Zone, and security guarantee for the people to distribute propaganda leaflets to the South in the border areas. ^ top ^

DPRK ready to distribute leaflets over DMZ into S.Korea: media (Xinhua)
2020-06-22
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is ready to distribute large quantities of leaflets to South Korea in retaliation for the latter's hurting of its leadership and insulting of the Korean people, state media here said Saturday. "The struggle has turned into the one for distributing leaflets to the south in denunciation of the heinous perpetrators," the official Korean Central News Agency said. The DPRK has been lashing out at South Korea in recent weeks as Seoul failed to stop "defectors" from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the DPRK. Pyongyang has already cut off all communication lines with Seoul and even blown off their joint liaison office. "The enraged people across the country are actively pushing forward with the preparations for launching a large-scale distribution of leaflets to pour the leaflets of punishment upon those in South Korea," the report said. Earlier this week, a DPRK military spokesman said the DPRK army plans to redeploy troops into the previously-demilitarized zones in the border areas and support the scattering of leaflets into South Korea with military force. ^ top ^

Korean Peninsula peace process suffers setback (China Daily)
2020-06-22
The demolition of the joint liaison office for inter-Korean talks by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Tuesday is a severe setback to the Korean Peninsula peace process. The DPRK claimed the demolition of the office was in response to defectors spreading anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the border through balloons. But it appears the DPRK did so because it is disappointed that the Republic of Korea and the United States have failed to take the peninsula peace process forward, and its demands for security guarantee and economic development have not been met. After years of tensions and uncertainties, the Korean Peninsula peace process got a shot in the arm in 2018 when DPRK and ROK leaders signed the Pyongyang Joint Declaration and the Panmunjom Agreement to promote peace and cooperation. Seoul also played a key role in organizing the first summit between US President Donald Trump and DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un and the first US-DPRK-ROK summit. The joint liaison office, established in the industrial complex in the DPRK's border city of Kaesong in 2005, was restored after the 2018 ROK-DPRK summit. But the first Trump-Kim summit did not yield concrete results and the second was inconclusive. As for the ROK, it could not make much progress in the cooperation projects on railways, tourism and the environment because the US did not lift the sanctions against the DPRK.Even though Pyongyang stopped ballistic missile and nuclear tests, partly dismantled its nuclear test facilities, Washington insisted that Pyongyang agree to comprehensive, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization before the US would lift the sanctions. Besides, the US-ROK joint military drills continued, which Pyongyang saw as a blatant provocation. Dissatisfied with the almost stalled peace process since late 2019, Pyongyang tried to press Seoul to bring Washington back to the negotiation table. As such, the demolition of the liaison office can be seen as a strong message to the ROK and the US, especially Trump, to honor their promises. At the Fourth Enlarged Meeting of the Seventh Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea in late May, Pyongyang proposed a new policy to further consolidate the deterrent force of the country's nuclear capability, maintain a high level of mobilization and operate armed forces in accordance with the overall requirements for the construction and development of the DPRK. On Wednesday, a day after Pyongyang demolished the liaison office, Trump extended the existing US sanctions against the DPRK by one year, saying the DPRK posed an "unusual and extraordinary" threat. Which could mean Pyongyang's truce with Washington may be in danger. All this suggests tensions could once again escalate on the Korean Peninsula. As for the anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflet problem, it reflects the limits of ROK President Moon Jae-in in expanding cooperation with the DPRK. And since anti-Pyongyang groups in the ROK might vehemently oppose further peaceful talks with Pyongyang after the demolition of the liaison office, Moon may not be able to take the peace process much forward. The deterioration of Pyongyang-Seoul relations could set off a chain reaction. The US, facing an economic crisis because of its failure to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic, may intervene in the peninsula issue to shift public attention from its disastrous anti-virus policy, claiming to fulfill its duty as an ally of the ROK. But it may again insist that Pyongyang agree to comprehensive, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization before US sanctions would be lifted. And Japan, which regards the DPRK as an unreliable factor in Northeast Asia, will possibly follow its allies, the ROK and the US, to impose a new round of sanctions on Pyongyang. Which means the peninsula faces new challenges and the risk of tensions flaring up has increased. China and Russia have expressed concerns over the peninsula situation and urged all parties concerned to make greater efforts to restore peace on the peninsula. Hopefully, all the parties will see reason and return to talks. The author is a research fellow and secretary-general at the Northeast Asia Studies Institute, Jilin Academy of Social Sciences. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

2020 Election: Ruling Mongolian People's Party wins 62 of 76 parliament seats (Montsame)
2020-06-25
Votes for the 2020 parliamentary elections had been counted and aggregated by early morning of today, June 25. As of the preliminary results, the ruling party in the current parliament – Mongolian People's Party gained the majority or 62 seats in the 76-seat parliament, while the opposing Democratic Party won 11 seats. Regarding the three remaining seats, the preliminary results display that S.Ganbaatar from 'Our Coalition' /Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Civil Will, Green Party, Mongolian Traditionally United Party/ won one seat in the parliament. He served as an independent member of parliament between 2012 and 2016 and competed for Mongolia's presidential election in 2017. Another one seat was acquired by an independent candidate N.Altankhuyag, former Prime Minister of Mongolia and former leader of the Democratic Party. And a candidate T.Dorjkhand from 'Right Person Electorate Coalition' /National Labor Party, Mongolian Social Democratic Party, Justice Party/ received one seat in the 8th parliament of Mongolia. The 2020 parliamentary election was held under non-proportional voting system of plurality-at-large with a total of 29 electoral constituencies, where Mongolian voters chose 2 or 3 candidates out of up to 38 candidates from 13 parties and 4 coalitions or independents in each electoral district. Among all elected candidates, present Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh, candidate from the Mongolian People's Party, gained the most votes - 25,356 votes or 72.24 percent of total votes cast in the electoral constituency in Khentii aimag. Following him, current Head of Cabinet Secretariat L.Oyun-Erdene (Mongolian People's Party) received 25,169 votes or 71.71 percent of total votes in Khentii aimag. Across the nation, following candidates received the most number of votes: N.Uchral - 53,651 votes Kh.Gankhuyag- 50,073 votes J.Ganbaatar - 48,624 votes J.Chinburen - 41,004 votes Out of 76 elected candidates for the new parliament, 13 are women. The current 7th parliament of Mongolia has 13 female members while the percentage of female representation in the 6th parliament elected in 2012 was 14.4 percent with 11 women members. In accordance with the Mongolian Law on Elections, the General Election Commission – the central election authority will announce the complete final results of the election on which candidates obtained the most votes and will issue temporary credentials of member of the State Great Hural – parliament for the candidates deemed elected as Members of the State Great Hural. Moreover, within 15 days following the end of the election, the General Election Commission will issue and submit the list of persons elected as parliament members to the President of Mongolia and make them public. ^ top ^

Voting gets underway in 2020 legislative election as polls open (Montsame)
2020-06-24
Polling stations opened at 7 AM local time and voting is underway across the country, as the public choose their MPs for the next parliament. Polls in the 8th legislative election of Mongolia are open until 10 PM today. Those unable to visit the polling station in person cast their vote through sealed mobile ballot boxes the day before the polling day and the ballot papers have been put into the voting machines as the polls opened. A total of 485 candidates from 13 parties and 4 coalitions and 121 independent candidates are running in the legislative election and 2,000,626 voting age citizens are on the list of eligible voters. All 2,070 polling stations have been disinfected and provided with disposable protective face masks and gloves to distribute to the voters to prevent COVID-19 infections. ^ top ^

 

Pascal Wanner
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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