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
  15-21.2.2014, No. 512  
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DPRK and South Korea


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Foreign Policy

China-Myanmar boundary management, cooperation meeting to be held in Myanmar (Xinhua)
The 12th Meeting on the Implementation of the Agreement of Management and Cooperation of the China-Myanmar Boundary will be held in Nay Pyi Taw next Wednesday, according to Chinese Embassy here Saturday. The five-day meeting will be attended by the Chinese delegation led by Ouyang Yujing, director-general of the Boundary and Ocean Affairs Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Myanmar delegation headed by U San Lwin, director-General of the Political Department of Myanmar Foreign Ministry. Both sides will discuss a range of topics relating to the boundary management, border immigration, opening of new checkpoint along the border line, safety and security issues of the border areas. The meeting was arranged in light of the Agreement of Management and Cooperation of the China-Myanmar Boundary which was signed by the two countries in 1997. In 1960, the China-Myanmar Boundary Treaty was signed and since then the two countries maintained effective management and sound cooperation on boundary issues. ^ top ^

Top US envoy John Kerry fails to make headway over sea disputes in Beijing (SCMP)
US Secretary of State John Kerry ended a visit to China without any breakthroughs on two matters at the top of his agenda - sovereignty tensions in the East Sea and the South China Sea. The only solid outcome of the trip came in a joint statement issued by the two governments yesterday that vowed closer co-operation on climate change. Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, said: "Kerry's China visit only provided an opportunity for both sides to make clear their differences on these issues." Jin Canrong, with the same university, said it was expected no consensus on regional issues would be reached during the trip. Instead, the visit was important for Beijing and Washington to prepare for an upcoming meeting between President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama at a nuclear security summit at The Hague late next month. "During this trip, Kerry also reiterated the US invitation for the Chinese navy to join the Rimpac exercise in Hawaii later this year. The US hoped China could send two ships but Beijing has yet to reply," Jin said. The Rim of the Pacific Exercise is the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise and is hosted by the US Navy's Pacific Fleet. The United States is also hoping China can use its relationship with North Korea to press for restarting talks over dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme. Kerry said Beijing had assured him it was prepared to step up pressure. In a joint statement yesterday, the two governments said they had agreed on steps to carry out commitments to curb the output of greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, including by reducing vehicle emissions and improving the energy efficiency of buildings. ^ top ^

Kerry talks Internet freedom with Chinese bloggers (Global Times)
US Secretary of State John Kerry met with four Chinese bloggers in Beijing on Saturday to discuss geopolitics, US-China relations and Internet freedom. During the hour-long discussion with Kerry, the bloggers, Ma Xiaolin, Wang Chong, Wang Keqin and Zhang Jialong, conveyed their opinions on a broad range of subjects, including the Diaoyu Islands dispute, US-China relations, China-Japan relations, China's anti-corruption campaign and Internet freedom. "We spent most of our time discussing geopolitics," Ma Xiaolin, a Middle East expert and founder of the website, told the Global Times. "A big part of the conversation was not on Internet freedom but Internet safety. We talked a lot about collaboration," Ma noted. Ma praised American diplomats for being "pragmatic." "Kerry paid a lot of attention to international relations and bilateral ties, topics such as the Diaoyu Islands spat, the South China Sea, and North Korea. He did not consider Internet freedom the key topic of our discussion," said Ma. Kerry praised China's recent anti-corruption campaign and said he saw many positive signals from the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, such as judicial reform and the reform on rural land, Wang Keqin confirmed to the Global Times. "A big part of the conversation was not on Internet freedom but Internet safety. We talked a lot about collaboration," Ma noted. Ma praised American diplomats for being "pragmatic." "Kerry paid a lot of attention to international relations and bilateral ties, topics such as the Diaoyu Islands spat, the South China Sea, and North Korea. He did not consider Internet freedom the key topic of our discussion," said Ma. Kerry praised China's recent anti-corruption campaign and said he saw many positive signals from the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, such as judicial reform and the reform on rural land, Wang Keqin confirmed to the Global Times. "Kerry's meeting with Chinese bloggers shows the open and positive attitude the US government holds toward the China," Wang commented. Wang Chong, another blogger, noted on his blog that Kerry noticed grass roots elections in China's countryside and the heated debate they sparked. "Kerry saw China's improvement," said Wang. "He also emphasized that the US does not take a position in the disputes and urged China and Japan to solve the problem through dialogue." Kerry met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his two-day visit. Kerry left Beijing on Saturday afternoon. It was his second visit to China and his fifth to Asia since he took office. ^ top ^

China opposes applying pressure to undermine Iranian nuclear talks (Xinhua)
China opposes any party in applying confrontation or pressure to undermine the atmosphere of negotiations at the Iranian nuclear talks, said Li Baodong, head of China's delegation to the talks, in Vienna, the Austrian capital, Tuesday. Iran and the P5+1, including the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, on Tuesday started the new round of talks in Vienna. The new round of the Iranian nuclear talk is faced with difficulties, and the constructive atmosphere doesn't come easy, all sides should promote the talks positively, said Li, who is also China's vice foreign minister. He also urged Iran to take substantive steps to curb its nuclear program, while the six major powers should ease relevant sanctions in return. While speaking to the reporters ahead of the P5+1 negotiations early Tuesday, Li stressed all sides involved should make efforts to resolve the issue with courage, flexibility and mutual respect through the diplomatic channel. Last November, the P5+1 and Iran reached the first step interim agreement, which came into effect on Jan. 20. Under the agreement, Iran suspended the most sensitive parts of its nuclear activities in exchange for partial relief of the sanctions slapped on it. "Based on the first step, a big step forward is needed," said Li, explaining the new round of the talks is important as it's the start of the negotiations for a comprehensive deal on the issue, as the content of the interim deal is limited and would expire in less than six months. China has been always playing an active and a constructive role in the talks to promote the deal as soon as possible, Li said. ^ top ^

China-NZ-Cook Islands water project boost for development: New Zealand FM (Xinhua)
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully left for the Cook Islands Thursday to attend a ground-breaking ceremony on a major water-project partnership with China and the Pacific island nation. The Te Mato Vai project on Rarotonga is a partnership between New Zealand, China and the Cook Islands to replace the island's aging water network with an investment of 65 million NZ dollars ( 53.64 million U.S. dollars). "Our commitment to the innovative Te Mato Vai project will promote further development in the Cook Islands while safe- guarding tourism gains," McCully said in a statement. The partnership is the first development project of its type in the Pacific and was announced at the Pacific Islands Forum annual leaders meeting in the Cook Islands in 2012. McCully would also attend the third New Zealand-Cook Islands Joint Ministerial Forum. "These annual ministerial talks reflect the value we place on our unique constitutional relationship of shared citizenry and currency," McCully said. "The discussions will cover a range of topics including economic reform, regional and international issues and New Zealand 's substantial development program." ^ top ^

China, Senegal decide to build long-term partnership (Xinhua)
China and Senegal on Thursday decided to build a long-term friendly and cooperative partnership during talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Senegalese President Macky Sall. Xi called on the two sides to maintain high-level engagement, promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges, enhance mutual understanding and trust, and firmly support each other on issues concerning their core interests and major concerns. Xi said China is willing to increase imports of Senegal's agricultural products and carry out cooperation on plantation and processing. China will encourage more companies to invest in Senegal and list the west African country as a tourist destination for Chinese citizens. Xi also called on the two sides to conduct more coordination and cooperation on global and regional affairs, jointly safeguard the common interests of developing countries and strengthen their voice and representation in international affairs. For his part, Sall spoke highly of projects China has helped Senegal build. He said China is strategically important to Senegal. Senegal hopes to deepen political trust, and expand bilateral cooperation in areas including energy, infrastructure construction, agricultural products, mineral products, communication and tourism, so as to promote Senegal's economic and social progress, and to strengthen its national governance capacity. Sall also invited China to establish cultural centers in Senegal. China-Africa relations were also on the agenda. Xi said China supports African countries to search for a development path according to their own situation, and is ready to share experience with them on national governance, and promote common development. China will pay more attention to African countries' needs and "teach them how to fish instead of giving them fishes directly," to help them realize independent and sustainable development, Xi noted. Xi vowed to work with Senegal to jointly promote the development of a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership. Sall echoed Xi, saying China is the country giving the most assistance to Africa, and the continent is grateful for the valuable support. Noting African countries are making efforts to obtain regional security and stability, promoting multinational and multi-regional intercommunication, and pushing forward economic growth, Sall said African nations wanted to learn from China's successful development and strengthen their cooperation. The two presidents also witnessed the signing of an agreement on governmental economic and technological cooperation. Sall was invited by Xi to pay a state visit to China from Feb. 19 to 22. This is his first visit to China since taking office in March 2012. ^ top ^

China, Australia hold 15th human rights dialogue (Xinhua)
China and Australia held their 15th round of human rights dialogue on Thursday in Beijing. The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on a wide range of issues and the dialogue was positive, frank and fruitful, according to a press release of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Both sides introduced their latest achievements in protecting and promoting human rights, the press release said, noting that China elaborated on improvements to the judicial system. They also touched on the human rights work of the United Nations, according to the press release. China also expressed concern on the issue of Australia's treatment of refugees and the situation of indigenous people, it said. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong and Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Gillian Bird co-chaired the dialogue. The Australian delegation will also visit the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences as well as meet with non-governmental organizations. ^ top ^

China considers submitting Nanking massacre papers to Unesco heritage project (SCMP)
China says it might counter a Japanese bid to submit wartime letters by suicide pilots to a UN heritage programme with documents of Japanese atrocities during the Nanking massacre. Earlier this month, Minamikyushu city in southern Japan, the site of a base where young kamikaze pilots trained for their final missions, applied to list pilots' final letters to their families with the Memory of the World Programme of the UN cultural organisation, Unesco. Beijing's move was revealed to non-mainland journalists during a two-day tour - organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - to the former Chinese capital, which today uses the post-war pinyin spelling Nanjing. It was where defeated Chinese troops and residents were subjected to mass rape and slaughter after the Japanese invaded. China and Japan are locked in an acrimonious dispute over a cluster of islands in the East China Sea known as the Diaoyus in China and Senkakus by Japan, which currently occupies them. Relations between Asia's two most powerful nations deteriorated further after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine war memorial in December and Naoki Hyakuta, an executive at Japan state broadcaster NHK, called accounts of the Nanking massacre propaganda. Although the exact number of casualties is not known, China says 300,000 civilians and soldiers died in the six-week spree of rape, murders and destruction when the Japanese military entered the then capital on December 13, 1937, shortly after they attacked Shanghai. Some foreign academics put the death count lower, including the China historian and former Yale professor Jonathan Spence, who estimates that 42,000 soldiers and citizens were killed and that 20,000 women were raped, many of whom later died. The visiting journalists were given a guided tour of the Nanking Massacre Memorial Hall, which is built on the site of mass graves and houses a museum dedicated to the invasion. "Japan has repeatedly denied historical facts," said Wang Han, deputy curator of the Nanking Archives. "We have to make the international community aware of the facts." China has not yet made a formal application to Unesco, but Wang said: "We have the intention [to do so] and we will see what steps should be taken." The journalists were shown documents - some of which were produced by the Nationalist government before 1949 - disclosing the number of bodies buried in the city, and civilians' accounts of how their homes were ransacked by Japanese troops. Xia Shuqin, 86, who survived the onslaught, told journalists how Japanese soldiers killed eight members of her family, including her mother and two sisters after they were raped. Xia blacked out until she heard the crying of her four-year-old sister. She awoke to find herself soaked in blood and surrounded by decomposing corpses. "For 10 days, we hid among the dead. We were miserable," said Xia, who recovered after an elderly couple moved her to the International Safety Zone, a refugee camp set up by foreign residents to shelter 250,000 people. The journalists were also taken to the former residence of John Rabe, a German national who had worked for Siemens in the city since 1931 and who later became the chairman of the safety zone's committee. Rabe's residence sheltered about 600 people in his courtyard, around which he hung Nazi flags to warn Japanese troops not to trespass on his property, said Yang Shanyou, director of the safety zone memorial hall. ^ top ^

China, Pakistan push on with corridor (China Daily)
The top leaders of China and Pakistan vowed on Thursday to press ahead with the construction of a cross-border trade corridor. Premier Li Keqiang hailed the trade corridor as an important strategic decision for the two nations as he met visiting Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain in Beijing. Li said the corridor has set up a new framework for pragmatic bilateral cooperation and increases the possibility of more such cooperation in the future. The corridor, which Li proposed during his visit to Islamabad in May, is a multibillion-dollar project connecting Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to the port of Gwadar in southwestern Pakistan. Because China shares a 600-km border with Pakistan, the two nations should also promote interconnection through better highway and railway infrastructure, Li said. Li singled out energy, transportation infrastructure and industrial parks as projects for the two governments to push forward, adding that such projects "promote work in all areas by setting good examples". "China is willing to strengthen the cooperation with Pakistan on international and regional affairs and bring about mutual support on the peace, stability and prosperity of the world," he said. Hussain said Pakistan sees its friendship with China as the "pillar" of its diplomatic policy and security policy. "The friendship with China is also the wish of the entire Pakistani society," he added. Li also promoted China's heavy equipment during his meeting with Hussain. The premier said the quality of China's heavy equipment is "guaranteed". Hussain had met President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. The two sides agreed on the construction of the new Gwadar international airport, a highway upgrade project linking the nations and a joint research center for hydropower technology. It is Hussain's first official foreign trip since he took office in September. ^ top ^

Chinese ambassador to U.S. calls for "constructive" attitude toward bilateral ties (Xinhua)
China's top envoy to the U.S. on Thursday refuted U.S. criticism of China's move over contested waters, calling for "constructive" attitude towards highly sensitive issues in Sino-U.S. relations. "I think it's extremely important for people who are still working in the government to follow a constructive spirit, especially on some of the highly sensitive issues," Cui Tiankai, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S., said at an event at the Center for American Progress. "Honestly, I have to point out here statements by government officials and spokespersons sometimes using coercive language are not that constructive," Cui said at the Washington-based think tank. The Ambassador also dismissed as "not constructive" statements that "may start with a claim that no position is taken on certain issues then continue with lengthy accusations which are clearly biased and groundless." In addition, Cui voiced his disapproval to "unilateral interpretations of some international legal instruments and attempt to impose these interpretations on others." "I hope in the future we will not see such statements very often," he said. Some U.S. officials have voiced criticism against China's establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone in East China Sea late last year. At Thursday's event, Cui said presidents of China and the U.S. have made the important decision of building "a new model of major power relationship" and he has confidence in achieving the goal. He was referring to a consensus reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama during their meeting at the Annenberg Retreat in U.S. State of California last June. "We should really aim at win-win cooperation between our two countries, whether in the Asia-Pacific or elsewhere, and on the basis of mutual respect," the Ambassador said. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Health officials confirm three more H7N9 bird flu cases (Global Times)
Three more people were confirmed to be infected with the H7N9 bird flu in three Chinese provinces, health authorities said Sunday. The infection of a man, 83, from Huai'an in East China's Jiangsu Province was confirmed Sunday morning, according to the provincial health and family planning commission. The man, surnamed Han, brought eight chickens he had raised to a market for slaughtering. He is in critical condition, according to the commission. So far, 13 human H7N9 cases have been reported in Jiangsu Province this year, including four deaths, according to the commission. Meanwhile, a 44-year-old man surnamed Qin was confirmed to be infected with the virus Saturday. The patient is in critical condition and is receiving treatment at a hospital in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, where he lives, according to a statement issued by the provincial health and family planning commission. The other case was reported in Hunan Province, where a 46-year-old man tested positive for the H7N9 bird flu virus in the city of Loudi. The man, surnamed Yan, is the 10th case reported in Hunan. He is now receiving treatment at a local hospital, according to the provincial health department. ^ top ^

Xi calls on leaders to carry out new reforms (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping told provincial and ministerial-level cadres on Monday to have confidence in China's government system while pushing forward the reforms unveiled at November's top Party conference. In the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, held in November, the Party passed a series of reform plans, including changes to the country's political and judicial systems. Xi made his remarks during the opening ceremony of a workshop that includes top provincial and ministerial-level officials, who will have an important role in the promotion and implementation of the reforms. The workshop will concentrate on the spirit of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee and how to promote and deepen the reforms. "Our governance system and capacity is generally good and suitable to the national conditions and development requirements of the country, but it still needs to be improved, and we should make more of an effort to improve our ability to govern the country,' Xi said at the ceremony. Xi said the current governance system in China is a result of the country's development on the basis of its historical and cultural traditions and its social and economic development. "Without solid confidence in our system, we cannot have the motivation to comprehensively deepen the reforms, and without continuous reforms, we cannot be completely confident in our system,' Xi said. "It's only the first step to draft a good document in the 'Long March'. The key is to put the document into practice,' he added. The comprehensive reform is based on the country's overall interests, fundamental interests and long-term interests, and choosing reform based on personal preferences should be avoided, Xi said. "We should be determined to continue the reform, as long as it is good for the cause of the Party and the people, for the general public and the stability and prosperity of the Party and the country,' Xi said. ^ top ^

Courts try to improve efficiency (China Daily)
China's top court is drafting a guideline to speed up cases involving minor crimes to improve efficiency and make better use of resources, a senior judge said. Misdemeanors have piled up since a number of offenses that used to be punished in the laojiao system, or re-education through labor, were written into the Criminal Law, said a senior judge of the Supreme People's Court, who requested anonymity. Cases involving theft rose by 7.5 percent in 2011, when the revision took effect, and rose again by 16.6 percent in 2012, according to the court. But the number of judges has not kept pace with the increasing workload. Some courts have adopted a pilot program to cope with minor crimes, where the defendant enters a guilty plea and the facts of the case are undisputed, the senior judge said. Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, has said earlier that after the laojiao system was abolished, courts at each level were asked to boost trial procedures. The top court said the pilot program has been effective and the proposed guideline is soliciting opinions, but it did not disclose how many cases have been concluded under the program. The program asks courts to conclude a minor criminal case within 15 days, the senior judge said. For minor offenses, courts can ask defendants to appear in a courtroom and give judgments at a specified time, the senior judge said. One court in the Xixiangtang district of Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, once spent about 40 minutes concluding four cases. A court in the Luohu district of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, even considers reducing punishment, such as cutting 10 percent off a sentence, if the defendant enters a guilty plea, the senior judge said. Some courts are establishing special teams to hear minor cases and develop video trials, the judge said. "The experiments are helpful to improve trial quality and judges' efficiency," he said, citing Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court as an example. The Chaoyang court has established a group of three people — a judge, a legal assistant and a clerk — and can conclude a minor case within seven days, he said, adding that the system has helped the authority complete more than 1,000 minor criminal cases a year. Wu Xiaojun, presiding judge of the criminal department of the court, said the system that has been used since 2009 has worked well. "Previously, criminal detention was seldom an option, as sometimes a suspect may have been detained months before the judgment. So a sentence involving further detention was not suitable, in some cases, as the maximum period for detention is six months," Wu said. To better temper justice with mercy, the court established a green channel with the district's public security bureau and prosecuting authority in 2009, hoping to finish investigation, prosecution and trial within one month, Wu said. "After the channel came into force, some criminal terms, such as criminal control and criminal detention, have been applied effectively, while our work has become more efficient," Wu added. The court in Xixiangtang has reduced the number of times it uses vehicles for legal work, such as delivering documents, by more than 30 percent, while the number of detained people in Luohu has also decreased by almost 30 percent, according to the senior judge. Cheng Lei, an associate law professor at Renmin University of China, has been keeping a close watch on the system and said it should be developed and extended carefully. "We shouldn't complain that we don't have enough judges to hear cases, because some of them deal with administrative affairs after promotion. Instead, we should ask them to solve disputes in grassroots courts," Cheng said. "I understand courts want to solve disputes more quickly, but a reasonable distribution of judges, I think, should be the first step," Cheng said. Ensuring defendants' rights should be also taken into consideration if the system is extended across the country, Cheng said. ^ top ^

Beijing rejects UN's 'unreasonable' criticism in North Korea report (SCMP)
China rejected what it said was “unreasonable criticism” of Beijing in a new UN report on human rights abuses in North Korea, but it would not be drawn on whether it would veto any proceedings in the Security Council to bring Pyongyang to book. North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Kim Jong-un, the leader of the country, should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities, UN investigators said on Monday. The unprecedented public rebuke and warning to a head of state by a UN inquiry is likely to further antagonise Kim and complicate efforts to persuade him to rein in his isolated country's nuclear weapons programme and belligerent confrontations with South Korea and the West. The UN investigators also told China, the North's main ally, that it might be “aiding and abetting crimes against humanity” by sending migrants and defectors back to North Korea to face torture or execution, a charge that prompted a sharp rebuke from Beijing. “Of course we cannot accept this unreasonable criticism,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing on Tuesday. “We believe that politicising human rights issues is not conducive towards improving a country's human rights. “We believe that taking human rights issues to the International Criminal Court is not helpful to improving a country's human rights situation.” Hua would not answer what she said was a “hypothetical question” on whether China would use its veto powers if the report was brought to the UN Security Council for further action. Diplomats have said China will most likely block any such proceedings. Asked why China blocked UN investigators from going to the North Korean border, across which many North Koreans cross illegally, Hua said she could not comment and would have to look into the matter. “These people are not refugees. We term them illegal North Korean migrants,” she added. China deals with these people appropriately “in accordance with international and domestic laws and the humanitarian principles”, Hua said, declining to provide an estimate for how many of these people have cross into China. The investigators told Kim in a letter they were advising the United Nations to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court to make sure any culprits “including possibly yourself” were held accountable. In a statement in Geneva, North Korea “categorically and totally” rejected the accusations set out in the 372-page report, saying they were based on material faked by hostile forces backed by the United States, the European Union and Japan. RIGHT TO RULE - “The world is finally waking up to the fact that North Korea is a far-right state, in that the regime derives its right to rule from a commitment to military might and racial purity,” said Brian Myers, a South Korea-based North Korea expert. “But for that very reason, the regime has never felt very embarrassed by criticism of its human rights record, and has reported sneeringly on that criticism to its own people. Perhaps it will realise that it cannot keep attracting investors and collaborators without making more of a pretence to progressive or leftist tendencies.” The findings came out of a year-long investigation involving public testimony by defectors, including former prison camp guards, at hearings in South Korea, Japan, Britain and the United States. Defectors included Shin Dong-hyuk, who gave harrowing accounts of his life and escape from a prison camp. As a 13-year-old, he informed a prison guard of a plot by his mother and brother to escape and both were executed, according to a book on his life called Escape from Camp 14. The investigators said abuses were mainly perpetrated by officials in structures that ultimately reported to Kim - state security, the Ministry of People's Security, the army, the judiciary and Workers' Party of Korea. The team recommended targeted UN sanctions against civil officials and military commanders suspected of the worst crimes. It did not reveal any names, but said it had compiled a database of suspects from evidence and testimony. ^ top ^

Senior Shaanxi political adviser placed under graft probe (SCMP)
Zhu Zuoli, the vice-chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference in the northern province of Shaanxi, has become the latest senior official to be ensnared in a nationwide corruption crackdown. The Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) issued a brief statement on Wednesday morning announcing that Zhu, 59, was being investigated for “serious disciplinary violations”. The statement provided no additional details, although CCDI routinely uses the phrase as a euphemism for corruption. He was the 20th provincial senior official brought down in the new leadership's anti-corruption campaign which was launched immediately after the 18th National Party Congress in November 2012. Zhu, from Xiayi county in Henan province, joined the Shaanxi provincial government in 1982 after gaining a bachelor's degree in economics at Northwest University in Xi'an city, capital of Shaanxi. He made his way up Party ranks while working at the Shaanxi Provincial Economic and Trade Commission between 1988 and 2000. In 2005 he rose to deputy general secretary of the Shaanxi provincial party committee. One year later, he was promoted to vice-director of the Development and Reform Commission of Shaanxi Province and in 2008 he became the director, and played a key role in the Leading Group for Western Region Development. Last January Zhu became the vice-chairman of the Shaanxi People's Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body. He is also a deputy of the 12th National People's Congress. His last official appearance was reported to be October last year, when he gave remarks at the Xi'an city Standing Committee's democratic consultation meeting, calling for giving more attention to public opinion and taking action on social reform. ^ top ^

Zhou Yongkang aide's corruption case linked to state oil giant CNPC (SCMP)
The former Zhou Yongkang aide placed under investigation for graft this week had cut energy deals with a state oil executive also implicated in the far-reaching corruption probe. Two mainland newspapers reported yesterday that Hainan vice-governor Ji Wenlin, who on Tuesday night was accused of breaching Communist Party discipline, had worked closely with Li Hualin, a former deputy general manager of China National Petroleum Corporation, the nation's largest oil company. The corruption inquiries into Ji and Li are among several believed to be part of an unprecedented probe into Zhou, the country's retired domestic security tsar. Li was among three senior China National Petroleum executives targeted by internal party investigators in August. Zhou's tenure as CNPC general manager in the 1990s made the company a political power base that helped propel his rise to the supreme Politburo Standing Committee. Ji served as Zhou's personal secretary for a decade until he became Haikou party chief and mayor in 2011. The reports by The Beijing News and the 21st Century Business Herald yesterday said Ji was suspected of wrongdoing in projects between Haikou and Kunlun Energy, a CNPC subsidiary overseen by Li. The reports cited anonymous sources as saying that the two men had close ties. After Ji moved to Haikou in February 2011, the city signed a 250 million yuan (HK$317 million) transport contract with Kunlun Energy. Haikou and Kunlun subsequently set up a bus company, and the municipal government supported the energy company in setting up 55 filling stations across the city. An anonymous source also told the 21st Century Business Herald that Kunlun won the transport contract after Ji met CNPC's former chairman Jiang Jiemin in Beijing in early 2011. Jiang, another protégé of Zhou, was serving as head of the regulator overseeing state-owned enterprises when he was placed under investigation for corruption in the summer. Mao Zefeng, a senior assistant secretary to the board of directors of PetroChina, a listed arm of CNPC, declined to comment on the reported ties between Ji and Li. "Co-operation was between Kunlun and Haikou, not the company and the vice-governor," Mao said. Kunlun Energy was not available for comment. Several senior CNPC officials have been sacked since August amid President Xi Jinping's campaign against corruption. The central authorities late last month began briefing officials on the findings of the corruption case centred on Zhou, signalling that one of the country's most significant graft investigations in decades had entered its final stage. Ji was promoted to deputy Hainan governor last year. By yesterday, his name had already been removed from the provincial government website. ^ top ^

Liu Xia, wife of China's jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, hospitalised (SCMP)
The wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo has been admitted to a Beijing hospital after police refused to allow her to seek medical help overseas, a close family friend said on Thursday. Liu Xia, who has been under effective house arrest since her husband Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, suffers from heart problems, possibly severe depression, and other ailments made worse during her time under guard, her friends say. She was admitted to another hospital earlier this month under heavy police guard but the hospital told her to leave after a day without giving a reason, said Mo Shaoping, a prominent human rights lawyer and a close family friend. Liu Xia was admitted to the second hospital on Tuesday but it is unclear how long she will remain there because her family has been told by police not to disclose details about her condition and whereabouts, Mo said. “Her family had proposed seeking medical treatment overseas but the police didn't approve it,” Mo said. It was then that Liu's family was told to find treatment for her in Beijing. In December, Liu Xia's friends said she refused to seek medical help because she is afraid of further punishment. Liu, who has not been convicted of any crime, is rarely allowed out of her home, except for occasional visits to her husband and family, and is almost never permitted visitors. Ye Du, a writer and a friend, said Liu told him of her heart problems when they spoke recently by telephone. “Last month, she said her heart was not feeling too good and she was sent to the hospital, where they told her that her heart was lacking blood,” Ye said. Ye confirmed Liu's family had asked to seek medical help for her overseas, possibly in Europe, but police had rejected the request. “The environment that she's been placed in, having been put under house arrest for so many years, is the main reason (for her worsening health), and they thought that going overseas was the only way they could fully guarantee that she will have good treatment,” Ye said. Another friend, Ma Shaofeng, said Liu had told him when they spoke a week ago she had suffered a heart attack. The United States and the European Union have repeatedly urged China to let Liu Xia move freely again. Liu Xiaobo, a veteran dissident involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests crushed by the Chinese army, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges for organising a petition urging the overthrow of one-party rule. Liu Xia filed an extraordinary appeal for her husband's retrial last month, a move that could renew the focus on China's human rights record. The Chinese government says that Liu Xiaobo is a common criminal and has rejected as unwarranted interference any criticism of its handling of the case by foreign governments. ^ top ^

Cartoon of hard-working Xi moves Chinese netizens (Xinhua)
An online cartoon entitled "Where Has Chinese President Xi Jinping's Time Gone?" has hit the headlines, depicting the leader's hard work via cute animation. It portrays Xi in a gray jacket and blue trousers with maps and charts featuring his busy schedules, including both domestic and foreign travels, the meetings he has presided over and his hobbies. The cartoon, released by Beijing-based on Wednesday, has been much discussed in online forums, with "President Xi works too hard" and "the cartoon figure is so cute" typifying the comments. Yang Mingxing, who is responsible for the cartoon, told Beijing News that her team was inspired to make the cartoon by comments Xi made at the Winter Olympic Games. During his visit to Sochi for the opening ceremony of the Games, the president said in an interview with Russian media that he devoted most of his time to work while quoting a song named "Where Has Time Gone?" that was performed at this year's Spring Festival gala. According to the cartoon, since Xi was elected general secretary of the Communist party of China (CPC) Central Committee in November 2012, he has made 12 research trips throughout China, covering 11 provincial-level regions. The cartoon also shows that Xi has spent 39 days on five trips overseas, covering 14 countries on five continents, since he took the helm as Chinese president in March 2013. In 2013, Xi attended meetings on a monthly basis, with the number of such commitments peaking at six. The most important meetings have been the annual gatherings of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top advisory body. Xi chaired the group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on 12 occasions, covering topics including anti-corruption drives, deepening reform and "cultural soft power." During his tiny amount of spare time, Xi is a big reader and loves sports, turning his hand to swimming, climbing, ball games and martial arts, according to the cartoon. In order to create a vivid image of the president, Yang's team gathered a number of his pictures to "grasp his expressions and features." The clothes were based on his daily wear, and the cartoon figure stands with his feet pointing to different sides, an illustrators' technique designed to make the image more cute and friendly. A netizen with the screen name "Xiaodipanwuxianda" suggested on Twitter-like that the comic maker should make a series of such animations. "Guduqiudan" wrote, "President Xi works really hard and I should be introspective about where my own time has gone." Zhu Lijia, professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said that such cartoon imagery breaks the conventional mystery surrounding leaders of China and creates closer ties with the Chinese people. It is a sign for Chinese society to be more open and confident, Zhu added. In October last year, Xi appeared in cartoon form for the first time in a five-minute animation that compared China's government system with that of the United States and Britain. The video, produced by a studio called "On the road to revival," featured stories about Xi, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The animation surprised Internet users with its frankness on leaders with both Chinese and English versions, and has been viewed over two million times online. ^ top ^

Zero tolerance to judicial corruption: top procurator (Xinhua)
China's procurator-general Cao Jianming on Thursday pledged to fight against corruption within the procuratorial system. There must be zero tolerance to judicial corruption and any procurators violating disciplines must be punished, said Cao, procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, while attending a meeting on anti-graft work within the procuratorial system. Supervision should be strengthened to ensure procuratorial power is performed according to the law and regulations, Cao said. In January, he called on procuratorial organs to provide specific measures for the implementation of a five-year (2013-2017) plan on building a system to punish and prevent corruption, issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee in December. ^ top ^

State Council wants public approval list (Global Times)
The State Council, or China's cabinet, has required all central government departments make public catalogues of their remaining administrative approval items. According to a circular issued by the State Council on Thursday, all central government departments should publish their remaining administrative approval items on their official websites in the forthcoming days, opening them up to public oversight. Moreover, the circular said that departments should neither exercise extra-catalogue administrative approvals, nor reinstate exempted items under disguise. The State Council will combine the catalogues into a collective publication. Government departments are also required to solicit public opinions on further slashing of administrative approvals, to take stock of all remaining approval items and to give priority to fields in which the removal of administrative approvals may have had an impact. ^ top ^

Graft connections between Zhou Yongkang secretaries picked out by media sources (SCMP)
The media on the mainland have run extensive reports hinting at the links between several top officials under investigation for corruption and the former security tsar Zhou Yongkang. The reports do not directly implicate Zhou, but suggest his close allies were involved in an organised web of graft. The articles came after the government's anti-corruption watchdog announced this week that a deputy governor of Hainan, Ji Wenlin, had been accused of graft. Ji was Zhou's secretary for a decade. Central authorities began briefing officials last month on the findings of the corruption case centred on Zhou, but the investigation has never been acknowledged publicly by the government or covered openly in the mainland media. The graft inquiry focuses on Zhou's main powerbases throughout his career, Sichuan province, the state oil and gas industry and the country's security agencies. The China Business Journal ran an article highlighting how Ji's career crossed with Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor of Sichuan. Guo is another former Zhou secretary under investigation for corruption and the newspaper hinted of a wider conspiracy. "A 'secretary gang' falls," the article said. "As the anti-graft net continues to widen, members of the 'secretary gang' closely tied to each other have finally been caught one by one." The website of the global edition of the People's Daily republished the China Business Journal article and said in a headline that several officials who used to be secretaries of "a certain senior official" had been placed under investigation for corruption. The piece was removed from the website a couple of hours later. The Beijing News published an editorial saying the investigation into Ji was part of high-level graft inquiry that went to the top of the party, but it again fell short of directly naming Zhou. "It's no longer an individual graft case, but senior-level, systematic and organised corruption," the editorial said. The article went on to list the areas under investigation, most Zhou's former powerbases. "A tangled corrupt network has already surfaced. It controls energy, politics and the legal system, land and resources authorities and several provincial administrative departments.'', the Global Times's website, suggested that more arrests would come at the highest level. ^ top ^



Beijing issues first yellow smog alert since new rules (Global Times)
Beijing's weather authorities issued a yellow alert for heavy smog on Thursday, the first time since the city launched an emergency response plan in October last year. The pollution is expected to last for the next three days. After briefly seeing sunshine on Wednesday, heavy smog blanketed the capital again on Thursday morning. The smog was expected to become even heavier on Friday due to poor conditions for diffusing smog, according to the Beijing Meteorological Bureau. Data from the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center forecast that the whole city would be at Level 5 and Level 6, the two highest pollution levels, on Thursday night through Friday. The Beijing municipal government has warned schools to reduce outdoor sports classes and advised the public to take protection measures. This is the first time in 2014 that Beijing authorities have issued a yellow alert, which means severe air pollution is expected the next day, or that there has been three consecutive days of heavy pollution. The yellow alert represents the second lowest level in a four-level system. The standard was set according to an emergency response plan released by the Beijing government in October last year, as part of a raft of measures to deal with deteriorating air quality. Under the yellow alert, major polluters in the city are forced to take discharge reduction measures. The initiation of the emergency response plan came less than a week after the public questioned the municipal government over its "inability" or even "laziness" when it comes to tackling pollution. The air quality index at monitoring stations in downtown Beijing read between 424 and 470 at Level 6, indicating hazardous pollution on Sunday. However, the choking smog did not trigger any emergency plan and enraged many Net users. Beijing's own air pollution control and prevention regulation will take effect on March 1, after the State Council released the national action plan in September 2013. It prioritizes the reduction of PM2.5 density and will impose unlimited fines on those who violate emissions requirements. ^ top ^



Dongguan's war on vice bad for business all round (SCMP)
In downtown Dongguan, neon lights flash at night and billboards lure customers into the saunas and massage parlours. At first glance it appears to be business as usual. But if you ask security guards at the gates of luxury hotels about the sex trade they quickly suggest you move on. These services, they say, are no longer available. The crackdown on the vice trade has severely impacted many businesses, some with only a loose connection to the world's oldest profession. While state media have hailed the crackdown as essential to clean up morals and curb corruption, most people in Dongguan's service and retail sectors said they had never realised until now just how important the sex trade was to their business. From taxi drivers to beauty salons, apartment landladies to mobile phone sellers, almost everyone said their akings had dropped since the crackdown earlier this month. Many luxury hotels are almost empty these days," said a clerk at the four-star Vienna Hotel. Dongguan has been one of the most prosperous cities in the Pearl River Delta for three decades. For many years its economy grew an average of 18 per cent a year, while between 2003 and 2006 it grew at more than 19.5 per cent a year, the fastest pace in Guangdong. But the financial crisis in 2008 hit the city's manufacturing sector hard, and Dongguan slipped towards the bottom of the province's growth figures. As manufacturing declined, the sex industry gained in importance. Analysts have estimated the business now helps generate about 50 billion yuan (HK$63 billion) a year. The pillar of the vice trade is the hotel business. As a second-tier city, Dongguan, surprisingly, has the highest density of luxury hotels on the mainland. Official statistics show the city has 90 hotels with four stars or more. But the average room rate for five-star hotels in the city was about 500 yuan (HK$635) last year, significantly lower than the average of 765 yuan in Guangzhou and 817 yuan in Shenzhen. With low room rates, hotels find it more difficult to make a profit. Hence, some luxury hotels provide sex services under the cover of saunas and massage parlours. These businesses are now under intense scrutiny amid the crackdown. Official reports said the city had shut 190 saunas and revoked the licences of 11 entertainment venues since February 9. "I have run a snack stall near a hotel for three years and have never seen it close its karaoke business, even though there were sex-trade-related raids before," said a street vendor near the Lion Hotel in Changping, one of the best-known sex hotels in the area. "Many girls working in the hotel loved spending time at my stall, but they have not shown up all day. I earned 5,000 yuan a month selling snacks to the girls, but my income today is only 20 yuan. I think the crackdown this time will last a long time. I'm thinking of closing the stand and leaving Changping." The cosmetics and clothes sectors were booming in the days when the sex trade was out in the open, but now they, too, are feeling the chill. "Our average daily turnover was 5,000 to 6,000 yuan, but now the figure has dropped to about 2,000 yuan," said Liang Ping, a saleswoman with the Japan DHC Cosmetics shop in a crowded downtown area. "There are hundreds of cosmetics and clothes shops here. All of us feel the same." Her shop used to be busy in the evenings and stays open until 10.30pm, but these days there are almost no clients after 8pm. Dongguan Qile Shangcheng Company, a wholesale firm selling adult toys, underwear and condoms, estimated sales had dropped by up to 20 per cent. "Local customers accounted for about 70 per cent of total business. We might need to increase sales outside Guangdong," said general manager Ou Yunqi. Even some mobile phone vendors miss the days when sex workers spent generously to get the latest fashionable device. "My main clients are sex workers. They would often spend thousands of yuan every two or three months to buy the latest mobile phone," a salesman said, "Now they have all disappeared." Property agent Ye Weijie said business had dropped 30 per cent. "The crackdown has influenced the rental market, but housing owners are still reluctant to cut their prices. They are waiting and watching," he said. Li Xingwang, deputy head of the research department of the property agent company Hopefluent Group, said serviced apartment might be the hardest hit. "Many rentals have been cancelled and property sales are also down." Li said the crackdown would definitely harm Dongguan's economy and hurt investors' confidence. "We still need to wait a month to get any clear gauge of the real impact," he said. ^ top ^



West seeing 'real Tibet' (Global Times)
With a higher degree of opening-up, more Westerners have begun to see the real picture of Tibet and Xinjiang, said a senior official of China's ethnic and religious affairs. Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, wrote in an article released Wednesday on website that there are finally voices in the West to reflect on its policy toward China and its own human rights records. "Although such opinion is still weak and well under attack, it represents a historical trend," said Zhu. ^ top ^



450,000 affected by Xinjiang earthquake (Global Times)
The number of people affected by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that jolted Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Wednesday has shot up to more than 450,000 from the previously reported 7,800, news portal reported Saturday. Relief work is progressing and no casualties have been reported. A total of 68,340 houses have collapsed and 497 bridges have been damaged by the earthquake, according to statistics released by the regional civil affairs department. The department said reported statistics on losses inflicted by the disaster have surged since calculations are still under way. The epicenter, in a sparsely populated area with an average altitude of 5,000 meters, is more than 50 kilometers from the nearest settlement, Aqqan township in Hotan Prefecture. ^ top ^

Local police reveal details of Xinjiang attack (Global Times)
Police in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Sunday revealed details of a terrorist attack involving 13 terrorist suspects that took place on Friday. Police investigation showed that the attack in the seat of Wushi county were "organized, premeditated terrorist attacks," said an official statement. Eight terrorists were killed by police and three others by their own suicide devices during the attack. According to the police, a man named Mehmut Tohti started to spread religious extremism three years ago. He headed a group of 13 terrorist suspects since September 2013. The terrorists, riding motorbikes and cars, carried explosive devices and knives and attacked a team of police on patrol at around 4 pm on Friday, according to the police. Police seized dozens of explosive devices and hacking knives at the scene. ^ top ^

Beijing says religious extremists behind latest Xinjiang unrest (SCMP)
Religious extremists were responsible for a “terrorist assault” on Friday in China's far western region of Xinjiang that left 11 people dead, state media said, adding details about the latest violence to hit the restive area with a large Muslim population. Xinjiang has been convulsed for years by violence that Beijing blames on Islamist militants and separatists who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan. But exiles and many rights groups trace the cause to China's policies, including curbs on Islam and the Uygur people's culture and language, charges the government denies. An investigation showed the attack in Wushi county, close to China's border with Kyrgyzstan, was an “organised, premeditated terrorist assault targeting the police,” state news agency Xinhua said late on Sunday, citing Xinjiang police. A group of 13 “terrorists” trained for six months under a man named Mehmut Tohti, who had “spread religious extremism” for three years, Xinhua said. It did not identify him as one of the mainly Muslim Uygur people who call the region home, but his name suggests he is. Xinhua said the extremists listened to audio products and watched videos of terrorism content before the attack on police vehicles, adding that since January the group had made explosive devices and knives. The agency earlier reported that the group put LNG cylinders in their car in a bid to use it as a bomb. Eight were killed by police and three died “by their own suicide bomb”, it said. Many vehicles in the region use LNG, or liquefied natural gas, as fuel. Two civilians and two police officers were injured in the incident and five police vehicles were damaged or destroyed, Xinhua said. More than 100 people, several policemen among them, have been killed in violence in Xinjiang since last April, state media have reported. Last month Kyrgyzstan said its border guards had killed 11 people believed to be members of a militant group of Uygurs. Rights advocates argue that Chinese reports about violence there cannot be trusted and that authorities restrict travel by journalists and do not allow independent and transparent investigations. ^ top ^



Taiwan's mainland affairs chief concludes historic visit (Global Times)
Taiwan's mainland affairs chief, Wang Yu-chi, left Shanghai for Taipei at noon on Friday after a four-day visit to the Chinese mainland. Wang left with his delegation of more than 20 people after paying a visit to a local school for children of Taiwanese business people in the morning. He arrived in Nanjing on Tuesday and held his first formal meeting with mainland counterpart Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office. During the meeting, the two agreed to open a regular communication channel between their departments. On Thursday evening, they enjoyed a chat over tea at the Peace Hotel in Shanghai, with the city being the second and last stop of Wang's trip. The hotel venue carried on the legacy of another historic mainland-Taiwan meeting in the same place 16 years ago. In 1998, Wang Daohan, then president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, and Koo Chen-fu, chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation, met at the Peace Hotel. During that meeting, the two sides agreed to begin a cross-Strait political dialogue. ^ top ^

'One China' principle is key to further talks with Taipei, Xi tells KMT's Lien (SCMP)
Communist Party chief Xi Jinping yesterday told honorary Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan that the mainland would respect Taiwan's choices so long as both sides negotiate under the "one China" principle. "We respect Taiwan people's choices of their social system and lifestyle," Xi told Lien at their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse yesterday. But he also warned that cross-strait ties would be affected if both sides were not willing to adhere to the "one China" principle under the so-called 1992 consensus. "If this foundation is damaged, cross-strait ties will return to the old unstable path," he said, calling for political dialogue between the two sides. "We are willing to carry out negotiations with Taiwan on equal footing under the 'one China' principle and make reasonable arrangements," he said. Lien told Xi that Taiwan would adhere to the 1992 consensus and that it understood cross-strait relations were not an international issue, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported. Yesterday's meeting with Lien - Xi's second since becoming Communist Party chief in October 2012 - came days after the first meeting between government officials from both sides of the strait. Xi praised last week's historic talks between Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, and his Taiwanese counterpart, Wang Yu-chi, saying they had yielded positive results. It was Xi's first public comment on the first official Beijing-Taipei exchange to take place in 65 years. In an apparent move to engage more people, Xi also said the mainland was willing to talk to any Taiwanese who wanted to promote cross-strait ties. Zhang Tongxin, a cross-strait affairs expert from Renmin University, said this signalled Beijing's eagerness to push non-governmental, cross-strait exchanges through alternative channels. "Lien … could significantly impact Taiwan's political and economic circles," Zhang said. "Xi met him because he is also a key advocator of Beijing's 'one China' principle. That means, all Taiwan's political party leaders will be able to talk to Beijing's leadership if they also agreed that there is only one China." ^ top ^



Premier Li stresses solid reform efforts (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday called for solid efforts in pushing forward reforms to achieve new breakthroughs in the country's economic and social development. At a workshop attended by leading officials of provincial-level regions and ministerial-level officials, Li reiterated the importance of reforms for sustainable and healthy growth. Acknowledging the difficulties in the process, he urged a determinate yet progressive approach by first piloting reforms in some areas before rolling them out nationwide. Li said the target is to make sure that benefits are shared by the public. During Tuesday's workshop, Li detailed major tasks in deepening reforms in areas such as administrative procedures, fiscal systems, financial market and regional development. He also stressed the proper handling of the relationship between government and market so as to create a fair environment for market entities. The workshop was presided by Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. China's economy grew 7.7 percent in 2013, overshooting the government target of 7.5 percent. The growth target for 2014 will be announced in March, which analysts largely expect to be kept at 7.5 percent to allow leeway for reforms. ^ top ^

FDI surge reflects confidence in China economy (Xinhua)
Foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Chinese mainland rose 16.11 percent year on year in January to reach 10.76 billion U.S. dollars, underlining investor confidence in China's economic outlook. The growth rate marked a surge from the 3.3-percent increase in December, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed on Tuesday. "The double-digit growth provided the most solid and convincing response to doubts such as whether China still has a favorable investment environment and whether foreign investors are confident in China's economic prospects," said Shen Danyang, the ministry's spokesman. The ministry said FDI from 10 major Asian economies climbed 22.16 percent to 9.55 billion U.S. dollars, including a 37.69-percent rise from Hong Kong, and a 197.92-percent rise from the Republic of Korea. FDI from the European Union fell 41.25 percent but that from the United States posted a solid gain of 34.9 percent to reach 369 million U.S. dollars. FDI in the country's service sector gained 57.02 percent in January to a record high of 6.33 billion U.S. dollars, or 58.8 percent of the total. In contrast, manufacturing sector inflows dropped 21.69 percent to 3.47 billion U.S. dollars. With an inflow of 8.21 billion U.S. dollars, the affluent east of China continues to grab the lion's share of FDI. However, Tuesday's data showed the country's central and western regions have become increasingly attractive for foreign investors. January's inflows to the central region stood at 1.57 billion U.S. dollars, up 89.07 percent from a year earlier. The west bagged 989 million U.S. dollars, up 71.73 percent. Tuesday's data also showed more Chinese firms are investing abroad as outbound direct investment by non-financial firms increased 47.2 percent year on year in January to 7.23 billion U.S. dollars. Investment in Japan soared 500 percent in January from a year ago, with that in Russia surging 282 percent. Shen cited three factors driving the encouraging growth in foreign investment. Firstly, investors' confidence has been buoyed by the reform efforts of China's new leadership, including the transformation of the government's role in market activities and economic restructuring. In particular, the ambitious master plan unveiled in November has solidified confidence in long-term investment in China. Secondly, stable political and economic conditions, a skilled labor force, strong infrastructure support as well as streamlined government administration have made China an attractive FDI destination. Thirdly, January's FDI inflow was mainly driven by service sector growth as China opens its service industry wider. The inflow growth in the service sector was matched by a decline in agriculture and the manufacturing sector, the spokesman said, noting this change will play a positive role in China's industrial transformation and yield more economic returns. "We expect FDI to maintain a good growth momentum this year," he added. Tuesday's figures come after last year's foreign investment into China reversed a 3.7-percent fall seen in 2012 and rebounded 5.25 percent amid firming confidence in the country's growth potential. ^ top ^

China to expand cross-border yuan use (Global Times)
China will continue to expand the cross-border use of the yuan this year, the central bank said on Wednesday. People's Bank of China (PBOC) will gradually upgrade the yuan formation mechanism and expand the exchange rate's floating range in an orderly way, according to the PBOC. The statement came after Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ) announced on Tuesday that five third-party payment firms have been approved to handle yuan-denominated cross-border payments in the zone. The Shanghai office of the PBOC said that Allinpay, 99Bill, ChinaPay, Dongfang Electronics and Shengpay are now allowed to process cross-border payment in the Renminbi in the FTZ. The Bank of China cross-border renminbi index hit a record high of 228 in the fourth quarter of 2013, the bank said on Tuesday. The yuan's cross-border settlement was 3.64 trillion yuan ($597 billion) in the first eleven months of 2013, 350 times that in 2009, the PBOC said at a work-planning meeting in January. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

China, DPRK holds diplomatic consultation (Xinhua)
China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a diplomatic consultation here during Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin's four-day visit to the DPRK. During the visit, Liu held a diplomatic consultation with officials from the DPRK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also met with officials from such departments as Korea Workers' Party and DPRK Economic Development Commission. The two sides exchanged views on China-DPRK relations, the regional situation and other issues of common concern. Liu said that China attaches great importance to China-DPRK relations, and is willing to expand pragmatic cooperation and promote the bilateral relations with mutual respect on each other' s interests. Liu said China hopes all parties concerned to work together to promote the easing of tensions on the Peninsula, to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula and to create conditions for an early resumption of the six-party talks. The DPRK side said that Pyongyang is willing to work with Beijing to promote bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields. Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the consistent stand of the DPRK and Pyongyang is willing to do its best to promote resumption of the six-party talks, by strengthening coordination with China to jointly safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula and the region. Liu arrived in Pyongyang later on Monday, which is a routine communication between the two countries' foreign ministries. ^ top ^

China welcomes Inter-Korea family reunions (Global Times)
China is delighted family reunions between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are set to take place, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday. "We welcome and support family reunions," Hua told a daily news briefing as more than 100 people from the ROK reunite with their long-lost relatives on Thursday in the DPRK's resort of Mount Kumgang. This is a right step taken by both sides, stemming from national interests, regional peace and stability, which will have a positive impact on improving DPRK-ROK ties and easing regional tensions, Hua said. "We believe the two sides will move towards building mutual trust, reconciliation and cooperation by unleashing goodwill and continuous efforts," Hua said. China sincerely hopes the two sides can seize opportunities, maintain the momentum for dialogue and cooperation, and make real efforts to improve relations and ease regional tensions, the spokeswoman said. Accompanied by 58 family members, 82 elderly people from the ROK, will reunite in Mount Kumgang with their long-lost families for the first time in six decades. There will be a second round of three-day reunions from Sunday, and 88 people from the DPRK will meet 361 ROK relatives. Millions of Koreans have been separated from their families since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in armistice, not peace treaty. Around 22,000 Koreans living across the border met during 18 rounds of family reunions from 1985 to 2010, but many Koreans died without meeting their relatives. ^ top ^



Two Mongolian skiers representing Mongolia at Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics (UB Post)
The opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter Olympics, symbolizing the peace and togetherness of humankind, took place on February 7, at Fisht Olympic Stadium. A team of six represented Mongolia in the opening parade of national teams. International Sports Masters B.Byambadorj and Ch.Otgontsetseg are competing in cross-country skiing. Their games are scheduled for February 14 and 15. The two skiers and their coaches arrived in Sochi on January 30 and moved into the Sochi Olympic Village. The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are the 13th Winter Olympic Games that Mongolia has participated in. Mongolia took part in the Winter Olympics for the first time in 1964 at the Innsbruck Olympics in Austria, with 13 athletes (ten men and three women) competing in Biathlon, Country-Cross Skiing and Speed Skating. Mongolia is marks its 50th Anniversary of competing in Winter Olympics this year. It was also India and North Korea's first time competing in the Winter Olympics in 1964. State Honored Athlete and skater L.Tsend led the Mongolian team and walked as a flag bearer for Mongolia in Innsbruck 1964, Grenoble 1968 and the Sapporo 1972 Winter Olympics. Skier L.Dorj also competed in two Winter Olympic Games and coached his juniors in four more Winter Olympics. The names of the two athletes are highlighted in the Mongolian history of sports. ^ top ^

Taiwan-Mongolia MOU signed for cooperation on renewable energy (
Taiwan and Mongolia signed a memorandum of understanding Monday to establish institutionalized cooperation in renewable energy generation and energy efficiency management. The document was signed in Taipei by officials representing the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and Mongolia"s Ministry of Energy. Both Taiwan and Mongolia have excellent potential for developing renewable energy such as solar and wind power, said Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Duh Tyzz-jiun. In addition to cooperating on the development and management of renewable energy, MOEA Bureau of Energy (BOE) Director-General Wang Yunn-ming said Taiwan is ready to share its experience in replacing aging coal-fired electricity generators with Mongolia, which relies on coal for 48 percent of its overall power generation. Taiwan has made great strides in the development of solar and wind power, but companies in the sector are restricted in their ability to enter overseas markets by a lack of internationally recognized success, the BOE said. The memorandum is expected to help Taiwanese companies establish a record of success with which they will be able to expand their business opportunities, according to the BOE. ^ 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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