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
  22-28.3.2014, No. 517  
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Table of contents


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Bilateral Issues

Consultative meeting of Mongolia and Switzerland (UB Post)
The third annual Consultative Meeting of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and Switzerland was held in Bern, Switzerland on March 24. Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs D.Gankhuyag led Mongolian representatives and Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant State Secretary for Asia Pacific, Beat Nobs, led Swiss representatives. During the meeting, the two sides exchanged their opinions about current processes and the future of relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Switzerland. They also spoke about regional and multilateral issues. The sides highlighted the successful development of cooperation in the politics, art, humanities and development sectors, while discussing the events and activities for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Switzerland. During the anniversary, both sides will organize various events of culture, exhibition and business meetings. They discussed obtainable steps to develop economic cooperation and trade. In particular, Mongolia emphasized the importance of cooperation in developing trade and economic relations by searching for opportunities to work together, and proposed the establishment of a Mongolia-Switzerland Commission on Economic Cooperation. The sides expressed their satisfaction with the implementation and results of programs carried out in Mongolia by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is aiming to reduce centralization, improve the educational system and professional education in rural area, develop agriculture, and provide food security in coming years. Mongolia congratulated Switzerland for assuming leadership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year and expressed its hope to expand and develop cooperation with the OSCE. Both sides agreed to mutually support each other within the UN and other international organizations. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Xi embarks on Europe tour (Global Times)
China and the Netherlands on Sunday signed a series of documents on cooperation in energy, agriculture, trade and culture, as Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on his first-ever European tour. Analysts said that cooperation between China and Europe would be strengthened and continue to thrive, and it is unlikely to be affected by both sides taking different stances on the deepening Ukraine crisis. In a joint statement issued by China and the Netherlands on Sunday, both countries decided to build a comprehensive partnership that stresses openness and pragmatism. The joint statement came after a meeting between Xi and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, which said that both countries should pay more attention to the fundamental role of agriculture and water conservancy in bilateral cooperation, with priorities in the fields of dairy, breeding, flood control, training, food security and technological research and development. Xi arrived in Amsterdam (…) where he was welcomed by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima at the start of a four-country tour. Xi is accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, several ministers and some 200 top business delegates. He is planning to meet US President Barack Obama on Monday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, where Obama is scheduled to address the escalating showdown with Russia over Crimea. Russian President Putin's absorption of Crimea from Ukraine has drawn sanctions from members of the Group of Seven most-industrialized countries and challenged current US foreign policy. "Xi's visit to Europe within the context that the Ukraine crisis deepens will contribute to the stability of China-EU relations, as he can remove barriers caused by the difference of views on the issue between the two sides, through reaffirming and elaborating on China's stance," Zhang Shengjun, an international politics professor with Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times. He noted that some European countries are hesitant regarding sanctions on Russia and they are under pressure from the US, which may lead them to seek support from China and accepting China's suggestions. Xi's four-country trip comes a week after China lodged an abstention on a Western-backed UN Security Council resolution condemning Crimea's referendum on joining Russia. Shen Jiru, a research fellow with the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the US wants to impose its political power but the ambition has exceeded its ability as both the US and the EU need to cooperate with Russia, hence sanctions are of limited scope. "It provides an opportunity for China-EU cooperation as the world is becoming multi-polarized and powers are balanced with each other, with the prestige of the US being greatly challenged in this crisis," Zhang said, noting that as Russia may increasingly turn to China for help during sanctions, Europe may also want to balance relations with China. Apart from Obama, Xi is to meet French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his trip, which ends in Belgium on April 1. Experts said that the Ukraine crisis will not change the current pattern of China-EU relations as they are major trade partners, and both sides will continue strengthening bilateral economic cooperation. Foreign minister Wang Yi said earlier this month that Europe has a position of priority on China's diplomatic agenda this year. "The US may reconsider its strategy in Europe, but it's too early to say whether Sino-EU relations will be changed correspondingly," said Feng Zhongping, director of the Institute of European Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. Zhang noted that as the US adopted its Asia pivot strategy, China should strengthen China-EU ties to help break some diplomatic deadlocks related to territory disputes with neighboring countries and better demonstrate its peaceful development on the diplomatic platform provided by Europe. ^ top ^

Chinese, ROK presidents meet on cooperation, Korean Peninsula situation (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his counterpart of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Park Geun-hye have pledged enhanced cooperation between the two countries and exchanged views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Xi, who is in the Netherlands for a state visit and the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, said the Chinese and ROK people will benefit from enhanced cooperation between their countries, which are important neighbors to each other. Both sides should maintain close high-level exchanges, speed up negotiations on the China-ROK free trade pact and reach an agreement at an early date, Xi said. Xi also called on both sides to strengthen communication and coordination on major international and regional issues to safeguard common interests. Xi thanked the ROK president for the planned transfer of the remains of Chinese soldiers killed in the Korean War back to China. Park, for her part, hailed the successful cooperation between the two countries. She expressed gratitude for the establishment of a memorial by the Chinese side to commemorate Ahn Jung Geun, a Korean patriot who shot dead a top Japanese official in 1909 for the independence of his motherland and peace in East Asia, as well as for the Chinese side' ongoing construction of a memorial stone at the former barracks of the Korean Liberation Army in the northwestern Chinese city of Xi'an. Park called for efforts to increase mutual visits by leaders of both countries, improve the mechanisms of the ROK-China strategic dialogue and the joint committee for cultural exchanges, and conclude the bilateral free trade agreement negotiations at an early date. Park extended condolences over the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which mysteriously disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of March 8, with 239 people, including 154 Chinese passengers, on board. The two heads of state also exchanged views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula. The situation has generally been eased so far this year and the South-North relationship improved, said Xi, adding China takes a positive attitude towards the trust-building process proposed by Park and hopes that the ROK and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) take a long-term perspective and constantly push forward the reconciliation and cooperation process, in a bid to achieve independent and peaceful reunification. The Korean nuclear issue is complicated and all relevant parties should grasp the opportunity of the current eased situation on the Korean Peninsula for an early resumption of the six-party talks, Xi said. Park thanked the Chinese side for its mediation efforts for peace and talks, which play an important role in improving the relations between the ROK and DPRK and promoting the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The ROK is willing to maintain communication and coordination with China, she said. ^ top ^

Chinese president, UN chief exchange views on Ukraine issue (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon here on Sunday, exchanging views on the Ukraine issue. The UN chief briefed Xi on UN's latest mediation efforts on the crisis. Xi noted that the spillover effects of the Ukraine crisis have been very obvious recently and are relevant to the interests and concerns of all parties involved. The crisis should be solved in a balanced manner, said Xi. The Chinese side has raised a three-point proposal, hoping all the parties involved will seek maximum common ground and avoid going to extremes again, Xi said, adding that the most urgent issue at present is to find a solution to the crisis. He spoke highly of the UN chief's mediation efforts over the issue and voiced his support for the UN's important role in pushing for a political solution to the crisis. Expressing his hope for a peaceful solution to the Ukraine issue through dialogue, Ban said China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, plays an important role in pushing forward the political settlement. "I am willing to maintain communication with China on this issue," he said. Xi and Ban are both in the Netherlands to attend the third Nuclear Security Summit to be held in The Hague on Monday and Tuesday. ^ top ^

German's Diaoyu Islands documentary wins online approval (Global Times)
Chinese Net users expressed welcome for a documentary about the disputed Diaoyu Islands filmed by a Hollywood director, which made its debut in Beijing on Sunday. The 40-minute film, Diaoyu Islands: The Truth, directed by Chris D Nebe, a 76-year-old German, carried the message that the islands have been Chinese territory since ancient times and Japan annexed them from China in 1895 after the First Sino-Japanese War. The film urged Japan to return the islands to China and make apologies for the crimes it committed during World War II. Plans for more domestic screenings are underway, Yang Ye, an employee at Global Communication & Cooperation Company, the Chinese cooperative partner of Nebe's company, told the Global Times on Monday. The company is affiliated to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top consultative body. The documentary, first screened earlier this month in Los Angeles, is one of 12 documentaries in Nebe's Mysterious China series introducing Chinese history, culture and rapid development to the world. The series included Tibet: the Truth. "The director picked topics such as the Diaoyu Islands and Tibet since they have drawn huge attention in the international community and those are what Westerners want to see," Zhang Zhi'an, a professor at the School of Communication and Design of Sun Yat-Sen University, told the Global Times. The public has praised Nebe for refuting Japan's claim to the islands, with some saying that a bystander's view can be more persuasive. As a lover of Chinese culture, Nebe, who claimed to shoot the film at his own expense, said he shot the series about China as he felt tired that the Western media always reports a negative image of China. He noted the documentary had reliable sources, including pictures and footage he found from archives in Washington. Zhang noted that the reaction of the audience from the international community is what really counts as the documentary aims to help the West better understand China. Nebe has produced a number of movies including Heartbreaker, Rebels, The Naked Cage and The Inheritors and won many international awards, Xinhua reported. ^ top ^

Chinese president calls for fair, win-win system of global nuclear security (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a fair, cooperative and win-win system of global nuclear security at the third Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) here on Tuesday. Speaking during a panel discussion on the second day of the summit, Xi said the NSS is of great significance for nuclear security worldwide as it bears the task of "blueprinting the future." "Looking into the future, we need to inject lasting momentum into the nuclear security process, put it on a sustainable track with a proper mechanism, and gradually set up a fair, cooperative and win-win international nuclear security system," said the Chinese president. Xi proposed that under the principle of fairness, all countries concerned should assume due obligations in line with their national situation, and enhance capability to safeguard nuclear security based on the balance of rights and obligations. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should work as a core platform, supplemented by other multilateral mechanisms and initiatives, in the establishment of a comprehensive, multilevel and networked system of global nuclear security, Xi said. "The IAEA's role in nuclear security should be strengthened, and there should be real assistance offered to developing countries in their efforts of building nuclear security capability," he said. The president also proposed that the international community should unswervingly safeguard nuclear security while developing nuclear energy, and share the benefit in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, thus realize security and sustainable development for countries across the world. When addressing the nuclear terrorism threat, Xi stressed that all countries concerned should work together to prevent and combat nuclear terrorism in all forms. The NSS ended Tuesday in The Hague, the Netherlands, with a joint communique. The next summit will be held in the United States in 2016. ^ top ^

First lady Obama praises civil rights movement during China tour (SCMP)
US first lady Michelle Obama promoted ethnic equality, the civil rights movement and religious freedom on the mainland yesterday, raising the sensitive issues on a tour meant to avoid politics. "In America, we believe that no matter where you live or how much money your parents have, or what race or religion or ethnicity you are, if you work hard and believe in yourself, then you should have a chance to succeed," she told hundreds of students at a high school in Chengdu in Sichuan province. "We also believe that everyone is equal and that we all have the right to say what we think and worship as we choose," she said. "Now of course, living up to these ideals isn't always easy," she added. Sichuan and other provinces neighbouring Tibet are home to a minority of Tibetans, an ethnic group that rights activists say face religious and cultural repression, underscored by more than 120 self-immolation protests by Tibetans in recent years. Beijing rejects such criticism and blames the acts on separatist forces led by the Tibetan spiritual leader-in-exile and Nobel peace laureate, the Dalai Lama. Obama, who is travelling with her mother and daughters, is scheduled to eat at a Tibetan restaurant in Chengdu today, according to a White House itinerary. The first lady cited herself and President Obama as beneficiaries of the civil rights movement, a sensitive issue on the mainland which strictly controls popular protest. "Over time, ordinary citizens decided that those laws were unfair," she said of the 1960s movement to denounce racial segregation in the United States and demand equal rights for African Americans. "So they held peaceful protests and marches. They called on government officials to change those laws and they voted to elect new officials who shared their views. "And slowly but surely, America changed," she said. "We got rid of those unjust laws. And today, just 50 years later, my husband and I are president and first lady of the United States." Since arriving in Beijing on Thursday night for a weeklong trip, the first lady has met with her counterpart Peng Liyuan, visited popular tourist sites such as the Great Wall and spoken to students and educators. US officials have cast the trip as focused on "soft" issues such as education. ^ top ^

China sends special envoy to Malaysia to press for answers on missing flight MH370 (SCMP)
China demands satellite data that prompted Malaysian PM to declare jet was ‘lost', while hundreds protest outside embassy in Beijing - President Xi Jinping sent a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur yesterday to press for details about the fate of the vanished Malaysian airliner, as relatives of passengers accused that country's officials of lying about the flight's final hours. The crisis over Malaysia Airlines flight 370 topped the agenda of a central government meeting in Beijing chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. Xinhua said Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui would act as the special envoy and head for Kuala Lumpur as soon as possible to "learn about the situation" and "ask the Malaysian side to properly handle related issues". Another deputy foreign minister, Xie Hangsheng, told Malaysia's ambassador to Beijing, Iskandar Sarudin, that China wanted the precise data that prompted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to announce on Monday night that the flight had "ended" in the southern Indian Ocean. "We demand the Malaysian side make clear the specific basis on which they come to this judgment," Xie said. In a statement after the meeting, the State Council said search and rescue was still the priority and that the government would provide legal aid and medical services to passengers' relatives. After 18 days of anguish, hundreds of Chinese, including relatives of those on board, marched to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing. They carried placards and chanted "liar", and "You owe us an explanation". Tempers flared as protesters pelted the embassy lawn with plastic bottles and scuffled with police, who took no steps to end the demonstration. Malaysia Airlines chairman Mohammed Nor Mohammed, stuck to his guns, telling a press conference that although no wreckage had been found, there was no doubt the flight was lost. Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein reiterated that British satellite company Inmarsat used a new technique to trace the plane's path over the Indian Ocean. Using the data, he said the search in a so-called northern corridor had been ended. The remaining search area is now 469,407 square nautical miles. Air Marshal Mark Binskin, deputy chief of Australia's Defence Force, said the hunt was still monumental. "We are not searching for a needle in a haystack. We are still trying to define where the haystack is," he said. Search teams are racing to find the "black box" data recorders, which could explain why the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 changed course before vanishing. Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at the University of New South Wales, said the plane could hardly have vanished in a more inhospitable place than the southern Indian Ocean. "It's got some of the strongest winds in the world and the highest waves." Australia said improved weather would allow the hunt for the plane to resume today after gale-force winds and heavy rain forced a day-long delay. Chinese media questioned why Malaysian officials had altered the official tally of passengers and crew on Monday. Najib said 226 passengers and "our 13 friends and colleagues" were aboard, a change from the 227 passengers and 12 crew announced earlier. Malaysian officials said an engineer was previously counted as a passenger. ^ top ^

Chinese, French presidents hold talks, blueprinting bilateral relationship (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, held talks here on Wednesday to blueprint the future relationship between the two countries. Xi said Wednesday's meeting was of great significance for the China-France relationship as it will "carry forward the undertakings of the predecessors and open up a new road for future." France was the first major Western power that established diplomatic relations with China, Xi said, adding that China's relations with France have been leading its exchanges with other Western countries. "We should draw a blueprint and lay a solid foundation for the China-France relationship to develop at a higher level in the future, and work together to open up a new era featuring a close and lasting comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries," said the Chinese president. Xi proposed that the two sides always regard each other as a strategic partner with priority, enhance mutual trust, support each other's ideas and path of development, and respect each other's core interests and major concerns. He said the two heads of state should meet annually and interact frequently, and that the bilateral mechanisms, including strategic dialogue and high-level economic and financial dialogue, should be used to elevate the strategic communication and cooperation between the two countries. The two countries should grasp new opportunities emerging from their respective structural reform to boost their pragmatic cooperation, said the Chinese president. Xi suggested the two sides set up joint ventures on research and development, investment, production, and to develop third-country markets to inject new momentum into traditional cooperation in nuclear energy, aviation and other sectors, as well as open up new areas of cooperation, such as agriculture, finance, sustainable urban development, medicine and health care, and marine resources. "(We) should stick to the policy of opening up and work together to oppose protectionism," Xi said. The Chinese president pledged to increase imports of agricultural products from France and encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in the European country. He also expressed hope that the French side would urge the European Union (EU) to completely resolve the trade dispute over wireless telecommunications equipment. Xi said the two countries should also strengthen people-to-people exchanges, highlighting celebrations on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the China-France diplomatic ties and increasing the number of international students sent to each other. Xi expected travelers between the two countries to reach 1.2 million annually by 2016. (…) Meanwhile, Xi suggested the two countries boost cooperation in international and regional affairs, and make joint efforts to reform the global system of economic governance and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the world. China will back France's efforts to host the global climate change conference in 2015, Xi said. Xi attributed the success in the development of bilateral ties to four reasons: both countries have adhered to the policy of independence and the notion of multi-polarization; they have respected each other and properly handled issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns; the two sides have kept innovating the dimension of cooperation to achieve win-win results; and they have increased exchanges with each other to enhance cultural recognition. (…) For his part, Hollande said (…) China and France share the same view on the world issues, both following an independent foreign policy and upholding adherence to widely-recognized norms of international relations. The France-China relationship plays an important role in promoting the global balance of power and safeguarding world peace and stability, said the French president. Hailing the current smooth development of bilateral ties, Hollande said the French side is firmly committed to developing a close and lasting comprehensive strategic partnership with China. (…) Hollande condemned the terror attack that happened in China's southwestern city of Kunming earlier this month and pledged to boost cooperation with the Chinese side to fight terrorism. The two sides also exchanged views on Ukraine, Syria and the Iranian nuclear issue. After their talks, the two sides released a joint statement and a mid- and long-term vision for China-France relations. (…) Hollande, for his part, said the decision to grow a close and lasting comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries marks a new milestone in France-China relations. (…) Before their talks, Hollande held a grand welcoming ceremony for the Chinese president at the courtyard in the France's National Home for Invalid Servicemen. During the visit, Xi will also attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties and meet with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and parliamentary leaders. ^ top ^

Downturn in China-Malaysia ties only temporary, say analysts (SCMP)
Diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia have frayed since Beijing accused Kuala Lumpur of withholding information about the missing airplane but the tension will be temporary, analysts say. Beijing would need to maintain good relations with Malaysia to balance out its dealings with other Southeast Asian nations that were bitterly disputing territory issues with China in the South China Sea, according to political observers. China and Malaysia last October signed off on a comprehensive strategic partnership, and the two nations plan to stage their first joint military drills sometime this year. Bilateral ties have been tested by the disappearance of Flight MH370 on March 8, with Beijing officials expressing their dismay at Malaysia's search effort and its conclusions. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on March 13 that Malaysia's information was "chaotic". On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent special envoy Zhang Yesui to Kuala Lumpur to "ask the Malaysian side to properly handle related issues", Xinhua reported. "The lack of trust will hinder their ties, and how the two nations handle their search effort is crucial to whether the mistrust will intensify," said Zhang Mingliang, assistant professor specialising in Southeast Asian affairs at Jinan University. Malaysia had expressed some mistrust of China's military buildup in the region, Zhang said. Tensions increased in January after China sent military ships to waters off the James Shoal in the South China Sea, an area also claimed by Malaysia. Fan Hongwei, an assistant professor with the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, said Beijing needed to check the anger of the relatives of the missing flight's passengers. The relatives have called Malaysian officials liars. Political observers said they expected the two nations to avoid letting the plane's disappearance to significantly undermine bilateral ties. Du Jifeng, a Southeast Asian affairs analyst at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the impact would be limited to a drop in the number of Chinese tourists and businessmen visiting Malaysia. "On the political front, things will remain intact," he said. China's ties with Southeast Asian nations, particularly the Philippines, have soured because Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, a claim disputed by Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan. Manila took the dispute to a UN arbitration body last year. Beijing wants to settle the dispute via bilateral negotiations. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy meets families of MH370 passengers, more objects spotted (Xinhua)
A Chinese special envoy on Thursday met the families of Chinese passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines jet, while a Japanese satellite spotted more floating objects in the Indian Ocean possibly related to the plane. Zhang Yesui, a deputy foreign minister, said Chinese leaders are concerned about the fate of the passengers. China has employed vast resources, including 21 satellites, over 10 ships and dozens of plane sorties, in the search for the missing plane and will further intensify its search efforts, Zhang added. He assured the relatives that China is doing its best to push Malaysia to coordinate international search efforts. Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, have personally engaged in coordination with leaders of other countries on search efforts, he said. "Our goal is to make every effort to find our missing countrymen. We will not give up as long as there is still a glimmer of hope," said the special envoy, who was appointed by Xi to consult with the Malaysian side and deal with the matter of the missing flight. China will continue to ask Malaysia to accurately inform the relatives of the passengers about the search and investigation progress in a timely manner, he said, adding that the Chinese government will continue to provide help and service to the families. In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said five Chinese vessels have arrived in the waters where Australia spotted floating objects that might be related to the plane. Another three vessels were heading for the sea area while four vessels were still searching the eastern part of the southern Indian Ocean, Hong told a daily press briefing. Synergy between Chinese search efforts in the air and at sea will be strengthened after more vessels have arrived in the waters, he said. Meanwhile, the Chinese Defense Ministry said the military will make sure enough troops are available during the search. Chinese naval vessels have so far scoured 93,000 square km of sea areas, while air force planes have searched an area of 102,000 square km, said Geng Yansheng, a spokesman of the Defense Ministry. He added that more than 10 military satellites were deployed in the search. Also on Thursday, Japanese media reported that a Japanese satellite had spotted about 10 suspicious objects in the Indian Ocean. The objects were about 2,500 km southwest of the Australian port of Perth, in the same area where other countries also found suspicious debris, Japan's Kyodo News cited Japanese government officials as saying. The report said that after analyzing the images, which were taken on Wednesday, the Japanese government had supplied related information to Malaysia. It is believed that the biggest object is 8 by 4 meters. Some analysts from the Japanese government suspect the objects may belong to the missing jet. The new findings came one day after the Malaysian government's announcement that satellite images from France revealed 122 unidentified objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean. Australian authorities confirmed on Thursday that the positions of the objects were within the search zone, about 2,500 km southwest of Perth. Malaysia said Monday that evidence showed the Boeing 777, which vanished while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, had "ended" in the southern Indian Ocean. The plane was carrying 12 crew and 227 passengers, including 154 Chinese. A multinational search for the wreckage has since continued, but no debris has been recovered from the ocean so far. ^ top ^

Xi's German visit to define Sino-EU ties (Global Times)
The relationship between China and Germany will lead China's ties with the European Union, analysts said, as Chinese President Xi Jinping kicks off his first visit to Germany as president on Friday. Xi's two-day visit is also the first time a Chinese president has visited Germany in the past eight years. Xi will meet with German President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel and deliver a speech on China's role in the world. The Chinese leader's in-depth exchange with German leaders will define the strategic direction for the development of bilateral ties, Sun Keqin, a research fellow with the Institute of European Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times, noting that Sino-German relations now stand at their peak. This year will see frequent visits between high-level leaders of the two countries as German leaders including Merkel and the foreign minister will come to China later this year and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will lead a delegation to Germany for inter-governmental negotiations. "Such negotiations are the highest-level that China has with the West and are also a rare thing for Germany, which can be seen as characteristic of these bilateral ties," Sun said. As Germany stands out as a leading country in the EU following the bloc's euro crisis, sound Sino-German relations will have extensive positive spillover effects and dominate China's relationship with the EU as a whole, Gu Xuewu, director of the Center for Global Studies of Bonn University, told the Global Times. China and Germany also enjoy deep trust on political issues, trade and investment, Gu said. In 2013, trade between China and Germany reached $161.6 billion, accounting for nearly one-third of China's trade with the EU. While geopolitically China's relationship with the US and Russia are the most important, economically Sino-German ties are second only to Sino-US relations, Gu said. However, trade volume between China and Japan is bigger than that between China and Germany. Based on the emerging economic symbiosis between China and Germany, a "new special relationship" is developing, Hans Kundnani, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and Jonas Parello-Plesner, a senior policy fellow at the same institution, said in a report. They added that such a relationship also matters for Europe and should be developed into a "real" European strategic partnership with China. An important topic that Xi will bring up with German leaders is in what way Germany can support the multiple reforms that the Chinese government is endeavoring to push forward after a key Party plenum last year, German Ambassador to China Michael Clauss said during an interview with The Beijing News published on Thursday. The two countries have a lot to cooperate on in China's urbanization drive as Germany is experienced in developing urbanization and related industries such as public transport, new energy and waste disposal, from which German enterprises can also see many business opportunities, Gu said. Besides, Germany is also interested in joining China's western development programs and provide its abundant experience in institutional improvements to China's building of the rule of law, he added. Sun noted that China can also learn from Germany's occupational training system that values expertise. Another important topic is to set up an offshore yuan trading center, on which progress is expected during Xi's visit, according to Clauss. On Saturday, Xi will pay a brief visit to Duisburg in North Rhine-Westphalia to wait for the arrival of a train loaded with IT products that traveled 16 days from Southwest China's Chongqing, reported Deutsche Welle. In North Rhine-Westphalia, there are over 800 Chinese enterprises in operation. Despite close economic ties, cooperation between the two sides is not without friction. Germany is dissatisfied with China's limited market access for German investors and inadequate intellectual property protection, as German companies are active in technology transfer but often find their profitable opportunities lost due to copycats, Gu said. However, these are normal frictions in the development of economic cooperation and are under control, Sun said, adding that Germany's role in helping solve the EU's anti-dumping investigation into China's photovoltaic products can serve as a good model in addressing similar issues in the future. ^ top ^

Peng Liyuan named Unesco ambassador for women's education (SCMP)
Unesco named first lady Peng Liyuan as a special envoy to promote education for girls and women, as President Xi Jinping visited the organisation's Paris headquarters last night. The appointment will raise her profile on the international stage and renew focus on an issue the country has grappled with. Xi, accompanied by Peng and a Chinese delegation, visited the organisation - of which China is a founding member in 1946 - on the last day of his three-day tour in France. It was the first visit by a Chinese president to the Unesco building. "If all civilisations can uphold inclusiveness, the so-called 'clash of civilisations' will be out of the question, and the harmony of civilisations will become a reality," he said. Peng joins five other Unesco envoys, including royals and academics, for issues ranging from water to literacy. While the gap in access to education has been narrowing, a 2010 study by the All-China Women's Federation found that rural women attended school 2.2 years less than their urban peers, and that more girls (36.8 per cent) than boys (27.9 per cent) nationwide were forced by parents to cut their education short. Peng, who is already a World Health Organisation ambassador focusing on tackling HIV/Aids and tuberculosis, visited a children's hospital in Paris on the second day of the tour, and presented toy pandas to tuberculosis patients. French authorities have bent over backwards to woo Xi, giving him and his wife VIP treatment as they visit France on the 50th anniversary of full diplomatic ties between the two countries. Road blocks slowed traffic in parts of the French capital and transport authorities closed many subway stations at rush hour Thursday to avoid security slips or unwelcome protests. Xi was scheduled to make a major speech highlighting historical bonds between the two nations, such as the experiences of late Communist Party luminaries Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, who studied in France. The question of human rights in China was also due to come to the fore yesterday with Tibetan exiles planning a big rally in Paris. Since 2009 about 120 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protests against the authorities, denouncing what they say is discrimination an erosion of their religious freedoms by Beijing. Already in the morning, activists from media watchdog Reporters Without Borders unfurled a huge portrait of Xi making an obscene gesture, in a photomontage that carried the slogan: "Without freedom of information, no force of opposition." As Xi wrapped up his state visit, he and Peng were invited to a private dinner with just French President Francois Hollande, after attending a concert at the Royal Opera at Versailles. The menu will remain secret, but the Associated Press reported that famed chef Alain Ducasse has concocted a sumptuous meal for the Chinese president. France is the second country on Xi's 10-day, four-nation European tour. He first visited the Netherlands and will head to Germany and Belgium next. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Four rights lawyers detained after questioning Falun Gong detentions (SCMP)
Four human rights lawyers investigating the illegal detention of several Falun Gong members have themselves been detained in Heilongjiang province, fellow lawyers said yesterday. Jiang Tianyong and Tang Jitian were placed on 15 days of administrative detention on Saturday for "using cult activities to endanger society", two other lawyers said. A copy of the police notification of Tang's detention was seen by the South China Morning Post. The whereabouts of the other two lawyers, Wang Cheng and Zhang Junjie, were unclear. Their accompanying clients - nine relatives of the detained Falun Gong members - were also detained on Friday, lawyer Li Fangping said. Li said on Thursday that the lawyers and relatives had gone to a "legal education centre" - a euphemism for an illegal detention centre - at the state-run Qinglong farm in Jiansanjiang to ask about the detained members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, which has been deemed an "evil cult" by Beijing. Telephone calls to the public security bureau in Jiansanjiang went unanswered. Li said the lawyers also went to the local prosecutor's office to file a complaint. But early the next day, they were hauled from their hotel by around a dozen plain-clothes police officers, he said. Li fears the cult charges represent "a new model" of targeting human rights lawyers. Legal scholars say there were at least three cases last year of lawyers being detained while investigating human rights cases, and that this trend is growing. Academics fear the four lawyers' detention could be the start of a new round of repression of human rights lawyers. Teng Biao, a visiting legal scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the case was deeply worrying because the four lawyers were not themselves involved in cult activities, but were only probing the arbitrary detention of citizens. "We worry that they [authorities] will increasingly use this measure against rights lawyers, and if this isn't effective, the next step might be criminal detention or even jail sentences," he said. Under mainland law, people can be held for up to 37 days in criminal detention, after which police can release them on bail or pass the case to prosecutors. Human rights lawyers say theyare concerned about the police's abuse of the detention system to lock up perceived "troublemakers". ^ top ^

Senior information official leaps six floors to his death, sources say (SCMP)
A senior official from the State Council Information Office jumped to his death from his Beijing office, three sources familiar with the matter said. News of the incident was censored on weibo. Li Wufeng, 56, the office's deputy director, died after leaping from the sixth floor of his office building on Monday afternoon, the sources said. His death was under investigation and it was not immediately clear what drove him to the act, according to a person familiar with Li. One source said Li was questioned several times by Communist Party discipline officers over the past few months, but the nature of it was unclear. "It could have been an extramarital affair or anything else," the source said. A person who met Li many times described him as "a very friendly person". "Very scholarly and intellectual, too. And I don't think he cared much about money," the person said. The information office did not respond to inquiries. It is the government's main information nerve centre, handling the communications of the overarching body that supervises state ministries. More and more officials from the party's highest to lowest ranks have been questioned by anti-graft agents since President Xi Jinping took power. The line of questioning, however, can extend beyond corruption, as errant personal conduct like keeping mistresses or misusing government cars can be considered "violations of party discipline". Li became the office's deputy chief in June after serving as deputy director of the government's internet censor beginning in 2012. In 2007, Li was seconded as an assistant general manager of the China Three Gorges Dam Corporation for a year. The state-owned energy producer, originally formed to build the world's largest hydroelectric plant, has been dogged by corruption accusations, with several of its officials found guilty of nepotism, and engaging in shady property deals and questionable building practices. The corporation replaced its chairman and general manager in a major reshuffle after the investigation, the Central Organisation Department revealed on Monday. Several provincial-level officials have killed themselves over the past decade and a half, including former Shanxi provincial standing committee member Wang Tongzhi in 2005; Song Pingshun, the former chairman of the Tianjin Municipal Committee of the people's consultative conference, in 2007; and former State Administration of Foreign Exchange chief Li Fuxiang in 2000. In 1995, former deputy mayor of Beijing Wang Baosen took his own life for fear of a graft probe. ^ top ^

Chongqing implements two-child policy (China Daily)
A new family planning policy that allows couples in which either spouse is an only child to have two children has been implemented in Chongqing municipality, an official said on Wednesday in Chongqing. Wang Wei, a spokesman for the Chongqing Health and Family Planning Commission, said during a news conference that Chongqing has just completed the approval process of the two-child policy and, from now on, couples with one spouse who is an only child will be permitted to have two children. Wang added that wives below the age of 28 from couples that apply for a second child, have to wait for three years after the birth of the couple's first child. "A population of nearly 45,000 will be added to Chongqing each year," Wang said during the conference, "and faced with the population changes the two-child policy may bring, we have made corresponding measures to cope with possible problems in terms of healthcare, education, retirement and so on." ^ top ^

Sichuan quake activist Tan Zuoren defiant after release from prison (SCMP)
Activist Tan Zuoren, who was jailed for five years after investigating the deaths of thousands of children in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, was released yesterday, said two fellow rights campaigners, although his whereabouts remained unknown. Tan was released from a jail in Yaan, Sichuan, at about 6am and has been reunited with his wife, veteran activist Huang Qi said. Neither Tan nor his wife could be reached by phone yesterday. Huang said it was likely they had not been taken home by the authorities but somewhere else, although he declined to elaborate. Fellow activist Ran Yunfei said he had met Tan after his release, but declined to elaborate. Huang, a close friend of Tan, said the activist still firmly believed in his mission and had written a lengthy appeal letter in prison, maintaining that he was wrongly accused. "He firmly believes that he was put in jail because he was framed," Huang said. "After his release, he will carry on his rights activism. There's no doubt about that." Tan was arrested on March 28, 2009, and jailed the following year on the charge of "inciting subversion of state power". The Sichuan court which sentenced Tan accused him of taking part in a commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown and slandering the government over its handling of the incident in a 2007 essay. But his supporters believe he was targeted because of his independent investigation into the collapse of the school buildings in the quake, which saw 88,000 people killed or left missing. They pointed out he had been charged only after antagonising the authorities by blaming shoddy building work for the collapse of school buildings in the quake. His wife previously said the authorities had offered to cut his jail term if he confessed or promised he would refrain from taking part in human rights activities, but he refused. Huang, who was himself jailed for three years after investigating the collapse of school buildings in the Sichuan earthquake, said it was highly likely that Tan's movements and communications would remain tightly monitored after his release. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping ally Cai Qi to have senior role at National Security Commission (SCMP)
A close ally of President Xi Jinping is poised to take up a senior role at the newly created National Security Commission, several sources say. Cai Qi has stepped down as deputy governor of Zhejiang province and will likely become deputy head of the office administering the security body, according to the sources. The Communist Party said last year it would set up the commission to co-ordinate and oversee national security issues. The commission is run by Xi, who is also the party's general secretary. Cai may assume the post of deputy general office director of the new internet security leading group, also headed by Xi. Cai is viewed as an open-minded official who makes his views known to the public, according to sources who have worked with him. His social media account on the Tencent microblogging platform has more than 10 million followers. The 58-year-old has already moved to Beijing and will report to the head of the security commission's general office, Li Zhanshu. Another source, citing an official in Zhejiang, said Cai was a close ally of the president. "Cai stayed in his position as deputy provincial governor for just four months. That job served as a springboard, helping him get promoted to a higher level." Cai was promoted to executive deputy governor of Zhejiang last November. He had previously worked as head of the province's organisation department. He worked in Zhejiang for nearly 15 years, climbing the career ladder after becoming mayor of Quzhou in 1999. Before that he worked in Fujian, the province of his birth. Cai's political career has overlapped Xi's. The president worked in Fujian and Zhejiang from 1985 to 2007. "Cai was appreciated by Xi when he was a deputy director of Fujian province's political reform office in the early 1990s," one source said. ^ top ^



Beijing among most polluted areas (China Daily)
Beijing and neighboring Tianjin and Hebei province see more severe air pollution than the rest of the nation, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a report released on Tuesday. Of the country's 20 most polluted cities, as many as 11 lie in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei city cluster, with seven of them among the 10 worst, according to 2013 air quality monitoring data provided by the environmental watchdog. Many of the cities, including Xingtai, Shijiazhuang, Tangshan and Baoding, mostly in Hebei province, saw 40 percent of their days seriously polluted, it said. According to the annual report, only 60.5 percent of the days in 74 major cities monitored nationwide meet the national standard, while 22.9 percent of the days are considered polluted, 8 percent seriously polluted and 8.6 percent very severely polluted. The annual intensity of PM2.5 - particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter - nationwide averaged 72 micrograms per cubic meter across the country in 2013, it said. Experts said controlling the sources is the key for reining in pollution. Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, an environmental NGO, said finding the sources of pollution is key to the fight. "It's necessary to conduct effective supervision of the key pollution sources across the country and have them release real-time emissions data," Ma said. Yang Fuqiang, senior adviser on climate and energy policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the high consumption of coal seriously contributes to smog. Yang suggested cleaner coal and more effective use of energy to realize a significant decline in total coal consumption by 2017. The ministry said that, in addition to PM2.5, which is harmful to the lungs and heart, PM10, nitrogen dioxide and ozone all contribute to the country's notorious pollution. The performance of the 13 monitored cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region was 23 percent lower than the national average, the ministry said. PM2.5 and PM10 are the major pollutants, with an annual average intensity of PM2.5 reaching 106 micrograms per cu m, and PM10 at 181 micrograms per cu m. The annual intensity of sulfur dioxide is 69 micrograms per cu m, with nitrogen dioxide at 51 micrograms per cu m in the area. The 10 cities with the most serious pollution last month were Xingtai, Shijiazhuang, Handan, Tangshan, Baoding, Jinan, Hengshui, Xi'an, Langfang and Zhengzhou, the ministry said. The cleanest air was found in Haikou, Zhoushan, Lhasa, Fuzhou, Huizhou, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Lishui and Guiyang. The frequent occurrence of notoriously smoggy days has prompted authorities to take serious action against pollution largely because urban dwellers are widely unhappy about it. Even though spring and summer see less frequent and less severe pollution compared to autumn and winter, Beijing has seen serious pollution in recent days. A new wave of smog has shrouded the Chinese capital since Sunday, and might persist for a few days, according to the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau. The pollution is the result of a low-pressure system in the atmosphere and is likely to last through Thursday, it said. The authorities advise members of the public to stay indoors on heavily polluted days to reduce health hazards. ^ top ^



Guangdong vows to get tougher on sex trade (China Daily)
A senior official of Guangdong province vowed on Sunday to establish a long-term mechanism and introduce tougher measures to fight the illegal sex trade. At a special work meeting in Dongguan to tackle the problem of prostitution, Hu Chunhua, Party chief of Guangdong, said the province would not allow social evils like the illegal sex trade to become rampant. Local police launched a three-month crackdown on prostitution in February. "We have achieved periodic results in the fight against prostitution as most venues allegedly involved in the illegal industry were shut down and a number of people including government officials who were connected to the problem were punished," Hu said. The Guangdong authorities announced a provincewide crackdown on prostitution a day after a China Central Television report on Feb 9 exposed rampant illegal sex trade activities in massage parlors and hotels in Dongguan, a Pearl River Delta city about 100 kilometers from Hong Kong. "After the initial results, the crackdown is now targeting the source of the problem. We will introduce a long-term mechanism to tackle the problem by carrying out further investigation and research on how the sex trade began and who is involved," Hu said. According to Hu, authorities in Guangdong are revising a regulation to punish government officials who are found in dereliction of duty in the crackdown on social evils. Also, related departments are working on an administrative provision to regulate massage parlors in the province, according to Hu. Since the crackdown began, more than 3,100 entertainment venues across Guangdong have been shut down for their alleged involvement in prostitution. Almost two-thirds of the shuttered venues are located in Dongguan, a city known for its large manufacturing industry and also for its underground casino resorts, bathhouses, massage parlors and backstreet brothels. Along with the crackdown on prostitution, a three-month education campaign for police officers will also be launched at the end of this month, to build up their image, according to Hu. "The campaign is aimed at tackling problems such as the failure to abide by laws, lax enforcement and dereliction of duty by police officers and punishing those who have engaged in the illegal sex trade," Hu said. During the annual session of the National People's Congress, which concluded in Beijing on March 13, Hu said that the authority had introduced an accountability system to punish officials who provided protection to illegal sex activities. Dongguan's deputy mayor and police chief Yan Xiaokang has been fired and several other police officers in the city's townships have been punished. "Dongguan needs to make a breakthrough both in economic and social morality development. The city should push forward its industrial upgrades to meet the annual economic and social development target," Hu said. Feng Shengping, a researcher with the Guangdong Provincial Situation Research Center, said authorities in Dongguan should put more emphasis on economic transformation to ward off the possible effect of the crackdown on prostitution. "In the past, Dongguan relied heavily on the traditional processing trade and manufacturing to sustain its economic development," Feng said. Because of rising production and labor costs and unstable overseas demand, manufacturers in Dongguan have struggled in recent years to maintain business growth, Huang said. "The government should introduce strategically emerging projects to drive its economic development. Healthy economic development will help promote a good image of Dongguan," Feng said. ^ top ^

22 Dongguan policemen punished in prostitution crackdown (Xinhua)
A total of 22 policemen in Dongguan, the south China city notorious for its illegal sex trade, have been punished in a crackdown on prostitution, local police said on Tuesday. Among them, nine policemen are in criminal detention and 13 others have received disciplinary punishments for dereliction of duty, bending the law for personal gain and harboring the sex trade, according to a statement from the provincial public security department. Another 14 policemen are being investigated for their involvement in the sex trade, according to the statement. Dongguan, seated in the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong Province, is famous for its lavish casino resorts, bath centers, and massage parlors, as well as its back-street brothels. Police have been cracking down on the sex trade in the city for more than a month following a China Central Television report in early February on rampant prostitution there. Yan Xiaokang, vice mayor of Dongguan and head of the city's public security bureau, was removed from his posts for dereliction of duty in mid February. A statement from the Guangdong provincial committee of the Communist Party of China said that Yan's failures led to the persistent illegal sex trade in Dongguan, which has reflected very badly on the city, both domestically and internationally. ^ top ^



Hong Kong delegation to attend International Summit on teaching profession (Xinhua)
Hong Kong's Secretary for Education Eddie Ng on Wednesday led a delegation to attend the International Summit on the Teaching Profession 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. According to the city government, the two-day event, on March 28 and 29, will bring together education ministers and teaching profession members from top-performing countries and regions in the Program for International Student Assessment 2012 to discuss building and supporting teaching excellence. Hong Kong students performed in the top three in the world for reading, mathematical and scientific literacy in the program. The summit will consider the best practices worldwide for strengthening the teaching profession and raising student achievement. Education ministers from Singapore, Finland, Britain, the United States and Canada will also participate. Ng will meet and exchange views with New Zealand key education officials, including the minister for tertiary education, skills and employment, the minister for education, and the secretary for education. ^ top ^



Taipei student protesters occupy government HQ, ransack cabinet office (SCMP)
Protesters stormed Taiwan's cabinet building yesterday as President Ma Ying-jeou failed to soothe public anger at his administration's handling of a free-trade pact with the mainland. At least two dozen people were injured when hundreds of student-led demonstrators broke through barricades outside the executive offices in defiance of Ma's call for them to end their occupation of the legislature. Up to 100 students broke into the Executive Yuan Council, and some found what they thought was the office of Premier Jiang Yi-huah and reportedly seized documents and computer files. Students shouted "We want real democracy" and "Retract the services trade pact" as they gathered outside the building, which houses the island's cabinet, surrounded by 500 police armed with shields and batons. A Jiang spokesman said: "Such a violation of law is unacceptable and for this the premier has ordered that the National Police Administration increase the police force to dispel them." Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin also asked Taipei police to restore order. Police authorities were reported to have mobilised 3,000 officers, and riot police began to remove demonstrators after midnight. At least 20 students were detained. Ma cancelled all public activities scheduled for today and will meet senior officials to assess the impact of the protest. It came six days after students stormed the Legislative Yuan in protest at the agreement with the mainland. The students, who say the pact would damage the island's economy and jeopardise its democracy, have refused to leave until the measure is withdrawn. In his first press conference since the occupation began, Ma called on the protesters to leave the chamber. He said the pact was vital to Taiwan's economy and he condemned the occupation as illegal. The agreement would open up as many as 80 services industries, including banking, hospitals and e-commerce companies to markets and competition. "I perfectly understand the students' concern about national affairs," Ma said. "But they should never have resorted to illegal means." ^ top ^

Advert by ‘Hundreds of Hongkongers' warns Taiwan against trade ‘Sinolisation' (SCMP)
An advertisement placed under the name of “Hundreds of Hongkongers” appeared in a Taiwan newspaper on Thursday, calling on Taiwanese to “say no to Sinolisation” and to learn from Hong Kong's lessons in opening up trade with the mainland. The commercial was published in the Liberty Times, a publication that takes a stance friendly towards the pro-independence political camp in Taiwan and against the mainland. It came on the tenth day of a massive student movement on the island protesting against a free trade pact with the Beijing, with activists continuing to occupy the legislature building in Taipei on Thursday. “Hong Kong and Taiwan are in the same boat, both being targeted by China's united front work by all means,” the advert reads. “Since the transfer of sovereignty, the Hong Kong and Chinese governments have signed multiple pacts under CEPA [Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement], which is even more secretive than the black box pact in Taiwan. It only needs to be signed by the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council has no right to deliberate it.” The cross-strait free trade agreement at the centre of controversy has been criticised by opponents in Taiwan for a lack of transparency in the formulation process. The advert went on to caution against economic over-reliance on the mainland, citing threats to the freedom of the press in Hong Kong due to a pulling of advertisements by mainland-funded companies and overcrowding of its streets since the opening up of tourism to mainland visitors. Activist Roy Tam Hoi-pong said their concern group on population policy started pooling their funds last Sunday. “Each of us has to commit HK$300 and a lot of the participants have paid HK$100 already,” said Tam, who would only reveal the ad cost “a few ten thousand dollars”. Gary Fan Kwok-wai, a lawmaker of the NeoDemocrats, is also among the signatories. ^ top ^



China to continue drive to modernize energy industry (China Daily)
Li stresses country's desire to conserve and cut emissions won't hurt economic growth. China's stance on climate change as being of "common but differentiated responsibilities" will not be changed, but it is not an excuse for slowing down the pace of industrial restructuring, said Premier Li Keqiang. The government will control the country's total amount of energy consumption, promote the efficiency of energy usage, and encourage the development of clean-energy industries, including those related to wind, hydro, nuclear and solar power, Li said. "In terms of energy supply, coal power will not be the only solution for us," Li said. Li made the remarks on Friday during a meeting of the State Council, China's Cabinet. Under international law, "common but differentiated responsibilities" refers to the idea that although not all countries are equally responsible for global environmental problems, they nonetheless are responsible for addressing these problems. As a responsible country, China would like to cooperate with other countries in efforts to save energy and cut emissions, Li said. Li urged government officials to change the thought that industrial restructuring is something that will hurt economic growth. Instead, it will bring plenty of economic opportunities for the development of new-energy industries, he said. The government will make policies to guide the key industries, including transportation and construction companies, to save energy and tackle air pollution, Li said. The government will take compulsory measures to finish the tasks of renovating coal-fired furnaces, eliminating yellow-label vehicles (those with high emissions), and promoting the denitrification and desulfurization of power plants, Li said. The penalties for illegal discharges will be increased, and government bodies that have failed to monitor pollution problems will be punished for dereliction of duty, Li added. Achieving the environmental target will be difficult because the government has to cut emissions while maintaining the momentum of economic development, but it is a must-do for the government, Li said. "We made the promise, and we have to deliver it," he said. According to the annual Government Work Report, released on March 5, China aims to cut energy intensity by more than 3.9 percent, while emissions of sulfur dioxide and "chemical oxygen demand", a measure of organic pollutants in water, will both be reduced by 2 percent. China will strengthen energy conservation and emissions reduction and impose a ceiling on total energy consumption, said the report. "We will declare war against pollution and fight it with the same determination we battled poverty," Li told China's lawmakers while delivering the Government Work Report. China is facing pressure in meeting the emissions-reduction targets set in its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) for environmental protection, in which China vowed to cut chemical oxygen demand and sulfur dioxide emissions by 8 percent. It also pledged to reduce ammonia nitrogen and nitrogen oxide emissions by 10 percent compared with those of 2010. Although emissions of chemical oxygen demand, sulfur dioxide and ammonia nitrogen have dropped by over 7 percent in the past three years, basically on target, nitrogen oxide emissions only dropped by about 2 percent, which has created great pressure for emissions-cutting in 2014 and 2015. Chai Fahe, deputy head of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said that the Law on Air Pollution Prevention and Control should be revised as soon as possible to ensure that illegal discharging will be strictly punished. The government should make finance and taxation policies to encourage the research and production of clean-energy vehicles to reduce emissions, he said. ^ top ^

Chinese premier urges healthy capital market development (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday urged healthy development of the country's capital market through reforms and innovation. Li said that a sound capital market provides more channels for investment and financing, as well as improving financing structure, modern corporate governance and risk management. He stressed solid reforms in the registration system of stock issuance, faster building of the multi-tier equity market, more market-oriented mergers and better delisting provision, so as to enhance listed companies' benefits and their capacities to offer continuous investment return. The bond market shall be regulated with diversified bonds for different investors and stricter credit supervision and management, while the futures market will see more bulk commodity futures and further development of treasury bond futures, Li said. China plans to foster the private equity market and set no administrative approvals for legal and qualified private offering, while encouraging investment funds to support smaller enterprises and innovations in technological productions and services. The premier also urged easier access for intermediaries and professional investors and a smooth path for Internet finance. Meanwhile, Li added, the capital market will open wider to investors from both home and abroad, with improved laws and policies for early warning and management of risk and harsher punishments against illegal operations like false statements, insider dealing and market manipulation. ^ top ^

HK, US sign tax information agreement (Global Times)
Hong Kong and the United States Tuesday signed an agreement on exchange of tax information. Hong Kong's Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury,K C Chan, on behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region( HKSAR) government, signed the agreement with the US consul general to Hong Kong and Macao, Clifford A Hart on behalf of US government. It is the first tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) signed by Hong Kong, after the legal framework for entering into TIEAs with other jurisdictions was put in place in July last year. Chan said the signing of the TIEA with the US demonstrates Hong Kong's continued commitment to fulfill its international obligations on promoting tax transparency. Chan added, "The TIEA with the US has adopted highly prudent safeguard measures to protect taxpayers' privacy and confidentiality of information exchanged." The TIEA will become effective after Hong Kong has completed the necessary legislative procedures for bringing the agreement into force. ^ top ^

Reforms at Shanghai FTZ push financial opening (China Daily)
Pilot financial liberalization plans in Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ) will soon include a free trade account and a capital market for foreign investors. Dai Haibo, deputy director of the FTZ administration committee, set a timetable for the launch of both the free trade account and crude oil futures on Tuesday, at a press conference in Shanghai. Specific rules on the free trade account that allows full convertibility of the yuan and facilitates offshore financing will be rolled out in the second quarter. Trading of crude oil futures on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange will begin by the end of this year. Bringing crude oil futures to the FTZ is more complicated than authorities imagined and poses challenges to the law and tax codes. Nevertheless, Dia said the zone should boast a multi-tiered capital market for offshore investors. The free trade account could turn the zone into a truly offshore market where capital can flow freely and the yuan be fully convertible. It will help Chinese companies, especially those engaged in foreign trade, secure cheaper yuan-denominated funding offshore, where financing costs are lower than that on the Chinese mainland. China's central bank has previously eased restrictions on overseas investment by individuals working in the FTZ, by allowing them to open account for overseas investment. The move has sidestepped the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investors quota for overseas investment and amounts to partial opening of the capital account. Six months after it was established in September 2013, the FTZ has launched key programs including easing cross-border use of the yuan, liberalizing interest rates on foreign currency loans, facilitating offshore financing and outbound investment. By the end of February, a total of 1,383 financial institutions had registered in the zone. These include the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, 43 banks, securities and insurance firms, 102 equity financing and financial leasing firms and more than 1,000 investment and asset management firms. The ceiling for the interest rate on foreign currency deposits of less than $3 billion was scrapped earlier this month. Bank of China handled the zone's first foreign deposit on March 1 at a negotiated rate between the bank and depositor. Other banks have started accepting small foreign deposits since then. ^ top ^

WTO rare-earth report slammed as unfair (Global Times)
China ought to further rectify the exploitation of its rare-earth elements and push for a restructuring of the industry through the levying of resource and environment taxes, analysts suggested, in response to a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against the country's export restrictions on the materials. The WTO late on Wednesday announced China had broken rules by imposing export duties and quotas on rare-earth elements, tungsten and molybdenum as alleged in 2012 by the US, the EU and Japan. "As a responsible WTO member, we respect relevant rules. But we regret that and we will continue our efforts to protect the environment and natural resources, and maintain our rights to argue," Zhang Anwen, vice secretary-general of the Chinese Society of Rare Earths, told the Global Times on Thursday. China can appeal the ruling within 60 days. Late on Wednesday China's Ministry of Commerce said it regretted the WTO announcement and is evaluating the report and adopting measures in accordance with WTO dispute settlement protocols. Zhang said developed countries should feel gratitude toward China deep down even if they are reluctant to admit it publicly, considering China's sacrifice of its environment. Over the years, China, with 23 percent of the world's rare earth reserves, supplied 90 percent of rare-earth elements to the international market and ensured development of the world's high-tech and emerging industries under massive environmental and resource pressure, Zhang noted. "As such a contributor, China deserves understanding from importers on the world market," Zhang said. Rare-earth elements are a group of highly valued rare minerals used to make high-tech products from iPhones to hybrid cars and airplane equipment. A remarkable disparity exists in the rare-earth value chain among its participants. China has damaged and polluted its environment and gets a low price for its exports, Zhang said. Foreign importers, however, obtained profits equal to dozens or even 100 times the cost from deep processing, Zhang said, noting it is unfair and unsustainable on China. Industry insiders have reported mixed reactions toward the WTO report. "The US, Japan and the EU formed a hunting party against China. They sued China in 2012 over the export of nine kinds of raw materials and this time they staged the same drama over rare earth," Wu Chenhui, a non-ferrous metal analyst with, told the Global Times. Wu said the environmental cost of rare-earth elements, such as pollution management and environmental rehabilitation during extraction and primary processing, are often overlooked. Feng Jun, a senior consultant from the Shanghai WTO Affairs Consultation Center told the Global Times that China's potential appeal may have little chance of success. "The rules of the WTO are not in our favor." However, there are plenty ways for China to protect its environment and exhaustible resources such as imposing a resource tax, Feng said. "Indonesia for instance banned exports of raw materials out of the country in January. No one sues them," Feng said, urging the government to explore means permitted under WTO rules. Zhang said despite the impact of the WTO report, governance of this industry will continue to prevent chaotic exploitation. "We hope we can gain understanding from the international community, and establish a diversified, sustainable, mutually beneficial supply market of the rare-earth metals," Zhang said. Due to the tariff, Chinese rare-earth export figures have dropped in recent years. At the same time, industry insiders said that rare-earth smuggling in the country is still widespread due to poor supervision. "We fear that lifting export tariffs and quotas will let the industry return to problems. But on the other hand, the tariff also kills the competitiveness of our goods on the global market," a manager of international trade at Gansu Rare Earth New Material Co, told the Global Times on Thursday on the condition of anonymity. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

DPRK fires 2 ballistic missiles in violation of UN resolution: S.Korea (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired off two medium-range ballistic missiles Wednesday morning in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, South Korea's Defense Ministry said. Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told an emergency press briefing that the DPRK launched two ballistic missiles, believed to be of the Rodong class, from 2:35 a.m. to 2:42 a.m. local time from the Sukcheon region, north of Pyongyang, toward waters off the eastern coast. The missiles, which flew around 650 km, were launched for the first time in around five years. The DPRK fired off the Rodong missiles twice in July 2009 and July 2006. The Rodong missile is known to have a range of 1,300 km with nuclear warhead loaded. This time, the missiles were fired from mobile launchers known as the transporter-erector-launcher (TEL). The spokesman said that it was a clear violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, calling it an grave provocation to South Korea and the international community. ^ top ^

S.Korea to seek response measures to DPRK's missile launches (Xinhua)
South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it would seek response measures to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s latest launch of ballistic missiles at the upcoming UN Security Council meeting. "The government will make efforts to come up with response measures (to the DPRK's recent missile launches) at the Security Council meeting through a close cooperation with the council members,"Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told a routine press briefing. Cho said the meeting was scheduled to be held Thursday afternoon New York time, hinting at Seoul's efforts to add sanctions on the DPRK during the upcoming meeting over its recent volley of missile firings. The DPRK launched two medium-range ballistic missiles, believed to be of the Rodong class, Wednesday morning from the Sukcheon region, north of Pyongyang, toward waters off its eastern coast. Those were estimated to be Rodong missiles as they flew at an altitude of over 160 km with a top speed of more than Mach 7.0. The Rodong missiles were known to have a range of around 1,300 km capable of carrying nuclear warhead. The Rodong missiles, which flew about 650 km and landed within waters of Japan's air defense identification zone, were launched for the first time in around five years, and were fired for the first time from mobile launchers. Following the launch, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday, calling it a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, which banned all ballistic missile-related activities by the DPRK. Seoul's Defense Ministry especially worried about the firing of Rodong missiles as it could be an indication of the DPRK's another nuclear test. Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told an emergency press briefing Wednesday that the DPRK tended to make other provocations before and after the ballistic missile launch, noting the military was taking note of it. The DPRK conducted its first nuclear test in October 2006, just three months after launching the Rodong missiles in protest against sanctions on the DPRK's bank accounts in the Banco Delta Asia, said the spokesman. Pyongyang carried out its second nuclear test in May 2009, two months before firing off other Rodong missiles to protest against the UN Security Council resolution 1874. The third nuclear test was staged in February last year, just two months after Pyongyang launched the three-stage rocket called Unha-3, which Seoul claimed was a long-range rocket. The DPRK fired the mid-range ballistic missiles when the trilateral summit between South Korea, Japan and the United States was being held in The Hague, the Netherlands on the sidelines of the third Nuclear Security Summit. Leaders of the three allies discussed issues on the DPRK's nuclear weapons program. South Korean President Park Geun-hye said in The Hague that building a nuclear-free world should start from the Korean Peninsula by dismantling the DPRK's nuclear weapons program, calling the nuclear-free DPRK as the first step toward a world without nuclear weapons. The South Korean leader also said nuclear materials in the DPRK could be handed over to terrorists, cautioning a fire at the DPRK' s main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, could cause a catastrophe worse than the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Russia. The DPRK lashed out at Park's remarks. Earlier in the day, the DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea denounced Park by her name, saying if"Park Geun-hye really wants improved ties" between the two Koreas, she should be careful in speech and regain her reason and discernment. On Wednesday, the committee called Park's warning against the Yongbyon nuclear complex as an expression of her ignorance and a womanish spirit, stressing that denuclearization should be achieved in the whole Korean Peninsula, not in the DPRK alone. In response, South Korea's Unification Ministry said that Pyongyang cussed at its head of state with unspeakable words in a grave violation of the inter-Korean agreement. The two Koreas agreed to stop slandering each other at the first senior-level talks in seven years held last month. It urged an immediate stop of such slandering, saying it was very regrettable for the DPRK to turn away even the least of common courtesy. ^ top ^



Mongolia to build railway across Mongolia-China border (Xinhua)
Mongolia announced Saturday that it will build an international-standard narrow gauge railroad across its border with China to transport its minerals from the Mongolian Gashuun Sukhait port to China's Gants Mod port. Ulan Bator has permitted Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, a State-owned mining company, to co-invest with Chinese companies and form a joint venture to build and operate the railway linking the two countries' border ports. Both sides have agreed that Mongolia owns 17 percent of the venture's stakes and have the same share of investment. In total, $500,000 will be invested in the initial phase of construction. Coal is one of Mongolia's major mineral exports to China. The mineral-rich inland country made the decision to protect the environment and reduce the transportation cost of the coal, which has largely depended on costly trucks. ^ top ^

The EU to provide a financial support of over 6.5 billion EUR to 12 Asian countries including Mongolia (Info Mongolia)
On March 20, 2014, the European Union Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs has announced a financial support of over 6.5 billion EUR in new support for countries and organizations in Asia for the period 2014-2020. The announcement was made during a two-day event to discuss development cooperation with authorities from the countries and regional organizations involved. In his statement, Commissioner Piebalgs said, "The EU is committed to cooperation with Asia for the long-run. The future programs are expected to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the region, address climate change, promote energy efficiency, facilitate business and trade through better market access and support regional integration". While Asian economies have shown remarkable recent growth, poverty is still widespread on the continent, with about 800 million people in the Asia and Pacific region still living in extreme poverty (live on less than $1.25 a day), according to the Asian Development Bank. As most countries in the region are facing challenges due to uneven regional development and increasing income inequality, EU funding for national and regional programs in Asia for the time period from 2014-2020 increased by 20% compared to the financing period 2007-2013 (€5.1 billion). The new funds will address key priorities being discussed with the countries present in the programming seminar in Brussels, as well as with the representatives of the regional organization the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Some of these priorities include social protection, better health and education, job creation and better integration of partner countries into regional and world markets. Funding for EU-Asia cooperation comes from the Development Co-operation Instrument (DCI), which is part of the overall EU budget. These 12 countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam) in Asia are eligible for bilateral development programs. According to the European Union Technical Office in Ulaanbaatar opened in June 2006, Mongolia was represented at above two-day event by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union, Mr. Khishigdelger DAVAADORJ and an official statement regarding how much fund was distributed to Mongolia is not revealed yet. ^ top ^

The first consultative meeting between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea at Foreign Ministry-level was held in Ulaanbaatar (Info Mongolia)
The first consultative meeting between the Foreign Ministries of Mongolia and the Republic of Korea on the public diplomacy was held in Ulaanbaatar on March 25, 2014. Mongolian delegation was chaired by Director of the Policy Planning and Research Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Ts.Batbayar and Korean delegation by Director of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kim Dong-gi. During the consultative meeting, parties exchanged views on the opportunities for developing public diplomacy ties between the two nations, deepening the mutual understanding between the two peoples and improving their knowledge of history, culture and tradition, and cooperation on the mutual promotion. Mongolian sides emphasized that media plays an important role in enhancing mutual understanding and knowledge of two peoples about respective countries as well as expressed an interest in increasing the exchange of journalists and representatives of the media organizations between the two countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea plans to host through its Embassy in Ulaanbaatar a number of cultural events for Mongolians especially young people and asked to provide support. Both sides agreed on working together in this direction and hosting such consultative meetings regularly and concluded the meeting as fruitful, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia. ^ top ^

From April 01, 2014 Mongolia to export coal under new flexible tariff and plans 31.4 million tons (Info Mongolia)
On March 26, 2014, the Ministry of Mining of Mongolia hosted the regular monthly press conference themed "Transparent Mining", where Minister Davaajav GANKHUYAG, State Secretary at Mining Ministry Rentsendoo JIGJID and other officials reported their works carried out in the first three months of 2014. In their statements, authorities mentioned Mongolian Mining delegates had participated in the PDAC 2014 International Convention, Trade Show & Investors Exchange held in Toronto, Canada on March 02-05, 2014. During the visit, Minister D.Gankhuyag met with Minister of Natural Resources of Canada Joseph Oliver, who is currently serves as Minister of Finance since March 19, 2014. Mining Minister also met with Minister of International Trade of Canada Edward Fast, where parties exchanged views to strengthen partnership supporting foreign investment into Mongolia. On March 17, 2014, Minister D.Gankhuyag received Russian delegates led by President of Rosneft Company I.I.Sechin and during the meeting sides negotiated on long-term contract to supply oil products from Rosneft, moreover Mongolian Government re-affirmed its interest to import petroleum from Russia up to 1 million ton this year. According to the first quarter of 2014, 2.1 million tons of coal was exported, which is an increased volume by 23% compare to the previous year. The country expects to export 31.4 million tons of coal this year. In the first two months of 2013, a total of 506 kg of gold was sold to Central Bank and this volume increased by 2.6 times in February 2014 reaching to 1,320 kg. On March 10, 2014, the country's largest zinc-lead enrichment plant “Dulaan Khar” was opened in Bayan-Ulgii Aimag, Mongolia. In order solve the problems and difficulties faced on coal exports today, at the Cabinet meeting held on March 21, 2014, it was resolved to set a flexible tariff on coal exports that changes the tax system including mineral royalties and in the scope of new regulations, which is effective from April 01, 2014, coal will be exported under new tax tariff depending on how was made the contract. Before, taxes including mineral royalties for coal export used to be under one solid tariff, despite the international market price. As of March 25, 2014, the oil reserve at national level was estimated for 35 days, of which A-80 grade gasoline for 39 days, A-92 for 42, Diesel for 43 and TC-1 for 16 days. ^ top ^


Mrs. Lauranne Peman
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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