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
  8-14.2.2014, No. 511  
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DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China, Africa arrest cross-border ivory smuggler (Xinhua)
A suspected Chinese ivory smuggler had been apprehended in Kenya after coordinated efforts between the two countries, China's wildlife authorities said on Monday. The suspect, surnamed Xue, was caught in Nairobi on Jan. 17 by Kenyan authorities, and extradited to China the next day, said the China Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office. It is the first time China has arrested a wildlife crime suspect overseas. Xue is said to have led an ivory trafficking group in Kenya for a long time, and hired couriers to smuggle ivory into China. The rest two suspects of the group, surnamed Zheng and Li, were netted on Jan. 16 and 17 when they were entering China. So far, all the suspects in the group have been caught. The arrests were part of the operation, dubbed Cobra II, launched by China as well as several countries in Asia, Africa and north America to crack down on wildlife crimes from the end of 2013 to the beginning of 2014. IVORY "MULE" TELLS TALE - A luggage of a passenger who was trying to enter China attracted attention of the customs staff at the Taoxian airport in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province in northeast China, on Nov. 27, 2013. X-ray scanner showed the goods in the luggage were almost the same: small ball-shaped things. The passenger, also surnamed Zheng, opened the luggage at the request of the customs staff. Inside the luggage were several layers of well-sealed opaque bags. On the bags were signs claiming there were nuts inside. Zheng was very calm and cooperative, saying he was entrusted to get the nuts for kids and he had nothing to declare. He tore open a bag for the customs staff to taste and tried to give two bags to them. His composure, however, did not get by. Customs staff took a bag from the bottom layer, and it was remarkably of different weight with those on the upper layers. Based on their experiences, they doubted Zheng was smuggling ivory products. Further investigation proved this, 1,226 ivory beads with a diameter of 1.8 to 2 centimeters totaling 8.77 kilograms were found in the luggage. Further investigation followed and tracked Xue to Kenya. Xue hid in Kenya and remotely controlled mules to smuggle ivory into China. Xue has allegedly built a crime ring on purchase, transport and sales. CROSS-BORDER CHASE - Customs police in Shenyang found Xue and Zheng have been buying ivory in Kenya illegally and paying mules for 5,000 to 10,000 yuan (1,639 U.S. dollars) for each smuggling. Xue's girlfriend, surnamed Li, is said to have helped with customs clearance. The customs police also found clues that Xue and Zheng were hiding in Kenya, and they will have to find ways to seize them. Fighting illegal trade of wildlife usually demands cooperation between various countries and departments, but it's very difficult for cross-border arrests as such coordination between countries and departments is far from being fully established, said Meng Xianlin, deputy director of the China Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office. China's General Customs Administration and the Ministry of Public Security sent a team to Kenya to work with local police to capture Xue. Though suspects have been arrested, the case is still under investigation. Kenya is a major source of illicit ivory, and China is one of the biggest destinations. "The unprecedented intercontinental cooperation will deter global ivory trafficking, and demonstrates China's determination to deal with wildlife crime," said Zhou Yafei, a senior figure at the endangered species office. ^ top ^

Spanish judge orders arrest of China's former president Jiang Zemin (SCMP)
A Spanish judge on Monday sought international arrest warrants for former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and four other top Chinese officials as part of a probe into alleged genocide in Tibet. High Court Judge Ismael Moreno ordered Interpol to issue the arrest warrants for the five for genocide, torture and crimes against humanity as part of a case brought against them in Spain by human rights groups. “Jiang exercised supervisory authority over the people who directly committed abuses, which makes him responsible for acts of torture and other major abuses of human rights perpetrated by his subordinates against the people of Tibet,” Moreno wrote in his ruling. “He promoted and actively implemented policies whose objective was to populate the Autonomous Region of Tibet with a majority from the Han ethnic group, detain thousands of Tibetans during lengthy periods, torture the detained and submit them to other illegal abuses.” In addition to Jiang, the judge ordered the arrest of former prime minister Li Peng; former security and police chief Qiao Shi; Chen Kuiyan, a former Communist Party official in Tibet; and Peng Pelyun, a former family planning minister. The High Court in November said it had accepted arguments from Spanish pro-Tibet human rights groups that international reports indicate that the five men may have had a role in human rights abuses and should be questioned. The case against the Chinese officials was brought by the rights groups under Spain's recognition of “universal jurisdiction”, a doctrine that allows judges to try certain cases of human rights abuses committed in other countries. The doctrine allowed Spain's former judge Baltasar Garzon to try to arrest and try the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. While very few investigations opened under the doctrine have seen people brought to trial in Spain, investigations have irked some countries. Last month lawmakers from Spain's ruling Popular Party tabled a bill to limit the Spanish courts' use of “universal jurisdiction”. The practice was reformed in 2009 to restrict such cases principally to ones involving Spanish victims or suspects present in Spain. That change came after a case brought against Israel over bombings in Gaza in 2002, a lawsuit which raised diplomatic tensions. ^ top ^

China, Russia snub UN Security Council talks on Syrian aid (SCMP)
Russia and China on Monday rebuffed the United States, France, Britain and other states by failing to attend negotiations on a draft UN Security Council resolution to boost humanitarian aid access in Syria, diplomats said. Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan on Thursday presented their draft to the five veto-wielding council powers and were due to meet with them on Monday, but Chinese ambassador Liu Jieyi and Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, did not attend. With Beijing's support, Russia has shielded Syria on the UN Security Council during the country's three-year-long civil war. The pair have vetoed three resolutions condemning the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and threatening it with possible sanctions. The latest version of the draft aid text puts most of the blame for the humanitarian crisis on the Syrian government, and expresses an intent to impose non-military sanctions on individuals and entities obstructing humanitarian aid if certain demands in the resolution are not met within 15 days of its adoption. A senior Chinese diplomat said he was unaware of a meeting on the draft resolution. Churkin, meanwhile, was more direct, saying that a meeting had not been necessary because the text was “beyond redemption”. He said that Russia would veto the Western- and Arab-backed draft resolution if it was put to a vote: “This text is not going to be adopted, let me tell you.” He suggested the move was designed to “whip up political tensions around Syria and this is not what we need now, especially in the context of the Geneva 2 negotiations and also for the purpose for the practical needs of the humanitarians.” A second round of Syria peace talks – known as the Geneva II talks – got off to a shaky start on Monday, with the two sides complaining about violations of a local ceasefire and an Islamist offensive respectively in separate meetings with the international mediator. Diplomats said the draft resolution on aid access was likely to be circulated among the remaining state on the 15-member council early on Tuesday and then negotiations would be held by the body by the afternoon. “We're still hoping [Russia and China] will engage,” one Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said earlier. Churkin said Russia was discussing what action the Security Council could take instead to try to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria. While he did not rule out a future need for a resolution, he said Moscow did not believe such a move was necessary yet. “If it's something which is useful, which will not be regarded by people as simply provocative but is something which is really aimed at improving the humanitarian situation, then I think it cannot be ruled out,” he said. The United Nations says some 9.3 million Syrians – nearly half the country's population – need help, and UN aid chief Valerie Amos has repeatedly expressed frustration that violence and red tape are slowing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to a trickle. Amos will brief the Security Council on Thursday on the difficulties of getting access to Syria's neediest people. Diplomats said the draft was unlikely to go to a vote before then. Western members of the Security Council have been considering a resolution on aid for almost a year. After months of talks, the council eventually adopted a non-binding statement on October 2 urging more access to aid. But that statement produced only a little administrative progress, such as visas for aid workers and clearance for convoys. No action has been taken on big issues such as the demilitarisation of schools and hospitals and access to besieged and hard-to-reach communities. Amos welcomed a three-day extension of the initial three-day “humanitarian pause” in Homs. She said local authorities and representatives of all sides, working “in extremely dangerous circumstances”, have evacuated more than 800 people from Old Homs and brought food and medical supplies to people who have had little aid for nearly two years. But Amos said “it is absolutely unacceptable” that UN and Syrian Red Crescent aid workers were targeted, and that 11 people lost their lives needlessly because the parties did not maintain their ceasefire during the initial pause. The draft resolution expresses “outrage at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and the death of over 136,000 people in Syria, including more than 11,000 children”. The UN says that well over 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that more than 136,000 have been killed since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011. ^ top ^

Canada scraps millionaire visa scheme, 'dumps 46,000 Chinese applications' (SCMP)
Canada's government has announced that it is scrapping its controversial investor visa scheme, which has allowed waves of rich Hongkongers and mainland Chinese to immigrate since 1986. The surprise announcement was made in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget, which was delivered to parliament in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon local time. Tens of thousands of Chinese millionaires in the queue will reportedly have their applications scrapped and their application fees returned. The decision came less than a week after the South China Morning Post published a series of investigative reports into the controversial 28-year-old scheme. The Post revealed how the scheme spun out of control when Canada's Hong Kong consulate was overwhelmed by a massive influx of applications from mainland millionaires. Applications to the scheme were frozen in 2012 as a result, as immigration staff struggled to clear the backlog. “In recent years, significant progress has been made to better align the immigration system with Canada's economic needs. The current immigrant investor program stands out as an exception to this success,” Flaherty's budget papers said. “For decades, it has significantly undervalued Canadian permanent residence, providing a pathway to Canadian citizenship in exchange for a guaranteed loan that is significantly less than our peer countries require,” it read. Under the scheme, would-be migrants worth a minimum of C$1.6 million (HK$11.3 million) loaned the government C$800,000 interest free for a period of five years. The simplicity and low relative cost of the risk-free scheme made it the world's most popular wealth migration program. A parallel investor migration scheme run by Quebec still remains open. Many Chinese migrants use the alternative scheme to get into Canada via the French-speaking province and then move elsewhere in Canada. The federal government has previously pledged to crack down on what it said was a fraudulent practice. Flaherty also announced yesterday the scrapping of a smaller economic migration scheme for entrepreneurs. All told, 59,000 investor applicants and 7,000 entrepreneurs will have their applications returned, Postmedia News reported. Seventy per cent of the backlog, as of last January, was Chinese, suggesting more than 46,000 mainlanders will be affected by yesterday's announcements. The Immigrant Investor Program, which has brought about 185,000 migrants to Canada, was instrumental in facilitating an exodus of rich Hongkongers in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and in the run-up to the handover. More than 30,000 Hongkongers immigrated using the scheme, though SAR applications have dwindled since 1997. ^ top ^

U.S. committed to building relations with China to avoid confrontation: White House official (Xinhua)
The United States is committed to building a relationship with China that defies the theory that a rising power and an established one are destined for confrontation, a senior official in the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) said Tuesday. "We're aware of the historical predictions that a rising power and an established power are destined for rivalry and confrontation. We simply reject that premise," Evan Medeiros said at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a Washington-based think tank. The senior director for Asian affairs at the NSC made the remarks when answering questions by Nina Hachigian, a CAP senior fellow and editor of a new book titled "Debating China." "It's a solemn responsibility that I take very seriously to build a relationship (with China) to avoid that, while effectively protecting American security and economic interests and those of our allies and partners in the Asia Pacific," said Medeiros. China and the United States have far more to gain from working together to solve regional and global problems than from trying to do on their own or from competing against each other for power and influence in the Asia-Pacific, he added. This was one of three messages Medeiros said he wanted to relay to the Chinese leadership. He also reassured China that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are "rock solid" and its economic recovery is "in full swing." In addition, he promised to continue to invest in pushing forward President Barack Obama's Asia re-balancing strategy as the U.S. national interests are closely tied to the growth of the region. Talking about the distrust between China and the United States, Medeiros said the United States will focus on promoting clarity, consistence and predictability on how each other will pursue its own economic and security interests. On the territorial disputes in East China Sea and South China Sea, Medeiros expressed his country's concern about the current tensions in the region, calling for peaceful resolutions through dialogue, diplomacy and crisis management. "The U.S. has a strong national interest in freedom of navigation and... in peaceful resolution of the disputes," he said, adding these are principles forming the U.S. approach toward maritime territorial disputes in Asia. He warned that if a crisis erupted in Asia, it could quickly escalate and have very negative effect on peace and stability in the region. "That's why we think dialogue, diplomacy and crisis management are the ways to solve these particular issues," he said. ^ top ^

Abe has no choice but to honor past wartime apology--former Japanese PM (Xinhua)
Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, known for his apology for past wartime atrocities while in office, said Wednesday that Shinzo Abe, incumbent prime minister, has no choice but to honor the Murayama Statement. "All previous prime ministers of Japan said that they inherit the Murayama Statement. Abe also stated once that he inherits the statement. I believe there has been no falsehood in that pledge," Murayama said during his lecture to South Korean lawmakers at the parliamentary headquarters. Murayama came here Tuesday for a three-day visit to Seoul at the invitation of South Korea's minor opposition Justice Party. Murayama made an official apology via the famous "Murayama Statement" in 1995, when he was in office, for Japan's past atrocities and war of aggression during its colonial rule of Asian nations. Murayama said he was assured of Abe's succession of its past apology because he cannot deny Japan's invasion in the past, noting that anyone who denies the Murayama Statement should resign from his Cabinet post. Touching on Abe's push for collective self-defense right, Murayama said that Japan declared its abandonment of waging a war through the pacifist Constitution, which prevented the Japanese self-defense forces from falling into a war. The 91-year-old stressed that the constitution must be protected in any event, saying that there were many Japanese people who share such thought with him. He added that it will contribute to national interests of Japan, while benefiting South Korea and China, and peace and prosperity in the region. Right after arriving here on Tuesday, Murayama-old visited the parliamentary headquarters where an exhibition of artworks by former South Korean "comfort women" is being held. At the exhibition, the former Japanese prime minister met three South Korean women who were coerced into sex slaves at the Japanese military brothel during the World War II, when more than 200,000 young women, many of them South Koreans, were forced into sex slavery. He became the first among incumbent and former Japanese prime ministers who meet with the victims of the sex slavery. "When I met the comfort women of old age and saw the pictures drawn by them, I became speechless. I hung my head down, and could not raise it up," said Murayama. "(Japan) did the indescribable wrongdoings, which robs women of their dignity." Murayama said that some people in Japan made many absurd remarks about the comfort women issue, which he felt ashamed of, noting that a majority of Japanese were well aware of Japan's wrongdoings. He added that he hopes the South Korean people can understand it. Japan must squarely face up to its history and apologize for it, Murayama said, noting that Seoul and Tokyo must establish future- oriented relationship based on Japan's repent over its past brutalities. Ties between South Korea and Japan have been strained since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012. In December last year, Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan's militaristic past as it enshrines 14 World War II class-A war criminals. The ongoing historical and territorial disputes between the two countries stemmed from Japan's colonial rule of South Korea from 1910 to 1945. Those include the comfort women as well as the territorial dispute over the islets off South Korea's east coast known as Dokdo here and Takeshima in Japan. ^ top ^

China-India border meeting leads to framework agreement talks (Global Times)
China and India have agreed to make common efforts to solve their border problem as both countries strive to work out a framework agreement at the 17th meeting of special representatives for border issues. At the meeting, held Monday and Tuesday, Chinese Special Representative and State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Indian Special Representative and National Security Advisor Shivsharkar Menon had an in-depth exchange of views on the China-India border problem, bilateral relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest. The two sides agreed that before the border issue is solved, the two sides are willing to allow the existing mechanisms to play their full role and implement the relevant agreement for maintaining peace and tranquility. India and China held a "very constructive" two-day meeting, The Hindu reported, adding that the meeting discussed additional confidence-building measures such as early implementation of the Border Defense Cooperation Agreement as well as the core issue of a framework agreement. China and India have completed the first step of solving the border dispute, which is to agree on the guiding principles, and are building framework agreements before moving on to decide the actual border line. "The second step, which is building the framework, is the most difficult part," said Fu Xiaoqiang, an expert on South Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. "Many factors, such as population, ethnicity, geology, and local tradition, have to be taken into consideration. Both sides still have a lot of differences and it takes time for China and India to reach an agreement," said Fu. ^ top ^

Chinese President meets US State secretary (China Daily)
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday morning, pledging China's commitment to a new model of China-US relationship.In the meeting in the Great Hall of the People, Xi said he was very glad to see Kerry again as this is the second meeting between them since they came together in Bali, Indonesia, last October. "China is firmly committed to building a new model of China-US relationship together with the US side, and will continue to enhance dialogue, boost mutual trust and cooperation and properly handle differences in the new year so as to forge ahead with the lasting and healthy development of the ties," Xi told Kerry. As Friday coincided with China's Lantern Festival, an important festival within the lunar New Year, Xi also sent his best wishes for the Year of the Horse to Kerry and through him to US President Barack Obama. For his part, Kerry told Xi that Obama "is very much looking forward to seeing you again shortly." Calling the Year of the Horse "a joyful and hopefully auspicious time for all of us," the US secretary of state noted that the two countries are celebrating the 35th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties. He said taking an updated approach to the relationship between great powers is "very important" for the United States as well. Xi met with Obama twice last year. Apart from their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Russia in September, they held two-day talks in California in June and reached a consensus on building relations which feature no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, cooperation and common prosperity. Kerry arrived in Beijing from Seoul earlier on Friday morning, starting his two-day visit to China. This is his second visit to China and his fifth to Asia since he took office in February last year. Besides China and the Republic of Korea, Kerry's four-leg tour will also take him to Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates. ^ top ^

Chinese president meets Hungarian PM (Global Times)
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Hungarian Prime Minister Orban Viktor on Thursday and they pledged to boost cooperation between the two countries. Hailing the traditional friendship between China and Hungary, Xi said the Chinese people will not forget Hungary's precious help soon after the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Xi lauded the development of the bilateral relationship over the 65 years since the establishment of China-Hungary diplomatic ties, especially over the past decade since they announced their friendly and cooperative partnership. "The Chinese side stands ready to work with the Hungarian side, continue to support each other and boost cooperation in an all-round way to further step up the bilateral relationship," said the Chinese president, highlighting cooperation in finance, telecommunications, infrastructure and high technology. Xi also called for cultural, educational and people-to-people exchanges between the two nations, both boasting long history and rich culture. He said the world is a diversified one and the development path of a country should be decided by its own people. "Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth," Xi said, noting that the Chinese people had chosen a path fit for the national conditions after a long period of trial and error. Xi briefed Orban on China's national revival embodied by two major goals: the building of "a moderately prosperous society in all respects" by the time the Communist Party of China celebrates its centenary in 2021; and to turn China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious when the PRC marks its centennial in 2049. "We have full confidence in our future," said the Chinese leader. Orban said Hungary admires China for the great achievement of development and attributed China's success to the path taken by the Chinese people in accordance with China's own situation. Hungary advocates multi-polarization of the world, supports China's peaceful development and attaches great importance to China's significant and constructive role on the world stage, said the prime minister. Orban said the Hungarian side looks forward to more high-level interactions, continuous mutual support, closer practical cooperation and deeper friendship with the Chinese side. During the meeting, Xi also reiterated China's endorsement for the integration of Europe and his great attention to the relationship with European countries. Orban arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a three-day official visit China, where he held talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang on Wednesday, and met with China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Thursday. According to a joint statement issued on Thursday, China and Hungary signed a series of deals on trade, investment, infrastructure and people-to-people exchanges during Orban's visit. In the statement, the two sides pledged to respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and take care of each other's core interests and major concerns. The two countries also reiterated opposition to all kinds of trade protectionism. According to the statement, China welcomes Hungarian investment in China and will encourage Chinese enterprises to import more from, and invest more in, the European country. The two sides also vowed to make joint efforts with the international community to fight terrorism and safeguard cyber security. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China to reform pension system (Xinhua)
China will reform its pension scheme by unifying the two separate systems for urban and rural residents to allow people better access to social benefits, according to an executive meeting of the State Council on Friday. The move, part of the efforts to address pension payment gaps between urban and rural areas, was announced in a statement issued after the meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. The unified system will build stable expectations for improving livelihood and facilitate population movement, said the meeting statement, adding that it will also boost consumption and encourage more business start-ups. The statement said pension funds will be pooled from individuals, employers and governments at various levels. The central government will provide more subsidies to people in less-developed central and western regions. The pension system will serve as a safety net for millions of seniors, according to the statement. China has the largest senior population in the world, with 194 million people at or above the age of 60 at the end of 2012, according to the China National Committee on Aging. The age group is expected to grow to 243 million by 2020, and one-third of the population will be over the age of 60 by 2050. Annual sessions will open soon for the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body, and the National People's Congress, China's parliament, according to the meeting statement. The "two sessions" serve as an important channel for ministries and departments under the State Council to hear what the public has to say about government work, the statement said. ^ top ^

Action needed to halt bird flu, experts warn (China Daily)
Drastic changes are needed in both the poultry industry and consumer habits to help prevent new cases of bird flu and the mutation of its viruses, according to health experts. In January, 127 people were diagnosed as infected with H7N9, a type of bird flu virus, 31 of whom died, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said on Monday. "The main cause for the large number of new cases recently is that people are exposed to poultry more easily, as they eat more poultry around the Spring Festival,"said Shu Yuelong, director of the Chinese National Influenza Center, at a news conference on Monday. The main channel for the transmission of the virus to humans is still close contact with live poultry, he said. Also, a recent report by British science magazine New Scientist further highlighted the importance of changing the crude methods of raising and selling poultry. "H7N9 virus has got part of its genetic makeup from H9N2,"said Yao Hangping, a researcher with State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, confirming the report by New Scientist. "H9N2 is an important chemical reactant in producing H7N9,"he said. "The virus is extremely common among chickens, so there is a high likelihood of it forming a hybrid with other type of flu virus. "The most effective way to prevent the reassortment of genes is keeping poultry together in an enclosed farm. This is why we haven't found H7N9 in large-scale poultry farms,"he said. He said that poultry should be raised and butchered in an enclosed area to reduce the chances of genes being swapped between flu viruses. Also, live poultry markets should be closed because the risks of different viruses hybridizing there are high, he said. H9N2 doesn't cause serious symptoms in chickens, but the fact that it can merge with other subtypes of flu virus to form new viruses means it should be monitored closely, said Shu, director of the Chinese National Influenza Center. Also, the poultry industry should gradually abandon the free-range methods of raising poultry, tighten the tests on biosafety at farms, and sell processed chickens instead of live ones to stop the virus from spreading to humans, he said. "Chinese people must change their tradition of insisting on buying live poultry. Frozen chicken doesn't differ from live poultry in terms of nutrition,"Shu said. "If the poultry industry cannot enhance its techniques to control the spread of viruses among poultry, it should find out ways to keep live poultry products away from consumers — such as setting up a barrier made of glass so that consumers can pick the animal they want without touching it,"said Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. ^ top ^

Commission publicizes 10 transgressions (Global Times)
The Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee for the first time circulated 10 cases of disciplinary or legal violations by police officers, judges and prosecutors on Tuesday. The 10 cases include punishments for a policeman in Shandong Province for drunk-driving and a presiding judge in Hubei Province for maintaining improper sexual relations and bribery. Liu Yong, an official with the Supreme People's Court, was expelled from public office on suspicion of taking bribes of over 2 million yuan ($330,000) in exchange for intervening in trials. The commission said in a statement that it would continue to publicize cases this year and take a zero tolerance attitude toward disciplinary and legal violations. Ma Changshan, a law professor at the East China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times that it was usually the responsibility of disciplinary organs rather than the legal departments to investigate corruption. Ma suggested that the circular might be a sign that the power of the political and legal commission is being strengthened and the judicial reform is being pushed forward. ^ top ^

Graft busters under increasing scrutiny in China's corruption crackdown (Xinhua)
As China's anti-corruption campaign picks up momentum, those charged with rooting out graft are themselves being placed under increasing scrutiny. On Tuesday, the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee publicized 10 cases of disciplinary or legal violations by police officers, judges and prosecutors. "This sends a signal: the disciplinary as well as the political and legal systems are not a sanctuary [in China's anti-corruption campaign]," said Xin Ming, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. […] They cannot do their job if they themselves are crooked," he said. His comments were echoed by Wang Yukai, professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, who added that such public naming and shaming could improve the image of anti-graft bodies and tempt the public to be more actively involved in the campaign. "By exposing their 'skeletons in the closet,' the discipline as well as the political and legal systems are signaling that they would not cover up their own mistakes and would remove the 'black sheep' from within," Wang said. Fighting corruption has been on the front pages of many newspapers since Chinese President Xi Jinping became CPC leader in November 2012. Addressing the third plenary session of the CCDI in January, Xi described corruption as "a disease that calls for powerful drugs". He stressed zero tolerance of graft and promised to seriously punish every corrupt official. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday also pledged to combat corruption, boost government transparency and build a clean government when presiding over a meeting of the State Council, or China's cabinet, to map out this year's anti-graft plans. Since 2012, the Party has targeted both "tigers" and "flies". A total of 31 high-profile officials were investigated by the CCDI in 2013, including Jiang Jiemin, former head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, and Li Dongsheng, former vice minister of public security. Nationwide, about 182,000 officials were punished by the CPC's discipline inspection agencies. To ratchet up the pressure on officials, the CCDI updated its website in September. It now has a feature where the public can provide tip-offs, as well as a naming and shaming section. Many lower-level anti-graft agencies have followed suit. But sadly, corruption is still far from rooted out, even within the disciplinary and judicial systems, with cases of bribery, adultery and graft often igniting public outrage. "Law enforcement staff usually break the rules while they are fully aware that they have done wrong, and the negative impact on society is much greater," Zhou Hanhua, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Xinhua. These cases damage the image of governments and law enforcement organs, posing a grave threat to fairness and justice, he said, adding that "the black sheep in law enforcement must be eradicated." Noting that the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs has promised to continue the practice of naming and shaming, Zhou said such a high-profile campaign is truly necessary. He said the publicity these cases generate should be a warning for all staff in the political and legal realms. ^ top ^

Lawyers see rights abuses in detention of Beijing 'house church' members (SCMP)
Lawyers yesterday expressed concern over the fate of 13 "house church" Christians who have been detained for more than two weeks after they tried to hold a bible study meeting on the outskirts of Beijing. The two lawyers, who on Tuesday were allowed for the first time to visit Xu Yonghai - the leader of Shengai, or Holy Love, Christian Fellowship - and petitioner Xu Caihong, said the Christians had been accused of taking part in "illegal assemblies and demonstrations" and put in criminal detention at the Beijing No1 Detention Centre. Their families have not been formally notified, they said. According to an account Xu Yonghai posted online, he and more than a dozen Christians travelled to the Tongzhou district of the capital on January 24 for bible study at the home of former dissident Zhang Wenhe. Zhang was temporarily detained by police at the time so they could not meet, but later in the day they returned to Zhang's home to bring him medicine for his heart conditions. When they were there, police burst in and took them away to be held at a police station. Xu was released early the next day, but was detained again on January 26. Lawyer Liang Xiaojun said Xu Yonghai, a former doctor once jailed for sending an essay on church persecution to a US magazine, had been fasting since he was detained. "He was in good spirits, but said he would continue fasting and praying," Liang said. He said Xu was puzzled as to why the authorities took action against his fellowship, which is in its 25th year. "He said he was embarrassed that these people only wanted to hear him preach and they got arrested," Liang said. Xu wrote in his account that while in custody the Christians were repeatedly asked whether they were in the Shijingshan district of the capital on January 22, the day when rights advocate Xu Zhiyong was put on trial in the area. Several petitioners in the church group had demonstrated outside the court. Beijing Public Security Bureau did not respond to a faxed request for comment yesterday. Hu Shigen, another fellowship leader and a former dissident who spent 16 years in jail, said exactly a week before the Christians were detained an official from the Tongzhou district ethnic affairs committee interrupted a bible study meeting at Zhang's home and accused believers of attending an illegal assembly. Hu believed the authorities wanted to suppress the fellowship because it was attended by mostly petitioners to the government and former dissidents. Although fewer than 20 people turn up usually, "they do not like the 'hostile elements' getting together", Hu said. The Tongzhou district ethnic affairs committee did not respond to inquiries yesterday. Both lawyers said they were concerned about the police's use of arbitrary detention. "This is an abuse of the detention system for the sake of stability maintenance," said Liang. Lawyer Yu Wensheng said the Christians' detention would end on February 25, but it was unclear whether they would be immediately released. Under mainland law, people can be held for up to 37 days in criminal detention after which police can pass the case to prosecutors or release them on bail. ^ top ^



Claims Beijing uninhabitable 'exaggerated' (Global Times)
Media reports saying that China's capital city is on the verge of becoming inappropriate for human habitation misled readers by exaggerating the findings of a report issued by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS), one of the authors of the report has said. The annual paper on the development of world cities, released on Wednesday, studied 40 metropolises in terms of economy, society, culture, urban management, ecology and city space. By ranking the cities in these areas, the report aimed to provide upgrading advice for the cities, the author told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. On the comprehensive ranking, Tokyo, London, Paris, New York and Singapore are the top five. Shanghai and Beijing rank 21st and 31st. But media reports on the Internet Wednesday focused on Beijing's living conditions, quoting the report as saying Beijing ranked 39th among the 40 world cities in terms of ecological parameters. Beijing suffers from severe pollution, especially air pollution and smog. The other two Chinese cities, namely Shanghai and Hong Kong, are also placed near the bottom of the city ecology ranking list, which places Stockholm at the top. Moscow is at the bottom mainly because of its harsh natural conditions, and long and bitterly cold winters. Beijing also falls behind many in terms of public health and security, the report added, indicating inadequate public health services and a relatively high crime rate in Beijing. However, the city outranked all others in equality and ranked second in inclusiveness thanks to the lower Gini index of the city and easier access to public services. "A city's livability also include other factors such as the rich spiritual and cultural life of the citizens and housing conditions. Beijing fell short in the latter with its high housing prices," Shan Jingjing, a research fellow of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "Pollution could stall Beijing's efforts to upgrade its industries, since multinational corporations tend to establish their headquarters in cities with better ecological environments," Shan said. Poor traffic conditions is another factor. Beijing saw nearly two-hour-long traffic jams every weekday in 2013, 25 minutes longer than 2012, the Beijing Daily reported on Wednesday. Tu Qiyu, an author of the blue paper, said that the public reaction is understandable because Chinese cities were studied along with the top major cities in the world under stringent standards. Shan said she believes Beijing could become a livable metropolis as development advances. She urged Beijing to optimize its industrial structure and strengthen controls on automobiles to curb pollution. A new Beijing regulation on air pollution control will take effect from March 1, as the city vows to limit and gradually reduce the total discharge of major air pollutants under specific quotas and cut coal burning and limit car emissions with harsher penalties. A 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) fund has been established this year to support emission controls for enterprises as well as a new energy automobile industry to further combat air pollution, the State Council announced on Wednesday. It also said it would speed up energy restructuring and bring coal consumption under control. ^ top ^



Guangdong's ex-power boss under investigation (Global Times)
Wu Zhouchun, former boss of Guangdong Power Grid, is being investigated over suspected serious discipline violations, the Guangdong provincial commission of discipline inspection of the Communist Party of China said Sunday. Guangdong Power Grid is a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Southern Power Grid Co., Ltd, one of China's two grid giants. Wu became general manager of Guangdong Power Grid in 2003, and moved to the post of assistant to the general manager of China Southern Power Grid in 2009. CPC's discipline inspection agencies punished about 182,000 officials nationwide in 2013, and central authorities have reiterated their firm stance to fight corruption on many occasions this year. ^ top ^

67 held after Dongguan sex trade exposé (Global Times)
A total of 67 people were arrested and 12 entertainment venues involved in the illegal sex trade were shut down late Sunday night after China Central Television (CCTV) revealed a dozen hotels in Dongguan, South China's Guangdong Province, offered sex services. All local police station heads who were in charge of the districts where the illicit entertainment venues were operating have been suspended pending further investigation. Undercover CCTV reporters went to hotels in five areas of Dongguan, a city which has been infamous for its large scale illegal sex industry for over a decade. The video taken by a hidden camera showed hotel managers organizing young women to appear in front of the reporter for selection. The selected women would presumably offer sex services for fees ranging from hundreds to thousands of yuan. The video also showed similar "beauty show" activities taking place in KTV rooms. In one KTV room, two girls danced naked for customers. "You just lie down there and the lady will serve you all around," one female manager told a reporter in the video, referring to the hotels' sexual bath services. According to China's Law on Penalties for Administration of Public Security, prostitutes and customers are subject to detention and fines. Organizers are subject to criminal penalties. However, hotel managers didn't seem worried about possible police raids or penalties. "We are fine. Being open to you now is proof," one female manager of a hotel in Humen, which is administered by Dongguan, assured the reporter. A clerk from another hotel said it is safe to buy sex there. "No police are coming, we would have been put out of business long ago if they had come." A CCTV reporter called the police twice to report prostitution in two separate hotels. The phone operator promised to send police to investigate, but no police showed up. Dongguan has long been known as China's "capital of sex," a moniker which was denied by its mayor Yuan Baocheng in an interview last year. Comments online excoriated the inaction by local police, and some suggested that China should also set up special "sex zones." Sociologist Li Yinhe believes that sometimes police are reluctant to respond because they are short of manpower, not necessarily because they are in league with people in the industry. Li has been studying the sex life of Chinese society for years. She said it is hard to take away the sex industry in Dongguan because the demand is too strong. "Prostitution is all over the country. It booms in Dongguan because control over it is relatively loose there," Li said. In 2010 Dongguan police paraded arrested sex workers on the street to humiliate them. The action was criticized by the public and by the Ministry of Public Security. Li said the current anti-prostitution law does not help solve the problem and instead makes the situation worse. "It allows criminal organizations to take control of the industry because the government chooses to ignore it," said Li. Li said legalization might help to solve the prostitution matter, but the biggest obstacle is attitudes toward morality. She said that part of the problem is that China declared the elimination of prostitution as a goal. "Legalizing prostitution is not permitted to be discussed," Li said. While a few scholars have taken a liberal attitude toward sex workers' rights, they remain in the minority and have been sharply criticized. National People's Congress deputy Chi Susheng, from Heilongjiang Province, has been fighting to legalize prostitution for many years. In a recent discussion on, she said her aim is to better prevent AIDS and other STDs among sex workers. ^ top ^

'Corrupt' Guangdong police were secretly tipped off about latest high-profile raids, sources claim (SCMP)
Police officers allegedly involved in the Dongguan sex industry were tipped off ahead of the latest high-profile crackdown against the trade, it has been claimed. Now officers fear heads will roll with an investigation into the alleged corruption. "A super typhoon is coming. I might need to flee myself if the investigation gets intense," said a senior Dongguan police officer. The source said some officers were informed "ahead of the Lunar New Year" that an upcoming raid against the sex industry was imminent, warning those with vested interests to shut their businesses to dodge the raids. "Often local police, city legislators and local triad leaders hold shares in local luxury hotels," the source said. State media said the crackdown was prompted after CCTV on Sunday exposed the thriving underground sex trade as being protected by police. Local media reported Guangdong party secretary Hu Chunhua saying that he ordered a crackdown after viewing the CCTV reports. Xinhua yesterday cited Dongguan city public security chief Yan Xiaokang warning that a special task unit involving the entire city police force would participate in a three-month campaign to eradicate the sex trade. Guangdong provincial public security chief Li Chunsheng also vowed to get to the bottom of police involvement in the trade. But the South China Morning Post understands some local officers got wind of the crackdown ahead of the Lunar New Year and secretly raised the alarm. Analysts also believe that the largest police crackdown seen in years on Dongguan's sex business could have been a direct order from Beijing. While many Dongguan hotels remain in business, almost all saunas, massage parlours and karaoke bars have been shut since Sunday. A female manager of Lion Hotel in Changping township told the South China Morning Post their nightclubs and sauna services had been suspended for redecoration. "The renovation will continue for weeks. We never offer illegal sexual services here." But according to Steve Lam, a Hong Kong businessman who often visits Changping, the vice trade at the hotel had been busy until the Lunar New Year holiday. "Lion Hotel is very well-known among Hong Kong businessman. There were hundreds of prostitutes inside its saunas and karaoke bars each night." Meanwhile, Dongguan taxi drivers are complaining their business has nosedived because of the crackdown. "There's no massive raid in Changping township but most pimps are lying low," said one cabbie, who claimed to have at least 10 contacts among local pimps and prostitutes. "I could get 20 to 50 yuan (HK$25 to HK$64) as a kickback for each guest I take to the hotels or the nightclubs," he said. Another taxi driver said commissions could sometimes reach 200 yuan per customer. So far, Dongguan has mobilised 6,500 police to raid almost 2,000 entertainment venues and arrested 162 people. Eight police officers had been suspended from duty, Xinhua reported. Zhu Jianguo, a Shenzhen-based political scholar, said such a major raid would have had to have Beijing's backing, but he urged the government to think again before launching a blanket crackdown. "This will hurt the local economy and the tax revenue of local government." Zhu urged the government to consider legalising the sex trade in order to better control it. "A crackdown is only going to send the business elsewhere.". ^ top ^



No casualties reported in Xinjiang quake (China Daily)
A 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Wednesday, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC). No casualties have been reported. The epicenter, with a depth of 12 km, is located at Yutian county in southwest Xinjiang, or about 36.1 degrees north latitude and 82.5 degrees east longitude. The quake was strongly felt by residents in Hotan, Yutian and Moyu. Sixty-seven houses were toppled and more than 1,000 ones damaged to varying degrees, local authorities said, adding that 185 livestock deaths were reported. Sections of railways were temporarily suspended in Xinjiang after the earthquake. The railway administration of Urumqi suspended a section from Hotan to Moyu on the Kahe Railway, which links Kashgar and Hotan, for safety reasons, with a total of 531 passengers being stranded at Moyu. Service resumed at 6:52 p.m. after safety and security checks. A total of 143 aftershocks had been monitored as of 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, with the biggest one measuring at 5.7-magnitude at 5:24 p.m. in the same area. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang ordered concerted effort to guarantee safety and property and issued instructions on relief work soon after the quake. Local authorities and departments were urged to check disaster situations, conduct emergency management and strengthen seismic monitoring. The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Commission for Disaster Reduction also initiated an emergency disaster relief response and dispatched a work team to check the disaster situation and direct rescue work. The epicenter is in a sparsely populated area with an average altitude of 5,000 meters. It is more than 50 km away from the nearest settlement, Aqqan village in Yutian County, and more than 900 km away from the regional capital of Urumqi. Local residents said the houses near the epicenter are all quake-resistant and nomads are less likely in the mountainous areas, where the epicenter is located, during winter. Xinjiang started a quake-resistant housing project in 2004. The average altitude of the area within the scope of 30 km from the epicenter is about 5.1 km. Experts from the CENC said that the area shares the same plate with Wenchuan in southwest China's Sichuan Province and Yushu in northwest China's Qinghai Province. Wenchuan was devastated by an 8.0-magnitude quake in 2008, and Yushu was hit by a 7.1-magnitude quake in 2010. ^ top ^



Hong Kong's air quality to 'drastically improve' within five years, says Christine Loh (SCMP)
Hong Kong's air quality will show "dramatic improvement" over the next five years, says undersecretary for the environment Christine Loh Kung-wai. And she predicts that reductions in pollution should start being measured by the second half of this year. In her most confident pledge so far on the fight for cleaner air, Loh told the South China Morning Post the city is well on target to achieve landmark goals - such as a 20 per cent reduction in sulphur emissions - before 2020. "There's no question - we will meet these objectives," Loh said. "Our whole vehicle fleet will be dramatically cleaner in about four or five years … we will see a dramatic improvement in roadside [air quality]." Recent government data indicates roadside air quality is getting worse, but she insisted the situation would improve. Objectives set out in last year's seven-year air quality road map had already been met without much political resistance, she said. This was in stark contrast to stalled action on other environmental issues such as waste, energy and conservation. Loh believes several more air quality measures will be endorsed by Legco before the summer. "We should be able to start measuring reductions by the second half of the year," she said. A HK$11.4 billion initiative to replace about 82,000 old commercial diesel vehicles will start next month. A scheme to replace catalytic converters - devices that reduce harmful emissions - on 20,000 taxis and public light buses powered by LPG is expected to be approved by summer, while a plan to retrofit about 1,400 franchised buses with selective catalytic reduction devices is also scheduled for approval this year. "By 2016, all pre-Euro vehicles will be banned from the street," said Loh, in reference to the "Euro" emission standards introduced progressively by the European Union since 1992. "Once we start running the scheme, we can see how we can incentivise vehicle owners to replace their vehicles earlier rather than later." Loh said that the community would have to be "galvanised" for all the measures to succeed. But tackling roadside pollution is not enough, Loh admitted. Maritime traffic is one of the city's biggest causes of toxic sulphur dioxide emissions. In 2012, a study found 75 per cent of deaths linked to sulphur dioxide in the Pearl River Delta each year were Hongkongers. Loh expects legislation for a mandatory fuel switch - which will force all ocean-going vessels berthing at Hong Kong to switch to a lower-sulphur fuel - to be passed in summer and to take effect by early next year. This will be coupled with an initiative that would require smaller local ships to switch to a cleaner marine diesel, which Loh has pencilled in for April 1. "We think, after the implementation of both measures, we will see an estimated 20 per cent drop in local sulphur dioxide emissions. This is really quite substantial." Loh was pleased the much-criticised Air Pollution Index was replaced by the Air Quality Health Index in December. "We now have a much better health-based air quality index," she said. ^ top ^

Controversial plan to rezone Central harbourfront land for PLA dock gets green light (SCMP)
The Town Planning Board gave the green light to the government to rezone a prime piece of Central harbourfront land for military use on Friday morning. The unanimous decision to rezone the 0.3 hectare strip of land from “open space” to “military use” was taken after a 16-day public hearing and two days of deliberation by board members. The board's decision must now secure approval from the Executive Council. The People's Liberation Army plans to construct a military berth on the site. The proposal to rezone the site has attracted criticism since the Planning Department made its application in February last year. Many members of the public, activists, lawmakers and the Society for Protection of the Harbour said they did not object to the provision of the berth – required under a 1994 Sino-British deal – but argued an open-space zoning would be enough to enable the military to use the site. The government says the PLA has agreed to allow public access to the site when it is not being used for military purposes, but no details of how such an arrangement would work have been established.The PLA's reported pledge to offer access to the site was not made publicly.The society had earlier indicated that it would launch a judicial review if the rezoning was approved. Permanent Secretary for Development Thomas Chow Tat-ming, chairman of the board, today said the government was not worried about further legal challenges as the board had complied with all planning procedures. “The decision was mainly based on the planning factors. The board has given ample consideration to public views,” Chow said. “The government will discuss with the PLA the operation details of the site. There was no disagreement among board members. It was an unanimous decision,” he said. According to the 1994 Sino-British agreement, the Hong Kong government “will leave free 150 metres of the eventual permanent waterfront in the plans for the Central and Wan Chai reclamation … for the construction of a military dock after 1997”. ^ top ^



Expert hails breakthrough cross-Straits meeting (Global Times)
A Chinese mainland expert on Taiwan studies on Wednesday hailed the historic first formal meeting between cross-Straits affairs chiefs from the two sides. In a signed article, Dang Chaosheng, an academic with the Taiwan Studies Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the event is an important milestone in peaceful development of cross-Straits ties. There is no doubt that the meeting will enhance cross-Strait communication and mutual understanding, according to Dang's article, available online at Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, held a formal meeting with Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's mainland affairs chief, on Tuesday afternoon in Nanjing, capital of the mainland's Jiangsu Province. It marked the first formal contact between the cross-Strait affairs authorities, as well as their chief officials, since 1949. At their meeting, the two leaders agreed to open a regular communication channel between their departments, the result of deepening mutual political trust on the basis of the "1992 consensus." The meeting will also help better protect the common interests of compatriots across the Strait and consolidate the two sides' joint efforts to deepen mutual relations, Dang wrote in the article. He said the coming-together of the two sides will establish a new channel for cross-Strait communication, as in the past, talks between the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan counterpart the Straits Exchange Foundation, two non-official organizations, were the the only mode of contact and negotiation. Moreover, the breakthrough will expand the spectrum of cross-Strait exchanges, according to the article, which predicted that the two authorities may also form a mechanism for regular contacts and visits. Such direct and convenient exchanges will help the two sides communicate and coordinate on matters more efficiently so that misgivings, worries and misunderstandings can be addressed instantly, Dang said. "The meeting is a corollary of the ever-increasing political mutual trust between the two sides, and it is also another step for the deepening of this trust," he wrote. "Cross-Strait relations will also be brought into a brand-new era," according to the expert's article. It hailed Zhang and Wang's talks as "one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of cross-Strait relations since 1949." According to Dang, the event proved that Chinese people of the mainland and Taiwan have the ability and wisdom to take the reins of cross-Strait development in their own hands. He further called on both sides to value the hard-earned achievements of the ties' peaceful development. However, he also warned, "As cross-Strait relations progress, some deep-seated troubles may also loom, and that requires us to bestow more confidence, patience and determination." The two chiefs' meeting should therefore be taken as an opportunity to strengthen communication, promote understanding and secure a better, steadier and faster development of cross-Strait relations, Dang wrote. ^ top ^

Taiwanese official says aloud formal title of Taiwan during Nanjing visit (SCMP)
A senior Taiwanese envoy raised eyebrows on the mainland yesterday when he used the island's official name during a landmark ceremonial visit to Sun Yat-sen's resting place. Wang Yu-chi, the head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, used the phrase Republic of China at the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing, where Beijing and Taipei government officials are holding their first official talks in six decades. "The Republic of China, the first democratic republic in Asia established by Dr Sun Yat-sen, has existed for 103 years," Wang said in brief remarks before officials from Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, Taiwanese journalists and a huge group of mainland tourists. The statement seemed to contradict Beijing's official line that the People's Republic of China - founded by the Communist Party in 1949 as Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan - is the one true China. The party maintains Taiwan is a breakaway province, not a republic, as "103 years" would appear to suggest. Wang went on to say that he believed Sun would be gratified to know that his "three principles of the people" - nationalism, democracy and the welfare of people - were now being practised in Taiwan. Sun is revered on both sides of the Taiwan Strait for his role in the 1911 revolution and the founding of modern China. The deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, Ma Xiaoguang, sidestepped any controversy, saying it was a known fact that Sun led the revolution that overthrew the imperial regime 103 years ago. Wang later gave a speech to about 200 students at Nanjing University about the benefits of democracy and the need for young people to be more open minded and tolerant of differences in others to help create a new era in cross-strait relations. Wang revealed that he was on a team representing National Taiwan University debating with counterparts from Nanjing University in Singapore in 1990. "We were the opposition side in the debate over whether it is possible for people around the world to co-exist and we won the debate at that time, but 24 years later, and having become the head of the Mainland Affairs Council, I am here to pursue the feasibility of peaceful co-existence of the two sides across the Taiwan Strait," he said. Wang led a delegation to Nanjing on Tuesday to hold talks with the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhang Zhijun. The two sides have, among other things, set up an official mechanism to raise issues of concern. Wang is scheduled to visit Shanghai today where he will meet Zhang again. ^ top ^



Further economic reforms a tough task, warns Xi Jinping (SCMP)
Pushing through further economic reforms will prove tough and there may be dangerous times ahead, President Xi Jinping said in an interview with Russian state TV on the sidelines of the Sochi Winter Olympics. "The easier reforms that could make everyone happy have already been completed. The tasty meat has been eaten up. The rest are tough bones to crack," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying. "[We] should dare to gnaw even tough bones and dare to ford dangerous rapids." The Communist Party announced a series of reforms last November at a plenum of party leaders in Beijing, including giving more profits from state enterprises to the government and scrapping the re-education through labour prison system. Critics have noted that there was no genuine political reform on Xi's agenda as the party seeks to retain its firm grip on power. However, Xi has consolidated his position by heading both newly established agencies announced at the plenum - a national security commission and a leading group to deepen reform. During the interview, Xi also described the preparations for the Sochi Games as "first rate". "Sochi is the right place for the Winter Olympics, the people are very welcoming and the city is energetic and charming. The city will be more famous after these Winter Olympics, attracting more tourists, including from China." Xi said the Games would be a "truly unforgettable" festival of sport. Organisers had been criticised for delays in finishing some infrastructure and hotels. China and Russia would continue to support each other on major issues and in international affairs and the trip to Sochi had helped further improve ties between the countries, Xi said. "I am very satisfied with achievements in Sino-Russia relations. The foundation of current bilateral ties is strong, mutual trust has never been so close." Xi also spoke about his private life. "Generally, I have little time of my own. The problem is, where has my time gone? Of course, it has been occupied with work," he said, referring to a line from a Chinese pop song Where Has Time Gone. Xi said he spent most of his leisure time reading and he enjoyed Russian authors including Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy. "I can remember vividly the great moments from their books," he said. Xi also discussed his love of sport. "I like swimming, hiking and other sports. I learned to swim when I was four or five. "The cities of Beijing and Zhangjiakou are bidding to host the 2022 Winter Games, so we are here to learn from the Russian people." ^ top ^

Li vows to shift more power to markets (China Daily)
Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to return more authority on investment issues to the market this year, as a method to reduce government intervention and cast off corruption. The premier called on the government to adopt the "negative list" approach in delegating powers and reducing administrative approvals at a meeting on clean government on Tuesday. "The list should be worked out according to the law to prevent any new administrative approvals being added by local governments without proper legal procedures," he said. He especially stressed the importance of facilitating investment, urging for "the greatest determination" in reducing administrative approvals that may impede investors. "Sometimes governments are intervening in issues that fall outside their territory, and that has increased transaction costs and weakened the role of the market in allocating resources," Li said. Li made the remarks on Tuesday at the State Council's second meeting on clean government, a year after the first meeting was held. In building a clean government and fighting corruption, Li said the reduction of government approval was one of the necessary measures. Last year, the State Council removed more than 330 items that were subject to administrative approval, or has delegated the approval power to lower-level governments. In addition to power delegation, other measures were also proposed at Tuesday's meeting to avoid the abuse of power and fight corruption. Li reiterated the government stance that no new government buildings will be built, the government payroll will decrease, and receptions, business trips and the use of official vehicles will be slashed. Areas prone to corruption, such as the public bidding for construction projects, government procurement, and land and mining rights transfer, will be closely monitored, he said. He also urged auditors to keep an eye on areas with public funds and State-owned assets. Information on government spending, food and drug safety, the allocation of government-subsidized houses, and the recruitment of civil servants and university students should be made public to avoid abuses. "Openness and transparency will always be the key to fighting corruption," he said. Li Jiangtao, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, suggested the government work out a guideline to specify how revenues being saved by the government can be used to improve the daily lives of the people. Zhang Jianhua, chairman of Hubei Chamber of Commerce in Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang province known for small and medium-sized businesses, suggested the government remove more administrative approvals rather than delegating the power to lower-level governments in further reform. "It doesn't necessarily mean that enterprises can benefit from power delegation, since they still need to go through the whole approval procedure," he said. Jiang Ming'an, a law professor at Peking University, acknowledged the government's efforts to build its credibility among the people, but he noted that more human resources should be added to grassroots governments to improve their ability to cope with an increasing workload. "As more administrative approvals are being delegated to grassroots governments, local officials have found that they are lacking the professional knowledge to do their work. Training is needed to improve their working capability," he said. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea
Chinese delegation to Pyongyang seen as effort to assess stability of Kim's regime (SCMP)
China has sent a delegation to North Korea in what analysts describe as an effort to assess the stability of Kim Jong-un's regime in the wake of his uncle's high-profile execution late last year. The group led by Xing Haiming, the foreign ministry's deputy director of Asian affairs, arrived late last month. Ties between the two cold war allies - already strained by North Korean weapons tests - have been further complicated by Kim's purging of Jang Song-thaek. Jang, was accused, among other things, of attempting to sell national resources to another country, which was widely believed to be China. Beijing is also said to be concerned that the purge shows weakness in Kim's grip on power. "The visit is intended to see if Kim's regime still remains stable," said Cai Jian, a Korean affairs expert at Fudan University. "It is not intended to stress the traditional friendship of the two nations, but to get an update about North Korea." Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters on Wednesday that the delegation visited the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang and met North Korean diplomats. "They exchanged views on bilateral relations and the situation on the Korean peninsula," she said. "This is a routine exchange between the two." Cai said that Beijing did not embrace all of Kim's policies, but wanted to ensure stability in Pyongyang and would adjust its economic policies accordingly. The visit came as Kim's government said it was willing to return "without preconditions" to the stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear programme; officials from the two Koreas have also agreed to have talks. "Pyongyang has not taken provocative moves recently and China believes it is time to start working on restoring ties with North Korea," said Wang Sheng, an international relations professor at Jilin University. "China is also making preparations for the six-nation nuclear talks." Wang said Sino-North Korean ties might face further strain due to a military drill by the United States and South Korea scheduled for this month, which may prompt more sabre-rattling from Pyongyang. ^ top ^



Mongolia to cooperate with North Korea in industrial and agricultural sectors (Montsame)
Mongolia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will cooperate in the industrial and agricultural spheres. The cabinet meeting on Friday approved a bilateral intergovernmental agreement on it, which was signed on October 28 of 2013 in Pyongyang, North Korea, during the state visit of the Mongolian President to this country. Accordingly, Mongolia will help North Korea in developing animal husbandry, whereas the North Korean side is to boost our light industry with raw materials of our livestock. ^ top ^

L.Bold receives Japanese Vice FM (Montsame)
During the seminar, the FM L.Bold received Mr S.Kihara, the Vice Foreign Affairs Minister of Japan. The latter promised to give support in expansion of Mongolia-Hokkaido cooperation, a part of "Mid-term program of Strategy Partnership" set up by the Prime Ministers of two countries last year. He also informed the FM that the Japanese government decided to issue 7.5 billion JPY loan with easy terms for a project on Engineering and Technological High Education Development in Mongolia, and expressed a willingness to establish the economic partnership agreement between the two countries. The sides agreed to support each other in seeking memberships in the UN organizations. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister plans to visit South Korea (
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, L.Bold will pay an official visit to the Republic of Korea to meet with South Korea"s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on February 12th to 14th. This is the first visit to the Republic of Korea at the Foreign Minister level since the “reform” government of Mongolia was formed. The visit aims to keep the frequency of high level agreements, boost further bilateral relations and collaboration for comprehensive partnerships in all fields between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea. The visit is also intended to allow both parties to exchange opinions on mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation and regional and global issues. At the meeting the Foreign Minister will search for ways with his counterpart to ease visa requirements for Mongolian travelers to Korea, intensify deals between Mongolia and the Korea on social welfare and to seek support and attention for better conditions for Mongolian citizens who reside in South Korea on labor contracts. ^ top ^


Mrs. 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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