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
  13-19.12.2014, No. 554  
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Foreign Policy

Deadly workers' riot at Chinese-run plant in Madagascar 'shocks' Beijing embassy (SCMP)
China's embassy in Madagascar said it was “very shocked” by a violent labour dispute at a Chinese-run sugar factory in the west of the island that resulted in four deaths this week. Clashes between police and local workers at the Chinese-run Sucoma plant turned deadly on Wednesday, with two people killed and nine wounded. The plant's sugar stocks were also looted. The workers were demanding the release of two of their leaders who had been arrested. A spokesman at the embassy said in a statement it was “regrettable” that “troublemakers incited by people with bad intentions” were using violence at the Sucoma plant. The embassy also complained that authorities in Madagascar were not upholding a duty to protect the factory. The day after the riots, a policeman and a soldier posted to the factory were slashed to death with knives. The Malagasy workers at the plant are demanding better wages, and contracts for seasonal workers. The embassy insisted the Chinese company that owns the plant was respecting local laws, and said it had created many jobs in the town of Morondava. It said it was up to Madagascar's government to handle the matter so that “negative influences” are not felt on the island's investment climate. China's vast investment in countries across Africa has led to social unease in some countries, with the visitors sometimes accused of exploiting workers. [...] In African countries where Chinese workers have been brought in to build infrastructure, China's reputation has been tainted by resentment from locals. Initially, the African side embraced China with enthusiasm, because in the past 10 years China provided trade and investment to Africa without conditions such as human rights imposed by Western institutions, explains Anthony Desir, a partner of the Strategic African Mineral Investment Fund, an African resource consultancy. But recently, "we see less excitement about China from the African side, because there is less enthusiasm for selling resources without getting high-value development. "China's soft power is at a crossroads. The last 10 years is absolutely not going to be the working model for the next five to 10 years," Desir said. ^ top ^

Spotlight: China eye to eye with Kazakhstan on enriching cooperation with 14-bln-USD deals (Xinhua)
China and Kazakhstan, a pair of traditional friends, see eye to eye with each other all the more with a series of newly-signed cooperative deals worth about 14 billion U.S. dollars. The agreements were inked Sunday during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the Central Asian country. In Astana, Li made crystal-clear China's willingness to work with Kazakhstan to create new growth points and bright spots in cooperation and build new engines for common development. The two sides should continue deepening energy cooperation, advancing the construction of a gas pipeline linking them, implementing their memorandum of understanding on nuclear cooperation, and exploring interaction opportunities in photovoltaic and coal chemical fields, Li told his Kazakh counterpart Karim Masimov during a meeting here. In the meantime, China is also willing to tap complementary economic advantages and expand cooperation in non-energy fields with Kazakhstan, Li said. He called on the two sides to further optimize the structure of bilateral trade and two-way investment, saying China supports its competitive enterprises to invest in Kazakhstan. He also urged the two sides to promote interconnectivity, push forward cooperation in the areas of logistics, transportation and communication, and facilitate trade and personnel exchanges. The two nations, he added, should strengthen local cooperation, establish cultural centers in the other country and consolidate public support for bilateral ties. Li said China will also conduct friendly cooperation with Kazakhstan on utilization and exploration of cross-border water resources. The two sides should expand their cooperation scope from big-enterprise investors to small and medium-sized ones, and from central or key cities to other regions, Li told a joint press conference after his talks with Masimov. They should explore cooperation opportunities in intensive processing of natural resources, equipment manufacturing and agriculture, which will not only extend industry and value chain to create more values, but also provide new impetus to bilateral cooperation, Li said. [...] Kazakh leaders echoed Li's ideas, with Nazarbayev vowing Kazakhstan's support for the China-proposed initiatives of the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and Masimov's promise of his country's active participation in helping build the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, as well as strengthened coordination within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with China. The two sides further detailed their cooperation ambitions with a joint communique issued after the meeting between Li and Masimov. According to the document, the two sides agreed to deepen collaboration in the area of confidence-building measures, to allow CICA, or the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, to play a greater role in the future.[...] ^ top ^

China willing to play constructive role in Afghan reconstruction: PM (Xinhua)
China is willing to play a constructive role in Afghanistan's reconstruction, national reconciliation and people's livelihood improvement, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here on Monday. Meeting with Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdulla on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) prime ministers' meeting, Li said China attaches great importance to the development of its relations with Afghanistan, supporting it to push forward a reconciliation process dominated and owned by the Afghan people. In order to boost bilateral cooperation in all fields, China is ready to send a working group to Afghanistan at an early date to discuss with the Afghan side the development plan of national infrastructure, the Chinese premier said. China is also willing to work together with Afghanistan to run well next year the celebrating activities for the 60th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, said Li. For his part, Abdulla said Afghanistan appreciates China's consistent contribution to the peace and reconciliation process in his country. Afghanistan stands ready to consolidate bilateral ties, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields, and promote regional peace, stability and security, he added. Li wrapped up his Kazakhstan trip late Monday after meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, holding the second regular meeting between the China-Kazakhstan heads of government with his Kazakh counterpart Karim Masimov, and attending the SCO's 13th prime ministers' meeting. [...] ^ top ^

Chinese PM: SCO plays key role in keeping peace, stability in Eurasia (Xinhua)
Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Monday that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) plays a pillar role in peaceful development in Eurasia and its member states should work together to safeguard peace and stability in the region. At the 13th SCO prime ministers' meeting, Li said the SCO should help preserve regional security and stability to address challenges such as drug trafficking, organized crime and cyber crime, and further improve security cooperation mechanism to curb terrorism. Li proposed that the member states negotiate an anti-terrorism convention and enable regional anti-terrorism agencies to fight against drug trafficking. On the basis of such a convention, Li said, a center addressing security challenges should also be established. [...] China will firmly safeguard regional stability and stick to peaceful development, Li said. He also proposed to cultivate new areas for regional economic cooperation and speed up regional integration. [...] The Chinese premier said that his country will also offer financing support to Kazakhstan and other SCO members. Li voiced the hope that the SCO members further facilitate trade and investment, reduce trade and investment barriers and improve customs clearance efficiency. The Silk Road Economic Belt initiated by the Chinese side could be interconnected with the Bright Road and other similar proposals by other countries, Li said, encouraging all SCO members to discuss projects aimed at promoting infrastructure construction and upgrading industries. China is going to inaugurate priority projects under the Eurasian economic cooperation fund, coordinate with other SCO members to steadily foster the SCO development bank, which is designed as a long-term stable financing platform for regional cooperation, Li said. He said China backs Kazakhstan's proposal on the currency swap scheme within the SCO. Urging to enhance cooperation on people's livelihood and people-to-people exchanges, Li suggested that the bloc strengthen collaboration on more projects of people's livelihood, which can also help create more jobs and bring practical benefits to the regional people. China stands ready to deepen agricultural cooperation with other SCO members and work for setting up an SCO food security cooperation mechanism, Li said, adding that his country plans to allocate 50 million U.S. dollars for popularizing agricultural technologies and training professionals. He said China is also committed to strengthening cooperation in environmental protection, public health and the prevention and control of infectious diseases. He stressed that the SCO member states should further expand people-to-people exchanges and mutual understanding, and continue to simplify visa application and residence permission procedures. [...] ^ top ^

Beijing ignores court deadline over disputes in South China Sea (SCMP)
China's government has ignored a deadline to outline its territorial claims in the South China Sea to an international court. The government had until yesterday to submit its case to a court of arbitration in The Hague in the Netherlands. The case was bought by the Philippines, but a foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing, Qin Gang, said the court had no jurisdiction in the territorial dispute. "China will not participate in the arbitration launched by the Philippines," Qin said. "China supports resolving disputes through consultation with the countries involved on the basis of respecting historical facts and international laws," he said. China had an "unshakable determination" to protect its territorial integrity and would respond to any provocation. The Philippines has urged the tribunal to back its claims that areas of the South China Sea form part of its continental shelf and are within its 370km exclusive economic zone. The Foreign Ministry in Vietnam has also told the court in the Netherlands that it rejects China's claims over the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea. Beijing released a paper on the issue last week, arguing the question of territorial sovereignty should not be addressed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It said China's claims dated back 2,000 years and the nation was the first to discover and name the islands contested by other countries. A commentary by the state-run Xinhua news agency said the UN convention was “really a red herring in this case” and described the Philippines authorities as a crying baby. “The proceedings initiated by Manila are actually a farce crammed with ambition and ill intention under the cover of law, leading people with little knowledge of the case to accuse Beijing of not abiding by international law,” it said. The Philippines should act in a more rational and sensible manner as there was a growing economic interdependence between countries around the South China Sea, it said. The Foreign Ministry in Manila issued a statement today welcoming a US government report that questioned the legitimacy of China's claims in the South China Sea, arguing they are not backed by the international law of the sea. The report supports the Philippines view that there needs to be an independent assessment of claims to the disputed waters, the statement said. Areas of the South China Sea are claimed by several nations, also including Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. [...] ^ top ^

China expects progress from fresh round Iran nuke talks (Xinhua)
China on Tuesday expressed optimism for the latest Iran nuclear talks which begin in Geneva on Wednesday, vowing to play a constructive role in promoting a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Wang Qun, director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry department of arms control, will head the Chinese delegation to the talks, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang at a regular press briefing. Iran and the world powers have agreed to extend the talks until June 30, 2015, giving more time and room for maneuver, Qin said. He urged parties concerned preserve the momentum of negotiations, find a consensus in a step-by-step and reciprocal way, striving for a mutual-beneficial comprehensive nuclear deal as soon as possible. After the deal between Iran and the P5+1 group on Nov. 24, 2013, several rounds of talks have failed to work out a comprehensive agreement. Under the interim deal, Iran will suspend some sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for limited relief of sanctions. ^ top ^

Sino-U.S. investment treaty sees major progress (Xinhua)
China and the United States are finalizing text checks on a bilateral investment treaty and will formally exchange negative lists at the beginning of next year, China's Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said Tuesday. The BIT negotiations are considered the most important issue in the two nation's economic relationship. Zhu underlined that the two countries sought a transparent investment treaty that was free of discrimination. China and the United States both wish to complete negotiations within Obama's term, Zhu said at an economic forum in Beijing. Talks on the treaty began in 2008 as both countries sought to increase mutual investment, which only accounted for a tiny share of their overseas investment. Last year, bilateral trade volume increased to 520 billion U.S. dollars, and outstanding two-way investment rose to 100 billion dollars. At last month's summit, the world's two biggest economies agreed to accelerate the bilateral investment treaty negotiations with the aim of achieving agreements on the treaty's core issues and major provisions by the end of the year. Both countries agreed more resources were needed in the negotiation process to cement a comprehensive high-standard bilateral investment treaty, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The treaty is expected to cement the foundation of China-U.S. economic ties and significantly benefit global trade, Zhu said. At the forum, the vice finance minister also said China had noticed an American think tank's proposal of a Sino-U.S. free trade area, adding that China was open to suggestions that could benefit global economic integration and promote world economic growth. ^ top ^

China, EU vow to open markets wider in trade and investment push (SCMP)
China and the European Union yesterday pledged to open their markets further to each other in a bid to expand trade and investment to the full potential. "Trade and investment are still the backbone of our relationship," EU ambassador Dietmar Schweisgut said at the European Chamber's annual conference yesterday in Beijing, adding the full potential was far from being explored. "Impressive as the trade balance is and the overall volume of trade," trade in services was lagging, Schweisgut said. The overall EU investment in China was only about 2 per cent of its total outward direct investment, while Chinese investment in Europe was about 1 per cent of the total inward foreign investment received by the EU, he said. Li Wei, minister of the State Council Development Research Centre, said China and the EU were "inseparable" trade partners with huge untapped potential. "The 1 per cent and 2 per cent share of investment in each other's market is disproportionate given the role the two major economies play in economic globalisation," he said. The EU has been China's largest trade partner for 10 straight years, with bilateral trade totalling US$550 billion last year. China is the EU's No2 partner. Li and Schweisgut pledged to push for more progress in the negotiations over a bilateral investment treaty. Beijing's New Silk Road strategy would also offer great opportunities in boosting connectivity between China and Europe. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Chinese outbound investment rose 11.9 per cent to US$89.8 billion in the January-November period from a year earlier, with the portion going to EU nearly doubling. During the same period, foreign direct investment into China climbed 0.7 per cent year on year to US$106.2 billion, although investment from the EU dropped 9.8 per cent to US$6.2 billion. Schweisgut urged Beijing to improve protection of intellectual property rights, reduce discrimination and further open up the services sector. Easing investment barriers was vital to ensure China's attractiveness to foreign investment, especially when its competitiveness was gradually slipping amid the slowdown, he said. […] ^ top ^

Spotlight: China-CEE leaders' meeting boosts connectivity, cooperation (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended Tuesday the third leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in Belgrade, and held a joint press conference with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, to introduce achievements of the meeting. There is tremendous potential for China and CEE countries to work with each other, Li said, saying the Belgrade Guidelines for Cooperation between China and CEE countries released after the meeting sets the direction of future cooperation. [...] The two sides agreed to enhance connectivity and hailed the signing of cooperation agreements on building a railway running through Belgrade and Budapest to connect China, Hungary and Serbia. The countries pledged to continuously improve China-Europe international railway container transportation, making it a priority project in deepening mutually beneficial cooperation and enhancing connectivity and market-access between Asia and Europe. Under the guidelines, the countries will encourage relevant parties to facilitate customs clearance, create new logistics routes and hubs, and strengthen cooperation in infrastructure development including the construction of highways, railways, seaports and airports. Serbia will lead to establish a consortium on China-CEE transport infrastructure cooperation to serve participating companies. Moreover, the two sides will support the smooth functioning of existing direct flights between China and CEE countries, the opening of more air routes, and the establishment of the China-CEE consortium on logistics cooperation at an appropriate time. [...] When addressing the Fourth Economic and Trade Forum between China and CEE countries in the Serbian capital, Li raised a four-point proposal on pushing forward economic cooperation between China and CEE countries. The premier asked to combine China's advantages in equipment manufacturing with the needs of CEE countries for infrastructure upgrade to make good use of China's equipment production capacity and promote the economic development of these nations. He proposed setting up a new framework for joint investment and financing between China and CEE countries as a way to serve the real economy. China encourages CEE countries to continue using the 10-billion-U.S.-dollar special credit line, and another 3-billion-dollar investment fund will be established to encourage Chinese companies and financial institutions to participate in public-private cooperation and the privatization process in CEE countries. China will also launch the second phase of China-CEE Investment Cooperation Fund worth 1 billion dollars to support its investment projects in these counties. [...] ^ top ^

China, Serbia vow to upgrade strategic partnership to new level (Xinhua)
China and Serbia on Wednesday agreed to continue to support each other on issues of core interests, further bilateral practical cooperation, realize common development, and upgrade strategic partnership to a new level. The consensus was reached when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic. China attaches great importance to the ties with Serbia, Li said, adding that friendship, mutual trust and cooperation have become the main theme of bilateral relations. Li called on both sides to reinforce infrastructure cooperation, promote major cooperation projects, and start the construction of the Hungary-Serbia railway as soon as possible. China and Serbia, he said, should encourage information sharing and project docking between enterprises and financial institutions from the two countries. Referring to expanding agricultural trade and research collaboration, Li called for an early establishment of a network for promoting agricultural technological cooperation and turn the scientific results into productivity. On lifting the level of bilateral trade and investment, the two sides should hold the 11th China-Serbia joint economic and trade committee meeting as soon as possible, the premier said. Pledging to strengthen people-to-people exchanges and expand cooperation in education, culture and tourism, Li expected that the Serbian side will facilitate visa issuance for Chinese tourists. Meanwhile, he expressed appreciation for Serbia's efforts in hosting the third leaders' meeting of China-CEE countries. [...] Vucic, for his part, said Serbia will always be a reliable friend and partner of China. He also thanked China for its long-term assistance and support to Serbia. Serbia is willing to enhance interaction with China both on bilateral level and within the framework of the China-CEE cooperation and to implement consensus and agreements reached by both sides, he said. Serbia will work with China and Hungary to speed up the construction of the Hungary-Serbia railway project, he said, welcoming more investments from the Chinese business. After the talks, Li and Vucic witnessed the signing of a number of cooperative agreements in the areas of economic and technical cooperation, energy, finance, aviation and culture. [...] ^ top ^

China's Ebola vaccine enters clinical trials (Xinhua)
An Ebola vaccine developed by a military research institute has been approved to enter the human test stage, the Chinese People's Liberation Army's (PLA) General Logistics Department announced Thursday. The restructured vaccine, developed by the Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMC), is based on the 2014 mutant gene type and especially targets the strain plaguing west Africa. The vaccine is currently in the form of freeze-dried powder, which will keep it stable for at least two weeks in temperatures of up to 37 degrees Celsius. This will make it suitable for the tropical west African region and assist with large-scale production, according to a review report by 17 experts in the field. It makes China the third country to put Ebola vaccine under clinical trials following the United States and Canada. The Chinese drug has obvious advantages compared with other vaccines in clinical phase, the report said. The foreign vaccines are based on the gene type from 1976 and are in liquid form that have to be stored in temperatures of 80 degrees Celsius below zero. The deadly virus has claimed more than 6,000 deaths in west African nations, spreading as far as the United States and Europe. Since the outbreak, China has sent about 750 million yuan (120 million U.S. dollars) and some 500 medical staff and experts to Ebola-hit countries, building laboratories and treatment centers. ^ top ^

Russia may seek China help to deal with crisis (SCMP)
Russia could fall back on its 150 billion yuan (HK$189.8 billion) currency swap agreement with China if the rouble continues to plunge. If the swap deal is activated for this purpose, it would mark the first time China is called upon to use its currency to bail out another currency in crisis. The deal was signed by the two central banks in October, when Premier Li Keqiang visited Russia. "Russia badly needs liquidity support and the swap line could be an ideal tool," said Bank of Communications chief economist Lian Ping. The swap allows the central banks to directly buy yuan and rouble in the two currencies, rather than via the US dollar. Two bankers close to the People's Bank of China said it was meant to reduce the role of the US dollar if China and Russia need to help each other overcome a liquidity squeeze. China has currency swap deals with more than 20 monetary authorities around the world. Swaps are generally used to settle trade. "The yuan-rouble swap deal was not just a financial matter," said Wang Feng, chairman of Shanghai-based private equity group Yinshu Capital. "It has political implications as it is a sign of mutual trust." The rouble has lost more than 50 per cent against the US dollar this year, pushing Russia to the brink of a currency crisis, though measures announced by the central bank helped it recover some ground yesterday. Li Lifan, a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the swap would not be enough for Russia even if it is used in its entirety. "The PBOC might agree to extend something like 15 billion yuan initially as a way of showing China's commitment to Russia." ^ top ^

Pouring scorn on China-Russia engagement foolish (Global Times)
Since the value of Ruble has slumped, the Sino-Russia relationship has been targeted. According to a Chinese commentator, the currency swap agreement worth 150 billion yuan ($24.4 billion), signed between the central banks of both sides in October, is tantamount to "directly offering money to Russia." The claim has been widely spread, leaving an impression that China is being dragged down by Russia. However, some economists refuted the argument. The currency swap agreement is not like handing over money, rather it regulates the total currency exchange between the two sides. Only when real transactions are processed, a debtor-creditor relationship will be formed based on real-time exchange rate. The economic commentator made a simple mistake, but drew a certain number of followers. Although mainstream Chinese society has reached a consensus over the importance of developing the China-Russia comprehensive strategic collaborative partnership, there is still opposition against Sino-Russian proximity, mainly from pro-Western forces, who look down upon Russia, and a few who are ignorant of international politics. It is silly if Chinese society scorn the Beijing-Moscow engagement. Facing heightened pressure from the US, China and Russia are very precious strategic partners to each other. There are also absurd propositions suggesting that the China-US friendship should replace China-Russia ties. If the China-Russia relationship collapses, the US will only become tougher on China. A good but unallied China-Russia relationship in fact plays an important role in stabilizing relations between Beijing and Washington. China won't be on the losing side in the China-Russia bilateral relation. The reason why the two countries have moved closer is because they can mutually benefit from the proximity. It's a hysterical bias to claim that China is wooing Putin at the cost of its own interests. Russia suffers the heaviest loss from the devaluation of the ruble, as it directly deals a heavy blow to the Russian economy. From the global perspective, China has benefited more from the tripartite relations than the Western countries, in which Russia and the West are locked into a standoff while Beijing and Moscow have further advanced cooperation. The ruble slump will bog down the China-Russian economic cooperation in the short-term, disturbing bilateral trade. It is important that China respects Russia, never fishing in Russia's troubled waters. When either of the two countries faces a grave crisis, it means the bilateral partnership is facing a test. Russia and Putin are far from a dead end. Few Westerners are confident that they can crush Russia. Those who want to urge China to take advantage of the Russian crisis are throwing away the bilateral partnership. ^ top ^

China urges U.S. to correct itself after WTO case win (Xinhua)
China welcomed an decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reject the appeal by the United States in a trade dispute over countervailing duty measures, and urged the U.S. to correct its wrong trade remedy conducts. "This is a major victory for China in its efforts to use WTO rules to fight the U.S. abuse of trade remedy measures and protect China's own legitimate interests," said Sun Jiwen, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, late Thursday in a written response to the WTO ruling. "China's major trade interests are at stake in this case," he added. The Appellate Body of the WTO earlier Thursday decided to uphold its previous findings that the United States acted inconsistently with WTO rulings in issues concerning determinations of "public body," determinations of the specificity of land subsidies, and the launch of countervailing investigations based on export restrictions. "China welcomes the decision," said Sun. As shown in the Appellate Body's ruling, the United States acted inconsistently with WTO rules, the spokesman said. "China hopes to see the U.S. face up to its long-standing and systemic legislation and practices in the field of trade remedy, which are against WTO rules, and correct its wrong conducts in a timely and all-round manner so as to safeguard the authority and seriousness of WTO rules and create a good environment for world trade," Sun said. The Appellate Body also further confirmed that the benchmarks applied by the U.S. in conducting the countervailing duty investigations against certain Chinese products are against WTO rules. However, China is disappointed that the Appellate Body failed to complete legal analysis concerning the use and specificity of raw materials subsidies, Sun said. Countervailing duties are tariffs on imposed goods intended to offset subsidies in the exporting country. In May 2012, China requested consultations with the U.S. on the imposition of countervailing duty measures by the latter on 22 products from China. The WTO set up a panel in September 2012 to look into the dispute. In July this year, the WTO issued a panel report, backing China on many aspects and finding the U.S. measures breach the WTO rules. Then U.S. lodged an appeal against the ruling. ^ top ^

China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meets in Chicago (Xinhua)
Chinese and American government officials on Thursday met for annual trade talks in Chicago, a city in the U.S. state of Illinois, in hope of boosting future cooperation potential. Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang co-chaired Thursday's 25th Plenary Session of China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) with U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U. S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. In his opening remarks, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang highlighted the importance of the 25th session of the JCCT, saying it will lay a solid foundation for the economic cooperation between China and the U.S. in the next year and a period of time to come. Wang called for a full play of the JCCT's role as an " extinguisher" and a "driver" in the economic ties between the two nations and urged both sides to work to find and remove obstacles hindering cooperation, explore solutions and dig into potential for further cooperation. "Problems solving will always be on the way," said the Chinese vice premier. U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker echoed Vice Premier Wang 's remarks by saying it's up to the U.S. and China to tear down obstacles to do more business together, intended to produce mutual benefits and tangible results for both the countries, as the United States and China are now the two largest economies in the world and the change in China will provide business opportunities for companies across the world. Pritzker also urged both sides to use the JCCT platform to push for meaningful progress in cooperative bilateral relationship. It's the first time for the U.S. to host China-U.S. JCCT in a city other than Washington D.C., the U.S. capital, which, in Commerce Secretary Pritzker's words, is part of the effort on the American side to reimagine and reinvigorate the JCCT. The 25th session of the JCCT focuses on such topics as intellectual property rights, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, information technology, and travel and tourism. Established in 1983, the annual session of the JCCT is now a platform for China and the U.S. to address bilateral trade and investment issues and promote trade opportunities. The 24th session of China-U.S. JCCT was held in Beijing, China, in December 2013. ^ top ^

Cuba thaw to 'benefit' China (Global Times)
The historic move announced by US President Barack Obama on Wednesday to restore relations with Cuba will not threaten China's long-term relationship with the socialist country, but instead further open up Cuba and make it a better place for China to do business, Chinese observers said. After severing diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961, the US said Wednesday it will reestablish an embassy in Havana, the Cuban capital. The US will also review Cuba's designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, take steps to ease travel and commercial bans, and will ease the embargo it has imposed on Cuba for half a century, according to the White House website. [...] However, all the experts the Global Times interviewed agree that the resumption of US-Cuba ties will not harm Cuba's current relations with China. Instead, it will benefit China both politically and economically. "China and Cuba set up a solid foundation a long time ago that will not be easily shaken," said Xu Shicheng, a research fellow in Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. [...] Politically, the improved ties between the US and Cuba will greatly raise Cuba's international status, easing the pressure placed on China by the US and other Western countries for its close ties with Cuba, Zha Xiaogang, a research fellow with the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times. "On the other hand, Western countries like the US will better understand socialist countries through the re-established relations with Cuba, which is helpful for strengthening Sino-US relations," said Shen Dingli, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. The Chinese government on Thursday welcomed a normalization of relations between the US and Cuba, expressing its hope that the US could end the embargo as soon as possible. […] Economically, Cuba has had difficulty attracting Chinese investment for years. The improved relations with the US will make it more convenient for Chinese businessmen to invest in Cuba, Xu said. "Current cooperation between China and Cuba is only about China lending money to Cuba, and Cuba buying things from China with the money they've borrowed," Xu said. China is Cuba's second-largest trade partner, after Venezuela. Cuba imports almost everything from buses and cars to machine tools and household appliances from China. Many goods come with generous interest-free credit from Beijing, the Xinhua News Agency reported. […] Meanwhile, very few Chinese companies have invested in Cuba despite the efforts of the Cuban government. […] ^ top ^

New observation system to boost maritime power (China Daily)
China is to set up an offshore observation network by 2020 to cope with disasters, guarantee development of the coastal economy and protect the country's maritime interests. A guideline released by the State Oceanic Administration said the network - covering coastal waters, the high seas and polar waters - will be fundamental for China to strengthen its maritime power. Chen Zhi, an official at the administration's Disaster Prevention and Reduction Department, said, "Offshore observation capacity has been lagging behind the country's development in terms of maritime observation methods, infrastructure and technical support." He said that as the country looks to strengthen its maritime power, building an offshore observation network is fundamental to realizing the potential of China's marine areas and protecting maritime interests. The guideline, released on Wednesday, sets out major task to be completed before 2020, such as building radar stations, tsunami warning observation stations and undersea observation and satellite operations. The observation network initiative comes amid growing international attention to China's vast sea area and its rich natural marine resources. The East China Sea and South China Sea have also witnessed territorial issues in recent years, with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam posing challenges to China's sovereignty over islands and waters. But the overall situation in the region remains calm and discussions on maritime cooperation are mostly pressing ahead among regional stakeholders. […] "The State Oceanic Administration will build a comprehensive marine observation network to further enhance management capabilities in offshore disaster prevention and reduction," said Wang Fei, its deputy director. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

South-north canal starts flowing to ease water woes (Global Times)
The 1,432-kilometer long artificial waterway diverting water from China's south to solve the water shortage crisis in the north, particularly Beijing, started operation on Friday. About 9.5 billion cubic meters of water will pass through the newly-built canal each year from Danjiangkou reservoir in Central China's Hubei Province to cities like Beijing and Tianjin, as well as more than 100 cities in Henan and Hebei provinces, according to a report by China Central Television. The water will arrive in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan in three days, and reach Beijing in 15 days. More than 60 million people along the water channel will be able to drink the high-quality water from Danjiangkou, which is part of the Hanjiang river that flows into China's largest river, the Yangtze. The project is expected to largely alleviate the pressure of water shortages in the northern regions, where annual precipitation is much lower than the southern areas and years of excessive use have caused underground water to dwindle to a dangerous level. According to the plan, more than 1.2 billion cubic meters of water will go to Beijing each year. The water, after being mixed with local above-ground and underground water at treatment plants, will cover more than 50 percent of Beijing people's daily needs and part of industrial usage. But experts warned that the situation is still far from optimistic considering the population and the huge gap between the supply of water and North China's needs. In Beijing, some 2.1 billion cubic meters of natural water is formed each year, but last year more than 3.6 billion were used. Beijing pumps about 500 million cubic meters of underground water more than is sustainable each year, China National Radio (CNR) Friday quoted the Beijing Water Authority as saying. It will be impossible for Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei to fix the water crisis "unless they make the best use of every drop of water," Li Yuanyuan, vice director of the Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and Design General Institute, told the CNR. Sun Guosheng, chief of Beijing's Office of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, hinted there might be a slight price rise soon to encourage people to save water, the Xinhua News Agency reported. ^ top ^

President Xi attends China's first state memorial ceremony for Nanjing Massacre victims (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Saturday that denial of the Nanjing Massacre will not be allowed by the Chinese people or peace-loving people anywhere in the world. The Nanjing Massacre, committed by Japanese aggressors, was one of three major massacres during WWII. It was an atrocious anti-human crime and a dark page in the history of humanity, Xi said while addressing a state ceremony for China's first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims. "Anyone who tries to deny the massacre will not be allowed by history, the souls of the 300,000 deceased victims, the 1.3 billion Chinese people, and all people who love peace and justice in the world," Xi said. The ceremony, presided over by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), was held at the memorial hall for the massacre victims in the east China city of Nanjing. Japanese troops captured Nanjing, then China's capital, on Dec. 13 of 1937 and started a 40-odd-day slaughter. More than 300,000 Chinese soldiers, who had laid down their arms, and civilians were murdered and about 20,000 women were raped. […] "The purpose of the memorial ceremony for Nanjing Massacre victims is to recall that every good-hearted person yearns and holds a firm stance of peace, but does not try to prolong hatred," Xi said. The Chinese and Japanese people should live in friendship from generation to generation and make joint efforts to contribute to the peace of humanity, he said. "We should not bear hatred against an entire nation just because a small minority of militarists launched aggressive wars. The responsibilities for war crimes lie with a few militarists, but not the people. However, we cannot at any time forget the severe crimes committed by aggressors," he said. People who love peace and justice must stay highly cautious and fight the words and actions that glorify war, he added. […]  ^ top ^

China exposes 3,200 "naked officials" (Xinhua)
China has found more than 3,200 "naked" officials at county-level or above. "Naked" officials are generally senior officials who have sent their families abroad, often as a conduit transferring their ill-gotten assets abroad, and in preparation for their own flight. Some 1,000 "naked officials" who hold key positions and whose families refuse to return were demoted, said a statement from the Organization Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Monday. In February the anti-graft spotlight fell on these officials, as a high risk group; likely be stealing sizable amounts and - once they make their getaway - difficult to track down. Such officials are banned from promotions and from "important and sensitive" posts in areas like the military, diplomacy and national security. Personnel departments nationwide have held talks with "naked officials" and asked them to choose between accepting less sensitive posts or bringing their families back to China. Those who refused have been disciplined and personnel departments will monitor "naked officials" on a regular basis in the future. China's southern Guangdong Province was the first to make high-profile moves against "naked officials", drafting a law in October banning them holding important positions. ^ top ^

Top legislature prepares for Dec. 22-28 session (Xinhua)
China's top legislature decided Monday on the agenda for their next bimonthly session, including shipping navigation and food safety legislation. The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee will convene from Dec. 22 to 28, and the session will also include deliberation on draft revision to the Legislation Law, the Advertisement Law, National Security Law, administration of overseas non-governmental organizations and the Air Pollution Law. The session will also cover a bill on next year's annual NPC session. Improvements to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization anti-terrorism pact, and two treaties concerning extradition with Afghanistan and Iran will also be discussed. Reports on urban and rural social security system, new rural building work, water conservation, the Tourism Law, and the qualifications of some NPC deputies will also be on the table. ^ top ^

Freed Mongol dissident Hada says he was tortured in jail, remains under house arrest (SCMP)
A dissident who had been one of China's longest-serving political prisoners until his release last week was tortured while in detention and has been threatened since he was let out, he said in a statement released on Monday. The ethnic Mongol activist, Hada, has spent much of the last two decades behind bars, including the last four years in an extrajudicial “black jail”, but was released last week. The government fears ethnic unrest in border areas and keeps a tight rein on Inner Mongolia, just as it does on Tibet and Xinjiang in the west, even though the region is supposed to have a large measure of autonomy. “During these 19 years, in an effort to force me to abandon my beliefs, I was cruelly mistreated and subjected to various forms of tortures and ploys,” Hada said in a Mongol-language video statement, released by the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre. “In particular, my wife and son have been subjected to false accusations, enormous persecution and suffering. I myself have been disabled as a result of torture and brutality,” Hada said, according to a translation provided by the group. Calls to the Inner Mongolia government seeking comment went unanswered. The use of torture is banned in China, but rights groups say it remains widespread. Hada's wife, Xinna, and their son, Uiles, have been in and out of detention over the past few years. They could not be contacted by phone. Many Mongols in China go by just one name. Hada was tried in 1996 and jailed for 15 years for separatism, spying and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which sought greater rights. Hada said the charges against him were “trumped up”, adding he was still effectively being treated as a prisoner, banned from talking to the media or anyone other than his family. “My next step is to arrange my life and study, to continue to fight against the oppression of the Mongolian nationality.” Amnesty International considered Hada a prisoner of conscience and has expressed fears about his well-being, as have the United States and European Union. Decades of migration by members of the Han community have left Chinese Mongols a minority in their own land. Officially, they make up less than a fifth of Inner Mongolia's almost 24 million people. In 2011, the Mongol community held demonstrations demanding better protection of rights and traditions, spurred by the death of a herder who had been protesting against coal mine pollution. ^ top ^

Anti-corruption battle takes to prime-time TV (China Daily)
An anti-graft TV documentary was aired on Monday night by China Central Television with the aim of educating Party members to lead a frugal lifestyle and warn other corrupt officials, the Communist Party of China Central Commission of Discipline Inspection said on Monday. The four-part program, jointly shot by the CCDI's publication department and CCTV, will be screened at prime time every night through Thursday and disclose details of the extravagant lives of corrupt officials "who abused their power to gain benefits for other enterprises and accepted huge bribes for either themselves or their family members, or had abnormal relationships with their mistresses", according to a statement by the CCDI. [...] The program's production crew went to 18 provinces and regions to interview key persons, including family members of corrupt officials, private secretaries, club waiters, case informers and members of the public who had evidence of corruption. The program will show a luxurious private club, where Wan Qingliang, former Party chief of Guangzhou, Guangdong province, often had dinner with bosses from enterprises and how Ni Fake, former vice-governor of Anhui province, used his position to gain huge benefits for other enterprises and accepted bribes of precious jade. "We have shot more than 30 graft cases, telling stories about how central discipline inspectors worked to collect corruption clues concerning corrupt officials," said the CCDI statement. In addition, the crew also interviewed officials with the central government and well-known scholars and experts to share their opinions on the widening anti-corruption campaign. "The TV program reflects the major achievements in fighting against corruption since November 2012," said Li Wei, a member of the Beijing Lawyers Association. "But above all, the TV program presents how tough a task the central government is facing to conduct an ongoing campaign to clean up the corruption at the roots," she added. ^ top ^

2 sentenced to prison for illegal publication (Global Times)
Two men have been sentenced to prison and fined for buying and selling illegal publications, concerning military affairs, defense and history topics, authorities said Tuesday. Cong Jianlei was sentenced to five years and two months in prison and fined 10,000 yuan (1,634.50 US dollars), said a joint statement by the National Pornography and Illegal Publications Office and the Public Security Ministry. Cong Guang was sentenced to two years and 10 months with three years reprieve and fined 5,000 yuan. According to local police, the two had bought and distributed more than 30 illegal newspaper and magazine titles totalling 29,000 issues. They were detained in 2013 in east China's Shandong Province with more than 5,500 illegal publications confiscated on site. The statement also said that Jiang Bin, who had falsified permits to publish and sell the publications, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison and fined 450,000 yuan. ^ top ^

Businesswoman in former railway minister's case jailed 20 yrs (Global Times)
A Chinese businesswoman involved in the corruption case of former railway minister Liu Zhijun was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday by a local court in Beijing. Ding Yuxin, better known for her former name Ding Shumiao, was convicted of bribery and illegal business operations, according to the verdict by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court. Ding, the legal representative of Beijing Boyou Investment Management Co., was fined 2.5 billion yuan (404 million US dollars) and had 20 million yuan in personal property confiscated. Ding helped 23 railway construction contractors win bids for 57 railway projects between 2007 and 2010. The illegal commission fee amounted to over 3 billion yuan (484 million US dollars) and Ding herself gained more than 2 billion, the court found. The order of the railway construction bidding market was greatly disrupted by Ding's illegal business operations, said the verdict. The 59-year-old paid 49 million yuan in bribes to former railway minister Liu to thank him for his help between 2004 and 2011. Liu himself was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for bribery and abuse of power on July 8 last year. The court added that Ding also paid 40 million yuan in bribes to an official of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development between June 2009 and September 2010. With the official's help, she also made illegal earnings. Ding, a native of Qinshui County of north China's Shanxi Province who only finished primary school, was put under house arrest in December 2010 and was officially arrested in July 2011. ^ top ^

China to name corrupt fugitives who fled overseas (SCMP)
The mainland will make public at an appropriate time the names of fugitives who have fled overseas, the People's Daily said yesterday. The national graft-busting agency had set up an office to track down the suspected criminals and their assets overseas, but the investigations needed assistance at the local level, the Communist Party's mouthpiece added. "The office will put more focus on major cases and those on the significant-case list, but in the end, we need local power to bring them back," the Daily cited an anonymous official at the office as saying. The office would hand over some responsibility for investigating the cases to the party committee in the province where the official departed from the country. "In the near future, there will be more and more corrupt officials coming back and placed under legal sanctions," the Daily said. Operation Fox Hunt was launched in July, and 428 suspects had been apprehended so far, Xinhua reported the Ministry of Security as saying earlier this month. Among those Beijing is seeking are several well-known former senior executives of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The party's graft-busters, the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection, would continue to strengthen measures to root out corruption at SOEs, a senior official at the agency said. Hao Mingjin, deputy head of the supervision division, said the agency had dedicated some staff to monitoring 54 SOEs controlled by the central government. The staff would deal directly with state asset regulators and the State Council, the anti-graft agency said on its website yesterday. Hao said corruption in the SOE sector was tied to bidding and mergers, and other investment deals. Some senior executives had taken advantage of their power to help families and relatives with business in related areas, creating what was being called family corruption. Top executives of the major state-owned enterprises are directly appointed by the party's Organisation Department. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences also published its annual "blue book" on corruption and the government's efforts to root it out. "Over 90 per cent of cadres are confident about the anti-corruption campaign in the future," China News Service said in a report on the publication of the book. The blue book highlighted a growing problem of civil service employees ignoring their job duties in an effort to maintain a low-profile and stay off the radar of graft inspectors. But the campaign would continue unabated, it said. The academy began publishing the book on anti-corruption in 2011. ^ top ^

Chinese ministries 'may have watered down' plans for farming reform and modernisation (SCMP)
Modernisation of farming in China will top the agenda at the government's annual key agricultural policy meetings due to be held on Monday and Tuesday, mainland media reported. However, the Caixin media group said the latest draft of the long-awaited proposals focusing on rural land reforms might have been watered down by ministries. The Central Rural Work Conference on December 22 and 23 would also consider the forthcoming party and central government's policy document – usually the first one to be issued every year – focusing on rural reforms, Caixin said. Next year's “No 1” policy document was likely to expand on existing policy directives involving agricultural modernisation and rural reforms, it said. At a meeting of the Central Leading Group for Overall Reform, chaired by President Xi Jinping earlier this month, officials considered a proposal for pilot reforms involving rural land confiscation, the sale and acquisition of non-farming rural land, and the administration of residential land in rural areas. However, the statement issued after the meeting revealed few details about the proposals. The government focused on a more balanced and coordinated development between the country's rural and urban areas in its rural policy document at the start of this year. It also set out policies on expanding rural consumptions and strengthening rural financial services. ^ top ^

Chinese petitioners to evaluate grievances handling (China Daily)
Petitioners in China now have the chance to evaluate how their complaint was handled following the publication of a new guideline on Thursday. Aimed at maintaining petitioners' rights and improving transparency of the petitioning system, the rules will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, according to the guideline issued by the the State Bureau for Letters and Calls. Fan Xiaomao, vice head of the SBLC, said that petitioners could choose "satisfied," "so-so," and "not satisfied," and write down comments after they see the results of their petition. "Authorities receiving a new petition should refer the matter to the government departments concerned or report it to leading officials in charge of the mentioned issues within 15 days," said Fan. Petitioners can evaluate the results within 30 days, after they receive responses. Petitioners who do not receive replies can make the evaluation 90 days after they file their petition. "We suggest petitioners leave real phone numbers so we can make convenient contact," said Fan. Those who fail to fulfill their duties in these procedures will be punished, and those who cause severe consequences will be held accountable. As for the results marked "not satisfied," departments receiving petitions should investigate the case and deal with officials in a timely manner if misconduct are found, Fan said. The SBLC will strengthen supervision and continue to publicize typical cases on its official website for greater transparency, Fan added. ^ top ^

Road accidents kill more people in China than cancer, Lancet study finds (SCMP)
Road injuries have emerged as the third-leading cause of death in China, compared with eighth in the developing world and ahead of a range of cancers, according to a global study in The Lancet medical journal. But one expert said the mainland's road toll could be even higher than reported. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 of 188 countries between 1990 and last year found that stroke and coronary heart disease were the top mortality factors in mainland China, as they were in the rest of the world. But road accidents were ahead of chronic obstructive lung disease, liver cancer, kidney cancer and stomach cancer. The leading causes of death in Taiwan were coronary heart disease, stroke and liver cancer, while self-harm - a deliberate injury to oneself - was sixth and road injuries seventh. Mainland China's road toll shows no sign of abating, with 87,218 road deaths from 426,378 accidents in the first 10 months of this year, a 1.9 per cent year-on-year increase in fatalities, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Professor Li Liping, director of the Injury Prevention Research Centre at Shantou University's medical school, said the real number of road fatalities could be even higher because a death was only included in the road toll if it occurred within one week of the traffic accident. "In other parts of the world, it's a month," she said. Li attributed the high numbers to low standards of driving and the failure of the road network to keep up with the rapid increase in the number of cars in the country. […] The study also found that suicide continued to be a major public health problem, with more than half of suicides globally occurring in China and India. But while it was decreasing rapidly in China, it was rising in India. Both countries have undergone economic growth and urbanisation, a key factor that reduced access to lethal pesticides, a common method of suicide in both countries, according to the study. ^ top ^



Shanghai board to shed light on the law (SCMP)
Shanghai is pioneering a push to improve the credibility of the mainland's legal system by becoming the first city to have a board to appoint and punish judges and prosecutors. Its 15-person board, which met for the first time on Saturday, comprises seven senior officials from various municipal departments as well as eight academics and industry professionals, Jiefang Daily reported. However, one expert claims the panel is merely decorative. Shen Guoming, party chief of the Shanghai Social Sciences Association, was elected the board's director. He has four deputies: a deputy chief procurator of the Shanghai Municipal People's Procuratorate, a top official from the municipal party committee's organisation department, a deputy chief judge of the Shanghai Higher People's Court and a deputy director of the municipal politics and law committee. The board will select judges and prosecutors from the ranks of court and procuratorate assistants. Leading lawyers will also be considered for the positions. In addition, the board will be responsible for promotions and recommending punishment for those guilty of misconduct. "[The board] has scope to publicly denounce judges and prosecutors who have breached discipline," the report said. Shen described the board as "relatively independent" and said that more than half of the members were professionals of various backgrounds. He said a database of about 20 people had been created as a pool from which judges and prosecutors would be chosen. However Chen Yongmiao, a Beijing-based constitutional scholar, said the board was merely for show. "It's like an ugly girl putting a flower in her hair and telling people she's pretty," Chen said. The board's creation follows the central leadership's pledge at October's Communist Party plenum to uphold the constitution and strengthen rule by law. Injustice is widespread in the legal system because judges, prosecutors and police can be bribed easily and their decisions swayed by local officials who control their budgets. ^ top ^



Guangdong forges closer trade ties with Macao, HK (Global Times)
The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the governments of the Macao and Hong Kong special administrative regions Thursday inked a trade liberalization deal which is expected to bring tighter cooperation in the services sector. The trade deal comes one day ahead of President Xi Jinping's two-day visit to Macao, which on Saturday will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its return to China. The trade liberalization deal on Thursday was drafted under the framework of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between the Chinese mainland and the two special administrative regions. The agreements were signed in 2003 and have seen 10 supplementary agreements in the past decade. Under the new deal, the service sector in South China's Guangdong Province will be further opened up to Hong Kong and Macao. Liao Jingshan, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in Guangdong, said that the degree of openness in the province's service sector is already close to that in developed economies, Guangdong-based newspaper Nanfang Daily reported on Thursday. Under the deal, most subsectors of the service industry will adopt a "negative list" management approach, which generally specifies the areas that are restricted to overseas investment, according to a post on MOFCOM's website Thursday. As companies are free to invest in all areas that are outside the list under the "negative list" approach, experts said the move means greater freedom for Hong Kong and Macao investors. A total of 153 of the total 160 subsectors of the service industry will be opened to Hong Kong and Macao service providers, and in 58 subsectors, Hong Kong and Macao companies will be treated as if they were mainland companies, MOFCOM said. "Guangdong is losing its advantages in manufacturing amid rising costs; the service sector could be its new future," Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Thursday. Bai added that developing high-end services could also help to upgrade the province's manufacturing sector. The government has stepped up efforts to boost regional cooperation in the area. On December 12, the State Council announced that three free trade zones will be built in Guangdong, Fujian Province and Tianjin. Experts noted that the Guangdong free trade zone will focus on boosting regional integration between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. [...] ^ top ^



No split in Chinese government over the Tibet question: foreign ministry (Global Times)
A spokesperson for China's foreign ministry stated Wednesday that there is no split among central authorities over how to handle the Tibet question and that their stance toward the Dalai Lama has been consistent and clear. In an interview with French television station France 24 aired on Wednesday, the Dalai Lama said there are individuals inside the central government who have a hard-line view of the "autonomy" for Tibet that he has been calling for, Reuters reported. The Dalai Lama said he "took heart" from Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent comments about Buddhism. Xi delivered a speech at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in March, saying that after Buddhism was brought into China, the religion "went through an extended period of integrated development with indigenous Confucianism and Taoism and finally became Buddhism with Chinese characteristics, thus making a deep impact on the religious beliefs, philosophy, literature, art, etiquette and customs of the Chinese people." "But at the same time, among the establishment, there is a lot of hardliner thinking still there," the Dalai Lama said when asked about whether Xi's remarks had made him expect a possible meeting regarding Tibet's "autonomy" with Xi. "The Dalai Lama must abandon his separatist activities and stop sabotaging China's ethnic unity to create opportunities for himself to make contact with the central government," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang told a regular press briefing Tuesday. Qin said that the topic of any possible talks will not be "Tibet's autonomy," and will absolutely not be the so-called "independence of Tibet," but "the future of the Dalai Lama himself." Qin stressed that regarding the Tibet question, there are no so-called hawkish or dovish camps inside the central government, or the Communist Party of China as a whole. "Opposing separatist acts, securing unity and territorial integrity and maintaining ethnic unity, that is the resolute consensus of the entire Chinese nation," he said. ^ top ^

New city inaugurated in China's Tibet (Xinhua)
The Tibet Autonomous Region now has a new city after Xigaze was upgraded and inaugurated to become the third prefecture-level city in the region on Thursday. "The inauguration of Xigaze City is a milestone throughout the area's history, which marks its development entering into a new era," said Zhang Hongbo, mayor of the new city. As part of the status upgrade, the city's Communist Party committee, people's congress standing committee, government and political advisory body were established. Located at an altitude of more than 3,800 meters, Xigaze is now the third prefecture-level city in Tibet after the regional capital Lhasa and Qamdo. With a population of 780,000, or one fourth of the total in Tibet, Xigaze was previously known as a prefecture. Its gross domestic product surged by 62.5 times to 14.5 billion yuan in 2014 from 56 million yuan in 1964. Deputy mayor Zhang Xiuwu said the conversion from a prefecture to a city means a simplified administrative approval procedure, which is much helpful for the economic development of the area with higher efficiency. "The prefecture, as an administrative branch office of the regional government rather than a government itself, had no right to approve many administrative affairs. With the city government established today, many administrative affairs can be approved within the city directly, without having to be submitted to the regional capital Lhasa for approval," he said. ^ top ^



Karaoke fire sparks increased inspections (Xinhua)
Tough fire prevention inspections are going on in China's entertainment venues after a fatal fire in Henan Province killed 11 people. Beijing fire department Wednesday ordered a thorough inspection of all entertainment venues. Those failing to reach safety standards must suspend operations. Inspectors will check fire prevention facilities, interior decoration materials, exit signs and emergency lighting, and ensure the emergency exits are not blocked. Similar inspections are underway in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and southwest China's Sichuan Province. All entertainment venues in Xinjiang were asked to close and may only reopen after inspection. Fire-control training and education will also be enhanced in the region. The inspections come after eleven people were killed and 24 injured in a Karaoke fire in Henan on Monday. ^ top ^



Hong Kong private health insurance plan 'will help 1.5 million people' (SCMP)
The government expects about 1.5 million people to benefit from a long-awaited voluntary health insurance scheme which will cost the public purse more than HK$4.5 billion per year in subsidies and tax breaks. Under the reforms, all private health insurance policies will have to meet 12 criteria set by the government. Insurers will have to offer a so-called standard plan for which even people with pre-existing conditions will be guaranteed acceptance. But premiums for all policies would rise by about 9 per cent to an average of HK$3,600 per year, according to projections by the Food and Health Bureau. The shake-up is the latest weapon in the battle to encourage patients to swap from the stretched public sector - which treats 90 per cent of patients but employs only 40 per cent of doctors - to private hospitals. A three-month consultation was launched yesterday, and it could be up and running by 2016 if passed by the Legislative Council. The government will pump in HK$4.3 billion to help pay for treatment for about 70,000 "high-risk" patients. People who take out policies will also receive unspecified tax breaks, expected to cost HK$256 million per year. "This will help to relieve pressure on the public system, and users of public health care services can benefit from shorter waiting times and enhanced service quality," health minister Dr Ko Wing-man said. The idea of publicly backed medical insurance was mooted in 2008 and has been revived as the city grapples with the challenge of an ageing population. [...] The minimum standards would force insurers to provide HK$650 per day for hospital stays of up to 180 days, HK$58,000 per surgery and HK$150,000 for cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. There will be no limits on lifetime benefits, and rules on premium levels and underwriting. Insurers will also be able to offer enhanced packages which go beyond the minimum, for which there would be no guaranteed acceptance. The beneficiaries will include an estimated 80 per cent of the 1.5 million Hongkongers with private insurance, whom the government expects to switch to the new plans, as well as an expected 200,000 or more new customers. As many of the newcomers will have chronic conditions, the government expects about 5 per cent of medical procedures from public hospitals to be diverted to the private sector, saving it HK$2.8 billion per year. [...] ^ top ^

After Occupy, more Hongkongers back government's reform package, study finds (SCMP)
More Hongkongers now want legislators to approve the government's electoral reforms next year than before the start of the Occupy Central civil disobedience action for democracy, a university poll has found. The Chinese University survey findings raise questions about whether the 79-day Occupy protests have backfired in terms of public support. The university interviewed 1,011 people from December 8 to 12 - the last day coinciding with the police's clearance of the Occupy base camp in Admiralty. In the poll, 38 per cent said the Legislative Council should endorse the government's reform package even if it followed Beijing's restrictive framework. That was nine percentage points higher than in a survey before the protests began on September 28. Support for lawmakers to vote down the framework fell 10 percentage points to 43 per cent. Pan-democratic lawmakers have vowed to veto the government's reform framework if it follows Beijing's rules to deprive Hongkongers of a free choice of candidates in the 2017 chief executive election. Student leaders and co-organisers of Occupy back the pan-democratic stance. Professor Francis Lee Lap-fung, one of the pollsters with the university's school of journalism and communication, believes the changes in sentiment could, ironically, have resulted from political discussion encouraged by the Occupy movement. "Hong Kong residents gained an understanding of the issue," Lee said yesterday. "Maybe they have some ideas about the movement, and now have second thoughts about whether the package should be supported." Lee said poll respondents who identified themselves as having moderate political views - in between the pro-establishment and pan-democratic positions - or no orientation at all drove the shift in sentiment. Within those two groups, 38 and 25 per cent wanted the government's reforms vetoed, respectively - 14 and 17 percentage points lower than in September. Three-quarters of those who aligned themselves with the pan-democratic camp opposed the package - three percentage points higher than previously. About 51 per cent were dissatisfied with how the government handled the protests, and 53 per cent believed it should have made concessions to solve the political impasse. [...] ^ top ^



China launches major crackdown on flow of illicit funds to Macau (SCMP)
Beijing is to launch a major crackdown on the multibillion-dollar flow of illicit funds through Macau casinos in a coordinated security drive that will see the country's powerful Ministry of Public Security play a leading role. The unprecedented move - confirmed by documents seen by the Post that were sent to Macau's banks late yesterday by the city's monetary authority - turns up the heat on controversial VIP junket operators who generate the bulk of Macau gaming revenues as they come under increasing law enforcement scrutiny amid the "tigers and flies" anti-corruption drive by President Xi Jinping. It also piles more pressure on the Macau government to come up with a plan to diversify its casino-reliant economy as it prepares for a visit by Xi on Friday to mark the 15th anniversary of the former Portuguese enclave's return to Chinese sovereignty. [...] According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the new security drive will give the ministry's Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau electronic access to all transfers through the state-backed China UnionPay bank payment card to identify suspicious transactions. [...] The key involvement of the Ministry of Public Security - which met with senior Macau officials last month to hammer out the details of the crackdown - also provides confirmation of the long-held belief by many in law enforcement that Macau casinos are a major conduit for capital flight from the mainland. When told of the plan yesterday, a senior casino industry insider told the Post: "This is big. They're calling it the 'new normal' here in Macau. This is direct control over transactions by the Ministry of Public Security. It's serious and key people are going to be scared." A Macau-based analyst who asked not to be named said: "This seems directed at the junkets more than the mass floors. But I think the casinos' own VIP marketing teams ought to be cautious, too. If the Public Security Ministry is involved, this is most likely part of Fox Hunt. They are looking for big guys, not the rank and file." The move follows action taken earlier this year to restrict illicit money flows into Macau through China UnionPay. The move was aimed at identifying suspicious transactions. It also follows a coordinated effort by law-enforcement authorities in Beijing, Hong Kong and Macau to combat money-laundering activities, according to sources. […] The concerns sparked a high-level visit by a delegation from the Ministry of Public Security to Macau on November 20. At this meeting, the issue of money-laundering controls in Macau was discussed, and it was agreed to establish a more effective cross-border enforcement regime with the cooperation of several of Macau's key regulatory agencies. Representatives from the People's Bank of China and China UnionPay on the mainland side, and Macau's monetary authority, judiciary police and public prosecutor's office were at the meeting. The Post has learned from sources with an understanding of the situation that the assistance of Hong Kong's law-enforcement agencies has also been sought. […] ^ top ^

Extended border services to boost Macao-mainland ties (Xinhua)
A central government decision on the extension of service hours in Macao's three border ports, which came into effect Thursday, is expected to greatly facilitate exchanges and cooperation between Macao and the mainland. Under the new arrangement, approved by the State Council, the Lotus port connected to Hengqin in the southern China coastal city of Zhuhai extends its service time to 24 hours. Previously it operated between 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The new entry and exit arrangement highlighted the central government's support for the SAR's stable development, improvement of Macao people's livelihood and cooperation with the mainland, Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) Chui Sai On said during an inspection tour on Wednesday of the three ports. Between 00:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Thursday, a total of 1,293 border-crossings were recorded at the Lotus port, according to Ku Keng Hin, a senior officer with the immigration department of the SAR's Public Security Police. Two other ports also extended their services by hours. At the Border-gate port, which has added two more hours of service under the new arrangement, a total of 5,814 border-crossings were recorded in the newly-extended period Thursday, according to police data. [...] The extension to 24-hour service at the Lotus port would greatly benefit the cooperation between Macao and Guangdong on the development of Hengqin, an island separated from Macao by the Pearl River Estuary, said Lao Ngai Leong, a Macao delegate to the National People's Congress. The central government has pledged to support Macao in using the development of Hengqin as a pivot to diversify its economy. In 2009, the State Council approved the General Development Plan of Hengqin New Area, making it the country's third state-level strategic new zone following Shanghai's Pudong district and Tianjin's Binhai area. The service extension at the three ports would largely expand the living space of Macao people in the long term, enabling them to reside in Hengqin while working in Macao, a region with high population density and limited urban space, said analysts. [...] ^ top ^



China's top negotiator with Taiwan fails to make it a 'date' with Taipei mayor-elect Ko (SCMP)
A Kuomintang heavyweight yesterday stressed the need for "all compatriots" to benefit from cross-strait trade as the mainland's top negotiator met party officials for the first time since the KMT's crushing defeat in local elections late last month. Lien Chan was one of two honorary KMT chairmen to meet Chen Deming, head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, in separate closed-door gatherings at a KMT think tank office in Taipei. Earlier, a "surprise" meeting between Chen and Taipei mayor-elect Ko Wen-je, failed to go ahead - apparently because local media revealed the plans. In a brief address to the media, Lien said the KMT steadfastly promoted peaceful development of cross-strait ties. However, he also stressed that with close economic and trade cooperation under way across the strait, there must be "even distribution of profits for all compatriots". Critics of the KMT cross-strait policy have said it is big Taiwanese businesses - rather than ordinary people - that have benefited from close trade ties with the mainland. Election analysts said this was one reason many young and independent voters failed to support the KMT in the local polls. Chen later met Wu Poh-hsiung, another honorary KMT chairman, in another closed-door session. KMT aides with Wu said Wu told Chen the KMT had been defeated because the public thought the party was out of touch. Chen had also been expected to meet mayor-elect Ko at a lunch hosted by John Hsuan, honorary vice-chairman of United Microelectronics Corp. But, the meeting - apparently arranged so that the two would meet "coincidentally" - never went ahead; Chen failed to turn up when the morning session of the Cross-Strait CEO Summit, in Taipei, went on longer than expected. However, local media reports suggested that the Ko-Chen meeting did not go ahead because media had disclosed the plans. Chen is the first mainland official to visit Taiwan since the KMT's electoral setback - its worst since it came to power on the island 65 years ago. The ruling party was only able to take six of the 22 cities and counties in Taiwan, down from the 15 it used to control. It lost even its traditional stronghold, Taipei City. ^ top ^

Beijing is reaching out to ordinary Taiwanese, analysts say (SCMP)
An eight-day visit by the mainland's top negotiator shows that Beijing does not view the Kuomintang's crushing electoral defeat as a vote of no confidence in the party's cross-strait policy of the past six years, analysts say. The visit by Chen Deming also showed Beijing sensed the importance of reaching out to the Taiwanese public, especially its middle class and young, they added. Before returning to the mainland yesterday, Chen told local media he had spent the day thinking of how best to interact with young people. Chen, head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, had spent his eight days visiting elderly care, biotechnology, agricultural and tourism facilities. In each of the seven cities and counties he visited - including two administered by the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party - Chen avoided mentioning the November 29 local elections. Chen was the first senior mainland official to visit the island since the elections, in which the KMT won just six out of 22 seats, down from 15. The performance was the party's worst in the 65 years since it came to power in Taiwan. The pro-independence camp has claimed the KMT's loss showed the public's lack of confidence in both the government and its cross-strait policy. But analysts said by sending Chen to visit as scheduled, Beijing was trying to tell Taipei that the KMT's setback had nothing to do with its cross-strait policy. "Beijing has already set its tone of continuing to develop a peaceful relationship with Taipei, unaffected by the election results," said Chang Wu-yueh, professor of mainland studies at Tamkang University in Taipei. After the "Sunflower Movement", in which students occupied Taiwan's legislature for about a month from mid-March to protest against a trade agreement with the mainland, Beijing had sensed the importance of reaching out to middle class, grassroots and young people, analysts said. Many in these groups felt close cross-strait economic cooperation benefitted only big businesses, they added. "This explains why Chen did not have any high-profile meetings with politicians, and focused instead in reaching out to ordinary people during his visit," said Tung Chen-yuan, professor of the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University in Taipei. Chen said the visit had given him "more ideas about how to step up cross-strait exchanges with young people as well as small and medium enterprises in Taiwan next year". Beijing's focus on ordinary Taiwanese would help ensure cross-strait relations were not adversely affected whichever party won the 2016 presidential election, Tung said. ^ top ^

Chinese mainland vows no change in developing cross-Strait ties (Xinhua)
The mainland will not change its policies regarding the promotion of relations with Taiwan, a Chinese mainland spokeswoman said on Wednesday. Fan Liqing, spokeswoman with the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, made the remarks at a press conference in response to a question on possible impacts on cross-Strait ties after the island's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Party suffered a defeat in local elections last month. Fan said the mainland will give no comment on the election results but noted that the mainland's opposition against "Taiwan independence" is "firm and unshakable." Moreover, she said the mainland's stance to Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party is very clear, as always. She also urged the island to make efforts to advance the development of cross-Strait ties and ensure cross-Strait peace and stability when issuing policies. "We wish the cross-Strait ties may maintain its steady development and that compatriots on both sides may make joint efforts in protecting the results in the development," Fan said. "We wish that the KMT may join the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the two sides of the Strait may also join hands to make further efforts to advance the ties on the common political basis." Fan expressed her appreciation to the achievements the two sides have made on the basis of adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposition of "Taiwan independence" since 2008. She wished success for the upcoming KMT chairmanship election in Taiwan after Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou stepped down as the chairman and said that previous good practices of positive communications between the CPC and KMT and between the two parties' leaders should be further carried on. Also, the spokeswoman revealed that the CPC and the KMT have been keeping in touch with each other on issues regarding the 10th Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum, a key communication platform between the mainland and Taiwan. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

North Korea's snub signals declining ties with China, as Kim Jong-un expected to improve relations with Russia and Japan (SCMP)
Pyongyang's decision not to invite Chinese officials to yesterday's event marking the third anniversary of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death signals the state's intention to distance itself from its chief ally amid a cooling of ties, analysts say. Beijing sent only Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan to the capital's North Korean embassy to pay tribute to Kim, foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. Qin did not elaborate on the state of bilateral relations between the two nations, saying only that China remembered Kim's contributions. But analysts said the absence of an invitation from Pyongyang pointed to worsening ties. "The lack of an invitation reflects that the relationship between China and North Korea has gone down," said Sun Xingjie, an expert in Korean peninsula affairs at Jilin University's Institute of International Studies. "It also indicates that North Korea is trying to stop relying so heavily on China." Although China is still seen as North Korea's biggest ally, ties between the two have been affected by Beijing's criticisms over Pyongyang's nuclear tests and the latter's fears about China's influence over its economy. Much of media attention is now focused on when Kim's son and existing North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, will make his first trip abroad. Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that Kim Jong-un, along with other heads of state, had been invited to Russia in May to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany. In an apparent effort by Pyongyang to boost its diplomatic ties with other nations, Kim Jong-un's special envoy Choe Ryong-hae held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last month. South Korean Professor Lee Jung-nam, of the Asiatic Research Institute at Korea University in Seoul, said Pyongyang was expected to expand ties with Russia and Japan. "The current relationship between China and North Korea is not in good shape, and Pyongyang wants to offset the impact caused by such a deteriorating relationship," Sun said. North Korea's ceremony yesterday marked the end of the three years of national mourning for Kim Jong-il. Last year, Chinese media widely covered the second anniversary, stressing Beijing-Pyongyang ties despite the execution of Kim Jong-un's uncle Jang Song-thaek, who was seen as China-friendly. In Pyongyang, a memorial service was held at the Kumusan Palace of the Sun and was attended by Kim Jong-un, his wife Ri Sol-ju and Premier Pak Pong-ju. ^ top ^

DPRK slams S Korea for turning blind eye to CIA torture (China Daily)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday slammed Republic of Korea (ROK) for "becoming all the more desperate in its anti-DPRK human rights 'racket'" while turning a blind eye to CIA torture. "The truth behind the heinous unethical tortures practised by the notorious CIA against prisoners in its secret jails has been disclosed recently, stunning the world public," a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency. On Dec. 9, the US Senate Intelligence Committee released part of a lengthy report, which included key findings about the CIA's aggressive questioning and torture of detainees during detention and interrogation after the terrorist attacks in 2001. But Seoul "keeps utter silence" to the human rights abuses in the United States and "dances to the tune" of Washington, said the spokesman. In the statement, Pyongyang called the anti-DPRK human rights "racket" the "last-ditch effort to stir up the atmosphere of international pressure upon the DPRK." If the South Korean authorities are truly concerned about human rights, the spokesman stressed, they ought not to overlook human rights violations in the United States but only hype the DPRK's human rights issue which is "non-existent." ^ top ^



Heads of the Government of Mongolia meet Russia's Presidential Envoy to stimulate bilateral cooperation (infomongolia)
On December 12, 2014, Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg received in his office the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, Yury Petrovich Trutnev. At the beginning of meeting, Russia's Presidential Envoy congratulated the newly elected Head of the Government and in response, Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg expressed his gratitude to the President V.V.Putin on advocating to stimulate large-scale projects negotiated during his visit to Mongolia. In this regard, Premier noted that the Government of Mongolia has started to commence big projects in infrastructure development such as renewing Ulaanbaatar Railway and under the “Steppe Road” project to construct highway road from Altanbulag (administrative division on the border with Russia, where Altanbulag Free Trade Zone is located) to Zamyn-Uud (administrative division on the border with China, where Zamyn-Uud Free Economic Zone is created) through Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Furthermore, Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg underlined that in order to forward these projects, efforts from both sides are essential and pledged to pay particular attention on providing convenient condition to supply agricultural products to Russia such as meat and meat products, besides, to enhance bilateral trade turnover on new projects. On the same day, Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia U.Khurelsukh has also received his counterpart Yu.P.Trutnev and during the meeting, parties expressed their satisfaction on strengthening bilateral cooperation and successful high-level reciprocal visits. During the meeting, Deputy Premier U.Khurelsukh mentioned that Mongolia had requested to annul tax on import products from Mongolia for a certain period in order to balance and increase trade volume that has been decreasing in the past two years. For instances, on meat and light industry products and thus, he asked to support these issues and affirmed to work more constructive on biggest projects to implement between the two countries. In response, Russia's Presidential Envoy Yu.P.Trutnev said, if a Mongolian Government supports, Russia is ready to study on establishing a joint meat processing manufactory. At the meeting, Minister of Roads and Transportation of Mongolia N.Tumurkhuu, Minister of Mining of Mongolia R.Jigjid, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Mongolia I.K.Azizov, Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation A.S.Tsydenov, and First Vice President of Russian Railways JSC V.N.Morozov were present. ^ top ^

Finance Minister of Mongolia and Rio Tinto Copper CEO agree to set a working group (infomongolia)
On December 12, 2014, Finance Minister of Mongolia J.Erdenebat received in his office the Rio Tinto Copper CEO Jean-Sebastian Jacques. During the meeting, parties exchanged views and information on current activities at Oyu Tolgoi LLC as well as on Mongolia's commences exporting of copper concentrate to Japan and economical beneficial issues from underground mining operations. Moreover, sides agreed to collaborate on establishing a working group in the near future to develop calculating system and registration of mineral royalties, corporate income tax and other tax levy and records. ^ top ^

Deputy Ministers of the new Coalition Government of Mongolia are appointed (infomongolia)
The 18 Ministers of the new Coalition Government excluding Prime Minister were accredited by the State Great Khural (Parliament) on December 09, 2014. So, the complete Cabinet Members have resolved to downsize the number of total existing Agencies by 15% that aims to save Government expenditure and eliminate duplicated functions and roles at its Cabinet meeting held on December 15, 2014. On December 17, 2014, the Cabinet Members called its irregular meeting to appoint 17 Deputy Ministers of incumbent 15 Ministries, of which Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and the Ministry of Health and Sports have two Deputies each. [...] Moreover, four State Secretaries have been appointed and the rest 11 State Secretaries will be announced following a selection process, until then Chairpersons of State Administrations of affiliated Ministries will acting temporarily. [...] ^ top ^

Government of Mongolia is undertaking the selection process of strategic investor to develop the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit (infomongolia)
A working group meeting to organize a tender on selecting investor as partner to develop Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit and establishing contracts with winning party was held in Ulaanbaatar on December 17, 2014. To set up such working group was obliged under Prime Minister's Decree No.135/2014 and accordingly, the meeting was chaired by Minister of Mongolia M.Enkhsaikhan, where Finance Minister J.Erdenebat, Mining Minister R.Jigjid, State Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism J.Batbold, State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice J.Bayartsetseg and Executive Director of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC Ya.Batsuuri have attended as members of the working group. Under the Decree, a sub-working group had also been established that has been working with representatives from affiliated state and private entities as well as state-owned companies. The above two groups will be continuing to accomplish the “Selecting Strategic Investor as Partner for the Tavan Tolgoi Deposit” under Decree No.268/2014, which earlier announced and ratified by Government and Parliament Resolutions back in 2010. According to criteria, six companies had claimed, but five firms have submitted their bids to develop the giant Tavan Tolgoi deposit on December 01, 2014. These five strategic investors are: - A Consortium comprised of China Shenhua Energy Co., Ltd., Japan's Sumitomo Corporation and Energy Resources LLC - Peabody Energy Corporation - A Consortium comprised of Itochu and Sojitz Corporations - Mitsui Group - Tavan Tolgoi JSC Following the estimation of technical and financial evaluations, the Government of Mongolia will be starting to establish an Agreement with winning-bidder to develop Tavan Tolgoi. Currently, the “Shenhua Energy, Sumitomo and Energy Resources” Consortium and Peabody Energy Corporation have overcome the technical thresholds and the working group obliged its sub-group to open the financial offers of these two bidders. ^ 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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