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
  29.11-5.12.2014, No. 552  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese business leaders visit Singapore to discuss cooperation (Xinhua)
A delegation of top business leaders from the elite China Entrepreneur Club visited Singapore on Friday and Saturday to discuss potential cooperation. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met them on Friday, and the business leaders joined their Singaporean counterparts at a roundtable at the Singapore Business Federation on Saturday. The Singapore prime minister said that Chinese companies venturing overseas can explore the regional market from Singapore, the China Entrepreneur Club said in a press release issued here Saturday. "It is a good idea to explore the international market from Singapore," he was quoted as saying. S.S. Teo, chairman of the Singapore Business Federation, said that more than 5,200 Chinese enterprises have set up subsidiaries or offices in Singapore as more and more Chinese firms go international. China is expected to become a net supplier of foreign direct investment in the coming years as the outflow from China exceed inflow into China. Ma Weihua, chairman of Wing Lung Bank and executive chairman of the China Entrepreneur Club, shared his views on China's "new norm " of slower growth. It is natural for China's economic growth to slow down after more than 30 years of super fast growth, as the factors supporting such growth are no longer there. However, even the present growth of close to 7.5 percent is the fastest among the major economies. China has to restructure its economy and seek new drivers of growth so that it can be sustainable. In this process, there will be potential opportunities even for some of the players to " overtake others around the corner," he said. The former president of the China Merchants Bank, one of the largest commercial lenders in China, highlighted potential areas of opportunities such as the internationalization of the Chinese yuan, international cooperation along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the services sector, real estate, new technology and the IT-related economy. He said that the rise of the Internet does not mean an end to the banking industry but that it will have to adapt to the new changes brought about by the Internet. Members of the delegation include Mengniu Diary founder Niu Gensheng, China Huiyuan Juice Group chairman Zhu Xinli, and Wu Jianmin, executive vice chairman of the China Entrepreneur Club and China's former ambassador to France. The delegation is expected to leave for Australia on Sunday. ^ top ^

President Xi Jinping puts 'network of partners' on foreign policy agenda (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping said China would forge a new "global network of partnerships", amid calls for Beijing to develop allies. But analysts said Xi's comments did not mean a break with the country's decades-old foreign policy of non-alignment. Addressing the Communist Party's two-day foreign affairs work conference which ended on Saturday, Xi told party leaders and officials that the government should expand its foreign policy agenda through cooperation and diplomacy. "We should make more friends while abiding by the principle of non-alignment and building a global network of partnership," Xi said. According to Xinhua, Xi said China should work hard to form a network of mutual benefit through business and technological cooperation. China made non-alignment a core element of its independent foreign policy in the 1980s but there have been growing questions from some quarters in recent years on the wisdom of not having allies, given the country's growing influence and Washington's renewed focus on the region. Pang Zhongying, professor of international relations at Renmin University's School of International Studies, said China needed allies but could not enlist them "under the existing circumstances". "So as an alternative, Beijing has resolved to form a variety of partnerships," Pang said. Jia Qingguo, associate dean of Peking University's School of International Studies, said China had long promoted the idea of building "global partnerships" but Saturday was the first time the authorities had spoken of consolidating those "partnerships" into a "network". Jia said the conventional approach to alignment was to have exclusive military relationships between the parties. But the idea of a partnership suggested all-around ties that covered the spectrum from security to economics and culture. Jin Canrong, from Renmin University's School of International Studies, added that if China formed alliances now it could harm the Sino-US relationship, something that could be avoided with a partnership network. "The United States has many allies around the world. If China started to make allies, it would damage the 'new type of big power relations' proposed by China," Jin said. "Having allies can bring both advantages and disadvantages," he said. "Allies can offer help when needed, but the downside is that they will add burdens." But Pang disagreed. "The government expects partners to be stronger than allies and sees partnerships as being able to overcome diplomatic difficulties. But I don't think it would work," Pang said. ^ top ^

China says attempts for British lawmakers' entry to Hong Kong "futile" (Xinhua)
China warned Britain on Tuesday that further persistence over its request for a parliamentary delegation to enter Hong Kong would be equivalent to "lifting a rock only to drop on its own feet". Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said such attempts would be "unreasonable and futile", after British Prime Minister David Cameron labeled China's decision to refuse visas to members of the British foreign office committee "mistaken". "These lawmakers are not attempting to enter China on a 'friendly visit' but rather for investigative purposes. We don't need foreign politicians researching on Chinese territory," Hua said. It is alleged that the real reason the committee was attempting to enter Hong Kong was to inform its inquiry into China's democratic progress. The month-long Occupy Central Movement is illegal and the central government supports the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to deal with it according to Chinese laws, Hua said, reiterating opposition to foreign interference into Hong Kong affairs. Hua said China had always been willing to develop friendly and mutually beneficial relations with foreign countries, including Britain, based on mutual respect and non interference into domestic affairs. "China and Britain's bilateral relationship will only work if the two work together," the spokesperson added. ^ top ^

China, Australia agree to boost military ties (Xinhua)
China and Australia on Tuesday agreed to boost their already close military relations, following an upgraded bilateral relationship and a breakthrough in free trade agreement (FTA) talks. The pledge was the result of a meeting between Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission Fan Changlong, Australia's Defence Force chief Mark Binskin and Australian Secretary of Defence Dennis Richardson, who were visiting China for an annual defence strategic dialogue. China and Australia decided to upgrade their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership and concluded bilateral negotiations on an FTA on Nov. 17. Applauding the improved ties, Fan said it marked "a new high of mutual political trust between our countries." "Military ties forge an important part of bilateral ties," he said, noting that the two militaries have enjoyed sound relations, frequent high-level exchanges and deepened practical cooperation. The two sides have worked closely in the search for missing Malaysian airlines flight MH370 as well as in peacekeeping, anti-terrorism, joint exercises and education exchanges, Fan said, vowing to further promote their military cooperation. Richardson said a total of 45 items of cooperation or exchanges between both militaries were launched in 2014, accounting for much of the Australian armed forces' coordination with foreign troops. All senior Australian military officials visited China this year, including Defense Minister David Johnston, all three Australian Defence Force Service Chiefs, Binskin, and Richardson. Binskin said Australia attaches importance to developing ties with the Chinese military, expressing hope that the two armed forces will boost practical cooperation and exchanges at various levels and in all areas. Later on Tuesday, Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army Fang Fenghui held talks with Binskin and Richardson, and the two sides held their 17th annual Defence Strategic Dialogue. ^ top ^

China won't save North Korea if country goes to war, says former PLA general (SCMP)
China will not step in to save neighbouring North Korea if the Pyongyang regime collapses or starts a war, a retired People's Liberation Army general has said, possibly signalling Beijing's waning patience with its wayward, nuclear-armed ally. “China is not a saviour,” Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing military region, wrote in the Global Times newspaper, which is close to the Communist Party. “Should North Korea really collapse, not even China can save it,” he said in a contribution to the nationalist tabloid's Chinese-language website, which was published on Monday. The outspoken Wang has made critical comments about North Korea before and it was not clear if his words indicated a policy shift regarding Pyongyang. [...] China's role has grown as the North's economy has shrunk in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union – with which Pyongyang had close trade and aid ties – more than 20 years ago. In the two decades since, Beijing has moved to develop diplomatic relations and booming trade ties with Seoul, Pyongyang's bitter rival. President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye have exchanged visits, while Xi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have so far kept their distance. Wang said China would not get involved in any new war on the Korean peninsula. “China cannot influence the situation on the Korean peninsula … China has no need to light a fire and get burnt. Whoever provokes a conflagration bears responsibility,” he wrote. “Now there is no more 'socialist camp'. It is not necessary for China's younger generation to fight a war for another country.” Wang criticised the North for its nuclear development, using it as an example of how the country's interests can differ from China's and saying it had “already brought about the serious threat of nuclear contamination in China's border area”. But he also slammed Western countries for “demonising” North Korea and interfering in its internal affairs in the name of human rights. “China absolutely does not meddle,” he wrote. Beijing will “support what should be supported and oppose what should be opposed” regarding the North, Wang said, indicating that China was not ready to completely give up on its troublesome neighbour. China will neither “court” nor “abandon” North Korea, he wrote. “This should be China's basic attitude.” ^ top ^

France offers to help China catch fugitives in Operation Fox Hunt (SCMP)
France was ready to help China track down fugitive corruption suspects who might be on French soil, and did not rule out extraditing any it found to Beijing, a French justice ministry official said. [...] Robert Gelli, the French justice ministry's director of criminal affairs, said Chinese authorities would soon send French officials a list of people suspected of "getting rich from corruption and seeking refuge in other countries, or investing this money in other countries". The list was expected to contain about 10 names, of whom two or three were thought to be in France, Gelli said. The rest might be elsewhere in Europe, but have existing or previous links to France. [...] The Washington-based Global Financial Integrity Group estimates that US$1.08 trillion illegally flowed out of China from 2002 to 2011. [...] A Franco-Chinese extradition treaty agreed in 2007, despite opposition from human rights groups, has still not been ratified by France's parliament. But Gelli, who last month visited his counterpart in Beijing, said the possibility of handing back suspects to China was "not at all excluded" if China met French demands and agreed not to impose the death penalty. Any extraditions would need to go through an appeals court and be signed by the prime minister. For its part, France has asked China for more help in investigating illegal wire transfers, which have risen sharply in the past two years. Officials say French companies have lost some 300 million euros (HK$2.9 billion) in this manner, the bulk of it ending up in Chinese bank accounts. France had made 70 requests for cooperation from China in its investigations since 2010 but had received very low response rates, Gelli said. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has visited China more often than any other, with nine trips since May 2012. ^ top ^

Beijing 'needs more time' to respond to Barack Obama's take on Xi Jinping's personal power (SCMP)
Beijing yesterday sidestepped US President Barack Obama's public remarks about the speed and "dangers" of President Xi Jinping's consolidation of personal power. Obama, who met Xi last month in Beijing, told the Business Roundtable group of US chief executives that the Chinese leader had won respect in the short time since he had taken over. "He has consolidated power faster and more comprehensively than probably anybody since Deng Xiaoping," Obama said, referring to the man who led China from 1978 to 1992. "And everybody's been impressed by his … clout inside of China after only a year and a half or two years." But Obama said there were negative sides to Xi's rise. "There are dangers in that. On issues of human rights, on issues of clamping down on dissent. He taps into a nationalism that worries his neighbours," Obama said, noting maritime disputes in the region. "On the other hand, I think they have a very strong interest in maintaining good relations with the United States. And my visit was a demonstration of their interest in managing this relationship effectively. The United States should be "cautious and clear-eyed" about its relationship with China, Obama said, adding that he would still seek a "productive" bilateral relationship. He said the US wanted to show China that it wanted a constructive "win-win" relationship while also insisting on fixing problems such as commercial cybertheft. Obama encouraged the chief executives to speak out when they were being "strong-armed" on those issues despite risks that their businesses could be penalised in China for doing so. Later yesterday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing needed to study Obama's comments in detail before responding, adding that in principle, the steady development of ties suited both countries. "It is only natural that we have different points of view on certain issues, but our common interests outweigh our differences," Hua said. Tao Wenzhao, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that rather than expressing such opinions Obama should have shown mutual respect and tried to understand China's position, its development path and government. "The president of the United States, even with some constraints, has great powers, yet you don't see China giving comments on that issue," Tao said. Jin Canrong, deputy dean of Renmin University's school of international studies in Beijing, said Obama was entitled to his own opinion and the comments would not have any impact on Sino-US relations. "Such careless comments indicate that the two countries' relations are very stable, otherwise he would have been very careful with what he said," Jin said. ^ top ^

China, South Africa pledge closer strategic partnership (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, on Thursday, pledging to boost their bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership. "Both China and South Africa are large developing countries and emerging markets, and we are good friends and good brothers who understand and support each other," Xi said, adding that the China-South Africa relationship is characterized by equality and mutual trust, comprehensive cooperation, win-win reciprocity and common development. Recalling his visit to South Africa last year, Xi said he and Zuma reached an important consensus on upgrading the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. "(We) should plan the China-South Africa relationship in an all-round way, deepen cooperation, and set a good example for friendly cooperation between China and African countries," said the Chinese president. Xi said the two countries should also be powers that enhance unity and cooperation among developing countries, improve global governance and promote democracy in international relations. Voicing his gratitude for China's support to South Africa, Zuma said South Africa understands and respects China's core interests and major concerns, and he hopes to boost the bilateral strategic partnership and speed up his country's development. Zuma said he believes his China visit will lead the bilateral relationship toward a new height. Zuma arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for a state visit to China at Xi's invitation. During the visit, the two sides signed a string of deals, including one on planning cooperation between the two countries in the coming five to ten years. [...] ^ top ^

Premier Li meets China-Japan friendship committee (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Thursday met with a Sino-Japan friendship group and urged Japan to properly handle issues that affect healthy growth of bilateral ties. Li made the remarks while meeting with members of the Fifth 21st Century Committee for China-Japan Friendship, who were gathering in Beijing for a plenary session held on Wednesday and Thursday. The Chinese government's stance on developing ties with Japan has always been consistent, Li said. "We should continue to get over political obstacles and promote China-Japan strategic mutual-beneficial ties based on principles of the four China-Japan political documents, and in the spirit of drawing lessons from history and facing up to the future," said the premier. The four documents include the China-Japan Joint Statement inked in 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998 and a joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually-beneficial relations in a comprehensive way that was signed in 2008. "Only by bearing in mind the overall and long-term perspective and seriously implementing the consensus reached between both sides can we continuously improve China-Japan ties," he said. The healthy and stable growth of China-Japan relations is of vital importance to the peace, stability and prosperity of both countries and the region, he added. Li also called for closer non-governmental exchanges in such areas as education, culture, cities and youth to consolidate the social foundation for bilateral ties. He said he hoped the 21st Century Committee for China-Japan Friendship will play a greater role in facilitating people-to-people friendship. Top Japanese member of the committee Taizo Nishimuro said they will make concerted efforts to improve Japan-China ties and boost mutual understanding by enhancing exchanges at various levels. During the meeting, members of both countries held candid and in-depth exchanges, Taizo Nishimuro said, adding the committee is ready to play a positive role in promoting Japan-China friendly exchanges and cooperation. The committee was founded in 1984 in an aim to strengthen understanding as well as people-to-people friendship between China and Japan. The current top Chinese member of the committee is Tang Jiaxuan. ^ top ^

China gives rare glimpse into first aircraft carrier Liaoning's home port in Shandong (SCMP)
China's military has disclosed little-known details of its first aircraft carrier base in Shandong province, acknowledging the existence of nuclear weapon facilities at the naval base. An article published on Tuesday on the website of the the China National Defence Daily – a newspaper run by the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Party – gave a rare glimpse of the Qingdao home port of China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning. According to the report, which has since been removed from the website, the port occupies a water area of a few million square metres, with a maximum depth of more than 20 metres and a fairway that is several hundred metres wide. It is protected by a breakwater that extends almost 10,000 metres into the water. The naval base, on the south side of the Shandong Peninsula, is home to the North Sea Fleet, which oversees waters surrounding Japan and the Korean Peninsula. The base is less than 2,000km from the US overseas naval base in Yokosuka, Japan. The base expands from the waterfront to the mountains across the road from the port, which houses large supplying facilities such as missile storehouses, chemical storehouses and armouries. The missile storehouse is located in a cave deep in the mountain, at the end of a tunnel several hundred metres away from the entrance. The storage supplies ammunition for the carrier in training and combats in the future, the article said. It's no secret that the PLA has a missile storehouse in Qingdao, but this is the first time the military has openly admitted it. It also echoes earlier reports that said China would use its missiles to protect its giant vessels from being attacked in case of war. [...] ^ top ^

China accuses the West of stoking extremism in the Middle East (SCMP)
Western countries are stoking extremism in the Middle East with their support for anti-government opposition movements, China's leading state-run newspaper said today, repeating a call for non-interference in the region's turmoil. China has expressed concern about the rise of Islamic State in countries such as Syria and Iraq, and is nervous about the effect it could have on its own unruly far western region of Xinjiang, where Beijing says it faces a threat from Islamist extremists. However, it has also condemned efforts by Western nations to arm certain groups fighting against the Syrian government, and has shown no sign of wanting to join the efforts of the United States to use military force against Islamic State. The People's Daily, the official paper of China's ruling Communist Party, said that moves by the West to support anti-government movements in the Middle East were having the opposite effect. “The facts prove that by letting jihadists pass unchecked into Syria to join battle has caused the expansion of the extremist group Islamic State,” the newspaper wrote in a commentary. “This is a classic case of how rearing a tiger will court calamity,” it added. “The entry of major powers must avoid by all means adding to the chaos.” The US needed to understand that the enemy of your enemy was still your enemy, the newspaper added. The commentary was published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China”, often used to give views on foreign policy. However, the international community could not simply sit by and watch as Islamic State grew. It needed to play a constructive role and follow the rules of the United Nations charter, the commentary said. This meant respecting countries' sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, it added. ^ top ^

Land-for-debt swap called 'groundless' (China Daily)
Beijing dismissed media speculation that Venezuela would give China a famous resort island to defray debt incurred by falling oil prices, calling the reports "groundless". The steep fall in global oil prices - nearly 40 percent since mid-June - led to increased speculation that Venezuela, a major oil exporter, would have difficulty servicing its debt. Capital and interest repayments by Venezuela on loans given by China are "going on normally", China confirmed on Thursday. Hong Kong-based newspaper Takungpao, without naming sources, said Venezuela was considering giving China Blanquilla Island in the southern Caribbean as payment to cover debt of approximately $50 billion. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that "as far as I know, the report is groundless". The island rumors made head-lines as Venezuelan Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres started a visit to China on Tuesday. China and Venezuela have established a financing vehicle whereby oil and fuel shipments have been used to repay loans. Financial institutions in China planned to exchange views with Venezuelan officials regarding a pragmatic agenda between the countries, Hua said. Xu Shicheng, a research fellow of Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China has a long-standing and mature relationship with Venezuela that has been built up over time. China is Venezuela's second-largest trading partner with annual trade close to $20 billion last year. During President Xi Jinping's visit to the country in July, China and Venezuela signed 16 agreements covering a number of sectors, including energy, mining, finance, infrastructure, agriculture and high-tech. "The past year has seen both countries harvest fruitful results in pragmatic cooperation in various fields. Currently, all the repayment of capital and interest regarding the loans borrowed from China is going on normally," Hua said. Venezuela earns 96 percent of its export revenue from oil, but the oil price on global markets hit a five-year low this week. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Chinese media freedom activist Yang Maodong pleads innocent in chaotic trial (SCMP)
A leading Chinese rights activist who organised rallies for media freedom pleaded not guilty to charges of disturbing public order in an all-night trial in which the judge rejected his requests for food, a lawyer said. The case against Yang Maodong, 48, comes amid a broadening crackdown on dissent. [...] New York-based Human Rights Watch called on authorities to drop the charges against Yang, better known by his penname Guo Feixiong, and fellow defendant Sun Desheng, who was arrested for urging the Chinese government to grant more rights to its people and to disclose officials' assets. Zhang Lei, lawyer for Yang, said on his microblog that the trials Friday against Yang and Sun at Tianhe District Court got off to a tense start when the court several times cut off arguments by the defence. The hearing ended only at 2:50 a.m. Saturday with the judge granting a recess after Yang nearly fainted from hunger. The court had repeatedly rejected earlier requests for food, Sun's lawyer Chen Jinxue said. The lawyers said both Yang and Sun had been mistreated in detention. Yang was denied any outdoor break for 469 days, and Sun had his ankles and wrists shackled for a week before the trial, Zhang said. A court employee declined to confirm the trials, but he said a “special case” was taking place, without further elabouration. Rights lawyers and advocates said security was heavy around the courthouse and stretched as far as three kilometres out. Yang has advocated for greater political freedom and more civic engagement in China. In January last year, Yang helped organise demonstrations and spoke in support of the editorial staff at the newspaper Southern Weekly in Guangzhou after its journalists said a New Year's message that called for rule by the constitution was altered because of censorship. The charge alleges he gathered crowds to disrupt public order, but his supporters say the rallies were orderly. He also encouraged activists to hold up placards in several cities. To avoid confrontation with police, the activists typically did not linger but left quickly after taking photographs of their acts, then posting the images online. Authorities have found such acts unacceptable, and Chinese courts have actively prosecuted the quick protests. Sun was not involved with the Southern Weekly rallies, but his charge - the same as Yang's - stems from his unfurling banners calling for public disclosure of officials' assets and urging China's legislature to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Sun's lawyer Chen Jinxue said. ^ top ^

China mulls press law to improve news coverage (Global Times)
China is drafting its first press law to help media organizations make a greater impact after years of clamor by experts, a former senior official from the press authorities said. This was announced by Liu Binjie, the former director of the defunct General Administration of Press and Publication, at a forum, China National Radio reported Sunday. Liu said that new media outlets have been carrying eye-catching stories with relatively more independence and rapidly expanding influence, while traditional media outlets are still being managed under strict rules that limited their impact. A press law would end the imbalance, he added. A press law would lay out the legal, moral and social boundaries for media, Liu noted. It would also allow the media more discretion in their reporting under the legal framework, Liu said. Chinese scholars and lawyers have been calling for a press law for over a decade. Incidents of journalists being beaten were frequently reported. Meanwhile, some reporters' unethical behavior such as charging companies for positive coverage has also been punished. The Fourth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held in late October tackled the "rule of law" for the first time, which also applies to the media industry, said Liu. Authorities are also considering greater protection for the intellectual property rights of news products, said Liu. Online news portals will have to pay for information and original stories uploaded to the platform before reposting them, the Shandong-based Dazhong Daily reported. ^ top ^

Man gets four years for subversion (Global Times)
A local court in Hunan Province has sentenced a man to four years in prison for writing a letter to leaders of the terrorist group responsible for the Tiananmen Square attack last year offering suggestions on future attacks. Zhao Fengsheng wrote an open letter to leaders of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), also known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a UN-listed terrorist group, after the TIP claimed responsibility for the attack on Tiananmen Square in Beijing on October 28, 2013, according to the Intermediate People's Court of Hengyang, Hunan Province, on Friday. In the letter, Zhao suggested the TIP target the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, provincial government buildings, senior officials and millionaires to "accelerate the collapse of Chinese economy and the Communist Party of China (CPC) regime." The letter also proposed that the TIP strengthen ties with "anyone who conducted violent attacks on the CPC regime." Zhao translated the letter into English and Arabic and sent it to several e-mail addresses. The letter was later published by overseas websites, said the court. Zhao was also deprived of his political rights for three years. The court added Zhao was unsatisfied with his life and the socialist system, and he encouraged subversion. A jeep plowed into the crowds near Tiananmen Square, killing two civilians and injuring 40 others in the October 2013 incident. Meanwhile, Xu Xiao, an editor of Caixin Media, was allegedly taken by Beijing police on Wednesday concerning "national security issues," the Southern People Weekly magazine said on its official Sina Weibo account Saturday. The post was deleted late Sunday. The Beijing police declined to comment on Xu's case on Sunday. Caixin has not made any public statements either. Xu is the author of the popular essay collection, Halfway Through Life, and served time for anti-revolution activities in 1975, toward the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). ^ top ^

Expansion of pollution monitoring on the way (China Daily)
China intends to create a monitoring system to oversee all types of pollutants in all areas and demand more effective action from protection teams, top environmental officials said on Monday. "The focus of reform in ecological and environmental systems will be to build and improve a stringent pollution prevention and control mechanism, environmental evaluation process, administration system and early warning system," said Zhou Shengxian, minister of environmental protection, on Monday afternoon in Beijing. Through reform and innovation, governments will have access to the whole picture of pollution through a unified monitoring platform covering pollution in the air, soil, rivers and oceans, regardless of its source, he said. Stronger regulations will enable environmental protection authorities to supervise more independently of local governments, which often hide their pollution problems in the pursuit of economic growth. […] Vice-Priemier Zhang Gaoli said at the session: "China will insist on efforts to optimize economic structures to reduce pollution. There is zero tolerance for the development of polluting industries." Continuous efforts to rein in pollution have made gains, and China needs to take advantage of the opportunity to optimize its economic structure, said many foreign experts at the three-day session. In the first three quarters of 2014, the 74 major cities that adopted new standards on air quality saw a 6.2 percent decline in the average concentration of PM2.5, compared to the same period of 2013, the ministry said. […] Six provincial-level areas in Northern China including Beijing that used to have the most serious air pollution saw a larger decline - 14.6 percent year-to-year. Still, environmental protection efforts need more attention from governments. In the past two decades, economic growth has outpaced environmental protection. China will pay a large price if there is no change and the window of opportunity for making change closes, said Arthur Hanson, international chief adviser of China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. […] ^ top ^

Xi highlights top-level, grassroot interplay in deepening reforms (China Daily)
Healthy interplay between the designers of the reform drive and practices at the grassroots was the subject of Chinese President Xi Jinping's remarks on Tuesday. Xi made the remarks at the seventh meeting of the Leading Group for Overall Reform. Attributing all breakthroughs and development of China's reform and opening up drive to the wisdom of the people and their sound practices, Xi said efforts should be made to encourage grassroots people to free their minds, actively explore new ways of reform, and to embark on differentiated pilot reform programs in different regions. Authorities must focus on issues of most public concern and the most difficult issues in people's lives, so as to cultivate "a healthy interplay and combination of top-level design and grassroots-level explorations when comprehensively deepening reform," he said. Senior Chinese leaders Li Keqiang, Liu Yunshan and Zhang Gaoli also attended Tuesday's meeting, which also discussed reform of China's rural land acquisition and house site system, the establishment of a modern public cultural service system. It also reviewed and adopted pilot plans to set up circuit courts and courts with jurisdiction across different regions. ^ top ^

Database to track fugitives overseas (China Daily)
China is to set up a database of corrupt officials who have fled overseas, the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday. The move comes as more than 150 economic fugitives turned themselves in ahead of the Dec 1 deadline under the "Fox Hunt 2014" campaign, which would grant lenient punishment, the ministry said. The campaign, launched by the ministry in July, is aimed at catching economic fugitives abroad and confiscating their ill-gotten gains. On Oct 10, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Supreme People's Court issued a joint statement urging economic fugitives to return to China and confess to their crimes. The statement said that those who surrendered and returned to China voluntarily before Dec 1 would receive lighter punishments. According to the Ministry of Public Security, as of Sunday, Chinese police had brought back 335 suspected economic fugitives to stand trial. They captured 181 of them, and 154 turned themselves in. Police also confiscated illegal assets. [...] It added that by the end of last year, more than 150 corrupt officials were still at large in the US, with billions of yuan sent illegally to that country through money laundering and underground banks. "A number of officials have been sent to prosecuting departments to face trial," said Liu Dong, deputy director of the ministry's Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau. He said courts will also decide how assets seized in the cases should be handled after the suspects are dealt with. In recent days, China has strengthened judicial cooperation with overseas countries to capture fugitives and recover their gains. [...] China's top anti-graft watchdog and judicial authorities are preparing to set up a database to trace corrupt officials who flee abroad. "The database will be publicized on its official website to receive reports from the public at home and abroad," said Huang Shuxian, deputy head of the Communist Party of China Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission. Huang said China will also speed up negotiations and sign treaties with other countries, including bilateral extradition treaties or agreements on sharing illegal assets that are confiscated. [...] ^ top ^

Frugality campaign nets over 80,000 officials in 2 years (Global Times)
More than 80,000 officials have been disciplined for breaching corruption rules as of late September, according to a statement from the Communist Party of China's (CPC) disciplinary watchdog. The figure was revealed in the latest statement of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), issued ahead of the second anniversary of the "eight-point" anti-bureaucracy and formalism ruling. The campaign started on Dec. 4, 2012 to reduce pomp, ceremony, bureaucracy and undesirable work styles. The statement said some 38,000 officials had been punished for violations such as dereliction of duty. While the remainder were found to be responsible for the indiscreet use of public vehicles; using public funds for personal entertainment; lazy work styles; and accepting gifts. The majority, some 78,767, of those disciplined were lower ranking officials, while two ministerial level officials were also slapped with disciplinary penalties. Over the last two years, disciplinary watchdogs at all levels have maintained momentum to ensure offenders are named and shamed, which serves as a deterrent to others, said the statement. ^ top ^

China's corruption ranking tumbles despite high-profile graft crackdown (SCMP)
Hong Kong and the mainland both fell in a global corruption ranking, with China among the countries faring the worst despite President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign. This year's corruption perception index from Berlin-based Transparency International saw Hong Kong slip from 15th to 17th, scoring 74 out of 100, down one point from 2013. Denmark ranked number one for the least corrupt jurisdiction in the world with a score of 92 out of 100. [...] Somalia and North Korea ranked lowest, both scoring eight. Mainland China's rank fell from 80th in 2013 to 100th this year, scoring 36 out of 100, a four-point drop. Turkey was the worst performer, dropping five points. The watchdog's Asia-Pacific director Srirak Plipat described China's tumble in the index as a "harsh reality check". Beijing's efforts to stamp out corruption would be hamstrung unless policies such as anti-bribery laws, better whistle-blower protections and freedom of the press were introduced, he said. "This score sends a message that there are a number of critical challenges that have not been solved," Plipat said, suggesting that politicians declare their assets before and after they complete their terms. Another missing ingredient in Xi's "top down" approach to stamping out corruption was "bottom-up accountability", which would allow lower-ranking officials to report any abuse of power by those above them. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the ranking was out of kilter with the government's achievements in fighting graft, and that the group "ought to conscientiously examine the objectiveness and fairness of the index". Zhu Lijia, a professor of public policy at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the index measured perceived levels of graft, so the downfall of "many tigers" this year would have led to an increase in the perception of graft on the mainland. Hong Kong, which tied in 17th position with the United States, Ireland and Barbados, has dropped in the rankings for the past four years. "It sends a message that it has not improved," Plipat said, pointing to the high-profile corruption trial involving Hong Kong's former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan and two tycoons from Sun Hung Kai Properties. "Big-profile cases like this can only happen when there is a weakness in public-sector integrity," Plipat said. Hong Kong's drop "also shows the level of secrecy in banking systems" and "raises the issue of a lack of public registries of company ownership". Still, Hong Kong's rank was commendable, he said. "Putting it into perspective and comparing it to the rest of the world, Hong Kong still scores very high and is in the top 20." [...] More than two-thirds of the 175 countries included in the index scored less than 50. The index is based on a combined assessment of 12 surveys that weigh up expert opinions of corruption in the public sector. ^ top ^

Sinopec oil division chief Xue Wandong fired amid investigation (SCMP)
The president of Sinopec Group's oilfield services unit has been dismissed and is currently under investigation, mainland media reported yesterday. Xue Wandong, the president of Sinopec Oilfield Services Corp (SOSC), was relieved of his duties by the company's party apparatus, according to the influential news outlet Caixin. He is being investigated for reasons that were not specified. China's corruption watchdog had launched a series of inspections into state-owned enterprises and government bodies including Sinopec Group, the parent of Sinopec. Sinopec said in a statement on its Weibo account that it had zero tolerance for behaviour that "violates discipline or the law". Caixin said Xue was taken away by investigator yesterday morning. SOSC has been planning a US$1.5 billion IPO in Hong Kong, people familiar with the matter said in August. SOSC entered into a joint venture with US-listed Weatherford International earlier this year, in order to tap into the country's potentially vast shale resources. [...] The party announced in July that China's former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang was being investigated for "serious disciplinary violations", the usual euphemism for corruption. He was once the head of state oil giant China National Petroleum Corporation. Caixin's report, however, said it was still unclear if Xue has been implicated in Zhou's case or if his alleged wrongdoing was found by the central authorities' inspection team. Zhang Sujun, vice-minister of justice, said last month the government would make an announcement about Zhou once the anti-graft agency had completed its investigation. Zhang said Zhou had been investigated for misconduct by the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Its findings could be used in court. ^ top ^

China court upholds verdicts for online rumor-mongers (Xinhua)
A court in Kunming City in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Thursday upheld the sentences handed down to two people for fabricating and spreading online rumors for economic gain. Dong Rubin was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for illegal business operations. His co-conspirator, Hou Peng, received a three-year jail term with a three-year reprieve for the same charge by the court of Wuhua District. Dong and Hou were fined 350,000 yuan (about 56,000 U.S. dollars) and 50,000 yuan respectively. Dong appealed after the ruling and the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming City upheld the verdict. The court found that the defendants fabricated online posts at the request of clients from March 2011 to May 2013. Dong organized and participated in four crimes involving 345,000 yuan, and Hou was involved in three cases involving 255,000 yuan. Dong, who uses the online name "Bianmin," was also convicted of "creating disturbances" by posting fake information and comments in order to gain popularity. His posts distorted facts concerning the Mekong River attack, in which 13 sailors were murdered in October 2011 by a Myanmar drug ring. The widely-circulated content tarnished the image of the government and seriously disturbed the social order, said the verdict. ^ top ^

China mulls giving migrant population more equal rights (Xinhua)
China's migrant population may get equal access to more public services formerly restricted to the locals, according to a draft document of the government. Migrant citizens may apply for residence permits, which are linked with many rights, in cities after meeting certain requirements, such as having stable job and stable residence in a certain city and having stayed there for more than six months. Residence permit holders may enjoy many basic public services as locals, including free compulsory education, employment support, old-age care, and social welfare, said the draft of measures on the management of residence permits. The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council released the draft Thursday to solicit public opinion. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping urges development of military equipment systems (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged accelerating development of military equipment systems to help build a strong army. Addressing a conference of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on equipment, held from Wednesday to Thursday, Xi said advanced weaponry is the embodiment of a modern army and a crucial support for national security and rejuvenation. The building of equipment systems should be information-led and pay great attention to weapon quality, said Xi. Equipment systems are now in a period of strategic opportunities and at a key point for rapid development, he noted. The PLA must understand and make plans for system building in the context of the changes in both international strategic structure and Chinese national security. A strong and modern army equipment system plays an irreplaceable role for the full realization of the Chinese Dream, Xi said, adding that the PLA must enhance political consciousness to seize the opportunity and ensure the rapid upgrading of equipment. The equipment must be innovative, practical and forward-thinking to meet the demands of actual combat and fill in the weak spots of China's existing equipment. Military officers at all levels should play a leading role and use actual combat to guide soldiers to improve their capacity to operate weapons, Xi said. Xi, also chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the PLA should put a human resource strategy first by opening minds and not following a set model to establish a highly competitive talent reserve. China's ambition for a strong military works as a guideline for the country's defense and military equipment modernization. "We expect peace, but we shall never give up efforts to maintain our legitimate rights, nor shall we compromise our core interests, no matter when or in what circumstances," Xi said earlier this year when joining a plenary meeting of the PLA. In the meantime, national conditions have also dictated that a well-equipped PLA is needed for multiple purposes domestically, from disaster relief to maintaining stability and national unity. Xi, who leads the country's reform on national defense and the armed forces, stressed that military reform should be guided by the objective of building a strong army. ^ top ^

China to stop harvesting organs from executed prisoners from next year (SCMP)
The mainland – which has long been criticised by international human rights groups for using organs harvested from executed prisoners as its main source of organ transplants – will completely ban the practice from next year. All organs used in future transplants must be from donors, the Southern Metropolis News quoted Dr Huang Jiefu as saying. Huang is former deputy director of the health ministry and director of the China Organ Donation and Transplant Committee. Major transplant centres had already stopped using executed prisoners' organs, said Huang, who chaired an industry forum in Kunming on Wednesday. About 10,000 organ transplants are performed on the mainland each year and about 300,000 patients are on waiting lists, he said. China has one of the lowest voluntary organ donation rates in the world. Just 0.6 people out of every one million citizens have signed up to donate their organs when they die, the doctor said. This compares with Spain's high rate of organ donors – 37 donors for every one million citizens. “What we can't deny is that there are two reasons behind the slow development of organ donation in China,” he said. “Besides the lack of enthusiasm … due to the traditional mindset, people have concerns about whether the organs will be allocated in a fair, open and just way.” The doctor added that there were just 169 hospitals on the mainland qualified to carry out transplants. The number was far from ideal, he said. But Huang remains optimistic about the future, he said, because voluntary organ donation rolled out across the country last year had seen some results.“ Only 1,448 people donated from 2010 to 2013, but that number [from January this year until now] has risen to 1,500. I believe the situation will get better and better,” he said. ^ top ^

Blocked protest, readings mark first Constitution Day (SCMP)
The mainland marked its first national Constitution Day yesterday with readings at schools across the country, activities promoting the rule of law and the blocking of protests at Tiananmen Square. The National People's Congress, the mainland's rubber-stamp legislature, last month designated December 4 as National Constitution Day to promote the document adopted in its present form on that date in 1982. State broadcaster China Central Television showed footage of judicial employees swearing an oath to the constitution at Beijing's high court. On Wednesday, President Xi Jinping said the constitution "guarantees the socialist path with Chinese characteristics", according to the state-run Global Times newspaper. Schools across the nation were to hold readings of the constitution, according to an education ministry directive, and tables were set up on some central Beijing streets with posters and materials promoting the document. Yet at Tiananmen Square, the vast public space in the heart of the city, citizens seeking to protest were blocked by police from doing so. A middle-aged man was stopped and got into an altercation with officers at a security checkpoint after he tried to enter the square with a briefcase containing a pile of fliers. One officer videotaped as another yelled at the man, grabbed him by the front of his coat and thrust him into a chair. Half a dozen people were also seen being bundled by police into a van at the centre of the square, although it was unclear whether they were seeking to demonstrate. Article 35 of the constitution states: "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration." Yet the Communist Party maintains a tight grip on expression, with protests regularly quashed and human rights lawyers and activists coming under increasing pressure since Xi took power last year. Professor Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a specialist in China's political and legal systems at Baptist University, said the party's renewed promotion of the constitution was in part an effort to address the pressure being exerted by the nascent rights defence movement. In a December 2012 speech Xi emphasised the primacy of the constitution, but Cabestan noted that lawyers and other reformists who viewed his remarks as a call for greater judicial independence misinterpreted the leader's words. "Some reformists and legal experts jumped on that occasion to launch this constitutionalism debate and try to push the limits of the system," he said. "They failed, and the result has been the arrest of a number of activists." A conclave of top party leaders in Beijing last month made clear that "the constitution was under the leadership of the party", Cabestan said. ^ top ^



Beijing passes bill to ban smoking in all indoor public places (Xinhua)
Beijing adopted an anti-smoking legislation on Friday, vowing to ban smoking in all indoor public places, workplaces and public transport vehicles. The draft regulation was passed by vote at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Beijing Municipal People's Congress. It is scheduled to become effective on June 1 next year. According to the bill, smoking is also prohibited in open-air space in kindergartens, schools, child welfare institutions, women and children's hospitals, fitness and sports venues, and cultural relic protection sites that are open to the public. Tobacco advertisements are not allowed to appear outdoors, in public places and transports, as well as in media including radio, TV, films, newspapers, books, and internet. All forms of tobacco promotions and title sponsorship are banned. Teachers are forbidden from smoking in front of students in primary and secondary schools. Schools are also required to help students quit smoking and educate them about the harm of smoking. The regulation also prohibits selling cigarettes to minors through vending machines and internet. ^ top ^

Beijing takes measures to help the disabled fit in (Xinhua)
Beijing on Tuesday announced several measures to help the disabled adapt to society, one day ahead of World Disabled Day. Wu Wenyan, chairman of Beijing Disabled Persons' Federation, said the efforts include a citizen pass that can be used for 27 public services, more civil servant vacancies for the disabled, more opportunities for equal education, and more professionally trained teachers at schools. "Whether disabled people can have equal opportunities in society is an important indicator of a city or country's civilization," said Wu. "Therefore, we need to make continuous efforts to help them fit in," she said. Beijing built a set of accessible facilities prior to the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. However, Wu believes more things could be done. [...] Changing people's ideas is the most important step in eliminating discrimination, but it is also the most difficult one, said Wu. More efforts should be taken starting early in life to let more disabled children mingle with others in kindergartens, according to Wu. [...] Integration is being carried out in more elementary and middle schools across Beijing. So far, more than 1,000 schools in the city have received students with disabilities. [...] Beijing has also started to distribute citizen passes to all registered disabled people. It is the first citizen card to use the braille alphabet. Card holders will enjoy 27 services, including free bus rides and park visits. "The most exciting progress is that people no longer need to show their disabled certificate to enjoy public benefits. Now everything is in one card -- their identity, social services and even financial functions," said Wu. Meanwhile, five public servant jobs this year have been reserved for the disabled. In addition, Beijing will conduct a general survey on the needs and services for the disabled on Jan. 1, 2015 to establish a more comprehensive network and promote better care. ^ top ^

Beijing joins neighbors in emissions control (China Daily)
Beijing will join with its five provincial-level neighbors to build a unified platform that will monitor vehicle exhaust emissions in a bid to protect the environment. It is the first regional joint supervision effort in China, municipal environmental officials said. The combined effort, which is expected to include unified standards of evaluation and fines, may confront obstacles because of gaps in technology, expertise and financing ability within the group, some officials looking at possible regulations said on Tuesday. The first regional monitoring center, which will cover six areas - Beijing and Tianjin municipalities, Hebei, Shandong and Shanxi provinces, and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region - will create a database that will combine information about vehicles in the region and help set priorities for pollution controls. The group will also look at how to share information more effectively. "Then we will conduct joint management, including monitoring the emissions of new vehicles and vehicles that run for years, and impose fines under the unified standards," said Li Kunsheng, deputy leader of the project and director in charge of vehicle emissions at the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. The final document about the new platform is expected to be released in a few days. New vehicle standards are crucial in controlling excessive emissions at their source, Li said, adding that some companies have sold higher-emitting vehicles to neighboring areas that have weaker supervision. [...] Under the unified system's new draft, if a vehicle registered in the region was found to exceed the emission standard in Beijing, the municipal environmental watchdog would send a notice to the place of origin and impose a fine based on the municipal regulation. The joint supervision and unified punishment for polluting vehicles will help control pollution in Beijing, officials on the panel agreed on Tuesday. Those outside the capital were concerned about the feasibility of implementation because of financing limitations, technology and expertise. "We need a larger team to perform the joint supervision with more training on the equipment to monitor exhaust," said Mi Hailiang, from the environmental protection bureau of Hebei province, adding that the team for exhaust emission has fewer than 50 members, far less than the 700-member team in Beijing. The other four areas voiced similar difficulties. The punishment for excessive exhaust in Beijing is higher, making the larger fine from the capital hard to carry out. [...] ^ top ^



China-Nepal border port expanded to boost trade (Xinhua)
A China-Nepal border port at Jilung, a county in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, has been expanded to boost bilateral economic and tourism development, local authorities announced on Monday. Nepal has been Tibet's largest trade partner since 2006. According to data from Lhasa customs, bilateral trade accounted for 58.5 percent of Tibet's total import and export volume last year. The Jilung border port, which started operations in 1978, used to be the largest port linking the two countries. Trade at the port will be expanded and tourists will be allowed to travel through the port, according to Dong Mingjun, vice chairman of the Tibet regional government. The total volume of cross-border trade at the port reached 28.93 million yuan (4.7 million U.S. dollars) between January and October, with year-on-year growth of 660 percent. Recent development of the port has brought opportunities for local residents of Jilung town. "I started a business last year to buy biscuits and instant noodles from Nepal and sell them in Lhasa and Shigatse," said Basang, a villager. "I hope to expand my business in the next two or three years and open a shop in the town." The bridge that links Jilung to Nepal's Rasuwa has already been opened to traffic, and Lhasa customs are working with the local government of Jilung to establish a cross-border economic cooperation zone based around the port. ^ top ^



Curbs on religious extremism beefed up in Xinjiang (China Daily)
A regulation prohibiting people from wearing or forcing others to wear clothes or logos associated with religious extremism was passed in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Friday. The revised regional regulation on religious affairs is the first in the country to target religious extremism. The measure was approved unanimously by the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang People's Congress, and is due to come into force on Jan 1 next year. It is intended to protect legal religious activities. "An increasing number of problems involving religious affairs have emerged in Xinjiang," said Ma Mingcheng, deputy director of the Xinjiang People's Congress and director of its legislative affairs committee. "The old regulation, which was passed 20 years ago, just cannot handle new situations, such as the spreading of terrorist or extreme religious materials via the Internet or social media, and using religion to interfere in people's lives." He said the regulation has taken two-and-a-half years to draft, and is the most discussed and debated measure in the region's history due to the sensitivity and importance of the subject. Religious extremism has become the main threat to stability in Xinjiang and has led to an increasing number of terrorist attacks in and outside the region. The new regulation contains 18 new articles, most of which clarify the nature of illegal and extreme religious activities, Ma said. It defines religious extremism as activities or comments that twist the doctrines of a religion and promote thoughts of extremism, violence and hatred. Local authorities will be given the right to ask people not to wear clothes or logos linked to religious extremism, though the types of clothes and logos are not specified. The regulation prohibits people from distributing and viewing videos about jihad, or holy war, religious extremism and terrorism in or outside religious venues, and requires religious leaders to report such activities to the local authorities and police. People will not be allowed to practice religion in government offices, public schools, businesses or institutions. Religious activities will have to take place in registered venues. The regulation says people should not use religion to interfere with the judicial system or wedding and funeral traditions. "The revised and new articles all target the most urgent and unique problems in Xinjiang's religious affairs and are very practical," Ma said. "We want people to know what religious activities are protected and what need to be stopped." [...] ^ top ^

15 dead after attackers hack bystanders with knives on Xinjiang street (SCMP)
At least four innocent people were killed and another 14 injured when a group of knife-wielding assailants hacked bystanders and threw explosives into a crowd on a busy street in restive Xinjiang's Shache county on Friday, state media reported yesterday. Eleven attackers, armed with explosives, knives and axes, were shot dead at the scene by patrolling officers, according to Xinhua. All the injured were taken to hospital, and police continued to investigate the case, which had been deemed a terrorist attack, the report said. The police gave no details on the ethnicity of the attackers or the total number involved. Neither did they say whether any officers were injured. The attack took place at 11.30am in Shache, or Yarkand, a county administered by Kashgar. Shache is one of the most populous counties in Xinjiang, home to more than 860,000 people, 96 per cent of whom are from ethnic minorities, according to a 2012 report by a newspaper under the Ministry of Education. The region has seen a series of attacks in recent months. In July, 37 civilians and 59 terrorists were killed and another 13 civilians wounded in a deadly attack on a police station and government offices in Shache, state media said. That incident was reportedly the bloodiest in Xinjiang since a riot involving both Han and Uygurs left about 200 people dead in Urumqi in 2009. Two days after the July attack, Jume Tahir, the government-appointed chief imam of the country's biggest mosque in Kashgar, was hacked to death after leading morning prayers. Beijing has blamed both attacks on Xinjiang separatists, whom the authorities said received terrorism training. Rights groups and exiled Uygurs dispute the terrorism label and argue the violence is the result of repression by the authorities. Two teenagers were sentenced to death over the killing of the imam, and a third man was given life imprisonment in September. More than 20 people responsible for the attack in July were sentenced to death by a Kashgar court in October. ^ top ^

Xinjiang official under judicial probe for power abuse, bribery (Xinhua)
Prosecutors opened an investigation into Li Yanming, an official in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, for suspected abuse of power and graft, said the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) on Monday. Li, former member of the Party committee of Xinjiang's Public Security Department and vice president of Xinjiang Police College, was "placed under compulsory measures", said the SPP in a statement. According to China's Criminal Procedure Law, compulsory measures include summons by force, bail, residential surveillance, detention and arrest. The SPP did not specify the measures it had taken. ^ top ^



Occupy supporters and police clash as Hong Kong protests escalate (SCMP)
Students fought running battles with police outside government headquarters on Sunday night as Occupy protesters tried to storm the Admiralty compound and lay siege to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's office. Minutes after student leaders called on the thousands gathered at the Admiralty Occupy encampment, hundreds of protesters - wearing an assortment of hard hats and protective masks - thronged around government headquarters and Tamar Park and began trying to breach police lines at various points. Police used pepper spray and baton charges to repel them, leaving some bloodied and requiring treatment by makeshift medics. Key areas of violence were Lung Wo Road and the walkways from Harcourt Road to government headquarters. At the same time, fresh trouble flared in Mong Kok as police and protesters clashed, although the disturbances subsided after 10 or so minutes, leaving the situation tense. The renewed violence came after police had earlier warned of resolute action to prevent any such blockade, while Federation of Students leaders told activists to avoid “giving the police a legitimate reason to take violent actions” as they stepped up the protests. In a statement at 10.20pm, police “strongly condemned” the “unlawful assemblies in Admiralty for storming police cordon lines and obstructing roads”. Vowing to use “suitable force resolutely”, they urged protesters to “stay away from radicals and troublemakers”. Police issued a second statement an hour later urging organisers of Occupy to end their “illegal” actions. [...] The escalation, rumoured for much of the weekend, was announced at 9pm on the main stage, when federation representative Nathan Law Kwun-chung urged people to head towards the government offices. He said there would be a “long journey” through the night, and called on Hongkongers to “walk” with them. Soon afterwards, supporters began streaming towards the government offices on Tim Mei Avenue. Soon after, police in riot gear raised warning signs in Tamar Park telling protesters to “stop charging”. Hours earlier, police warned the public against attending a rally called by the federation in the protest zone. About 3,000 officers were posted in Admiralty, with a further 4,000 in Mong Kok, where protests have continued despite the clearance of the main protest zone last week. [...] Oscar Lai Man-Lok, spokesman for student group Scholarism, said the crowd was the biggest in at least two weeks. He told protesters to stick to their non-violent principles and not to provoke or charge at police. [...] ^ top ^

C.Y. Leung issues strongest warning yet to Occupy Central protesters (SCMP)
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has issued his strongest warning yet about clearing the nine-week-old Occupy Central protest sites, hours after overnight clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters who laid siege to government headquarters in Admiralty. Leung yesterday cited a Chinese saying, "if this can be tolerated, what cannot?", adding that because police had not yet taken action to clear some areas, it was not because they were incapable or a sign of weakness. The administration issued a statement condemning "violent radicals" who repeatedly stormed government headquarters and charged police lines. Leung also said there growing calls from the public for sites to be cleared. "Many residents are of the view that there is a limit to their tolerance," he said. The Causeway Bay sit-in, outside Sogo department store near Yee Wo Street, is the police's next clearance target after Mong Kok, a police source said. They would then close in on the Admiralty zone, in an operation also planned for this month. Student groups that had incited people to charge the premises on Sunday night admitted they had failed. They would now hold discussions with protesters on the way forward. Last night Joshua Wong Chi-fung, convenor of student activist group Scholarism, said he and two other group members would stage an indefinite hunger strike to call for an open dialogue with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor over the relaunch of political reform. The protests had interrupted government operations in the morning, with a number of meetings changing venue and some civil servants not being able to get to work, but normal operations had resumed by the afternoon. Federation of Students' secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang conceded "the plan did not achieve its original objective in the end, which was to paralyse government". The overnight drama began with the federation and Scholarism urging protesters to gather at the Admiralty encampment on Sunday night. Throughout the night, hundreds of protesters tried to breach police lines near the government complex. Officers used batons, pepper spray and high-pressure water hoses to repel them, and managed to reopen blocked roads the next morning. Police said 40 people were arrested in the commotion. Last night the Hospital Authority said that between 10pm on Sunday night and 2pm yesterday, 58 people, including 11 police officers, were sent to accident and emergency wards. Twenty-three of the city's 27 pan-democratic lawmakers called on student leaders to stop intensifying their action to avoid more people getting hurt. Leung said the government did not want to clear the sites unless it was "absolutely necessary". [...] ^ top ^

Police let Occupy organisers walk away without charge after they turn themselves in (SCMP)
The three co-founders of Occupy Central and more than 60 of their supporters were not arrested or charged yesterday after they turned themselves in for taking part in unauthorised assemblies since late September. The trio - Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming and Dr Chan Kin-man - arrived at the Central Police Station in Sheung Wan with a letter they signed, admitting they had taken part in a rally from September 28 and might have broken laws under the Public Order Ordinance. Through the surrender, the trio aimed to bring a peaceful end to the civil disobedience movement they initiated. Tai said that during their one-hour stay at the station, police questioned them with a "specially designed" form that listed offences including participating, organising or inciting people to participate in an unauthorised assembly, vandalism and obstructing a policeman's duty. They were also asked to specify the locations of the alleged offences, such as Harcourt Road or the government's headquarters. Tai said they admitted only to taking part in an unauthorised assembly. Accompanying the trio were Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, 14 Democratic Party members including lawmaker Wu Chi-wai and former legislators Cheung Man-kwong, and dozens of other Occupy supporters. Those people also signed a similar letter setting out their personal details and participation in Occupy. Both letters were handed to the police, who took no further action. Police said that by 7pm, 65 people had surrendered. About 40 anti-Occupy activists gathered outside the venue to hurl insults at them. [...] ^ top ^

Officials to speed up clearance of protest sites after Admiralty clashes, source says (SCMP)
The government has decided to speed up the clearance of protest sites in the wake of violent clashes between police and activists who laid siege to the government's headquarters in Admiralty on Sunday and Monday. This marks a departure from its previous stance of waiting for the protests to die down. A government source said the administration was wary of growing security risks after the overnight clash, during which protesters wearing hard hats and masks charged police lines after student groups called on them to surround the government offices. "Student leaders have not paid heed to advice from Occupy Central leaders and community leaders across the political spectrum. It's unrealistic to expect students to retreat from protest sites on their own initiative," the source said. Student leaders believe it would be inappropriate to disperse the crowds before the government makes any concession on Beijing's strict framework for the 2017 chief executive election. They have also ruled out turning themselves in to police. The source said police would clear protest zones in Admiralty and Causeway Bay in the "near future", adding that the exact time would be decided by police based on operational needs. The government has adopted a wait-and-see strategy since the occupation campaign began on September 28, hoping that anger from people affected by the sit-ins would wear down protesters. A source close to pan-democrat lawmakers said that during their breakfast meeting last Thursday with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor she "gave no timetable" for clearing the protest sites in Admiralty and Causeway Bay, hinting the government would rather wait for the protests to fizzle out. On Monday, a High Court judge granted cross-border bus company All China Express an interim injunction to clear a section from Connaught Road to Cotton Tree Drive in the Admiralty-Central protest area. "The timing of the police's clearance action in Admiralty won't rely on when the interim injunction order is enforced as police are empowered to take action under other ordinances," the source said. ^ top ^

Occupy protesters in Mong Kok take to the 'shopping tour' (SCMP)
Traffic may have returned to the Mong Kok protest zone, but last week's clearance of the encampment has given rise to a new form of protest known as the "shopping tour", with activists taking to the crowded footpaths to convey their political message. Participants say it is more fun and a pleasant change from camping on the tarmac, plus it is proving even more effective as a strain on police manpower. Every night since last Friday, dozens of protesters have gathered outside a cinema on Sai Yeung Choi Street South. They watch movie trailers while chanting spontaneous slogans inspired by images on the screen. Then they roam the footpaths, obstructing commerce while evading police. [...] "Now it's the reverse; we are on the offensive and the cops are put on the defensive," said a semi-retired protester aged in his 50s who wished to be identified only by his surname, Ng. Having joined the gau wu tour nightly since last week, Ng said window shopping was "a lot more fun" than guarding the roadblock outside City Hall in Central, which he has done since the start of the Occupy protests. "This is not even illegal," he said. It is understood that during evenings over the past week the police had more than 2,500 officers either on the ground in Mong Kok or on standby to prevent any tours turning into a reoccupation. Indeed, one of the favourite slogans of the "shoppers" is "let us occupy Mong Kok together with the police". [...] ^ top ^

Hong Kong student federation to consider a retreat from Occupy zones within a week (SCMP)
The Federation of Students, the major force behind the Occupy Central protests, could decide within a week whether to retreat from occupied sites after refusing for more than nine weeks to call off its civil disobedience action. A change of mind at the core of the federation seems to be afoot after its chief admitted an escalation in their protests on Sunday, when the government headquarters was besieged, had failed. But the other Occupy student group, Scholarism, appears to be pressing on. Two new hunger strikers joined three others as one of them, group convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung, drank a teaspoon of glucose on doctors' orders. This happened after his blood sugar dropped worryingly. A core member of the federation, Yvonne Leung Lai-kwok, said protesters had to consider how to conserve their energy so they could stay the course in pursuit of democracy. "Some protesters [in Admiralty and Causeway Bay] have expressed their intention to remain until police clear the sites, but we also need to think clearly about why we are continuing the occupation," Leung told Commercial Radio yesterday. "It is clear that a concrete decision would be needed [and] this could be made within a week." On Wednesday, the federation's secretary general, Alex Chow Yong-kang, floated the idea of shifting their focus beyond the sit-in zones to the community. At the Admiralty site, Scholarism hunger strikers appealed to pro-establishment lawmakers to help resume dialogue with the government. "The focus of the dialogue will be restarting the five steps of constitutional reform," Cheng Yik-lam said. "This is not against the Basic Law." The Chief Executive's Office has said Scholarism's request will not be accepted. Meanwhile, doctors gave Wong, 18, some glucose after his blood sugar dipped to 2.7 millimoles per litre during a 10.30am check-up. Normal blood sugar levels hover around 5 to 6 mmol/l before meals. A glucose solution is recommended to those whose levels drop below 3 mmol/l. [...] ^ top ^



Sweeping changes for Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui's second term (SCMP)
Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui sai-on has named an all-new team of top officials for his crucial second term as city leader in what is being seen as the most significant political shake-up since the former Portuguese enclave returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999. Chui - faced with shrinking casino revenues, slumping GDP growth and growing grass-roots calls for social and political change - rung the changes yesterday by replacing all five policy secretaries, most of whom he inherited from his predecessor Edmund Ho Hau-wah. The chief executive also appointed a new anti-corruption chief, just 18 days before President Xi Jinping is expected to arrive to lead celebrations for the 15th anniversary of the handover. Xi's "tigers and flies" anti-graft drive has been seen as key to the slowdown in Macau's casino-driven economy. The reshuffle and the appointment of two officials closely involved in recent moves to stymie the city's nascent pro-democracy movement also sparked speculation that Beijing was sending a message to Hong Kong that it was running out of patience over the Occupy turmoil. The central government has the final say on all appointments. The new policy secretaries are expected to take their oath of allegiance before Xi on December 19. "It's a big change in the leadership of the next government, which is surprising. It shows that Chui wants to change government practices and policies," said Eilo Yu Wing-yat, a University of Macau public administration scholar. A well-placed source with ties to the government said: "If the situation in Hong Kong wasn't as it is … we might have seen a slightly different team emerge. This is a landmark moment for Macau as the 15th anniversary approaches, but it also sends a clear message to Hong Kong." [...] ^ top ^

Macau warned to bet on diversity as Beijing cracks the whip (SCMP)
Macau has been told to address its overreliance on casino revenues "in the interests of the whole nation" in the most blunt warning yet about the need for economic diversification. A top official in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs, Li Fei, delivered the pointed warning a day after Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on announced sweeping changes to his ruling team as the city prepares to welcome President Xi Jinping later this month to lead celebrations for the 15th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule. Macau's already battered gaming stocks fell sharply following Li's comments, amid concerns the worst contraction of the city's economy since 2009 will not be reversed any time soon. It is widely accepted that Beijing's nationwide "tigers and flies" anti-corruption crackdown coupled with a general slowdown in the mainland economy has led to a slump in numbers at the casino tables. Speaking in the city yesterday Li - who is chairman of the Macau Basic Law Committee and deputy secretary general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee - stressed that the "overwhelming dominance" of the gaming industry not only worked against the interests of Macau but also the whole nation. Previous warnings have focused mainly on Macau. "The overwhelming dominance of gambling in Macau is not in line with the overall interest of Macau and the fact that Macau's economy, especially gaming, is closely connected with the mainland determines that when one judges the overall interest of Macau, one cannot focus only on Macau's economic growth and tax revenue. "One must take into account the socioeconomic safety, stability and developmental interest of the mainland and the whole nation," Li said. […] His comments will likely be seen as a direct challenge to Chui's new ruling team to come up with joined-up strategies on housing, social policy and the development of a special zone on Hengqin Island in Zhuhai, granted special status by Beijing to aid the city's development. On Monday, Chui named an all-new team of top officials for his crucial second term as city leader in what is being seen as the most significant political shake-up since the former Portuguese enclave returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999. The shake-up came amid grim economic figures and concerns that the city needs to do more to develop talent in sectors other than gaming if it is to fit into the mainland's overall plan for the development of the Pearl River Delta region. Shares in Macau's six casino operators tumbled yesterday. Wynn Macau fell the most, by 6.12 per cent, while SJM Holdings was down 5.84 per cent. Sands China lost 5.08 per cent, Galaxy 5.06 per cent, Melco Crown Entertainment 2.62 per cent, and MGM China fell 1.95 per cent. ^ top ^



Taiwan chief administrator resigns after party defeat in local elections (Xinhua)
Taiwan chief administrator Jiang Yi-huah announced his resignation after the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Party suffered a defeat in local elections held on Saturday. Jiang announced the decision at a press conference on Saturday evening and it was approved by Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou. Jiang said the voting results showed the public's discontent with the government's administration and he decided to take the political responsibility, hoping Ma could appoint a new chief administrator as soon as possible to face up to challenges. Ma, also chairman of the KMT Party, said he has accepted the resignation of the party's Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan at a separate press conference. "The KMT has suffered a huge defeat in the elections and I must apologize to all the Party members and supporters as well," Ma said, adding he will soon propose a reform plan to respond to the people's appeal. The KMT Party won six county and city chief seats in Taiwan's biggest-ever local elections, while the opposition Democratic Progressive Party landed 13 seats, according to the island's electoral authorities. The other 3 seats of the island's 22 county and city chiefs were picked up by independent candidates. The polls to select 11,130 holders for nine types of public offices ranging from municipal mayors to county chiefs, city councilors, village leaders, known as "nine-in-one elections," were held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The elections are the biggest in history in terms of candidates and open positions. It is the first time Taiwan residents elect officials for 11,130 local government and legislative positions simultaneously. ^ top ^

Ma resigns as KMT chief; names new cabinet boss (SCMP)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday named a new cabinet head, as he bowed out as chairman of the ruling Kuomintang. Vice-Premier Mao Chi-kuo will replace Dr Jiang Yi-huah as the new cabinet head after Jiang led some 80 officials in a mass resignation on Monday to take responsibility for the KMT's landslide defeat in local elections at the weekend, the Presidential Office said. "As Mao Chi-kuo has been vice-premier for one year and 10 months and is familiar with cabinet affairs, his appointment to head the cabinet will facilitate a seamless succession of the old and new cabinet," presidential spokeswoman Ma Wei-kuo said. Mao, 66, well versed in transportation and telecommunications affairs, said yesterday he had decided to take over the job and would closely work with local governments to address the needs of the public. Mao is expected to form the fifth cabinet under the Ma administration in a bid to avert any political chaos arising after the KMT suffered its worst electoral setback since coming to power in 1949. "At this time, it is highly necessary for the KMT to unite in order to ensure political stability," said Kao Yu-jen, former speaker of the defunct Taiwan Provincial Assembly. Prominent KMT members are expected to battle for the party's top post following Ma's resignation. The KMT was only able to capture five of 16 cities and counties and one of six municipalities during the local elections, down from the 15 it held under the previous election. "The KMT suffered an unprecedented setback in this local election, and as chairman, I must apologise to all our supporters … and take full responsibility for such a defeat … by resigning as KMT chairman," Ma said as he offered a deep 10-second bow of apology during a KMT central standing committee meeting yesterday. Vice-President Wu Den-yih later took over as the KMT's interim chairman and a new leader is expected to be elected before the end of next month. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

No official holiday for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's birthday (SCMP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's birthday will again not be celebrated as a national holiday next year, it was learned yesterday. More than five North Korean calendars for next year obtained by Kyodo News show that January 8, Kim's birthday, remains a non holiday weekday. That raises the possibility that there will be no major official celebrations to mark the day, unlike the birthdays of his father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung. It is widely known in North Korea that the birthday of Kim, who inherited power after his father died in December 2011, falls on January 8. But it is not yet officially confirmed which year the leader, the third in his family to rule the commonist country who is presumed to be 31 years old, was born in. The birthdays of Kim's father and grandfather, February 16 and April 15 respectively, have both been designated as national holidays and accordingly commemorated every year with various events. The new calendars, meanwhile, added June 19 as a national holiday, explaining that it is when Kim Jong-il "started work at the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea". ^ top ^

Sony investigating whether N Korea behind cyberattack on firm's film and TV studio (SCMP)
Sony is investigating the possibility that a hacking attack on its film and TV studio may have involved North Korea, which has previously reacted with outrage to an upcoming Sony comedy about a CIA plot to kill leader Kim Jong-un, a source said. A person with knowledge of the matter said that the studio may have had several films stolen in the November 25 cyberattack that continues to cripple its computer systems. The recent picture Fury, a Brad Pitt war movie, and the yet-to-be-released Annie and Still Alice have appeared on file-sharing sites, said the person, who sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter. The website TorrentFreak, a news site on file-sharing, said Fury was the second most-downloaded film at one site. The source said the studio was looking into Pyongyang's possible involvement in the attack. The website Re/code reported on Saturday that the studio was looking into whether the attack was intended to coincide with the release of The Interview. The comedy, currently being advertised for release in theatres on December 25, features Seth Rogen and James Franco as trash TV producers who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim after he invites them to interview him. Plans for the film drew a rebuke from the country, with a foreign ministry spokesman saying in state media that the release would be an "act of war", according to the BBC. [...] ^ top ^

N.Korea bans people from sharing leader's name: report (Global Times)
North Korea has ordered people who share the name of leader Kim Jong-un to change their names, South Korea's state-run KBS television reported on Wednesday. North Korea imposed similar bans on the use of the names of its two former leaders, Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, and grandfather, Kim Il-sung, as part of propaganda drives to build cults of personality around them. Kim Jong-un's name is not allowed for newborns and people who share the name must not just stop using it but must change it on their birth certificates and residence registrations, KBS reported, citing an official North Korean directive. Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader, issued the order in 2011, when his son was heir apparent, KBS said. South Korea's Ministry of Unification could not immediately confirm the report but said it was plausible. "The ban is highly possible since North Korea had the same policy in the era of Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung," a ministry official said. It is not known how many people there are in North Korea called Kim Jong-un, but Kim is a very common family name and Jong-un are common given names. ^ top ^

Feature: Pyongyang imposes odd-even ban on most taxis (Xinhua)
Car bans are not uncommon to ease traffic and air pollution worldwide and there are always exceptions for taxis. But in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a strict odd-even ban has been imposed on most taxis since April. The rule is simple: taxis with an odd end number on license plates are allowed to travel on odd-numbered days only and those with an even end number are able to drive on even-numbered days. The reason for introducing the license plate restriction for taxis remains unknown. It appears not likely that the niche has become saturated as people often vie to hail a taxi. "It is the government that made the regulation. We just need to follow the rule," said Han Chol Mun, a cab driver in Pyongyang. In fact, a large number of new vehicles have been put on the roads in Pyongyang to boost taxi services since Kim Jong Un took the helm in 2011. Official figures showed more than 1,500 taxis had been running in the capital city by the end of 2013. Just a few years ago, the taxi industry in Pyongyang was far less regulated and cabs could be all kinds of vehicles including cars and minibuses, without a unified look. The best way to distinguish a cab before you hail it was to make sure the vehicle's plate number ended with "94." Now a vast majority of the taxi cabs are BYD (a Chinese automaker) automobiles with the name of taxi firms printed on both sides of the cars. Atop the car body is fixed a board that reads "TAXI" in both Korean and English. Jumping into the cab and traveling within two km costs two U.S. dollars. For each kilometer you travel beyond that distance, 0.56 dollars get added to the fare. U.S. dollars, euros, renminbi and even DPRK wons are all accepted. [...] In Pyongyang, most citizens choose public transport to commute such as subway, buses and tramcars because of low ticket prices. A bus or subway ticket costs only five DPRK won (about 0.0007 U.S. dollars). Compared with public vehicles, calling a taxi costs a lot more, but that simply does not prevent local people from taking a cab. As the number of taxis running on the road has been slashed since the restriction came into effect, the demands for taxis are surging and carpooling is becoming quite common. In some cases, several customers have to share one car to avoid waiting for another 20 minutes or longer to get a cab. The odd-even rationing policy, however, is not applicable for all cabs, taxi drivers told Xinhua. About 150 taxis operated by Air Koryo, the national flag carrier and the country's only airline, are not subject to this regulation. [...] ^ top ^

North Korea may send Kim Jong-un's little sister on rare business trip to South (SCMP)
North Korea has offered to send leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister to a South Korean event planned for early next year, an organiser said today, which would be the first time an immediate member of the ruling family would visit the South. Kim Yo-jong is included in the North's list of ruling party officials to participate in a joint food festival planned by a private South Korean group of businesses with ties in the North, an official with the group said. Kim, who is believed to be 27, was identified by the North's state media last week as a senior official of the Workers' Party, the only other member of the ruling Kim family known to have an official role in the government. “A list of participants was sent to us, and [Kim Yo-jong] is in there,” Dongbang Young-man told Reuters. The group is in discussions with the South Korean government over the event planned for Seoul, he said. The South's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, did not immediately have comment when asked about the event. Most private exchange between the rivals was halted after a torpedo attack against a South Korean navy ship in 2010, which Seoul has blamed on Pyongyang. If it happens, Kim Yo-jong's visit would mark the first visit by an immediate member of the Kim family in more than six decades of division. Two South Korean presidents have travelled to the North for summit meetings with the current leader's father, Kim Jong-il – in 2000 and 2007 – but the North has not reciprocated the visits. Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of Kim Jong-un who was married to the daughter of state founder Kim Il-sung, was among a group of North Korean officials who visited the South in 2002 and was the only other member of the leading family to have been in the South. [...] ^ top ^



MPP decides to join the Coalition Government with DP (infomongolia)
On Friday scheduled Baga Khural (Lower Assembly) of Mongolian People's Party to discuss whether to join the Coalition Government with ruling Democratic Party was held on the following day at the Independence Palace in Ulaanbaatar on November 29, 2014. To recall, last week the newly elected Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg sent a proposal letter to all political forces on establishing a Coalition Government, where the opposition party MPP refused to accept the invitation at their Group meeting-level, but the Board members agreed to join the Coalition. Therefore, MPP authorities called the Baga Khural to decide at all member-level. The Assembly meeting with participation of 230 members out of total 310 was chaired by MPP Group Chairman S.Byambatsogt and consequently, majority of attendees polled to join the Coalition Government. Following the decision, MPP spokesman T.Gantulga said, “We conducted a survey among fellowships in 9 Districts of UB and in 10 Aimags involving over 2,500 civilians and the 52.6% opinions showed it would correct to join the Coalition Government. The decision at the Baga Khural was issued due to urgent situation needs to resolve in the country and therefore we agreed to collaborate with the Democratic Party”. ^ top ^

PM submits draft on government structure (UB Post)
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg submitted drafts on governmental structure, the new government's components, an amendment to the law on government, and a Parliamentary resolution on adopting the general structure of state administrative bodies to Speaker Z.Enkhbold for approval. The draft states that the new government's structure will consist of a prime minister, deputy prime minister, state minister and head of the cabinet secretariat. It will also include the following ministerial positions: environment and tourism, foreign affairs, finance, justice, industry, defense, construction and urban planning, education, culture and science, roads and transportation, mining, labor, population development and social welfare, food and agriculture, energy, health and sport, and a state minister of Mongolia. PM Saikhanbileg believes that a state minister of Mongolia should work in the government to implement major national development projects and programs important to Mongolia's prosperity. The state minister will decide on the issues of necessary investments for these major projects and programs, and provide consistent policy guidelines and directives for project implementation. Ch.Saikhanbileg believes that this will positively influence the results of these projects and included that the state minister won't control any of the new government's 15 ministries. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Justice will be general functional ministries and the remaining 11 will become sectoral ministries. In accordance with the submission of the government's structure to the Parliament, the parliament resolution on adopting the general structure of state administrative bodies was revised. The revised resolution proposes having ten government regulatory agencies, eighteen government enforcement agencies, and to liquidate the Nuclear Energy Agency and Takhar organizations. In the past three years, foreign investments have dramatically decreased and the draft states that the issues of improving investor trust, increasing investments, intensifying the state and private sector's business activities, and increasing the efficiency of local properties should be improved under the direct control of the PM. The following day, a meeting of the Standing Committee on State Structure was scheduled to discuss the draft bill on government structure but was indefinitely delayed. There is speculation that the delay might be a result of political parties and the coalition caucus being unlikely to reach a final agreement on the government's structure. ^ top ^

Parliament of Mongolia ratifies the bill on new government structure and Cabinet Ministers will be announced on December 05, 2014 (infomongolia)
On December 04, 2014, the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia ratified the bill on new government structure, government composition and other affiliated regulations hearing the last discussion. According to the decision, the Government of Mongolia will consist of 19 members including Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Mongolia, Head of the Cabinet Secretariat and the below Ministers responsible affiliated 15 Ministries. New Ministries of the Coalition Government to be effective from December 05, 2014 to 2016 are: 1. Minister for Environment, Green Development and Tourism of Mongolia 2. Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia 3. Minister for Finance of Mongolia 4. Minister for Justice of Mongolia 5. Minister for Industry of Mongolia 6. Minister for Construction and Urban Development of Mongolia 7. Minister for Defense of Mongolia 8. Minister for Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia 9. Minister for Roads and Transportation of Mongolia 10. Minister for Mining of Mongolia 11. Minister for Labor of Mongolia 12. Minister for Population Development and Social Protection of Mongolia 13. Minister for Food and Agriculture of Mongolia 14. Minister for Energy of Mongolia 15. Minister for Health and Sports of Mongolia Following the ratification, Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold obliged affiliated Standing Committee to submit the promoting names for Government members or above Ministers within today on December 05, 2014. ^ top ^


Mrs. Petra Salome Merki
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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