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
  5-11.4.2014, No. 519  
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Foreign Policy

China slams Japan's 'Diplomatic Bluebook for 2014' (China Daily)
China on Friday expressed deep concern and strong dissatisfaction over Japan's outrageous claim of the "China Threat" laid through its "Diplomatic Bluebook for 2014". Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing that the bluebook made groundless accusations against China and maliciously depicted China as a threat. "Japan has deliberately made provocations and sought excuses for military expansion, aiming to serve its domestic political pursuit," Hong said, adding that the international community should be highly alarmed. He noted that it is Japan itself that stirs up troubles on the Diaoyu Islands and the East China Sea. Japan can never change the fact that the the Diaoyu Islands belong to China and will not shake China's firm determination to safeguard national territorial sovereignty, Hong said. He urged Japan to correct its attitude and stop provocative remarks and actions that might damage China's sovereignty and legitimate rights. "Japan should educate their next generations with a right view on history. Tell them the truth about the Diaoyu Islands in the textbooks and let them know the islands belong to China," the spokesman said. ^ top ^

Chinese experts urge Diaoyu Islands school textbooks (Global Times)
Chinese experts have suggested school textbooks include Qing-Dynasty (1644-1911) literary evidence on the discovery of the Diaoyu Islands by China, following Japanese approval for competing claims to be covered in school books in Japan. Peng Ling, an expert on antique books with the China Association of Collectors, said that the Diaoyu Islands have belonged to China since ancient times and that China is responsible for letting its youth learn historical fact. On Friday, the Japanese government approved new elementary school textbooks claiming the Diaoyu Islands as part of Japan's territory, arousing denunciation from China. "The Japanese government ignores facts and legal basis, and even tends to impose false facts on their future generations," said Peng. The literary evidence, written by Qing-Dynasty academic Qian Yong, depicts the trip to the Diaoyu Islands made by Shen Fu, a writer and painter, and officials in 1808 during the ruling period of Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820). The record was penned 76 years earlier than 1884, when the Japanese claimed they found the islands. "Qian Yong's handwriting proves to the world that, at least in 1808, the Diaoyu Islands were located in China's territorial sea, about a day's sea voyage to the then Japanese boundary," said Fu Xuancong, director of Tsinghua University's research center of classic literature. Li Guoqiang, researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Qian's narration is clear and concise, and is worthy of being included in textbooks with photos of the original document, in order to let students have a correct understanding of the Diaoyu Islands. ^ top ^

China stands to benefit as Russia clashes with West over Ukraine (SCMP)
Whenever Russia and Western powers face off, China stands to gain geopolitical leverage. This maxim has played out once again amid the crisis in Ukraine. Faced with the most dangerous confrontation between Russia and US-led Western powers since the end of the cold war, China must avoid angering an ally as well as harming ties with the world's leading superpower. Russia and China have been allies in the United Nations, acting as a counterweight to the West's domination of global affairs over the past decade. China was the only member nation on the Security Council to abstain from a resolution to condemn Russia for its actions in Crimea. But analysts say Beijing's support for Moscow faces limits. "On one hand, Russia's strong-arm tactics and meddling in Ukraine are at odds with China's long-standing commitment to the inviolability of state sovereignty," said Benjamin Herscovitch, a research fellow with Australia's Centre for Independent Studies. "On the other hand, Moscow's disregard for Washington's denunciations pleases Beijing." There is also a practical reason for Beijing to refrain from endorsing Russia's military invasion: it might give foreign powers an excuse to intervene in China's own territories in the future. Beijing maintains a strong grip on its far-flung, ethnically diverse Xinjiang and Tibet regions. And the 2005 Anti-Secession Law permits the use of military force against Taiwan, should it declare independence through a referendum or some other official mechanism. "China is highly ambivalent towards the referendum in Crimea as it is uneasy about the potential implications for its own territorial or ethnic minority issues," said Chengxin Pan, a fellow with Australian Institute of International Affairs. Sharing more than 4,000 kilometres of border with Russia, China is also worried about the risk of a wider Russian incursion as nationalistic leader Vladimir Putin pokes at Western weakness and tries to restore Moscow's influence over its old Soviet empire. Beijing has bitter memories of Soviet military action in smaller countries, such as Hungary in 1953 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, which enraged Mao Zedong enough to launch a campaign against "social imperialism". Russian forces helped push Chinese troops out of Mongolia beginning in 1920, and Ukraine's return to the Kremlin's orbit has echoes of "Finlandisation" during the cold war, when the Soviet Union influenced the Nordic country's polices. Conversely, some Chinese diplomats privately see the Ukraine conflict as a possible means to improving relations between Beijing and Washington, similar to the aftermath of September 11. That event saw a turnaround in Sino-US ties as US President George W. Bush softened his administration's hawkish stance on China. At the time, the United States needed Beijing as an ally for its goals in the Security Council, and later its objectives in Afghanistan. This support required that Washington place less emphasis on areas of its bilateral ties such as human rights, that traditionally led to friction. Some Chinese strategists also see Putin's Crimea incursion as challenging Beijing's growing interest in the region. Over the past five years, China has replaced Russia as the dominant foreign presence in Central Asia, through energy deals, extensive oil and gas pipelines, and foreign investment. China is the largest trading partner of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and the second-largest partner of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. With its huge stake, China has an interest in keeping regional peace so it can explore further investment and trade opportunities, and secure a stable supply of energy. The question of where China will stand in the end has become central to the Ukraine crisis. When the crisis hit, US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin scrambled to reach out to President Xi Jinping. But Beijing's best strategy is to maintain the status quo in Kiev. Ukraine joining the European Union will not serve China's interests. China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was made in Ukraine. In addition, Ukrainian companies help maintain the engines of Chinese fighter jets. If Ukraine is recruited into the EU and Nato, it will then be required to follow the groups' arms embargo against China. ^ top ^

Search leader confirms suspected signals detected by both Australian, Chinese vessels (Xinhua)
Chief Coordinator of the multinational search team hunting for the missing Malaysian flight MH370 on Sunday confirmed that vessels from both Australia and China had detected suspected pulse signals in recent days, saying more ships and planes are deployed for further verifications and he is satisfied with the current cooperation with China. Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC) told a press conference that he was well advised by the Chinese side about the "ping" picked up by the search vessel Haixun 01 in the past two days. According to media reports, experts onboard the Haixun 01 detected a pulse signal twice with a frequency of 37.5 kHz per second, which is the same as emitted by flight recorders. Houston told reporters Haixun 01 redetected the signals for 90 seconds Saturday within just 2 km of the original detection following its discovery on Friday. Regarding a query whether China had informed Australia on Friday when its ship received the signal for the first time, Houston said he was "completely comfortable" with the level of information being provided by the Chinese government and was "very satisfied" with the level of consultation between the two countries. Meanwhile, he disclosed the Australian ship Ocean Shield which has U.S. underwater search equipment on board also received separate "acoustic event" on Sunday some 300 nautical miles away from the location of Haixun 01. However, Houston urged caution on both new findings because they have not been verified yet, saying the search team treats every reported lead very seriously and that's why Australian airforce plane and more ships are directed to assist further investigation. "The information has been passed through the Chinese authorities to the Australian authorities with a request to do further investigation of the detection, that's why (British) HMS Echo and Australian vessel Ocean Shield which has special equipment which will be useful in the circumstances are proceeding to the location of Haixun 01," said Houston. Echo will arrive in the location in hours and the Ocean Shield would be there in more than 24 hours since it needs to investigate the signal found by itself first, he said. Houston said the refined satellite data has shifted the search point to the south part of the corridor which is "the most likely area that the aircraft entered the water." Haixun 01 is in the southern area and "that's why we are really interested in the two acoustic encounters that Haixun 01 has had," he told reporters. Asked by Xinhua how difficult it would be to retrieve the black box if the signal received by Haixun 01 is confirmed related to MH370, Houston said it would be a very difficult and long process. "The water in which Haixun 01 is working at the moment is 4,500 meters deep which is incredible, so any recovery operation is going to be very challenging and very demanding and will take a long period of time," said the chief. "First of all, we have to establish the fact that there's something down there, we are a long way from making that conclusion," he added. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who is currently in Japan said he is "hopeful" but "not certain" about the Chinese detection. "It's a very difficult mission and we need to be very careful about jumping to a quick conclusion," he said. Australian Defense Minister David Johnston also urged caution over the new findings, saying they could be another false lead. "I have not had a chance to get to the bottom of this but can I tell you this is not the first time we've had something that has turned out to be very disappointing," he told local ABC 24. The international search team on Sunday intensified efforts to hunt the MH370 which disappeared on March 8. According to the JACC, 10 military planes, two civil planes and 13 ships have been deployed for the mission. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has three separate search areas planned for Sunday about 2,000 km northwest of Perth, totaling some 216,000 square km. ^ top ^

China, Israel vow to further deepen cooperation (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping Tuesday held talks with his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres, calling for tangible progress in Israel-Palestine peace talks at an early date. The Chinese people and the Jewish people have got along with each other, said Xi during their talks in the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing. Especially during WWII, the two peoples supported each other and commonly opposed Fascism and militarism, he said. Highlighting that the two nations have a sound political relationship and have cooperated substantially since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, Xi said China is willing to continue high-level exchanges with Israel and to set up an inter-governmental mechanism of economic and technological cooperation as soon as possible. He called on both sides to enhance cooperation in areas such as agriculture, energy, environmental protection, education, medical treatment and innovation. "We have full confidence in the China-Israel relationship," Xi said. For his part, Peres said the peace-loving Chinese people follow their own path of development and have scored remarkable achievements. Expressing the hope that Israel would strengthen friendship with China, he said realization of the Chinese dream would surely create opportunities for world peace and development. On the Israel-Palestine peace talks, Xi said the talks have entered a crucial phase with chances and difficulties coexisting. China hopes that the Israeli side can take the whole picture of peace into consideration, show strategic wisdom and make brave decisions to work for tangible results at an early date. China will make a constructive contribution to the peace talks as always, he said. Peres said Israel is willing to make joint efforts with Palestine and the international community to conquer the difficulties and push forward the peace talks. He added that Israel welcomes China to continue to play an important role of promoting peace. Peres is here for a state visit from Tuesday to Thursday. ^ top ^

Chinese, U.S. defense chief vow to boost new type military ties (Xinhua)
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan on Tuesday held talks with his U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel on promoting the sound and stable development of a new type of military relations. Chang said this year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations, and it is also a crucial year for the two sides to build the new type of major-country relations. Chinese President Xi Jinping described the content of this kind of relationship with "no conflict and no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation", which revealed the characteristics of bilateral relations, said Chang. He called on the two countries to steadily and unswervingly push forward the construction of the new type of major-country relations, which is in line with the fundamental and long-term interests of the two sides as well as the lasting peace and stability of Asia-Pacific region and the world. Chang applauded the major progress achieved in bilateral military relations since last year, noting that the two sides should further enhance dialogue and communication, and respect each other's core interests and major concern. He urged the two armed forces to strengthen pragmatic exchange and cooperation, effectively manage crisis and risks, properly resolve major obstacles and differences, so as to push forward the healthy and stable development of their new type military ties. ^ top ^

Protecting Chinese sovereignty in South China Sea is 'unshakable', Li tells economic forum (SCMP)
Premier Li Keqiang has vowed that China would "resolutely" respond to any provocation from countries with claims on its territory in the South China Sea. Li told the Boao Forum for Asia on Hainan - the region's version of the World Economic Forum in Davos - that China would stick to a path of peaceful development and maintain friendly ties with its neighbours. But its "determination to protect our territorial sovereignty is unshakable", he said. "We are willing to settle territorial disputes through peaceful means and we are supportive of joint maritime co-operation, but we will make a resolute response to any provocative moves that affect the peace and stability of the South China Sea," he said. The disputed waters have become a flashpoint between China and its Southeast Asian neighbours, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam. Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the disputed waters, but Beijing insists it owns a large part of the area. Southeast Asian nations have complained of Beijing's aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea, including cutting the exploration cables of their survey vessels and blocking the passage of ships. But China has insisted its actions in the disputed waters were legitimate. Defence Minister Chang Wanquan criticised the Philippines on Tuesday after he held talks with US defence chief Chuck Hagel. Chang said Manila was "stirring up trouble" by filing a dispute over its claims in the South China Sea with a United Nations arbitration tribunal. Chang said the Philippines "did the math in the wrong way" - meaning Manila had miscalculated in filing the UN case - and that China would not participate in the arbitration process. Manila is seeking a ruling regarding its maritime entitlements under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, which China has ratified. The Philippines gave more than 40 maps and 4,000 of pages to the tribunal. "The fact is that it's the Philippines [that is] illegally occupying part of China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea," he said. Li said in his speech at the forum that stability in the South China Sea was in the mutual interest of China and its neighbours, adding that Beijing was willing to push forward with negotiations for a code of conduct in disputed waters. Negotiations would also cover other initiatives, such as joint maritime rescue, security dialogue and fighting terrorism. "China is willing to jointly maintain peace and stability, and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea," he said. ^ top ^

China, Myanmar to foster stronger parliamentary ties (Xinhua)
China and Myanmar agreed on Thursday to facilitate closer parliamentary exchanges and share governance experience. The agreement was made during talks between China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang and Thura USwe Mann, speaker of Myanmar's Union Parliament and the House of Representatives. They signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on boosting closer cooperation between China's National People's Congress (NPC) and Myanmar's Union Parliament. Zhang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, expressed his hope that both sides would take the opportunity to sign the MOU to cement exchanges between leadership and special committees and foster stronger cooperation. He proposed enhancing the sharing of governance experience, especially in legislation, to serve as a reference for each other's domestic reform, development and stability. Zhang also suggested making full play of the role of legislative departments to protect legitimate rights of investors and maintain a sound policy and legal environment for China-Myanmar trade cooperation. He called for closer exchanges and dialogues between the two countries' congressmen. Hailing the achievements of the China-Myanmar friendship since the forging of diplomatic ties 64 years ago, Zhang said China attaches great importance to its ties with Myanmar and hopes to further enhance exchanges and cooperation to benefit the two peoples. Thura USwe Mann said Myanmar admires China's reform and opening-up policy as well as the country's great achievements in its economic and social development. He said his current tour aims at further consolidating the Myanmar-China friendship and boosting mutually beneficial cooperation. Myanmar firmly adheres to the one-China policy, he said, expressing appreciation for China's support for Myanmar. Thura USwe Mann is visiting China from April 8-12 at Zhang's invitation. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Govt asks netizens for help in exposing graft (China Daily)
China's top anti-graft agency has called on netizens to expose corruption, such as lavish banquets at private clubs, as part of its crackdown on graft ahead of the holiday season. Corrupt activities like using public funds to buy gifts, paying for personal travel and holding banquets are likely during the upcoming May Day holiday, according to the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Officials' corrupt activities have become more difficult to track, the commission said on its website on Friday. In its online discussion portal, the commission encouraged the public to expose corruption. The move was aimed at implementing the "eight-point" guideline issued by the CPC Central Committee in late 2012, which requires officials to avoid extravagance and excessive bureaucracy. Several netizens have since answered the call and reported various cases of corruption on the commission's website. "I heard that some government officials have lavish banquets at rural restaurants, and the supervision of such behavior should be enhanced," a netizen posted. Other netizens have commented on the problems of corruption, including bribery in State-owned enterprises and the misuse of government vehicles. Wu Yuliang, deputy secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, has said that the Labor Day holiday is a key period for anti-graft authorities since many corrupt activities have occurred during such festivities. Excessive spending on receptions, using public money for recreational trips, and giving and receiving gifts paid for with public money during the holiday are strictly prohibited, he said. Disciplinary authorities at all levels should make feedback from the public and media over these issues easily accessible, and officials who are found to have violated the rules must be punished accordingly, he said. A total of 30,420 officials were punished by disciplinary authorities last year for violating the frugality rules, according to statistics released by the commission in January. The commission has also announced the launch of the third round of nationwide discipline inspections since the Party's leadership transition in 2012. The move covers 10 provincial-level areas and four other units. Since May 2013, the commission has carried out two rounds of inspections, deploying anti-corruption officials to local governments, ministries, State-run institutions and State-owned enterprises. Zhou Shuzhen, a professor of anti-graft research at Renmin University of China, said that by fighting hidden corrupt activities, the anti-graft authorities have made governance more transparent. A number of luxurious private clubs have become a haven for corrupt activities in which government officials accept bribes from businessmen, and such activities have hurt government's image, she said. The anti-graft authorities should continue to expose such cases of corruption to gain the people's trust, she said. ^ top ^

Dongguan mayor says officials were blindsided by sheer scale of sex trade (SCMP)
Dongguan Mayor Yuan Baocheng claimed municipal leaders were unaware of the extent of the local sex trade, but admitted blame for failing to curb prostitution in a place now dubbed “sin city”. “There is no need to deny the existence of vice activities,” he told CCTV on Tuesday, the same state broadcaster that exposed Dongguan's rampant sex trafficking and generated headlines worldwide in February, much to officials' embarrassment. “But to be frank, it being so rampant or so prevalent as reported in the television programme – even we didn't know that,” Yuan said. While he conceded that municipal officials may have failed to keep the sex trade in check, Yuan denied that they intentionally ignored the problem. He claimed lower-level cadres were more to blame. “From the attitudes of our Communist Party committee members and municipal leaders, I think there is no one [among them] who has turned a blind eye to [prostitution]. This is a judgment,” he said. “But among grass-roots cadres, I think there is [that] problem.” The ensuing citywide crackdown also revealed that vice-related businesses, based in gambling houses, massage parlours, saunas and even luxury hotels, contributed a substantial amount – an estimated 50 billion yuan (HK$63 billion) a year, analysts say – to the local economy, earning the mainland's manufacturing hub the title of “China's sex trade capital”. But Yuan denied the intensifying raids of vice operations and arrests of suspects across the city would pose a “major impact” to the economy, saying it would only have an “indirect” effect. He said he was confident there would not be a slowdown and that Dongguan could still achieve its goal of 9 per cent GDP growth this year, on the back of improving economies in the West and support from the central government. Dongguan launched a three-month clampdown on prostitution networks and has vowed to punish officials found protecting the syndicates. As of late last month, 865 suspects (541 of whom are accused of running prostitution businesses) have been arrested, 60 criminal gangs have been busted and more than 3,000 hotels, saunas and massage parlours have lost their licences, according to police figures. The authorities, however, were criticised for launching this campaign only recently and allowing the sex industry to thrive for years. In early February, the city's former deputy mayor and police chief, Yan Xiaokang, were both sacked, while some 10 police officers were punished for failing to curb prostitution. Many hotels suspected of abetting prostitution rings have closed. Today, the once-bustling commerce area of Shanmei Road in Houjie Town is quiet, with many shop spaces up for rent. But the crackdown does not end after the three-month campaign, Yuan said, vowing to adopt “surprising” measures and show zero tolerance for vice. ^ top ^

Xi calls for better anti-terror forces (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called on the country's armed police forces to forcefully act against terrorism, to safeguard national security and social stability. Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks when inspecting the Special Police Academy of the Chinese People's Armed Police Force, where he observed training of armed police officers, including a simulated anti-hijack mission. During the inspection, he presented a new flag to the "Falcon Commando Unit," an elite police counter-terror brigade under the academy. This special operations brigade has made outstanding contributions to social stability over the past years. On Feb. 20, President Xi Jinping officially named the brigade "Falcon Commando Unit." During the inspection, Xi said that the Falcons are the preeminent national anti-terror force. He called on members of the unit to intensify their training, stay on high alert at all times, forge a world class anti-terror force and "always remain loyal to the Communist Party of China and the people." The Special Police Academy of the Chinese People's Armed Police Force was established in 1982 as a special anti-hijack unit. ^ top ^

Communist Party expels Guo Yongxiang, aide to Zhou Yongkang, and prepares criminal prosecution (SCMP)
Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy Sichuan governor and a senior aide to retired Communist Party security tsar Zhou Yongkang, has been expelled from the party and will face prosecution, the authorities announced yesterday. Guo, 65, is accused of taking "massive bribes" directly or through his son, and abusing his power by helping others, including his son, to make profits, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said. It also accused him of being "morally corrupt", implying that he had extramarital affairs. The announcement on Guo brings the Communist Party another step closer to deciding the fate of Zhou, who has been detained under internal investigation since December. Zhou was until late 2012 one of the party's nine most powerful officials. He was investigated after findings from an inquiry into Guo were presented to the top leadership, the South China Morning Post earlier reported. The most serious allegations against Guo are related to bribes obtained through his son, Guo Lianxing. The latter is believed to have had business dealings with Zhou family associates, according to sources and documents. An energy company founded under the son's name in 2010 is registered at the same address as four firms known to have close ties to Zhou's elder son, Zhou Bin. The property is owned by Zhou Bin's mother-in-law, Zhan Minli. Guo Lianxing is the energy company's legal representative; its major shareholder is Mi Xiaodong, Zhou Bin's classmate at the Southwest Petroleum University in Chengdu, Sichuan. The company was dissolved the month Guo was detained. Neither Guo nor his son could be reached for comment. "Accepting bribes through family members … has become a pattern for corrupt officials," Zhang Ming, a politics professor at Beijing's Renmin University, said. "But corrupt officials can no longer be confident of escaping punishment … after the authorities focused their investigations on family members." Guo, Zhou's former secretary, was detained last June for serious violations of party discipline. At the time, he was semi-retired in an honorary role as chairman of the Federation of Literary and Art Circles in Sichuan, Zhou's political power base. Guo and Zhou worked together for more than a decade until 2002, when Zhou became a member of the party's Politburo as head of the Public Security Ministry. ^ top ^

Retired president Hu Jintao makes rare public appearance in Hunan (SCMP)
Former president Hu Jintao made a rare public appearance at a university in Hunan province yesterday. Hu arrived at Hunan University at about 10am and visited several historic institutions on the campus, including the Yuelu Academy, founded in AD976 and one of the four most prestigious academies in ancient China, the university's television station reported on Sina Weibo. Hu's appearance was an indirect way to voice support for the current state leaders, and to offer some comfort to former allies, some of whom were said to be targets of Xi's campaign, said Gu Su, a professor of political science at Nanjing University. News outlets, including state media, were quick to report the visit. Depite keeping a low profile in retirement, Hu's appearance - at the height of his successor Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign - sends a message that he still wields influence, observers said. Hu's only other official public appearance since he retired was at his ancestral home in Anhui late last year. Photos posted in the same report showed Hu dressed in a casual black jacket and wearing white sneakers, which many microbloggers noted was a departure from his "formal and boring" image as a state leader. Former leaders must seek their successors' approval before making any high-profile appearances, Gu said. Hu's visit took place at a politically sensitive moment, said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political affairs commentator. "The party is very unstable. The probe against the 'big tiger' [a euphemism for former security tsar Zhou Yongkang] has yet to be announced, while the target group of Xi's anti-graft campaign has been widened to include the military and reportedly the Communist Youth League faction [Hu's former power base]" Zhang said. ^ top ^

Chinese civil rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong releases autobiography amid likely court rebuff (SCMP)
Prominent civil rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong will release his autobiography today, as a Beijing court rules on his appeal against charges of disrupting public order, for which he was convicted in January. To Be a Citizen, published by Hong-Kong based New Century Press, sheds light on the activist's upbringing and his vision of a free China. "1987 was an important beginning for me," Xu wrote, adding that at 14, he swapped his dream of becoming a Nobel Prize-winning biologist for one of public service. "That winter I realised what our society needs is truth, liberty, and justice. I needed to work hard to make the world a better place." Xu, 41, coined the term New Citizens Movement - which he was involved in founding - in a series of essays in 2012 that called for fairness and transparency. In January, Beijing's No1 Intermediate People's Court convicted Xu after a one-day trial of "assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place" after he was accused of organising protests last year calling for public disclosure of government officials' personal assets. He was sentenced to four years in prison. Xu's lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, said yesterday that he did not expect the court to reverse the verdict at today's appeal. The autobiography is divided into three parts. In part one, Xu writes about his early life and his experiences on the path to social and political consciousness. Part two discusses Xu's vision of a democratic China and the necessary power structure, including a presidential system, a supreme court, a national army and political parties. The last part contains a series of writings, including Xu's last court statement and an open letter to President Xi Jinping. Teng Biao, a fellow rights lawyer and the editor of the book, calls the public discussions on how to solve social problems like corruption, wealth disparity and education inequality - inspired by the New Citizens Movement - "practising democracy". Many members of the movement had hoped that the new leaders, particularly Xi, would be more open to calls for reform. But when some members took to the streets with signs condemning corruption and injustice, authorities began arresting and detaining people in several large cities. Xu was accused of being the leader of the protests. "Whatever hopes we had about Xi were completely shattered," Teng said. Xu, who was born in Minquan [civil rights] county in Henan province, was no ordinary rights lawyer. "He didn't just give legal advice to the underprivileged, he didn't just do research" Teng said. "He wanted to experience it, he slept in underpasses and lived liked them." During Xu's speedy trial, in which the court refused to summon prosecution witnesses for cross-examination and rejected the defendant's request to summon witnesses, Xu sat calmly and only asked to read a closing statement, during which the court cut him off, citing irrelevance. Xu was prepared for his conviction. "Someone has to pay a price for social progress - I am willing to bear all the costs for freedom, social justice, love and faith," Xu said from his detention centre last August. Teng said there was a simple motif underlining all of Xu's work - love for the world that borders on spirituality. "He loved his country, he loved people and he loved freedom," Teng said. "Despite one-party rule, little or no press freedom and suppression of people's rights, he continued to fight for a better society." ^ top ^

Xu Yean, deputy chief of petitions office, found hanged in Beijing office (SCMP)
A top official with the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, which handles petitions, committed suicide in his Beijing office, mainland media reported. Xu Yean, 58, a deputy head of the bureau, was found hanging on Tuesday morning, Caixin Online reported. He was the second high-ranking official to take his own life in the past few weeks. Caixin, quoting sources close to the bureau, said Xu had chronic health problems, suffered from tinnitus, an auditory condition, and appeared depressed in recent months. The bureau was not available for comment. A native of central Hubei, where he graduated from university in 1982, Xu worked in the provincial branch of the bureau for decades before relocating to Beijing in 2005. He became the bureau's deputy head in 2011. Xu last appeared in public in an official capacity on March 11, when he took part in a meeting between the bureau's head, Su Xiaoqin and Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government liaison's office in Hong Kong. He also reportedly took part in a staff meeting at the bureau on March 17. The bureau is primarily responsible for accepting citizens' petitions. Petitioners have long complained about the bureau's inefficiency and claim it colludes with law enforcement authorities to detain and deport petitioners back to their home provinces. It is alleged local government officials routinely bribed bureau officials to get petitions against them removed from its files. The Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) disclosed on its website in November that Xu Jie, another deputy head with the bureau, had been "placed under investigation for serious violations of party discipline" - a phrase that usually refers to graft. A source close to the CCDI said the petition bureau was being investigated and Xu Yean was probably implicated too. "Everybody is in the same boat," said the source, referring to potential targets in the ongoing corruption crackdown. "Someone in Xu's position is not immune." Xu's suicide comes a few weeks after Li Wufeng, a deputy director with the State Council Information Office, jumped to his death from his Beijing office on March 24. Li's death has not been officially acknowledged. The anti-corruption campaign launched by President Xi Jinping has placed officials under added scrutiny. Zhou Yu, a senior police official in Chongqing once hailed as a hero of the crackdown launched by the municipal's former party boss, Bo Xilai, on organised crime, was found hanging in a hotel room last Friday. Local police said an initial investigation revealed Zhou was depressed and in poor health. Most recently, an official in Fenghua, Zhejiang province, killed himself on Wednesday morning after an apartment building in his administrative district collapsed on April 4, killing at least one resident and injuring several others, local police said. ^ top ^



Beijing dust storm expected to linger until Sunday (China Daily)
The dust storm that has enshrouded the Chinese capital since Wednesday night won't disperse until Sunday, the city's environmental watchdog said. Beijing was hit by another wave of floating dust and sand on Thursday, with the intensity of PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 10 micrograms) reaching 595 micrograms per cubic meter in the southwestern part of the city, and 496 downtown. According to the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center, the sandstorm originated in the northeastern part of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and has lingered in Beijing due to the slow wind speed close to the ground. The Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau warned the public to take precautions when going outside. The amount of pollutants discharged in the capital last year was much greater than the environment could handle, with PM2.5 exceeding standards, according to a 2013 Beijing Environment Bulletin released by the bureau on Thursday. PM2.5 is particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 micrograms that is extremely harmful to health. Despite efforts to curb pollution, the bureau said in the report that the quality of the capital's environment in 2013 remained almost the same as that of the previous year. Liu Xianshu, director of the environmental monitoring department of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said there is a gap between air quality in the southern and northern parts of the city. According to the bulletin, the PM2.5 in the capital has an average annual intensity of 89.5 micrograms per cubic meter, 156 percent higher than the standard. "The average PM2.5 index monitored in the north was 60.3 micrograms per cubic meter last year, while it stood at 116.3 in the south, about twice the amount of the north," Liu said. The average index of nitrogen dioxide and PM10 was 56 and 108.1 micrograms per cubic meter, exceeding the national standards by 40 and 54 percent. The daily maximum eight-hour average ozone concentration exceeded the standard by 14.6 percent. Among all the six pollutants monitored in the city, only the index for sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide met the standards last year. The rapid urbanization and population growth has seriously affected the city's ecological system, he said. The monitoring stations in high-traffic areas witness a much greater PM2.5 intensity, while some mountainous regions in the northern and western suburbs have better air and water quality. Liu said the government will add more trees, grassland and wetland in the capital and replace some industrial land with forests. ^ top ^



Shanghai reports growing elderly population (Xinhua)
Chinese business hub Shanghai is getting older, with nearly a third of its registered population aged 60 or older at the end of 2013, latest statistics showed Thursday. The number of people aged 60 or above in the city rose by 203,000 from 2012 to 3.88 million at the end of 2013, accounting for 27 percent of the registered population, according to figures released by the city's civil affairs authority. The number of people aged 80 or older in Shanghai increased by 45,100 from 2012 to reach 715,500 in 2013, the figures showed. There were 1,407 centenarians in the city at the end of 2013, including 356 men and 1,051 women. The elderly population in Shanghai is expected to reach its peak around 2025, according to predictions by the civil affairs authority. To cope with the growing elderly population, the city has been encouraging social capital investment in nursing facilities. China's population is aging rapidly, and 202 million people, or 14.9 percent of the total population, had reached age 60 or above at the end of 2013, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. This number is expected to exceed 300 million by 2025, according to the ministry. ^ top ^



Tibet receives record Q1 tourists (Xinhua)
The number of the tourists traveling to Tibet Autonomous Region increased by over 11 percent year on year in the first three month of this year, local authorities said on Sunday. Some 486,600 tourists went to the plateau region from the start of January to the end of March, an increase of 11.4 percent from the same period last year, the regional tourism bureau said in a statement. The tourists, from both home and abroad, brought Tibet 503 million yuan (80.98 million U.S. dollars)in tourism income, up 12.53 percent year on year, it added. The bureau attributed the rosy start to an increasing variety of Tibetan cultural attractions, as well as winter tourism packages. As spring comes and relieves the plateau from coldness, the region is expected to see more tourists visiting holy lakes, Mount Qomolangma or the peach flowers in blossom in the forests of southeast Tibet. In addition, under a tourism cooperation agreement reached by Tibet and its neighboring province of Sichuan in late March, the regions' tourism agencies have partnered to launch road trip packages taking in views of snow-covered mountains, lakes and valleys. It means more tourists are expected to take road trips to the plateau by either driving by themselves or renting vehicles from the agencies. ^ top ^

China drills 7km borehole in 'roof of world' (SCMP)
Chinese exploration teams have drilled their deepest borehole yet in the "roof of the world". They have punched a seven-kilometre borehole into the Tibetan Plateau in their bid to tap the region's oil and natural gas resources. It is the deepest borehole ever drilled at such extreme altitudes, according to mainland scientists who are following the project. Tibet's remoteness, thin air and lack of infrastructure have so far saved it from the unchecked exploration and extraction of fossil fuels and minerals elsewhere in the country. But the government wants to lessen the country's dependence on oil imports and is funding domestic scientific research to the hilt. The latest project is shrouded in secrecy. Professor Li Haibing, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, would not reveal the project's location and declined to identify which state-owned oil companies were active in the region. But Li, who led one of the largest scientific drilling projects in Tibet, said: "Tibet's altitude and geology make it among the world's most difficult drilling locations. Fragmented [geological] structures, prone to collapse, increase the risks." Li, who works for the academy's Institute of Geology, also noted that "oxygen scarcity at higher elevations drains workers' energy considerably". China has been keeping a low profile about its exploration of resources in Tibet due to the sensitivity of the region, which has seen growing political and religious strife. The two largest state-owned oil and gas companies, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), did not respond to the South China Morning Post's queries on projects in Tibet. But information on their websites indicate that both firms have had footprints in the region for nearly 20 years. CNPC began exploring the Qiangtang Basin in central Tibet in 1995 and subsequently estimated the basin's oil reserves at 10 billion tonnes, or more than 70 billion barrels. In 1997, Sinopec established its first exploration centre in Nagqu county, with the aim of mapping the surrounding area with detailed seismic surveys and experimental drilling. Li said the central government was reviewing a proposal for a new "deep-earth" exploration project "submitted by the nation's most prominent geologists" to drill wells more than 10 kilometres deep to obtain study samples, with Tibet an area of the greatest interest. Last August, the China Geological Survey, under the Ministry of Land and Resources, signed a 20 million yuan (HK$25.1 million) exploration agreement with Sinopec after the Tibet region showed "enormous oil and natural gas potential", according to the ministry's website. The discovery of commercially viable flows of oil and natural gas in Tibet has the potential to develop the region's economy. Tibet has one of the lowest gross national products among China's administrative regions. Professor Wei Wenbo, a geologist with the China University of Geosciences and an expert on Tibetan geological conditions, said scientists continue to debate Tibet's oil and gas potential. It is hoped that samples from the seven-kilometre borehole will clarify some of the questions about the region's hydrocarbon and mineral resources. Wei said: "It is one of the last virgin territories for natural resource exploration on the planet, drawing interest from miners and drillers at home and abroad." The world's deepest borehole - the Kola Superdeep Borehole in northwestern Russia at 12,262 metres - was drilled by the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Wei warned against a rush to exploit Tibet's rich mineral veins. "Exploration and extraction of minerals and hydrocarbons in Tibet will require massive capital expenditure," he said, noting that infrastructural construction and drilling at such high altitudes drives up labour and logistics costs. Wei said mining projects had the potential to irreversibly mar Tibet's fragile ecosystems. "Environmental impact studies must be undertaken and risks assessed before commercial projects are approved," he added. ^ top ^

Tibet officials push for stronger law to safeguard 'dying' ethnic language (SCMP)
The government of the Tibet autonomous region is working on passing a more sweeping regulation this year to preserve and promote the Tibetan language - amid concerns local heritage is dying out. The region's Tibetan Language Work Committee and other authorities have drafted the policy, which is expected to be enacted in September, according to committee deputy director Chodrak, Xinhua reported. The new policy would "provide legal protection for the rights and freedom of the people of the Tibetan ethnic group to study, use and develop their language", Xinhua reported.The move "clearly shows the attention being paid to the issue by the central and local governments", the report said. The Central Tibet Administration, Tibet's government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, says on its website that the Tibetan language - composed of various dialects - has been repressed by the Chinese government, which it says imposes the use of Putonghua. "The government is repressing Tibetan culture by making the language redundant in all sectors," said the administration, which advocates a self-governing Tibet. "Tibet's education system, controlled entirely by the Chinese and their communist ideology, is geared to suit the needs of Chinese immigrants," it said. Chodrak dismissed such claims, saying: "Such a rumour as [that] the Tibetan language is dying is totally groundless." Barry Sautman, a political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, says such concerns come from people who support Tibetan sovereignty. "It's coming from people who don't like the idea that they are a part of China, and if you don't like being a part of China, then you won't want people learning the language of the country that you don't like being a part of. "There has been no effort to extinguish the Tibetan language, and there's no indication that laws will simply cater to the non-Tibetan migrants," he said. The draft regulation has a broader scope than existing regulations such as a 1987 provisions on the learning, use and development of the Tibetan language, which was amended in 2002, Xinhua said. The Tibetan Language Work Committee was set up in 1988. According to the news agency, the central government encourages bilingual education in Tibetan schools and other regions with ethnic minority populations, where Putonghua and English are taught alongside ethnic languages. "From 1987 up until 2002 there was an experiment to have wider use of Tibetan, particularly in official discourse," Sautman said. "I would guess what's being done now is a similar effect. Maybe the plan is to have more specific regulation that could therefore be more easily enforced, rather than principles that are open to wide interpretation." ^ top ^



Xinjiang chairman vows to stop religious extremism (Xinhua)
Nur Bekri, chairman of the government of west China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has vowed to stop religious extremism from spreading in the ethnic region. In an article in Monday's edition of the Xinjiang Daily newspaper, he said recent years have seen separatists, terrorists and religious extremists renew their efforts to sabotage Xinjiang's prosperity and stability by perpetrating a slew of terrorist incidents. Nur Bekri claimed these were fueled by religious extremism and that the acts of terror were made possible by taking advantage of people's faith. He described religious extremism as a "tumor" threatening the region. The chairman cited last month's attack in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, where knife-wielding assailants killed 29 civilians and injured another 143 at a railway station. Evidence pointed the attack being committed by terrorists from Xinjiang. The brutal violence against civilians revealed their antihuman nature, according to Nur Bekri. He went on to say that religious extremism had misled people, particularly the youth, into terrorist activities, and that those deceived became chess pieces in a politically motivated plot. In order to incite fanaticism and control believers, religious extremists have blatantly distorted religious teachings, making up heresy such as "jihadist martyrs goes to heaven," "killing a pagan is worth over ten years of piety," and "one gets whatever he wants in heaven." Extremists use such heresy to bewilder believers into what they believe is "jihad" in the form of suicide terror attacks or other violence, according to the article. Nur Bekri said that extremists attempt to pit believers against "pagans," alienating non-believers and those who do not conform to their rules or practices, hurling insults such as "traitors" and "scum" on them. They also advocate "religion above all," and a pan-Islam society, he added. They forbid believers to watch TV, listen to radios, read newspapers or even "laugh during weddings or cry during funerals." They force men to grow beards and women to wear burka, he said. Nur Bekri also claimed in the article that the extremists had demanded not only food, but also medicines, cosmetics and clothing to all to be halal, promulgating the idea that government-subsidized housing or life necessities produced elsewhere are non-halal. Those harnessing religious extremism mean to build up their forces against the government, and to create social chaos through terrorist attacks, in the hope of causing a split in the country, he said. Nur Bekri vowed to root out religious extremism, and called on officials, particularly ethnic minority officials, to counter extremists' lies and for people of all ethnicities to distinguish normal religious activities from extremist acts. ^ top ^

Uygur militancy on the rise over Beijing's 'terrorist colonisation', warns dissident (SCMP)
Militancy is on the rise in China among Uygurs driven to despair over Beijing's "terrorist colonisation", Wu'er Kaixi, a Uygur exiled after his role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, has warned. Wu'er -- who spoke after two high-profile incidents outside Xinjiang, the vast, nominally autonomous western region that is home to the Muslim ethnic minority -- pointed the finger of blame for the unrest squarely at Beijing. "If you call Uygur people terrorists, did they have any other options? Who started terror and who pushed them to this place?" Wu'er, a former prominent student leader who fled China after the 1989 crackdown, told AFP in a recent interview. "The Chinese Communist Party should be blamed... they have been conducting terrorist colonisation in my region, to my people. Where is the justice?". The resource-rich region of Xinjiang has for years been hit by occasional unrest which Chinese authorities routinely attribute to "terrorists" seeking independence..Attacks targeting civilians, however, were rare -- until recently. ^ top ^

Jailed academic Ilham Tohti's daughter slams China's treatment of Uygurs before US Congress (SCMP)
The daughter of a prominent Uygur academic has told US lawmakers that his arrest sent a message that China will not tolerate even peaceful expressions of grievances by the minority group. Ilham Tohti, an economist in Beijing who has been one of the most vocal critics of China's treatment of the mostly Muslim ethnic group, was detained in January and accused of separatism, a charge that could carry the death penalty. His 19-year-old daughter Jewher Ilham, who studies in the United States, told a hearing in the US Congress that her father was not a separatist and that he opposed violence. "In fact, he is exactly the sort of person a rational Chinese political structure would seek to engage in order to address the conditions of the Uygur people," she told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which looks at human rights. "By arresting my father and threatening him with charges that carry the severest penalties, it has driven many Uygurs to a point where they can't even imagine that their … grievances can get any sort of hearing under Chinese rule," she said. Ilham said she had received no news on her father's condition and feared for her family, which she said was under 24-hour surveillance with as many as eight security officers outside their home. Ilham, who spoke using a prepared statement in English, said she had initially planned to join her father for just one month as he took a one-year position at Indiana University starting in February last year. But Tohti was stopped at a Beijing airport from going to the US and Ilham went alone. She has been studying English at Indiana University since. The US and European Union have condemned Tohti's detention, but the Chinese government says it has "irrefutable proof" against him. The Turkic-speaking Uygurs, who number some 10 million in Xinjiang, frequently charge that their political and religious rights are stifled by the government, allegations that Beijing strongly denies. ^ top ^



Hong Kong chief executive meets speaker of Myanmar Parliament (Xinhua)
Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung met Thura U Shwe Mann, the visiting speaker of the Myanmar Parliament on Monday to exchange views on issues of mutual concern. Leung said Hong Kong is among the top investors in Myanmar and that the economic and trade ties between the two sides have grown stronger in recent years, adding he is glad that Hong Kong and Myanmar concluded the negotiation of the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) at the end of last year. "The IPPA could bring about huge economic benefits to both sides and help promote bilateral investment and trade," according to Leung. Leung said he hopes that the two places will continue to maintain cooperation and close contact in trade and other aspects. ^ top ^



Macao's resident deposits down in February (Xinhua)
Macao's resident deposits in February decreased 0.7 percent from the previous month to 447.2 billion patacas (55.99 billion U.S. dollars), according to the figures released on Friday by the Monetary Authority of Macao. Of the resident deposits, pataca deposits and HKD deposits decreased at respective rates of 0.2 percent and 2.5 percent, while other foreign currency deposits grew 2.7 percent, the figures indicated. As for non-resident deposits, the value grew by 3 percent month- to-month to 194.8 billion patacas (24.39 billion dollars) in the period, of which public sector deposits with local banking sector increased by 1.4 percent to 84.6 billion patacas (10.59 billion dollars), according to the DSEC. As a result, total deposits with the banking sector increased by 0.5 percent from the previous month to 726.6 billion patacas ( 90.97 billion dollars) in February, with the shares of pataca and HKD in total deposits standing at 18.8 percent and 41.6 percent respectively, the DSEC also said. ^ top ^



Taipei mayoral hopeful Sean Lien distances self from president Ma Ying-jeou over student protests (SCMP)
The government of Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou should learn from the ongoing student movement against a services pact with Beijing, according to the eldest son of Kuomintang honorary chairman Lien Chan. “The student movement would come to an end eventually, but what is more important is the social factor behind such a movement, that is, many young people are full of uncertainty and worries about their future,” said Sean Lien Sheng-wen, who is one of the hopefuls in November's mayoral election in Taipei. He also called on the Ma government to provide more resources to help the younger generation. Being from a generation ahead of the protesting students, Lien has more insights over what the young are feeling. This explains why has won the support of the students and other young people as well as factions outside the KMT mainstream, many of whom back his mayoral bid. Since announcing his candidacy on February 24, opinion polls have shown the 44-year-old running neck-and-neck with his major opponent Ko Wen-je, a highly popular doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital. How was the eldest son of the former vice president, regarded by many as a dandy from a rich family, able to move to the front of the pack for a post widely seen as a stepping stone to the island's presidency? Lien's outspoken comments on the Taiwan president's administrative policies and political manoeuvring over the past two years have struck a chord with a public who feel Ma's performance falls far short of their expectations. (…) Shortly after Lien announced his mayoral bid, there were unconfirmed reports if an extravagant lifestyle – NT$200,000 (HK$52,000) bottles of red win, nights out at playboy clubs with bunny girls, a haircut costing more than NT$3,000. Questions also arose about his father's connections with the mainland – Lien was reported to have assets worth about NT$110 million, while his father was said to be worth more than NT$2 billion. Lien has tried to shift the focus away from his family. “I can't choose my parents. If you think I should change my father in order to run, I can only say sorry, I can't do that,” he said in answer to a question about his background at a news conference on February 24, when he announced he would run for mayor. “But I can choose what kind of person I should be and what kind of things I should do, including devoting my whole life to working for the best future for the public.” He became attracted to public service after two brushes with death, he said. Lien had a tumour removed from his kidneys in December 2009, and in November the following year, was shot in the face at close range. The bullet, fired by a lone gunman during a campaign rally in Yungho in New Taipei City on the eve of a council election, killed a bystander after hitting Lien's left cheek and exiting near his right temple. (…) Lien suspects the shooting was politically motivated, saying he heard the assailant shout his name before firing. Some Democratic Progressive Party politicians suggested the shooting might have been staged as a sympathy ploy, and pointed to better-than-expected results for the KMT in city elections across the island. (…) Lien said his expertise in finance had allowed him to make frequent visits abroad, and his observation of how other countries achieved progress gave him a global perspective for deciding how Taipei's administration should be run. ^ top ^

China urges US to block congress approval of Taiwan-related bill (Global Times)
China on Thursday urged the United States to block congressional approval of a Taiwan-related bill. The US House of Representatives passed a bill this week reaffirming the importance of the "Taiwan Relations Act" and called on the Obama administration to sell Perry-class frigates to Taiwan. The so-called "Taiwan Relations Act" is unilaterally formulated by the United States and runs counter to the three China-US joint communiques, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing. The US arms sales to Taiwan interfere in China's internal affairs and violate the three China-US joint communiques, particularly the principles specified in the August 17 Communique signed in 1982, under which the United States agreed to gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan, Hong said. He said China's opposition has been consistent and clear. "We urge the US congress to stop the bill and US authorities to take measures to block approval to avoid damaging China-US relations and the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait," the spokesman said. ^ top ^

Taiwan activists peacefully exit parliament after weeks-long occupation (SCMP)
The student occupation of Taiwan's legislature chamber against a services trade pact with the mainland ended peacefully yesterday. But the 24-day protest has apparently prompted some soul-searching among senior Beijing officials regarding cross-strait relations. A meeting between Premier Li Keqiang and Taiwan's former vice-president, Vincent Siew Wan-chang, at the Boao Forum yesterday did not directly touch on the protest. But Li's top official on Taiwanese affairs, Zhang Zhijun, said the movement reminded him of the importance of listening to grass-roots voices. The occupation of Taiwan's Legislative Yuan by more than 200 students, dubbed the "sunflower" movement by local media, was declared over by their leader, Lin Fei-fan, at 6pm. Student leaving the parliament building each held a sunflower, which they passed to volunteers and their supporters waiting outside. More than 1,600 police officers were deployed to monitor the withdrawal, which passed without incident. Despite the peaceful ending, students vowed to continue pressing their campaign to stop the government from ratifying the trade pact with Beijing. They argue the pact will cost local jobs and infringe upon Taiwan's sovereignty. The sit-in came to an end after legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng pledged on Sunday not to preside over further debates on the trade pact until a law had been introduced to monitor new agreements with Beijing - a key demand of the protesters. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou endorsed Wang's pledge, even though many Kuomintang lawmakers claimed Wang's stance violated the party's political rules. Li told Siew Beijing was willing to share its development opportunities with Taiwan first, and extend its opening-up to the island, Xinhua reported. He called on Taiwanese to seize the opportunity to expand economic co-operation with the mainland. Siew, who is leading a Taiwanese team at the forum, said the pact was not raised in his talks with Li. Instead, they focused only on cross-strait macroeconomic and co-operation issues. Speaking in Boao, Zhang, who heads the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, said the protest against the pact reminded him of the importance of listening to all voices on the island. "The [students'] movement gave me inspiration. I need to understand all cases in Taiwan, especially the thinking of the grass roots," Zhang said on the sidelines of the forum's opening. He said he hoped to make his first visit to Taipei by June, when he could communicate directly with the Taiwanese public to better understand their concerns. Zhang said he had noted concerns that only giant corporations in Taiwan had benefited from the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement, which Beijing and Taipei signed in 2010. Li Fei, deputy director of Xiamen University's Taiwan Research Institute, said the student movement would lead both Beijing and Taipei to adjust their long-term cross-strait polices. "It's a fact that the framework agreement only benefits commercial giants with strong connections to the KMT, and Beijing should come up with some policies that take into consideration the interests of the island's grass roots," he said. Wang Hsing-ching, a Taipei-based commentator who supports the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party and writes under the name Nan Fang-shuo, said Ma had learned a valuable lesson from the protests and on the art of reaching a compromise, thanks to Wang. ^ top ^



China's external financial assets near 6 trillion U.S. dollars (Xinhua)
China's external financial assets amounted to 5.94 trillion U.S. dollars at the end of 2013, data from the country's forex regulator showed on Friday. The figure was up from 5.21 trillion U.S. dollars in 2012, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said, while stressing that China will strive to make the balance of international payments at an equilibrium level and prevent the risk of across-border capital flows. The country's external liability rose to 3.97 trillion U.S. dollars, while the net external financial assets 1.97 trillion U.S. dollars. In breakdown, China's foreign exchange reserves stood at 3.88 trillion U.S. dollars, accounting for 65 percent of the total assets. The outbound direct investment (ODI) took up 10 percent, the securities investment 4 percent and other investment 20 percent. As for liabilities, foreign direct investment (FDI) in China rose to 2.35 trillion U.S. dollars, making up 59 percent of total assets. The investment in securities and other aspects took up 10 percent and 31 percent, respectively. SAFE also unveiled China's current account surplus reached 182.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, down 15 percent from the previous year; the the surplus in capital and financial account went to 326.2 billion U.S. dollars, contrasted with a 31.8 billion deficit in 2012. China's current account balance improved in the last year, as its surplus to GDP fell 0.6 percentage point year on year to 2 percent, a reasonable level resulting from the growth mode, restructuring and adjustment of economic external policy. The balance of international payments and exchange rate of the yuan are approaching an equilibrium, SAFE said. In 2013, China's international reserve assets increased by 431.4 billion U.S. dollars, while the reserve assets in foreign exchange rose by 432.7 billion U.S. dollars, 334 billion U.S. dollars more from the increase in 2012. ^ top ^

World Bank cuts China growth forecast (Global Times)
The World Bank on Monday cut ­ China's annual growth forecast for 2014 to 7.6 percent, a level that is still higher than the annual growth target set by the country's central government in March, indicating the bank still remains upbeat about China's economy. The new forecast is 1 percentage point lower than the previous forecast of 7.7 percent but higher than the ­average growth prediction for the East Asia and Pacific region of 7.1 percent in 2014, according to a report released Monday by the World Bank. The report attributed the cut partly to "a bumpy start to 2014" in China, noting that industrial production, exports and Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) data had been weak in the first two months of the year. "The cut by the World Bank is in line with the forecasts of many research institutes and economists, due to slow growth in the real estate sector and investment in the first two months," Li Heng, a macroeconomic analyst with Minsheng Securities, told the Global Times on Monday. The report came after the State Council announced on Wednesday a cut in taxes for micro and small-sized firms and plans to speed up construction of railway lines and renovation of run-down areas. The announcement of the measures has fueled speculation that the government may resort to large stimulus measures to boost the economy, which has stumbled in the first two months. The country's February exports tumbled 18.1 percent from a year earlier, following a 10.6 percent gain in January. Industrial output and fixed-assets investment, which are key drivers of economic activity, both slowed down in the first two months. "The recent growth-supporting measures by the government sent positive signals. Instead of big stimulus, these measures, which are already included in the country's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), will fine-tune the economy and speed up the recovery of economic activity," Li said. "No big stimulus is expected currently. The government will achieve the right balance between supporting growth and commitment to structural reforms," Xu Hongcai, director of the Department of Information under the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), a Beijing-based think tank, told the Global Times on Monday. Despite Monday's cut, the report was still positive about China's economic outlook. The forecast for growth in 2015 was kept at 7.5 percent, and the report said China's economy will be less reliant on policy-induced, credit-fueled and investment-led growth. "The authorities are committed to embarking on structural reforms that will deliver a more sustainable and inclusive growth path in the medium to long term," the World Bank said. ^ top ^

South Korea eyes China's financial market (China Daily)
China is a very important region for South Korea's financial sector, which hopes to internationalize to find new growth engines to offset its domestic slowdown, a Korean official said Friday at the third International Financial Conference. Choi Soohyun, governor of the Financial Supervisory Service of South Korea, which examines and supervises financial institutions, said Chinese and Korean financial authorities should share regulatory information to cope with global issues such as the US Fed's tapering of the Quantitative Easing. Choi also said financial companies in both countries should try to meet the increasing demand for their services,which will be generated by enlarged trade and investment between the two countries after they sign free trade agreements. China and South Korea conducted the tenth round of FTA talks in March. He added that China is a country where South Korean financial companies have a larger presence than any other country and it is also close to South Korea in terms of geography, culture and concerning economic growth potential. South Korea surpassed Japan last year to become China's biggest source of imports in the Asia region. South Korea supplied 9.24 percent of China's imports in 2013, up from 9.17 percent in 2012, while the proportion of imports from Japan slid from 9.78 percent to 8.19 percent, according to South Korean official data. China is also South Korea's largest trading partner, and its exports to China increased 8.6 percent last year to $183.07 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce of China. South Korea's automobile exports reached a new high of $48.7 billion in 2013, with exports to China up 13.2 percent, according to the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Kwun Heung Gu, vice president of the Korea Insurance Development Institute, said at the conference that South Korea's auto insurance market is already saturated and six Korean companies - including Samsung, LG and Hyundai - have extended their insurance arms to China. Wang Xujin, dean of the Insurance Department at Beijing Technology & Business University, said that one way for Korean insurance companies to cooperate with China is to hold a stake in a Chinese insurance company. Wang also said that Chinese insurance companies can learn from Korean insurance companies, which have expertise in auto insurance, health insurance and endowment insurance. The International Finance Conference - with the theme "Sino-South Korean financial cooperation: Innovative opportunities facing the future" - was held in Beijing on April 3 and 4. It was organized by South Korean media organizations EDAILY and EDALY TV and China's economic news portal ^ top ^

Asia forum to focus on reform and growth (SCMP)
Asia needs to find new ways to drive growth amid a sluggish global economy, according to the secretary general of the Boao Forum. Countries including China have seen the pace of growth slow, and reform and new ideas were needed to drive economies forward, Zhou Wenzhong told Xinhua. That topic will be the focus of the annual forum on Hainan island that starts today with discussions and speeches by business leaders and politicians focusing on innovation, reform and sustainable development. Highlights include a keynote address by Premier Li Keqiang on China's reform programme. Observers will be watching to see if Li meets Vincent Siew Wan-chang, a former vice-president of Taiwan who leads a delegation from the island. If Li did hold talks with Siew, the two were likely to discuss "in principle" the cross-strait services trade pact that has prompted student-led protests in Taiwan, but they probably would not go into details, said Yang Lixian, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Taiwan Studies. But Liu Guoshen, head of Xiamen University's Taiwan Research Institute, said the two were likely to have a direct conversation about the issue as it has had a major impact on cross-strait ties. Other highlights at the forum include Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung joining the People's Bank of China governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, for a panel discussion on the city's role in the internationalisation of the renminbi Zhou Wenzhong, a former envoy to the United States, said business and political leaders would take part in more than 60 panel discussions during the forum, which runs until Friday. Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will discuss the role of Apec in helping trade. Asia Development Bank vice-president Stephen Groff and Justin Lin Yifu, honorary dean and professor of the national school of development at Peking University, will discuss the Asian financial and trade environment amid reforms. Panel discussions are themed around the biggest topics facing the mainland's financial industry, including internet finance, interest rate liberalisation, urbanisation, fiscal and tax reform, and the internationalisation of the renminbi. The forum has placed more weight on private companies in recent years and the trend would prevail at this year's event as more and more mainland companies do business overseas, Zhou said. This year's event would, for the first time, encourage more young businessmen and women to take part, Zhou said. Among the particular challenges facing Asian economies were a sluggish demand for goods and services and rising labour costs, a statement from the forum organisers said. ^ top ^

China battles for rags-to-riches stories (China Daily)
China's industry heavyweights enjoy easy access to cheap bank loans, while smaller firms in dire need for fund usually find it expensive, if not impossible, to secure loans. More than 90 percent of all Chinese firms are small and micro companies, who provide over 80 percent of jobs and around half of tax revenues. Government incentives have encouraged banks to lend to small businesses, but it is still too early to be optimistic about more rags-to-riches stories, a report showed Tuesday. "Give me your hand" - For a rather long period of time, the government has recognized the important functions of small firms in creating jobs, promoting the growth of entrepreneurship and driving ahead innovation. In 2012, the State Council announced measures to support small and micro firms under pressure from rising costs and financing difficulties. Support includes incentives for commercial banks, and encouraging use of new technology, techniques and equipment. Financial institutions have moved to help small firms by using information technology to lower costs, enhancing dynamic monitoring and streamlining loan approvals, according to a Boao Forum for Asia report on microfinance. Among some 50 million small and micro firms in China, around 12 million received some funds from commercial banks last year, up 2.4 percent from a year earlier. Are things really looking up? Is life really better for small businesses? For some, maybe. The report illustrates how China's small companies are struggling to get affordable loans, with 48.9 percent saying they found loans more expensive in 2013 than in 2012. Another 34.7 percent said they experienced no changes in borrowing costs. Slowing growth spells stark challenges for profitability, with more than 60 percent seeing flat or dropping profits last year. Nearly half said their borrowing costs were more than 10 percent, much higher than the 6.55 percent rate for long-term loans set by the central bank. It is an old story for small Chinese firms, as banks prefer to lend to larger companies, especially state-owned enterprises, to avoid risk. Hong Qi, president of the China Minsheng Bank, a leader in microfinance, told the forum that the policy is yet to be fully effective, and financing small enterprises needs constant attention in both administrative guidance and market measures. He urged commercial banks to put forward more financial products for the smallest companies. Zhu Hongren, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said that although policies were made to help small companies, some of them were not effectively implemented. Since August 2013, the government has exempted some small companies from value added tax and turnover tax, benefiting about 6 million businesses, but the scope of some central government policy is still far too narrow. Implementation should bring real benefits to small firms. "The public service system is not fully fledged and inadequate publicity means some companies don't know about government support," Zhu added. ^ top ^

China returns to trade surplus as imports fall more than exports (SCMP)
China's exports fell again last month, but imports declined sharply after rising in February – resulting in a turnaround to a surplus while underlining the continuing uncertainty in the outlook for trade. Exports from the mainland fell 6.6 per cent in March from a year earlier, though the contraction narrowed from about 18 per cent in February. Imports slumped 11.3 per cent last month after growing 10.1 per cent in February, according to data issued by the customs bureau on Thursday. Trade reversed to a surplus of US$7.71 billion last month from a deficit of US$23 billion in February and a US$960 million deficit in March last year. Wang Jun, a senior researcher at the China Centre For International Economic Exchange, said: “The recovery in external demand wasn't as strong as imagined. China needs to take more steps to boost trade competitiveness.” He said he believes the government has more policies in reserve to stabilise growth, after Premier Li Keqiang pledged last month to cut taxes and speed up investment in railways and other infrastructure. Customs bureau spokesman Zheng Yuesheng said in a statement that China's foreign trade had faced difficulties but the decline in trade volumes in the first quarter was “temporary” and partly due to a strong comparison base a year earlier. Year-on-year growth in exports and imports would likely resume from next month, Zheng said. ^ top ^

RMB to be global reserve currency by 2030: Economist (China Daily)
China's currency yuan is expected to become one of three global reserve currencies by 2030 on a par with the US dollar and euro. Justin Yifu Lin, former chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank, made the remarks at a panel discussion on Wednesday at the Boao Forum for Asia in south China's Hainan Province. The yuan, or renminbi (RMB), is on the way to becoming a global reserve and payment currency. As the world's largest trader, about 25 percent of China's exports are now priced in RMB, and it has become the main settlement currency in some regions, according to Lin. Apart from the three main reserve currencies, the Japanese yen, the Swiss franc, and the British pound will also be reserve currencies, but in smaller amounts, the economist predicted. "Confidence in the yuan lies in China's real economy that is stronger than developed countries, and will maintain growth of 7 to 8 percent for the coming 20 years," Lin said. However, he said yuan and other currencies are not strong enough to overtake the dollar in the short-term. The market share of dollar-denominated trade is 60 percent to 70 percent while less than 5 percent are settled in RMB. ^ top ^

China eager for Asian infrastructure bank: premier (Xinhua)
China is ready to step up talks on establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Premier Li Keqiang told the opening ceremony of the 2014 annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia on Thursday. "China is ready to intensify consultations with relevant parties in and outside Asia on the preparations for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and hopes that the bank can be officially launched at an early date," Li said in a keynote speech. At a panel discussion during the forum, Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said China has held two talks with other countries, many of which have shown interests in becoming founding members of the bank. Lou said China is trying to roll out an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding this autumn and after some further revisions, China would move quickly to launch the bank. With a preliminary capital scale of 50 billion U.S. dollars from its members, the new multilateral institution will help fund infrastructure projects in Asia. The creation of the bank was put forward by Chinese leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li, during their visits to southeastern Asian countries in October 2013. The much-anticipated further economic integration of Asia faces many bottlenecks, including backward infrastructures, Lou said. Investment in infrastructure also has special significance particularly at a time when the global economic recovery is still weak, he added. ^ top ^

Li calls on China, ROK to speed up FTA negotiation (China Daily)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday called on China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to speed up their negotiation on a bilateral free trade area (FTA). The negotiation has entered a key stage, and China hopes the two sides can speed up the process and reach an agreement with balanced interests as early as possible so as to benefit the two peoples, Li said. He made the remarks in a meeting with ROK Prime Minister Chung Hong-won on the sidelines of the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) held in Boao in south China's Hainan Province. Li attended the opening ceremony on Thursday morning and delivered a keynote speech. Chung echoed Li, saying the ROK will join hands with China to further strengthen their cooperation in all areas, push forward the FTA negotiation process and promote the development and prosperity of the two countries. China and the ROK officially began their negotiations on an FTA in 2012. The negotiation process includes pattern bargaining and price negotiation. The two sides finished pattern bargaining in September 2013. Hailing the smooth development of China-ROK relations featuring political mutual trust, economic reciprocity and deepening cultural exchanges, Li said China is ready to work with the ROK for closer engagement and to expand their cooperation in areas such as trade, education, technology, culture and tourism. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

DPRK denies link to crashed drone, accuses US of double standards (Global Times)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) denies any link to a drone that crashed during its live-fire drill earlier this week, official news agency KCNA reported Saturday. "An unidentified drone added disgrace to the South," said an unnamed spokesman with the Korean People's Army's strategy department. "After the unidentified crashed drone incident, the South Korean authorities... made it public that they had also tested a ballistic missile against Pyongyang," said the spokesman, accusing Seoul of exaggerating Pyongyang's "normal" and "self-defense" rocket launches. "On the other hand, it has secretly tested a 500 km ballistic missile on March 23. This is a vivid example of the US's double standard," he said. The US should also stop its shameless double standard in criticizing Pyongyang's countermeasures, the spokesman said. The Republic of Korea (ROK)'s defense ministry said Friday the country had test-fired an extended range ballistic missile and would develop a longer range missile capable of striking all parts of the DPRK. A ROK military official alleged a DPRK drone crashed Monday on ROK's Baengnyeong Island, on the countries' border, and was believed to have been launched from an airport on DPRK's west, after the two countries exchanged artillery fire across the sea boundary. A similar drone was discovered in Paju, south of the demilitarized zone, on March 24, and was found to contain photos of military installations and the residential quarters of Seoul's presidential compound, according to ROK's media. ^ top ^

Kim Jong-un 're-elected' as North Korea's leader (SCMP)
Kim Jong-un was yesterday "re-elected" as North Korea's leader, state media said, as parliament met in a session closely watched for power shifts in the regime following the execution of his once-powerful uncle. The new parliament also elected members of the powerful National Defence Commission (NDC), appointing Kim's close confidant Choe Ryong-hae as one of three vice-chairmen of the top military decision-making body. Kim Yong-nam retained his status as de facto head of state when he was re-elected chairman of parliament's standing committee. The country does not have a president because the current leader's grandfather Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994, has been declared its "eternal president". The parliament known as the Supreme People's Assembly also reshuffled the cabinet, the supreme court and prosecution authorities, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. Former ambassador to Switzerland Ri Su-yong became new foreign minister, replacing Pak Ui-chun, while Prime Minister Pak Pong-ju retained his post. Kim's uncle Jang Song-thaek, once the North's unofficial number two and Kim's political mentor, was a vice-chairman of the NDC before he was executed last December on charges including treason and corruption. Kim was reaffirmed as first chairman of the NDC by the new parliament. Upon Kim's re-election, "all the deputies and participants in the session broke into stormy cheers of 'hurrah!', extending the highest glory and warmest congratulations to him", KCNA said. ^ top ^



Civil society NGOs demanding fair regulations (Info Mongolia)
Regarding the opening ceremony of the 2014 Spring Plenary Session of the State Great Khural (Parliament) held today on April 07, 2014, civil movement NGOs have gathered at the Chinggis Khaan Square to raise their voices and address Parliamentarians. On March 31, 2014, the first civil society organizations' assembly was held in Ulaanbaatar, where over 100 NGOs have joined and they delivered their requests to the Government of Mongolia, but authorities did not response yet, thus have organized today's protesting. At today's peaceful demonstration, civil society NGOs requested to: stop uranium exploration; acquit leader of "Gal Undesten" movement, Ts.Munkhbayar; give comprehensive understandings on Chinggis and Samurai Bonds debt issues and its expenditures; implement nature-friendly regulations and laws; conduct effective works against unemployment and alcohol abuse. At the first level court hearing for leaders of "Gal Undesten" movement, Ts.Munkhbayar and three other compatriots were found guilty on the ground of "terror attack" and heard 21 years and 6 months sentence. So, the second-level court is scheduled at the Capital City Court at 08:30 morning on April 08, 2014. ^ top ^

The fourth consultative meeting between Mongolia and Spain holds in Ulaanbaatar (Info Mongolia)
A consultative meeting between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Spain was held in Ulaanbaatar on April 04, 2014. This is the fourth consultative meeting and this time Mongolia side was chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister D.Gankhuyag and the other part by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Spain Gonzalo de Benito. The meeting focused on broad range of issues concerning bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, education and culture, bilateral cooperation within international organizations as well as international issues of mutual concern. During the meeting, a cooperation memorandum was signed between the Foreign Ministries of Mongolia and Spain. Following his participation in the ISAF contributing nations meeting held in Brussels, Foreign Minister L.Bold has returned to home country and on the same day afternoon received State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Spain Gonzalo de Benito. The sides shared views on the current state of bilateral cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and scientific areas. Conveying greetings of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Mr. Gonzalo de Benito handed over an invitation to Minister L.Bold to pay a visit to Spain at his convenience. Minister L.Bold welcomed the establishment of a cooperation memorandum between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries during a consultative meeting in Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia and the Kingdom of Spain have established the diplomatic relations on July 05, 1977. ^ top ^

Mongolia and China agree to establish “Gashuun Sukhait Railway” joint venture (Info Mongolia)
The Signing Ceremony to establish "Gashuun Sukhait Railway" joint venture company by "Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi" JSC, "Energy Resources" LLC, "Tavan Tolgoi" JSC representing Mongolia and China Shenhua Energy Company was held at “Elite” Center in Ulaanbaatar on April 07, 2014. The newly to form company aims to increase Mongolia's coal export and enhance foreign trade turnover following the approval of the Government resolution issued on March 21, 2014 to connect Gashuun Sukhait port, Umnugovi Aimag, Mongolia and Gants Mod (Ganqimaodu), China with a narrow gauge railway. The signing ceremony was attended by Executive Director of “Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi” JSC Ya.Batsuuri, Executive Director of “Energy Resources” LLC L.Battsengel, Executive Director of “Tavan Tolgoi” JSC R.Seddorj and Chairman of the Shenhua Overseas Development and Investment Co., Ltd Shao Junjie. Also witnessing the action, other authorities from both parties such as Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag, State Secretary at the Ministry of Mining R.Jigjid, State Secretary at the Ministry of Road and Transportation B.Batzaya and Executive Director of “Mongolian Railway” JSC P.Batsaikhan were representing the Government of Mongolia and China Government by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PR of China to Mongolia Wang Xiaolong and Executive Director of China Shenhua Energy, Ling Wen. According to document, Mongolian three companies shall own 51% of the joint venture and the rest 49% by China Shenhua Energy, simultaneously to invest and earn by share portions. Under the management of “Gashuun Sukhait Railway” JSC, contracting companies will construct 18 km of railroad connecting Gashuun Sukhait and Gants Mod ports within 2014 and from 2015 will transport 24-27 million tons of coal to China annually. Following the ceremony Executive Director of Shenhua Energy, Ling Wen commented, “By accomplishing this railroad, it enables at least to reduce environment pollution, besides to save transportation costs. On other hand, Mongolia's coal will be exported to China and the third party for a long-term period. Shenhua will own 49% of the joint venture according Mongolian Law and however it seems a short railroad, but economic value is a lot”. Executive Director of “Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi” JSC Ya.Batsuuri added, “The total length of new railroad is 18 km, but to freight about 27 million tons of coal annually. Before, we used to transport via Tsagaan Khad and then to border by trucks that estimated 7-8 USD per ton, so from effectiveness of new transportation, it would cost only 2 USD per ton of coal, which means to save and earn more on coal export”. Executive Director of “Energy Resources” LLC L.Battsengel said, “Shenhua Company constructed 360 km of railroad from Gants Mod (Ganqimaodu) to Bugat (Baotou) and further responsible for freight transportation of 1,400 km to the seaport destination. Moreover, the new railroad between Gashuun Sukhait and Gants Mod ports are very important by the means of converting into international standard ports”. ^ top ^

Deputy Foreign Ministers of Mongolia and Russia to meet in Moscow (Info Mongolia)
Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D.Gankhuyag will attend a consultative meeting between Foreign Ministries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation at the Deputy Ministers' level in Moscow on April 10-11, 2014. During the consultation, Deputy Minister D.Gankhuyag will meet Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russia Federation Igor Vladimirovich Morgulov to exchange views on bilateral issues concerning political, economic, cultural and humanitarian relations, also on regional and multilateral cooperation and discuss further measures to implement. The previous Deputy Foreign Ministers' level consultative meeting between D.Gankhuyag and I.V.Morgulov was held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on August 29, 2013. ^ top ^

2014 Spring Session of Parliament officially launched (UB Post)
The 2014 Spring Session of the Parliament launched on Monday. This spring session is special as the authorities of political parties without seats in Parliament attended the session meeting. Delivering a speech opening the session, Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold said, “The issues to be discussed during the spring session have not been ratified yet, thus the spring session's operation will start once the list of the issues to be discussed will become clear. Also, 52 draft bills have been submitted for discussion, however it was planned to discuss 252 draft bills during this session. It is significant to discuss those submitted bills after correctly prioritizing them by their importance to society and economy.” During the 2014 spring session, the issues including the government's 2013 financial performance, and a draft bill on adopting the basic orientation of Mongolian society and economy will be brought into the discussion in accordance with the law, emphasized the Speaker. He also pointed out that there is need to discuss important issues including the Law on Joint Pension, the list of buildings to be privatized by the government in 2014, the law on transparent accounts, and the amendment of some clauses in the package of laws on changes in the judicial system, which are slowing down innovations in the court environment. In conclusion, the Speaker announced that the 2014 Spring Session of the Parliament was officially launched. Afterwards, political party factions in the Parliament hold meetings in their cabinets. On the second day of the session, a draft regulation on the issues to be discussed through the plenary spring session of the Parliament was approved through a joint meeting of the Parliament. A total of 250 projects have been submitted by the Government, Member of Parliament S.Ganbaatar, political party groups, standing committees, as well as the President of Mongolia. ^ 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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