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
  7-11.10.2013, No. 496  
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DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China, New Zealand pledge to further ties, cooperation (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday met with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, and the two leaders pledged to advance bilateral ties and further cooperation. China-New Zealand ties, fueled by the "twin engines" of high-level political mutual trust and win-win economic and trade cooperation, are growing soundly, Xi said during talks with Key ahead of the 21st informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) slated for Monday and Tuesday on Bali island. Sharing common or similar positions on many global and regional issues, the two countries respect each other's path of development, and they, at the same time, also try to accommodate the other side's core interests and major concerns, Xi said. China, for the first time, became the largest trade partner of New Zealand in the first half of this year, Xi noted. China cherishes its friendly cooperative relations with New Zealand, and stands ready to join hands with New Zealand to deepen cooperation in such fields as trade and economy, investment, livestock farming, environmental protection and tourism in an innovative way, said the Chinese president. The two sides should also step up cooperation in infrastructure construction, and promote science and technology, people-to-people and defense exchanges, he said. Xi also urged the two countries to strengthen communication and coordination on issues such as the Doha Round trade talks, climate change and regional cooperation mechanisms, in a bid to constantly enhance China-New Zealand relations. Key, for his part, said New Zealand and China enjoy sound cooperation in many areas, noting that bilateral ties are continuously advancing to a higher level. New Zealand highly values its relations with China, and remains committed to strengthening cooperation with China, said Key. New Zealand hopes to coordinate and cooperate with China on United Nations affairs and supports China's efforts to host next year's informal economic leaders' meeting of the APEC, he said. Key also briefed Xi on New Zealand's efforts to deal with the food safety issue involving the country's dairy giant Fonterra, and pledged to take strict measures to ensure the quality of dairy products. Xi stressed that food safety concerns people's health and urged New Zealand to take tough measures to ensure food quality and thus maintain the sound momentum of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. ^ top ^

Chinese, Australian leaders pledge to boost ties (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott agreed here on Sunday to push forward bilateral ties and speed up free trade negotiation. China and Australia are both major countries in the Asia-Pacific region, said Xi in a meeting with Abbott. "Their close cooperation would not only serve the fundamental interests of both countries, but also contribute to regional and world peace and development," he said. Xi and Abbott were on Indonesia's resort island of Bali for the 21st informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) slated for Monday and Tuesday. Noting that China has always treated and worked to strengthen China-Australia ties from a strategic height and long-term perspective, Xi said his country is ready to work with Australia to deepen their strategic partnership and make their ties a fine model of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between countries of different social systems, history, culture and at different development stages. China and Australia should consolidate "four bonds" in bilateral ties, said Xi. The first bond is mutual trust. Both sides should respect each other's core interests and major concerns, objectively and rationally view each other's strategic intentions, achieve common progress amid inclusiveness and mutual learning, and seek win-win results through deepening cooperation, said Xi. The second bond is economy and trade. Both countries should make efforts to achieve early and substantive progress of bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) talks, said Xi, adding that they can also expand cooperation in traditional areas such as energy and resources while exploring new cooperation areas such as infrastructure, information technology, energy conservation and environmental protection. The third bond is people-to-people exchanges. China and Australia should strengthen exchanges in education, culture and between the two countries' youth, so as to deepen mutual understanding and friendship, said Xi. The fourth bond is security. The two countries should continue to enhance military exchanges through their strategic defense consultation and navy visits, he added. On regional cooperation, Xi said the Asia-Pacific region has maintained overall political stability, economic vitality and vibrant regional cooperation. Countries in the region should focus on development and economic growth, said the Chinese president. China and Australia may strengthen communication, coordination and cooperation through diplomatic and strategic dialogue mechanisms, said Xi, adding that his country stands ready to work with Australia to play a constructive role in ensuring that the upcoming APEC meeting would achieve its goals. Abbott, for his part, said China's rise is a blessing to the world, not a challenge. Australia's prosperity has benefited from cooperation with China, said Abbott, pledging to stay committed to boosting the "four bonds" of mutual trust, economy and trade, people-to-people exchanges and security, in order to develop even more robust bilateral relations and be a good friend of China. Australia is ready to speed up the FTA negotiations with China, and welcomes Chinese enterprises to invest in Australia, Abbott said. Australia wishes to enhance cooperation with China within the frameworks of the Group of Twenty and APEC, he added. ^ top ^

China sticks to denuclearization of Korean Peninsula, Chinese president says (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping said here on Monday that his country will stick to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and safeguard its peace and stability. China insists that problems should be resolved through dialogue and consultation, Xi said during talks with his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye, ahead of the 21st informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) slated for Monday and Tuesday on Indonesia's resort island of Bali. China will firmly support the efforts to improve ties between South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Xi said. He pointed out that there has been a momentum of relaxation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and the relations between South Korea and the DPRK have made some progress over the past four months. Xi expressed the hope that relevant parties could work together, accumulate consensus and create favorable conditions, so as to restart the six-party talks at an early date and push forward the Korean Peninsula denuclearization process through dialogue and consultation rather than armed confrontation. China is ready to maintain communication, coordination and cooperation with South Korea, he added. For her part, Park thanked China for the constructive role it plays in the improvement of relations between her country and the DPRK and in the Korean Peninsula denuclearization. South Korea is willing to enhance communication and coordination with China, she added. ^ top ^

China, Brunei gaining momentum for further development of exemplary ties (Global Times)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang starts an official visit to Brunei on Wednesday, opening up yet another opportunity for the two countries to further advance their relations. During his stay, Li will hold talks with Bruneian Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. The two sides are expected to sign a series of cooperation agreements, which will further materialize their newly upgraded strategic cooperative relationship. In a sign of the broader significance of the bilateral interaction, Li will also attend a string of regional summits here to reaffirm Beijing's commitment to and table concrete proposals on promoting cooperation with Southeast Asia and in the wider East Asia. Li's visit comes on top of two decades of steady development of China-Brunei relations. Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1991, the two countries have witnessed rapid expansion of bilateral interaction, with two-way trade increasing about 80-fold in two decades to 1.6 billion US dollars last year. Initiating a recent growth spurt of the relationship, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Hassanal announced in April in Beijing a historic move to lift bilateral ties to a strategic cooperative relationship. The sultan was the first foreign head of state Xi had hosted since assuming presidency in March. The China-Brunei relationship, Xi said back then, features mutual respect and equality and serves as a paragon of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between big and small nations in the region. He urged the two sides to give full play to their respective advantages and further deepen bilateral cooperation. [...] During Li's forthcoming visit, China and Brunei will seek to expand cooperation in a variety of sectors, including agriculture, fishery and energy, Chinese Ambassador Zheng Xianglin told local media recently, adding that more Chinese companies are coming to Brunei for investment opportunities. Looking at the regional picture, the two countries, with Brunei chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, have also pledged concerted efforts to promote the overall relations between China and the 10-member bloc.[...] Priorities include upgrading the China-ASEAN free trade area, improving regional interconnectivity, and expanding maritime cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, said Zheng, the ambassador. [...] Li's trip, which will also take him to Thailand and Vietnam, comes a day after Xi returned home from a tour in the same region, in which the Chinese president visited Indonesia and Malaysia and attended the latest Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing to hold next year's APEC summit (Global Times)
The 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit will be held in Beijing. It is viewed as a good opportunity to expedite urban development and pollution control, said a press officer of the Beijing municipal government. Zhao Huimin, director general of the Foreign Affairs Office of Beijing's municipal government, announced that the 2014 APEC summit will be held at Yanqi Lake, a scenic site in Beijing's northwestern suburbs at a Tuesday press briefing in Bali, Indonesia. Yanqi Lake was selected to let leaders of the APEC member economies enjoy the beautiful views of Beijing's outskirts, Zhao said, adding that compared with the time when Beijing held the 29th Olympic Games in 2008, the city has become more experienced to curb air pollution. "Construction work at the site will follow environmentally-friendly principles. The venues will be using 100 percent clean energy, with all sewage and household waste processed, making the site an outstanding example of green and energy saving architecture," Zhao was quoted by the Beijing Youth Daily as saying. The public expressed their welcome to the summit. However, severe air pollution which haunted the capital during the seven-day National Day holiday and reoccurred recently became the biggest challenge the city is facing. "Compared with 2008, Beijing is facing greater pressure due to an increasing number of vehicles and more chemical facilities have been seen around Beijing in the past five years," Wang Tao, a scholar at Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, told the Global Times. "Air pollution is hard to curb within one year unless the government shuts down those chemical plants and takes more tightened restrictions to vehicle usage," Wang noted. Beijing had launched an ambitious and strict clean air plan, aiming to reduce polluting particulate matter by 25 percent from 2012 by 2017. The project was designed to be an international conference and exhibition center which takes up 31 square kilometers, with a total investment of 36 billion yuan ($5.9 billion) and is capable of housing up to 20,000 people. "The construction of the site started several months ago. Many engineering companies have participated in the project, with some of the buildings being close to finished now," a communication officer, surnamed Guo, with a construction company responsible for three buildings of the project, told the Global Times on Wednesday. Zhao also presented the logo of the 2014 APEC summit, which represents the Chinese government's wish of cooperation with the other member economies by outlining a pattern of the earth with 21 horizontal, colorful lines, each representing a member economy. The design also shares a similarity with Tiantan, or the Temple of Heaven, one of the most popular historical sites in Beijing. ^ top ^

Sino-Russian ties grow amid US pivot to Asia (SCMP)
When President Xi Jinping met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) leaders meeting in Bali this week, both greeted each other like old friends. "This is the fifth meeting we had during the year and it is strong evidence of the high level and uniqueness of China-Russia relations," Xi was quoted by Xinhua as telling Putin. Just five weeks ago, Xi met Putin in St Petersburg at the G20 summit, during which China and Russia opposed a US proposal for military intervention in Syria after UN chemical weapons inspectors confirmed that hundreds of civilians were killed by the nerve gas sarin near the capital, Damascus, on August 21. Analysts said Beijing and Moscow were seeing eye to eye more than they have in decades as the two former foes found common ground in areas ranging from economic co-operation to international security to military technology transfers. The cozying up of the two giant neighbours comes against Washington's diplomatic and military pivot to Asia as well as growing tension between the US and Russia over such issues as Syria and Moscow's granting of asylum to the whistle-blowing former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden. Tian Chunsheng, an analyst at the Russian Development Research Centre of the State Council, said Xi and Putin realised they had further common strategic interests after Washington's efforts to establish its Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) during the past two years. The TPP is a free-trade deal being negotiated by 12 countries: the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, but China has not been invited. The TTIP is a trade and investment agreement being negotiated by the US and the European Union. "Both the TPP and TIPP have deliberately or unwittingly ignored China's interests, or may be aimed at limiting China's rise, which has forced Beijing to seek a more appropriate [strategic] global partner. Russia is the ideal candidate," Tian said. "Indeed, Xi and Putin are keen to boost co-operation in emerging industries in the Asia-Pacific region because economic growth has slowed in both countries since the global financial crisis." She added that Russia's new strategy to expand its political and economic influence in East Asia coincided with China's plan to strengthen its leading role in the region as a foil to Washington's renewed focus on Asia. Xing Guangcheng, a specialist on Russian affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, played down America's influence on political and military ties between China and Russia. "Beijing and Moscow realise that the US has never left Asia... The new Sino-Russia leadership under Xi and Putin has merely inherited the legacies of their predecessors, including Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, Dmitry Medvedev and Boris Yeltsin," Xing said. "The two countries realise that, as neighbours, they should be friendly. The alternative could be a disaster for both. They know this having suffered many ups and downs in the relationship over past centuries." Xing said he believed that the two countries' strategic partnership had remained unchanged despite the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991. The two countries conducted joint military drills in July, and there was much room for other collaboration, Xing noted. "Russia is an energy superpower; China is energy-hungry," he said. "Russia is a huge country that also needs China's help to perfect its infrastructure." ^ top ^

China calls for social reconciliation in Egypt (Xinhua)
China on Thursday called for the early realization of social reconciliation and national stability in Egypt. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying made the remarks at a daily news briefing following the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity's decision to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a non-governmental organization (NGO). The decision came along with a Cairo Appeal Court order on Wednesday to set Nov. 4 for the trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, along with another 14 top leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood over violence that took place in the presidential palace in December. "The Chinese side holds that Egypt's affairs should be decided by the Egyptian people on their own," said Hua. "We hope an inclusive political process of transition will advance smoothly in Egypt, and social reconciliation and national stability will be achieved at an early date," she added. The Egyptian armed forces toppled Morsi on July 3 in response to massive protests across the country against the Islamic leader. Over the past three months, Morsi's supporters have called for continuous protests to reinstate the man they describe as the legitimate president deposed by a military coup. ^ top ^

Li Keqiang pushes for Asian free trade pact inside two years (SCMP)
Premier Li Keqiang has reaffirmed Beijing's desire to complete negotiations on a sweeping regional free trade pact within the next two years. In separate speeches to two regional summits in Brunei yesterday, Li urged Asian nations to stick to their plan and complete talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by the end of 2015. While attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the East Asia Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, Li also raised concern about the prospect of the US defaulting on its debt, much of it held by China, Xinhua reported. Li mentioned his worries while meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the events. Li's remarks about the RCEP deal reflected Beijing's ambition to play a big role in integrating the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. Those efforts were bolstered by the absence of US President Barack Obama, who was forced to stay in Washington because of continued wrangling over the federal government shutdown. The RCEP talks include the 10-member Asean bloc and its six free trade partners, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. The participants agreed in May to finalise the pact before 2016. "It has become the clear consensus among countries in the region to build a bigger and better economy by following the path of regional co-operation," Li told Asean nations. The US is pushing its own regional free trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which does not include China. Stressing China's support for economic integration under the principals of openness, inclusiveness and transparency, Li suggested that there could be interaction between the RCEP and the TPP. Li said China and East Asian nations must work to improve their mutual trust and unity, but remain cautious against interfering in the internal affairs of other nations. He offered a metaphor to illustrate the importance of co-operation. "He whoever has had experience with chopsticks understands that one single chopstick won't do the work of putting food in the mouth," Li said. "To do the work, a pair of chopsticks are needed. And when a bunch of chopsticks are tied together, they won't break easily." Observers said Li's push for the RCEP indicated Beijing's fear that its role in regional economic affairs might be diminished should the TPP be launched. ANZ Bank's Raymond Yeung said: "By stressing the RCEP, Li sends a signal that China should be a player in regional economic affairs. The influence of the US in the region will be boosted when the TPP is done." Yeung said it was possible the trade deal could be finalised in 2015, but added that Japan may be hesitant because of its own strained ties with China. Beijing and Tokyo have been engaged in a diplomatic row over the disputed Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands in the East China Sea. Jin Canrong, an international affairs specialist in Renmin University, also said the finalisation of the deal "does not only depend on China". He said Japan may not be willing to fully open its industries for trade. China's efforts to forge a regional trade deal have also been complicated by its territorial disputes with Asean nations in the South China Sea. Li reiterated Beijing's desire to settle the matters through two-way talks and urged Southeast Asian nations to "mutually understand and respect" China. ^ top ^

Li hits out at S.China Sea interference (Global Times)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Thursday said parties unrelated to the South China Sea dispute should refrain from intervening in the issue, in a veiled jab at the US and Japan's attempts to complicate the issue at the East Asia Summit in Brunei. In a speech at the summit, which groups leaders from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their eight dialogue partners, Li emphasized that China and ASEAN have reached the consensus that "the South China Sea dispute should be solved peacefully through negotiations and consultations between countries directly involved, and non-claimant countries shouldn't interfere in the issue." The remarks came as US Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the summit on behalf of US President Barack Obama, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pressed ASEAN countries to confront China over the dispute. "All claimants have a responsibility to clarify and align their claims with international law. They can engage in arbitration and other means of peaceful negotiation," Kerry told leaders at the East Asia Summit, according to Reuters. Kerry's remarks are seen as support for the US' ally the Philippines, which is seeking UN arbitration over the dispute. Kerry also said that the voice of not just claimant states but also non-claimant ones must be heard because the non-claimants share an interest in peace and stability, freedom of navigation and the principle of unimpeded lawful commerce in the sea, Japan's Kyodo News reported. However, Li said in his speech that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea "has never been a problem, and will never be." In addition to the US' intervention, Abe, whose country is caught in a territorial dispute with China over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, had told ASEAN leaders the sea dispute had to be resolved in accordance with international law and pledged Japan's continuing cooperation with ASEAN as it was a "common problem" for both. Li Haidong, an associate professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the US, Japan and the Philippines are trying to hype the issue of the South China Sea at the East Asia Summit, serving the US' pivot to Asia. "Though the US said it would remain neutral over the South China Sea, it actually stands firmly on the side of the Philippines," said the expert, adding that the US is playing a destructive role in Asia instead of a constructive one. Premier Li noted that China and ASEAN will push for a consultation for a code of conduct for the dispute in an "active and steady" manner. According to Kyodo, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah told a post-summit press conference that while ASEAN and China agreed to have more regular meetings next year, ASEAN will continue to work on practical measures such as establishing communications hotlines. Ei Sun Oh, a senior fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, told the Global Times that Li again sent out the message that the South China Sea dispute should not overshadow the overall positive relations between the two sides. "Li's call for peaceful settlement of the dispute is welcomed in Southeast Asia, which also looks forward to a final comprehensive solution," said Oh, adding that China can and should take the lead in establishing trust-building mechanisms among all parties involved. "At this time of global economic downturn, of course the top priority for every country in the region, Japan included, is development and economic revival," he said, noting both Vietnam and the Philippines are good examples. "Even at the heights of their maritime disputes with China, economic cooperation still went on." In addition to the dispute, Premier Li also stressed that China hopes to promote a new security concept in East Asia that features comprehensive security, common security and cooperative security, and push forward candid dialogue and cooperation in the fields of traditional and non-traditional security. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

'Golden Week' losing its luster (China Daily)
Hou Xin, a native of Harbin city in Heilongjiang province, has been working at a public relations consultancy in Beijing for eight years. This year's National Day holiday, often known as "Golden Week", was the first time that both his and his wife's parents have visited them in the Chinese capital. Hou and his wife Yang Rui, a kindergarten teacher, had planned to show their relatives around famous tourist sites. In preparation, they had devised a detailed list of departure times, a timetable for each visit and earmarked places to eat. However, halfway through the seven-day holiday the family group had only visited the Summer Palace and the Palace Museum. The four parents refused to visit any other sites, complaining that they were too tired after fighting through the crowds. Moreover, they said they had not seen any of the beauty spots because of the overcrowding. Hou and Yang weren't the only ones to be disappointed with the holiday crowds and traffic. Countless tourists also felt the same way. Complaints about the holiday, which people jokingly referred to as a "paid painful journey", came from all quarters. Now, experts have suggested extending the holiday or even reintroducing the weeklong Labor Day holiday in May to reduce the flow of tourists. More harm than good? Some even claimed the holiday does more harm than good to both the health of the tourists and the development of the economy, and advised the widespread introduction of paid vacations instead of the current system of long, nationwide holidays. Tourist resorts came under severe pressure because of the sudden influx of visitors and measures to cap numbers were employed in some of the most popular places. The National Holiday Office received 55 complaints from irate tourists on Wednesday and Thursday. Sources at the Tian'anmen Square Administrative Committee said the square has received more than 500,000 people during the past three days, while the Palace Museum had 154,100 visitors and the Summer Palace received 108,400 people on Thursday alone. Although China's main tourist attractions have seen an unprecedented surge in visitor numbers, the economic contribution of Golden Week is lower than many people imagine, said experts. Many people travel during the holiday, but that doesn't necessarily result in an increase in total tourist revenues across the entire year, according to Cai Jiming, director of Tsinghua University's Political Economy Research Center, speaking to China News Service. In the 13 years before 1999, the year Golden Week was introduced, China's tourism revenue saw a compound annual growth rate of 28.75 percent on average. However, that has slowed to 17.91 percent in the last 13 years, according to a study conducted by a Tsinghua research group on holiday reform, headed by Cai. "While Golden Week boosts tourism over a specific period of time, the negative impact it has on high-added-value sectors, such as the stock and futures markets and import and export trade, often goes unnoticed," said Cai. The increase in tourist consumption depends on people's incomes rather than Golden Week, he said, because people often reduce their spending on clothes, food, housing and education fees in order to save money for travel expenses. For many people, the Golden Week holiday is not a given. According to the holiday arrangements issued by the State Council annually, many people had to work eight days out of nine immediately before this year's holiday. This year, to guarantee three-day holidays for Labor Day and the Dragon Boat Festival, plus a further week for Spring Festival, people had to work seven days in a row before each break. Many also worked eight consecutive days following the Jan 1 to 3 holiday to celebrate New Year. The arrangement violates China's Labor Law, which stipulates that workers should have at least one day off per week. ^ top ^

Typhoon Fitow affects 4.56 million people in east China (Xinhua)
Typhoon Fitow has affected the life of 4.56 million people in east China's Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on Monday. The 23rd typhoon hitting China this year landed in Shacheng Township of Fuding City at 1:15 a.m. Monday, packing winds up to 151 km per hour. About 4.35 million people in Zhejiang were affected with fallen houses and flooded grain. Two were killed by the storm. It affected about 210,000 people in neighboring Fujian, according to the headquarters. The headquarters adjusted the emergency level from level two down to level three, but warned enhanced prevention efforts as Typhoon Fitow, along with the approaching Typhoon Danas, will continue to haunt the provinces with more rainstorms forecasted. ^ top ^

China's procuratorate to nullify illegally collected evidence (Global Times)
Procurators should nullify evidence collected illegally, such as evidence gathered through torture or coercion, according to a circular publicized by the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) on Tuesday. The circular said that the procuratorate will require investigators, such as police and the procuratorate's investigation arm, to present a written explanation if investigators are suspected of collecting evidence through violence, coercion or torture. If investigative authorities are found illegally collecting evidence, the procuratorate should invalidate the evidence and should not allow arrests based on this evidence, according to the circular. ^ top ^

Court to hear Bo Xilai appeal (Xinhua)
A Chinese provincial court announced on Wednesday that it will hear the appeal of Bo Xilai, sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power last month. Bo did not accept his sentence at the first trial at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in east China's Shandong Province and submitted an appeal to the Shandong Higher People's Court, said a statement from the higher court. The higher court decided to hear his case after examination, the statement said. Bo, 64, is former secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a former member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau. He was charged with bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power at a trial held from Aug. 22 to 26 and the court announced its verdict on Sept. 22. Bo was found guilty of taking bribes totaling 20.44 million yuan (about 3.3 million U.S. dollars), either personally or through his family members, between 1999 and 2012. The court also convicted Bo of stealing 5 million yuan of government funds and of having abused his power when handling the murder of British citizen Neil Heywood by his wife, Bogu Kailai, and an assistant, as well as the defection of Wang Lijun, then Chongqing's police chief and vice mayor. Bo was deprived of political rights for life, and his personal assets were also confiscated. The illicit money and goods that Bo accepted as bribes or embezzled have been recovered or compensated, according to the court judgement. Bo and his lawyer had denied all three charges but the court held that there was sufficient and authentic evidence to support prosecutors' charges. ^ top ^

Chinese city recovering from worst floods in century (Xinhua)
Power supplies, transportation and communication are being restored in the city of Yuyao in east China's Zhejiang Province that has experienced its most severe flooding in a century. Yuyao has been one of the places worst hit by Typhoon Fitow this week, and over 70 percent of the downtown area was flooded. Over 830,000 people from 21 townships in the city have been affected, though no casualties have been reported. As of 3 p.m. on Thursday, Yuyao had recorded precipitation of 501 mm. It was a sunny day on Thursday and there will be no rain in Yuyao until next Monday at the earliest, according to weather forecasts, bringing relief for the rescue efforts. The water level dropped by more than 30 cm on Thursday in the downtown area but cars still could not move in the waters over 1 meter deep in places. Services along 15 bus routes resumed on Thursday, said Zhang Jianli, deputy head of the Yuyao municipal transportation engineering bureau. "The top priority is to resume public transportation and unclog the trunk roads," said Zhang. The gas supply was fully restored on Thursday, and about 80 percent of water supplies were back online by noon, with 95 percent services expected by Thursday night, according to the microblog of Yuyao municipal government. Twenty-five vehicles with emergency generators arrived in Yuyao City on Thursday, providing power to important utilities, including waterworks, hospitals and supermarkets. The complete resumption of power will takes time, according to the municipal power grid company, as the water level is still high. Residents relocated in temporary settlements are receiving bottled water, bread and instant noodles at dozens of relief centers scattered across the towns. Pan Yinhao, executive vice mayor of Yuyao, said on Wednesday the flood water is not expected to recede completely until Saturday due to the deep water and poor drainage. ^ top ^



Shanghai records highest rainfall since 1961 (SCMP)
Shanghai city officials have closed more than 60 parks and the city zoo as residents wade through flood waters after heavy rains hit the financial hub in the aftermath of Typhoon Fitow. The official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday that Shanghai had been hit with 152 millimetres of rain, the highest single-day total since 1961. Xinhua says that although the typhoon landed on Monday in the southeastern province of Fujian, the neighbouring province of Zhejiang has been hit the hardest, with the death toll now at six. Schools have been closed, and power and transportation disrupted throughout the province. In its capital city of Hangzhou, the water level for the scenic West Lake has risen 280 millimetres, flooding lakeside walkways. ^ top ^

Foreign banks shun China's Shanghai free-trade zone amid uncertain rules (SCMP)
Beijing's move to eliminate bureaucratic approval processes to encourage foreign banks to open branches in the Shanghai free-trade zone has met with a lukewarm response. The Shanghai free-trade zone, the mainland's first such zone, was launched at the end of September. The hope was that a wide range of banking services, a freer foreign exchange regime and market-oriented interest rate reforms would take root in the zone. So far, some 10 banks have applied for and received permission to open branches in the zone. But among them, only two are foreign - Citigroup, once the world's largest financial services provider, and DBS, the Singapore-based bank that is Southeast Asia's largest lender. The rest are all major state-owned banks. "Originally, the government was expecting more foreign banks to join the first batch of free-trade zone banks, and that would have grabbed attention from around the world," said one government source familiar with the matter. "That would have been good for the city's image as the global financial centre." The Shanghai branch of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) held several meetings with about a dozen foreign banks in August and September to encourage them to set up in the zone, according to government sources and bankers present at the meetings. The CBRC even sent questionnaires to foreign banks to ask them why they were hesitant to open offices in the zone, according to two bankers who saw the questionnaires. "One concern that many foreign banks have is whether we really need to make the free-trade zone branch completely separate from our existing branches in China," said one banker, referring to the CBRC requirement that foreign banks in the zone have completely distinct systems of internal compliance, risk management and human resources from their operations in the rest of the mainland. "These things certainly are an expense, and, for some banks, it may not be easy to persuade headquarters to increase the China budget. [...] Singapore-listed DBS aims to launch its first product in the free-trade zone within six months, despite a lack of rules about how capital will flow into and out of the zone and how banks in the zone will be allowed to set interest rates that are different from those outside the zone. [...]. ^ top ^



Xinjiang to launch huge coal gasification project (Xinhua)
A large coal gasification project will be built in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the regional authorities said Sunday. The demonstration project in Zhundong area, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, will be the country's largest with a designed capacity of 30 billion cubic meters annually, said the region's development and reform commission. With a total investment of 183 billion yuan (about 29.7 billion U.S. dollars), the project will be jointly built by Sinopec, Huaneng Xinjiang Energy Development Co., Ltd. and some other energy companies in Xinjiang and eastern Zhejiang Province. The industrial project will need 90 million tonnes of coal annually. It will provide at least 18,000 jobs. The coal gas will be transported to booming provinces of Zhejiang in east China and Guangdong in the south through pipelines. The Zhundong area has estimated coal reserves of 390 billion tonnes and proven reserves of 213.6 billion tonnes, the largest coal field in China. With the development of new technologies, coal gasification is expected to be a key sector in the country's clean energy initiative. Several big coal gasification projects have been approved by the country's top economic planning body so far. ^ top ^

Hundreds targeted in online blitz (Global Times)
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has punished 256 people for spreading online rumors that jeopardized social stability and another 139 for spreading extreme religious ideas during a recent crackdown on Internet crimes, local authorities confirmed to the Global Times Tuesday. Several people received admonitions, while 16 were put under criminal custody from June 26 to August 31, Hou Hanmin, deputy director of the publicity department under the region's Party committee, told the Global Times Tuesday. Most people involved in these online crimes are not well educated and some of them are unemployed, and spread extreme religious ideas gaining thousands of followers, Fan Guanghui, an official with the region's public security department, told the Global Times. In one case in Hotan county, a farmer uploaded two gigabytes of e-books about secessionism. The books were read 30,000 times, forwarded and saved about 600 times and downloaded about 14,000 times when the case was solved. The farmer was detained for allegedly inciting secession, the Xinjiang Daily reported Tuesday. Local police in Kashi said that overseas hostile forces have never stopped infiltrating and inciting residents to take up extreme religious ideas through the Internet and that the online spreading has become a great threat to ethnic unity and social stability. In Kashi, teenagers make up the majority of Net users and have a greater chance of being exposed to extreme religious ideas, said local police. Since July, a high school student in Kashi had uploaded a large number of audio and video files about extreme religious ideas and terrorism, which have been reviewed 5,100 times, the newspaper said. Police said the student had been influenced by improper online documents."Online rumors and extreme religious ideas in multi-ethnic neighborhoods can easily cause social conflicts and distort the real religions," Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at the Minzu University of China, told the Global Times. Hou noted that an Internet real-name system should be established to prevent online crimes. [...]. ^ top ^

Xinjiang bid to curb terrorist attacks (China Daily)
Public security forces in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have stepped up efforts to regulate the spread of religious extremism online in an effort to curb terrorist attacks. The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau has handled an increasing number of cases in which individuals have posted or searched for religious extremist content on the Internet during the past three years, an anonymous source at the bureau told Xinjiang Daily. Some even plot terrorist attacks online and later put their plans into action, the source said, without giving the exact number. The source also said that most of the people who spread religious extremism online are unemployed and have a limited education no higher than junior high school or even primary school. From June 26 to Aug 31, 139 people across Xinjiang were arrested for spreading religious extremism including jihad, or what extremist Muslims commonly call "holy war", police said. Ma Pinyan, a senior anti-terrorism researcher and deputy director of the ethnic and religious study center at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said the penetration of religious extremism in China has led to increased attacks in Xinjiang, so the spread of such information must be curbed. Xinjiang police said the leader of the gang that carried out an attack on June 26 in Lukqun, Turpan prefecture, which resulted in 35 deaths, arranged for members to watch videos promoting religious extremism. Police also found that members of a terrorist cell formed in September 2012 in Selibuya, a township in Kashgar prefecture, regularly attended meetings where they viewed and listened to materials relating to religious extremism and terrorism. They also underwent physical training and learned how to kill by watching videos of terrorist attacks. Police found knives, combat training materials, illegal religious extremist pamphlets and three jihadist flags after the group killed 15 people in an attack on April 23. In another recent incident, Kashgar police noticed a large number of video and audio files spreading religious extremism as well as instigating terrorist activities had been uploaded onto the Internet since July 11. The suspect turned out to be a 17-year-old high school senior from Jiashi county. The young offender told Xinjiang Daily that he wanted to increase awareness of religion among his classmates. The contents he posted have been viewed more than 5,100 times and downloaded 1,201 times, according to police, who said the student's understanding of religion has been twisted by religious extremism and violent information. The student was given 10 days' administrative detention, but as he is a minor and a first-time offender, the punishment was not carried out. "Young people are easily attracted to, and manipulated by, these websites that contain religious extremist content because they are well produced and in the Uygur language. In comparison, Uygur websites are outdated and can't meet people's demands, especially those of young people," said Adiljon Abrat, a professor at Xinjiang University's school of politics and public relations. Uygur websites also don't educate people about the law, so many don't know that spreading terror-related information online is illegal, Adiljon added. ^ top ^



Xi Jinping tells Hong Kong to stick to Basic Law on reform (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping took a firm line yesterday on political reform in Hong Kong, telling Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying the city must strictly follow the Basic Law and decisions of the NPC's Standing Committee. After a closed-door meeting in Bali, where both men are attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, Leung said: "President Xi gave a clear view on political reform. "All issues related to political reform must be in accordance with the stipulations of the Basic Law and the decisions of the NPC Standing Committee. In addition, as Hong Kong is a society that upholds the rule of law, the SAR government and the whole of society should act in accordance with the law." Veteran analyst Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Xi's remarks indicated Beijing was standing firm on reform and would not make concessions easily. In a separate meeting, Xi told a Taiwanese envoy that the two sides should resolve their political disagreements and that Beijing was willing to hold talks with Taiwan on an equal basis. Leung said he had reported on a range of issues affecting Hong Kong, but he did not say clearly if he had mentioned the Occupy Central movement or the idea for the public nomination of chief executive candidates. Article 45 of the Basic Law mandates the selection of the chief executive "by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures". The standing committee said in 2007 that the formation of the nominating committee "could be modelled on that of the election committee". Leung was elected by a 1,193-strong election committee after three candidates met its nomination threshold. Beijing has promised universal suffrage for Hong Kong by 2017. Activists plan to occupy Central next year if proposals fall short of international standards. Last month Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, rejected the idea of public nominations, saying it violated the Basic Law. Leung also mentioned the Manila hostage killings in which eight Hongkongers were shot dead on a hijacked bus. Survivors and relatives want a formal apology from the Philippine government and compensation. "On the spot, President Xi instructed relevant officials of the nation to continue following up the matter with the Philippine government," said Leung. Nine staff working for Hong Kong broadcasters had their Apec media passes revoked after reporters were called "impolite" for firing questions at Philippine President Benigno Aquino. Analyst Lau said Xi's pledge on the Manila tragedy was a gesture. "Xi just wants to pacify Hongkongers and show Leung has done something in order to improve his low popularity rating." But lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who assisted the survivors and families, hoped Xi's action would finally bring progress. Xinhua reported that Xi gave recognition to Leung's work. ^ top ^



Xi meets Taiwan politician ahead of APEC gathering (Xinhua)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), reiterated Sunday that the Chinese mainland is ready to conduct equal consultations with Taiwan on cross-Strait political issues under the one China framework and make reasonable arrangements. Xi made the remarks when he met with Vincent Siew, honorary chairman of the Taiwan-based Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation, ahead of the 21st informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the Indonesian resort island of Bali, slated for Monday and Tuesday. He pointed out that enhancing cross-Strait political mutual trust and consolidating common political foundation are vital to ensure the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. Noting that in a long run, the cross-Strait political disputes which have long existed could be gradually and eventually resolved, Xi said, "we cannot hand those problems down from generation to generation." As regards those issues in the cross-Strait relations, heads of departments in charge of cross-Strait ties could meet and exchange views, he added. Xi said that the two sides across the Taiwan Strait should stick to the correct path of peaceful development of the cross-Strait relations. He said the concept that "both sides of the Strait are of one family" should be advocated, adding that the two sides should strengthen communication and cooperation and jointly work for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Xi stressed that the historic opportunity should be seized to maintain the sound momentum of peaceful development of cross-Strait ties, adding that people on both sides expect the cross-Strait relations to make greater progress. Both sides should comply with people's aspirations, seize opportunities and achieve new results in the development of cross-Strait relations, he said. On cross-Strait economic cooperation, Xi stressed that the economies of the two sides both belong to the economy of the Chinese nation. Under the new economic development situation of the Asia-Pacific region, the two sides could better deal with challenges only through cementing cooperation. He called for more efforts to institutionalize cross-Strait economic cooperation and urged greater importance to be attached to industrial cooperation. For his part, Siew noted that taking "1992 consensus" as the basis for the cross-Strait institutionalized consultation is not only vital for scoring many achievements in the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations over the past five years, but the core for the sustainable exchanges and interactions across the Strait. Facing up to the new challenges in the global economy, the two sides should expand and deepen the economic and trade institutionalized cooperation and promote sustainable development of the cross-Strait relations, Siew said. ^ top ^

Ma Ying-jeou hails exchanges with Beijing as step towards direct ties (SCMP)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has hailed Beijing's acceptance of more direct cross-strait communications as a step towards normalised relations, although analysts noted that Beijing likely believed the move would push Taipei closer to controversial political talks. Ma was reacting to a meeting between top cross-strait affairs officials on Sunday on the sidelines of a regional economic summit in Bali, Indonesia. During the meeting, Wang Yu-chi, head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, and Zhang Zhijun, head of Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, reportedly referred to each other by their official titles for the first time. Earlier at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, President Xi Jinping urged more such direct contacts during a 30-minute meeting with former Taiwanese vice president Vincent Siew Wan-chang. Xi said the consultations were consistent with the accepted "one-China" framework. "President Ma said such moves exemplify how the two sides do not deny each other's authority to govern," Taiwanese Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li said. She said the president saw it as a good beginning for normalising official relations between the two sides. The Mainland Affairs Council described the "spontaneous interaction" between Wang and Zhang as a breakthrough, calling their use of each other's titles a "concrete realisation of facing reality" by the mainland. After decades of bitter rivalry and military flare-ups, relations between Beijing and Taipei improved sharply after Ma took office in 2008 and launched a policy of cross-strait engagement. The two sides have since signed numerous agreements for economic and cultural exchanges. But Beijing has been reluctant to recognise any official status for the government of Taiwan, which it has regarded as a breakaway province since the end of the civil war in 1949. Analysts note that the exchange between Wang and Zhang also fit with Beijing's goal of opening political talks with Taipei, which the Communist Party views as a step towards eventual reunification. Xi told Siew: "The issue of the political divide that exists between the two sides must reach a final resolution step by step and cannot be passed on from generation to generation." Such political talks remain controversial in democratically run Taiwan. "Xi made one important point during his meeting with Siew - that is, the two sides should not leave their unresolved problems to the next generation," said Yang Kai-huang, a cross-strait affairs expert at Ming Chuan University in Taipei. "This signals Xi's desire for Taiwan to quickly start political dialogue and resolve their political divide." Political analyst Lee Sheng-feng said Xi's comment reflected the mounting pressure on Taiwan and direct meetings between officials overseeing cross-strait affairs would actually hasten the prospect of political talks. "The Ma government should make plans well in advance to prepare for this," Lee said. Last night, Wang said that Taiwan was not ready to engage Beijing in a political dialogue aimed at unification, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency. In their talks, Wang and Zhang reportedly committed to establishing a mechanism for regular dialogue between their agencies to "enhance mutual understanding and facilitate cross-strait engagement". Zhang also reportedly invited Wang to visit the mainland, an invitation Wang said he would be pleased to accept. ^ top ^

Taiwan business associations urge political settlement (Xinhua)
Six major business and industrial associations in Taiwan on Tuesday issued a joint statement that urged the island's politicians to cease the current political strife and restore the development of Taiwan's economy. Chiefs or senior representative of the six associations -- the Federation of Industries, the General Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Industry and Commerce, the Association of Small and Medium Enterprise, the Taiwan Federation of Industry, and the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association -- attended a press conference to release the statement. The statement is issued against the backdrop of complexity faced by the island's economy and the chaos in Taiwan's political field that has stalled economic and social development, according to its authors. It called on ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan to set aside political confrontation and stabilize the political situation for the interests of the island's economy and public. Moreover, the statement said all parties should talk and set a timetable to deal with procedures regarding a cross-Strait agreement on service trade, so that the agreement will be approved at the earliest possible date to boost Taiwan's economy. "All works in Taiwan should be set back to normal as soon as possible," the statement said, warning that unstable politics and inefficient administrative enforcement would undermine business owners' confidence and discourage overseas investments. At the press conference, representatives of the six associations expressed their concern and worry over the current situation in Taiwan. Chang Pen-Tsao, chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce, told the conference that representatives from the associations are also planning to visit chiefs of Taiwan's legislative and administrative authorities as well as the island's major parties to seek progress. A series of proposals have been lingering with the island's legislative authority because of differences among political parities in Taiwan. The situation has been exacerbated after Wang Jin-pyng, the chief legislator, last month became suspected of involvement in an illegal lobbying scandal. ^ top ^

Taiwan marks anniversary of republic as political turmoil swirls (SCMP)
Taiwan yesterday celebrated the 102nd birthday of the Republic of China amid protests by civic groups upset by political scandals and the perceived poor performance of President Ma Ying-jeou's government. All eyes during the celebrations were on how Ma and his Kuomintang rival, legislature speaker Wang Jin-pyng, interacted after their month-long political impasse, which has left the government in deadlock. A Double Tenth holiday rally was staged in front of the presidential office, with surrounding areas sealed off by barbed wire barricades. Five civic groups, rallying tens of thousands of people and shouting slogans including "the tyrant who violates the constitution and abuses the people must step down", protested near the heavily guarded presidential office. Their protests continued late into the night. Several waves of scuffles between protesters and police were reported, but there were no injuries. In his address, Ma touted his efforts to improve relations with the mainland, which have seen the two sides sign 19 economic and other non-political agreements since he took office in 2008 with a policy of engaging Beijing. "The two sides should utilise their frequent contacts and interaction to boost political trust and should continue expanding and deepening exchanges in a variety of fields to further improve the welfare of the people," Ma told a rally of 3,000 local and foreign dignitaries. In the speech that was titled "Stay the course and move forward in unity to create a new era", Ma called on people to help establish a civil society with tolerance and reason. "We need to ask ourselves a few questions: On the path of democratisation … do we choose political infighting stemming from suspicion and confrontation?" he asked, apparently alluding to the political storm he sparked with Wang after accusing him of influence peddling. Yesterday saw the first meeting between Wang and Ma since the two top men fell out over the issue. Taiwanese media gave prominent coverage to how the two men interacted at the celebrations. Wang, as organiser, had to invite Ma to speak. Television footage showed the two shaking hands several times and chatting about the weather and jogging. Asked later if the two had reconciled, Wang said: "If there is no grudge, why should there be reconciliation?" Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party chairman Su Tseng-chang, who refused to attend the rally, said his party would seek a vote of no confidence in the cabinet, which is headed by Ma's ally Jiang Yi-huah. But his chance of success seems slim, given the KMT's majority in the legislature. People First Party leader James Soong Chu-yu also did not attend the celebrations. ^ top ^



Service-sector expansion slows (China Daily)
China's service sector expanded at a moderate pace in September, indicated by a 52.4 reading for the HSBC Services Purchasing Managers' Index, down from 52.8 in August, the bank said on Tuesday. A report from HSBC Holdings Plc suggested that growth in service-sector activity "remained substantially below-trend". One indicator of slack conditions was work backlogs, which declined at service providers in September. "But the rate of reduction was only marginal," it said.A PMI reading above 50 means expansion, while one below 50 shows contraction. Service managers expect higher activity levels in the next 12 months. However, some of them remain worried about relatively weak demand that may restrict business growth, according to HSBC. Qu Hongbin, chief economist in China at HSBC, said: "China's services activity growth appears to be stabilizing at a faster pace than in the second quarter. This led to a renewed expansion of employment, against a contraction in August. "Combined with the gradual improvement of the manufacturing PMI, the Chinese economy is still on the way to a modest recovery. But a more consolidated and sustainable recovery requires structural reforms," he added. Last Thursday, a separate survey from the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing reported a non-manufacturing PMI of 55.4 in September, up from 53.9 in August — the highest level since March. The official non-manufacturing PMI survey also covers the construction industry, in addition to the service sector. Increased consumption in preparation for the "Golden Week" National Day holidays, which ended on Oct 7, boosted consumer services in September, and the government's aim of rebalancing the nation's industrial structure has increased demand in non-manufacturing sectors, said Cai Jin, CFLP vice-chairman.[...] Stronger expansion of industrial output and the service business since July may indicate faster GDP growth in the third quarter. Economists estimate the July-September growth figure could be 7.6 percent, after expansion slowed to 7.5 percent in the second quarter. Complete third-quarter economic indicators are due for release by the NBS on Oct 18. [...] A slowdown is likely in GDP growth in the fourth quarter, and the rate for 2014 may retreat to 7.1 percent. That's below the consensus forecast. That is because "the China economy faces various fundamental challenges, including industry overcapacity, financial and fiscal risks, a latent property bubble and a falling potential growth rate", Chang said. "We expect the government to shift its policy focus from 'stabilizing growth' now to 'adjusting the economy's structure and promoting reforms' in 2014," she said. China "will likely cut its 2014 GDP growth forecast to 7 percent from 7.5 percent next March", Chang added. ^ top ^

CNOOC offering 25 blocks for cooperation (China Daily)
China National Offshore Oil Corp, or CNOOC, the country's largest offshore oil and gas producer, said on Tuesday that it will offer 25 new offshore blocks for cooperation projects with foreign companies. Seventeen of the blocks are located in the South China Sea, three in the East China Sea and five in the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea. CNOOC will invite foreign firms to bid for oil and gas projects in the blocks, according to a statement on its website. The 25 blocks cover a total area of 102,577 square km, the statement added. It also said that foreign companies may access the data related to the blocks after applying for the projects. The data will be available for viewing until Dec 30. A CNOOC official in charge of the tender said that none of the blocks offered are located in disputed territorial waters. The tender comes after CNOOC said in May that it has completed construction of Asia's biggest deepwater platform in the South China Sea, marking a breakthrough for the company. The project, known as the Liwan 3-1 natural gas central offshore platform, will have an annual processing capacity of 12 billion cubic meters and will be put into operation by the end of the year, CNOOC said. China and some Southeast Asian nations have disputes on territorial sovereignty issues and maritime rights in the South China Sea. Zhou Fangyin, a global strategy expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the move indicates that China is taking an active position to assert its claims in the South China Sea disputes. In June 2012, the State-owned oil giant invited foreign companies to jointly develop nine blocks in the western part of the South China Sea, a move Vietnam claimed was illegal as the blocks encroached on its territorial waters. Wang Yilin, CNOOC's chairman, said at the time that the move was strategic, as the South China Sea plays an important role to enable CNOOC to achieve its ambitious plan of investing 200 billion yuan ($32.58 billion) to beef up oil and gas exploration in the next two decades, earlier reports said. The oil giant plans to double its oil and gas production by 2020 and triple it by 2030 from 2010 levels. The South China Sea's oil and gas reserves account for about one-third of China's total oil and gas resources. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

How did Hong Kong become North Korea's No 2 trading partner? (SCMP)
In 2012, Hong Kong became North Korea's No 2 trading partner with two-way trade reaching US$111 million (HK$861 million), rising 457 per cent from the year before, according to data from a South Korean trade organisation. Last year alone, the Stalinist country exported US$58 million (HK$450m) worth of goods to Hong Kong and imported items worth nearly US$53 million (HK$411m) from the city, according to a recent report by South Korea's government-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. The upward trend in two-way trade might be explained as a one-time jump, but experts suggest that Hong Kong may be part of the mainland China's broader agenda for its relations with North Korea. “Hong Kong is a tool for Sino-Korean relations because it can play certain functions in pushing forward the relationship between Beijing and North Korea,” explained Steve Chung, a professor of international relations at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The rise in trade between North Korea and Hong Kong in recent years coincides with the establishment of a joint industrial zone to be operated by Beijing and Pyongyang. In June 2011, China and North Korea announced that they agreed to establish the so-called Two Islands Economic Zone on Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa Islands near the Chinese border city of Dandong. When the agreement was announced, Hong Kong was North Korea's No 13 trading partner. A year later, in 2012, it had jumped to No 2. “There have been previous reports that Beijing has encouraged firms in Hong Kong to develop its joint industrial venture with North Korea on Hwanggumpyong Island,” noted Troy Stangarone, the senior director of the Washington-based Korea Economic Institute. “Significant work on the complex only began last year, so some of the increase we are seeing [in Hong Kong-North Korea trade] could be tied to this development,” added Stangarone. China was trying to maintain strong trade relations with Pyongyang through Hong Kong because Beijing was under international pressure to distance itself from the rogue state, said Chung. [...] Even as China scaled backs its dealings with the North Korean regime, recent trade data indicated that Beijing continued to offer economic assistance to Pyongyang. In the first eight months of 2013, North Korean exports to China rose by 8 per cent from last year to US$1.85 billion as Beijing imported more coal, ore and woven garments, reported South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. As China keeps trading with North Korea, trade between Hong Kong and Pyongyang was likely to continue as well, experts said. ^ top ^



After meeting in London, Rio Tinto and Mongolia proposed to accelerate the underground construction works of Oyu Tolgoi (Infomongolia)
Mongolian delegation of three-man comprised of Executive Director of “Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi” LLC Davaadorj GANBOLD, Director General of the Department for Strategic Policy and Planning, Ministry of Mining Chuluuntseren OTGOCHULUU and Deputy Director of Erdenes MGL Company Ganzorig TEMUULEN have met with Rio Tinto authorities in London on September 23-27, to hold negotiations on investment issues for underground mining of Oyu Tolgoi, which is currently being halted. Accordingly, the above Board Members of Oyu Tolgoi Company representing Mongolia G.Temuulen and Ch.Otgochuluu have called a press conference today on October 01, regarding the meeting summary held at the Rio Tinto Headquarters. Board Member Ch.Otgochuluu said, “During the meeting from Mongolian side were proposed to discuss 22 issues directed by the President and Premier of Mongolia, and 8 issues promoted from Rio Tinto side. In the scope of these 30 long-awaited issues, two parties have reached consensus on 15 issues, which means reciprocally decreased the currently aroused problems by two times. In particular, representatives of Rio Tinto, Mongolia and the Third Party that owns special licenses to run its activity in Oyu Tolgoi sub-fields have agreed to transfer these special licenses in authorization of Oyu Tolgoi Company. Nevertheless, three main unresolved issues were left; First - To monitor overspend investments involving representatives of the two sides. Currently, experts from both Mongolia and investors have been conducting an audit and the final summary will be revising from October 07th to reach a general conclusion; Second - To determine geological reserves in Oyu Tolgoi sub-fields, besides to renew the Feasibility Studies, and the Third one is to conduct a comprehensive study on each circumstances of the additional financing for the OT Project. In addition, two sides proposed to accelerate the underground expansion works and increase the volume of copper concentrate export, because the world market price for copper is expected to drop drastically after 5-6 years that would lead to unprofitable commercials for both sides in 2017-2019. Hence, parties are also doing studies on this matter in order to avoid risks”. Board Member G.Temuulen added, “The meeting with Rio Tinto was concluded successfully and as a result of these joint efforts, two parties have finally reached a consensus on some matters. Moreover, we agreed to organize the next bilateral talks in Ulaanbaatar after October 07, 2013”. At the end of press meeting, above authorities said that Mongolian Board Members of the Company had met with other shareholders of Oyu Tolgoi Company besides the two-party meeting and pledged to inform regularly about the meeting results after October 07th. ^ top ^

First international film festival is approaching (Montsame)
The very first for Mongolia international film festival titled "Ulaanbaatar" will run October 4-9. It is supposed that the action will expand ties between the domestic and foreign cinema art and improve our access to the masterpieces of the world. This will be an example of how the government of reforms supports arts and cultural industry. The festival will be co-organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Mongolia, the Mongolian-French center, the city's Department of Arts and Culture and Arts Council. Participation is expected of some 30 producers, directors and artists from USA, France, Taiwan, Singapore, Mexico, Turkey, Italy and Germany. Organizers of the Cannes Film Festival and International Istanbul Film festival will join in the festival as well. Mongolia intends to present eight feature movies and five documentary films. The festival's consultative committee will open the measure by showing Mongolian "Sharga daaga" film by Ch.Khoroldorj at the "Tengis" cinema theater October 5. ^ top ^

Mongolia Provides Tax Certainty for Foreign Investors (
The Mongolian Parliament has passed a new investment law on foreign investment that is intended to introduce a stable tax and legal background for foreign direct investors. The new law will come into effect on November 1, 2013, and will repeal the Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law, which was enacted in May 2012 and restricted investments in strategic sectors, by requiring government, or even parliamentary, approval for transactions. In recognition of the recent decline of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Mongolia, especially in the copper and coal projects vital to its economic development, the new law provides an incentive in that value added tax, corporate income tax, mining royalties and customs duties will be "stabilized" for investors for periods from five to 15 years, dependent on the amount and location of the investment, and by registration and the obtaining of a Certificate of Stabilization.Therefore, if tax rates were to be raised in Mongolia during a project's "stabilization period," an investment's tax rates would remain capped and unchanged for a given period. If tax rates were to fall, the project would then pay the reduced taxes. Since it is felt that investment activities are mainly influenced by the four taxes, the Government considers that making their rates stable until investors can recoup their investment will now create a reliable and more favorable FDI environment. ^ top ^


Ludivine Candiotti
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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