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
  12-18.7.2014, No. 533  
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Foreign Policy

China's leader Xi Jinping departs for South America tour (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping has departed for a visit to four South American countries, including Brazil, to build ties in a resource-rich region traditionally considered the backyard of the United States. Xi left Beijing early yesterday with a delegation which includes State Councillor Yang Jiechi, the most senior foreign affairs official, Xinhua reported. During the trip, Xi will pay formal state visits to Brazil, oil-supplier Venezuela, long-time political ally Cuba and Argentina - a key source of soybeans for China. The visit - Xi's second to Latin America since taking office as head of state last year - comes as China's trade with the region has surged along with its own economic boom, and as Beijing remains on the lookout for resources to power its growth. China's massive purchases of commodities and exports of manufactured goods to the region have boosted its two-way trade with Latin America to a total of US$262 billion last year, according to China's customs. Xi will be stopping on the Greek island of Rhodes on his way, China's foreign ministry said Friday, where he will hold talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. He will next attend a meeting, hosted by Brazil, of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of emerging powers, at which he will have his first encounter with India's new Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi. "The presence of President Xi at the meeting will promote the implementation of BRICS cooperation projects, especially the establishment of a BRICS development bank and emergency reserve arrangements," state television reported yesterday, but gave no details. The BRICS meeting is expected to produce a deal to open its own development bank - a long-discussed move that is intended to rival Western-dominated institutions such as the World Bank. China's commercial hub, Shanghai, is in the running to provide the headquarters of the new bank, officials say. After a BRICS meeting with South American presidents in Brasilia on Wednesday, Xi will launch the China-Latin America forum, highlighting Beijing's growing interests in a region that has historically been tied to the US economically. Brazil will also announce the sale of about 25 planes made by Embraer to Chinese airlines on Thursday during Xi's visit, a Brazilian official said. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff's international affairs adviser, Marco Aurelio Garcia, said on Friday that the aircraft sale and plans for cooperation in infrastructure projects in Brazil, such as railways, will be among a series of agreements to be unveiled. ^ top ^

China, Greece agree to enhance comprehensive strategic partnership (Xinhua)
Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday vowed to further enhance the comprehensive strategic partnership with Greece. In a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Xi said Greece is a friendly and reliable friend of China in the European Union (EU), and that the two countries have enjoyed deep friendship as they showed mutual understanding and support on matters relating to each other's core interests and major concerns, and help each other in times of difficulty. "The Chinese side will continue to support Greece on sovereign debt issues and efforts to promote economic recovery," said the Chinese president. "China is ready to share its development opportunities with Greece and further enhance the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership." The two sides, said Xi, should maintain close high-level exchanges and focus on cooperation in transportation infrastructure, maritime, energy and green economy. The Chinese side supports Chinese companies to properly manage the Piraeus port project and actively participate in the technical renovation of Greek railways, making Greece an important bridgehead of China-EU cooperation. China attaches great importance to Greece's important position in the Mediterranean Sea and Southern Europe, said Xi, hoping that China-Greece cooperation would spearhead China's cooperation with other countries in the region. Moreover, China is ready to strengthen communication and coordination with Greece in international affairs, jointly promote the democratization of international relations, safeguard world peace and promote common development, said Xi. The Chinese president stressed that Beijing firmly supports Europe's integration and stands ready to build peace, growth, reform and civilization partnerships with Europe. ^ top ^

China, Germany sign agreement on cultural forum (Xinhua)
China and Germany have inked an agreement here on the establishment of a cultural forum, with the aim of strengthening cultural exchanges between the two countries. The deal was signed Sunday by Xie Yuan, vice chairman of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), and Gunter Titsch, president of German foundation INTERKULTUR, on the sidelines of World Choir Games 2014 in the Latvian capital. In a speech at the signing ceremony, Xie said the biennial forum was named after former German President Walter Scheel to not only express Chinese and German people's respect and honor to the politician, but also represent the two countries' hope for a long-lasting friendship. Under the agreement, the first Walter Scheel Forum will be held in Berlin, Germany, later this year and bring together some 50 representatives from the fields of politics, education, arts and culture. Both sides also agreed to make the forum an important platform for cultural exchanges between China and Germany. Scheel, 95, is a good friend of the Chinese people. When serving as Germany's foreign minister and vice chancellor in the early 1970s, he promoted the establishment of diplomatic relations with China. ^ top ^

Chinese president arrives in Brazil for BRICS summit (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here on Monday for a summit of the BRICS countries. The sixth summit of the BRICS, which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will be held in Brazil from Tuesday to Wednesday. Upon arrival, Xi noted that BRICS is an important force in international relations and an important constructor of the international system, adding that China firmly supports and actively participates in cooperation among BRICS countries. Currently, world economic recovery is still facing many complex factors, said Xi. "I look forward to having an in-depth discussion on cooperation with leaders of other BRICS countries, reach further consensus and plan for future development so as to provide more positive energy for pushing forward world economy growth, improving global economic governance and promoting world peace and development," he said. The BRICS countries now account for 21 percent of global economic output and have contributed more than 50 percent of world economic growth in the past decade. Under the theme of "Inclusive growth: sustainable solutions," this year's summit will see the attendance of Xi, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South African President Jacob Zuma and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They will also meet leaders of the Union of South American Nations during the summit. It is the second time for Xi to attend the BRICS summit and his second time to visit Latin America since he took office last year. His attendance is widely expected to promote cooperation among BRICS countries, boost bilateral ties between China and relevant Latin American countries as well as China-Latin America relations. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said earlier that the recent slowdown of economic growth in BRICS countries is essentially different from the financial crisis that hit Western countries. ^ top ^

CNPC ends drilling off Xisha Islands (Xinhua)
China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), one of China's leading oil companies, announced on Tuesday the completion of drilling and exploration off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. Signs of oil and gas were found in the operation, known as the Zhongjiannan Project, and the company will assess the data collected and decide on the next step, a CNPC statement read. CNPC started drilling two wells in May and completed the work on May 27 and Tuesday respectively. The company has been exploring the area since 2004. The drilling rig provided by China Oilfield Services Ltd. will be relocated to operations in the Hainan Islands. Qiu Zhongjian, a geologist from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that the drilling was well organized, as the CNPC fully considered geological hazards, engineering issues and possible typhoons. He said he was firmly opposed to Vietnam's disruption during China's drilling operation as the project area lies in the undisputed sea area of China's Xisha Islands. Preliminary analysis of the geological data acquired has shown that the area, or Zhongjian Sag as it is called, has the basic conditions and potential for oil exploration, but extraction testing cannot begin before a comprehensive assessment of the data, said Wang Zhen, deputy director of CNPC Policy Research Office. For safety reasons, the test operation was not arranged immediately, because July is the beginning of the typhoon season. While the project may help improve understanding of the engineering and geological issues in the South China Sea, the development of "deep-sea drilling technology" will also benefit, said Wang. ^ top ^

Brics development bank to be headquartered in Shanghai, first president Indian (SCMP)
The Brics group of emerging powers on Tuesday created a Shanghai-based development bank and a reserve fund as alternatives to Western-led institutions. The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa agreed to launch the institutions to finance infrastructure projects and head off future economic crises. “We took the historic decision to create the Brics bank and the reserve agreement -- an important contribution to reconfigure the system of international economic governance,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said at a summit in the northeastern seaside city of Fortaleza. Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the agreements as “a very powerful way to prevent new economic difficulties.” The five emerging nations first unveiled their plans last year. The New Development Bank aims to rival the Washington-based World Bank while the reserve is seen as a “mini-IMF.” “We need to work to improve economic governance at a global level, increase the representations and voice of developing countries,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping. Rousseff renewed calls for reform at the International Monetary Fund saying it “urgently needs to review its distribution of voting power in order to reflect the unquestionable weight of emerging countries.” The development bank will have initial capital of US$50 billion that could rise to US$100 billion, funded equally by each nation. Brics leaders agreed to put the bank's headquarters in Shanghai. The first president will be Indian while the first board chair will hail from Brazil. An Africa Regional Centre will be based in South Africa, whose President Jacob Zuma failed to convince his peers to place the bank's headquarters in Johannesburg. The bank will help emerging and developing nations mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects, the summit declaration said. The Contingent Reserve Arrangement will have US$100 billion at its disposal to head off potential economic volatility linked to the United States exiting its stimulus policy. China is expected to make the biggest contribution, US$41 billion, followed by US$18 billion each from Brazil, India and Russia and US$5 billion from South Africa. The summit comes as the economies of some Brics countries, which together represent 40 percent of the world population and a fifth of the global economy, are cooling down, with Russia and Brazil expecting just one percent growth this year. Experts say the new bank and fund will give the group the backbone of a formal organisation. The talks in Fortaleza will open a series of marathon summits and bilateral meetings in Brazil, with Brics leaders meeting with South American presidents in Brasilia on Wednesday. The Fortaleza summit allowed Xi and India's new Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi to meet face-to-face for the first time. Modi said the Brics must act as a “united and clear voice for a peaceful, balanced and stable world.” For Putin, who visited Argentina and Cuba before coming to Brazil, the trip has given him a chance to hammer home his calls for a “multipolar” world amid tensions with the West over the Ukraine crisis. Russia has been kicked out of the G8 group of industrialized nations over the Ukraine crisis. The United States is threatening to impose new economic sanctions on Russia over accusations that it is backing pro-Moscow separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. The Brics summit declaration voiced “deep concern” over the situation in Ukraine and called for “comprehensive dialogue, the de-escalation of the conflict and restraint from all the actors involved, with a view to finding a peaceful political solution.” Rousseff said Brics leaders “lament the lack of concrete progress” in Ukraine and other world hotspots, including Iraq, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After Wednesday's Brics-South America summit, Xi will launch the China-Latin America forum on Thursday, highlighting Beijing's growing interests in a region that long was seen as the back yard of the United States. ^ top ^

Chinese president proposes closer, more solid BRICS partnership (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday proposed a closer and more solid partnership among BRICS countries, as he delivered a speech at the sixth BRICS summit held here. Besides Xi, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Jacob Zuma also attended the summit held under the theme of "Inclusive growth: sustainable solutions." In his speech, Xi summed up the BRICS countries' cooperation experiences and charted out the direction for future cooperation. China will continue participating in BRICS cooperation and make greater contribution in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, he said. Xi stressed that BRICS countries, which express themselves concertedly and contribute their share to solving many major international and regional issues, are committed to boosting world economic growth, improving global economic governance and promoting the democratization of international relations. They have become an important force in international relations and an active constructor of the international system, he said. According to Xi, BRICS countries should carry forward the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and develop a closer, more comprehensive and more solid partnership. He urged to unswervingly push forward sustainable economic growth, adhere to inclusive growth, turn quantitive growth into qualitative growth, and coordinate economic development, social development and environmental protection. He called for launching all-round economic cooperation, building an integrated market in trade and investment areas, promoting people-to-people exchanges among different countries, and realizing in an early date the operation of the BRICS development bank and a contingent reserve arrangement. Xi also stressed the importance of building a favorable external environment for development, improving global economic governance, fully implementing the consensus of increasing developing countries' representativeness and right to say, and strengthening the coordination of global macro-economic policies. The Chinese leader also proposed to boost BRICS countries' moral appeal to others, adding that BRICS countries should jointly provide solutions in international affairs, seek justice and practice equality. "China's diplomacy has principles to act upon, cherishes friendship and righteousness, seeks justice and adheres to the path of peaceful development," Xi said. China particularly treasures the cooperation between BRICS countries and puts it as a diplomatic priority, the Chinese president said. When discussing with other leaders the topic of political coordination, Xi noted that BRICS nations should both be the anchor that helps stabilize the global economy and the shield that protect the peace of the international community. The countries should associate their respective development with world peace and stability, consider collectively combating terrorism and safeguarding cyber security as the key area of cooperation, advocate a new security outlook, and join hands in safeguarding the system for international security cooperation with the United Nations as the core, Xi said. On sustainable development and inclusive growth, he called on BRICS countries to consolidate the strong momentum of their development, and stay confident about their economic prospect. "We need to adjust our economic structure, achieve development of better quality, build closer economic partnership, boost the building of an open world economy and establish a global development partnership," he said. For her part, Brazilian President Rousseff pointed out that BRICS countries enjoy rich resources and are strong in agriculture. Infrastructure construction in these countries keeps developing, while consumer markets there are huge, with promising prospect for development, she said. BRICS nations should build a close and firm partnership, improve global governance, promote a multipolar world and boost the democratization of international relations, added the Brazilian leader. Putin, for his part, urged BRICS nations to deepen pragmatic cooperation, upgrade the level of trade and investment, strengthen coordination in major international and regional issues, jointly face up to such global challenges as terrorism and cyber security. The countries should boost the International Monetary Fund's quota reform, build a development agenda for the years after 2015, and reduce poverty, Indian Prime Minister Modi said. He also called on BRICS countries to enhance people-to-people, educational and local exchanges. Meanwhile, South Africa's Zuma said BRICS nations are willing to share experiences with developing countries, jointly advocate multilateralism, promote political solutions to regional hot issues, and support Africa's effort to achieve peace, security and development. ^ top ^

Chinese, Peruvian presidents pledge to boost cooperation (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping met here Wednesday with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and the two agreed to further promote cooperation between their countries. China-Peru relations have witnessed positive progress, with bilateral cooperation picking up momentum at multiple levels and in various fields, since the two sides elevated their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership during Humala's visit to China in April 2013, Xi said. China, Xi added, attaches strategic importance to its relations with Peru and is willing to maintain high-level contact as well as governmental, parliamentary, party-to-party and sub-national exchanges and cooperation with the South American country. The Chinese president suggested that the two sides make full use of their cooperation mechanisms to actively push forward bilateral cooperation in such fields as energy, mining, agriculture and infrastructure construction, and strengthen people-to-people exchanges. Beijing supports Lima in hosting the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Xi added. Stressing that China attaches great importance to the mutually beneficial cooperation in infrastructure construction with Latin American countries, Xi noted that China, Brazil and Peru will issue a joint statement later in the day on their cooperation in building a railway across the South American continent. Xi proposed that the three countries set up a joint work group to navigate their cooperation in all related aspects, including the planning, design, construction and operation of the transcontinental rail. China, he said, stands ready to maintain communication with Peru and Brazil on the railway project, which will run all the way from the Peruvian Pacific coast to the Brazilian Atlantic coast. ^ top ^

Palestine ambassador acknowledges China's peace role in Middle East (SCMP)
The Palestinian ambassador to China said Beijing is playing an increasingly important role in the Middle East peace process - as a special Chinese envoy headed to Israel and the Palestinian territories to broker a truce. Ahmad Ramadan said a stronger involvement by Beijing in seeking a resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict was in line with China's broader interests, as it expanded its political and economic influence in the region. "China is a big player... it has a big interest in the region, not only economically but also politically," Ramadan said. "I think China will try to position itself as an important player in this coming period." The Israeli Embassy in Beijing did not respond to a request for comment. Ramadan's comments came as Israel agreed to halt military operations for five hours yesterday to allow the United Nations to facilitate the transfer of aid to Palestinians living in Gaza. The death toll on the Palestinian side by Wednesday, after nine days of fighting, exceeded 200. China's special envoy on Middle East affairs, Wu Sike, is meeting leaders on both sides, as well as visiting other countries in the region in a bid to ease tensions. Speaking ahead of the trip, Wu said China always opposed violence against civilians and called on both sides to settle the disputes through talks. On Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Ming held talks with Ramadan and Dana Benvenisti, deputy chief of mission from the Israeli embassy, and representatives of Arabic states. Ramadan said Zhang asked him to convey that the Palestinians should stop launching rockets against Israel, but also said Israel should stop its aggression. Chinese officials said Beijing would seek a wider ceasefire brokered at international level. "This is the opinion of China, that the only way to solve this conflict is through peaceful means and direct negotiation between Israel and Palestine," Ramadan said. Last May Beijing hosted coinciding visits by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. China proposed a meeting between the two, to which Abbas agreed, but the talks never took place. "China has the intention to play an effective role in the region," Ramadan said. "But there are obstacles." In his talks with Abbas, President Xi Jinping said China supported the peaceful co-existence of the Palestinian territories and Israel, and an independent Palestinian state enjoying full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders. Observers said China had become more open in its diplomacy in the region as it did not want the conflict to affect other countries in the Middle East. ^ top ^

Xi meets leaders in Brasilia (Global Times)
Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday held a summit meeting in Brasilia with leaders of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which is expected to elevate political ties between China and the region while weakening US influence. Xi was received Thursday morning with a red carpet welcome in the Brazilian capital by President Dilma Roussef after the successful conclusion of the sixth BRICS summit in Fortaleza. Leaders from the quartet of CELAC, which includes Costa Rica, current holder of the rotating CELAC presidency, Cuba, Ecuador and Antigua and Barbuda arrived in Brasilia for the summit, as well as leaders from 11 members of the Union of South American Nations. On Wednesday, Xi gave a live televised speech in the Brazilian parliament, and held bilateral talks with leaders from Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Costa Rica and Peru in Brasilia. "That leaders have traveled to Brazil for meetings with Xi shows these countries' enthusiasm for cooperating with China," said Xu Shicheng, a deputy director of the Chinese Society of Latin American Studies. Last year, during Xi's first visit to the region since taking office, the president also met other Latin American leaders in Trinidad and Tobago. At Thursday's summit, Xi and CELAC leaders are expected to formally announce the establishment of the China-CELAC Forum, which was approved in January by CELAC. CELAC, created in 2011, is regarded an alternative to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS). Evan Ellis, a professor at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington DC, commented in an opinion piece on the Manzella Report, a business news portal, that the forum, which excludes the US and Canada, highlights the "boldness" of the Chinese leadership in engaging with a region that has traditionally been in the US sphere of influence. "The US has been trying to dominate the western hemisphere through the OAS and a free trade deal, however, its influence over the region is declining as a result of distractions elsewhere, the rise of leftist parties and reinforced unity in Latin America," said Yang Zhimin, a research fellow with the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "In the meantime, Latin America sees growing interests in cooperation with Asia-Pacific, including China," he added. AFP quoted Rubens Figueiredo, a foreign relations professor at Sao Paulo University in Brazil, as saying that, "China is an option that matches with the leftist political sympathy that it has with some countries in the region." However, Xu told the Global Times that China's foreign policy is no longer directed by ideological concerns, but by pragmatism. Latin American and Caribbean countries want China's investment and technology, while China needs to import their energy, minerals and agricultural products. In 2013, the trade volume between China and Latin America reached a record high of $261.6 billion, making China the region's second largest trade partner. The China-CELAC Forum is the second such mechanism for China. In 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was set up, ushering in a new era of ties and huge expansion of trade and investment. Similar to FOCAC, the China-CELAC mechanism is expected to bring a larger Chinese business presence to Latin America and the Caribbean. "With China's transformation of its growth pattern, its trade with the region will not rely so much on imports of mineral resources, but should direct more investment there," Yang said. "The forum serves as a platform for top-level design, at which the two sides could strike agreements on the areas of cooperation [so as to guide Chinese investment]." During a meeting with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Wednesday, Xi suggested that Peru and Brazil join China in forming a work group for a railway project, which will link the Peruvan Pacific coast and the Brazilian Atlantic coast. The project, once implemented, could provide an alternative transshipment route to the Panama Canal, over which the US has significant influence. A Hong Kong-based company last year won a deal to build a canal in Nicaragua as another alternative to the shipping lane. "The planned rail link could serve as a transportation route for Chinese goods to South America's Atlantic coast and beyond," Yang said. In addition to economic cooperation, the forum is also expected to boost political coordination between China and the remote continent, such as reform of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the UN to give the developing world a bigger say. A summit meeting of the China-CELAC Forum will reportedly take place later this year in Beijing. All countries have the right to protect their cyber security, and no country's sovereignty in information areas should be infringed upon, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned on Wednesday during a speech in Brazil. "No matter how advanced a country's Internet technology is, it can not violate other countries' information sovereignty," Xi said during a speech to Brazil's congress in the country's capital Brasilia. Xi said the international community should build a multilateral, democratic and transparent system for international Internet governance based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual trust. "Global cyberspace has been dominated by the US with its advanced technology," Xin Haiguang, a Beijing-based Internet expert, told the Global Times. Xi's call is a gesture to express opposition against US domination over information technology and its recent surveillance scandals, including reported US eavesdropping on Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff, said analysts. "Brazil, like China and the rest of the BRICS nations, is a developing country facing a similar threat from US surveillance," Qin An, director of the China Institute of Cyberspace Strategy, told the Global Times. "With its advantage over technological development, US ability to control cyberspace has surpassed its military prowess, making cyberspace a new arena of security concern," Qin said on Thursday. He added that Xi's speech is intended to promote China's ideas in sharing and jointly managing cyberspace and in opposing the US dominance of control. But it will take time to push for an initiative or concrete policy, Qin said. ^ top ^

Sino-Russian university (Global Times)
A Sino-Russian university will open and start accepting students in 2015 in another step to establish a closer relationship between the two countries. The university, a cooperation between the Beijing Institute of Technology and Moscow State University (MSU), will be constructed in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province with a 20-hectare campus in 10 months and expects to enroll 5,000 students in the first year, the Russian state news agency RIA reported. The students, from both Russia and China, will spend two years in each country. Being taught in Russian, Chinese and English, the students will get dual diplomas from MSU and the new university. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Latest PLA promotions show Xi Jinping is bent on overhaul, analysts say (SCMP)
The latest round of PLA promotions shows President Xi Jinping is moving ahead with overhaul of the army's leadership, analysts say. Xi, who chairs the Central Military Commission (CMC), promoted four lieutenant generals to the rank of general on Friday. They were the two top chiefs of the Shenyang military area command - commander Wang Jiaocheng and political commissar Chu Yimin - deputy chief of the PLA general staff Qi Jianguo, and the political commissar of the Guangzhou military area command, Wei Liang All four have backgrounds in the Nanjing military area command, which oversees security for southern and southeastern cities, and the Taiwan Strait. Wang, Qi and Wei started their military careers in the command, while Chu spent one year working in its political department in 2006. Generals from the southeast now make up 18 of the People's Liberation Army's total of 34. Eleven come from the northwest and the remaining five from inland provinces. Previously, officers from the northwest dominated the top ranks. "It's a common practice for top leaders to promote the talent they know well. The new promotions show Xi is following what his predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao did," said a retired senior colonel based in Beijing, who requested anonymity. "Xi worked in Fujian, Zhejiang and Shanghai for more than two decades, which all fall under the Nanjing military command." It was the third round of promotions since Xi became CMC chairman in November 2012. He so far has promoted 11 senior officials to the rank of general. All are under 62 years old, which suggests they could be further elevated before reaching retirement at 68. "The latest promotion also showed Xi is using a 'carrot and stick' approach amid the ongoing anti-graft campaign in the army as a bid to boost its morale," said Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong. "Many of the generals were promoted during the time of disgraced former CMC vice-chairman Xu Caihou. But Xi has ignored this and is trying to ensure they are his own men." Another Beijing-based retired senior colonel said the attendance of all 10 military officers on the CMC at Friday's ceremony was a public signal they would not be dragged into Xu's case. "Most of the generals came up in the Nanjing military command, which offers opportunities because of its strategic importance. Nanjing oversees the Taiwan Strait, and trains senior officials on how to deal with military challenges," he said. ^ top ^

3 officials, thought to be tied to Zhou Yongkang case, facing prosecution (SCMP)
The legal authorities have started formal procedures to prosecute for graft three senior officials who are thought to be involved in a wider investigation into the former national security chief, Zhou Yongkang. Jiang Jiemin, the former director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, Wang Yongchun, a deputy manager at China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and former public security deputy minister Li Dongsheng have been detained for alleged corruption, Xinhua reported. The announcement suggests Communist Party leaders are pushing for a resolution in Zhou's case. Sources have said he was detained with family members in December for alleged graft. The South China Morning Post reported yesterday a formal announcement of the findings of the corruption investigation into Zhou could be announced late next month. Jiang was being detained in Yichang in Hubei province with his son Jiang Feng, according to a person familiar with the case. The 60-year-old former head of CNPC, the country's largest oil and gas producer, is said to be a close aide of Zhou. "He was told by investigators during the interrogation that he picked the wrong side," said the source, who asked not be named because of the political sensitivity of the case. The Post first reported in 2012 that Jiang was involved in a cover-up of an accident that killed the son of Ling Jihua, the chief of staff of former president Hu Jintao. Zhou asked Jiang to transfer several dozen million yuan from a China National Petroleum account to help Ling cover up the car crash and prevent details leaking to the public. Jiang, Wang and Li were ousted from the party after a leadership meeting late last month. ^ top ^

China to grant 'more' press passes - but journalists must sign secrecy deal first (SCMP)
Mainland journalists are now forced to sign a secrecy agreement with their employers before they can obtain a press pass, in another step in the party's tightening grip on the media. Journalists for the first time will have to sign the confidentiality agreement as a prerequisite to the press certificate, a unique system on the mainland that gives holders access to significant state events and official interviews. Central government departments tend to grant interviews only to reporters who carry the certificate. Under the agreement - which comes in force today - journalists should not release information they get from interviews, press conferences or other events on their personal blog, microblog or their messaging app WeChat without their employers' consent. They are also banned from referencing this information in public events, such as forums, and passing on tips to the foreign media or writing columns for them. Mainland reporters, who work under heavy censorship, sometimes pass on information they are not allowed to pursue to foreign media. The restrictions echo a ban, announced last week, on sharing information and "state secrets". A Sarft circular issued at the end of last month stated that mainland news agencies must have all journalism staff sign the agreement. Not all active journalists on the mainland have the press pass, which is authorised by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (Sarft). Tabloids and online news portals, for instance, still operate even if most of their reporters do not have a pass. However, not having the certificate restricts the amount of information the journalist can gather, especially when it comes to the sole party that rules the country. Sarft announced on Monday that journalists must renew their press passes until the end of October. Certificates can be granted to more journalists working for online news portals, it added. The authority estimates that around 250,000 reporters will receive the new version of the press pass after they sign the agreement. If they breach the secrecy agreement, media practitioners will be “disciplined” or, if there are serious repercussions from their actions, face civil punishment. In one controversial case of sharing information on the job, Luo Changping, a deputy editor of mainland magazine Caijing, posted a series of allegations on his microblog last year against Liu Tiannan, a former official of the National Energy Administration. Luo alleged that the official had taken bribes, faked his master's degree and had extramarital affairs - charges that led to the sacking of Liu last May. However, in November last year, the hard-hitting Caijing editor was removed from his post and moved to a more innocuous position at the paper's research institute. In another case, outspoken independent journalist Gao Yu, 70, has been in criminal detention since April for allegedly leaking a confidential Communist Party document to the overseas media last year. ^ top ^

'Graft-ridden' ex-party bosses of Xining and Kunming ejected from Communist Party (SCMP)
China's ruling Communist Party said today it had expelled two more former senior officials for corruption, laying the way for their prosecution, as the government continues a high-profile campaign against deep-rooted graft. The party's anti-corruption watchdog said in brief statements that Mao Xiaobing, former party boss of the western city of Xining, and Zhang Tianxin, former party chief of the southwestern city of Kunming, had “serious discipline problems”. “The investigation found that Mao Xiaobing took advantage of his post to seek profits for others, demanded and took a huge amount of bribes and committed adultery,” the watchdog said in a statement. Party members, especially senior officials, are supposed to be morally upstanding and adulterous affairs are considered a serious breach of party discipline. Mao, whose investigation was announced in April, will be handed over to judicial authorities for prosecution, the watchdog said. He has also been sacked. The former Kunming official, Zhang, also abused his official position, with his dereliction of duty causing “a loss of state assets”, the party said. It did not say if he had been handed over to the prosecutors, but that is the most likely next step. While both Xining and Kunming are third-tier Chinese cities, they are also relatively important places. Xining is capital of Qinghai province, home to a large and restless population of Tibetans. Qinghai is also the birthplace of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Kunming is capital of Yunnan province, which sits strategically on the borders of Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Vietnam. The Chinese leadership under President Xi Jinping has been publicising efforts to crack down on wasteful government spending and corruption to shore up its mandate to rule, which has been shaken by suspicion that officials waste taxpayers' money or use their positions for personal advantage. The government has cracked down on official corruption and extravagance in China since Xi's appointment last year. Xi has said widespread graft threatens the party's survival. ^ top ^

Jailed pastor's family escapes from China to the US after 'harassment by authorities' (SCMP)
Three family members of jailed pastor Zhang Shaojie have sneaked out of China to the United States with the help of activists after complaining about an extended campaign of harassment by the authorities, a Christian rights group said yesterday. Zhang's daughter, son-in-law and one-year-old grandchild landed in Dallas, Texas, and have now gone to Midland, according to US-based China Aid. The group said an underground network of activists helped the three leave China via Southeast Asia. Zhang, who led the Nanle County Christian Church in the central province of Henan, was sentenced this month to 12 years in prison on charges of fraud and gathering crowds to disturb public order. Zhang's church is sanctioned by the communist government, which allows worship only in state-monitored groups, but was involved in a dispute with local authorities over land for a new building. While land disputes are common in the mainland, Zhang's popularity prompted other Christians to rally around him to defend what they say is religious freedom. China Aid founder Bob Fu said that after Zhang was sentenced, his elderly parents received threats and were harassed, his daughter's car was kept by police and Nanle officials mobilised different government agencies to write to the court to ask for a longer sentence. Fu said Zhang's daughter, Zhang Huixin; her husband, Sun Zhulei; and their daughter, Sun Jiexi, were blocked at Beijing's airport on June 23 from leaving the country by Chinese security officials citing “national security”. Nanle and Henan police officers were also at the airport monitoring them, he said. Fu then flew to Southeast Asia to activate a network that escorted the three out of China and to the United States. He said US authorities gave the family authorization to enter the country for one year during which they could decide whether to appeal for asylum on the grounds of religious freedom. Calls to Nanle police and the press office of the Nanle Communist Propaganda Department rang unanswered. A press officer at the Henan police department said he did not have any information about Zhang Huixin and her family. A spokesman for the US embassy in Beijing, Nolan Barkhouse, would not confirm the account. The three arrived yesterday in Midland, Texas, and were staying in a guesthouse owned by the First Baptist Church, Fu said. “Our family and our church want to thank the US government and many anonymous church leaders in different parts of the world for helping assist our family¡¦s hard fought freedom,” Zhang Huixin was quoted as saying in an e-mail from Fu. “Our family comes here to raise awareness of the deteriorating situation of religious freedom in Nanle and in China," she was quoted as saying. ^ top ^

7 petitioners attempt suicide by drinking poison outside HQ of state-run newspaper (SCMP)
Seven people attempted suicide by drinking a poisonous liquid outside the gates of the China Youth Daily in Beijing yesterday morning, the newspaper said on its social media account. Pictures circulated online showed five men and two women lying on the pavement outside the newspaper building. A stream of white foam could be seen running out of one man's mouth in the pictures. All seven were taken to hospital, and police were investigating the case, the Daily said. Southern Metropolis Daily reported that the seven had drunk pesticide and were petitioners from Qingyang in Sihong county in eastern Jiangsu province. Their land was seized by the local government and they were petitioning because they were not satisfied with the compensation the authorities paid, the newspaper said. "Too many houses were forcibly demolished in Qingyang and a local court has ruled the demolition as illegal," Wang Jinshan, another petitioner from the same town, told the South China Morning Post. The seven were held in an illegally run detention centre, or "black jail", after they took their petitions to a higher level of government, Southern Metropolis Daily said. An official from Jiangsu was guarding the emergency room where two of the petitioners were being treated, stopping journalists from going in yesterday, The Beijing News reported. The injuries the seven suffered were no longer life threatening, according to the newspaper. Human rights group say that petitioning, which goes back to imperial times, often leads to people with complaints being held in illegal detention centres by the authorities. People can petition for years without their grievances being addressed and they occasionally resort to extreme measures to draw public attention to their cases. ^ top ^

Corrupt official gets life (Xinhua)
Wang Suyi, a former senior official from North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for accepting bribes, a local court in Beijing announced on Thursday. Wang was also deprived of political rights for life and all his property has been confiscated, according to the court ruling by Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court. Wang was a member of the Standing Committee of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and head of the United Front Work Department of the regional Party committee. The court found that Wang had accepted bribes worth more than 10.73 million yuan ($1.73 million) on various occasions. In return, he took advantage of his posts and offered business opportunities or promotions to nine companies and individuals, including a local real estate development company and Li Shigui, a former official of the region's Bayannur government, between 2005 and 2013. ^ top ^

Scholar releases draft legislation on religion (Global Times)
A scholar who has been pushing legislation on religion publicized his draft proposal for the first time on Thursday at an annual religion and social science conference at the Renmin University of China. Liu Peng, founder of the Pushi Institute for Social Sciences, an independent think tank that focuses on religion in China, wrote the draft legislation last year and presented the first part at the conference. The draft defines religious freedom and property, regulates religious groups and activities, and calls for the separation of government and religious affairs. China currently has no religious affairs-related laws, only a regulation at the national level in 2005. Regulatory deficiencies have created a problem whereby courts cannot hear disputes that touch on religion, especially those between governments and religious groups, Liu told the Global Times. When these issues need to be addressed, governments usually resolve them by issuing administrative rulings. "For example, if a town or district government wants to tear down a temple and the people in it don't want to, there isn't a law to settle the dispute," he said. On the other hand, the government can't regulate religious affairs when problems arise either. "A proposal on religious affairs can [aid the] push for implementation of policies related to religious freedom," Yan Kejia, director of the Institute of Religious Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. However, there has been much discussion on the difficulty of enacting such a law. Liu Guopeng, a research fellow at the World Religion Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said at a previous conference at the Unirule Institute of Economics that China is not ready for law on religious affairs as most people have no clear idea of what separation of government and religious affairs means to them. "For example, can clerics serve in government posts? Many of our monks and bishops have high political positions right now. If we follow a strict separation, can they go on with their jobs?" he said. "Right now the Chinese government sees religious issue as a political one and solves it with political means. There isn't much discussion on changing the mentality," Liu said, adding that he hopes that through grass-roots discussions, this attitude will start to change. ^ top ^



Shanghai pilots greater judicial independence (Xinhua)
China's financial hub of Shanghai on Sunday initiated a judicial reform pilot to make judges more accountable and curb government interventions in courts. Pioneering China's judicial reform, the Shanghai pilot cover measures to improve management and job security of judicial staff, enhance accountability of judges and unify the personnel and finance management of local courts, according to the office entrusted with pushing ahead the reform. In an effort to improve professionalism, a clear division will be set between judges and procurators, other judicial staff, and the administrative personnel, who will be placed under separate management, according to the reform plan. Judges and procurators will also be allowed to be selected from lawyers, legal scholars and other legal professionals. A responsibility system will strengthen the roles of trial judges and make them work in a more independent manner, changing the practice that their rulings have to go through excessive signing and approvals by the court's chief justices. The reform also targets the decision-making power of the judicial council, limiting their use in complicated cases on which the collegial panel showed a major split. "The responsibility system aims to tackle the administrative intervention in courts and avoid the practice of 'trying but not judging'," said Zou Rong, professor at the East China University of Political Science and Law. Greater judicial power will also come with greater responsibility, as trial judges and procurators will assume a lifelong accountability to their cases, which means they will be called into account for previous miscarriage of justice. The plan will also require the judges and procurators at district or county-level courts to be nominated by provincial-level judicial authority. Funds of local courts will also come from the provincial, rather than the local finance. Tang Xiaotian, vice secretary-general of Shanghai Law Society, said the financial independence will guard the courts from the influence of the local government. "When the courts' coin bags are held at the hands of the local governments, their independence will be affected, as they are prone to the lobbying of local officials," Yang said. The eastern municipality of Shanghai has been chosen to spearhead the country's judicial reform. Its reform guidelines was approved by China's Leading Group for Overall Reform, led by President Xi Jinping, on June 6. China has been pushing for a deeper judicial reform to address public complaints over the capability and fairness problems in Chinese courts. The Supreme People's Court on Wednesday published a guideline for judicial reforms over the next five years. The guideline includes 45 major measures in eight key judicial issues such as personnel, finance and judicial selection, most of which are included in the Shanghai reform plan. ^ top ^



Thousands pay tribute to images of Buddha (China Daily)
Thousands of people gathered to pay homage to the unrolling of the thangka - giant religious silk embroideries - to mark the third day of the Buddha Images Show Festival at the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet's Xigaze prefecture on Sunday. The ritual, which involves the presentation of Buddha images in the monastery, is linked to prayers for rain to deliver a bumper harvest for the local people, religious officials of the monastery said. The three-day-event is observed annually from the 14th to the 16th days of the fifth month of the Tibetan calendar, according to the monastery. The first two days displayed images of past Buddha Amida and present Buddha Gautama. The third day displayed the future Buddha Maitreya, said Nyandrak, deputy director of the monastery's management committee. "The show today is especially important because it celebrates the 11th Panchan Lama's reaching his age of 25," the 70-year-old said on Sunday. Tibetan Buddhists believe the age of 25 is a hard year. In order to keep away from things in life that would make one vulnerable, Tibetans carry out certain religious rituals at that age, local residents said. The thangka displayed on Sunday was 45 meters long and 29 meters wide and took 25 tailors and 90 other workers almost seven months to complete. The monastery is the bed-sitting, or official coronation, place of the successive Panchan Lamas. A similar thangka was displayed for the 9th Panchan Lama at age 37, Nyandrak said. More than 20,000 Tibetans across the region lined up early in the morning to make the pilgrimage to the Buddha image show. "I am very pleased to be here to pay homage to the future Buddha. I wish all living beings to be healthy and peaceful," said Tobchen, from Tibet's Rinpung county. Accompanied by the sound of horns reverberating through the air, monks slowly unrolled the thangka on the mountainside behind the monastery. Followed by Tibetan Buddhists who offered their white hada - white silk scarves that signify goodwill, purity and good fortune - to the image, the monks prayed in front of the image. "I am surprised to see such an age-old tradition is still well preserved by local Tibetans, and I am impressed with how Tibetans value this giant artistic work," said Lars Erik, a tourist from Denmark. ^ top ^

Shifting the focus from infrastructure to industry (China Daily)
Because the herders on the Tibetan plateau follow the seasons in their search for fertile pastures, they spent much of the year in makeshift accommodations, which are always under threat when blizzards or landslides occur on the exposed land. Losang, a herder from the village of Damchuka in Damxung county, was awarded a subsidy of 80,000 yuan ($13,000) by the Aid to Tibet program. The money accounted for more than half the cost of building his new house, and allowed him to buy a motorbike, which he uses to travel over the barren plateau and keep an eye on his sheep and yaks. "The 297-sq-m house is twice the size of my old one, and it's closer to the county seat so I can still run my brick factory and make extra money," the 45-year-old said. Under the program, two provincial-level governments are mandated to provide assistance for Lhasa or one of the six prefectures in the Tibet autonomous region. In the past 20 years, Beijing and Jiangsu province have provided about 5.5 billion yuan, and although Losang has never met any of the officials, he knows his new house was sponsored by the Beijing government. Every year, provinces and municipalities set aside 0.1 percent of their revenue to help three counties and one district in Lhasa. Over the past two decades, a combined 2.8 billion yuan has been spent in the counties of Nyinmo, Damxung and Todlung Deqen, along with Chengguan in Lhasa. In 2012, 6.89 million yuan was invested to build a square in Lhasa's Jangshar village, and also to construct a highway to link the small community with other parts of the regional capital. The square is popular with the locals, who often gather there to practice traditional arts such as circle dances and Tibetan operas, and to play their favorite sports. "Before, we had to walk in the mud when it rained, and people were often injured as a result of slipping on the sodden ground. The new road has really improved the situation," said villager Sonam Tsetan. Because the project is directed at raising local living standards, more than 70 percent of the total investment has been used to provide jobs and funding for businesses, according to the Lhasa government. Initially, the funds were used to improve the local infrastructure by building highways, hospitals, schools and houses. However, as the local economy developed, the locals started to look at ways of promoting sustainable industries, and quickly realized that mature industries in tune with local conditions were the best bets, according to Ma Xinming, head of the Beijing Aid to Tibet organization in Lhasa. By the end of 2013, 59 counties had received a total of 127 million yuan from the central government. The money was mainly used to establish about 70 special projects to develop industries suitable for farmers and herders, such as cultivating highland barley, plateau rapeseed, potatoes, and greenhouse vegetables, and raising yaks and Tibetan pigs. Traditional Tibetan medicine has also received funding. In Todlung Deqen, a county less than 10 km west of Lhasa, money from Beijing has helped to build 360 greenhouses on two sites. To date, the Chinese capital alone has donated 217 million yuan to the county, and the greenhouses have helped to double farmers' incomes, said Luo Hanmo, deputy general manager of Jingtu Eco-Agriculture Co. "The project pays the farmers' land rents every year, and they also take a cut of the net income," he said. Many of the goods transported to Lhasa from the provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan are expensive, especially fresh produce, so another 1,860 greenhouses will be put into use in Todlung Deqen in the next few years to lower vegetable prices, according to Luo. "Our company is planning to set up 20 direct-sale vendors within two years. They will sell vegetables for 15 to 30 percent less than the supermarkets," he said. Drolma, a local farmer, said growing vegetables is 20 times more profitable than planting low-yield highland barley. She is confident she can grow a greater variety of vegetables in her greenhouses. "We are learning the necessary skills, because it's a good way to develop our economy and improve our standard of living," the 33-year-old said. In other areas, trials are under way to assess the suitability of new strains of livestock. Dairy cattle introduced by officials from Jiangsu have raised incomes in Palding, Dagze county. Of the 217 families in the village, 69 have been taught to raise cattle and a further 62 have been given guidance in raising sheep. Village chief Nyima said the cattle are milked twice a day to produce fresh milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt. "We used to grow highland barley and corn, but they generated annual per capita income of less than 2,000 yuan. Now that we are raising cattle, our incomes have more than doubled to 5,000 yuan." Nyima said the local people are intelligent, but are hampered by a lack of exposure to new methods and ideas: "The officials and agricultural experts are far more experienced than we are, so we take their advice about developing new breeds of domesticated animals or cultivating new vegetables to raise incomes and improve the quality of life. In the end, though, we will only achieve our goals if we work as hard as possible and learn to understand new ways of doing things." ^ top ^



Terror attacks stifle Uygur businesses (China Daily)
The businesses of Uygur entrepreneurs in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, especially in traditional Uygur foods, have suffered serious setbacks since the series of terrorist attacks that happened this year, businessmen said, who jointly condemned the violent acts. "Our hotel's occupancy rate dropped by 60 percent in the first half of the year, compared with last year. Our banquet hall, which caters to tourists and offers traditional Uygur foods and performances, has seen hardly any customers since the terrorist attack in Kunming in March," said Xoket Abulat, the manager of Xinjiang Tumaris Hotel in Urumqi, the regional capital. He said that because of the poor sales, the hotel had no choice but to let some employees go and reduce the salaries of those stayed. "The shockwave from such attacks will gradually hit every one of us, especially those selling Uygur food and engaged in the leisure industry. " On March 1, a group of knife-wielding assailants attacked civilians at a railway station in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. Police shot four attackers dead at the station, and the other four were arrested and detained by police. All were from Xinjiang. Two separate terrorist attacks were carried out in Urumqi in April and May. The violence prompted the central government to launch a nationwide yearlong campaign against terrorism. "The restaurants have had considerably fewer customers since March, and it is not getting any better," said Abudulkeyim Rejip, the manager of the Xinjiang Bodun Uygur fast food chain. The less optimistic situation of his business actually has fueled his ambition to open new branches outside the region. "There are so many misunderstandings about Uygurs. I hope the restaurants will serve as platforms to create mutual respect," he said. Xoket and Abudulkeyim are among the 566 entrepreneurs and their employees - most of them from Uygur ethnic group - who jointly drafted and signed an open letter addressed to fellow Uygurs to denounce terrorism a week ago. "The terrorists' criminal acts have wronged us and made us unable to operate at ease," said the letter. "Whenever terror happens, our hearts hurt. Our enterprises have been affected by the terrorist attacks." The letter called on all Uygurs to unite to fight terrorism. On July 10, the Xinjiang regional government sent a work group to Guangdong province assisting local government to provide services and manage the workforce from Xinjiang. More teams will be sent to other provinces where many people from Xinjiang make their living. ^ top ^

Anti-graft inspectors uncover 858 cases of 'austerity violations' in Xinjiang (SCMP)
A total of 858 violations of Communist Party austerity measures were uncovered in Xinjiang during the first half of the year, with 87 per cent of the cases found in the second quarter, the region's anti-graft watchdog has said. The findings coincided with just-completed inspections by the more senior Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the party's top anti-graft agency, carried out between March to May. Only 110 violations were found in the first quarter. Xinjiang's anti-graft agency said 1,327 cadres had been punished for the violations, according to its statement carried on the CCDI website. The main problem area for Xinjiang was abuse of taxpayers' money for banquets and luxury gifts. Other excesses included unnecessary ceremonies and misuse of government vehicles. Xinjiang and Jiangxi, with 847 violations, were the only two areas CCDI investigated for six months and which were flagged up on its website. Over the weekend, the CCDI inspection team publicly issued separate reports on Xinjiang's regional authorities and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps - a quasi-military entity that controls much of the region. The inspectors said they had received substantial complaints of graft in the mining, natural resources and land sectors. A CCDI inspection report issued yesterday said the main issues for Fujian were "naked" officials (those whose families live abroad), corrupt land deals and collusion with businessmen. ^ top ^



Hong Kong affairs entirely China's internal affairs: spokesperson (Xinhua)
A spokesperson of the Office of Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong said here on Saturday that it is beneficial to all concerned parties to remain Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. "It is widely acknowledged by the international community that since Hong Kong's return to China 17 years ago, it has shown the success of the policy of One country, Two systems," said the spokesperson. On July 11, the British government published a half-year report on Hong Kong, in response to which, the spokesperson made the remarks. "Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. So Hong Kong affairs are entirely China's internal affairs and tolerate no intervention by any foreign country in any way. We hope relevant country would do good to Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," The spokesperson said. "Comparing today's Hong Kong with that 17 years ago, the Britons should have had in-depth thoughts on it." ^ top ^

FTA negotiation commences between China's HK and ASEAN (Xinhua)
The first round of negotiation on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China's Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was held successfully on Friday. The key elements covered in the negotiation include the elimination or reduction of tariffs, rules of origin, liberalization of trade in services, liberalization, promotion and protection of investment, and intellectual property cooperation. Gregory So, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government, greeted the ASEAN representatives and expressed wishes for a smooth negotiation process to pave the way for a fruitful outcome. "ASEAN is an important trading partner of Hong Kong. A FTA between Hong Kong and ASEAN will boost the economic growth of the two sides, and at the same time further enhance Hong Kong's role as a regional trading hub, and as a gateway for trade and investment between ASEAN and the (Chinese) mainland," So said. "The commencement of Hong Kong-ASEAN FTA negotiation marks a significant milestone of Hong Kong's participation in regional economic integration," So added. Representatives from the governments of the member states of ASEAN met representatives of the HKSAR government on Thursday and Friday in Hong Kong for the first meeting of the Hong Kong-ASEAN Trade Negotiation Committee, which marks the formal commencement of the FTA negotiation. ASEAN comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ^ top ^

HK submits election report (Global Times)
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying submitted a report to the national legislature Tuesday, confirming that proposals for 2017 universal suffrage will only accept candidates who are loyal to both Hong Kong and the central government. The report, submitted to Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, suggested amendments to the methods for choosing the Hong Kong's next leader in 2017. The report has made clear that only the nomination committee has a "substantive power" to endorse candidates, and such power of nomination must not be bypassed. It is based on opinions collected through the 124,700 written submissions put forth by individual groups and members of the public during the first round of a five-month public consultation, which ended in May. "The [Hong Kong] community generally agrees that the discussion should be made on the basis of the Basic Law and the relevant interpretation and decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC)," Leung said in the report. According to Basic Law Article 45, which stipulates the requirements for choosing Hong Kong's top leaders, the selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage is to be done upon nomination by a broadly representative committee in accordance with democratic procedures. The submission marked the city's first move in a five-step process to determine the electoral methods for the selection of the chief executive in 2017 and for the formation of the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2016. Leung says in the report that the Hong Kong public is generally eager to see implementation of universal suffrage for the 2017 election, and agrees that the new chief should be a person who "loves the country and loves Hong Kong." He suggested to the NPC that there is a need to amend the method for selecting the chief executive in 2017, while the method for forming the LegCo in 2016 will remain the same. The report also made brief mentions of the controversial "civic nomination" process proposed by democracy campaigners, but did not address its feasibility. However, the reports did state the majority agreed that the composition of the nomination committee should be decided by reference to the existing methods of forming the Election Committee. This means the nomination committee should be composed of four sectors in equal proportions, in order to meet the requirement for being broadly representative as stipulated in the Basic Law. The current election committee is composed mainly of lawmakers, professional groups, business leaders and Beijing representatives. The size of the nomination committee should be the same as the current election committee, meaning 1,200 members, and should not exceed 1,600 if an increase in size is needed, according to the report. "With a limited expansion to the nomination committee suggested in the report, the government has further lowered the possibility for civic nomination," Ma Ngok, a political scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), told the Global Times Monday. Ma believed the report did not objectively reflect the views of Hong Kong people, as there are still debates over the nature of the "love the country and love Hong Kong" requirement for the city's leaders. The New People's Party vice chairman and lawmaker, Michael Tien Puk-sun, said he believed many Hong Kong people are disappointed with the report due to a lack of concrete advice on election procedures. In contrast, Chang Chak-yan, another CUHK political scientist and co-founder of Silent Majority, which opposes the Occupy Central movement, said the report has accurately reflected mainstream views through the 124,700 public submissions. The Hong Kong Federation of Students, co-organizer of Occupy Central, warned that a series of "civil disobedience" actions will take place, if the suggestion of civic nomination is rejected by central authorities, reported Hong Kong's Commercial Radio station. Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor Tuesday urged Hong Kong society to move forward with the reform and not to waste time on impractical suggestions. "We may lose the opportunity to realize universal suffrage in 2017 and disappoint the public if some political groups insist on their own stance and refuse to compromise," she said. Following the report's submission, the NPC Standing Committee will decide in August on whether the electoral methods need to be amended. A second round of public consultation on the reform proposal will then be held by the end of 2014 to form a more concrete and detailed reform package. Tian Feilong, a legal expert at Beihang University in Beijing said the report is unbiased and expects only small amendments to the reform will be made. "The five-step process is only to make minor amendments to the electoral methods listed in the Basic Law's appendix, while the inclusion of civic nomination will require a much bigger scale of amendment to Basic Law Article 45, which is not likely to happen," noted Tian. ^ top ^

China lodges protest with Britain over HK affairs (Xinhua)
China on Wednesday lodged solemn protests with Britain over the meetings between high-ranking British officials and the Hong Kong opposition. "What Britain has done is interference in China's internal affairs. China strongly opposes it," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei Wednesday in a press release. Hong's comment came as Nick Clegg, British Deputy Prime Minister and Hugo Swire, a minister of state with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British government, met with Hong Kong's former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, and former Hong Kong Legislative Council member Martin Lee Chu-ming. "Hong Kong's affairs fall within China's internal affairs. China firmly opposes any interference in Hong Kong affairs by any country under whatever pretext," said Hong. The practice of "one country, two systems" has achieved great success in Hong Kong in the past 17 years since its return to the motherland, which is recognized by all, Hong said. China urged the British side to respect China's stance and concerns and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any means, he said. The British side should take effective measures to eliminate the ill effects caused by the meetings, and make concrete efforts to safeguard the China-Britain relationship and cooperation, Hong added. ^ top ^



It's official: Macau chief executive Fernando Chui will seek re-election (SCMP)
Macau's chief executive, Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on, will formally launch his re-election bid today amid escalating social tensions in the former Portuguese enclave. Whether Chui will face any challenger matters little, experts say, as he is widely regarded as Beijing's pick in the race. And even if it is a one-man election, the 400 members of the election committee will still need to cast their votes on August 31. Chui's election office said last night that he would elaborate on his re-election platform when he formally announced his candidacy today. Chui's first five-year term saw Macau's economy surpass Switzerland's and claim the world's fourth-highest per capita GDP thanks to soaring revenues from taxes on casinos. But discontent among the population of some 560,000 has also surged, culminating in May when thousands rallied in a public demonstration unprecedented since the city's return to Chinese rule. The protest was prompted by legislation Chui proposed that would make him immune to criminal prosecution during his tenure. He later scrapped the proposal. Chui, 57, also angered democracy supporters by dismissing a non-binding referendum on electoral reform organised by the city's democrats. This week, in a move apparently aimed at youngsters who complained about a lack of affordable housing, Chui unexpectedly announced that 28,000 public housing flats would be built in an undeveloped area - almost double the number planned. Macau watcher Larry So Man-yum said the decision - which Chui said was unrelated to his re-election campaign - might not lessen the challenges he faces in a second term. "It will take a decade for the housing units to be available," So said. "It'll definitely be a harder term for Chui." So said the chief executive - from one of Macau's four biggest families - had failed to act on the public's demand to sack unsatisfactory officials. "I can see Chui's efforts but his team couldn't help him at all," So said. Chui's top aide, Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda da Rosa Silva Chan, is expected to step down, having been in office since Portuguese rule ended in 1999. Unlike Hong Kong, Macau's Basic Law does not stipulate universal suffrage as the ultimate means of electing the chief executive. That led youngsters disaffected by the widening wealth gap to call for more democracy. In the run-up to the election on August 31, democracy activists plan to conduct a poll, modelled on Occupy Central's recent unofficial referendum, organiser Sulu Sou Ka-ho said. He promised more details in the coming days. They plan to ask residents whether the chief should be elected by universal suffrage, and whether they have confidence in Chui, who is likely to be the only candidate in the election. ^ top ^

Macau's leader Fernando Chui 'happy to let Beijing know public's views on democracy' (SCMP)
Macau's leader said yesterday he would be "happy" to let Beijing know what the city's residents think about democracy, as he launched his campaign for re-election as chief executive, an exercise all too likely to be a one-man race. The promise drew criticism that Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on was merely paying lip service to increasingly disaffected and democratically minded young people. Local democrats noted Chui made no attempt in his campaign platform, unveiled yesterday, to introduce a road map to full democracy. Unlike Hong Kong's Basic Law, Macau's mini-constitution does not list universal suffrage as a goal. If re-elected for a second five-year term, his focus would instead be on housing supply and administrative reforms, he said. He declined to say whether a cabinet reshuffle or the creation of new positions was on the cards. Chui, 57, will stand for election on August 31. The poll will be decided by a 400-strong election committee that will represent Macau's 560,000 residents. "Many countries and regions have different laws regarding democratic procedures. I will fully comply with Macau's Basic Law," Chui said. "We are willing to listen … Once there is a consensus, I am happy to reflect the views to the central government." Chui is widely seen as Beijing's man to continue governing Macau, and few politicians expect there will be another contender. Despite his all-but-guaranteed victory, Chui admitted his first term had "insufficiencies", with political decisions that prompted tens of thousands to protest against the government in May. Some 20,000 people took to the streets in an unprecedented March to oppose plans to grant serving chief executives immunity from criminal prosecution and to offer certain retiring officials handsome pensions. The plans were eventually scrapped. Chui yesterday said he "fully understood" the protesters' demands. "I respect all lawful and peaceful expression of opinion through rallies and protests," he said, adding that he believed the incident would not affect his re-election. A democracy campaigner, Sulu Sou Ka-hou, doubted Chui would act on the demands of his people. "I don't think he knows what the public really want." He described Chui's latest remarks on democracy as insincere. "He did not tell us about any road map on democracy." Sou and fellow social activists in Macau are organising an unofficial referendum next month, similar to Occupy Central's June poll in Hong Kong, to gauge public demand for democracy. The August 24-30 exercise is intended to put Chui's candidacy to the test should a challenger emerge in the meantime. Locals will get to state their preference for the next leader, although Beijing has denounced the poll as illegal. A pro-democracy lawmaker who led calls in May to scrap the controversial proposal for government perks said Macau was lagging behind in democratic progress. "The rift is widening as Hong Kong is having [a] one man, one vote [election] in 2017, but Macau still has no constitutional reform proposal even after the civil awakening in May," Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong said. ^ top ^



Taiwan's opposition DPP may put independence stance on hold (SCMP)
Taiwan's main opposition party may agree to put its pro-independence stance on hold, paving the way for possible talks with Beijing. The decision could remove a key challenge for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the run-up to the presidential election in 2016 - convincing voters it can be trusted to calmly steer cross-strait ties. Last month as many as 40 DPP delegates endorsed a proposal to "freeze" the party's platform, a key document adopted in 1991 calling for an independent Taiwan, arguing it had already been achieved. The step would help avoid cross-strait conflicts, build consensus among Taiwanese and help the party return to power following defeat in the presidential polls in 2008 and 2012, delegates said. DPP chairwoman Dr Tsai Ing-wen, seen as a front runner for 2016, said she believed the idea could be discussed when the party holds its congress next Sunday. "But because the party platform is a very important document of the party, any revision to it needs consensus within the party, and it may take a long time to amend it," Tsai said in a recent background briefing for overseas media. The platform had been largely superseded by the Resolution on Taiwan's Future adopted by the party in 1999, she said. The resolution maintains Taiwan doesn't need to declare independence because it is already a sovereign entity. It also states the future of Taiwan must be decided by its residents. "Actually, the 1999 resolution is a general consensus within the DPP, and to some extent, the consensus of Taiwan society as a whole," she said, in an apparent reference to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's identification of the island as a sovereign independent country called the Republic of China. Beijing, which views Taiwan as a renegade province subject to eventual union, insists it will only deal with the DPP if it abandons its pro-independence stance. Yang Lixian, a researcher at the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said "freezing" the pro-independence platform would be a step forward by the DPP, but it was too early to say whether a dialogue with the mainland was possible. "Freezing the platform would not mean the issue of how the DPP identifies cross-strait relations had been resolved," Yang said. "It would not indicate whether the DPP still saw Taiwan as an independent country." The bottom line for Beijing is that the mainland and Taiwan are not in state-to-state relations, Yang said. Tsai said she sensed the mainland saw the need to build a relationship with her party, given its position was "much better than in 2012" as voters grow more disappointed with the performance of the Ma administration. "Placing the wrong bet would be the last thing China would want to do," she said, adding that a DPP win in the year-end local government elections would make Beijing more willing to deal with the party. Observers said the results of the local polls would be an important gauge of the chances of the Kuomintang and the DPP in 2016. After Tsai lost the presidential election in 2012, she called for the DPP to review its stance towards the mainland. Her defeat was attributed in large part to a failure to convince the public she could maintain stability across the Taiwan Strait. She has since moved to increase engagement with the mainland, sending over scholars for seminars with their mainland counterparts, and two DPP mayors to open up communication channels. Tsai did not mobilise any party members or supporters to stage protests during the recent landmark visit to the island of Zhang Zhijun, the director of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the mainland's State Council. Analysts said it remained to be seen whether the DPP would shelve the platform, but the party is tipped to place more attention on cross-strait issues under Tsai's leadership. "Tsai, who once headed the Mainland Affairs Council, is well versed in cross-strait affairs and she is expected to seek common ground to achieve consensus within the party over its future cross-strait policy," said Tung Cheng-yuan, a professor at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University in Taipei. However, Shaw Chong-hai, director of the Graduate Institute of Mainland China Studies at Chinese Culture University in Taipei, said the DPP had adjusted only its strategy - not policy - in dealing with the mainland. "There is actually no breakthrough in either the DPP's [cross-strait] stance or view, although it has become more friendly towards the mainland," Shaw said, referring to the party's stance of "one Taiwan, one China". ^ top ^

Taiwanese Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling resigns over amid academic publishing scandal (SCMP)
Chiang Wei-ling resigned as Taiwan's education minister yesterday after he was implicated in an academic scandal that sparked public outrage and a police investigation. The controversy surfaced earlier this month when Chiang was linked to a scholar whose papers were retracted by a British publisher following allegations he used bogus identities to peer review his work. Chiang appeared as a co-writer in five out of 60 articles that were withdrawn. "After reflection overnight, in order to safeguard my own reputation I've decided to resign as the education minister," Chiang told reporters as prosecutors launched an investigation into the scandal. The resignation deals another blow to the beleaguered administration of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou. It was beset by a series of protests earlier this year over a controversial services trade pact with Beijing and a contentious nuclear power plant. Chiang, a 56-year-old civil engineer, was president of National Central University before he was appointed education minister in February 2012. His name appeared as a co-writer in five articles written by local academic Peter Chen in the last four years. Earlier this month, British publisher Sage withdrew Chen's articles from the Journal of Vibration and Control, alleging he had been able to review his own work by using peers that did not exist. At a press conference on Sunday, Chiang tried to distance himself from the scandal saying he did not know Peter Chen personally. Instead, he said he had advised Chen's twin brother, Chen Chen-wu, in his doctoral thesis about 10 years ago. He stepped down the next day amid political pressure. ^ top ^

Taiwan people satisfied with "Zhang-Wang meeting" achievement (Xinhua)
Taiwan's mainland affairs office issued a survey on Thursday showing that 69 percent of respondents approved of regular exchanges of visits by cross-Strait affairs chiefs. In June, Zhang Zhijun, chief of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, paid his first visit to the island, and held a formal meeting with Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's mainland affairs chief. They held their first formal meeting in Nanjing in February this year. The survey of more than 1,000 people aged above 20 from July 2 to 6 said that 60.7 percent people agree that regular exchanges of cross-Strait affairs chiefs will be conducive to the sound development of cross-Strait relations, and 54.6 percent people believe regular exchanges will help the mainland to better know public opinions in Taiwan. Over 60 percent of those surveyed are satisfied with the consensus reached by the "Zhang-Wang meeting": to continue negotiation on allowing the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation to set up offices on each other's side and tackle leftover issues "as early as possible." ^ top ^



Confidence index suggests China's exports improving (Xinhua)
A confidence index released on Sunday showed China's exports continued to improve in the second quarter as supportive policies and currency depreciation took effect. The International Purchasing Confidence Index, compiled by surveying China purchase divisions of 200 multinational corporations, rose to 52.87 in the second quarter from the first quarter reading of 52.18. The Chinese government's targeted measures and the enhanced competitiveness of made-in-China products helped exports to stabilize, said Lin Shi'an, general manager of Shanghai ISPC Consulting, compiler of the index. The industries surveyed included retail sales, automobile, energy, electronics, communications and chemicals. A reading above 50 suggests expansion while a reading below 50 means contraction. ^ top ^

Economic ties with Latin America grow (China Daily)
China's economic cooperation with Latin America is accelerating due to the country's expanding domestic demand and the region's economic restructuring, according to the Ministry of Commerce. "Latin America is a vibrant and promising market. China and Latin America highly complement each other economically," a ministry official said. "China's huge domestic market has a great future, while Latin American countries are restructuring their economies and boosting infrastructures. This is not only an important base for further expanding China-Latin America economic cooperation, but also the biggest advantage for cooperation in the near future." Bilateral economic ties have developed rapidly since China was admitted into the World Trade Organization in 2001 and have seen increasing convergences in recent years. China is Latin America's third-largest trade partner after the United States and the European Union, while the region is China's seventh-largest trade partner. Bilateral trade in 2013 edged up 0.1 percent year-on-year to $261.57 billion. China's exports to the region dropped by 0.7 percent to $134.27 billion while its imports grew by 1 percent to $127.3 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs. China's trade with Latin America was $12.6 billion in 2000. Through the first four months of the year, bilateral trade rose by 6.1 percent from a year earlier to $80.09 billion. China's exports to the region declined by 1.9 percent to $39.35 billion while its imports surged by 15.2 percent to $40.74 billion. "On the whole, bilateral trade still centers on traditional products, but both sides should encourage the trade of high-tech and high-value-added products," said the ministry official. "But the two sides need to further expand cooperation. China has advantages in areas such as solar power and large equipment while Latin America is promoting low-carbon economy, leaving great potential for entrepreneurs to usher in new cooperation into these areas." The official also suggested greater two-way direct investment because of the region's rich resources, stable economic environment and sound legal framework. "The Chinese government encourages domestic enterprises to increase their investment in Latin America and welcomes more investment from the region. Investment cooperation can center on sectors such as new energy, new materials, energy conservation and environmental protection, bioindustry, technology innovation and advanced manufacturing. Great potential is also envisioned in aerospace, auto manufacturing, electronic information, mechanical equipment and large-scale infrastructure," the official said. In recent years, China's direct investment in Latin America grew rapidly in energy and minerals, manufacturing, power, agriculture and finance. In 2013, China's nonfinancial direct investment in the region jumped 42.9 percent year-on-year to $15.16 billion, according to the ministry. From January to May, China's spending in the region reached $5.33 billion, according to the ministry. ^ top ^

China's economic growth quickens to 7.5 per cent in Q2 as policy effect plays out (SCMP)
China's economy expanded faster in the second quarter of this year, indicating the government's mini-stimulus policies have taken effect, though cooling property investment is posing downside risks in the months ahead. Gross domestic product grew 7.5 per cent in the second quarter, quickening from 7.4 per cent in the first three months, which was an 18-month low, the National Bureau of Statistics said. The pace was on par with the official target of about 7.5 per cent growth for this year, and in line with expectations after Premier Li Keqiang said recently that the economy was doing better in the second quarter than the previous three months. Beijing would need to roll out more easing steps to ensure the annual growth target is met, analysts said, with some maintaining the urge for the government to lower reserve requirement ratio for more banks. The acceleration came after Beijing's pro-growth policies rolled out in recent months, when some banks' reserve requirement ratio was lowered and the way of calculating the ratio of loans in deposits was revised to release more liquidity to the market, while infrastructure investment was quickened and taxes for small businesses were trimmed. “The result was slightly better than my expectation. The acceleration was a result of relatively significant policy easing in May and June after growth eased further in April. Such a performance could give the government some reason to cheer up and keep policy stable for a while,” said Shen Jianguang, Mizuho Securities chief economist for Greater China. However, Shen said recent remarks by government officials showed they were still worrying about a slowdown, which might be due to persistent risks from the property sector. “We'll see whether housing starts will slip further, or stabilise. The effectiveness of the recent wave of local housing policy relaxation remains uncertain,” he added. Fixed-asset investment in the first half rose 17.3 per cent from a year earlier, slower than the gain of 17.6 per cent in the first quarter. Property investment growth cooled to 14.1 per cent in the first half from a year earlier, down from 16.8 per cent in the January-March period. Industrial production grew 9.2 per cent in June from the same period last year, faster than the 8.8 per cent in May. Retail sales rose 12.4 per cent, compared with 12.5 per cent in May. Retail sales rose 12.4 per cent year on year in June, a tad slower than the 12.5 per cent growth in May. Despite the faster economic expansion, economists cautioned that Beijing will face challenges in defending its annual growth target. “Looking ahead, as China's structural property downshift continues to unfold, we expect the consequent negative drag on the economy to increase” in the fourth quarter this year and into next year, said UBS Securities' economist Wang Tao. Wang said China still has a lot of room for further investment in infrastructure such as railways, subway trains, water, clean energy and environmental projects, but space might be limited for increased spending on roads, highways, ports, and power generation. ^ top ^

Govt unveils pilot reforms of six SOEs (Xinhua)
China's State assets regulator announced Tuesday that six State-owned enterprises (SOEs) will join in a pilot program that will seek to reform their ownership and management by allowing injections of private capital in some, while moving to empower the boards of directors in others. "The SOEs selected for the pilot reform are those who have made significant efforts to reform and have seen those efforts bear fruit in recent years," Peng Huagang, spokesman at the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), said at a press conference Tuesday. Peng did not give a timetable as to when the pilot reform program will expand to more SOEs. According to SASAC, two of the companies, China National Building Materials Group and China National Pharmaceutical Group Co (Sinopharm), will focus on piloting "mixed ownership" enterprise reform, whereby the companies will be injected with limited amounts of private capital. Li Jin, chief researcher of the Chinese Enterprises Research Institute, told the Global Times that he thought the pilot program on mixed ownership is a "breakthrough" in the country's SOE reform, and "more enterprises will follow suit after they can learn from these companies' successful experiences." China National Building Materials Group was chosen for the pilot in part on the strength of its previous experience with mixed ownership structures. The company began diversifying its shareholding structure in 2003, since when the company has merged with around 1,000 private enterprises, according to a statement e-mailed by the company to the Global Times Tuesday. China National Building Materials admits that there have been challenges in its push to reform the company's ownership structure. "There are some conflicts between the SOEs and private enterprises, including different management styles," Song Zhiping, chairman of China National Building Materials said in a reply e-mailed to the Global Times Tuesday. Song also noted some "deep-seated" issues including a lack of professional management systems in SOEs. Although private companies have played increasing roles in the country's consumer products industries, SOEs still dominate key industries such as energy, chemical, telecom, transport and other "vital" areas. There have been warnings about the potential of the growing power of the State sector to harm China's still-developing market economy. Talk about reforming SOEs through mixed ownership started more than a decade ago, reaching a crescendo in the media during the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in November last year. After the session, the central government released a statement pledging to develop a mixed ownership economy featuring cross-shareholding of State and private capital. Analysts have identified a number of obstacles faced by reforms in recent years. "A lack of a strong board of directors for the SOEs is one of the issues," Zhang Zhengqun, CEO of Beijing-based King Parallel Consulting, a former researcher at the State Council's Development Research Center, told the Global Times Tuesday. Reforms to board members' selection and salaries are on the docket for the other four SOEs announced under SASAC's pilot program, among which is COFCO Group, the country's largest manufacturer and processor of foodstuffs. In China, nearly all SOE heads, especially heads of SOEs considered vital to national security, are chosen by the SASAC and government ministries, making these SOEs' boards of directors "more symbolic than real," according to Zhang. Peng of SASAC stated that the one of the aims of the pilot reform is to strengthen both the obligations and power of the chosen companies' boards of directors, so that they can truly play the decision-making role for which they were designed. Analysts have noted that the six enterprises are in sectors where full State control is not considered crucial. Li of the Chinese Enterprises Research Institute said it will take time for private capital to enter "vital sectors like oil and the power grid." ^ top ^

Chinese incomes continue to rise (Xinhua)
Average incomes of China's urban and rural residents continued to rise steadily in the first half of 2014, official data showed on Wednesday. The average disposable income rose 10.8 percent year on year to 10,025 yuan (1,629 US dollars) in the first six months, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). With inflation deducted, the growth rate stood at 8.3 percent. The income gap between urban and rural residents narrowed, with actual income growth in rural China 2.7 percentage points higher than that in urban areas in the January-June period. Urban residents pocketed an average disposable income of 14,959 yuan in the first half, up 7.1 percent year on year with inflation deducted. The average rural resident's cash income was 5,396 yuan, with year-on-year growth of 9.8 percent after inflation adjustment. About 174.18 million rural migrant workers were working outside their hometown by the end of June, up 1.8 percent from a year earlier. Their average income was 2,733 yuan per month, up 10.3 percent year on year, according to the NBS. In November 2012, the Chinese government included per capita income in the country's blueprint for a moderately prosperous society, vowing to double its 2010 GDP and per capita income for both urban and rural residents by 2020. ^ top ^

New economic belt approved (Global Times)
The State Council, the country's cabinet, has approved a plan to develop Zhujiang-Xijiang economic belt in a bid to revitalize the regional economy. The economic belt, which covers the areas of South China's Guangdong Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, will strive to build a comprehensive transportation channel and ecological corridor, according to a document posted on the central government's website on Wednesday. It will be developed into a new growth engine for the opening-up and development of the country's southwest and central south regions and serve as model for regional coordinated development and ecological development, it said. ^ top ^

Premier Li stresses quality growth, innovation (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has reiterated "quality" as the mainspring of China's growth, saying that quality growth, whether slightly higher or lower than 7.5 percent, will be acceptable. Economic growth should create jobs, increase people's incomes, save energy and be good for the environment, Li said during an economic symposium on Tuesday. Quality growth comes through innovation that can upgrade the economy, Li said, pledging to maintain China's economy within a proper range: GDP growth around 7.5 percent and inflation below 3.5 percent. He said the country will keep its targeted macro-control policies and allow the market to play a bigger role. Administrative procedures will continue to be simplified, and a transparent mechanism will create a fair environment for businesses. Support to the real economy will also continue. Small firms, agriculture companies and the tertiary sector will be supported, and manufacturing will be improved. Current economic growth is stable, but the government must be more aware of difficulties, risks and downward pressures. China's economy showed strong resilience in the first half of 2014, with growth momentum rebounding in the second quarter and overall expansion in the first six months reaching 7.4 percent year on year. ^ top ^

China's commerce minister urges US to correct trade malpractices (Xinhua)
China's commerce minister Gao Hucheng on Thursday reiterated the country's stance on trade disputes with the US, urging the latter to "timely and comprehensively" correct its abuse of trade remedy measures. In a statement on the ministry website, Gao said excessive use of trade remedy measures by the US side has seriously harmed the legitimate rights of Chinese enterprises, and the government will not turn a blind eye to them. The comments came after the World Trade Organization (WTO) appellate body issued two reports on US measures against Chinese products, which conclude that the countervailing and anti-dumping measures of the United States on more than 20 kinds of Chinese products between 2006 and 2012 were against WTO rules. Gao urged the US to respect the rulings and correct the malpractices. "At a time when the world economy is slowly recovering, the US should stand up to its responsibility to maintain the trade rules and prevent protectionism," Gao stressed. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

North Korea fires missiles ahead of joint US-SK drill (Global Times)
North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea Sunday, Seoul's military said, in an apparent show of anger at an upcoming joint military exercise between South Korea and the US. The North fired the two ballistic missiles into the East Sea at 1:20 and 1:30 am local time, the South's defense ministry spokesman told AFP. "Their range appeared to be around 500 kilometers," he said, adding Seoul's military had stepped up monitoring for additional launches. The move - the latest in a series of similar launches in recent weeks - came a day after Pyongyang condemned an upcoming Seoul-Washington naval joint exercise. The annual drill, from July 16-21, involves the US aircraft carrier George Washington, which arrived at the southern port of Busan on Friday. The North bristled Saturday at the nuclear-powered carrier visiting the port, calling it a "reckless" act of provocation. "The US should properly understand that the more persistently it resorts to reckless nuclear blackmail and threat, the further [the North] will bolster up its cutting-edge nuclear force for self-defense," said the North's top military body, the National Defense Commission. The North has habitually slammed joint military exercises south of the border and often responded with missile test-launches. UN resolutions bar it from conducting any ballistic missile tests. Sunday's launch - the fifth in just over two weeks - took place in a sensitive area near the heavily-fortified border with the South, the defense ministry spokesman said without elaborating. ^ top ^

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un guides live shell firing exercise (Xinhua)
Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea DPRK) Kim Jong Un guided a live shell firing exercise of the Unit 171 of the Korean People's Army (KPA), DPRK's official news agency KCNA reported Tuesday. Kim was briefed the exercise plan and the distribution of firepower strikes atop an observation post before he gave an order to open fire, said the KCNA in a dispatch, detailing the "shells dropped into the sea like hail," in describing the firing process. Kim expressed great satisfaction with the drill, commending all of the artillerymen for being crack gunners. He said after watching the firing drill, he was once again assured that all service personnel of the KPA are on high alert and all they are waiting for is only an order from the supreme commander. Hostile forces are getting more undisguised in their moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK, but the Korean people will keep building the DPRK into a thriving country as the army is firmly defending the country, the report quoted Kim as saying. Kim also pointed out more combat preparations need to be made by the military units on the front of the country. The DPRK on Monday launched artillery shells from the region some hundreds of meters north of the Demilitarized Zone in Goseong, according to media reports from the Republic of Korea. The shells, which were fired from 11:53 a.m. local time toward its northeastern waters, landed in waters some 1-8 kilometers north of the Northern Limit Line, the disputed sea boundary in the East Sea. It was the DPRK's 15th launch of missiles or artillery shells this year and the 5th firing exercise in less than three weeks. The launches came ahead of a joint maritime exercise that will involve U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington and ROK battleships in southern and southwestern waters off the Korean Peninsula from July 16-21. ^ top ^



Speech by the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj at the Closing of the National Naadam Festival 2014 (Info Mongolia)
Speech by the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj at the Closing of the National Naadam Festival 2014: My dear fellow countrymen, Dear guests, In these beautiful summer days of sun, rain and bloom, the Mongol people have proudly and blissfully celebrated our great national festivity, the Naadam. Our wrestlers were strong and deft. The cheer of our children riding our fast horses was lively, and our horses, were tended masterfully to attain great speed. Our archers were accurate and precise. The great national Naadam incited the vigor and pride of the Mongol people for it is the very essence of Mongol culture. It is the mirror of Mongol history, of Mongol mind, of Mongol identity. We Mongolians foster a dear goal, firm resolve and genuine verve to consolidate our past with solid achievements of the present and harness our prosperous future. Cherishing our independence and freedom, honoring harmony and justice, cognizant of duty and accountability, and aware of the historic importance of the time we live in for the development of our country, let us, the Mongolians, do our best in all our fair efforts and aspirations. From the high rostrum of the great Mongol Festivity, looking forward to the next year's celebration, I announce the Naadam 2014 closed. May every Mongolian enjoy a sound health, clever mind, seasoned education and a joyful spirit. May the Eternal Blue Sky Grace You all. ^ top ^

Mid-Term Strategic Partnership Development Program to establish with the Russian Federation was discussed (Info Mongolia)
At the Cabinet meeting of Government held on July 16, 2014, one of the issues discussed was "Mid-Term Strategic Partnership Development Program" to establish between Mongolia and the Russian Federation. Following the revision it was agreed to negotiate with Russian part and exchange opinions on some issues, after which to re-submit to the Cabinet meeting obliged by Foreign Minister of Mongolia L.Bold. Within the scope of this Program, outlook for trade and economic cooperation between Mongolia and Russia in the next five years would be determined and clarified. In addition, cooperation in political, defense, security, law enforcement and humanitarian areas as well as partnership in regional and international spheres would be reflected comprehensively in this Program. During the President Ts.Elbegdorj's visit to Shanghai on May 20 and Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag's visit to St. Petersburg on May 23, 2014, Mongolian leaders mentioned to establish the Program during the meeting with the President V.V.Putin and the Russian side accepted the proposal positively. Mongolia and the Russian Federation established the Friendly Relations and Partnership Agreement on January 20, 1993 and Strategic Partnership in 2009. ^ 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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