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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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  22-26.2.2021, No. 854  
    Archiv / Archives
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Table of contents

DPRK

Mongolia

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#Hashtag of the Week

#Pure love, only for the country# (Sina Weibo)
#纯粹的爱,只为中国#
2020-02-19
Comment: While India admitted in June itself that it lost 20 of its soldiers in the Galwan Valley clash, China's revelation came on Friday when The People's Liberation Army Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese military reported that the Central Military Commission, for the first time publicly named four martyrs all around the age of 20. Several hours later, the repost on the PLA Daily's official WeChat account, together with an eight-minute video clip released by China Central Television revisiting the onsite battle circulated intensively on WeChat Moment and aroused patriotic feeling in the public with angry and grief-stricken messages swarmed. "They were even younger than me, while I am still asking for the already-cooked meal from my parents. Just submitted my application (to join the army), once the political review's done, I will be the next one to take the relay baton," a 23 year old netizen wrote. "The millennials and the Gen Z are positive and resilient, we are the hope of the country and we are in fear of nothing. If the motherland needs me, please bury me in a remote hill, so that my body will grow an invisible barrier," another colleague student echoes. Global Times published an editorial stating several reasons for eventually releasing the information: "India has been trumpeting its 'victory' in the border provocations against China to cater to and encourage surging domestic nationalism. The unveiled number of casualties from China has debunked the lies of India, making it hard for India, who suffered heavy losses, to continue to fool the domestic public." Under the article, one reader left a comment stating: "Since the1950s, our "no first shot" and "no first move" rules have had so many Chinese soldiers killed. We fought back only when there is a casualty. The central only cares about its international image."

 

Switzerland

Canada the team to beat as Olympic seedings announced (China Daily)
2021-02-24
The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced its seedings for the 22 teams slated to play at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and as expected Canada is ranked No 1 in the men's tournament and No 2 in the women's. The men's tournament will use the same format as the four previous Winter Olympics, with 12 teams split into three groups of four. Team Canada will compete in Group A with the United States (seeded No 6), Germany (7) and host China (12). Group B will include Russia (2), Czech Republic (5), Switzerland (8) and qualifier 3 (11), while Group C consists of Finland (3), Sweden (4), qualifier 1 (9) and qualifier 2(10). The qualifiers will be determined in the final pre-Olympic tournament, scheduled for Aug 26-29 in Latvia, Norway and Slovakia. The women's tournament at Beijing 2022 will be contested by a record 10 teams, in two tiered groups of five. The top five according to the 2020 IIHF world rankings-the US, Canada, Finland, Russia and Switzerland-will play in Group A, while Japan (6) will head Group B, along with three qualifiers from the final pre-Olympic tournament in November (seeds 7-9) and China (10). The top three finishers in Group B will compete in the playoff round. With the exception of host China and perhaps one qualifier, all the men's teams will include players from the National Hockey League. […] ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Xi eyes new driving forces for China-France cooperation (Xinhua)
2021-02-26
Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested Thursday that China and France actively push for continuous progress in such areas of practical cooperation as energy, aviation and agricultural and food products, and foster new driving forces for bilateral cooperation. In a telephone conversation with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, Xi also said the two countries should cement mutual trust, respect and accomodate in earnest each other's core interests and major concerns, and effectively implement their major cooperation agreements. The two heads of state exchanged Spring Festival greetings and respectively sent best wishes to the people of the other country. Recalling that he and Macron held five phone conversations in 2020, Xi pointed out that those exchanges have promoted the sound development of China-France relations, and noted that the consensuses they reached have been well implemented. In the new year, the two sides should continue to make joint efforts in the spirit of the pioneering ox and strive for greater development of bilateral relations, he said, adding that China supports building Paris into an international financial center. Taking note of Macron's strong call for strategic independence of the European Union (EU), Xi stressed that China believes a stronger Europe is conducive to the peace, stability and development of a multipolar world, and to boosting cooperation between the two major forces of China and the EU to jointly tackle various global challenges. The two sides, he added, should work together to make good preparations for the series of important political events between China and the EU in the next stage. Recalling that at the end of last year, China and the EU jointly announced the completion of China-EU investment agreement negotiations, Xi called for concerted efforts to put the agreement into effect at an early date. Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries is part of the overall China-Europe cooperation, he pointed out, adding that China is ready to work with France to actively explore tripartite cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe, so as to open up new space for China-EU cooperation. Xi emphasized that as permanent members of the UN Security Council and responsible major countries, China and France should continue to champion multilateralism, and inspire global efforts to uphold equity and justice, coordination and cooperation, as well as openness and inclusiveness, so as to make due contributions to achieving an early victory in humanity's fight against COVID-19 and promoting world peace and development. China, he said, has offered COVID-19 vaccine aid to more than 50 developing countries, and stands ready to work with France to support the World Health Organization's role in international cooperation against the pandemic, and actively participate in the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative and the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility. Xi added that China has been fully implementing the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, pushing for an agreement by all relevant parties on the initiative's extension, and urging multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors to take part. China is glad to see France and other members of the international community increasing their involvement in Africa, and is willing to maintain communication with France, he said. He also suggested that the two countries encourage more countries to carry out the Paris Agreement on dealing with climate change, and support each other in hosting the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the 7th World Conservation Congress. Macron, for his part, said he applauds the development of France-China relations and is willing to work with the Chinese side in an open and cooperative manner to strive for more progress in bilateral cooperation in important areas and actively promote exchanges and cooperation between the EU and China. The French president said he hopes that the EU and China will make joint efforts for an early entry into force of the EU-China investment agreement. France appreciates China's positive contribution to international cooperation against the pandemic, especially in helping other countries obtain vaccines in a faster pace, he said, adding that he hopes to strengthen cooperation with China in this regard. Macron said France is ready to strengthen communication with China in international affairs, and looks forward to working with China to encourage the international community to roll out debt relief and suspension for Africa and help the continent achieve economic growth. France also stands ready to continue its close cooperation with China in tackling global challenges such as climate change and public health, he said, adding that his country supports China in hosting the biodiversity conference. The two heads of state also exchanged views on regional hotspot issues of common concern. ^ top ^

Australian media outlet fakes news to accuse China of causing 'debt traps' through BRI (Global Times)
2021-02-25
The fact that China has been expanding its influence in the world while sharing its growth dividend with partner countries through projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has caused envy and animosity in some Western countries, which have been demonizing China and accusing the country of setting up "debt traps". This has been an attempt to sow discord between China and its partners. A recent article by political editor Peter Hartcher, published in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, once again alleged that China's BRI projects in Europe have turned into a national debt trap. It says a $750-million loan to build a Belt and Road highway in Montenegro is being blamed for the county's national debt blowout to 80 percent of GDP. It also claimed that Montenegrin President, Milo Djukanovic, went to Beijing a few days before the 17 + 1 Summit (China and Central and Eastern European Countries) to complain to a gathering of Chinese investors, quoting strategic aphorisms from ancient China's Sun Tzu such as "If there is no skill in planning, it is difficult to achieve, and if there is no skill in planning, it will fail." Hartcher claimed in the article that it was the South China Morning Post that reported it. However, media reports and information from the president's office showed the president did not come to Beijing but attended the summit via video link. More importantly, the president did not "complain" to China at all. In fact, the South China Morning Post reported that President Djukanovic told participants to the event that the country welcomed Chinese investment in its tourism, energy and transportation sectors, and made a call for the two countries to better understand the challenges to the global economy and jointly seek for adequate solutions. An article published in the South China Morning Post on Sunday said, "there is no evidence China aims to deliberately push poor countries into debt as a way of seizing their assets or gaining a greater say in their internal affairs." The article quoted Deborah Brautigam, a professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University and founding director of the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) who considers the "debt trap" narrative a myth. Thousands of Chinese loan documents, mostly for projects in Africa, have been examined by CARI and it has not found any evidence that China seizes the assets of other countries if they fail to pay loans. The fake news reminded a similar scenario orchestrated by the New York Times that claimed Peter Daszak, an expert from the World Health Organization (WHO) team on mission of tracing virus sources in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, said that China had refused to hand over sensitive data to the experts of WHO. Peter Daszak, a British zoologist, said on his personal Twitter that it's shameful for the New York Times to engage in selectively misquoting WHO experts to fit its own narrative. "We DID get access to critical new data throughout. We DID increase our understanding of likely spillover pathways," Daszak wrote. Thea Kølsen Fischer, a Danish epidemiologist on the team, echoed Daszak, and wrote on Twitter that "This was NOT my experience either on the Epi-side. We DID build up a good relationship in the Chinese/Int Epi-team! Allowing for heated arguments reflects a deep level of engagement in the room." ^ top ^

Support for India's hosting of BRICS summit shows China's strategic wisdom (Global Times)
2021-02-24
India holds the rotating chairmanship of BRICS in 2021, and the country will hold the BRICS summit in the second half of the year. "We support India hosting this year's BRICS meetings and stand ready to work together with it and other members to strengthen communication and cooperation in various fields," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Monday. The statement has attracted the attention of the Indian media. China's attitude shows that with the rising uncertainty in the international community, emerging countries need to look to one another for development. BRICS countries are among the largest emerging markets worldwide. Expanding cooperation within the BRICS will not only bring additional development momentum to the five countries, but will also improve their strategic initiative. What has attracted Indian media's attention is that despite the border disputes and challenges in China-India ties, Wang still made the above statement. This shows that China doesn't want to see bilateral disputes affect the cooperation mechanism among the BRICS countries. This is a strategic choice made by a responsible major country from the perspective of the whole picture. China's efforts are clear to all in the two decades since the establishment of the BRICS mechanism, acting as an important driving force for the solidification of the mechanism. "Under the current changes worldwide and the COVID-19 pandemic, China will seek and expand common interests with other member states as always, and is still willing to develop together with other BRICS countries, including India," Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times. China and India have achieved a smooth completion of disengagement of frontline troops in the Pangong Tso area. The two countries also held the 10th round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting on Saturday, and both agreed to follow the important consensus of their state leaders and push for a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues. "China still attaches great importance to China-India relations and India's important role in international and regional affairs," Qian said. As the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, there is much room for cooperation among BRICS countries, including China and India. For example, during the 2020 BRICS summit, the five countries' leaders reached a consensus on cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines. This is an example of the BRICS countries' joint development amid rising uncertainties. In addition, China and India are the two largest economies in BRICS. In this context, India should also have the strategic wisdom to set aside bilateral disputes and stick to the BRICS cooperation framework. "India regards BRICS as another important mechanism to enhance its status as a major power and participate in global governance. As India has actively embraced the QUAD framework in recent years, the BRICS is a platform for India to maintain its status as an emerging market and to better balance the country's diplomacy," Qian said. India should meet China halfway and downplay geopolitical issues and China-India disputes under the BRICS framework. New Delhi should not prevent member countries from reaching a consensus. After all, this is also what India should do as the country has assumed the chairmanship. China-India disputes should not affect the BRICS framework. If India fails to see this, it will be an irresponsible act for the development of the country and the other four members. ^ top ^

Chinese diplomat refutes British official's erroneous remarks at UN rights body session (China Daily)
2021-02-23
The Chinese mission to the United Nations (UN) at Geneva on Monday refuted the erroneous remarks related to China by British Foreign Secretary at the 46th regular session of the Human Rights Council, which kicked off Monday and is expected to last until March 23. Chinese Mission Spokesperson Liu Yuyin said in a press release that human rights should not be used to serve political ends, still less a tool to smear other countries and contain their development. "The Human Rights Council has no place for lies and deception," Liu said. The Chinese diplomat said that officials from Britain, Germany, Demark, Finland and a handful of other countries abused the platform of the UN rights body to spread false information, smear China and interfere in China's internal affairs. "China firmly opposes and categorically rejects their remarks," he said. Xinjiang and Tibet, inhabited largely by ethnic minorities, are actually fine examples of human rights progress in China, Liu said, adding that China pursues an ethnic policy featuring equality, unity, ethnic regional autonomy and common prosperity. Today, Xinjiang enjoys social stability, economic growth, ethnic unity, religious harmony, cultural advancement as well as improvement of people's livelihood, and people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang enjoy extensive rights and freedoms in accordance with the law, he said. The Chinese diplomat added that the so-called "forced labor" and "forced sterilization" accusations against Xinjiang are outright slanders and "lies of the century" fabricated by Western politicians. China welcomes people from around the world to visit Xinjiang, and see with their own eyes prosperity and happy life of the people in Xinjiang, but at the same time, China firmly opposes any so-called "investigation" based on the presumption of guilt, he said. Since the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region came into force, Hong Kong has embarked on a transition from chaos to peace, the diplomat said. He explained that Hong Kong citizens no longer feel threatened by turmoil and violence, and can better exercise their legitimate rights and freedoms in a safer environment. "Hong Kong is a society under the rule of law and no one stands above the law. We firmly support the law enforcement agency in Hong Kong in strictly executing the law," he said, noting that the Sino-British Joint Declaration "has never given any external force the right to interfere in Hong Kong affairs". China urges Britain and other countries to "look into their own human rights problems, stop politicizing human rights, halt using misinformation and lies to stigmatize other countries, and make a real effort for the sound development of global human rights cause, instead of manipulating human rights issues to advance their own political agenda", stressed Liu.  ^ top ^

China urges people-centered philosophy, int'l dialogue on human rights: FM (Xinhua)
2021-02-23
China on Monday urged all countries to embrace a human rights philosophy that centers on the people and uphold both universality and particularity of human rights. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks when addressing the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) held via video link. Wang called on all countries to systemically advance all aspects of human rights and continue to promote international dialogue and cooperation on human rights. Noting China has found a path of human rights development that suits China's national conditions and needs, Wang said that in face of the sudden onslaught of COVID-19, the Chinese government has followed the people-first approach, put the safety and health of every person front and center, and made every effort to safeguard the life and dignity of the people. Global distribution of vaccines must be fair and in particular, accessible and affordable to developing countries, said Wang. Concerning Xinjiang, Wang said there has never been so-called "genocide," "forced labor" or "religious oppression," adding "such inflammatory accusations are fabricated out of ignorance and prejudice." The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong has facilitated a major turnaround from turbulence to law and order in the region, and protected the lawful rights and freedoms that the residents of Hong Kong enjoy under the Basic Law, Wang added. ^ top ^

Ugandan president meets with senior Chinese diplomat on bilateral ties (Xinhua)
2021-02-22
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni met with visiting senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi here on Sunday. Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, conveyed Chinese President Xi Jinping's cordial greetings to Museveni and congratulated him on winning re-election in the presidential election. Yang said that with the personal care and promotion of the two heads of state, China-Uganda relations have developed smoothly. China supports Uganda in pursuing a development path suited to its national conditions and stands ready to work with Uganda to further deepen political mutual trust, enhance the complementarity of development strategies, expand practical cooperation within the framework of jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative and implementing the outcomes of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and push the bilateral comprehensive cooperative partnership to a new height. China is ready to continue cooperation with Uganda in fighting the epidemic and jointly promote the building of a community of common health for mankind, said Yang. Yang said that China and Uganda have always supported each other on issues involving each other's core interests and major concerns, and opposed interference in other countries' internal affairs in the name of human rights and democracy. China is willing to work with Uganda to firmly safeguard the international system with the United Nations as the core and the international order based on international law. Museveni asked Yang to convey his sincere greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping, thanked China for its selfless help in infrastructure construction, agriculture and anti-epidemic efforts for a long time, and appreciated the important positive role of China's experience in developing Africa's economy and improving people's livelihood on the continent. He said that Uganda attaches great importance to the traditional friendship between Uganda and China, welcomes China's expansion of investment in the country, expects more products to enter into the Chinese market, and is willing to work with China to build the Belt and Road Initiative with high quality, so as to promote greater development of the comprehensive cooperative partnership between Uganda and China. Museveni stressed that Uganda abides by the one-China principle, opposes foreign interference in China's internal affairs, and is willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China in international and regional affairs. Yang also met with Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa and other cabinet members on Sunday. ^ top ^

China, India hold 10th corps commander level meeting (Xinhua)
2021-02-21
China's Ministry of National Defense on Sunday said the 10th Round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting was held on Feb. 20 on the Chinese side of the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point. The two sides positively appraised the smooth completion of disengagement of frontline troops in the Bangong Lake area, noting that it was a significant step forward that provided a good basis for resolution of other remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of China-India border areas, according to a joint press release of the meeting. The two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on other issues along the LAC in the Western Sector of the China-India border, it said. Both sides agreed to follow the important consensus of their state leaders, continue communication and dialogue, stabilize and control the situation on the ground, push for a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues in a steady and orderly manner, so as to jointly maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas, said the document. ^ top ^

China-Laos Railway Set to Open by Year-End (Caixin)
2021-02-20
Lao's first-ever modern railway is slated to open for use in December 2021, promoting wider people's exchanges and new business opportunities. Importantly, it is being seen as a major achievement for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The new railway will connect Vientiane, the capital of Laos, to Boten, a town bordering China, a distance of about 422 kilometers. It is the Southeast Asian country's largest public works project ever undertaken, with a price tag of around $5.9 billion, nearly one-third of Laos' GDP. It will carry both passengers and freight, with a maximum speed of 160 km per hour. Apart from the two terminals, there will be eight stations in between for passengers. Starting in 2016, the construction has stayed on scheduled despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as the Laos side allowed Chinese workers to re-enter the country despite other restrictions on people movement. And despite technical challenges, almost all of the tunneling and bridge construction has already been completed. According to a Xinhua report, as of December 2020, more than half of the track has been laid, with the railway scheduled to open on 2 December, Lao National Day, this year. There are also plans for the railway to extend beyond the border of town of Boten and into China connecting it with Kunming in Yunnan Province, through another 595-km of track, and fully making it a Laos-China railway. With the recent announcement that the Yuxin-Mohan section of the railway on Chinese side is expected to be operational at the end of the year. As well as the China-Laos railway the land-locked country of Laos also plans to develop other railways in other directions, in an effort to enhance the connectivity with its more developed neighbors, specifically Thailand and Vietnam. In a recent interview, Jiang Zaidong, China's ambassador to Laos referred to the railway project and vowed that China would help Laos realize a strategy of moving from being a "land-locked country to a land-linked country" as soon as possible. He also confirmed that the completion of the railyway construction is "not far away". Meanwhile, strategists believe that China hopes that China-Laos railway will be extended to Thailand and beyond, including Malaysia and Singapore. However, these hopes might be premature as Thai's plan to connect Bangkok and Nongkhai, a border town with Laos, via high-speed rail has seen slow progress, while Singapore and Malaysia have decided to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project in December 2020. Irrespective of difficulties in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, once completed, the China-Lao railway alone is expected to bring about economic benefits to Laos. Norihiko Yamada, a Lao expert in Japan's Institute of Developing Economies, told Caixin, the railway is likely to boost Chinese tourists visiting Laos, in which the Laos government sees great economic potential. He also believes the cost of shipping agricultural products between Laos and China will be reduced, including fruits, sugarcanes and rice produced along the railway route. Yamada noted that China-Lao relations have become "closer" and "diversified" over the past few years, particularly after Chinese president Xi Jinping made a state visit to Laos in 2017. The two countries then announced the Action Plan to Build a Community of Common Destiny. In a positive tone, a 2020 World Bank report also analyzed, the railway could make Laos "more attractive as an investment destination and link it to major production and consumption areas in China and the ASEAN, allowing firms to access global value chains." However, it remains unclear whether Laos will be able to repay its related debt to China as planned. Yamada points to the fact that the Lao government faced difficulties in finding the $50 million annual payment due for the railway in 2018. Moody's Investors Service downgraded Laos' issuer rating to "Caa2" from "B3", while downgrading the country's outlook to "negative" in 2020. Of the railways total $5.9 billion cost, 40% is debt-financed with loans from the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) to the Joint Venture Company between the two countries. For the remaining stake, the Lao government agreed to disburse $250 million itself and borrow the further $480 million from the China Exim Bank. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Xi declares "complete victory" in eradicating absolute poverty in China (People's Daily)
2021-02-26
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Thursday that China has secured a "complete victory" in its fight against poverty. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said absolute poverty has been eradicated in the world's most populous country, home to over 1.4 billion people. Xi made the announcement while addressing a grand gathering held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to mark the nation's poverty alleviation accomplishments and honor model poverty fighters. With absolute poverty eliminated, China has created another "miracle" that will "go down in history," Xi said in a televised speech. The high-profile event was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang and attended by other senior Party leaders Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng -- all members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee -- and Vice President Wang Qishan. Under Xi's leadership, China launched a monumental anti-poverty campaign on a scale unseen anywhere in the world. Over the past eight years, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line have all been lifted out of poverty. All 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 villages have also been removed from the poverty list. The country has met the poverty eradication target set out in the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. Combined with poverty-reduction results since the late 1970s, China is responsible for over 70 percent of the global reduction in poverty over the period, World Bank statistics have shown. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged the success of China's anti-poverty campaign over the past few years, calling it "the most important contribution" to the global poverty reduction cause. "No country has been able to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in such a short time," Xi said. At Thursday's gathering, Xi presented medals, certificates and plaques to role models from the country's anti-poverty fight. He also joined other Chinese leaders in presenting awards to individuals and groups for their outstanding achievements in the fight against penury. The recipients include villagers, Party members dispatched to villages to fight poverty, grassroots officials and college researchers. Some of them were honored posthumously. Shi Jintong, a village Party chief in central China's Hunan Province, accepted an award on behalf of his village. Shi's village -- Shibadong -- is where Xi, during a visit in 2013, put forward the "targeted poverty alleviation" strategy that was instrumental in the success of China's poverty eradication campaign. "I feel so honored to meet the general secretary again, yet I am confident at the same time as we have accomplished the task of poverty eradication," Shi said. But not all of China's anti-poverty champions lived to see this day. Over the past eight years, more than 1,800 people died fighting poverty on the front lines. Xi acknowledged these fallen heroes at Thursday's event, saying that their sacrifice and contributions "will never be forgotten by the Party, the people and the republic." Summarizing China's experience in conquering poverty, Xi said the country has blazed a poverty reduction trail and formed an anti-poverty theory with Chinese characteristics. He underlined the role of Party leadership, which has provided a "political and organizational guarantee" for China's poverty alleviation efforts. Poverty relief work has been led by the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC with its 90 million members. Party chiefs at all levels were required to assume the primary responsibility for achieving the campaign's ambitious targets. Over 3 million public sector officials were sent from cities and towns to villages to fight poverty "on the front lines." Funds were channeled to assist the fight. Nearly 1.6 trillion yuan (about 246 billion U.S. dollars) of fiscal funds have been invested into poverty alleviation over the past eight years. China also leveraged the political advantage of its socialist system, which can bring together the needed resources to accomplish great tasks. This enabled massive programs, such as those pairing up better-off provinces with others in need to tackle poverty. The country's strategy of targeted poverty alleviation was also highlighted. Xi said poverty eradication is an important embodiment of the Party's fundamental purpose of "whole-heartedly serving the people." "Ending poverty, improving people's well-being and realizing common prosperity are the essential requirements of socialism," Xi said. Building on its victory in eradicating poverty, China is moving on to push for higher-level development in its rural areas. Shaking off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavor, Xi said in the speech, demanding efforts to consolidate poverty alleviation achievements and initiate a dovetailing drive of "rural vitalization." The rural vitalization strategy was proposed as a key move for the development of a modernized economy at the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017. More detailed plans of the strategy were unveiled in the Party leadership's proposals for formulating an economic and social development plan for the 2021-2025 period and long-term goals through the year 2035. China on Thursday inaugurated a new cabinet body on promoting rural vitalization, which was transformed from the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development. In his speech, Xi said efforts must be made to prevent any large-scale relapse into poverty, and identifying solutions to problems concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers must be the top priority of the Party's work. "China will attach greater importance to the pursuit of common prosperity," he said. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese official stresses building, using national law database (Xinhua)
2021-02-25
A senior Chinese official on Wednesday highlighted the importance of the construction and application of a national database of laws and regulations to advance the rule of law in China. The database will make legal services more accessible to the general public, said Wang Chen, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, at the launching ceremony for the database. Wang stressed the need to build the database into an authoritative, effective, convenient and smooth platform, urging efforts to make full use of modern information technologies such as big data to improve the quality and efficiency of legislation work. He also called for efforts to listen to users' opinions and suggestions to improve relevant services. Users can access the database by visiting the website https://flk.npc.gov.cn or logging into the WeChat mini-program designed for the database. ^ top ^

CPC leads China's transformation (Xinhua)
2021-02-24
In downtown Shanghai, a historic alley house with a brick and timber structure often catches the eye of passers-by. The road where the house is located has turned into a bustling commercial street, but many visitors travel here especially to see the old building. The historic house is where the first national congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held in 1921. […] Poverty has troubled China for thousands of years. The CPC's doctrine is to enable the people to live a better life. The life of Jiang's family began to improve after the Party started a reform and opening-up policy and launched rural reforms in 1978 to boost productivity and help hundreds of millions of people shake off poverty. Over the past 40-plus years of reform and opening-up, more than 700 million people in China have been lifted out of poverty -- more than 70 percent of the global reduction in poverty. The poverty reduction went into a new phase when a "targeted policy" was introduced in 2013, which demands local authorities to tailor relief measures to local conditions -- a guiding principle in China's move to eradicate absolute poverty. Party officials were dispatched to villages to drive the anti-poverty campaign. Funds were allocated, industries developed and relocations carried out on an unprecedented scale. […] Under the leadership of the CPC, all of China's nearly 100 million impoverished rural residents living below the current poverty line shook off poverty after eight years' efforts. All 832 poor counties have now been lifted out of poverty. Feeding one-fifth of the world's population and letting them live a well-off life is just one of the miracles the CPC has achieved in the past 70 plus years since it began to govern the country. In 1949, as one of the first students majoring in aviation at Tsinghua University, Cheng Bushi was at the parade marking the founding of the People's Republic of China, where he brought a lantern in the shape of an airplane. "None of the 17 airplanes at the parade were made in China," he recalled. "Tears trickled down my face when I heard someone shouting at us 'You guys have to make a real plane!'" Cheng later became one of China's first aircraft designers and participated in the design of China's first jet plane. On May 5, 2017, the domestically-made C919 large passenger plane successfully made its maiden flight. "The CPC has attached more importance to scientific research than ever before, and we've built a solid technical foundation and talent pool over the past decades. The huge progress we've made in the aviation industry was promoted by the painstaking efforts of several generations of Chinese scientists," said Cheng. Now China is endeavoring to be a leading player in technology, its self-developed BeiDou Navigation Satellite System is in operation and the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, will be available for global service from April 1. The nation's high-speed railway in particular has become a symbol of "China speed" in modernization. "I can buy a bowl of cooked wontons in Changzhou and it is still warm when I arrive back home in Nanjing," said Qu Junjie, a high-speed train driver on the 200-km Changzhou-Nanjing railway line in east China's Jiangsu Province. Operating trains along the route runs in Qu's veins, as his father once drove diesel locomotives between the two cities, while his grandfather operated the earlier steam trains. As of 2020, the total length of high-speed rail lines in China had reached 37,900 km, up about 2,900 km from 2019 and almost twice that of 2015, accounting for more than two-thirds of the world's total, official statistics show. China aims to build itself into an innovative nation by 2020, an international leader in innovation by 2030 and a world powerhouse of sci-tech innovation by 2050, according to a national strategy blueprint published in May 2016. China has risen from a poor and backward nation into the second-largest economy in the world as its GDP exceeded the 100-trillion-yuan threshold in 2020, an incredible transformation from the 67.9 billion yuan registered in 1952. Given the global stagnation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, China, which saw its GDP increase 2.3 percent year on year in 2020, is expected to be the only major economy to post growth in the pandemic-ravaged year. Having long been an agricultural country with the majority of the population working as farmers, China, in the early 1950s, only had about 180 million people employed, and of them just 8.3 percent worked in urban areas. In 2018, the urbanization rate of China's permanent residents had reached 59.58 percent, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. The "growth miracle" was attributed to the long-term plan in governance, the principle of "serving the people" and a suite of pragmatic growth-oriented policies, according to Liu Zhexin, a professor with China Executive Leadership Academy based in Pudong, Shanghai. With a slew of epoch-making policies such as the reform and opening up, free trade zones and the initiative to embrace an open and fair global trade system including the World Trade Organization, China has become a leading global manufacturer and a major trading partner of about 130 countries and regions. A World Bank report estimated in 2019 that, if fully implemented, transport projects under the Belt and Road Initiative could increase global real income by up to 2.9 percent and help lift 32 million people out of moderate poverty. As China effectively controlled the COVID-19 epidemic domestically, the country has provided assistance to over 150 countries and 10 international organizations to help fight the unprecedented pandemic, and its self-developed vaccines will also be a public good. While maintaining China's position as a major global growth engine, the CPC sticks to a new philosophy of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. From this year on, China is in a new stage of transformation. The first centenary goal will be achieved this year as the Party celebrates its centenary. The CPC has announced that the country will see that socialist modernization is basically realized by 2035 and develop itself into a great modern socialist country by 2050. Back to the commercial street in Shanghai, the scaffolding around the site of the first CPC national congress was removed on Feb. 3, a solar term on the Chinese lunar calendar that marks the beginning of spring. The building, which has witnessed the great miracles the CPC has achieved over the past century, will continue to witness the prosperous future ahead. ^ top ^

Fatal Shandong Gold Mine Explosion Leads to Probe of 45 People (Caixin)
2021-02-24
Chinese authorities found 45 people accountable in a deadly gold mine explosion in eastern China's Shandong province that killed 10, Caixin learned from the local government. Police launched criminal investigations of the legal representative of Shandong Wucailong Investment Co. Ltd., operator of the gold mine, for alleged attempts to conceal the disaster. Two top officials of Qixia, where the mine is located, including municipal party chief Yao Xiuxia and Mayor Zhu Tao, are also being probed for failing to report the incident according to government rules. An additional 14 managers and employees from companies involved in the mining projects also face investigations on criminal charges for their roles in causing the disaster. A Jan. 10 explosion at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia — administered by Yantai — caused an access tunnel to collapse, trapping 22 miners underground. After a two-week rescue effort, 11 miners were saved and 10 were found dead, while one remains missing. Shandong authorities said investigations found that the catastrophe was caused by illegal storage of explosive materials and operational breaches. Shandong Wucailong and the Qixia government were also accused of delaying reports of the disaster. The Qixia incident is one of several mining disasters in China in recent months, sparking fresh concerns over mining safety. China records hundreds of mining deaths every year, despite longstanding efforts to improve mine safety and crack down on shafts that do not meet official standards. ^ top ^

Xi meets Chang'e-5 mission representatives (People's Daily)
2021-02-23
Chinese President Xi Jinping met representatives of space scientists and engineers who participated in the research and development of the Chang'e-5 lunar mission at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, also visited an exhibition on the lunar samples brought back by the Chang'e-5 probe and China's lunar exploration achievements as well. Xi stressed promoting the lunar exploration spirit and giving full play to the advantages of the new system of pooling national resources and strengths to ascend the peak of science and technology and serve the country's overall development. He emphasized embarking on a new interplanetary exploration journey step by step, promoting the innovative development of China's space exploration cause, and making greater contributions to humanity's peaceful use of space. Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, and Han Zheng, all members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, also attended the event. Xi had cordial exchanges with some representatives and took a group photo with all. Xi said that the success of the Chang'e-5 mission marked the conclusion of a three-step lunar exploration program which consisted of orbiting, landing on the moon, and returning with samples. It is another significant achievement in overcoming difficulties by employing the advantages of the new system of pooling national resources and strengths. It is a vital milestone in the development of China's space endeavor. Xi extended his congratulations to those who have participated in China's lunar exploration program over the past 17 years. He said they have promoted the lunar exploration spirit of pursuing dreams, daring to explore, cooperating in tackling difficulties and win-win cooperation, and have achieved new heights in science and technology. Noting that exploring the vast universe is humanity's common dream, Xi urged implementing the fourth phase of China's lunar exploration program. Xi called for giving full play to the advantages of the new system of pooling national resources and strengths, enhancing independent innovation, strengthening overall planning and working harder to promote the innovative development of China's space science, space technologies, and space applications. He also stressed actively conducting international cooperation and making better contributions to humanity's well-being. Since the lunar exploration program was officially approved, six exploration missions have been completed. The Chang'e-5 mission was the most complicated systemic space project in China that required the most diversified technologies. On Dec. 17, 2020, the return capsule of the Chang'e-5 probe brought back the country's first samples from an extraterrestrial body, laying a strong foundation for China's future lunar and planetary explorations. ^ top ^

Officials failed to fix Yangtze woes: ministry (China Daily)
2021-02-23
In a rarely seen cautionary move, China's top environmental watchdog summoned leading officials of six areas on Monday for their poor performance in rectifying problems in the Yangtze River Basin. Governments of the six prefecture-level areas failed to fulfill their supervisory duties, with problems unearthed over two years ago still evident, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said. The government of Shangrao, Jiangxi province, was criticized for its dereliction of duty in addressing the discharge of polluted water from refuse landfills, which was exposed in a high-profile central environmental inspection in 2018. Staffed by ministry officials, the inspection teams are headed by minister-level officials. The inspectors report to a central leading group headed by Vice-Premier Han Zheng, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the country's highest authority. Inspectors found over two years ago that disposal facilities for waste water leaking from the Fengshun refuse landfill in Shangrao had been operating abnormally for a long time, which meant the water it discharged contained high levels of pollutants, the ministry said in a news release issued on Monday. A rectification plan drafted by the Shangrao government vowed to address the problem by the end of June 2019. But the ministry statement said, "Investigation found, however, the problem has yet to be adequately settled." Environmental hazards at refuse landfills in four counties in Shangrao had also not been addressed, it said. "Using the excuse that they lacked necessary expertise, officials with the Shangrao development and reform commission, which headed the rectification work, acted as if they were going through trivial motions in supervising the rectification," Xu Bijiu, executive deputy director of the central environmental inspection office, said in summoning Shangrao Mayor Chen Yun. Chen said the city will make determined efforts to completely rectify the problem. "Those responsible for the protracted rectification will be seriously held accountable," he said. Authorities in Suining, Sichuan province, were rebuked for cheating in rectifying the overflow of untreated polluted water from a sewage treatment plant into the Fujiang River, a branch of the Yangtze, which was exposed in 2019 in Shehong county, the ministry said. Urged 12 times to accelerate rectification, Shehong authorities did nothing. Knowing full well that the overflow was still occurring in the county, Suining's housing and urban-rural development bureau reported that it had been stopped. Also criticized on Monday were the governments of Chizhou, Anhui province, Xiaogan, Hubei province, Hengyang, Hunan province, and Nanchuan, Chongqing. The ministry didn't summon any local governments last year. It previously resorted to the cautionary move in June 2019 to urge six cities in Hebei, Henan and Shanxi provinces to enhance air pollution control efforts. Xu said it was the first time the ministry had summoned local governments specifically for concerns related to conservation of the Yangtze. Asia's longest river, its protection has been given increased importance by the central authorities. Governments of the six areas will have to submit their rectification plans to the ministry and their provincial governments within 20 days. The plans will also need to be made public, the ministry said. President Xi Jinping has chaired three symposiums on the Yangtze River Economic Belt, which consists of 11 provinces and municipalities and accounts for about half of China's population and GDP. At the latest symposium, held in Nanjing, Jiangsu's provincial capital, in November, Xi called for the accelerated establishment of a mechanism to adequately reward protection and restoration of the ecosystem and environment, and make those responsible for their destruction pay a price. Xu, from the central environmental inspection office, said it wanted to send a clear signal by summoning the officials that environmental protection efforts will not be relaxed even though all targets set during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20) had been realized, with some exceeded. ^ top ^

China's 'two sessions': why this year's event is so important for Xi Jinping's vision for the future (SCMP)
2021-02-21
China's political elite will gather in Beijing next month for the year's biggest legislative set piece facing a number of major political challenges, including the aftermath of the coronavirus and the ongoing rivalry with the United States. In this the first part of a series looking at the key items on the agenda, we explain why this year's event is especially important in terms of political messaging. China's leadership will look to use the main annual political gathering, an event informally known as the "two sessions", to send a message of strength and success as it prepares to celebrate the Communist Party's centenary. The meeting of the National People's Congress, the country's legislature, and the top political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress, is always important in terms of shaping the political agenda for the year ahead. But this year's event, which starts in early March, also sees the beginning of the latest five-year plan for the economy, which gives the leadership an opportunity to outline longer-term plans that could come to define President Xi Jinping's legacy and the party's future. […] The year carries extra political weight for Xi because of the Communist Party's centenary and he has promised "grand celebrations" to mark the event in July. He has already signalled confidence in the direction that the party and country are taking, telling senior officials in January that the world is facing "turbulent times … but time and momentum are on our side". "This is where we show our conviction and resilience, as well as our determination and confidence," he added. But he has also warned that the country faces "unprecedented challenges and opportunities" and has told the Politburo they must "create favourable social conditions" for the centenary celebrations. The leadership has also indicated it will step up its efforts to maintain political and social order ahead of the July celebrations, with public security minister Zhao Kezhi telling police chiefs to regard any challenges to the authorities – including online – as "battlefields" on which they must be ready to fight. Even though Beijing has declared victory over Covid-19, the disease will remain a threat – as highlighted by last month's outbreak in Hebei, the province that borders Beijing. The strict disease controls in place for last year's two sessions – an event that had to be postponed until May – will remain in force for this year's gathering. Only journalists based in Beijing will be allowed to register for the events, most of which will take place online, and foreign diplomats wanting to attend will have to take a Covid-19 test and spend a night in quarantine beforehand. After emerging as the only major economy to have achieved growth last year, the leadership will want to start the new phase of economic development heralded by the start of the new five-year plan on a positive note. If the GDP targets set out by individual provinces are a reliable guide, then the country can hope for a strong economic rebound this year. Two of the country's biggest economic powerhouses, Shanghai and Guangdong, have set relatively conservative targets of 6 per cent. But others, including Hubei, the province where Covid-19 first emerged, have set a target of 10 per cent. Along with the five-year plan, the leadership is also expected to unveil its "2035 vision", a blueprint for the next 15 years that harks back to the start of the era of reform and opening up under Deng Xiaoping four decades ago. In November Xi signalled his ambitions in this sphere by telling party leaders: "It is entirely possible for China to become a high-income country by the end of the 14th five-year year plan [in 2025], and to double the size of its economy or Gross Domestic Development per capita by 2035." Next month's policy announcements will be closely watched for further details of how Beijing intends to do that, but to achieve these targets it will have to continue to upgrade its economy and continue the shift from low-cost manufacturing to hi-tech. The outlines of the five-year plan published in November indicate that it intends to boost domestic consumer demand and encourage self-reliance in the hi-tech sector, as part of its so-called dual circulation strategy. Xi signalled the shift towards the domestic sector late last year, telling a party meeting: "We have been hit by many external risks since reform and opening up, we managed to turn danger into safety by focusing on our own business and finding a foothold inside the country. The president also wants a greater focus on "common prosperity" to reduce the country's yawning income gap after declaring success in eliminating absolute poverty at the end of last year. "Common prosperity is not only an economic issue, it's also a major political issue that's related to the basis of the party's rule," he said in January. Common prosperity has long been officially regarded as Beijing's ultimate goal, but few details have been given about how this will be achieved. It is unclear how far the authorities will want to go in redistributing wealth, but the policy is regarded with strong suspicion by the private sector. The country's hi-tech sector is likely to play a key role in the country's future development, but there is a risk that other countries – especially the United States – will feel threatened by its hopes of becoming a self-reliant world leader in technology. At present China still depends on other countries for some key technologies and, as a result of this vulnerability, some observers believe it may choose to downplay its ambitions, at least in public, after previous strategies triggered a backlash in Washington. "China has learned some hard lessons, many parties are highly sensitive to what its planning says now," said Shi Yinhong, an international affairs specialist at Renmin University and adviser to the State Council, China's cabinet. He cited previous schemes, such as the Made in China 2025 strategy and Ten Thousand Talents plan that became lightning rods for the rivalry with the US. Made in China 2025 aimed to boost hi-tech manufacturing in sectors ranging from 5G and artificial intelligence to electric vehicles. The plan was launched with much fanfare in 2015 but abruptly disappeared from policy papers in late 2018 after it heightened concerns in the Trump White House about foreign firms being forced to hand over technology and the perceived threat to US dominance. The Thousand Talents Plan, which was established in 2008 by Beijing to attract global expertise to its science labs, saw a similar pushback and disappeared from view after it triggered a debate about espionage in US universities and business. "The main difficulty now is China needs access to technology, but investment between China and developed countries has already shrunk significantly," said Shi. "Having learned the lesson, China might choose to be more vague about its plans but remain firm in implementing them." Gu Su, a political scientist at Nanjing University, said he did not think these factors would lead to significant changes to the five-year plan, but added: "I think there is an expectation of a friendlier relationship with [Joe] Biden." In his first telephone conversation with the new US president after he was sworn in last month, Xi dropped strong hints that Beijing hoped for a reset in relations after the Donald Trump era, "stressing cooperation is the only right choice for both sides". But while the new administration may take a different approach it has shown little sign of wanting to ease the pressure on Beijing. After the call, Biden tweeted that he had raised "concerns about Beijing's economic practices, human rights abuses and coercion of Taiwan". The new administration has also indicated that it wants to work with traditional US allies to build a common front against Beijing, and has indicated that it regards the Asia-Pacific region as a priority and plans to build up the Quad grouping with India, Japan and Australia as key strategic pillar. Concerns about human rights and whether Beijing will live up to its promises to continue to open up its economy may also hamper its economic ambitions internationally. Gu said: "There might be some domestic messaging to keep spirits high. But internationally it will play up the tone of opening up and cooperation." The landmark investment deal agreed with the European Union late last year was seen as a major success for Beijing in this regard, but members of the European Parliament have raised concerns about forced labour and are threatening to block the agreement. China has also signalled it is interested in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – the trade pact formed after Trump pulled the US out of an earlier agreement – but many observers question whether China will be able to meet its standards on labour rights and environmental protection. ^ top ^

Xi stresses studying Party history as CPC gears up for centenary (People's Daily)
2021-02-21
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Saturday stressed studying the Party's history as the CPC celebrates its centenary this year. Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks while delivering an important speech at a key meeting to launch a campaign on Party history learning and education among all Party members. Calling the campaign a major decision made by the CPC Central Committee, Xi urged efforts from all CPC members to study the Party's history, understand its theories, do practical work and make new advances, thus to embark on a new journey in high spirit to fully build a modern socialist China and to welcome the Party's centenary with outstanding achievements. Xi said the CPC has always attached great importance to the study and education of its history. He stressed the vital necessity of launching the campaign as the CPC stands at a critical juncture where the timeframes of its two centenary goals converge. Xi urged Party committees at all levels to earnestly implement the arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee on the campaign. "Our Party's history is a history of continuously adapting Marxism to the Chinese context," Xi said. He called for educating and guiding the whole Party to learn from its "extraordinary" past so as to understand how Marxism has profoundly changed China and the world. He also called for efforts to equip the whole Party with the latest achievements in its theoretical innovation, and to use the theories to guide its practice and advance its work. Throughout its 100-year history, the CPC has been of one mind with the people, breathed the same breath as the people, and shared weal and woe with the people, said Xi. With people's trust and support, the CPC is invincible in the face of any obstacles, Xi said, adding that it is the duty of the CPC to cement the unity of 1.4 billion Chinese people to create an unstoppable force to push forward the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. ^ top ^

China to fully advance rural vitalization, facilitate modernization of agriculture, rural areas (Xinhua)
2021-02-21
China unveiled its "No. 1 central document" for 2021 on Sunday, stressing the efforts to comprehensively push forward rural vitalization and accelerate the modernization of agriculture and rural areas. As the first policy statement released by China's central authorities each year, the document is seen as an indicator of policy priorities. Work on agriculture and rural areas has been high on the agenda for 18 consecutive years since 2004. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), the Communist Party of China will regard work concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers as its top priority, said the document. "China will make the comprehensive advancement of rural vitalization a major task in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and will speed up the modernization of agriculture and the countryside with the efforts of the whole Party and society," according to the document. The document clearly lists the targets and tasks concerning agriculture and rural areas for 2021, as well as a broader vision for the period up to 2025. This year, the country will keep its sown areas stable, with the grain output to exceed 650 billion kg, further improve the quality of agricultural products and food safety, and ensure that the growth of farmers' incomes outpaces that of urban residents, said the document. The country will also start implementing the plan on the modernization of agriculture and the countryside, and further promote reforms in rural areas. By 2025, China will see substantial progress in the modernization of agriculture and the countryside, with achievements seen for a more solid agricultural foundation, a narrower income gap between rural and urban residents, and basically realizing agricultural modernization where conditions permit, said the document. China will set a five-year transition period for counties that have shaken off poverty and gradually shift the policy focus from poverty alleviation toward comprehensively promoting rural vitalization. The country will continue to consolidate poverty alleviation outcomes, promote rural vitalization in areas that have shaken off poverty, and strengthen assistance for low-income rural residents on a regular basis, said the document. As for agricultural modernization, the document stresses the country's ability to ensure the supply of grain and major agricultural products, including stabilizing the sown area of grain and improving the yield per unit area, accelerating the building of a modern breeding system, promoting green and healthy aquaculture, and optimizing the trade of agricultural products. The protection, development and utilization of agricultural germplasm resources should be strengthened and the implementation of major scientific and technological projects in agricultural biological breeding should be accelerated. The document emphasizes that the country must retain a "red line" of 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of arable land. The construction of 100 million mu of high-standard farmland with high and stable yields regardless of drought and flood will be complete this year. Efforts should also be made to strengthen the support provided to modern agriculture by science, technology and equipment, to establish agricultural modernization demonstration zones, with the total number to reach about 500 by 2025, and to advance the green development of agriculture, according to the document. China will vigorously implement an action plan for rural construction, setting targets for better rural public infrastructure and basic public services, stronger rural consumption, and faster integrated urban-rural development within counties, among others, according to the document. The document also outlines measures to strengthen the Party's overall leadership over the work concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Chinese vice premier calls for efforts to ensure smooth hosting of Beijing 2022 (Xinhua)
2021-02-23
Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng called on Tuesday for continuous efforts to ensure the 2022 Olympic Winter Games will be held as scheduled and smoothly. Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks while presiding over a meeting of the leading group which oversees the Beijing 2022 preparations. Saying that the Games' preparation has entered a critical period, Han called for a greater sense of responsibility, mission and urgency to push forward the preparatory work. It is important to ensure the Games are hosted in a "simple, safe and wonderful" manner and dissolve various risks ahead, he noted. Han called for steps to refine the venues and facilities and ensure that non-competition venues will be completed on schedule. He also highlighted the need to establish an efficient command system for the Games operations and organize test events with flexibility and with COVID-19 containment measures in place. Han urged meticulous efforts in the service and logistics work for the 2022 Games as well as the planning and operation of cultural events in relation to the Games, such as the torch relay, the opening and closing ceremonies. It is important to practice frugality and prevent corruption so that the nation will host a "clean" Winter Olympics, he said. China has pledged to encourage 300 million people to take up winter sports. To achieve that goal, Han called for continuous efforts to promote winter sports among the general public. The 2022 Winter Olympics will open on February 4 next year. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2021 kicks off (Xinhua)
2021-02-24
Visitors try mobile phones and tablets during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2021 in east China's Shanghai, Feb 23, 2021. The MWC Shanghai 2021 opened on Tuesday. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

New maglev lines to cut travel time to Guangzhou (China Daily)
2021-02-23
Territorial space has been reserved in Guangdong province to build two high-speed maglev lines, according to a local territorial spatial plan. The plan, issued in early February by the Guangdong Provincial Department of Natural Resources, outlines land use arrangement for the next 15 years in Guangdong, an economic powerhouse in South China. The space will be used for construction of two maglev lines linking Beijing and Shanghai to the province respectively. Both maglev lines will be converged in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, helping to facilitate the city's leading position in high-speed railroad network in South China. The maglev lines are expected to cut travel time between Shanghai and Guangzhou to not more than three hours, and less than four hours between Beijing and Guangzhou, helping save more than half of the time compared to current high-speed trains. The plan also pointed to the line linking Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, which has not entered the planning and construction stage. However, according to early official information, the section between Guangzhou and Shenzhen will most likely be the first to begin construction. The new maglev intercity railway between Guangzhou and Shenzhen will be built to ease operational pressure of regular and bullet trains in the area, according to a feasibility study by the Shenzhen Development and Reform Commission released last year. Shenzhen and Guangzhou are currently connected by an intercity rail and an express rail linking between the two cities and Hong Kong. The maglev railway is to be built in 2025 and is expected to be completed in 2030, according to information released by the Guangzhou government in 2019. Guangdong's blueprint to build maglev lines is part of China's plan to add more magnetic levitation railroads of more than 1,000 kilometers in total length into its service network in the long term. The railroads will consist of a tourist railway line in Yunnan province, intercity passenger lines and urban mass transit lines in places such as Shanxi province, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Sichuan province in the nation's southwestern region. "The maglev lines will help boost regional connectivity and high-end equipment manufacturing," said He Huawu, academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, during an emerging industrial forum held early last year. Compared with standard bullet trains, high-speed maglev trains have advantages which include reduced noise and vibration, and lower maintenance costs because they do not ride on rails with wheels but hover centimeters above the track through the use of magnets, avoiding slower speeds caused by friction. According to He, the maglev trains on the planned line between Guangzhou and Shenzhen, with a length of 110 km, will run at a designed top speed of 600 km per hour. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

CPC's leadership leads to Xinjiang's anti-terrorism success (China Daily)
2021-02-24
Leaders of different foreign political parties said people should see the real intentions of those fabricating and spreading rumors about the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in global society so that they won't be misled. The anti-terrorism measures in the region, which has been the front line of China's battle against terrorism, have proved to be effective, they said on the sidelines of an online thematic briefing on Xinjiang held on Monday evening in the regional capital Urumqi. The event was a part of the "Stories of the Communist Party of China" thematic briefings organized by the International Department of the CPC Central Committee. The briefings aim to share the practices of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. More than 300 representatives from nearly 200 foreign political parties, media organizations and think tanks took part in the briefing, which focused on how Xinjiang people are working toward better lives under the leadership of the CPC. The event was livestreamed online in languages including French, English and Arabic. "Some Western countries have fabricated rumors about Xinjiang. Those rumors have ignored the region's anti-terrorism and anti-extremism efforts, which are among the best in the world," said Kawa Mahmoud, secretary of the Kurdistan Communist Party of Iraq. Mahmoud said that during his visit he had witnessed how the region's economic development has benefited from the stabilized social environment. "China should stick to its development path and continue to refute rumors that aim to curb the development of the country," Mahmoud said. Robert Griffiths, general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, said that a vital part of the successful effort to combat terrorism in Xinjiang has been the way in which the Chinese government and the authorities locally and centrally address the economic and social problems of Xinjiang. To curb the spread of terrorism and religious extremism, the region launched a series of measures in 2014 to tackle the problems at the root, including setting up vocational education and training centers offering deradicalization programs. "What Xinjiang has done is frank and transparent. Everything we do is to improve the lives of Xinjiang people. The claims of 'forced labor', 'genocide', or 'camps' are just total slander," said Chen Quanguo, Party secretary of Xinjiang. Song Tao, head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, said some countries and a small group of people don't want to see the good situation in Xinjiang. They also attack China's policies in Xinjiang to create estrangement between China and Islamic states. In a statement issued after the event, the participants expressed opposition to the odious behavior of some individuals from certain countries in misleading international public opinion with cooked-up rumors about so-called "ethnic cleansing" in Xinjiang. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong electoral reforms: Beijing considers 'breaking up Legco constituencies, scrapping super seats' (SCMP)
2021-02-24
Beijing is contemplating drastic reforms to Hong Kong's electoral system by breaking up the current five geographical constituencies into 18 districts and scrapping five popularly returned seats in the legislature, the Post has learned. One of the leading proposals being considered by the central government is to replace the proportional representation system – adopted since Hong Kong's first postcolonial Legislative Council polls in 1998 – with a "one vote, two seats" mechanism to allocate the 35 directly elected seats in the 70-strong chamber. Sources revealed various possible reforms to the Post a day after Xia Baolong, director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said effective measures must be put in place to prevent "non-patriots" from controlling the city's political organs. He said that included key posts in the executive, legislative and judiciary branches as well as statutory bodies, but stopped short of spelling out how such mechanisms would be institutionalised in elections. Pro-establishment figures told the Post the existing five geographical constituencies could be broken down into 18, adopting the same electoral boundaries of the city's 18 district councils. One of the sources called this revamp "practical" as it would require no effort in redrawing constituencies. Each eligible voter, under the proposal, would have one vote to elect two members in each constituency. Islands district, which has the smallest population, would be allocated one seat only. A possible outcome of the "one vote, two seats" system, according to another source, was that the pro-establishment and opposition camp could capture one seat in each constituency – in light of the so-called 6:4 golden ratio over the years in which pan-democrats tended to bag 60 per cent of popular votes with their rivals capturing the remaining 40 per cent. A pro-establishment source said the new electoral method would require high-level coordination within the respective camps as they would have to minimise infighting and field one candidate only per constituency to increase their chances of winning. The insider expected such strategies to be easier for the pro-establishment camp. "Given the rift between the traditional and localist opposition activists, coordination could be difficult," the insider said, adding that the system could help weed out radical opposition forces as voters might opt for a moderate candidate under the national security law. Currently, the number of seats for each geographical constituency in Legco ranges from five to nine, depending on its population size. In the 2016 polls, Yau Wai-ching, a pro-independence candidate from Youngspiration, grabbed the sixth and final seat in Kowloon West with some 20,000 votes, which amounted to about 7 per cent of voter turnout. The possible drastic reforms do not only target geographical constituencies, but also the functional ones that take up another half of Legco. Functional constituencies represent various trade sectors in the city, and critics have said such seats have a small voter base. The five district council (second) constituency seats – commonly known as "super seats" – might also be scrapped, according to a pro-establishment heavyweight. These five positions, first introduced in 2012 as a compromise in the form of a political reform proposal endorsed by the Democratic Party, are popularly returned by 3.2 million voters who do not get a vote in any other functional constituency. But the Beijing-friendly bloc remained divided over how to fill those five seats. While barrister Alan Hoo, a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), proposed replacing the super seats with Hong Kong delegates to the National People's Congress or the CPPCC, others had reservations as they argued it would be inappropriate to have "state-level" legislators and consultants take up roles in the local legislature. "It would be more practical to replace the super seats with five Beijing-friendly sectors that have been under-represented," said another prominent figure familiar with Beijing's thinking, citing Chinese medicine, Chinese-funded enterprises and the hotel industry as examples. James Tien Pei-chun, honorary chairman of the pro-business Liberal Party, believed that if the pro-Beijing camp could take back those five seats and secure at least half of the geographical seats, the opposition's "35-plus" goal in securing their first majority in the council would not be realised in September's polls. "This proposal could make Beijing feel more secure in allowing the coming polls to proceed as scheduled. That's also what most in our bloc hope for," he said. Before the arrests of many of its leaders, the opposition camp had appeared to be on track to execute its plan to win 35-plus seats and hold the majority in Legco, which would allow it to block bills. Political scientist Dr Ma Ngok of Chinese University said the "one vote, two seats" system could help the pro-establishment bloc gain an edge in polls, especially with new measures which would screen out hopefuls deemed unpatriotic to the authorities. "Beijing and the Hong Kong government now could disqualify scores of candidates from the opposition camp that are deemed to be unpatriotic. I believe many would not be able to run for elections as easily as in the past," he added. "Thus even if voters can have one vote or two votes in each district, probably only pro-establishment supporters will be able to choose their favoured candidate." ^ top ^

Top policymakers detail standards, fundamentals for HK political reforms (Global Times)
2021-02-22
Top Chinese policymakers and political advisors made a clear point on Monday that conducting political and electoral reforms in Hong Kong to fix loopholes and ensure the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong" has become an urgent task, which is likely to be clarified at the upcoming two sessions next week. To ensure this principle, a series of fundamental standards have also been laid out, outlining the pathway of the reforms in tackling the loopholes caused by the lack of full-scale implementation of the principle. In a speech delivered at a Monday online panel held by the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, in which experts and officials from Beijing, Hong Kong and Macao gathered, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said the power of administration of Hong Kong should always be held by patriots, referring to remarks made by Chinese President Xi Jinping when Carrie Lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, delivered her annual work report on January 27 via video link. An over 5,400-word speech from the top central government official on Hong Kong affairs was considered highly informative, which elaborated upon the historical background of the principle concerning patriots governing Hong Kong, and its relations with the "one country, two systems"—the baseline policy for the HKSAR, a set of basic standards determining who true patriots are and what rules to follow in the imminent electoral reforms for the city. Some Chinese political advisors who attended the panel discussion called it a "landmark constitutional moment," consisting of a systematic upgrade to the "one country, two systems." Carrying out electoral reform must respect the central government's overall jurisdiction on the matter, and some advisors contacted by the Global Times said the procedures of implementing the reforms will be akin to the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong, led by the central government, to effectively fix loopholes to ensure Hong Kong elections in the second half of 2021 proceed smoothly and orderly in a safe environment. Xia set out some fundamentals for carrying out relevant reforms to meet the principle, including improving the electoral system under the Constitution and the Basic Law, respecting the central government's overall jurisdiction and conforming to the current situation in Hong Kong by avoiding simply copying foreign electoral systems. "In other words, the central government will be the first entity to assume responsibility for reforms in Hong Kong, which can take the initiative of rectifying and adjusting the system as the electoral system is within the scope of authority of the central government," Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University's law faculty and a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies who attended the forum, told the Global Times on Monday. Unlike the previous procedures of implementing political reforms in Hong Kong in 2005, 2010 and 2015, which were proposed by the HKSAR government and then approved by the central government, the upcoming reforms would be brought up by China's top legislative body the National People's Congress (NPC) and its standing committee, which authorizes rectification of relevant articles and procedures through Annex I and II of the Basic Law, Tian said, referring to shared thoughts from Wang Zhenmin, former legal affairs director of the liaison office, at the forum. It's highly likely that the detailed plan of rectifying the electoral system in Hong Kong would be brought up at the upcoming national two sessions in Beijing, Chan Yung, an NPC deputy who is a vice chairman of the pro-establishment group Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (formerly known as Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong), told the Global Times on Monday. This year's two sessions - the Fourth Plenary Session of the 13th NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will convene on March 5 and March 4 respectively in Beijing. Although Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the Standing Committee of the NPC, did not confirm the schedule for discussing the details of the reform in a meeting session of the committee this week. However, Tam did tell the Global Times that now is the time for collecting mass public opinion on the subject. Hong Kong experienced severe political turmoil in 2019 when anti-government rioters used scorched earth strategies to paralyze the city in pursuit of their political goals. Some secessionists and extreme anti-government forces spread secessionist ideas, opposing the authority of the central government, instigating dissatisfaction toward the mainland and recklessly interfering in the governance process of the HKSAR government, forcing society as a whole to pay a heavy price for it. Xia attributed the earlier chaos in the city to the lack of full-scale implementation of the "patriots governing Hong Kong" principle, which has also become a major urgent task, for which the Chinese official also laid out a series of basic standards including the idea that patriots truly safeguard their country's sovereignty, security and development interests. Also, there have been certain specific descriptions laid out for those "who are and who are not patriots," for example, those who attack the central government in a hysterical manner, openly advocate for "Hong Kong independence" and beg for foreign sanctions against the city certainly are not patriots. Patriots love the country, more specifically, the People's Republic of China, and respect and safeguard the country's fundamental system and the constitutional order of the HKSAR. "The CPC led the people to establish the People's Republic of China, and in a country that practices socialism, there can be different political views, but there is a red line, that is we will never tolerate any acts that hurt the fundamental system of the country, namely, the socialism led by the CPC," Xia said. The definition of "patriots in Hong Kong" has been upgraded compared to three standards laid out by former leader Deng Xiaoping, particularly, in areas such as not challenging the power of the central government, loving the country is loving the PRC and never hurting the CPC-led socialism system, Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the association, told the Global Times on Monday. "Xia's speech also delivered an important message that patriots must recognize the leadership of the CPC in China, and accept it," Lau said, noting that it also means those who shoulder administrative responsibilities in Hong Kong must implement the CPC-designed "one country, two systems" policy even if they don't believe in communism. Xia also outlined five principles for conducting the electoral reforms including strictly following the Constitution and the Basic Law by fully respecting democratic rights while effectively safeguarding sovereignty, security and development interests. Hong Kong officials must ensure elections are justified, fair and open but also effectively impede anti-government rioters and foreign anti-China forces from cultivating their political agents in the administrative organs of Hong Kong. Citing an unnamed source, local newspaper in Hong Kong the Ming Pao said the reforms would be focused on the seats of district councilors and the five major electoral districts would be subdivided into more districts in order to make sure the anti-government lawmakers don't win the majority of the seats. Xia's remarks indicate a comprehensive reform of Hong Kong's electoral system, including means of election, campaigns and funding, candidate qualification review, oath before taking office, examination on the performance of duty, as well as external supervision. It also means a widened scope of reform from the elections of the chief executive and the Legislative Council, to that of district councils and even judicial organs, Lau noted. "A key focus would be the qualification of candidates. As the electoral officer is only a middle-level officer in the civil service structure, who can't conduct full-scale political scrutiny over the candidates in order to bar those who are against China and stir trouble, so it's necessary for the government to set up a mechanism or a department to do so," Lau said previously. Carrie Lam, chief executive of the HKSAR government, told a press conference on Monday that the HKSAR government will fully respect the jurisdiction power of the central government on the matter and will fully cooperate. In the next 12 months, Hong Kong will have the Legislative Council election, Election Committee election and election for the new chief executive, given the urgency of fixing the electoral system problem, Lam said that she believed the central government will consider a relevant timetable for carrying out the reforms. "Those who govern Hong Kong don't simply include the chief executive but also major officials, LegCo lawmakers, judges, district councilors and civil servants, who all need to safeguard national interests and love the country," she said. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao starts inoculating non-prioritized local residents with COVID-19 vaccine (Xinhua)
2021-02-22
The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) on Monday started inoculating local residents who are not in prioritized groups with COVID-19 vaccines produced by the mainland. Around 2,600 residents made reservations for inoculation on the first day at 12 medical facilities, which can offer services to 5,000 people in total on a daily basis, according to the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center of Macao. As of Monday, about 15,000 residents in Macao had made reservations for inoculation and over 3,000 in prioritized groups had completed the inoculation, according to the center. The first batch of mainland-made inactivated vaccines arrived in Macao on Feb. 6. Inoculation officially started on Feb. 9, with Macao SAR Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng being the first one to be vaccinated. Priority was given to certain groups of people, including those engaged in front-line work for epidemic control and those who are at high risk in terms of occupational exposure. As of Monday, no locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases had been reported in Macao for nearly 11 months. A total of 48 confirmed cases had been reported. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Mainland spokesperson urges Taiwan side to return to 1992 Consensus (Xinhua)
2021-02-25
A Chinese mainland spokesperson on Wednesday urged Taiwan authorities to return to the common political foundation of the 1992 Consensus. Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the remarks when asked to comment on the recent remarks made by Chiu Tai-san, the new head of Taiwan's mainland affairs council. Chiu had expressed the expectation that the mainland and Taiwan would resume exchanges and the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. "Whether the Taiwan side accepts the 1992 Consensus bears on the fundamental nature of cross-Strait relations, and it is also a touchstone for testing the so-called 'goodwill' of the Taiwan authorities," Ma said. He stressed that as long as the Taiwan side recognizes the historical facts of the 1992 Consensus and its essence, there will be no obstacles for the two sides in conducting exchanges and communications. ^ top ^

 

Economy

World's No. 4 Bank Appoints New President (Caixin)
2021-02-25
Shanghai- and Hong Kong-listed Bank of China Ltd. (601988.SH), the world's fourth-largest bank by assets, has decided to appoint the president of China Everbright Bank Co. Ltd. (601818.SH) as its new president, sources with knowledge of the matter told Caixin. Liu Jin, 53, will become both president and vice chairman after the relevant administrative procedures are completed, according to the sources. On Thursday afternoon, Bank of China announced at an internal meeting that Liu had been named the state-owned lender's deputy Communist Party chief, they said. Liu will fill a vacancy left by former Bank of China President Wang Jiang, who in January moved to China Construction Bank Corp. (601939.SH), the world's second-largest bank, to become its president. ^ top ^

New policies make the going good for SMEs (China Daily)
2021-02-24
With the economy gradually returning to normal, it is necessary to stimulate the inner driving force of market players. One of the most effective means is the unified registration of movable properties and assets. The reason for such a policy lies in the fact that 60 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises' capital is movable property and assets such as to-be-collected debts or goods in storage. However, 60 percent of financial institutions issuing loans list properties such as real estate as guarantees, making it difficult for SMEs to get loans. Movable properties and assets are often registered with different agencies, because of which many financial institutions are wary of issuing loans against such guarantees. However, with the unified registration system of movable properties and assets coming into effect since Jan 1, the problem might get solved this year. Financial institutions can now verify registration information for anyone offering a guarantee at the click of a mouse, making it possible for financial institutions to lower their risks and be more willing to extend loans to SMEs. The People's Bank of China, the nation's central bank, pioneered this system in metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou, and delivered good results. According to official data, SMEs accounted for more than 95 percent of the new guarantee registration business and more than 80 percent of the financing amount; and no disputes arose over false registration. Compared with big enterprises, SMEs have less funds and lower ability to survive risks. In 2020, the central government issued a series of policies to help them, such as cutting taxes and fees, the total amount of which exceeded 2.5 trillion yuan ($387.02 billion). Now, with the financial institutions issuing more loans with support, SMEs are more confident about expanding their markets. The year 2021 marks the beginning of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25). Here's hoping that more favorable policies are introduced to help SMEs prosper. ^ top ^

China speeds up planning future industries for high-quality growth (People's Daily)
2021-02-22
Four years ago, Peng Xiaobo, who had been engaged in the research, development and management of spacecraft technology for 25 years, established the Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Co., Ltd., to pursue his dream of commercial spaceflight. The startup has successfully launched many sounding rockets. Peng, CEO of the company, believes the value of the aerospace industry has not been fully tapped. "Our goal is to become a global leader in commercial spaceflight," he said. Despite the limited scale of the company, its core competitiveness in the specific field has highlighted China's emerging "industries of the future," a new buzzword that points out the key direction of China's most recent round of industrial revolution. Although there is yet a clear definition, experts believe that industries of the future share the features of boasting leading-edge technologies and the prospect of explosive growth. China has accelerated the layout of this major cause with provinces and municipalities such as Beijing, Hebei and Anhui gearing up for developing their "future industries" by making use of local advantages. Origin Quantum, a 3-year-old startup focusing on quantum computers and related technologies, recently rolled out an operating system called Origin Pilot. The system will effectively improve the overall utilization of quantum chips and shorten the time it takes to put a new quantum computer into operation, according to experts. The company is based in Hefei, capital city of Anhui province, now a hub for China's quantum technology. Yunfei Road where the company is located is dubbed "quantum street" by locals as it has been home to over 20 quantum technology startups. Some 150 km east of Hefei, 10 5G-driven unmanned mining trucks were rumbling with full loads of iron ore in a mining field of Masteel (Group) Holding Co., Ltd., one of China's largest iron and steel complex in Ma'anshan, Anhui. "Equipped with technologies such as laser radar, a satellite navigation system and 5G network, the truck can avoid obstacles, park precisely and be operated remotely, improve mining safety and production efficiency," said Yang Zhenyu, an on-site engineer with the Qingdao Huituo Intelligent Machine Co., Ltd that develops the trucks. Since China kicked off the commercialization of 5G services in 2019, 5G technology has been embedded in intelligently connected factories, ports, driverless cars and various aspects of people's lives, with some 700,000 5G base stations in operation. The country will further build more than 600,000 5G base stations in 2021 while accelerating the 5G coverage in major cities and advance co-construction and sharing, said Xiao Yaqing, minister of industry and information technology, at a work conference last December. The ministry will form 20 typical industrial application scenarios and timely release 5G millimeter-wave frequency plans for some frequency bands, he added. "The development of future industries offers a great opportunity for China to keep pace with the rapid global innovation," said Pan Jiaofeng, president of Institutes of Science and Development under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, adding that the emerging middle class and ground-breaking technologies will bring new opportunities for China's future industries. In the coming 15 years, China will implement a number of forward-looking and strategic major national science and technology projects in the frontline fields of artificial intelligence, quantum information, integrated circuits, life and health, brain science, breeding, aerospace science and technology, and deep Earth and ocean exploration. Provincial-level regions are taking advantage of their specific resources to cultivate future industries, among which Beijing has been playing a leading role. The national capital will gear its forward-looking planning toward future industries such as quantum information, new materials, artificial intelligence, satellite Internet and robotics, according to the city's outline for its development plan in the next five years and development goals through 2035. It will build a research institute for future technological innovation and a center for the application of future technological achievements, and accelerate the development of key sub-sectors such as quantum computing, quantum communication and quantum precision measurement. Shanghai, China's business and financial hub, will strengthen scientific research and strategic planning in sixth-generation communications, next-generation photonic devices, brain-computer fusion, hydrogen energy, stem cells and regenerative medicine, synthetic biology and new marine economy to lay a solid foundation for future industrial development. Anhui would expand its first-mover advantage in new energy vehicles and intelligent connected vehicles, as part of the province's grand plan of building a world-class cluster of strategic emerging industries. Hebei Province, which neighbors Beijing, will further make use of its already mature industrial chain and supply chain to promote the province-wide interconnection of 5G networks and advance the layout of future industrial chains such as blockchain and quantum communication, according to the provincial government. Zhang Xiaofeng, an expert in the "Internet Plus" model and digital economy, said the development of future industries will accelerate China's transformation to an intelligent economy and the country's evolution to high-quality growth, ushering in the next long boom cycle. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

Diplomats of ROK, US, Japan hold virtual talks over Korean Peninsula issue (China Daily)
2021-02-20
Senior diplomats of the Republic of Korea (ROK), the United States and Japan have held virtual talks over the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the ROK's Foreign Ministry said Friday. Noh Kyu-duk, ROK's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, Sung Kim, acting US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Takehiro Funakoshi, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau at Japan's foreign ministry, attended the talks. During the video dialogue, the diplomats shared their assessments on the recent situation on the peninsula, agreeing to closely cooperate to achieve a complete denuclearization of and lasting peace settlement in the peninsula. They also assessed the "utility" of the trilateral cooperation for peace and stability in the peninsula and Northeast Asia, agreeing to hold follow-up consultations at an appropriate time. Denuclearization talks between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States have been stalled since the second DPRK-US summit ended without agreement at the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in February 2019. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Chinese FM says China-Mongolia relationship enters into fast-track (Xinhua)
2021-02-25
Relations between China and Mongolia have entered into fast-track in recent years with fruitful results gained through practical cooperation, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday. Wang made the remarks in a telephone conversation with the newly-appointed Mongolian Foreign Minister Batmunkh Battsetseg. China attaches great importance to the friendly neighborship with Mongolia, and always puts this relation at a specially significant place in China's neighborhood diplomacy, he noted. This year is historically meaningful for both China and Mongolia as people of each country will respectively greet the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China and Mongolian People's Party, Wang said. Both sides should jointly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of both countries, promoting greater development of the China-Mongolia comprehensive strategic partnership and bringing about more benefits to both peoples, he added. In the face of the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, governments and peoples of China and Mongolia have shared the weal and woe, and reached out to each other with assistance and support, lifting the bilateral ties to a new level, Wang said. Noting that the touching story of Mongolia donating 30,000 sheep to China is widely known in both countries and the vaccines sent by China has arrived recently in Mongolia, Wang said he expects the two sides can further strengthen anti-pandemic cooperation until the pandemic is completely defeated. Economic and trade cooperation is an important support for China-Mongolia relations, Wang said, adding that the two sides need to speed up the synergy between China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Development Road Initiative of Mongolia, expand the areas and upgrade the level of cooperation so as to compensate for the losses caused by the pandemic as soon as possible. For her part, Battsetseg thanked China for its selfless help to her country in fighting the pandemic, saying that the two countries have maintained the development momentum of bilateral ties and continuously strengthened practical cooperation amid the pandemic, setting a good example of how countries support each other in response to adversities. The new Mongolian administration attaches great importance to developing the comprehensive strategic partnership with China, hoping to enhance political mutual trust, deepen BRI cooperation and push for sustained rapid development of their bilateral ties, she said. ^ top ^

PM meets UK Ambassador (Montsame)
2021-02-20
Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene had a meeting with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Mongolia Philip Malone on February 19. They discussed railroad and power plant construction projects and bilateral cooperation in greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energy development, and education. At the meeting, PM L.Oyun-Erdene briefly outlined the progress of the ongoing capital-wide COVID-19 testing campaign 'One door-One test' and emphasized that Mongolia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout is planned to begin on February 23 as businesses resume their operations. The PM mentioned that the country is getting 150,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, asking for UK's support for access to more, and affirmed the great significance he attaches to bilateral relations and cooperation and the government's willingness to further expand them. Ambassador Philip Malone underlined the government of Mongolia is working effectively to contain and stop the spread of the virus. The UK Ambassador also voiced confidence that the citizens will be vaccinated with vaccines supplied through COVAX and other channels and undertook to provide support. ^ top ^

 

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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