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
  23-29.11.2013, No. 503  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

Beijing blames rich nations as climate summit ends with modest deal (SCMP)
China has blasted developed countries for lacking the "political will" to cut carbon emissions and keeping their promises to transfer technology and funds to developing countries as UN climate talks concluded in Warsaw. The two-week negotiations concluded on Saturday, more than a day behind schedule, with only a modest deal. More than 190 countries agreed to start preparing "contributions" to cut greenhouse gases for a post-2020 climate regime, which is supposed to be adopted in 2015. The term "contributions" was adopted after China and India objected to the word "commitments" in a stand-off with the United States and other developed countries. The head of the Chinese delegation, Xie Zhenhua, described the outcome as merely "acceptable" and that there were "many issues we're actually not satisfied with". "Despite the mounting challenges posed by climate change, some developed countries still lack the political will to honour their commitments on emission cuts and offering technology and funding to developing countries to tackle the challenges," Xie said. US chief negotiator Todd Stern said remarks by the Chinese delegation made him feel like he was "going back into a time warp". He accused Beijing of going back on a deal that the post-2020 regime should apply to all parties by saying in the final hours of talks that only developed nations should make binding reduction commitments. The clashes show that China, now the world's biggest carbon emitter, is still unwilling to be tied to the same emission-reduction obligations as industrialised nations, stressing that the country is still in development. Green groups warned that the watered-down term "contribution" could dampen the global carbon-cutting goals needed to prevent average global temperature rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. Climate scientists warn such an increase would unleash unstoppable climate change. "The agreed text is a small step forward, but it lays a rather shaky foundation, as China still does not want [to dismantle] the 'firewall' between developing and developed countries," said Li Shuo, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia. The last-minute face-off was somewhat of a departure for China's more proactive approach in pushing for progress during the two-week talks. He said backtracking by some rich countries over their carbon reduction targets had already "cast a shadow" over future talks, according to state media. Commenting on Japan's decision to abandon its previously agreed targets to reduce carbon emissions following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, chief Chinese negotiator Su Wei said: "I don't have any words to describe my dismay [with Japan]". Li said that China had yet to show genuine leadership. "China's domestic policy on limiting coal use to fight air pollution has put the country in a better place in the climate talks, but it still has yet to transfer the domestic decision into more political will internationally," Li said. ^ top ^

China, Hungary, Serbia reach agreement on railway project (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Monday that his country has reached an agreement with Hungary and Serbia to jointly build a railway between the latter two countries. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Hungarian and Serbian counterparts, Viktor Orban and Ivica Dacic, Li hailed the project as a landmark in cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. The three sides, added the Chinese premier, will set up working groups immediately and advance the project with high quality as rapidly as possible for the benefit of passengers and cargo transporters. "China has made rapid progress in railway construction since its reform and opening-up," said Li, noting that the country now has the world's second-largest railway network with the longest mileage of high-speed railway. The needs of CEE countries for modern transportation and the technological, equipment, financial and other advantages of China in the area indicate that the project will surely benefit all parties involved, Li said. The Chinese premier highlighted Chinese equipment as a new global trend due to its high quality with low prices. In its cooperation with emerging markets in particular, the Chinese premier said, Chinese equipment will not only improve their infrastructure, but also reduce its own over-capacity and improve product and services quality. Such win-win cooperation will benefit the concerned sides as well as the European Union and the world, Li said. Li arrived here Monday for an official visit to Romania and a summit with leaders of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. ^ top ^

China welcomes Geneva II conference on Syria (Xinhua)
China welcomes the second Geneva conference on the Syrian crisis slated for Jan. 22 and hopes it can achieve results, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Tuesday. The conference should be aimed to search for a political solution to the crisis and define the way of political transition, said Wang, who is accompanying Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on an official visit to Romania. UN chief Ban Ki-moon announced Monday the date for the Geneva II meeting that will bring the Syrian government and opposition to the negotiating table for the first time since the outbreak of the country's internal conflict. All sides in Syria should enhance communication, remove existing obstacles, build mutual trust and seek consensus, while the international community needs to keep showing their constructive support, said the Chinese top diplomat. For the meeting to bear fruit, China is willing to continue making its contribution, Wang noted. Beijing has been maintaining contact with all sides in Syria, encouraging them to commit themselves to a political solution to the protracted crisis and joining the Geneva II talks with a positive and constructive attitude, Wang said. Given the complexity of the crisis, Wang said, the Geneva meeting will be a process, and the priority now is offering a negotiating platform for all sides involved. China pays close attention to the humanitarian situation in Syria, and has provided Syrians in and outside the country with aid via different channels, Wang said, pledging Beijing's continuous effort in that regard. China supports the UN's coordination of international efforts in offering humanitarian aid to Syrians. But such measures merely ease temporary pains, while the humanitarian situation in Syria improves at root only after a comprehensive and complete settlement of the crisis is reached, Wang said. ^ top ^

Air defence zone in East China Sea to remain 'forever', say Beijing advisers (SCMP)
Beijing has been planning an air defence zone over the East China Sea for some time and it will stay there "forever", according to foreign policy advisers to the central government. The sudden declaration of the protected air space close to territorial waters and islands also claimed by Japan triggered fierce protests from Tokyo and Washington. China said aircraft would have to notify its aviation authorities if they want to enter the defence zone it established on Saturday. The aim is to protect the nation's territorial sovereignty. "Emergency defensive measures'' could be taken against aircraft entering the area without permission, Xinhua reported. Last night, Japan's two airlines, ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines, said they would heed a Japanese government request to stop filing flight plans demanded by China on routes through the new air defence zone. Both airlines, which have been informing China's aviation authorities since Saturday of flights through the zone in the East China Sea, would stop doing so from today, spokesmen from the carriers said. One Western diplomat said he feared an "unintended accident" could quickly escalate into a full-scale confrontation, particularly between China and Japan. Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at the Renmin University and an adviser to the State Council, admitted the risks had increased, but China's leaders were confident they could manage them. He and another central government adviser said the idea of setting up the defence zone had been in the pipeline for some time. They said the current tension with Japan over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands gave Beijing good reason to announce the creation of the zone. "Given China's size and growing power, is it normal for it to have a very narrow strategic air space, given others already have their own air defence zone?" Shi asked. "Now it's established, it will stay forever." Beijing did not consult Washington, Tokyo or Seoul beforehand because it would have further strained diplomatic ties, Shi said. "They would have all opposed it. If we then decided to go ahead, it would have been worse," he said. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has described the creation of the zone close to disputed waters without consultation as "dangerous". Australia said yesterday it had summoned Beijing's ambassador to protest. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: "The timing and the manner of China's announcement are unhelpful in light of current regional tensions, and will not contribute to regional stability." In response, China's foreign ministry said that "we hope Australia can … make joint efforts to maintain the security of flights". Germany said the move "raised the risk of an armed incident between China and Japan". Shi said China was unlikely to create another air defence zone in an area such as the South China Sea. Another government adviser also supported his view. "You have to have a reason [to do this]. The provocative stance of Abe's government provides us with the reason," said the adviser. "There is no such opening in the South China Sea. Our ties with Vietnam are improving and there's no need [to go that far] to deal with the Philippines." Shi said Beijing would be flexible in operating the zone. "The interpretation depends on the political reality. If a US or Taiwanese [military plane] enters the zone, we will be flexible," he said. ^ top ^

China's air defense zone doesn't target specific country (Xinhua)
China's newly-established air defense identification zone over the East China Sea does not target a specific country, said a military expert in Beijing on Tuesday. "Other nations do not need to be alarmed," said Zhang Junshe, an expert with the navy, in an interview with Xinhua.
The establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone is not related to the situations around the Diaoyu Islands and should not be considered a countermeasure against Japan, Zhang said. As a necessary measure to protect China's sovereignty and security, as well as a common international practice, the air defense zone is completely out of the need for self-defense, he said. Neighboring countries around China, such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, The Philippines and Vietnam, have set up their own air defense identification zones before China, according to Zhang. Since every country has an equal right to protect its sovereignty and security, the principle of "first come, first served" should not be applied on air defense identification zones, said Chai Lidan, an expert with the air force. When explaining why the zone is located as close as 130 kilometers to some countries, China's Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said on Saturday that from the east end of the zone, which is still close to China, combat aircraft can reach China's airspace within a short time, so it is necessary for China to identify an aircraft from that point to ascertain its purpose and attributes. Chai told Xinhua that, for two close neighbors like China and Japan, it is inevitable that their air defense zones will overlap. The air defense identification zone, which is demarcated outside the territorial airspace, is not exclusive, so an overlapping area is allowed, Chai said. In the overlapping areas, the two countries should communicate well with each other and jointly protect flight security, he said. However, he denied the overlapping of China's and Japan's air defense zones over the Diaoyu Islands. The air defense zone set up by Japan over the Diaoyu Islands is illegal, as the islands belong to China and the airspace over them is China's territorial airspace, rather than part of the air defense zone of another country, he said. China announced its decision to establish the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone on Saturday. ^ top ^

Japanese carriers adhere to China ADIZ despite gov't opposition (People Daily)
Two of Japan's top airlines have been reporting their fight plans to China following the demarcation by Beijing of its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), representatives for the carriers said Tuesday. Japan Airlines (JAL) said flight details have been given as requested since Saturday, whereas All Nippon Airways has provided flight specifics since Sunday, the carriers said. Both carriers fly to destinations including Taiwan and Hong Kong, the airlines' officials said, with both companies stating that the continued compliance would take into consideration -- as the top priority going forward -- the safety of their passengers. But as the airlines comply to China's ADIZ, the Japanese government said Tuesday that carriers here need not file their flight plans with Chinese authorities in advance as China has requested. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday said the transport ministry had informed the airline companies here that Japan does not recognize China's new ADIZ. The top government spokesperson also said he hoped that Japanese airlines would follow the government's position on the issue, stating that Japan has notified China that all its commercial flights through China's new ADIZ will continue to follow prior, conventional flight routes, without deviation. Suga said he hopes that civilian flights will suffer no disruption as China has made it clear that its plans are not directed at any specific country and not aimed particularly at commercial flights carrying civilians. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Islamist group calls Tiananmen attack 'jihadist operation': monitoring service (SCMP)
An Islamist militant group calling itself the Turkestan Islamic Party said a terror attack in Tiananmen Square on October 28 was a "jihadist operation" by holy warriors, the SITE monitoring service said yesterday. The service, which tracks Islamist militant statements, said that the party had released a Uygur-language audio speech from its leader, Abdullah Mansour, in which he said such operations by mujahideen, or its holy warriors, were only the beginning of attacks on Chinese authorities. In the attack, a vehicle ploughed through bystanders on the edge of Tiananmen Square and burst into flames, killing the three people in the car and two bystanders. In an eight-minute message, Mansour said Uygur fighters would target even the Great Hall of the People, where the Communist Party holds legislative and ceremonial activities, SITE said. The service quoted Mansour as saying: "O Chinese unbelievers, know that you have been fooling East Turkestan for the last 60 years, but now they have awakened. "The people have learned who is the real enemy and they returned to their own religion. They learned the lesson." Chinese authorities have blamed what they called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Muslim Uygur separatist group in Xinjiang, for the attack, and arrested five people they said were radical Islamists planning a holy war. Since the Tiananmen incident, security has been strengthened in both Beijing and in Xinjiang, the restive far western region Uygurs call home. Some Uygur groups are campaigning for an independent homeland for their Turkic-speaking people. The Uygurs are culturally closer to ethnic groups across central Asia and Turkey than they are with Han Chinese, who make up the vast majority of China's population. It was not clear if ETIM, branded a terrorist organisation by the US in 2002, is connected to the one purportedly being led by Mansour. ^ top ^

Human error blamed for Qingdao oil pipeline explosion (SCMP)
Investigators have blamed human error for the oil pipeline explosion that killed at least 55 people in Qingdao. Yang Dongliang, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, said poor planning and maintenance of the pipeline, plus negligence after it was found to be leaking oil, led to the blast on Friday in the eastern port city. About 136 people were injured in the explosion in the residential area of the city. Nine are still missing. "The serious damage in this incident has highlighted major problems, including the location of the pipelines and the sewerage grid and the negligent maintenance of the oil pipeline that caused the oil leak,'' Yang said. "There was an inadequate response after the leak was found. They did not seal off the area and evacuate people. This is a serious lapse of responsibility,'' Yang told a meeting after a preliminary investigation by the state council in Qingdao. Yang ordered safety checks on oil and gas pipelines across the nation. The Qingdao provincial government has posted a report from state television on its official microblog saying investigators were aware of the delay of several hours in evacuating residents from the area after oil was found to be leaking from the pipeline and their findings will be announced later. The pipeline is operated by the nation's biggest oil refiner Sinopec. The energy company's vice-president, Li Chunguang, apologised at the same meeting. "To the people of Qingdao and the whole nation, we are sorry," he said at the meeting. The blast, Sinopec's deadliest known accident and the most serious industrial calamity publicly reported in China this year, occurred partly because lessons were not learned from another deadly accident in the same area of Qingdao in 1989, Caixin magazine reported. The series of explosions 24 years ago took place in Huangdao district when one of five oil tanks was hit by lightning. Within hours, the fire spread which led to the explosions of the other four tanks, all of which were located within 1.5 square kilometres and were being used to store more than 40,000 tonnes of crude oil in total. The area soon turned into a blazing inferno as the fire engulfed nearby roads and houses. Firefighters trying to stop the fire from spreading after the explosion in 1989 were not able to evacuate the area in time before the other tanks exploded. The blaze lasted for more than four days and claimed the lives of 19 firefighters, Caixin said. ^ top ^

China to launch Chang'e 3 (China Daily)
China will launch a lunar probe, Chang'e 3 in early December, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense announced Tuesday morning in Beijing. The Chang'e 3 satellite and its carrier, the Long March-3B, are now in Xichang city of Sichuan province. The probe will be blasted into space within the first 10 days of December, Wu Zhijian, spokesman for the agency, told a press conference. The lunar probe will conduct a soft landing on the moon's surface. It will carry a special moon rover for detailed exploration and collection of lunar soil and stone samples. The mission is part of the second stage of China's three-stage, unmanned lunar exploration, which includes orbiting, landing, and analyzing lunar soil and stone samples. The three stages are expected to be completed by 2020. ^ top ^

China's rumour crackdown has 'cleaned' internet, official says (SCMP)
China's campaign against online rumours, which critics say is crushing free speech, has been highly successful in “cleaning” the internet, a top official of the country's internet regulator said on Thursday. China has the world's most sophisticated online censorship system, known outside the country as the Great Firewall. It blocks many social media websites, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others, along with many sites hosted in Taiwan and those of rights groups and some foreign media agencies. The crackdown on online rumours is really intended to quash anti-government discourse, activists say. High profile users of Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog, have been targeted, apparently for political speech. In a rare public appearance, Ren Xianliang, vice minister of the State Internet Information Office, emphasised China's commitment to scrubbing the web of content it deemed critical or offensive. “The fight against rumours has received a positive response and has been quite effective,” he said. “The internet has become clean. The frequency of slander has declined, but it has not impacted the orderly flow of information.” Although social media has become a platform for users to voice complaints and criticism about the government, authorities force domestic internet firms to delete user-posted content they consider too politically sensitive. China will work to strengthen regulation of the internet by training local internet regulators and net companies, Ren added, and further “manage” search and microblogs as well as Tencent's popular WeChat app. “We will meet the demands of the people to create a cyberspace with Chinese characteristics,” Ren said. He reiterated China's right to block websites with information on Tibetan independence or support for separatists in China's far western region of Xinjiang. “Some websites propagating material on Tibet and Xinjiang aim to split our nation, or try to subvert the power of the state,” Ren added. “This runs counter to China's laws and regulations.” ^ top ^

Web-based petitioning system key to reforms (China Daily)
The nation's decades-old petitioning system will be reformed, the top authority handling it pledged on Thursday. The reform measures promised by the State Bureau of Letters and Calls will encourage people to make more use of an Internet-based service to boost efficiency, and guide petitioners in resorting to the law. On Thursday, the bureau released figures showing that on a single workday, 1,200 complaints are lodged online. In total, nearly 20,000 grievances are filed in various forms every day to such agencies at, and above, county level. Two deputy chiefs from the bureau urged local officials to be "more proactive" in addressing complaints, to avoid people flocking to Beijing to lodge petitions. Zhang Enxi, a deputy director at the bureau, said at a news conference that the most widely lodged grievances concern inappropriate land expropriations, housing demolition and complaints about labor and social protection. Between January and October, bureaus in charge of public petitioning at, and above, county level received 6.04 million complaints, or about 20,000 a day. The number shrank by 2.1 percent year-on-year, Zhang said. Li Gao, also a deputy director of the bureau, said a substantial number of petitions are related to the law and litigation, but he did not specify the proportion. It was also announced on Thursday that Xu Jie, another deputy director, has been placed under investigation for serious legal and disciplinary violations. The statement, from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, did not elaborate. A reform blueprint released by the Party in mid-November stated that the petitioning system would be reformed and the online petitioning system would be set up. It was decided that petitions relating to the law and litigation should be submitted to legislative and judicial departments and settled according to the law. Li said that in cases where such complaints are lodged with the bureau, staff members will no longer handle them but guide petitioners to seek redress through the courts. The bureau began receiving petitions submitted via the Internet on July 1 and by Monday had received 130,172. Li said the petitions are usually referred to the appropriate authorities within five workdays. "The operation of the online platform has been smooth, and we will guide the public to use the Internet more often to lodge complaints," Li said. Li also confirmed that the authorities will no longer assess local governments based on the number of "illegal and repeated" petitions filed in Beijing. The country protects the public's right to petition in line with procedures, and the bureau forbids any kind of action that restrains petitioning, or revenge being taken on petitioners, Li added. Chen Jiwen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said that letters and calls agencies have been more active in recent years in hearing public opinion through different channels, including the Internet. Gong Weibin, a professor in public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said that compared with filing a lawsuit, petitioning remains a more convenient and effective method for lodging complaints. China is in a period of rapid social transition, during which interest-related disputes are surging, making petitioning a thorny issue for the government, he said. ^ top ^

Judges to publish verdicts online: SPC (Global Times)
China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) Thursday issued a judicial interpretation on disclosing verdict documents online, requiring that judges must submit formal applications for the cases that they claim are not suitable to be made public. Cases related to national security, minor crime and those solved by mediation would not be disclosed online, according to the judicial interpretation, which will take effect on January 1, 2014. Apart from those cases, judges are required to submit a written application to senior court officials who are in charge of verdict disclosure affairs to not publicize the cases, the interpretation added. This judicial interpretation comes after the SPC on Wednesday announced a unified platform for 3,000 courts nationwide to publish verdicts online. Compared with the previous version of judicial interpretation on the same matter, this regulation is a significant change, Sun Jungong, spokesman of the SPC said at a press conference on Thursday. The previous version of the judicial interpretation became effective in 2010 and asked judges to apply to disclose verdicts online, which is the opposite of the 2013 version. Such a regulation could help to avoid some local courts selecting a small number of verdicts to disclose, Sun said. A court needs SPC approval to withdraw any documents that have been disclosed and judges need to publish the verdict online within seven days of the verdict becoming effective, as an effort to ensure disclosure is timely, the interpretation said. The SPC didn't say what kind of punishment judges might receive if they disobey the interpretation, while experts pointed out violations could be covered by the courts' interior performance evaluation system. "Special punishments should be revealed to the public, who can then supervise the courts," Bi Yuqian, a research fellow at the Beijing-based National Judges College told the Global Times. However, as disclosing the documents publicly will increase a judge's workload, Bi warned that the quality of the documents couldn't be guaranteed. The interpretation also requires the disclosure of litigants'. ^ top ^

Overworked and scared: Chinese doctors live in fear of hospital violence (SCMP)
Wang Tao, a surgeon at a public hospital in Beijing, has kept an metal bar in his office ever since a doctor at a hospital in Wenling, Zhejiang province was stabbed to death last month. He's also particular about always sitting facing the door and keeps a careful eye on patients when they reach to take something from their bags. “It's sad, but I don't want to be slaughtered like a lamb while I am trying to help patients,” said Wang, noting that some colleagues have even started carrying knives to protect themselves from the people they are trying to treat. Such is the surreal scenario facing the mainland's five million doctors and nurses every day. While medical staff around the world face the risk of violence from risky patients such as those with psychiatric disorders of dementia, the number of assaults on doctors by disgruntled patients or their relatives is rising in the mainland. According to the Chinese Hospital Association, every hospital now sees an average of 27 such attacks a year. Seven doctors were killed and 28 injured in 11 attacks last year alone. Some hospitals stepped up security for their medical staff, even going as far as providing guards with riot equipment such as pepper spray, batons and shields. Two hospitals in Shanghai began taekwondo lessons for doctors after the Wenling attack. But doctors say these moves are just treating symptoms without getting to the heart of the public mistrust and hostility resulting from a malfunctioning health care system that leaves as convenient and vulnerable targets of unhappy patients. Government funding for public hospitals falls well short of their operating costs, doctors say, and this places an enormous burden on limited healthcare resources. Public hospitals are typically overcrowded with seemingly endless queues. When patients reach the end of their tether, they vent their anger on doctors, said Wen Jianmin, the director of orthopaedics at Beijing's Wangjing Hospital. Even though most patients today have some medical insurance, their bills are still high, said Yan Xiaojun, a surgeon at Shanghai's Tongji Hospital. Patients, especially those from outside Shanghai, pay a lot for treatment and can be quick to blame doctors if they are unhappy with the results. Doctors say that patients who feel they do have not received the level of attention they deserve often forget that doctors are victims of an inadequate system, too. “My record is treating more than 100 patients on one day,” Wen said. “I finished at about 9pm. Patients flock to big hospitals with better resources.” Yan sympathised with patients who queued for hours just to get a consultation ticket, then spent hours more in waiting rooms for consultations that lasted just a few minutes. But, he said, with so many patients to treat, a lengthy examination and a clear explanation with each patient were luxuries that doctors could not afford, he said. “I usually see 50 patients in the morning, and have just a few minutes to see each one,” Yan said. “It's not the doctors' fault.” Shanghai has been working on getting residents to consult family doctors and for big hospitals to team up with lower level, but these options are still in their pilot phase. Patients still choose the highest-level hospitals, or what they deem reliable, for treatment. Whatever the reasons, the growing distrust between doctors and their patients is showing side effects. Doctors' low morale hurts patients' welfare as well. Yan said he had become very careful to avoid risky procedures. “The wise choice is to avoid risk in complicated cases,” Wen said. “I will be very conservative and not take risks even though they might save the patient. It's the difference between risk control to avoid future trouble and saving lives, and patients are suffering the consequences,” Wen Said. The poor image of the profession is affecting recruitment of new doctors, too. Traditionally, only top students or those from medical families apply for medical school, but that has changed, Wen said. A survey by the Chinese Medical Doctor Association found 78 per cent of it members would not let their children study medicine. “When we doctors retire, who will fill our shoes?” Wen said. He called greater public education to improve public understanding of the problems faced by the medical profession. “Patients see themselves as customers and as long as they spend money here they should be guaranteed a cure. But, medicine doesn't work that way. It's not grocery shopping,” Wen said. Patients needed to adjust their expectations and be realistic about treatments. “Medicine is limited and but we do what we can to help,” he said. “You can't blame doctors and attack us if you are not cured. We feel just as bad.” The issue of hospital violence now has the ear of top level officials, with Premier Li Keqiang requesting all government departments to help tackle the problem. Vice-Premier Liu Yandong, who is in charge of health, also vowed to protect doctors at the workplace and ordered a one-year crackdown on hospital violence. Doctors say what is even more urgent was immediate, guaranteed protection from police. Ling Feng, the director of neurosurgery at Beijing's Xuanwu Hospital and a deputy to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference deputy, joined 30 deputies of its medical panel to submit an emergency proposal calling for hospitals to be declared “public venues” that came under police control. Hospitals are not regarded as such, and police usually demand that hospitals settle disputes with patients themselves. Troublemakers are only punished if they injure or kill someone. It is common to see banners, wreaths – and even bodies – at protests staged at hospitals. ^ top ^



Beijing cuts number of new cars (China Daily)
Authorities in Beijing announced on Thursday that the city will further reduce the number of new car plates available to buyers and encourage the use of new-energy vehicles in the next four years in a move to reduce traffic gridlock and ease air pollution. From 2014 through 2017, the number of new cars available to registered drivers in the capital, which is currently handled through the city's monthly plate lottery, will be reduced from 240,000 a year to 150,000, according to a new regulation released by 14 municipal authorities on Thursday. The number of applicants in the latest lottery, in November, was more than 1.74 million. According to the capital's license plate lottery regulation, only drivers who are permanent residents of Beijing or immigrants who have paid taxes in the capital for more than five years are qualified to apply. The new policy will ensure that the capital will add only 600,000 new cars in the next four years, including 430,000 gasoline vehicles and 170,000 new-energy vehicles. However, the number of car licenses made available for new-energy vehicles will increase in the next four years, to 20,000 in 2014, 30,000 in 2015, 60,000 in 2016, and 60,000 in 2017. Meanwhile, the number of new gasoline vehicles available will be reduced annually, from 130,000 in 2014, 120,000 in 2015, 90,000 in 2016, and 90,000 and 2017. Beijing introduced the vehicle license plate lottery system in 2011 to curb the growth rate of new automobiles. Under the system, potential car buyers have to participate in a lottery each month for a purchase permit. Those who don't win have to re-enter in subsequent rounds. Rong Jun, a senior official with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, said the authority decided to increase the number of new-energy vehicles on an annual basis as it will take time to put in place the facilities such as charging stations that can support new-energy vehicles. The capital will increase the number of charging stations available to plug in electric vehicles and will build the stations inside new residential communities to boost the vehicles' popularity. In September, the municipal government set a target of a total 6 million vehicles by 2017 in order to ease air pollution. Car emissions have been identified as a major source of air pollution in the capital. The 90,000 fewer new vehicles annually starting next year is expected to help lower pollutants by 1,500 metric tons a year, according to Li Kunsheng, head of the vehicle emission management division with the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. "As the city has no additional capacity to absorb further pollution, any variant that could aggravate air pollution should be strictly controlled," he said. Lottery policy changes - Meanwhile, the city will adjust the license plate lottery system effective next year to give lottery applicants who have been applying for license plates for longer periods better odds of winning. Also as of next year, the license plate lottery system will take place every other month rather than monthly. According to the new regulation, applicants who have taken part in 24 or fewer rounds of the lottery will be given the lowest chance of success. The total number of such applicants is estimated to be more than 1.45 million. Those who have participated in 25 to 36 rounds will be given twice the odds of success, and those who have taken part in 37 to 48 rounds will have triple the chances of winning. The odds will continue to improve the longer the buyer goes without winning. ^ top ^



Xinjiang campuses to oppose terrorism (Global Times)
University authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have vowed to oppose the threat of terrorism on campuses and emphasized the importance of political and ideological education, local media reported Tuesday. "Students who are not politically qualified won't be allowed to graduate," Xu Yuanzhi, Party secretary with Kashi Normal University in Kashi, told Xinjiang Daily, adding that teachers could also be affected, for example by being demoted. Xu said that it's more important for students to be politically qualified because of the prefecture's geographical position. The principals and the Party secretaries in local universities agreed that the education system is one of the main battlefields against separatism, so being politically qualified is the prime request. University students should safeguard ethnic unity and oppose separatism and that is the most important task of Xinjiang universities, said Li Zhongyao, Party secretary of Xinjiang University. The remarks were made at a recent meeting to promote the mass line campaign among local university principals and Party secretaries. Willi Barati, president of Xinjiang Normal University in Urumqi, said that if students are found to be wearing religious clothing should be dealt with in a timely manner, according to the report. The three forces, terrorism, separatism and extremism, are infiltrating extremist religious thoughts to universities, said Tashpolat Tiyip, the president of Xinjiang University, adding that their proponents' strategic step will be to gather strength to fight against China to win over the next generation. Zhang Yuxia, associate professor of Chinese language and culture at Xinjiang University, also in Urumqi, told the Global Times Tuesday that after the riots in the city in July 2009 when 197 people died and more than 1,600 people were injured, students have more negative emotions. This requires teachers to pay more attention to students in Xinjiang, such as keeping a record of their whereabouts during holidays, said Zhang. "How to educate students to be politically qualified is important, because otherwise students will get bored of this. Students of Han people will think they are always politically qualified without being educated, and those of Uyghur ethnicity will think the political education is targeted at them," Zhang said.The situation in Kashi prefecture is more complicated and thus college leaders and teachers have more pressure, which explains why there are stricter rules in place, said Zhang. ^ top ^



Poll reform consultation won't include public nomination: source (SCMP)
Issues such as the rules for shortlisting candidates and the number of contestants to be allowed in the 2017 chief executive poll will be key topics in the upcoming political reform consultation. But the consultation document on arrangements for the next chief executive and Legislative Council polls - due to be released by the end of next month - will not explicitly mention public nomination. A reliable source familiar with the matter said this yesterday amid debate on whether the idea of public nomination - in which all voters can nominate chief executive candidates - had been vetoed by Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei during his visit to Hong Kong last week. Responding to Li's warning the city cannot elect a chief executive who would confront Beijing, the source added, without giving names, that not all pan-democrats were seen as confrontational towards Beijing - only those who repudiated the mainland's constitution and the Basic Law or who colluded with foreign forces. While public nomination - many pan-democrats' "bottom-line" demand - won't be mentioned, the source said ways of nominating candidates "would be one of the major issues on which the government would canvass the public's views". "The consultation paper may cite views expressed recently that a candidate can be nominated by a certain number of eligible voters," he said. Li said last week that the Basic Law put the right to choose candidates in the hands of a nominating committee - seemingly dashing pan-democrats' hopes that public nomination would be allowed for the 2017 poll. But the source cited Li's remarks that the committee's choices in nominating candidates would be affected by voters' preferences. Without naming names, Li acknowledged views in the community that nominating procedures could cover two stages - recommendation of candidates, followed by the selection of a certain number from the list. Albert Chen Hung-yee, a University of Hong Kong law professor who is on the Basic Law Committee, suggested in September the public be allowed to recommend candidates for the nominating committee to consider. "Professor Chen's proposal appears to be one of the realistic options for nominating chief executive candidates," the source said. "Issues like how the nominating committee comes up with candidates and the number of contestants will have a bearing on whether a pan-democrat can enter the race." Li said during his visit that there would be a limit on the number of candidates allowed to run in the chief executive race. The source said the consultation would also study whether and how a by-election should be held if Beijing vetoes the newly elected chief executive. Meanwhile, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, who met Li last week, said yesterday any public nomination discussion would have to consider if it was in line with the Basic Law. Pan-democrats are considering a fallback position should public nomination be rejected. "Some are ready to accept a proposal without public nomination as long as there is no screening mechanism [for candidates]," a source in the camp said. "But it is impossible for the Alliance for True Democracy to come up with any plans without this element at the moment as some pan-democrats still strongly insist on it. " ^ top ^

Assault conviction for whistling at police 'appalling and unacceptable,' writes HKU law lecturer (SCMP)
The assault conviction of a man for whistling loudly at police officers was wrong and should be corrected in the top court, a senior law lecturer argues in a soon-to-be-published article. The conviction of construction worker Ki Chun-kei deviated from the common-sense understanding of a centuries-old piece of law, Eric Cheung Tat-ming says in the article, to be published in Hong Kong Lawyer, the official monthly journal of the Law Society of Hong Kong. “It is true that Ki's conduct... is appalling and unacceptable,” said Cheung, a principal law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong. “But it does not warrant that the courts should distort the long established common law principles on battery in order to punish him or to deter others.” Ki was sentenced to six-weeks' jail by Eastern Court magistrate Ho Wai-yang after the court heard that his whistling caused ringing in the ears of two auxiliary police officers, while a third was forced to take an immediate step back to avoid the noise. The decision was upheld on appeal by Mr Justice Barnabas Fung Wah in the High Court. Cheung, also a member of the Independent Police Complaints Council, says the principles were distorted in the sense that Ki used no “tangible substance” to effect a physical contact or touching, the very elements for the law on battery. In short, he produced the noise with his mouth and communicated it with nothing. “As far as [our] research can ascertain, all decided cases in the common law jurisdictions on indirect physical contact involved actual bodily contact with something which is tangible with physical presence, such as liquid, tools and other instruments,” Cheung says in the article, co-written with pupil barrister Jacqueline Law and student Sackville Leung. “The law of battery is... directed to protect the autonomy of one's body, but not one's feelings, perception or senses,” he writes, warning of unintended legal consequences from the judgment..“As soon as conduct such as whistling, shouting and screaming without assistance of any medium or tool are considered capable of constituting a battery, the law on battery becomes uncertain and the genie is out of the bottle.” Ki could have been found guilty of obstructing the police officers in the due execution of their duties, Cheung says. Any appeal to the Court of Final Appeal would require Ki to take the initiative, the article says. Pauline Leung Po-lam, who represented Ki in the magistrate's could, said she had had no further instructions from him. She did not represent him in the appeal in which he did not have a lawyer. ^ top ^

85 people injured in Hong Kong high-speed ferry crash (SCMP)
Eighty-five people were injured when a Macau-bound jetfoil carrying more than 110 passengers and crew hit an unknown object off Hei Ling Chau early on Friday morning. At 9am, a government spokesman said three men were in a serious condition and 46 others – 25 men and 21 men – were in a stable condition in six public hospitals. The 27metre-long double-deck jetfoil, Madeira, was towed to the Hong Kong and Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan after the incident happened east of Hei Ling Chau at 1.20am. It was carrying 105 passengers and 10 crew members, and departed from Hong Kong at 1am heading for Macau. More than 20 ambulances were deployed to pick up the injured and send them to Queen Mary Hospital, Ruttonjee Hospital and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital on Hong Kong Island and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Caritas Medical Centre and Kwong Wah Hospital in Kowloon. Fifteen passengers, including 11 men and four women, were admitted to Queen Mary Hospital. Of them, eight have been discharged, and seven are still staying in the hospital. A Hospital Authority spokeswoman said that some victims admitted to Queen Mary Hospital suffered from multiple injuries, and some were in serious condition. A fire officer said no apparent damage was found on the vessel. Three fireboats mounted a search at the scene but failed to find any object that could have been hit by the jetfoil. “The object involved might have been broken into pieces and sunken or drifted away,” one fire officer said. The Marine Department said the incident did not affect the sea traffic and they were investigating the cause of the incident. In a statement released by Turbojet on Friday morning, the operator said: "Jetfoil “Madeira” departing Hong Kong for Macau at 1:00am collided with an unidentifiable object near Hei Ling Chau at about 1:15am. "The vessel has been escorted back to Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal. Preliminary check revealed no significant damage on the vessel body. The company will cooperate closely with the authority to investigate the cause of the incident." It comes just a month after Hong Kong marked the one year anniversary of a sea collision which claimed 39 lives, the city's worst maritime disaster for over 40 years. Friday's accident happened at around 1:20 am (1720 GMT) near one of Hong Kong's small outlying islands Hei Ling Chau, the spokesman said. There were 105 passengers and 10 crew members aboard, with no reports that anybody was missing, he added.“There was suddenly a loud bang. The ferry was thrown upwards. Then many passengers were thrown out from their seats,” one passenger, named as Mr Wong, was quoted as saying by Hong Kong's Apple Daily news website. After the accident the ferry sailed back to Hong Kong Island's downtown Sheung Wan terminal where a dozen of ambulances were waiting to tend to the injured, he said. RTHK news website showed a passenger on a stretcher surrounded by emergency staff. A government spokesman said there were no further details on passengers' injuries. Local television footage appeared to show the ferry being towed back to the terminal. “We only know that it sailed back but how it did so we are not sure,” a government spokesman said. The safety of Hong Kong's waters was called into question after the fatal October 1, 2012 crash which saw the Lamma IV launch -- carrying more than 120 people -- collide with the high-speed Sea Smooth ferry near Lamma Island. The launch was carrying employees of the Hong Kong Electric utility and their family members and friends to watch a fireworks display to celebrate China's national day. A subsequent inquiry found a “litany of errors” contributed to the accident. It described how the bow of the Sea Smooth crashed into the main passenger cabin on the Lamma IV, crushing people as water rushed in. The launch partially sank within two minutes. The two captains have each been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and are awaiting trial. The tragedy shocked the Asian financial hub, one of the world's busiest ports, which prides itself on its good safety record.The marine department has tightened inspections to ensure boats meet safety requirements including adequate lifejackets and watertight fittings. ^ top ^



Protesters give Beijing envoy Chen Deming taste of Taiwanese democracy (SCMP)
Beijing's top negotiator with Taipei got a taste of Taiwanese-style democracy yesterday as he began his first official trip to the island. Several small groups of protesters tried to approach Chen Deming, president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, to voice their complaints over Taiwan's growing ties with the mainland. Chen's visit came three days after Beijing inflamed territorial tensions by creating an air defence zone in the East China Sea that overlaps a similar Taiwanese zone and includes the Diaoyu Islands, which are claimed by Beijing, Taipei and Tokyo. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party had called on the island's president, Ma Ying-jeou, to cancel Chen's visit to show Taipei's displeasure over the move. Although cross-strait relations have warmed in recent years, Beijing still sees Taiwan as a rogue province to be recovered, by force if necessary. "We are extremely disappointed with what the Ma government has done - an extremely weak statement that could in no way uphold our sovereignty," said Joseph Wu, director of the DPP's policy committee. The government on Saturday reiterated the island's sovereignty claims, but called for peaceful negotiations to resolve the territorial disputes. Other DPP legislators demanded that Ma's government lodge a strong protest over the air defence zone during a meeting between Chen and his local counterpart, Lin Join-sane, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation. A dozen activists tried to force their way into the foundation's building during the meeting to voice their displeasure over a services trade pact, one of 19 economic and co-operation deals signed by the two sides since 2008. They shouted, "Get out of Taiwan, Chen Deming!" and waved banners reading, "No sell-out of Taiwan to China!"
Some activists and independence supporters believe Chen had come to Taipei to pressure Ma to secure the approval of the pact in the legislature. Chen, who took over as Beijing's cross-strait negotiator in April, denied his visit was intended to shore up support within Ma's government for the pact. "I am here for economic and trade fact-finding," he told reporters as his 17-member delegation arrived at Taoyuan international airport. "After 12 years, once again I am able to see Taiwan and I am going to feel the heartbeat of Taiwan in the next few days and enjoy [my] wonderful [stay] in Taiwan." His eight-day trip will take him to pilot economic zones and other business projects in nine cities. Large numbers of police were mobilised to keep protesters from approaching Chen while he was at the airport and visited Taoyuan Aerotropolis and Taipei Harbour in the afternoon. Members of the pro-independence and some civic groups have vowed to "shadow" Chen everywhere to show their unhappiness with the pact and Beijing's dealings with Taipei. When told there would be more protests against him during his trip, Chen said he was not worried. "Hurling shoes [at me]? I hope not, but I will be careful," Chen said. ^ top ^

Mainland tells DPP to drop 'Taiwan independence' (Global Times)
Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should drop its "Taiwan independence" stance before trying to contact the mainland, a Chinese mainland spokeswoman said Wednesday. The DPP's "Taiwan independence" stance and the "one country on each side" idea are totally unacceptable to the mainland, Fan Liqing, spokeswoman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, told a press conference. Fan was responding to a question about a media report that said the DPP was possibly seeking a political conversation with the mainland based on a "constitutionalism consensus." The "Taiwan independence" stance is the fundamental obstacle that hinders communication. However, the DPP fails to recognize this problem, Fan said. She told the DPP to have a clear understanding of the facts and to be determined to abandon its unrealistic "Taiwan independence" stance. Fan also criticized doubts by some people in Taiwan about the island's status, as stated in the Cairo Declaration. She said the declaration is an important international document as a result of the world's anti-fascist war and that any attempt to justify the "Taiwan independence" stance will be defied by all people across China, including compatriots in Taiwan. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Cairo Declaration. The declaration in 1943 stated that all the territories Japan had stolen from the Chinese, including Taiwan, should be restored to China. The Potsdam Proclamation in 1945 reaffirmed that the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out. ^ top ^



Corporate governance pivotal part of State-owned enterprise reforms (Global Times)
China is changing the governance of State-owned enterprises (SOEs). The ruling Communist Party of China has pledged to separate government from the market, and has announced for the first time that the market should play a "decisive" role in the economy. The pledge was vowed at the recently closed Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which maps out the country's direction for the next decade. China's SOE system needs comprehensive reform. Various options have been debated, such as market access. One option, essential to the reform but missed in the debate, is reducing the concentrated power held by SOEs. As early as 1993, China set the reform goal for SOEs as the "separation of government and enterprises." To achieve the goal, China created the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) in 2003. SASAC acts as the shareholder of SOEs while shepherding the reform across industrial sectors. [...] The new Chinese leadership has called for further reform in all sectors including SOEs. A clear step, which is already underway, is the establishment of boards of directors in all central SOEs. Central SOEs are those directly supervised by SASAC at the state level, compared with local SOEs supervised by SASAC at the provincial level. Central SOEs are considered a pillar of the Chinese economy. The boards of directors are expected to replace the old hierarchy in corporate decision-making. Once that goal is met, the power to determine managerial personnel and compensation can be transferred from SASAC to the boards. Compared with SASAC, corporate boards are in a better position to choose management. They are also willing to protect minority shareholders, which is of particular concern, as even more SOEs will be opened up to private and foreign investors following the plenum's decision. So far, 52 out of 113 central SOEs have already established boards of directors. [...] China's SOE reform has been pragmatic, rather than radically privatizing overnight. The changes in SOE corporate governance will reduce government intervention in the daily management of SOEs. SASAC is expected to formulate a comprehensive SOE reform plan, following the conclusion of the plenum. The plan should focus on improving SOE corporate governance, as this is the key to separating government from enterprises. ^ top ^

Banks in 17 cities stop housing loans: report (Global Times)
Housing loans have been suspended in some banks in 17 of 32 major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Beijing-based International Finance News (IFN) reported Monday citing property statistics. Housing loans are either being postponed or stopped in these cities mainly because small and medium-sized banks have issued too much loans in the first half of the year and thus have little left for the second half of the year, according to the report. Household buyers who apply for loans now can only get the money two months later, according to Homelink, a real estate brokerage. An expert with, an online financing service provider, said that banks' lack of money is just one of the reasons. More importantly, banks are unwilling to issue loans considering potential risks if home prices drop, according to the expert who did not give his name. "Besides having little money left, banks are reluctant to issue loans since currently house prices are too high, which pose great risks for them if home buyers default on mortgages, and once house prices begin to decrease," Yin told the Global Times Monday. The need for loans from private home buyers has been increasing this year. Statistics for the third quarter from the central bank shows that outstanding property loans from main financial organizations, including foreign ones, reached 14.17 trillion yuan ($2.4 trillion) by the end of September, with year-on-year growth of 19 percent. The suspension of mortgages has spread from first-tier cities to second- and third-tier cities, and even loans for customers' first houses have also been suspended, according to an investigation on household loaning conditions of nearly 500 banks in 32 key cities nationwide, conducted jointly by Z-Park Association for Internet Finance and, according to the International Finance News report. Banks denied having stopped loans, but acknowledged that issuing loans has become slower, according to the report. "Our bank never stops issuing loans, and home buyers can apply as usual," a staff member with a Beijing branch of China Construction Bank was quoted as saying by IFN Monday, noting that it's routine that applying for loans is easier in the first half of the year than in the second half. It's not surprising that banks have denied stopping issuing loans because it's against the government's policy of encouraging banks to issue loans to home buyers, especially those purchasing their first home, Yin noted. ^ top ^

Investment rules eased under reform (China Daily)
The central government is relaxing its grip on the level of enterprise investment that requires its approval, with as much as 60 percent no longer needing central authorization, according to an official. The move comes 10 days after the release of a historic reform document charting China's course for the next decade. The National Development and Reform Commission has vowed to further loosen its control on investment projects and to minimize the number of areas in which the government sets prices. At a news conference on Monday, Lian Weiliang, vice-minister of the commission, said a new version of the directory of investment projects requiring government approval will be released very soon. This will further reduce the range of corporate investment needing review and approval from the commission and other government agencies. Investment projects, except for those concerning national security, eco-safety, exploitation of strategic resources, or of vital public interest, will be determined by enterprises in accordance with the law and without the need for government approval, according to the reform blueprint issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Nov 15. Lian said more than one-third of the reform issues detailed in the package cover the economic system, meaning that the commission faces a huge responsibility and arduous task. The commission has broad administrative and planning control over the economy. "We have abolished or transferred 44 items requiring administrative approval to local governments this year, and we are on the way to phasing out another batch of items," Lian said. He said that for the shrinking number of projects and items that still require central government approval, the commission is working out a reviewing system that will make the procedure highly efficient. The measures include carrying out procedures online and setting a time limit for their completion, Lian said. The commission is drafting the outlines of economic system reform in 2014, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Steel firms to relocate capacity abroad (Global Times)
In a move designed to combat overcapacity in the steel sector, China will relocate some factories and encourage more companies to invest in overseas projects, said an official with the country's top planning agency. Li Zhongjuan, an inspector of industrial planning for the National Development and Reform Commission, said the country will continue to optimize the steel sector through industrial transfers and directing capacity to areas with comparative advantages. In the meantime, the NDRC will ratchet back new projects and take on existing outdated production through legal and market-oriented means, Li said at a recent conference of the China Iron and Steel Association. She said authorities will create policies to boost domestic demand for high-end steel products and encourage steel companies to invest in overseas projects. Miao Zhimin, deputy director of the raw materials department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, also said at the conference that to support steel companies in their "going-out" strategy will be a key task for the MIIT. "Overcapacity is now a universal phenomenon in the Chinese economy; some sectors are facing severe problems in waste and inefficient allocation of resources, which hinders industrial upgrading," she said. Outdated capacity will face punitively high rates for electricity and water, Li said. A database will be established to provide early warnings of steel-making overcapacity. In a guideline published in mid-October by the State Council-China's cabinet, six provinces, including Hebei and Shandong, were targeted for the industrial restructuring of the steel sector. Together, they were asked to cut 80 million tons of steel production over the next five years. Wang Guoqing, an analyst of iron ore futures with Beijing-based Lange Steel, said because of the surplus in steel production and low domestic prices, additional steel-making capacity may not be welcomed in other provinces either, so foreign countries will be a major direction for moving the capacity. The price of steel is now on par with that of 20 years ago, while production costs have surged by five to six times, according to Liu Zhenjiang, vice-chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association. "But China will not simply transfer its outdated capacity to other less-developed countries," Wang said, explaining that direct investment by companies will be a major part of such capacity relocation. And it mainly will be undertaken by companies, because government-backed projects were shown to be less welcome and face more complex approval processes. Moving more steel-making capacity overseas also will benefit domestic steel makers, Wang said. "China is now a net steel exporter, but Chinese products always face trade protectionism because of low production costs. "To move both production and sales to overseas market will certainly lessen such trade frictions," Wang said.Liu Yong, a researcher with the National Development Research Center, said project redundancy in different provinces is still an urgent issue. China needs an overall plan for the regional division of production. ^ top ^

Nation tipped to be largest oil importer (China Daily)
China is expected to overtake the United States to become the world's largest oil importer in the 2020s as emerging economies, instead of developed ones, will claim most of the world's energy supplies, a report says. China will be the main contributor to the increase in global energy use before 2020, and after then will be replaced by India as the world's biggest driving force for energy demand, the document says. The Paris-based International Energy Agency report was released in Beijing on Wednesday. China's crude oil imports for 2013 are estimated at 289 million metric tons, up 7.3 percent year-on-year, according to the China National Petroleum Corp Economics and Technology Research Institute in Beijing. Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the IEA, said the global energy industry is developing to become a more efficient and low-carbon industry. This is taking place as progress in technology along with high prices are helping to open up new resources, she said. However, this does not mean the world is on the verge of an era of oil abundance, Van der Hoeven added. At an international energy forum in Beijing, where the IEA report was released, Li Junfeng, head of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, said that while the US, Europe, South America and Africa can achieve energy independence, only Asia will have difficulty in doing so, for a prolonged period. The IEA report highlights the importance of energy efficiency, saying that two-thirds of the economic potential for energy efficiency is set to remain untapped by 2035. Han Wenke, director of the Energy Research Institute at the National Development and Reform Commission, said China is "suffering" from overcapacity reduction, which is a "painful" process, but will raise its energy efficiency. "When China determines to do something, it will keep its word and do it fast," he said. The report said China will replace the US to become the world's largest oil consumer in 2030. Meanwhile, oil consumption in the Middle East will surpass that of the European Union.[...]By 2035, oil demand for transportation will have increased by 25 percent to 59 million barrels a day, with one-third of the consumption stemming from freight handling in Asia. China, together with the Middle East and North America, will reach a total oil consumption of 14 million barrels a day in the petrochemical sector. Chinese data show that the country depends on imports for about 59 percent of its crude oil demand. A report by global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie in August said that China will surpass the US to become the biggest crude oil importer by 2017. It said China will spend $500 billion a year on crude imports by 2020.[...]Industry in China pays almost double that in the US for electricity. "The availability and affordability of energy is a critical element of economic well-being and competitiveness," the report states. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

US envoy to North Korea warns tighter sanctions may be needed to force new nuclear talks (SCMP)
Washington's envoy to North Korea yesterday hinted at more sanctions against Pyongyang over its atomic weapons programme in the wake of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers. Glyn Davies, the US special representative for North Korea policy, also said he hoped that quickening diplomacy examining when to resume stalled six-party talks would bear fruit. The talks are designed to push the reclusive state to abandon its nuclear ambitions, but have been in limbo since December 2008. "Pyongyang's attempts to engage in dialogue while keeping its programme running are completely unacceptable," Davies said after a meeting with his counterparts in Tokyo. "If we do not see signs of the North Koreans' sincerity, if they do not act to demonstrate that they understand they must fulfil their obligations and give up their nuclear weapons, then there is more pressure that will be brought to bear on them," he said. North Korea is currently pushing for a resumption of the six-party talks, but the US says it must first demonstrate a commitment to denuclearisation. US President Barack Obama's administration has repeatedly voiced frustration over North Korea and analysts have also expressed doubts over the effectiveness of the six-party framework, which critics say allows Pyongyang to make promises it feels free to renege on at a later time. [...] Davies said the United States was in close consultation with China to examine the right "threshold" to allow the resumption of six-party talks, which group the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. "We believe sanctions and pressure are key in sharpening choices that Pyongyang faces," he said. "Given North Korea's continued flouting of its international obligations and international law, given its testing of nuclear devices, given its repeated threats of nuclear attack, its elevation of its nuclear weapons programmes and pursuit to its highest national priority, we will continue to keep pressure on North Korea, to keep the screws to North Korea," he said. If North Korea fails to comply with the demands of the international community, "we will have to amp up that pressure in order to continue to try to bring home to them that this is a mistake," Davies said. "There is still a room for diplomacy," he added. "That's why the pace of diplomacy has increased to see if we can agree on an appropriate threshold for six-party talks. "North Korea must abandon its nuclear weapons and agree to begin that process. We are looking for concrete indications from Pyongyang of its commitment to do that," Davies said. ^ top ^



Open government partnership action plan to commence in June (Montsame)
The cabinet meeting on Saturday assigned a head of the cabinet Secretariat Ch.Saikhanbileg to supervise implementation activities of the Open government partnership action plan. Within three key priorities of improving public service, increasing transparency of public institutions, and enhancing justice and reducing corruption, some thirty activities have been planned for the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan of Mongolia. The plan that includes some projects aiming at open contracting such as "Transparent Account" and "Transparent Tender" will commence next June. The Government of Mongolia, who joined the Open Government Partnership on this October 12, will deliver a report on implementation process of the national action plan to the International Open Government Partnership every two years. The action plan will be implemented under a partnership of the Government, private sector and civil society. ^ top ^

First year anniversary of OSCE membership (Montsame)
Mongolia marked its first year anniversary of joining the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe /OSCE/ on November 21. At a meeting of the Permanent Council of the OSCE, the Permanent Representative of Mongolia to OSCE G.Batjargal addressed the meeting. He was followed by Permanent Representatives of Canada, the European Union and the USA who highly spoke Mongolia's contribution to the ideas of the organization, one of examples of which became the presidential elections. They stated again that will consider Mongolia's request on the establishment of OSCE Representative Office in the UB city in near future. The OSCE has a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses politics, military, economic and environmental and human aspects. It comprises 57 participating States that span the globe, encompassing three continents--North America, Europe and Asia--and more than a billion people. Mongolia is the 57th participant country of the OSCE. ^ top ^

Trust fund of World Bank will launch project here (Montsame)
The Minister of Economic Development of Mongolia N.Batbayar MP Thursday inked the "Marketing project of Agriculture and Cattle breeding" agreement. The project, funded by 11 million USD in a form of non-refundable financial aid from the Trust fund of the World Bank (WB), will be launched at the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture. It aims to invest in production and industry based on cattle husbandry of 15 soums of Arkhangai, Bayankhongor, Gobi-Altai, Zavkhan and Khovsgol aimags of Mongolia, to increase production type, and to provide food security and livelihood of the localities' population by a way of growing supply to the market. This project will also work in frames of several main subjects such as connecting herders to the market, increasing a productivity of livestock, improving a quality of products of animal origin. ^ 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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