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
  2-8.8.2014, No. 536  
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DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

Chinese FM calls for strategic, pragmatic, sustainable China-Egypt ties (Xinhua)
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday called for keeping up the strategic, pragmatic and sustainable bilateral ties between China and Egypt. As strategic partners, China and Egypt should further promote the mutually-beneficial cooperation in various fields for the development and prosperity of both countries, Wang said during talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukry. For that end, the understanding and friendship between the two peoples should be strengthened, as it's the social foundation and momentum of a ever- progressing bilateral relation, Wang added. The Chinese foreign minister, who started his two-day visit to Cairo on Saturday, expressed China's firm support for Egypt's exploration of a development path in accordance with its own national conditions, saying Egypt has gained a steady step in its political transition. During the meeting, Wang proposed that the two countries should focus the bilateral cooperation in six fields. China and Egypt should strengthen mutual political trust and support by facilitating high-level official exchanges, while at the same time enhance pragmatic bilateral cooperation in such fields as infrastructure, energy, industry, agriculture and space technology, Wang said, also calling for more exchange in culture, education and tourism. He also called for further military exchanges between the two countries, as well as more security cooperation in the fight against terrorism, transnational crime and drug trafficking. The two countries should also advance their mutual support and coordination regarding international and regional issues, he added. For his part, Shukry said that China is the most trusted friend and strategic partner of Egypt, expressing his country's firm support to the one-China policy and its efforts in maintaining national sovereignty. Egypt is strongly opposed to any foreign interference of China's internal affairs, Shukry said. The Egyptian foreign minister stressed that Egypt is willing to deepen high-level exchanges between the two countries. Egypt welcomes more Chinese investment and participation in developing Egypt's infrastructure, new energy, manufacturing and agriculture, Shukry said. ^ top ^

Japanese prime minister presses China for talks (Global Times)
During his visit to Brazil, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday restated his desire to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held in Beijing in November. This is the latest call from Japan for a face-to-face meeting amid recent tense diplomatic relations. "I hope to have a Japan-China summit meeting during the APEC forum in November," Abe said at a press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when asked about tense relations between the two countries, the Associated Press reported. "Japan and China should talk because we have issues to solve," he said. "My door is always open for dialogue, and I would like China to have the same attitude." Abe has been unable to hold one-on-one talks with President Xi Jinping since 2012 when he took office for the second time. Abe said on July 14 at the Lower House's budget committee session at the National Diet that he wanted to hold a summit with China during the APEC forum to improve ties. He also called for talks with President Xi during his visits to Australia and New Zealand from July 7 to 12. "Our attitude, which is clear enough, can be described by a popular catchword in China 'don't even bother to approach me if you are not absolutely sincere.' If Japan refuses to correct its attitude and take concrete actions, there is no way for China and Japan to improve their relations," Qin Gang, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responded on July 11. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said on July 9 that it is natural for Chinese and Japanese leaders to meet during the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. He also said that he thought meetings should not be canceled because certain conditions are not met. ^ top ^

Freeze on South China Sea projects rejected (SCMP)
China shrugged off the United States and the Philippine's suggestion it suspend developing areas in the disputed South China Sea ahead of a regional summit that has been overshadowed by rising tensions between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbours over rival territorial claims. In a defiant tone, an official from the Foreign Ministry branded the suggestion as "impractical" and insisted on China's right to continue its activities in the disputed waters, including building artificial islands. "What China will do, or won't do, is determined by the Chinese government. No other people can change the stance of the Chinese government," said Yi Xianliang, the deputy director general of the ministry's department of boundary and oceanic affairs. Yi's remarks, made at a forum held by the All-China Journalists Association, came as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is set to hold a meeting in Myanmar this week. Asean foreign ministers and counterparts from the bloc's main regional trading partners, including China, Japan and South Korea, will hold talks. A regional security dialogue will also be held, with the United States taking part. Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said yesterday that Manila had won support from Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei for an immediate moratorium on activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea and for the implementation of a code of conduct in the region. Washington last month called for a voluntary freeze on actions that would escalate tensions in the region. "On what capacity can Washington raise such a suggestion?" Yi asked. "The suggestion is simply not constructive and cannot be implemented." Disputes should be resolved by countries with claims to the waters, he said. Tensions have increased between Beijing and its Southeast Asian neighbours, especially the Philippines and Vietnam, as China has become more assertive over its maritime claims in the region. A series of deadly anti-China riots swept through Vietnam in May after Beijing deployed an oil rig in contested waters in the South China Sea. China is also looking to expand its biggest installation in the Spratly Islands, on the disputed Fiery Cross Reef, into an artificial island, complete with an airstrip and port, according to mainland scholars and naval experts. Yi said other countries with claims in the South China Sea had also carried out reclamation work and built facilities on disputed islands, including a kindergarten. "China has the right to build facilities on Chinese territory," he said. ^ top ^

Chinese FM, AL leader meet on further cooperation (Xinhua)
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Arab League (AL) Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi held talks in Cairo on Sunday to further pragmatic cooperation between the two sides. Chinese President Xi Jinping raised a comprehensive planning during the sixth ministerial conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) in June, charting the future course for development of bilateral relations as well as key cooperative areas, Wang said, calling for immediate actions of the two sides to push forward the meeting's agreements. The top diplomat, who wrapped up his two-day visit on Sunday, also called China and the Arab countries to jointly hold the event of the Year of China-Arab Friendship in this September, as well as the fourth China-Arab Energy Cooperation Conference and the sixth China-Arab Business Conference to further promote China-Arab multilateral pragmatic cooperation in various fields such as energy, trade, investment and infrastructure constructions. "The two sides should strengthen their efforts in planning, formulation and communication to steadily promote China-Arab pragmatic cooperation in the coming 10 years," the top diplomat said. "First of all, we should make efforts to keep fast growths of both China-Arab trade volume and China's investment in the Arab world," he said, adding that the goals of 600 billion US dollars bilateral trade volume and 60 billion dollars non-financial investment stock should be reached as early as possible in the next decade. Meanwhile, the two sides could seek breakthrough in high-tech industries such as nuclear energy, new energy and aerospace, in order to promote the implementation of projects including China- Arab technology transfer center and Arab training center for peaceful use of nuclear energy. In addition, he said, cultural departments from China and the Arab countries should jointly work on the people-to-people exchanges of 10,000 Chinese and Arab artists, and boost and support cooperation and communication among 200 cultural institutions from the two sides. "As for issues in the Middle East region, China will adhere to the purposes of the UN Charters and the basic principles of international relations," Wang said, reaffirming China's support and respect for the peoples' independent choices of the paths of development in the region. On his side, Arabi said the Arab countries paid great attentions to the development of China-Arab ties and the improvement of the CASCF. "The Arab world is willing to make joint efforts with China to push forward the implementation of agreements reached during the forum," he added. The AL leader described China as a truly reliable friend to the Arab world, expressing his praises for China's positive efforts in solving the Palestine-Israel conflict with peace talks. He also said that the Arab side would like to keep close contacts with China to politically resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict as well as the Syrian and Libyan issues. ^ top ^

China FM urges ceasefire in Gaza with five-point proposal (Xinhua)
Wang, who started his two-day visit on Saturday, raised a five-point proposal on ceasefire in Gaza, saying China is a firm supporter and sincere mediator for the peace between the Palestinians and Israel. Wang called for the two sides to completely cease fire to protect the people's lives and maintain regional peace. "All movements including airstrikes, ground offensive and launches of rockets should be stopped. Any abuse of force that caused deaths of civilians is unacceptable. All behaviors of violence against violence should be abandoned," Wang told a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukry. He stressed on China's support for the initiative of truce proposed by Egypt and other countries, urging both the Israeli and the Palestinian side to stop pursuing their unilateral demands by using forces. Both sides should seek for programs with mutual safety through responsible negotiations and establish a necessary security mechanism, he said, adding that during this course, Israel should lift its seven-year-long blockade of the Gaza Strip and release the Palestinians. On the other hand, Israel's reasonable concerns over its security issues should also be noticed, Wang said. Wang reaffirmed China's support for the Palestinian people's reasonable demands and legal rights to establish an independent state. He noted that the two sides should regard peace talks as an unshakable strategic choice, and try their best to renew dialogues and reach consensus as early as possible, in order to avoid the failure of negotiations and escalation of the confrontation. The Chinese foreign minister also called for the UN Security Council to take necessary responsibility and play an important role in solving the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict. The international community should also coordinate in promoting the settlement of the issue. Finally, the world should pay high attention to the humanitarian situation in Palestine, especially in the Gaza Strip, Wang stressed, adding that the international community should provide necessary aids and supports in time. "China will grant $1.5 million in emergency humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, while the Chinese Red Cross will also provide humanitarian support towards the Gaza Strip," Wang noted. "China is willing to work with the international community and to make contributions to ending the Palestine-Israel conflict." Shukry highly praised the five-point peaceful proposal, noting that the Chinese stance was in coordination with Egypt's efforts. The world should welcome China's voices, he said, stressing expectations for China's influence in the settlement of the conflict. Cairo is currently hosting a united delegation of various Palestinian factions, including Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, for talks on the Egyptian bid for a truce in Gaza. On the 27th consecutive day of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, the death toll on the Palestinian side has reached 1,800, mostly civilians, plus 9,500 wounded. On the other side, Hamas have also killed at least 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians, according to Israeli reports. ^ top ^

Philippines jails 12 Chinese fishermen (China Daily)
Twelve Chinese fishermen received prison sentences ranging from six to 12 years by a Philippine Palawan regional court after the group's vessel rammed into Tubbataha Reef Natural Park in April last year. According to the Philippine newspaper Philstar, the Palawan court convicted the fishermen of poaching and violating the Tubbataha Reefs National Park Act of 2009. The vessel's captain, Liu Wenjie, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and 11 other fishermen got sentences ranging from six to 10 years. Each was fined $100,000, according to the provincial prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez, who added that the 12 will be imprisoned at the Iwahig Penal Colony in Palawan. In April 2013, the Chinese fishermen were caught when their fishing vessel ran aground in Tubbataha Reef. According to The Associated Press, the boat was carrying frozen meat of protected pangolins. The Tubbataha Reef is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the Coral Triangle, the world's cradle of marine life. The marine and bird sanctuary covers a total area of 97,030 hectares and consists of two massive atolls, which are ring-shaped coral reefs, and the Jessie Beazley Reef. Fishing and the collection of coral, wildlife and any marine life is prohibited in this area. In 1993, UNESCO designated the reef as a World Heritage Site. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the security of its fishermen abroad, while educating and supervising them on their fishing activities, the Foreign Ministry said last year in response to the incident. A Public Attorney's Office attorney defending the men said he would appeal the convictions, Reuters reported. "We believe the Chinese fishermen are innocent. They did not intend to go into Philippine territory, but were forced by bad weather," the lawyer said. In January 2013, the USS Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef because of strong waves. Its bow struck the reef. Angelique Songco, head of the Philippine government's Protected Area Management Board, said a fine of about $300 per square meter of damaged coral is normally imposed. In 2005, the environmental group Greenpeace was fined almost $7,000 after its flagship struck a reef in the same area. The World Wide Fund-Philippines said in a statement that according to an initial inspection, the 68-meter-long, 1,300-metric-ton Guardian damaged at least 10 meters of reef. ^ top ^

Canadian Embassy 'aware' of investigation into two citizens (Global Times)
The Embassy of Canada to China said it was aware of reports that two Canadian citizens have been placed under investigation in China. The Embassy is gathering information and monitoring developments closely, after the Chinese foreign ministry Tuesday announced the pair is suspected of theft of military and intelligence information and threatening national security. Canadian consular officials stand ready to provide assistance as required, however, to protect the private and personal information of the individuals concerned, further details on this case cannot be released, the Canadian embassy in Beijing told the Global Times via e-mail. The couple, who run Peter's Coffee House in Dandong, which is on the border with North Korea in Liaoning Province, is suspected of collecting and stealing information related to Chinese "military and national defense research," the Xinhua News Agency reported. The Garratts' restaurant bears a sign touting French toast and hot dogs. Shades covered the windows when a reporter visited on Tuesday, and the entrance was shut up. A chalkboard sign in a window read in English: "SORRY, WE ARE CLOSED," Reuters reported. The Vancouver couple has lived in China for 30 years. They previously worked as teachers in southern China, according to Canada's The Globe and Mail. Xinhua said the State Security Bureau of Dandong is investigating the case. The whereabouts of the Garratts is unknown at the moment. ^ top ^

Japan white paper hypes China threat (Xinhua)
Japan's Defense Ministry in its annual white paper on Tuesday claimed that the nation is facing a worsening security environment as neighboring countries increase military activity in the region and emphasized Japan's need to bolster its own security role to counter threats. The defense ministry's 506-page white paper made numerous references to the "intensifying severity of the security environment surrounding Japan" and said Japan's reinterpretation of its decades-held Peace Constitution to enable its forces to engage in overseas "collective self-defense" was a security shift of "historic significance." While pointing out that threats are coming from North Korea, China and Russia, the document said Japan needs to beef up its defense capacity and coordinate its defense ability with the Japan-US security treaty so as to cope with an increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan. In the 20 pages it dedicated to China, the white paper elaborates on "the various new developments in the past year." One move, for example, is China's establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea over the disputed Diaoyu Islands. That, along with historical issues, has caused diplomatic ties between the two countries to become all but severed. The white paper said China lacks a clear goal in its military development and its security policies are not transparent. Also, it said China's air and sea activities in the East China Sea and the South China Sea have been "dramatically expanding" and "increasingly active," according to the Xinhua News Agency. China's defense ministry on Tuesday expressed "resolute opposition" to Japan's exaggerations in the white paper. "This is a deliberate exaggeration of the China threat as an excuse for Japan's military policy adjustment and arms expansion," the ministry said. "China is resolutely opposed to it." Japan released its first white paper on defense in 1970 and has been compiling new versions annually since 1976. Geng Xin, deputy director of the Tokyo-based JCC New Japan Research Institute, said this year's white paper had stepped up the anti-China rhetoric, and has described China as "dangerous" as well as a "threat." '"Threat' is a strategic concept while 'danger' is tactical. By describing the details, for example, the close encounter of military jets of the two countries, Abe's cabinet found a reason to justify his serial moves to expand military power [such as lifting the ban on exercising collective self-defense] by intensifying public fear," Geng told the Global Times. In July, the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet changed the interpretation of the nation's Constitution to allow Japanese forces to exercise the right to collective self-defense, in effect lifting the ban on Japan's overseas military operation. The decision was made by Abe and his Cabinet alone and did not involve a public referendum and support of both houses of parliament as constitutional change requires. Despite falling approval ratings and protests around the country against Abe recasting Japan's military, the white paper downplayed Abe's plans to bolster the military, saying the moves were supposed to be a "deterrent." The white paper was released shortly after Abe concluded his visit to Latin America, closely following Chinese President Xi Jinping's steps in late July to counter China's influence. While Abe has also offered to ease bilateral tensions, he has offered no practical steps toward this goal. This included calling for talks with Xi during the APEC summit in Beijing in November during a parliamentary meeting in mid-July and a reported secret China visit by former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in late July to discuss the possibilities of talks between the leaders. Although the paper is a routine annual document, the subtle release time suggests that Abe is determined to push for "proactive pacifism," and that possible diplomatic improvement with China would not mean a change in course to become a revived political and military power, Geng said. Compared with previous defense white papers, the new version also highlighted Japan's cooperation and exchanges on defense with other countries and a proposal that Japan should play a dominant role in regional and international cooperation in the defense area. ^ top ^

Chinese ships advance in waters near Diaoyus defying Japan's white paper warning (SCMP)
Chinese coastguard ships sailed into waters off Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea on Wednesday, officials said, after Tokyo's annual defence paper warned of China's "dangerous acts" near the disputed archipelago. Three Chinese vessels sailed into territorial waters that extend 12 nautical miles around one of the Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus, the Japanese coastguard said. The ships entered the area around 10am local time and left about two hours later, it said. Japan and China's coastguard, despite current tensions, are taking part in three-day joint drills, which started on Tuesday, alongside the United States and Russia. The peculiar timing saw coastguard members who sometimes play cat and mouse at sea taking part in diving drills, among other exercises. Japan's defence report, published on Tuesday, said frequent appearances by Chinese ships in the area could lead to "unintended consequences", as fears grow over a potential military clash between the Asian powers. Tokyo nationalised some of the islands nearly two years ago, setting off a diplomatic row with Beijing, although the two countries still occasionally work together on exercises such as the coastguard drills. Chinese vessels and aircraft have regularly approached the islands, with Japan's coastguard in hot pursuit. China responded to Tuesday's defence paper by saying Japan was "deliberately creating a "Chinese threat as an excuse to adjust its military policy". The paper may dent Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's bid to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a regional meeting in Beijing in November. Abe and Xi, both strong nationalists, have not held a bilateral summit since they both came to power more than 18 months ago. ^ top ^

Tonga receives 2nd donation of China aircraft (China Daily)
The Chinese government donated a Chinese-made aircraft to Tonga on Wednesday, injecting new vitality into the friendship and aviation cooperation between the two countries. The aircraft, a 17-seat Y-12, is expected to join a 52-seat MA-60 that was donated by China in July of last year to serve Tongans and boost the South Pacific island country's air transportation and tourism industry. Huang Huaguang, the Chinese ambassador to Tonga, presented a crystal key symbolizing the Y-12 to King Tupou VI on Wednesday. During the handover ceremony, Samiu Kuita Vaipulu, Tonga's deputy prime minister, expressed the Tongan government's appreciation and gratitude for this gift from the Chinese government, saying the aircraft will be put to immediate use to boost Tonga's domestic air transportation service. Huang said: "As Tonga's trustworthy friend and important partner, the Chinese government will fully support the goal set by the Tongan government to develop civil aviation and tourism, and the Chinese government is ready to provide continuous assistance to further enhance the self-development capacity of Tonga in the areas of civil aviation and tourism. "China highly values cooperation with Tonga and cherishes the friendship between our two countries. In recent years, the mutual cooperation has been greatly deepened and expanded. I am full of confidence that more fruitful results will be generated for the friendship between China and Tonga, with the kind support of (King Tupou VI) and the joint efforts of our two governments," the ambassador added. A smiling King Tupou VI, accompanied by Huang and Zhang Guangjian, executive vice-president of the Aviation Industry Corp of China International Holding Corp, experienced the new aircraft's debut flight in his kingdom. Zhang also witnessed the handover of the MA-60 on July 6, 2013, as well as the first-anniversary celebrations of the MA-60's safe operation. The king was aboard for the MA-60's maiden flight in Tonga, too. The MA-60, criticized as unsafe by some media in New Zealand and the United States, has been doing fine in Tonga. According to Zhang, the Chinese-made turboprop-powered airliner has safely flown more than 700 flight hours and has shuttled more than 18,000 passengers within Tonga. "The Y-12 will join the fleet to meet the requirements of the increasing demand of the country... (and) will cooperate with the MA-60 to contribute to Tonga's people, to tourism and even to the transportation of (the entire) South Pacific," said Zhang. A light general-purpose aircraft, the Y-12 features short takeoff and landing distances, lower operating costs and sound performance in high temperatures and highland environments. The Y-12 is widely used around the world and is known for its safety and adaptability, said a representative of Aviation Industry Corp of China, adding that in the Pacific islands region, Tonga is the fourth nation to introduce the aircraft. The three others are Fiji, Vanuatu and Kiribati. ^ top ^

Japanese military planes enter China's ADIZ: spokesman (Xinhua)
Several Japanese aircraft entered China's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea on Wednesday and carried out extensive reconnaissance, according to the Chinese Air Force. Chinese planes conducted necessary tracking and monitoring of the foreign military planes, said Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke on Thursday. The Japanese F-15 aircraft twice attempted to approach Chinese planes that were conducting a routine patrol in the ADIZ, and the Chinese planes took "reasonable, proper and restrained" measures to cope with the threat in the airspace, Shen said. The spokesman reaffirmed that the establishment of the ADIZ is a purely defensive move to safeguard national security, normal order and the safety of flights over the East China Sea. Chinese air force planes have been regularly patrolling the ADIZ since it was established in November last year and have exercised effective control over all objects flying over the zone. "The air force has carried out monitoring and identification of foreign military aircraft entering the zone and has taken corresponding measures to different threats, effectively safeguarding national air defense security," Shen said.  ^ top ^

ASEAN-China Forum on social development, poverty reduction kicks off in Myanmar (Xinhua)
The 8th ASEAN-China Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction kicked off in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar's capital, Thursday, aiming to deepen regional cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on poverty reduction. Liu Yongfu, head of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of China, told the forum that China and ASEAN countries are commonly concerned on poverty elimination in realizing the UN Millennium Development Goals. Liu added Chinese government attaches high importance to the work of poverty alleviation and development, and the work in China is currently entering into a regional development and a new phase of mutual-enhancement. U Ohn Myint, minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development of Myanmar, which is rotating chair of ASEAN, said poverty is an issue which many countries in the world are faced with, and it is also a challenge to the Southeast Asian region. He cited related statistics as saying that the poverty rate in the countryside of Southeast Asian region is 62 percent. Noting that ASEAN countries are cooperating in poverty reduction, he stressed the need for ASEAN to strengthen cooperation also with dialogue partners in this aspect. He added Myanmar is making efforts in the reduction and striving to bring down the poverty rate to 16 percent in 2015. UN Development Program Administrator Helen Clark spoke through video that China and ASEAN nations have made remarkable progress in development, poverty reduction and the improvement of the quality of basic social services. "While there is significant potential for this development progress to continue, there are also challenges we faced," she said, adding, "It is unlikely that Asia's past model of growth, heavily based on exports and manufacturing, will be sustainable indefinitely." She said the discussions at the forum contribute meaningfully to mutual understanding and to taking forward both regional and national development. Alicia dele Rosa-Bala, deputy secretary-general of the ASEAN Secretariat also stressed at the opening ceremony the need to deepen regional cooperation between ASEAN and China on poverty reduction. Focusing on the new challenges China and ASEAN nations are faced with in poverty reduction and inclusive development, the three-day forum will share new practices and experiences of respective countries and advocate new methods of deepening regional poverty reduction cooperation and push the establishment of closer cooperative partnership in the sector to enable the poor to enjoy the outcome of such regional cooperation. On the final day of the forum, delegates will conduct study in Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay where some Myanmar's poverty alleviation and development projects in agriculture and handicrafts are being implemented. The forum is hosted by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of China and the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development of Myanmar, and is organized by the International Poverty Reduction Center in China and Fisheries and Rural Department of Myanmar. Attending the forum are government officials, experts, scholars, international organizations, civil organizations, representatives of enterprises and media circle. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Xi calls for saving people's lives first after deadly quake (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping has called for saving people's lives first after a strong earthquake rattled southwest China's Yunnan Province Sunday and killed at least 175 people. In instructions issued late Sunday night, Xi ordered that authorities concerned give top priority to saving people's lives, minimize casualties and guarantee a proper settlement for quake victims. He called for all-out efforts in relief operation and strengthening aftershock monitoring to prevent secondary disasters. Premier Li Keqiang also made instructions for disaster relief, urging local authorities to try every possible means to save the injured people and those buried in rubble. He required that local authorities provide residents in quake zone with adequate food, clothes, clean drinking water, temporary shelters and timely medical treatment. In addition, Li called for ensuring unblocked telecommunication and transport of relief supplies and staff. Social order in the quake zone should also be maintained. The 6.5-magnitude quake struck at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Beijing Time) with a depth of 12 km. The epicenter was in Longtoushan Township, 23 km southwest of the county seat of Ludian, Zhaotong City. The quake has left at least 175 people dead, 1,400 others injured and 181 missing. ^ top ^

Strong faith in anti-graft: poll (Global Times)
Chinese people have more faith in China's anti-graft campaign but are less confident in the country's efforts to reduce social disparities during the next five years, a Global Times poll revealed on Monday. The poll, conducted by the Global Times Global Poll Center, surveyed 2,218 respondents from 15 Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Urumqi. According to the survey, people are most confident about China's anti-graft campaign among aspects of social development. It scored 4.01 out of five. "This is a natural result of China's recent anti-corruption campaign, which cast a huge impact on the public," Zhang Yiwu, a professor from Peking University, told the Global Times. The Communist Party of China (CPC) launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in November 2012. The campaign put six officials at provincial-level or above under probe this July alone and reached a climax last week when central authorities announced an official investigation into former security chief Zhou Yongkang, the highest-ranking official that has been probed for corruption since 1949. In comparison, people are most pessimistic about future efforts in reducing the wealth gap and social disparity, which scored 2.64 out of five. "Fighting corruption and reducing social disparities are both fundamental issues for the CPC. The Party chose to fight corruption as its top priority to ensure healthy development of the Party," Zhang Xixian, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times. "The wealth gap, on the other hand, has historic reasons and cannot be fixed in the short term. The reform and opening-up policy allowed some people to get rich first. It was necessary back then to break the pattern and to accumulate social wealth," Zhang Xixian said. Zhang added that reducing social disparities will be a key mission for Chinese authorities in the next 30 years. China has begun shifting its policies to ensure resources can be distributed more equally among different classes. The government made an unprecedented move last week to reform the dual-household registration system where people will no longer be officially classified as rural or urban dwellers and will enjoy equal access to public services such as healthcare, housing and education. The reform will likely affect the lives of some 174 million migrant workers in China, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Although a majority of Chinese people are optimistic about the prospects for China, 81.7 percent still see it as a developing country, the highest in the last five years. Some 68 percent of the respondents say China's sovereignty integrity will face threats in the next five years, among whom 13 percent say the threats will be grave. Despite the concern, 46.4 percent are confident that the Chinese military is capable of preventing China from being invaded by another world power, while 7.1 percent are pessimistic about China's military capabilities. "The threats Chinese people feel come from both Sino-US relations and China's relations with neighboring countries, including Japan and the Philippines. These relations are also interconnected, posing convoluted challenges to China's rise," said Zhang Yiwu. A majority of the respondents, 79.6 percent, believe that China is on the right path while 52.6 percent are positive that China will continue its path of socialism with Chinese characteristics despite interference from Western countries. Some 73.5 percent of respondents have confidence in China's legal system improving in the next five years. More than 65 percent say they are confident about China's overall process of democracy in the future. "The numbers indicate that Chinese people feel confident about China's long-term development even without a detailed prospect," said Zhang Yiwu. "People see problems exist in Western countries as well. China is no better than others but we have great potential," he said. Compared to similar surveys in the past three years, people are more optimistic about economic growth projections. Some 46.4 percent say the overall growth of the economy will increase annually, the highest number in four years. ^ top ^

State media warn corrupt 'tigers' might fight back (SCMP)
Academics have warned that efforts to root out graft could trigger a backlash from corrupt "tigers" who might be prepared to "fight to the end". The warning was contained in a series of articles about the anti-graft campaign written by a group of 13 academics, published on Friday in the People's Tribune, a magazine affiliated with People's Daily. The Daily carried the series on its website yesterday. "Some corrupt officials might strike back or resist the campaign as they might fight till death," said Guo Wenliang, one of the authors and a party historian with the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University. "Some might use the excuse the campaign would damage the party's image and affect social stability in their bid to influence public opinion. Some might collude with other vested interest groups to fight against the anti-graft forces," Guo said. Analysts said the unusual warning might point to strong resistance to the campaign among certain sectors. "It certainly suggests a concern among some leaders over the possible risks and repercussions from the campaign," said Zhang Lifan, a party historian formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "It might also indicate the strong resistance from some vested interest groups," Zhang added. Thirty-seven officials at the governor-ministerial level have fallen victim in President Xi Jinping's campaign to crack down on corruption. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party, has vowed to take down both "tigers" - senior corrupt officials - and "flies" - junior-rank corrupt officials. Last week, the party's decision-making Politburo announced Zhou Yongkang, a former member of its Standing Committee, was being investigated for "serious disciplinary violation" - a term often used for corruption. Some officials also fear the campaign could damage the party's image, hurt the economy or intensify power struggles among various factions within the leadership. For many members of the public, it remains to be seen whether the investigation into Zhou is a turning point in government accountability or intended merely as a warning to corrupt cadres. While most academics have expressed support for the campaign, they also argue that corruption can only be rooted out through rule of law and institutional restructuring that introduces checks and balances over the exercise of official power. "To cage the power, [we] must strengthen the internal supervision mechanism within the party and public supervision by the masses," said Li Tuo, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance. ^ top ^

Premier Li mourns quake victims, pledges efficient relief (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to arrange efficient rescue and relief for victims of the deadly earthquake that hit southwest China on Sunday. Ahead of a meeting held in a tent at the quake epicenter Monday afternoon, the premier paid silent tribute to those who died in the 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Yunnan Province. At least 410 people were killed and more than 2,300 were injured in the earthquake, according to the latest data. Li left Beijing for the quake-hit areas Monday morning. At the meeting with local officials and rescuers from the armed forces, Premier Li ordered the placement of professional rescue teams in the most needed areas and called for more medical workers to be transferred to quake-hit areas. To minimize casualties, the government will transport the seriously injured out of the quake zone as quickly as possible, Li said. All resources, including the armed forces, will be mobilized to maintain the operation of highways and transport relief materials into the quake zone, he added. The government will also make sure quarantine measures are taken in the quake zone to prevent epidemics, he said. Relief funds and materials, tents in particular, are in place, Li said, stressing that the government encourages locals to invest their own resources in finding temporary shelter. Li stressed that civilian and military rescue and relief forces should work together under the command of the local government. ^ top ^

Tencent to clean up its WeChat service amid crackdown rumours (SCMP)
Tencent will begin a fresh crackdown on fraud, pornography and "spreading rumours" on its hugely popular WeChat messaging application. The mainland technology giant would target the approximately 5.8 million public accounts on the service, it said on its own WeChat account. The statement came amid widespread speculation among mobile social-media users that a new crackdown by government censors could be looming. The internet on the mainland is under intense censorship because of government fears it could pose a threat to the Communist Party's dominance. Tencent said that about 80 suspects belonging to some 10 gangs involved in "illegal activities" had been caught by the authorities since April, when a campaign to clean up the internet was launched on the mainland. The cases involved about 25 million yuan (HK$31.5 million). More than 100 public accounts had been removed in the first half of the year, it said, adding that three accounts had been suspended for selling counterfeit products. During the April campaign, Tencent had deployed more than 200 people to examine complaints, it said. Public WeChat accounts are typically used by individuals or companies to broadcast to subscribers. They have become a major source of news for mainland users but have drawn the attention of the censors. WeChat had 396 million active users worldwide, Tencent said in its first-quarter earnings report released in May. Meanwhile, a city in Guangdong recently announced that WeChat public accounts held by individuals or organisations must be registered with the police within a month. The Zhaoqing government's move - believed to be the first of its kind by any local government - would help tighten control over the spread of rumours and illegal information on WeChat, said a joint statement by the city's public security, publicity, publishing, and industry and commerce bureaus. Existing public accounts held by individuals and organisations need to be registered with the police within 30 days of the release of the statement, which appeared on the city's government website on July 29. All future accounts must also be registered with police within 30 days of being set up. WeChat users will be forbidden from including content from any independent news reports or sharing information carried by overseas media, the statement said. ^ top ^

China court upholds death sentence for former mining tycoon (Xinhua)
A court in Central China's Hubei Province on Thursday rejected the appeal of former mining tycoon Liu Han who was sentenced to death in May. Liu Han, his brother Liu Wei and 34 other defendants were convicted of organizing, leading or participating in a mafia-style gang as well as murder in May. Both the Liu brothers and three other defendants were sentenced to death. Another five were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, four to life imprisonment and 22 to imprisonment of different terms. ^ top ^

Wife of freed rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng fears husband tortured (SCMP)
Mainland human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was released from prison yesterday, his wife said, but she believed he had been tortured in jail and voiced fears for his safety. Gao's wife, Geng He, who fled to the United States with their two children in 2009, said she managed to speak briefly to her husband on the phone last night when he was with a relative, but was unable to finish the conversation because they appeared to be under police surveillance. Geng said the only thing her husband told her was that "his teeth were in a bad way". Then the relative, who seemed to be nervous, took over the phone and said several of Gao's front upper and lower teeth were so loose that he had to tear a bread bun into pieces before eating it. "From the state of his teeth, I think we can believe he has been tortured," Geng said in a quivering voice, weeping over the phone. "If his teeth were like this, can the rest of his body be any good? "How could he have been treated like this when there is so much attention on his case?" She said Gao, 50, who is known for his spirited and charismatic personality, sounded "not quite the same" on the phone. "His voice used to be bright and sonorous, but now it sounded very flat," she said. Geng said she hoped Gao could go to the United States for medical treatment and be reunited with her and their two children, aged 21 and 11. "He is such a talented individual … Yet torture and imprisonment have ruined his life," she said. Gao's older brother, Gao Zhiyi, also confirmed his brother had been released but declined to elaborate. He had travelled thousands of miles from his hometown in Shaanxi to the far western Xinjiang region this week to meet his brother. Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, also said she feared that Gao, like other high-profile activists released from prison, would not regain genuine freedom but would be put under house arrest for years to come. Phone calls to Shaya County Prison went unanswered yesterday. Gao's lawyer's licence was revoked by the authorities in 2005 after he accused the government of persecuting members of the banned Falun Gong sect and underground Christians. He was given a suspended three-year sentence with five years' probation in December 2006 for "inciting subversion of state power". His family were also harassed frequently. Gao, who said he had been detained and tortured by police many times, was taken away by security agents in February 2009, a month after his wife and children fled to the US. He re-emerged for a few weeks in the spring of 2010, but disappeared again. In December 2011, state media reported that Gao was sent back to prison for three years for "seriously violating probation rules". He was allowed only two visits by his relatives over the past three years. ^ top ^

Human rights lawyers not above the law (Global Times)
According to some foreign media reports, Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer who was put into prison three years ago on the charge of inciting subversion of State power, was released on Thursday. He made headlines in Western media very quickly, becoming another prominent Chinese dissident. Many Western media labeled Gao a "rights lawyer," a title which is controversial in the legal world. Defending the rights of clients is what a lawyer signs up to do, and it is unnecessary to overstate it. But in reality, this title has been imbued with special meanings. All these so-called rights lawyers have clearly become politicized, because they unscrupulously put the role of government on the opposite side of the rule of law. In their mind, what rights lawyers do is delivering justice, and they are always law-abiding. Any investigation or verdict given to them can only be seen as evil. Media reports from outside China claimed that Gao had written three public letters to the Chinese leaderships, calling for the suspension of the crackdown on the cult Falun Gong. However, Gao is not well-known among the Chinese public, and there is little information about him on the Chinese Internet. But we can still draw a profile of him. Gao was given a three-year sentence but with a five-year probation. His sentence was finally executed as he violated the laws time and again before the probation ended. As a radical activist, his advocacy is not in line with the direction of China's political and legal construction. Besides, his wife and children are now living in the US. Backed by many Western forces, unlike other lawyers, his connection with Chinese society has become different. China is ramping up reform in all-out spheres, in which judicial construction is taking the lead. The philosophy of the rule of law has taken root in the Chinese public and it is applied in their daily lives. Besides the authorities and ordinary people, a large group of lawyers are making unsung contributions to this endeavor. It is a ridiculous notion to think that this handful of radical lawyers is acting as the engine to push the Chinese rule of law forward. In the human rights issue, the West is knowingly sending a minority of Chinese dissidents into the spotlight, and keeps a cynical attitude toward China's achievements in this domain. People like Gao have become a lever used by the West when it plays political games with China. Politics and the rule of law have never grown apart, and a person will sooner or later cross the red line if they are not in full compliance with the laws. That is how many "rights lawyers" become law breakers. Gao had better wise up after he rejoins society. Being a so-called human rights star in the West doesn't give him immunity from China's rule of law. As for other dissidents, they should stop being that simple and naïve, laying their hopes on the West. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive faces test at Beidaihe party meeting (SCMP)
This week's gathering of the Communist Party elite in Beidaihe will test President Xi Jinping's authority to hold the party together as senior cadres and interest groups feel the heat from his sweeping anti-corruption campaign, analysts say. The meeting of party elders and the leadership at the seaside resort for the traditional low-key gathering comes after the president reportedly acknowledged that his two-year-old drive against graft faced challenges. "The two armies of corruption and anti-corruption are in opposition and are at a stalemate," Xi said, according to state media reports earlier this week. The reports did not elaborate, but analysts and insiders suggested the widening campaign had damaged interest groups with links to some of the party elite, and Xi had clearly realised that it was make-or-break time in the fight against them. Renmin University political science professor Zhang Ming said the situation was complicated, and different parties might hit back in Beidaihe. Zhang said the anti-graft campaign would dominate the informal summit, as leaders were expected to discuss how far the crusade would go, or if any "bigger tigers" would be caught. "I think the announcement [last week of the formal investigation into former security chief] Zhou Yongkang suggested that Xi did not want to discuss the case at the meeting, but move forward on other possible major corruption cases and issues," he said. "At the centre is what kind of rule of law the leaders want." Last week, the Politburo said the annual plenary session in October of the party's 205-member decision-making Central Committee would discuss ways to advance the rule of law. It also announced an investigation into Zhou, who retired from the Politburo Standing Committee in 2012 and is the most senior official to be brought down by graft in modern history. Xi broke an unwritten rule that incumbent and retired Standing Committee members were immune from corruption investigations, intensifying speculation that some affected political groups were trying to challenge his authority. Jonathan Holslag, research fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, said Xi's biggest challenge was that he was becoming isolated. "Business leaders are losing patience with his economic policies. The military complains about being stripped of some of its privileges. The party is getting increasingly plagued by distrust and the public is starting to feel that the easy times are over." One aim of the Beidaihe summit was to reduce behind-the-scenes power struggles and reunite the party under Xi ahead of the annual plenary session, the analysts said. Steve Tsang, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said: "This is meant to deliver a powerful, effective and efficient Leninist party, to enable Xi to introduce the reforms he feels essential to secure the 'China Dream' of promoting a rich and powerful China under the leadership of the party and himself. "Whether this process of unrelentingly reinforcing the power of the party will gather a momentum of its own, so much so that it just keeps going, is an open question," Tsang added. ^ top ^

China will create own Christian belief system amid tensions with church, says official (SCMP)
China will construct a "Chinese Christian theology" suitable for the country, state media reported on Thursday, as both the number of believers and tensions with the authorities are on the rise. China has between 23 million and 40 million Protestants, accounting for 1.7 to 2.9 per cent of the total population, the state-run China Daily said, citing figures given at a seminar in Shanghai. About 500,000 people are baptised as Protestants every year, it added. "Over the past decades, the Protestant churches in China have developed very quickly with the implementation of the country's religious policy," the paper quoted Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, as saying. "The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China's national condition and integrate with Chinese culture." China's ruling Communist Party is officially atheistic and keeps a tight grip on religion for fear it could challenge its grip on power. It requires believers to worship in places approved by the state and under government supervision. Besides officially sanctioned churches, China also has "underground" or "house" churches which seek to exist outside government control and are occasionally raided and shut down. In April, authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou, known as China's Jerusalem, with more than a million Christians, demolished a church following government claims it was an illegal structure. Though a registered church, state media reported that the building was far larger than originally approved. "Over the past years, China's Protestantism has become one of the fastest growing universal churches," Gao Feng, president of the China Christian Council, was quoted as saying in the China Daily report. It did not include a number for Catholics in China, who must also worship only in officially sanctioned churches which reject the Vatican's authority, though an "underground" church loyal to the Holy See also exists. Experts estimate that there are as many as 12 million Catholics in China, split roughly evenly between the two churches. As of the end of last year, China had published 65 million copies of the Bible, the report said, including minority-language editions. ^ top ^

Top economic planning agency officials sent on anti-corruption educational tours of prisons (SCMP)
More than 200 officials at China's top economic planning agency with jobs believed most vulnerable to corruption have been sent on educational tours of prisons where convicted officials are serving sentences. China's anti-corruption watchdog reported that three teams of officials from China's National Development and Reform Commission visited the cells, meeting rooms and canteens at both Beijing Prison and Yancheng Prison. The tours are part of an anti-corruption drive, said a news bulletin issued by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) on Tuesday. Beijing Prison is Beijing Municipal government's “anti-corruption educational base”, while Yancheng Prison, in Hebei, comes under the authority of China's Ministry of Justice. Former officials that are now inmates at the two prisons spoke to the visitors about how they became corrupted, the pain they have experienced after being jailed and the harm it has inflicted on their families and other relatives, the news bulletin said. The visitors had left the prisons “in a state of shock”, with many of them saying the tour had proved a vivid warning against corruption, the report said. Following the tour, the officials now realised the importance of remaining “clear-headed” when in positions of authority where it was possible to be corrupted, it said. The newspaper Beijing Youth Daily reported that many government ministries have organised tours of the two prisons since the Communist Party's 18th Party Congress, in 2012, at which Xi Jinping was appointed General Secretary. The Finance Ministry, Ministry of Science and Technology and China National Tourism Administration are among those that have sent officials to Beijing Prison for anti-corruption education, while officials at the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology have been sent on tours at Yancheng Prison. Nearly 340,000 officials have visited Beijing Prison since the anti-corruption educational tours began in 2008, said an article published on CCDI's website last August. Beijing Prison can accept up to 150 officials on the anti-corruption tour each day, Beijing Youth Daily said. ^ top ^

China quake toll rises to 615 (Xinhua)
The death toll has risen to 615, four days after a powerful earthquake devastated parts of southwest China's Yunnan Province, local authorities said on Thursday. Among the reported deaths, 526 were in Ludian County and 76 in Qiaojia County. The quake also caused one death in Zhaotong City and another 12 in Huize County. In addition to the deaths, 114 people are missing and 3,143 were injured, 343 of whom are in a critical condition. More than 80,000 houses collapsed and 129,100 were damaged. A total of 229,700 people have been evacuated. According to the provincial civil affairs department, Yunnan has accepted more than 332 million yuan of monetary donations (about 54 million U.S. dollars) and supplies worth over 100 million yuan. A total 1,129 rescuers have been sent to the quake zone, 366 of whom are epidemic prevention personnel. High temperature and lack of medicines have complicated the post-disaster epidemic control, according to a health official. "We collect 14 water samples in the quake zone, which show high risk of enteric infectious disease," said Xu Heping of the provincial health department. The 6.5-magnitude earthquake, the strongest to strike Yunnan in 14 years, occurred at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Beijing Time) with its epicenter in Longtoushan Township, Ludian County in Zhaotong City, affecting over 1.08 million people in the cities of Zhaotong and Qujing. ^ top ^



Smoggy Beijing to ban coal use (Xinhua)
Beijing will ban coal sales and use in its six main districts and other regions by the end of 2020 to cut air pollution, local authorities said on Monday. According to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, the districts of Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan will stop using coal and its related products, and close coal-fired power plants and other coal facilities. Clean energy like electricity and natural gas will replace coal to serve residents in heating, cooking and other activities, the bureau said. The move is a part of the capital's plan to optimize energy structure and improve air quality. Motor vehicles, coal burning, industrial production and dust account for 31.1 percent, 22.4 percent, 18.1 percent and 14.3 percent of Beijing's PM 2.5 respectively. These airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter are blamed for Beijing's smog. According to official statistics, coal use accounted for 25.4 percent of the capital's energy consumption in 2012. The figure is expected to shrink to less than 10 percent by 2017. Other high-pollution fuels, such as fuel oil, petroleum coke, combustible waste and some biomass fuel will be also banned, the bureau said. The Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area will take the lead in giving up using high-pollution fuels by the end of this year. Other areas will gradually follow suit. ^ top ^

Checks on foreigners stepped up in Beijing (China Daily)
Immigration officers in Beijing have intensified inspections of foreigners as an increasing number have started to use China to enter third countries illegally. Ji Lixia, assistant head of the Beijing office of China Immigration Inspection, said the number of foreigners being sent back to their home countries has continued to rise in the past three years, but he declined to give an exact figure or the growth rate, citing confidentiality. Some reports have said that about 200 foreigners were returned to their home countries last year after attempting to enter China without proper documentation. Since Jan 1, 2013, many Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have launched a 72-hour visa-free policy for visitors from some overseas countries who have valid air tickets to a third country. Most of the foreigners sent home are from developing countries or regions troubled by war and they were returned for staying in China illegally or for disturbing public order, Ji said. One couple from a war-torn Middle Eastern country was repatriated two months ago. Zhang Helong, a police officer at the immigration office, said, "They made fake visas and were aiming to use China as a transit country to flee to northern Europe." Two Iranians on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, used fake passports and were trying to enter Europe through Malaysia and Beijing. Job opportunities in China are also attracting many foreigners who do not want to leave when their documents expire. Zhang cited a case he handled in July. "The foreigner was from a developed country and he worked as a teacher at a Chinese kindergarten. When his contract expired, the kindergarten didn't rehire him and wasn't in charge of his visa anymore," Zhang said. "He altered his visa to stay here, but was investigated when he left the country for an emergency," he added. ^ top ^



Post-'90 tourists flocking to Tibet (China Daily)
Every July and August, Pemashung, the sales manager of the Tibet Postal Hotel, sees many tourists from different cities gathering in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region. That period, the best for sightseeing, is the peak season for Tibet's tourism industry. Pemashung has noticed that the so-called "post-'90" generation - people born in the 1990s - has become the main force of this army of tourists. "There is a sharp growth in the number of young visitors since July. More than 50 percent of the tourists are post-'90 generation," said Pemashung. "They want to experience Tibetan culture." Lhasa has replaced Lijiang in Yunnan province as the most popular tourist destination for the post-'90 generation during summer vacation., a leading travel search engine, surveyed young travelers born after 1990, who account for the majority of the country's tourists during July and August. The survey found that Lhasa ranked first as a travel destination among those travelers. Gao Xing, general manager of the vacation department at Qunar, said Lijiang had been the most popular choice among the post-'90 generation for a long time. This is the first time that Lhasa has surpassed Lijiang. "With the development of transportation and the tourism industry, visiting Tibet is getting much easier," said Gao. "Besides, some legendary tour stories of young travelers helped to promote Tibet among young people. They think it is challenging, they think it is fun, and they think it is something they have to do when they are still young." The majority of the post-'90 generation are still students. And this generation has its own tour style. "Except for the rich kids who like fancy hotels and first-class flights, most post-'90s tourists choose to ride to Lhasa as part of a big package," said Xu Bin, founder of, a website that provides information on travel to Tibet. Pemashung echoed this and said most of these tourists spent very little on accommodations. "They will stay in small family hotels, which only cost 30 to 50 yuan for a bed, and have dinners at cheap restaurants." Li Xiaohong, a merchant from a souvenir market at Lhasa, said many of these young travelers will choose to take part-time jobs and even conduct small business affairs during their sightseeing to cover the expenses. "They tend to stay for a long time, like one or two months," said Li. "They will buy a large amount of cheap souvenirs and sell them at a busy crossroads at Lhasa or even online." ^ top ^

Chinese President stresses better transport for Tibet (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping has called for improvements to transport infrastructure in Tibet Autonomous Region to boost the high-altitude region's development. Marking the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Sichuan-Tibet and Qinghai-Tibet highways, Xi called the projects a miracle in road history. "The two highways have played a vital role in Tibet's social system, economic and social development, as well as consolidating the southwest frontiers and promoting national unity," noted Xi in a written comment, which was made public on Wednesday. The two roads, stretching 4,360 kilometers in total, were build in extremely harsh conditions with many technical challenges, Xi said, calling for authorities to keep true to that same spirit and inject more vitality to the transport system in Tibet. In past decades, the government has spent relentlessly on highways in Tibet, investing 9.7 billion yuan (1.6 billion U.S. dollars). By the end of 2013, there were 48,678 kilometers of highway in Tibet. In a guideline released last month, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said highways in the autonomous region would reach 110,000 kilometers by 2020. The authorities plans to make sure that by then, every village in Tibet has at least one road connecting with the outside. China also aims to complete a primary network of railways by 2020 with 1,300 kilometers of rails in operation. The country will build more airports in Tibet. To that end, the MOT will beef up support to the construction of transport infrastructures in Tibet and make specific plans to ensure the accomplishment of these targets. ^ top ^



Xinjiang vows unceasing terror crackdown (Global Times)
Xinjiang authorities revealed details of the Shache county terror attack on July 28 in a Saturday meeting chaired by its Party chief, putting the death toll at 96 and calling for a resolute crackdown to eradicate terrorists believed to be linked to overseas masterminds. In one of the largest attacks since the July 5 riot in 2009, extremists in Shache, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region attacked civilians, police stations and government offices on July 28, authorities announced. According to news portal, a website administered by the Xinjiang government, police gunned down 59 terrorists and arrested 215 others in the attack on July 28 in Shache, Kashi prefecture. A total of 37 civilians, including 35 ethnic Hans and two Uyghurs, were killed by terrorists in the attack. Thirteen were reportedly injured, the regional government said after a meeting on Saturday presided over by Zhang Chunxian, head of the regional committee of the Communist Party of China. It was not reported whether the police had suffered any casualties. The attack, which was preceded by a large-scale police crackdown in Hotan and followed by the brutal murder of a respected imam in Kashi, signals the fight against terrorism has reached a decisive stage, analysts said. Xinjiang authorities said masked militants armed with knives and axes attacked police stations and government offices in Elixku township early on the morning of July 28 and were fought off by law enforcement. The extremists also set up roadblocks at multiple sites on the Bachu-Shache road, stopping vehicles before slashing passengers indiscriminately and forcing civilians to join them in the terror attack, Xinhua reported. Thirty-one vehicles were smashed and six were burned. Two government officials from a nearby township, who were Uyghur, were murdered after they allegedly criticized extremists for their terror activity. Police have identified Nuramat Sawut from Elixku township as the mastermind behind the attack. Sawut allegedly had close connections with the terrorist organization East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and had been spreading separatism and religious extremism thoughts through audio and video materials since 2013. Xinjiang authorities said Sawut and his group had had multiple gatherings in remote places since the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, during which they plotted the attack and prepared tools for their violent acts. It was reported that police had confiscated jihad-themed banners along with machetes and axes during the attack. "The scale of the incident is the largest in recent years in terms of the number of terrorists arrested. It shows that the conflicts between anti-terrorism forces and terrorists are becoming more fierce and confrontational as terrorists grew increasingly desperate," Pan Zhiping, director of the Institute of Central Asia at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. His opinion was echoed by Xu Jianying, a research fellow with the Research Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "We are still closely following the situation to see whether this attack is a turning point [in Xinjiang's anti-terrorism movement]," Xu said. The Shache attack came a day after a police hunt in which some 30,000 residents in southern Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture joined police forces to locate terrorists, China Central Television reported on Saturday. Nine terrorists were eventually gunned down and one was arrested. It was reported that more than 70 local residents have provided tip-offs to facilitate the operation. Authorities have offered 4.23 million yuan ($685,000) in cash rewards to those who helped hunt the terrorist group, Xinhua reported. The Shache attack was also followed by the murder of Jume Tahir, the 74-year-old imam of Kashi's Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in Xinjiang, two days later. Tahir had openly criticized terror activities and called for Muslims to stay away from extremist paths. Analysts believed that Tahir's murder was used to spread fear among Uyghur people and to isolate them from local government. ^ top ^

Xinjiang offers cash rewards for those hunting terrorists (Xinhua)
Authorities in far west China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have announced that more than 300 million yuan (about 48 million U.S. dollars) would be offered in cash rewards to those who helped hunt suspected terrorists. More than 10,000 officials and local residents attended an award ceremony held in Hotan Prefecture Sunday, the first batch of the rewards. Altogether 4.23 million yuan were offered at the ceremony to local residents for their bravery in hunting a group of 10 suspected terrorists. Six people who offered key tip-offs leading to the location of the suspected terrorists were given 100,000 yuan each. More individuals and government agencies received cash rewards. The terrorist group was identified by police on July 27. Local civilians volunteered to help the police in tracking down the suspects. At 12:15 a.m. Friday, locals found the suspects in a corn field in Purgakqi Township of Karakax County. With the help of more than 30,000 volunteers, officers chased the suspects to an abandoned house, where they resisted arrest by throwing explosives into the crowd. Police fired back and shot dead nine and captured one. ^ top ^

Uygur scholar Ilham Tohti accused of leading group of students in trying to split Chinese state (SCMP)
Outspoken Uygur academic Ilham Tohti has been accused of leading a group of seven students in trying to split the Chinese state, his lawyer said. Tohti was formally charged with separatism and may face at least 10 years in jail if convicted, his lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said today following a three-hour meeting with Tohti on Tuesday. The former economics professor at a Beijing university has insisted he has always been opposed to all kinds of ethnic hatred and the secession of the Xinjiang autonomous region from the country. A conviction of separatism on the mainland could be punishable by death, but prosecutors in the region's capital of Urumqi have charged him with an offence that carries a sentence of life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of at least 10 years, Liu said. “Tohti's defence remains that he was simply an intellectual who was a Uygur and concerned about society, especially problems about Xinjiang,” he said. “He thinks expressing his own views on the issues was not unusual, and had nothing to do with separatism,” Liu said. Prosecutors announced a week ago that Tohti had been formally charged with separatism, following his detention in mid-January, which sparked renewed international calls for his release. The case has attracted high-level concern in the United States and European Union and is seen by rights groups as part of China's crackdown on dissent in Xinjiang, where tension between Uygurs and the majority Han Chinese has led to outbreaks of violence. “We thought he might face a death sentence, but the prosecutor did not charge him under Article 113, which carries a death sentence,” Liu said. “It shows they don't not have enough evidence for that.” Prosecutors have charged Tohti with an offence under Article 103, which targets ringleaders and others who organise, plot or carry out a scheme to split the state or undermine the unity of the country; Article 113 targets those who endanger national security. Tohti has been charged with leading a group of seven other university students. Some of them were Tohti's students, Liu said after being shown the charge sheet. “He was in good spiritual health when we met him yesterday, although he has visibly lost a lot of weight,” he said. Another defence lawyer, Li Fangping, also attended the meeting. The two lawyers' were unable to obtain a full copy of the charge sheet because officials told them the relevant officers were away, Liu said. Tohti had shown them the charge sheet, and they would prepare his defence once they had received a copy, he said. Six other people, accused of drug offences and theft, were held in the same room, Liu said. Tohti has been a vocal critic of the government's policies towards the Muslim Uygur minority, who are concentrated in Xinjiang. The move to file charges against him comes as the authorities carry out a crackdown following a series of violent attacks, which Beijing has blamed on religious extremists and “terrorists” seeking independence for Xinjiang. The violence has grown more frequent during the past year and has even spilled outside the vast, resource-rich region. A knife attack at Kunming railway station in Yunnan Province left 29 people dead and 143 injured on March 1, only four days before the Communist Party's annual parliamentary sessions. A suicide bombing killed 39 people at a market in Urumqi in May. About 100 people died when knife-wielding attackers carried out attacks in two towns in the south of the region late last month, state media said. Among those killed were 59 “terrorists”, who were shot dead by police, state media said. ^ top ^

Xinjiang villagers condemn terror ringleader (Global Times)
Villagers in Shache county, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, have spoken out to condemn the man who allegedly led a terror attack on July 28 that killed 37 civilians, and have expressed support for the crackdown on terrorism. Qasim Hushur, the imam of a mosque in Elixku township, Shache county of Kashgar prefecture, said Nuramat Sawut had committed an unforgivable crime. The imam said Sawut was a quiet man and villagers did not expect he would do such things, the Xinjiang Daily reported Wednesday. The Xinhua News Agency reported that Sawut incited hundreds of people armed with knives and axes to attack government offices and a police station in the early morning of July 28. They killed a total of 37 civilians and injured another 13, and also smashed 31 vehicles and burned six. Police shot 59 terrorists dead and arrested another 215 during the violent attack. A villager in Shache said that Sawut used to be the imam of a mosque but was removed from the position in 2008. No one supported him because his religious knowledge was too shallow and he neither respected senior citizens nor cared about children, the villager said. Other villagers said he had no friends and only got along with his three brothers, who participated in this terror attack. He even used a fake name, the Xinjiang Daily reported. Sawut was reported to have had close connections with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. Police said he had been gathering people under the cover of Ramadan meals in July, to prepare terrorist activities. Chinese Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun vowed to crack down on terrorists during his third inspection tour to Xinjiang on August 1 to 4. Guo said the crackdown "should reach every village and household." Authorities on Wednesday offered a 750,000 yuan ($121,706) reward for 87 individuals and 10 collectives in Xinhe county, Akesu Prefecture, who contributed to the arrest of the mobs. A year-long anti-terror campaign was launched in May. In June, 32 gangs were busted, 380 suspects apprehended and 315 people convicted. ^ top ^



Top Hong Kong officer defends police right to free expression (SCMP)
Police officers had the same rights to freedom of expression as ordinary citizens - but with "restrictions", an assistant commissioner said yesterday. Cheung Tak-keung was responding to the issue of the required political neutrality of police officers and whether signing the anti-Occupy Central campaign would conflict with their code of conduct. When asked on a radio programme whether police were allowed to sign, Cheung said he "[did] not see any problem" with an off-duty officer voicing his opposition to law-breaking behaviour. "Police officers enjoy the same right of freedom of expression as ordinary citizens do, but their freedom comes with restrictions," Cheung said, referring to Police General Orders. The orders say officers shall not take part in political activities, and "at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of duties, or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst... the public that it may so interfere." Cheung's comments came as pan-democratic lawmakers lodged a petition on Friday urging Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung to clarify whether some officers, by signing the anti-Occupy campaign, had breached their code of conduct. Occupy Central organisers warn they will paralyse the city's business district if the government fails to give people "genuine" universal suffrage to elect their leader in 2017. James To Kun-sun, vice-chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel, said officers, especially senior ones, should not express views in a high-profile manner that would make the public feel they would be unfair or biased in enforcing the law. He urged those in the higher ranks to clarify the issue to frontline officers. Meanwhile, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy launched an online platform for its anti-Occupy signature campaign yesterday. The campaign began on July 19 and will end on August 17. The campaign requires those signing to provide a full identity card number, although organisers admit having no measures to guard against repeat signing. By 10.30pm yesterday, 12,067 names had been gathered online, and 1.05 million names at physical stations. Executive Councillor Bernard Chan said he had signed for the campaign, noting that Occupy was not the best way to fight for universal suffrage. ^ top ^



Macao sees big drop in revenue, hit by anti-extravagance crackdown (Global Times)
In June, Macao, the only place in China where gambling is allowed, saw a monthly gross revenue drop in its gaming industry for the first time since 2009, according to data from Macao Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. With the central government's severe anti-corruption and anti-extravagant official spending campaign still ongoing, Macao's monthly revenue growth had already started to slow down in March. Due to the campaign, a series of high-spending businesses nationwide, such as high-end restaurants, have struggled and made plans for change. As such, Macao may also have to prepare for its economic transformation. Mainland residents have been able to travel individually to Macao since 2003 and they soon replaced visitors from Hong Kong to become the majority customers in Macao's casinos. In the first quarter of this year, mainland visitors made up two-thirds of tourists in Macao, being the driving engine for Macao's tourism revenue. These rich mainland customers are highly favored by casinos because they are generous and risk-taking. A croupier at a Macao casino said she does not like foreign customers since "they are kind of stingy." Foreign customers regard gaming as entertainment but Chinese customers play to win money. Zeng Zhonglu, president of Asian Pacific Association for Gambling Studies, said the gamblers mainly consist of males between 30 and 49. A staff member named Fang working in a casino's VIP hall told Caixin magazine that Macao's gaming industry is a barometer of the mainland's economy and politics. In the past 20 years, customers from Hong Kong were the majority in the first five years, then officials from the mainland in the following 10 years, and finally mainland businessmen from real estate and investment industries became the mainstay in the last five years. Hua, a local gambling intermediary, said he has witnessed high-rollers bribe mainland officials at casinos. These wealthy gamblers usually gave gambling chips to officials, say, worth 10 million yuan ($1.6 million), and if the official won, he could take away the money and regard the money as a gift, he said, noting it is much better than giving bribes directly. The anti-corruption campaign in the mainland has had a massive influence on the VIP business of Macao's casinos and some officials now play bets on phones now, Fang said. Making bets on the phone is called "under-table-gambling," and its bets are usually several times more than above-the-table gambling. In accordance with the central government's campaign against corruption, the Macao government also launched rules to manage the gaming industry. In 2003, mainland residents were allowed to stay seven days in Macao for transit purposes without a Macao visa before going to foreign countries, but many of them did the transit stay without going abroad. Around 2.63 million tourists with Chinese passports stayed in Macao for transit in 2013, but 80 percent did not leave for overseas destinations afterward, Macao's official data showed. (...). However, it may not be an obstacle for VIP gamblers who usually have multiple passports, an anonymous casino intermediary said. (...). Moreover, China UnionPay, a State-owned bankcard association, started an investigation in March against illegal money withdrawals using bankcards. Media reports said in June that all mainland UnionPay bankcards would be banned in Macao's casinos and all point-of-sales (POS) machines would also be prohibited from July 1. (...). Macao's gaming revenue stood at 27.2 billion patacas ($0.18 billion) in June, a 3.7 percent year-on-year drop and 15.9 percent lower than that in May, official data showed. (...) Macao's gaming industry also faces new competitors such as Singapore and the Philippines which have legalized gambling and built casinos in recent years. (...) "Diversification of economic structure is extremely crucial for Macao," Wang told Caixin magazine. Pansy Ho, Macao "gambling king" Stanley Ho's daughter and chairman of MGM China Holdings, said in July that Macao should reduce its reliance on gambling and seek development in other fields. Due to its limited land and resources, Macao's diversification should take the gaming industry as a center and develop sightseeing, dining and shopping to become a complete resort city, Wang said. ^ top ^



Scores dead in huge factory explosion caused by dust in Jiangsu (SCMP)
A total of 71 people were killed and 186 injured in a huge explosion at a Taiwanese-owned factory in Jiangsu yesterday. Initial investigations indicated that sparks had ignited dust at the car wheel polishing plant in Kunshan, 50km west of Shanghai, at 7.37am, CCTV said. The factory is owned by the Taiwanese company Zhongrong Plating, it said. It broadcast images of black smoke billowing from the low-rise factory building, with the injured lying on makeshift wooden beds and being loaded onto trucks and ambulances. "The scene is a mess, it's unrecognisable," one person claiming to be a witness wrote on Sina Weibo. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang called for "all efforts" to be made in the rescue and treatment of victims. Relevant authorities were urged to strengthen workplace safety standards. Kunshan hospital staff said they had admitted more than a hundred victims, mostly suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. They had requested help from major hospitals in Shanghai, and had asked residents to donate blood at temporary collection points. Zhongrong Plating employs 450 workers and counts General Motors and other US firms among its clients. More than 200 employees were working overtime when the blast happened, Kunshan authorities said. Police had detained five company executives, Xinhua reported. The cause of the explosion is still being investigated but an accumulation of flammable metallic dust in the air may have come into contact with live sparks, the Kunshan government said. Such explosions have become rare in modern factories equipped with ventilation systems. "I find it hard to believe that so many lives were lost. This is an old industrial town. We have not seen anything so deadly," said the owner of a restaurant near the scene of the disaster. "It was not the kind of huge blast that shattered glasses or threw you off your bed. Many people living nearby were not sure they had heard it." A pharmacy worker who lived nearby did not hear the blast. "I learned the news from my mobile phone. I went to the factory to see if I could help but the police and government rescuers were already there keeping people away," he said, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. "The factory seemed to be a mess inside, with lots of smoke, but almost everything outside remained intact. The death toll was high probably because the destructive force was confined to a narrow space." ^ top ^

Mainland negotiator calls on Taiwan to honor controversial trade pact (Global Times)
A Chinese mainland negotiator has called on Taiwanese to respect the authority of a cross-Straits trade pact at the first meeting of the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Committee (ECC) since student protests against the pact in Taiwan. Zheng Lizhong, executive vice president of the Chinese mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), said on Tuesday that the obstruction of cross-Straits negotiations by some Taiwanese should not be allowed to hamper negotiations over the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in 2010. Zheng was speaking at the sixth regular meeting of the ECC, which was attended by a Taiwanese delegation led by Chang Hsien-yao, vice chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). Student protests against the ECFA began on March 18 and lasted for about a month. The students fear the pact, which aims to open up 80 of the mainland's service sectors to Taiwan and 64 Taiwan sectors to the mainland, could lead to mainland workers taking jobs in Taiwan and mainland investors dominating key local industries like telecommunications and media. Zheng said the protests have had a negative impact on mutual trust between the ARATS and SEF, the two bodies respectively authorized by the mainland and Taiwan to handle cross-Straits negotiations and the signing of agreements. The Chinese mainland will continue its efforts to institutionalize cross-Strait economic cooperation, adopt practical measures to boost cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation, and demonstrate its good will and sincerity to seek benefits for both sides, according to Zheng. Chang called on both sides across the Taiwan Straits to cherish the hard-won peace and tackle global economic challenges together. To cope with the difficulties brought about by regional economic integration, Zheng said, it is imperative for the Chinese mainland and Taiwan to cooperate economically. He urged negotiators to understand each others' stances when advancing the ECFA follow-up negotiations. Zheng also called for enhanced communication via the ECC to facilitate cooperation between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. ^ top ^



PBC to cut lending costs (Global Times)
The key for China to push down the funding cost for small businesses is to have budget control on some local government borrowings, an expert said Sunday. The comment was made after China's central bank said Friday that it will keep its monetary policy stable and strive to lower the financing cost to spur the economy. The central bank will ensure continuity and stability in its monetary policy, the People's Bank of China (PBC), the central bank, said in a quarterly credit policy report. Compared with the policy report for the first quarter, the PBC laid emphasis on "taking multiple measures simultaneously to lower the financing cost in the economy," echoing a recent announcement by the State Council. A State Council meeting on July 23 chaired by Premier Li Keqiang said that it would launch 10 measures to ease the funding burden for small businesses including reining the unreasonably high lending rates. The weighted average lending rate offered to non-financial enterprises and other sectors was 6.96 percent in June, down 0.22 percentage points from March, but the problems of financing difficulties and high funding costs for small firms have become more obvious, according to the central bank. Small firms' difficulties in securing loans and high costs of credit reflect a structural problem in cascading the central bank's monetary policy, Liu Xiao, a senior analyst at Beijing-based Anbound Consulting, told the Global Times on Sunday. In the absence of a credit rating system for small businesses, banks often charge a higher rate to small firms when they agree to give loans, he noted. And banks are reluctant more than ever to grant loans to small and micro-sized firms during the economic slowdown due to the fear of piling up bad debts, analysts said. By the end of June, the nonperforming loan (NPL) ratio of commercial banks reached 1.08 percent, up 0.08 percentage points from the beginning of this year, with the addition of NPLs worth 102.4 billion yuan ($16.65 billion), the China Banking Regulatory Commission said in July. The relatively high financing cost is also driven by a high level of corporate debt which pushed up their refinancing needs, demand for large loans by less efficient enterprises which diverted funds that could have gone to smaller firms, and inadequate funding channels from the stock market, according to the PBC. Because of previous credit expansion, China now has a high corporate debt ratio to its GDP. Chinese corporations owed $14.2 trillion at the end of 2013, which exceeded the outstanding corporate debts of $13.1 trillion in the US, rating agency S&P said in June. The key to push down the funding cost for small businesses is to have budget control on some local government borrowings which diverted lending resources away from smaller firms, and boost the establishment of privately funded banks and creative financial institutions to cater to the unmet needs, Liu remarked. China's banking regulator has approved on July 25 the establishment of three new banks wholly funded by private firms including Internet company Tencent Holdings and Zhejiang Huafon Spandex. The PBC report also showed an increasing concern over rising inflation and faster expansion of credit, therefore the bank might slow down the policy easing in the future, Xu Gao, chief economist of Everbright Securities, wrote in a research note on Sunday. China's broad money supply M2 grew by 14.7 percent year-on-year by the end of June, up 2.6 percentage points compared to the end of March, indicating abundant liquidity. ^ top ^

Innovation, unique business models help Chinese IT startups thrive: entrepreneurs (Xinhua)
Innovation and unique business models help Internet and Information Technology (IT) startups to survive and thrive in today's fierce market competition, Internet and IT professionals told Xinhua in a recent interview. As once young entrepreneurs like Ding Lei and Ma Huateng, who started their companies amid the tide of Internet startups in the 1990s at their 30s, become IT tycoons in China, their stories are encouraging a new generation of Internet startups which are trying their best to find their place in today's fierce market. "It's hard for small Internet startups to survive in the market, " said Witman Hung, president of Hong Kong's Internet Professional Association. "A unique business model is crucial. However, it is difficult for a company to get its business model patented, which will often result in the company being acquired by a giant IT company or its model being copied by competitors," Hung said. While a special business model and an innovation team can help a company win over others at an initial stage, Hung said marketing is also crucial if it wants to attract customers in the long run. Meanwhile, Hung said venture companies prefer to put their investment on fledging Internet companies from the Chinese mainland rather than Hong Kong because of the enormous market behind them, "The more input, the more returns," he noted. Beijing-based Internet startup China Binary, which made its initial public offering last year in Hong Kong, attracted investors' eyes after its business model became clearer several years after it came into operation. "Small Internet companies like us have to escape from the shadow of those BATs (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) if we want to survive in the mainland," said Sun Jiangtao, chief executive officer of the company. Sun said the company mainly provides online transaction services, facilitating transactions between online game operators and online game users, and offers mobile top-up services to mobile subscribers. All services operate in their independent "Shenzhoufu " system. "We combine different users with various requirements through our system, and now we are focusing on digital technology researching and marketing. We will dig more gold from it," said Sun, while echoing Hung's view that a special business model is the key if an Internet startup wants to avoid being acquired by BATs. Kenny Qian, vice president of Hong Kong-based phone apps solution company Cherrypicks, told Xinhua that the company encourages its staff to be sensitive to the world's current trends, especially the latest IT and Internet innovations. Cherrypicks is well-known for its IT innovation and has won awards worldwide. "Whenever we are to develop a brand new product, we try to avoid duplication in technology. We also create an open working environment for our staff, encouraging them to go outside and broaden their visions," said Qian. "An Internet or IT startup should always be ready to adjust to the ever-changing market, and a clear positioning and a long-time strategic plan is vital for the beginners," he said. ^ top ^

Mercedes, BMW face China price-fixing probe as automaker investigation spreads (SCMP)
Mainland authorities could slap fines on carmakers Audi and Chrysler as the latest anti-monopoly crackdown widens to Mercedes-Benz and forces foreign manufacturers to cut prices. Nine antitrust officers from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) raided the Shanghai office of German premium carmaker Mercedes-Benz on Monday morning, according to the English-language Twitter account of Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily. The officers met Mercedes-Benz executives and checked staff computers, the People's Daily said. "We confirm that we are assisting the authorities in their investigation," Senol Bayrak, China spokesman for Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, told the South China Morning Post. "We are unable to comment further on what is an ongoing matter." The NDRC confirmed that German luxury brand Audi and American carmaker Chrysler had indulged in monopoly practices by together setting vehicle maintenance and spare parts prices, the official China News Service said yesterday. The two manufacturers could face fines and the authorities were also collecting evidence on possible monopoly practices by German carmaker BMW, the report said. Only a day before the raid, Daimler said it would cut prices of spare parts for Mercedes-Benz models on the mainland by an average 15 per cent from next month. Audi last week also slashed prices for its spare parts, after its British rival Jaguar Land Rover reduced prices for three popular models in response to the NDRC investigation. Responding to the Post, Audi reiterated an earlier statement saying: "As a premium market leader Audi has made the price adjustments proactively. Audi and its joint venture FAW-Volkswagen support the efforts of the NDRC to examine the pricing in the after-sales area in China." Chrysler did not reply to inquiries by the Post. Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consulting firm Automotive Foresight, said the NDRC probe would pressure foreign carmakers, which have been selling luxury cars for at least three times the price of other markets such as the US. "Foreign carmakers are expected to slash prices of car models as well as spare parts and after sales services. This is good for Chinese customers," he said. Enforcement of the anti-monopoly law, which was enacted in 2008, has become more frequent in recent months. Last week, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce said it was investigating whether US technology giant Microsoft had violated anti-monopoly laws. Deng Zhisong, a partner at Beijing's Dacheng Law Office, said the latest crackdown on foreign carmakers showed that the authorities were paying increasing attention to the higher prices that mainland companies and consumers were charged. "With more experience accumulated over the past six years and the anti-monopoly law having become more mature, the mainland authorities are expected to expand the scope of anti-monopoly investigations to more areas," he said. ^ top ^

China to continue targeted monetary policy (Xinhua)
China's central bank said on Wednesday that it will continue to implement a targeted approach in monetary policy in the second half of 2014 and shore up weak links in the economy. More financial support will be provided to rural areas and small businesses to reduce their financing costs, according to a statement on the website of the People's Bank of China. It said it will accelerate work to establish a deposit insurance scheme in the coming months. The statement came after a meeting between the central bank governor and heads of the bank's branches across the country to review monetary policy in the first half and map out policies for the second. The central bank also said it will strengthen monitoring of financial risks in key sectors and industries, and handle the risks in a timely manner to prevent regional and systemic risks. ^ top ^

Foreign trade up in China's central, western regions (China Daily)
Central and western provinces in China saw a relatively high increase in imports and exports despite the decline in country's foreign trade in the first half of this year. Total trade volume of the 18 provinces in the regions reached 1,600 billion yuan ($259 billion), a year-on-year increase of 17.5 percent, according to the country's General Administration of Customs. Foreign trade in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, for instance, maintained rapid growth during the period as Chengdu High-Tech Comprehensive Bonded Zone registered huge trade volume driven by its high-end manufacturing, logistics, R&D and maintenance. Official statistics show trade via the zone surged 23 percent to hit $14.9 billion in the first half of this year, topping the central and western regions and ranking the second in the entire country. The zone, established in 2010 to boost Chengdu's foreign trade, houses a number of multinational companies, such as Intel, Foxconn, Dell, and Texas Instruments, which are also industry leaders. Their increasing investment in the zone has been a strong impetus to drive its foreign trade. ^ top ^

Protectionist forces get stronger (China Daily)
Trade investigations involving Chinese exports increased in the first half of this year, even as exports of the world's largest merchandise trader lost steam. In the January-June period, 53 trade remedy investigations were launched against products from China in 18 foreign markets, up 20.4 percent from a year earlier. These investigations affected Chinese exports valued at $5.29 billion, up 136 percent, said the Ministry of Commerce. During the same period, exports edged up 0.9 percent year-on-year, while imports rose 1.5 percent, the General Administration of Customs reported. Sang Baichuan, director of the Institute of International Business at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said that the value of affected exports during the period "accounted for a larger share in overall exports than the average level in the past decade, showing intensified trade friction involving Chinese products". "China will continue to face frequent trade friction and there is no reason to be optimistic about the prospects if we look at the country's international trade environment and the resurgent protectionism in the world," Sang said. After China became the world's largest goods trader in 2013, many countries "stepped up efforts to curb the inflow of Chinese products to narrow their trade deficits", he added. "Meanwhile, the recovery path of the global economy is proving to be more complex than anticipated. The uncertainties surrounding the economic recoveries in the United States and the European Union, together with concerns over employment prospects, suggest high risks of trade remedy measures against Chinese exports to protect local employment," Sang said. In the first half of this year, India launched the most trade remedy measures against Chinese exports. Trade investigations from the US, China's second-largest trading partner, led to the largest loss of China's exports in the same period, followed by Russia, the 21st Century Business Herald reported on Wednesday. The US Commerce Department decided on July 25 to extend punitive duties on Chinese solar products. The department imposed anti-dumping duties as high as 165.05 percent on solar panels and cells from the Chinese mainland, on top of countervailing duties set a month earlier. Producers from Taiwan also faced anti-dumping duties of up to 44.18 percent. China's Commerce Ministry urged the US to "prudently handle the investigation... and create a good environment for competition in the global solar industry". Zheng Yuesheng, spokesman for the General Administration of Customs, said in a recent news conference that global protectionism "has been increasing this year and the intensified trade friction constrained the expansion of China's exports" in the first half of this year. Sang said that emerging economies are growing into a new force in initiating trade remedy measures against Chinese products. "China's trade with emerging economies grew faster than the country's overall trade in recent years. Despite complementary economic structures between China and the emerging economies, competition remains prominent in different industries," Sang said. Although the absolute value of exports endangered by trade friction accounted for a very small share of China's overall shipments, the impact is "great as the measures disrupt the level playing trade environment and hinder trade liberalization", he added. In 2013, 92 trade remedy investigations were launched into Chinese products, affecting exports valued at $3.66 billion, according to the ministry. China's exports totaled $2.21 trillion last year, up 7.9 percent year-on-year, according to the customs administration. ^ top ^

Govt ends Apple purchases (Global Times)
Security concerns have prompted the removal of Apple Inc's iPads and MacBook laptops from Chinese government procurement lists, according to government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The officials, who had seen the list, told Bloomberg that 10 of Apple's products, including iPad, iPad mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, were excluded from the government procurement list released in July. These products were on a June version from China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Ministry of Finance (MOF), the report said. The information has not been made public. The officials also said that products from US companies Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co and Chinese company Lenovo Group are on the list, according to the report. The NDRC and Apple could not be reached for comment by press time. Apple is not listed as one of the two winning bidders to provide desktops and laptops to China's central government and ministries according to a July 1 announcement on the MOF's procurement website. The contracts will go to Chinese company Tsinghua Tongfang Co and Lenovo. It is unknown whether the iPhone has also been removed from the government procurement list, but in recent weeks there have been increased concerns that foreign IT products could be vulnerable to security leaks through "back doors." (…) China's State Internet Information Office announced in May that it would start security vetting of major IT products and services used by national security and public entities. In May, China also prohibited use of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system in all desktops, laptops and tablet PCs purchased by central government organs in a bid to ensure computer security after the shutdown of Windows XP. China also excluded Symantec and Kaspersky, two foreign security software developers from the supplier list for the central government, which only approved five Chinese-developed antivirus software, the Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday. (…) The Greater China region ranks third in terms of Apple's revenue, next only to the US and Europe, which brought $5.9 billion income to the company with 28 percent year-on-year growth, according to Apple's earnings report of its fiscal 2014 third quarter from March 30 to June 28. Some foreign companies have tried to keep their market presence by cooperating with Chinese partners to assure the Chinese government. Dell announced on August 1 that it will cooperate with Chinese software producer China Standard Software Co to preinstall the latter's NeoKylin operating system in Dell's commercial PCs, media reports said. ^ top ^

China regrets WTO ruling on rare earth (Xinhua)
China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Thursday that it regretted the World Trade Organization's (WTO) decision to uphold a previous ruling against China's management of rare earth exports. China regrets the WTO's final ruling that China's export duties, quotas, and administration of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum products were inconsistent with WTO rules and China's Accession Protocol, said a MOC official. But China welcomed the WTO's decision to support China's appeal, while not supporting the appeal lodged by the United States after the previous ruling, the official said. The WTO in late March ruled that China had acted inconsistently with WTO rules with regard to export measures imposed on rare earth materials. China lodged the appeal to the WTO against its ruling in April. The European Union, Japan and the United States teamed up to bring a joint case in March 2012 to the WTO over China's measures on exports of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum. They claimed that the restriction had limited other countries' access to the minerals, given China a competitive advantage and hurt other producers and consumers. ^ top ^

All regions report low GDP growth (Global Times)
All China's 31 provincial-level governments reported lower than expected local GDP growth in the first half of 2014, with regions reliant on heavy industry suffering the biggest blow amid economic restructuring and a cut to industrial overcapacity. As of Thursday, China's 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions had released local GDP growth rates for the first six months of the year. Although 22 of them had GDP growth higher than 7.4 percent, the nation's overall half-year growth rate, in only six was economic performance above 10 percent compared with the same period last year when up to 15 areas reported growth higher than 10 percent. With mainly inland areas in the west leading the growth chart, traditional industrial provinces such as Shanxi and Hebei rank near the bottom, with Northeast China's Heilongjiang witnessing the slowest growth, at 4.8 percent, far short of its annual target of 8.5 percent. It is not surprising to see that local governments failed to meet these over-optimistic targets, Tian Yun, editor-in-chief of economic research website, told the Global Times. The 2014 targets, when set by local governments, were already adjusted to be lower than last year considering downturn pressures. Yet slowing provincial growth is normal amid China's efforts to restructure its economy and attach more importance to the quality of economic development rather than speed, Chen Hufei, a researcher with the Bank of Communications, told the Global Times Thursday. Most parts of eastern China saw a GDP growth rate of around 7 percent, with 7.1 percent for Shanghai. Beijing reported 7.2 percent growth. Considering the large base data of East China, a growth rate around 7 percent is quite satisfactory, according to Tian. East China is going through industrial restructuring and upgrading while manufacturing industries are moving from the eastern and coastal regions to central and western areas, driving up economic growth there, Chen said. Several regions in Central and West China led the growth rankings. In Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, the economic growth rate is 10.9 percent, second only to the Tibet Autonomous Region. By making electronics and automobile manufacturing key industries, Chongqing is an example of successful industrial restructuring, Tian said, noting the two industries have great market potential. Meanwhile, Chongqing's house prices rank low among China's major cities, which ensures local residents have higher consumption power for these two core industries, he noted. Heilongjiang's GDP of 4.8 percent was much lower than its 8.5 percent whole year growth target, and its neighbor, Jilin Province, only saw 6.8 percent growth. Heilongjiang provincial government said the province is facing huge challenges, especially reduction in output at Daqing Oilfield, local newspaper Heilongjiang Daily reported Tuesday. As a traditional industrial heartland, Northeast China has advantages but it lacks the type of breakthrough reform Chongqing enacted, while it also faces a serious talent outflow, Tian said. At a Cabinet meeting on July 31, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said local governments in Northeast China must deepen reform, expand opening-up and be more innovative. China's National Development and Reform Commission also said Monday that in the second half of this year, it will take more targeted measures to reverse the economic downturn in Northeast China. Beijing's neighboring Hebei Province, a traditional iron and steel production base, grew only 5.8 percent, posting next-to-last figures, 2.2 percentage points off its yearly target. North China's Shanxi Province, a major coal production base, grew only 6.1 percent in the first half of 2014. Both provinces suffered from overcapacity in traditional industries, with experts saying that they are affected by government efforts to cut energy consumption and high polluting manufacturing. The GDP combination of the total 31 provinces reached 30.28 trillion yuan ($4.9 trillion), 12.56 percent higher than national GDP, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. ^ top ^

Beijing vows to channel 80% state assets to public service (China Daily)
Beijing is set to make its State-owned enterprises (SOEs) do the business they're supposed to do: serve the public. In a recent notice on deepening SOE reforms, the Beijing municipal government vowed to spend at least 80 percent of its State assets on public services and raise the percentage of public-serving SOEs to 60 percent by 2020. The notice divides SOEs into three categories, namely those that are for public service, those that have special missions and those that are commercial and compete in the market. The reform will cut the number of SOEs that fall into the third category and raise the concentration of SOEs that function for public benefit. Beijing Deputy Mayor Zhang Gong said focusing State assets on the field of public service is the right direction. He said SOEs are supposed to serve and support infrastructure construction, public welfare, city management and environmental protection. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

DPRK asks US, ROK to scrap Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has asked the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to immediately scrap this year's Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercise, the official KCNA news agency reported Thursday. "Their war exercises are not only a blatant challenge to the sincere efforts of the DPRK for improving inter-Korean relations and achieving detente on the Korean Peninsula, but also a grave military provocation against the DPRK," a spokesman for the National Peace Committee of Korea said in a statement released by the KCNA. The ROKn military officials have announced their "tailored deterrence strategy" that will be formally applied in the joint exercise in order to deal with the "nuclear and missile threats" from the DPRK, said the KCNA report. The spokesman warned that all military forces to take part in the drill and the bases behind them, including the White House, Pentagon, Chongwadae, and military bases in the ROK and overseas, will be the targets of the DPRK's ultra-modern precision fire strike means, such as strategic and tactical rockets. To respond to the joint maneuvers between the United States and the ROK, the DPRK plans to carry out military drills on a regular basis, and will adopt a "nuclear-to-nuclear" "missile-to-missile" strategy to fight back, the statement said. It called on the United States and the ROK not to misjudge the efforts of the DPRK to maintain peace in the region and to halt provocative maneuvers against the DPRK at once. Ulchi Freedom Guardian, or UFG, is a joint military exercise between the ROK and the United States slated in August or September annually. The maneuver, first launched in 1975 and previously known as Ulchi Focus Lens, aims to defend the ROK from attacks from the DPRK. ^ top ^

Chinese border city opens bus tour to DPRK (Xinhua)
The Chinese border city of Yanji in northeastern Jilin Province has opened a direct bus tour service to the neighboring Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), tourism authorities said Monday. A total of 48 Chinese tourists and two Chinese guides ended their two-day tour to the city of Rason on Sunday completing the first batch of bus tours in Yanji, said Wang Yanbo, deputy chief of Yanji tourism bureau. The group visited Rajin Port, greenhouses housing Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia, both flower species named after the late DPRK leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the Korean Ethnic Cultural Park and the beachside of Pipa Island, said Lian Qinghua, general manager of Yanbian Northeast Asia Passenger Transport Group Co,. Ltd travel agency, operator of the tour. The journey to the DPRK takes around four hours and will operate from Tuesday to Saturday, Lian said.P Compared with other travel methods to Rason, the nonstop trip avoids transfer processing at the China-DPRK border, he said. Travel figures show about 10,000 Chinese tourists visit the DPRK annually. ^ top ^

North Korea continuing to work on fissile material output: US think-tank (Global Times)
Recent satellite images of North Korea's main nuclear complex suggest continued activity focused on the production of both weapons-grade plutonium and uranium, a US think-tank said Thursday. The June 30 images of the Yongbyon complex show water being discharged from its ageing five megawatt reactor - a product of the secondary cooling system, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said in a report. "However, without more data, such as regular steam production, it is hard to determine the operational status of the reactor and thus to estimate the amount of plutonium produced," the report said. The reactor, shut down in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord, is capable of producing 6 kilograms of plutonium a year - enough for one nuclear bomb. North Korea began renovating the facility after its last nuclear test in 2013, and previous satellite images suggested it became operational in October that year. The latest imagery also showed continued construction at the complex's gas centrifuge plant. The North says the plant is dedicated to producing low-enriched uranium for an under-construction Light Water Reactor, but experts suspect that the final goal is weapons-grade uranium. Previous imagery showed the centrifuge building had doubled in size, and ISIS said it was likely that this year had seen the installation of centrifuge cascades inside the new section. Overall, the latest images, combined with procurement data obtained by ISIS, suggest that North Korea "is emphasizing the production of weapon-grade plutonium as well as enriched uranium for its nuclear weapons program," the report said. Pyongyang is currently believed to have enough plutonium for about six bombs, after using part of its stock for at least two of its three atomic tests. ^ top ^

Chinese police investigate US citizen near border with North Korea (SCMP)
A Korean-American who runs a Christian non-profit organisation in a Chinese city on the border with North Korea is being investigated by Chinese authorities and has had his bank accounts frozen, a source with direct knowledge said on Thursday. Peter Hahn, a naturalised US citizen, has been under interrogation by Chinese authorities for the last three weeks and is not permitted to leave the country, said the source, who requested anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of the case. The source did not know what prompted the probe, which coincides with an investigation of a Canadian Christian couple who run a coffee shop in the nearby city of Dandong on suspicion they stole military secrets. Several people working in the region, or who are in contact with those that do, said Hahn's case appeared to be part of a wider sweep of Christian-run NGOs and businesses along the Chinese side of the border with North Korea. While China can be suspicious of Christian groups and President Xi Jinping has launched a wide crackdown on underground churches, foreign missionaries usually operate without too much harassment. Hahn runs a school for ethnic Korean children in the Chinese city of Tumen. Through his Tumen River Area Development Initiative (TRADI) NGO, he also operates several humanitarian projects and joint venture companies inside North Korea, including a local bus service in the Rajin-Songbon (Rason) Special Economic Zone. (…) Hahn's company cars had been confiscated and his bank accounts frozen, the source said, adding that his NGO's humanitarian food shipments to North Korea had been suspended following the freeze. The source said that Hahn was a Christian and was open about his faith. A description on its website said Hahn founded the NGO in 1997 to help North Korean refugees in Yanji, the capital of China's autonomous ethnic Korean region, a short drive from Tumen, where Hahn is based. “TRADI's main goal is to sacrifice themselves for the ministry of God,” a description of the NGO's vision on its website says. (…)Hahn, who is based in California but has a residence permit for Rason, also runs a bakery, attached to the school, which has produced bread for North Korea since 2003. Deliveries of bread from the bakery to North Korean children had been delayed by the freeze of Hahn's funds, the source said. A proportion of Hahn's funding came from churches in South Korean. His school received money from Pohang Baptist Church in South Korea, according to a letter from the school's vice principal on the church's website. The investigation into Canadians Kevin Garratt and his wife Julia Dawn Garratt came a week after Canada took the unusual step of singling out Chinese hackers for attacking a key computer network and lodged a protest with Beijing. In response, China accused Canada of making irresponsible accusations that lacked credible evidence. “With the Garratts, that was tit-for-tat with what happened in Canada. Peter Hahn is a different issue, I think it's more related to his faith and the work he was doing,” said David Etter, who was recently forced to close his Christian-run Western restaurant in Yanji, citing a lack of customers. “He was very open about his faith and why he was doing what he was doing,” he said. ^ top ^



The meeting is held between the working groups of Mongolia-China Intergovernmental Committee (Info Mongolia)
The working groups of economy, science and technology of the Mongolia-China Intergovernmental Committee had involved in the meeting held on July 30, 2014 in Ulaanbaatar, which led by the Head of the Department of Neighboring Countries at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia T.Tugsbilguun and the Deputy Head of the Asian Department at the Ministry of Commerce of PR China Song Yaoming accordingly. In between the working groups, they have exchanged their views and opinions about the implementation process of trade and economic cooperation which was recorded on the protocol during the Mongolia-China XIII Intergovernmental Committee Meeting; at the same time, both parties have noted that the related implementation process is keep going successful at this stage. Elsewhere, the working groups of the Mongolia-China Intergovernmental Committee have reached on mutually agreed basis that the joint project implementations under Chinese grant-aid and soft-loan shall be constantly intensified to somewhat higher level with more productive way out in mining, infrastructure and industrial sectors of Mongolia. ^ top ^

The first-ever Embassy of Belarus opens its' gate in Ulaanbaatar city (Info Mongolia)
Today on August 6th, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to Mongolia, Mr. Stanislav Chepurny has handed over the credentials to the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj respectively. Afterwards, the President of Mongolia has received recently appointed Ambassador Stanislav Chepurny for a discussion and noted “Since the official visit of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus to Mongolia in 2013, the bilateral relations between the two countries have been developing in recent times and the result has been proven with this circumstance again that you appointed as the Ambassador from Belarus to Mongolia in terms of establishing the Embassy of Belarus in our capital city. This noticeable event will surely contribute to our further bilateral cooperation development and I hope that Mongolia will be the wide open bridge to connect Belarus with the emerging Asian market; at the same time, the Republic of Belarus will also become for us a trustworthy bridge to the European market in the future”. As of today, there are 21 overseas ambassadors currently residing in Ulaanbaatar city including the recent establishment of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Mongolia. ^ top ^


Mrs. Lauranne Peman
Embassy of Switzerland

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
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