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
  3-9.1.2015, No. 555  
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Bilateral Issues

Following the visit to Czech Republic, President of Mongolia will be attending in the World Economic Forum's 2015 Meeting (infomongolia)
Upon invitation of the President of the Czech Republic, Mr. Milos Zeman, the President of Mongolia Mr. Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ will be conducting a state visit to the country on January 18-19, 2015. The visit is aimed to broaden bilateral cooperation and partnership and during the visit, President Ts.Elbegdorj will be meeting with Mongolians residing in the country on January 19, 2015. Moreover, following the state visit to the Czech Republic, Mongolian delegates led by the President Ts.Elbegdorj will be attending in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting themed “The New Global Context” to take place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland on January 21-24, 2015. The Annual Meeting 2015, which is organized for the consecutive 45th year, will be gathering about 250 top political leaders to discuss with the heads of international organizations and with business leaders how global governance can be improved through public-private cooperation. These discussions will be prepared in close collaboration with the respective international organizations, aimed at providing substantial, yet informal, input into major global processes. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Typist sentenced to death in China for leaking military secrets (SCMP)
A young typist who worked at a Chinese military manufacturer's research centre that was developing a secret weapons system has been sentenced to death for spying for a foreign intelligence agency, according to a state-run media report. Yu Hongyang, a member of staff at an unnamed research office, was said to have damaged national security by leaking state secrets, the news website of the Global Times newspaper reported. He was caught by the Ministry of State Security for allegedly buying secret information and then selling it in an “extremely severe” case that warranted the death penalty, the report said. The foreign intelligence agency allegedly involved was not named. Yu was employed at the centre on its secretarial staff. The facility was involved in researching “a secret weapon that could vanquish the enemy in future battles”, the report said. Yu wanted more cash so started looking for other work. “His greed for money led him to post an online job search,” the report said. He was then contacted by a foreign intelligence agency posing as potential employer. Yu revealed basic information about the military research office during initial meetings with foreign intelligence staff, the report said. The foreign agency gave him cash and gifts and later asked him to give more detailed information about the site's research work. “Despite that fact that Yu had been well briefed on secrecy, he caved in due to his intense materialism,” the newspaper commented. The report said that although Yu was a typist he was still able to get his hands on critical information that “trashed decades of research efforts on national security”. He was said to have stolen large quantities of highly confidential state secrets. ^ top ^

China launches weapons procurement website (Global Times)
China launched an official military weapons procurement website on Sunday in an effort to better guarantee transparency in arms procurement and break down barriers for private companies seeking to enter the market, analysts said. Under the General Armament Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the website,, provides information on the country's weapon and armament needs, relevant policies, procurement notices, enterprise lists and technology. A total of 350 items to be procured have been listed on the website, with wheeled 4G base stations and composite materials the top two most-read as of press time. According to a notice issued by the website on Sunday, procurement information will be released on the first working day of every January and July. Private enterprises, military procurement departments, and military industry groups and personnel can all register on the website. Qin Zhen, an executive editor with the Beijing-based magazine Ordnance Knowledge, told the Global Times that the site excludes information on major weapons platforms, such as jet fighters and main tanks, as well as crucial accessories. "Unlike foreign countries, our private enterprises still lack capacity and experience in major weaponry manufacturing. But they may exceed major military industry groups in less important accessories, including computer chips, and be able to offer the military products with a high performance-price ratio," Qin explained. The new platform is meant to cement military-civilian integration, accelerate arms procurement reform, break procurement barriers, improve competitiveness and promotes efficiency, according to the PLA General Armament Department. "Procurement information used to be confidential. The website can now make the whole procurement process more transparent, which is an opportunity for private enterprises to present their products but also one way to reduce [the effect of] personal influence on weapons procurement," Qin said. Since 2014, a series of policies have been issued to improve military and civilian integration, market access, information exchange, supervision, and security. In May 2014, China's first "military-civilian integration forum" put out procurement notices for approximately 200 items. The forum attracted more than 100 private businesses and saw scores of cooperation agreements signed. ^ top ^

China calls for caution following new U.S. sanctions on DPRK (Xinhua)
A Chinese spokeswoman called for caution after the United States imposed new sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday signed an executive order, imposing sanctions against the DPRK government in response to what he called Pyongyang's "numerous provocations," particularly the latest cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at Monday's news briefing that the "relatively stable" situation on the Korean peninsula was hard-won and that all sides concerned should act cautiously to avoid an escalation of tensions there. "(All sides) should work together to safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula," said the spokeswoman. The United States has accused Pyongyang of hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment over a comedy film, "The Interview," that depicts an assassination attempt on DPRK leader Kim Jong Un. But the DPRK has denied involvement, calling such claims "a wild rumor." At Monday's news briefing, Hua also reiterated that China opposes any form of cyber-attack and will not allow any country or person to launch cyber-attacks using Chinese infrastructure or on Chinese territory. ^ top ^

China likely to bid on re-opened Mexico high-speed rail project (Global Times)
China will probably tender again to the $3.76 billion high-speed rail project of Mexico and will hold "significant advantages," officials from China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) said Monday, after Mexico announced to re-launch its high-speed rail project. Officials at CRCC told the Global Times that the company has not received an official announcement from Mexico yet and will give a final decision after a thorough study of the bidding conditions. "We will probably tender and will have significant advantages over other bidders in terms of technology, experience and bidding price," one CRCC official surnamed Yu said. Preliminary terms of the contract, which will last 180 days, will be published on January 14 and will be similar to the original one, Mexico's Ministry of Communications and Transport announced on Sunday. A supervisor will oversee the process to ensure "full transparency and legality of the process from the start of the bidding process." Mexico revoked the contract awarded to the consortium made up of CRCC, CSR Corp and four other Mexican firms in November 2014 after opposition lawmakers claimed it was fixed. The consortium's bid was uncontested. The Mexican government said CRCC can take part in the new bidding process, but it does not expect Grupo Higa, one of the Mexican firms in the consortium, to participate in the second tender. French engineering group Alstom SA and Canada's Bombardier Inc have said they would consider taking part in the new tender. "The annulment of the last bidding has had a negative impact, since our tender documents have been open to the public since then," Tian Yun, editor-in-chief of the Macro China Information Network under the National Development and Reform Commission, told the Global Times. Tian predicted that Japan will be the primary rival in this bidding, as the depreciation of the Japanese yen will drive down the relative price of its bid. The 210-kilometer line to connect Mexico City and the central city of Querétaro is expected to move 27,000 passengers daily at speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour. ^ top ^

DPRK soldier dead after killing four Chinese (Xinhua)
A runaway soldier from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) who killed four Chinese citizens is dead, a Chinese spokesman confirmed on Wednesday. "Chinese police immediately arrested him after the incident. The runaway was injured during the process and died after treatment failed," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. A DPRK runaway soldier reportedly killed four Chinese citizens last month during a robbery after he crossed the border into China in search of food. Calling it an individual criminal case, Hong said both China and the DPRK have paid great attention to the case. China has already lodged representations to the DPRK. "The DPRK expressed regret over the incident and extended sympathies to the families of the victims," Hong said. He said departments in charge of the case in the two countries are conducting a follow-up investigation and dealing with the aftermath. ^ top ^

China and Japan 'to hold maritime security talks' (SCMP)
The governments of Japan and China have agreed to resume talks as early as next week to launch a maritime crisis management mechanism sometime this year, according to several Japanese government sources. Arrangements were under way for working-level talks in Tokyo as both countries worked to avert unwanted clashes around the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkakus in Japan, the sources said. The uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan but claimed by both countries. Japan has sounded out China about resuming talks by the end of January on the establishment of some mechanism that would allow their defence authorities to communicate with each other in emergencies. Beijing responded by saying that they could be held in the middle of the month, according to the sources. During their summit talks in November, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping agreed to ease tensions over the sovereignty of the islands and establish the crisis management mechanism. Patrol ships and aircraft from China have been repeatedly spotted around the islands, keeping the Japanese authorities on the alert. The forthcoming talks will include officials from Japan's Defence Ministry and the Maritime Self-Defence Force, along with China's Defence Ministry. China, which suffered Japan's wartime aggression, has been sensitive about how Tokyo handles issues related to history, particularly as this year marks the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in the second world war. The Foreign Ministry in Beijing said it would take a wait-and-see approach to any statement by Abe on the anniversary of the war. "We are paying close attention to what kind of signals the Japanese government and leaders are sending out about the country's history of aggression [and] what kind of attitude they will adopt," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday. ^ top ^

US embassy in Nicaragua voices fears over Chinese-led US$50b canal project (SCMP)
The US has expressed concern over a lack of information surrounding a planned US$50 billion (HK$388 billion) Chinese-led canal project in Nicaragua said to rival the Panama Canal. The remarks by the US embassy in Nicaragua come as China hosts leaders and ministers from about 30 Latin American and Caribbean states. Several deals on trade and investment are expected to be signed, including extensions to the timeline of Chinese loans to Ecuador. Work started last month on the 278km canal, which will open a route between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Its Hong Kong-based developer, HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment, said it would be operational by 2020. The canal is poised to give China a major foothold in Central America, a region long dominated by the United States. In a statement released this week, the US mission in Managua said all relevant documents relating to the project should be made public and the voices of all stakeholders heard. "The embassy is worried by the lack of information and transparency that has existed, and continues to exist, over many of the important aspects of this project," it said. The embassy called for the disclosure of environmental impact studies, tenders and other project details. Protesters in Nicaragua claim the project will hurt the environment. The developer, which is controlled by mainland businessman Wang Jing, did not comment on the US statement. Wang has said the Chinese government was not behind the project, but his reluctance to reveal his financiers has led many to speculate that he enjoyed Beijing's tacit backing. China's foreign ministry also denied the government was involved in the project. "Chinese companies have gone to other countries to cooperate on large projects," spokesman Hong Lei told a regular press briefing. "We have asked firms to follow the laws of other nations and launch projects based on market principles, including protecting the local environment." […] "The statement by the US embassy may make it more difficult for the company to solicit capital for the canal," he said. Long Baijin, the mainland general manager at Scottish Development International, a government agency, said small, private firms were more vulnerable to disputes. The government should provide more consular help to the companies, enhancing their awareness of the legal and political environment of overseas nations, he said. ^ top ^

China, Ecuador sign deals to boost ties (China Daily)
A raft of agreements were sealed between China and Ecuador in Beijing on Wednesday amid the oil-reliant Andean nation's efforts to tackle a budget shortfall caused by plunging oil prices. The nine agreements, signed after talks between President Xi Jinping and his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa, extend the timeline of two loans and boost cooperation in the financing, education and technology sectors. The countries also announced an upgrade of their 35-year-old ties to a strategic partnership. Xi highlighted the importance of financial cooperation, calling for both countries to promote links in energy, electricity, mining, infrastructure, agriculture and high-end technology. Referring to China as a leading financial backer of Ecuador, Correa said many Chinese enterprises in Ecuador have contributed greatly to the country's development. China has granted a $5.3 billion credit line to Ecuador, and the country will utilize the loan on social projects, transport and infrastructure, Ecuador's official media said on Tuesday. […] ^ top ^

Chinese, Venezuelan presidents vow enhanced financing cooperation (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday said he hopes Venezuela will use bilateral financing mechanisms and channel more funds to the areas of energy, mining, agriculture and industry while meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro is visiting China to attend the opening ceremony of the first ministerial meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Financing mechanisms between the two countries total more than 50 billion U.S. dollars, according to Venezuelan experts. Financing mechanisms, including the China-Venezuela Fund, have provided financial support for some 256 projects. China and Venezuela upgraded their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership during Xi's visit to Venezuela in 2014, opening a new chapter in bilateral ties. During their meeting, Xi called on the two sides to push bilateral ties to a higher-level. China supports Venezuela's efforts in restructuring its economy and establishing a manufacturing economic model, he said. Xi suggested the two countries push forward cooperation in the fields of oil exploration, infrastructure and technological innovation. He also urged construction of an agricultural demonstration park and called for strengthened people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in personnel training. Maduro visited China for the opening ceremony of the first ministerial meeting of the China-CELAC forum, which Xi said showed the importance Venezuela attaches to the China-Latin America comprehensive cooperative partnership. Xi said he hopes that overall China-CELAC cooperation and bilateral cooperation between China and CELAC member countries will complement each other to push the China-Latin America comprehensive cooperative partnership to a higher level. Noting China is a close friend of Venezuela, Maduro said enhanced cooperation with China based on mutual benefit and common development has enabled Venezuela to meet the challenges in the new year with greater courage and capacity. Venezuela is implementing economic recovery and long-term development plans that will expand international financing and increase investment in domestic production, said Maduro. He invited China to join planning for the next step in cooperation and explore new areas of cooperation, such as industry, energy, science and technology, and financing. Venezuela will continue to enhance coordination and cooperation with China on international affairs, he said. Maduro said the founding of the China-CELAC forum displays the huge potential for cooperation between China and CELAC countries. The upcoming ministerial meeting will enhance both China-Venezuela and China-Latin America cooperation, he said, adding that Venezuela will continue to make efforts to reinforce China-Latin America cooperation. The two sides also exchanged views on international issues of common concern and the world economic situation. ^ top ^

Costa Rican president eyes closer China-Latin America ties (Xinhua)
President Luis Guillermo Solis said the two sides should grasp opportunities to reinforce current achievements and create conditions to strengthen cooperation in multiple fields. He held talks on a strategic partnership with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday. Given the current trends, China will become the largest trade partner of Latin America in 15 years, Solis said. Chinese merchandise, including textiles, home appliances, cell phones and automobiles, prevailed in Latin America, while mineral products and farm produce from Latin America are increasing in China, Solis said. He said he hopes the region will attract more Chinese investment in technology transfer and the high added-value manufacturing sector, as the United States, its top investor, focuses on a few sectors such as resources and energy. China is the second-largest trade partner and the third-largest investor for Latin America. Bilateral trade between the two sides totaled 241.9 billion U.S. dollars in the first 11 months of 2014, data from the China Council for The Promotion of International Trade showed. In addition to trade, Solis said he hopes collaboration in culture, education and society will also push forward China-Latin America ties. ^ top ^

China strongly condemns Paris attack (Xinhua)
China strongly condemned a deadly terrorist attack on the offices of a French newspaper in Paris, a Chinese spokesman said on Wednesday. "We are deeply shocked at the terrorist attack and strongly condemn it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, "We mourn for the victims and express sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured." The Chinese side firmly opposes all forms of terrorism and supports the efforts made by the French side to safeguard domestic security, Hong added. Three masked and heavily armed men stormed the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in downtown Paris, earlier in the day, killing at least 12 people, including two policemen, and injuring 11 others with four in critical condition. ^ top ^

China Voice: "Fox Hunt" dashes dreams of corrupt officials (Xinhua)
The six-month "Fox Hunt" campaign, tracking down big time crooks who fled abroad, shows China is now playing hardball with corrupt officials. A total of 680 fugitives suspected of economic crimes have been repatriated as a result of the transnational operation. Of those, 117 had been at large for over a decade. One had been on the run for 22 years. The hunt has found runaways in 69 countries and regions. Chinese police worked with colleagues in over 90 countries and regions, and more than 70 teams were sent overseas. Their efforts dashed the empty dreams of many corrupt officials that fleeing China was equivalent to escaping the long arm of Chinese law. According to official data, about 1,000 corrupt officials cut and run each year between 2007 and 2012, and this does not include fugitives suspected of other economic crimes. Those who are still lurking overseas might heave a sigh of relief at the news that the operation is now officially over, but the end of "Fox Hunt" does not mean an end to hunting. As long as the bad guys remain at large, the hunt goes on. The campaign itself was not just an attempt to drag these enemies of the people back to justice, but was a clear warning to those corrupt officials hatching plans to flee China. To both groups, Chinese government has sent a clear message: you can run, but you can't hide forever. […] ^ top ^

China brings home 500 economic fugitives on run in anti-graft crackdown (SCMP)
More than 500 fugitives abroad were brought back to China to face the music by the end of last year, along with over 3 billion yuan (HK$3.8 billion) obtained by illegal means, the country's top graft-buster has said. "The central anti-graft coordinating team has set up an office to seize fugitives … and to find out the number of Communist Party members and officials who have fled overseas," Huang Shuxian, deputy director of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said yesterday. Huang said China's graft-busters would push on with the anti-corruption mission overseas and continue to cooperate with the United States, Canada and Australia - three popular destinations for corrupt Chinese officials who fled the country. […] Over the past year, the CCDI has investigated 68 party cadres of at least provincial ranking, including former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, former presidential aide Ling Jihua and a handful of officials from Shanxi province. Huang said Shanxi's party committee and its related departments would be held responsible for the province's corruption crisis. His mention of Shanxi yesterday - almost a year after its first high-ranking official came under investigation for corruption - sparked speculation about how the provincial party committee would be made to take responsibility for the crisis. "To have the party committee take the responsibility ultimately means that individuals will have to bear the responsibility," Peking University anti-graft expert Zhuang Deshui said. "The committee leader is the primary responsibility holder." Former Shanxi party boss Yuan Chunqing was transferred to lead an agriculture team in the central government after the CCDI detained half of his colleagues in the committee. "It's worth watching if Yuan will get disciplinary punishment from the party," Zhuang said. ^ top ^

China, CELAC to map out cooperation plan over next five years: Xi (Xinhua)
China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will put into writing a five-year cooperation plan, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday. The plan -- together with the Beijing Declaration, and the Regulations on China-CELAC forum -- will be the major outcome of the first China-CELAC forum ministerial meeting, Xi said in his opening remarks. The plan (2015-2019) will have specific measures for overall cooperation between China and Latin America, covering politics, security, trade, investment, finance, infrastructure, energy, resources, industry, agriculture, science and people-to-people exchange. In the coming decade, China aims at 500 billion U.S dollars of bilateral trade with Latin American and the Caribbean and 250 billion U.S. dollars of direct investment into the region. "China is willing to take the opportunity to build a new platform for cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean," said Xi. […] The Beijing Declaration will summarize political consensus, set the direction for the forum and define cooperation guidelines. The regulations will set the rules of the forum, define three regular dialogues between China and CELAC, and provide a system to guarantee the implementation of political consensus and plans. "Each CELAC country, both rich and poor, is equal under the framework of the forum," said Xi. "All sides should keep friendly consultation, hold common development and consider interests from all sides in order to ensure a firm political foundation for the cooperation." Both China and CELAC should expedite the construction of the forum and map out a collaborative blueprint to achieve win-win results. […] Xi welcomed any organizations or multilateral agencies from Latin America and the Caribbean region to join the cooperation. […] During the two-day meeting, ministers and representatives from China and CELAC, will define 13 key areas for cooperation over the next five years, according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. "The five-year plan will bring unprecedented depth and width to bilateral cooperation," Wang said. […] "The foundation of the forum is a historical event and the initiative to reinforce cooperation brought up by Xi last year is common expectation," Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro Moros said at the meeting. Other foreign attendees include Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis, Ecuador President Rafael Correa Delgado, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie, ministerial representatives from CELAC member countries and members of international organizations. […] The 33-member CELAC was founded in December 2011 in Venezuela. It includes all South American countries and some Caribbean states plus Mexico. ^ top ^

Birthday wishes for Kim (Global Times)
China sent a message of congratulation to North Korea on the birthday of its top leader Kim Jong-un, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Thursday. "China and North Korea are friendly neighbors and enjoy a long-standing tradition of friendly exchanges," said the ministry's spokesperson Hong Lei at a regular press briefing on Thursday. Kim is believed to have turned 32 on Thursday, but there have been no reports of celebrations. China wishes the people of North Korea new achievements in national economic and social development under the leadership of Kim, first secretary of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, said Hong. In the new year, China will push for further development of bilateral relations in the spirit of "inheriting tradition, facing up to the future, good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation," Hong said. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China's top legislature ends bimonthly session (Xinhua)
China's top legislature ended a bimonthly session on Sunday, adopting a law on navigation channels, and giving go-ahead to ease investment rules in three new free trade zones (FTZs). Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), presided over the closing meeting of the session. The law on navigation channels aims at ensuring clear passage and security of the country's navigation channels, and boosting the economies for coastal regions. Zhang said the law will better protect navigation safety and clear passage by establishing assessment mechanism over navigation conditions and clarifying supervision responsibilities. According to the resolution on temporary adjustment of regulations for administrative approvals in the new FTZs adopted at the meeting, foreign companies will not need government approvals to set up ventures, shut down and merge ventures or change their business purpose in these FTZs. Zhang said, the resolution provided legal support to the country's deepening reform, opening wider up and transforming government functions. A draft national security law and a bill to regulate overseas NGOs in China were tabled for a first reading during the session, which was crucial to implementing the "overall national security outlook", Zhang said. Also submitted for a first reading was a draft amendment to the air pollution prevention and control law. Zhang ordered lawmakers to actively address public concerns and write effective air pollution control laws. The State Council delivered reports on China's social security system and on building new countryside, among other reports at the bi-monthly session. Zhang urged the State Council to learn and apply opinions raised by the NPC Standing Committee into their work. The top legislature also appointed Luo Shugang as minister of culture and decided to convene the Third Session of the 12th NPC on March 5 next year. Two new extradition treaties signed with Afghanistan and Iran and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Counter-Terrorism Convention were approved at the meeting. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese diplomat Zhang Kunsheng sacked for corruption: foreign ministry (SCMP)
A senior Chinese diplomat has been sacked and put under investigation, the foreign ministry said yesterday, amid a sweeping anti-corruption campaign. Zhang Kunsheng, 56, was no longer an assistant foreign minister because he was "suspected of violating discipline and was being investigated", the ministry said in a brief statement, using the usual euphemism for corruption. It gave no further details. Mainland media reported that Zhang was the most senior of the nation's four assistant foreign ministers - who rank below vice-foreign ministers - and was in charge of the ministry's protocol department. Qin Gang, the ministry's chief spokesman, had assumed the protocol position, and assistant foreign minister Liu Jianchao would take over from Qin as the chief spokesman, China News Service reported. President Xi Jinping has cracked down on graft since assuming office two years ago, but Zhang is the first senior diplomat to be caught up in the anti-corruption campaign. "The announcement is quite sudden because the foreign ministry is considered cleaner than other government agencies," Renmin University international relations specialist Jin Canrong said. It was not clear which agency was in charge of the investigation and what Zhang was alleged to have done. But there was speculation that the case of Zhang, a native of Shanxi province, could be linked to the downfall of a series of Shanxi officials. Ling Zhengce, former vice-chairman of the province's political consultative conference, is under investigation, as is his brother Ling Jihua, the one-time top aide to former president Hu Jintao. Gu Su, a professor of political science at Nanjing University, said diplomats sometimes helped Chinese companies establish businesses or do promotions overseas, which could be an opportunity to abuse power or give those companies special treatment. "It cannot be ruled out that more diplomats will be implicated as the investigations continue," Gu said. Shi Yinhong, another international relations affairs expert at Renmin University, said the announcement indicated that corruption was widespread throughout the government's agencies. Zhang attended an Asean maritime navigation safety forum in Beijing on December 8. He previously worked in the ministry's department of North American and Oceanian affairs, and at the Chinese embassy in Washington. He was involved in planning state visits by Chinese and US leaders. In 1997, he helped plan then-president Jiang Zemin's trip to the United States. ^ top ^

China takes rare step of naming Communist Party factions tied to disgraced top cadres (SCMP)
Xinhua has made a rare acknowledgment of factions within the Communist Party, and named key members who are tied to disgraced top cadres Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua. But President Xi Jinping had weighed the risks in going after such "tigers", the state mouthpiece said. "Tigers" refer to leading national figures targeted in the anti-corruption campaign. In an article carried on its affiliated news portal over the weekend, Xinhua named several fallen senior officials as connected to the so-called Shanxi Gang, Secretary Gang and Petroleum Gang. The party's 25-member Politburo said last week it would not tolerate cadres forming political factions for personal business. Last year saw graft probes against Zhou, the former security tsar, Ling, ex-presidential aide, retired No 2 General Xu Caihou and former deputy head of the national political advisory body, Su Rong. In a separate article, Xinhua said only the "brave" could withstand the risks and challenges to "declare war" on vested interests and tackle deeply rooted problems within the party. It said the investigations into the fallen officials had convinced the public that the authorities were determined to eradicate corruption. Xi had gone after the "tigers" "not without weighing [the consequences]". "But we have identified the mission and purpose of the party, as well as what people expected [of us]," Xinhua quoted him as saying, without detailing when or where the comments were made. The first article said members of the Secretary Gang included several top aides and former personal secretaries of Zhou, including former Sichuan vice-governor Guo Yongxiang, former chairman of the Sichuan political advisory committee Li Chongxi, and former deputy governor of Hainan province Ji Wenlin. The Petroleum Gang included Jiang Jiemin, another aide to Zhou and a former chairman of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, as well as his subordinates, while Ling was a member of the Shanxi Gang, Xinhua said. Xinhua said there were often open or shadowy factions behind the disgraced "tigers" who posed a great danger to the party. Zhang Ming, a professor of political science at Renmin University, said mainland media had long reported the existence of the three "gangs", but the Xinhua articles meant the party was willing to admit to them. "At least it means there are different factions and interests groups within the party," Zhang said. But Xinhua was not referencing other factions commonly held to exist, such as the "princeling gang", "Shanghai gang" and "Youth League gang", which were influential behind the scene, he said. ^ top ^

Deputy chiefs named in China's latest power reshuffle in government and military (SCMP)
New deputies for the mainland's bank regulator and economic planner have been revealed amid an ongoing reshuffle of senior government and military personnel. Long-time State Council General Office official Cao Yu has been named deputy chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), the commission said on its website. Cao, 52, who spent most of his career in the State Council's secretariat, was appointed a member of the CBRC party committee last month. He succeeded Yan Qingmin, who became deputy mayor of Tianjin province around the same time. Wang Xiaotao, who was deputy secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), was promoted to deputy director of the commission, according to the NDRC website. As one of the commission's 12 deputy directors, Wang, 54, is in charge of foreign capital, overseas investment and trade. Wang joined the NDRC's investment department in 1986 and has focused on investment management over the years. Cao's and Wang's appointments came after mainland media reported last month that Xinjiang governor Nur Bekri would leave the restive autonomous region in the west to become an NDRC deputy directory and the head of the National Energy Administration. Nur Bekri's departure prompted a series of reshuffles in Xinjiang. In the latest appointment unveiled by the authorities, former Xinjiang higher court president Nayim Yasen, 62, will now head the Xinjiang legislature's party committee. Meanwhile, the focus of reshuffles within the People's Liberation Army has now turned to the Chengdu Military Area Command. Major general Zhang Shuguo has been transferred to the command's deputy political commissar, Caixin cited the unit's newspaper Zhanqibao as saying. Zhang, 54, who was the commissar for the 39th Army Corp under Shenyang Military Area Command, took over from Chai Shaoliang, who became deputy political commissar of the General Armament Department. The Chengdu command's chief of staff and princeling general Zhou Xiaozhou was also appointed to become its deputy commander, online news outlet cited Zhanqibao as saying. Zhou is the son of Zhou Yibing, former commander of the Beijing Military Area Command. The senior Zhou headed the Beijing command during the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. ^ top ^

Chinese construction workers to get better insurance (Xinhua)
No construction permits will be given to projects in China which fail to provide workers with injury insurance. The decision was made by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the State Administration of Work Safety and the All China Federation of Trade Unions. China's construction sector employs nearly 45 million, including about 36 million migrant workers who are vulnerable to rights violations, said Hu Xiaoyi, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security. Li Hongkui is one of them. He was hit by a falling object while working at a construction site in Beijing on Sept. 12, 2012. He spent almost a month in hospital and could barely work afterwards. With no labor contract he was unable to claim compensation. Based on hundreds of construction sites he had visited, Li Dajun, organizer of a migrant workers' rights group, said nearly 90 percent of construction workers do not have contracts or insurance. Lu Huilin of Peking University, said another problem is subcontracting to agents who are not qualified, an illegal practice that must be tackled. ^ top ^

Belts of farmland to be protected around China's big cities (SCMP)
The government in China has confirmed it is to establish permanent belts of arable land around 14 of the country's biggest cities to curb the rampant expansion of big urban centres and to help ensure future food supplies, a mainland newspaper reported. Prime farmland around the 14 most populous cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, will be off-limits to commercial development and set aside for agriculture only, the China Business News reported. The decision was announced by the Ministry of Land and Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing on Monday, the report said. After the policy has been implemented in cities with a population of more than five million, it will be rolled out to smaller cities and towns around the country. The permanent arable belt will create set boundaries for China's rapidly expanding cities, which have swallowed up vast swathes of surrounding farmland in the past decades. A national land survey found that 130,000 square kilometres of farmland, equivalent to about half the area of the United Kingdom, disappeared in the rush for urbanisation between 1996 and 2009. The area of urban land soared past 8 million hectares in 2013, according to a report by the China Land Surveying and Planning Institute published last month. By contrast, the amount of cultivated land per head of population in China was only 0.101 hectare in 2009, less than half the world average. Analysts say policies are needed to rein in the spread of cities, but more also needs to be done to stop local governments selling off lucrative rural land to developers. ^ top ^

Premier's southern trip to push China's reform drive (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China should count on reform, opening up and structural adjustment to improve economy during a three-day tour of south China's Guangdong Province. Li said China should push forward reform and opening up steadfastly in a bid to maintain economic growth within a proper range, as the country is confronted with new challenges in an economic "new normal". China should strike a balance between steady economic growth and necessary adjustment in economic structure and promoting reform will help meet that goal, Li said, adding the reform should be of better quality and development more coordinated. Given poor exports and weak domestic demand, China is increasingly reliant on a reform in nearly all fields to ensure sustainable growth during an unavoidable slowdown. The country has carried out a string of policies and measures, such as setting up free trade zones, streamlining administration and delegating powers, encouraging innovation and helping small firms. China's GDP expanded at 7.3 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2014, the weakest quarterly figure since 2009. The Premier kicked off his tour on Sunday, the first working day of 2015, visiting Shenzhen and provincial capital Guangzhou. Shenzhen was one of China's earliest special economic zones and Guangdong has always been considered the most open part of the country. The word "innovation" has been heard a lot on the tour, which has passed through the most high-tech or creative areas. On Sunday Li visited Qianhai Webank, China's first Internet bank and one of five private banks in China. The bank has low costs compared to traditional banks and focuses on small loans to individuals and small firms. During his visit to Chaihuo Makerspace, a creative center crowded with young inventors, Li said makers with creative ideas should be helped to set up their own businesses. Li also visited Huawei Technologies Co. The company has 16 research centers worldwide and owns over 36,500 patents. Given complicated economic circumstance with traditional industries, China should promote innovation as the new driving force for the economy, Li said. During the tour of the new Guangdong free trade zone (FTZ), Li said the FTZ should take advantage of its proximity to Hong Kong and Macao. The zone along with another two in Fujian and Tianjin follows the success of Shanghai FTZ. In Guangdong FTZ investment approval has been cut to one fifth of the previous arduous process that could take up to 800 days. At Guangdong Electric Power Design Institute, Li looked forward to a new edge in global competition with high added value products manufactured in China on the world market. Li placed flowers at the statue of Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen. Deng led China's market reform and opening up over 35 years ago, which led directly to the rapid growth of the last ten years. ^ top ^

Green groups eligible for class-action lawsuits (SCMP)
About 700 domestic environmental groups are now eligible to sue polluters through class-action lawsuits, after the Supreme People's Court issued a new judicial interpretation on dealing with such cases yesterday - less than a week after the country's revised environmental law took effect. The interpretation, effective from today, is aimed at clearing legal obstacles - such as high litigation costs and difficulties in producing evidence - for green groups to take on polluters, as well as overcoming local protectionism that has provided shelter for polluting factories, legal experts said. Zheng Xuelin, head of the environmental tribunal under the supreme court, told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that he expected the number of environmental class-action lawsuits to increase, following years of struggle by mainland environmental activists trying to sue polluters. The interpretation says such class-action lawsuits will be dealt with by intermediate people's courts, rather than local courts, as these courts may not have the capacity to handle such cases and may have a tendency to protect local enterprises, said the Supreme People's Court spokesman Sun Jungong. Plaintiffs are now allowed to apply for a delay or exemption of litigation payment to courts, while defendants will cover other litigation costs and other expenses such as fees for lawyers and testing of evidence. Experts say the interpretation will help to involve more legal professionals in the fight against pollution. The judicial interpretation also shifts the "burden of proof" in environmental class-action lawsuits to the defendants, who will now have to prove they did not cause environmental damage or health hazards, Zheng said. The interpretation also includes a provision that allows courts to order defendants to stop polluting, a concept new to the mainland legal system, noted Wang Canfa, an environmental law professor at China University of Political Science and Law. "This is similar to issuing an injunction in Western countries, which is new to China," said Wang. Previously, local governments could issue administrative orders asking factories to stop polluting, but these did not have the same legal force, he explained. Organisations dedicated to environmental protection that have been registered with city-level governments and have been in operation for at least five years without any record of law-breaking are eligible to sue. They are also allowed to sue polluters outside their registered city, according to the judicial interpretation. ^ top ^

Jiang is appointed publicity minister (China Daily)
Jiang Jianguo has been named minister of the State Council Information Office and deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, a news statement said on Tuesday. The statement was published on the website of the National Museum of China in Beijing, where Jiang accompanied Liu Qibao, the publicity department's head, to view an exhibition of Silk Road cultural relics on Sunday. Jiang, 58, was previously the Party chief and deputy head of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. He replaced Cai Mingzhao, who was appointed president of Xinhua News Agency on Dec 31. Jiang's appointment was not announced officially by the CPC Central Committee as of Tuesday. A native of Hanshou, Hunan province, Jiang rose from deputy director of the research office of the Organization Department of the CPC Hunan provincial committee to become the head of the provincial publicity department. He was appointed deputy Party chief of the General Administration of Press and Publication in 2008 and Party chief of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television in 2013. ^ top ^

Chinese Academy of Sciences excludes officials as academician candidates (Xinhua)
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has excluded officials as candidates from the latest round of academician elections in a bid to reduce interference. The CAS has made it clear that civil servants and Party officials are disqualified as candidates, said a CAS statement on Wednesday. Previously, government departments were allowed to recommend candidates to the CAS. This year, only current academicians and academic institutions are able to recommend. These measures are considered an effort by the CAS to maintain an independent procedure and ensure that new academicians are scientists with outstanding academic achievements. The CAS plans to elect the maximum 65 academicians during this round of elections. Nomination procedures started on Jan. 1. According to the rules, each academician may recommend a maximum of three candidates. To qualify as a candidate, a scientist needs at least three references, including two from his or her own research area. If a scientist is older than 65, he or she will need at least six references. Voting procedures have also changed. Previously, academicians from a given research division voted to elect the division's new members. This year, voting will be held among all CAS academicians, regardless of research specialty. A candidate will need more than half of the CAS academicians' votes to be elected. ^ top ^

Beijing scholar arrested over illegal business practices (Global Times)
Police in Beijing have formally arrested an activist-scholar for "illegal business practices," according to an arrest notice sent to his family on Tuesday. A Sina Weibo post of Guo Yushan's wife said Beijing prosecutors approved the arrest of Guo on Saturday, who is being held in the Beijing No.1 Detention Center. Guo has been detained since October. But the post was quickly deleted and the center could not be reached for comment. Guo is the founder of Transition Institute, a Beijing-based think-tank conducting research on social issues including taxi management. Authorities shut down the think-tank in July 2013, as it has been operating as an unregistered social organization, reported the Guangzhou-based Nandu Daily. Guo, reportedly along with several other legal scholars, including Xu Zhiyong and Teng Biao, provided legal assistance to families when the melamine-tainted milk incident broke out in 2008. They have also helped raise funds for those families. Xu was convicted of "assembling a crowd to disrupt order at public places" and sentenced to four years in prison in January 2014. Teng, a rights lawyer, was accused of practicing law without a license for at least three years in July 2014. Teng's license was allegedly canceled in 2008 in Beijing. Teng and Guo co-founded Gongmeng, the predecessor of the New Citizens' Movement in 2003. ^ top ^

Ex-security chief closer to trial date (China Daily)
China's ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang has been transferred to prosecuting authorities along with 29 other former high-ranking officials, paving the way for his trial. The transfers were announced by the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Wednesday. Zhou is the highest-ranking figure to become ensnared in the country's campaign against corruption in recent years. […] Huang said they are also investigating other high-profile cases, including those of Ling Jihua, former minister of the United Front Work Department, and Su Rong, former deputy chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. "After the investigation is complete, and if we discover some criminal clues such as abuse of power or accepting bribes, suspects will be transferred to the judicial bodies to face trial," he said. The 29 other alleged corrupt officials transferred to prosecutors include Jiang Jiemin, former minister of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission; Li Dongsheng, former deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Security; Li Chongxi, former chairman of the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference; and Shen Weichen, former Party chief and executive vice-president of the China Association for Science and Technology. […] A number of suspected graft cases involving senior officials and directors of State-owned enterprises have been uncovered based on tipoffs. The cases include those of Bai Enpei, former Party chief of Yunnan province; Wan Qingliang, former Party chief of Guangzhou, Guangdong province; and Xue Wandong, former manager of a petroleum engineering technology subsidiary of Sinopec, according to the Commission for Discipline Inspection. Huang said supervisory offices will cover all 140 central Party and State bodies, including the CPC Central Committee's General Office, the General Office of the State Council and the Organization Department, to prevent corruption. Cheng Gang, a law professor at Renmin University of China said: "The anti-graft fight will be more standardized. After completing the investigation within the Party, disciplinary officers will transfer suspected corrupt officials to prosecuting authorities to stand trial." According to the commission, more than 70,000 government officials were punished by disciplinary authorities last year for violating Party rules to build a clean government. The number of cases involved was more than 50,000. ^ top ^

China steps up political arrests and prosecutions, US-based rights group reports (SCMP)
China arrested or prosecuted more than 2,300 people for political offences in 2013 – the vast majority in secret, an advocacy group reported today as the ruling Communist Party continues a crackdown on dissent. A total of 2,318 people were arrested or indicted on charges of “endangering state security”, the United States-based Dui Hua Foundation said, citing statistics from China's central prosecution office. The offence of “endangering state security” replaced that of “counter-revolution” in the 1990s, and is primarily aimed at suppressing political dissent, but also applies to espionage. In recent years it has been applied to members of Tibetan and Uygur minority ethnic groups who have demanded greater civil rights or spoken out against alleged government abuses. Dui Hua added that the names of only 31 of the suspects were made public, adding: “A lack of transparency in endangering state security cases continues to be a serious hurdle.” Most of those whose cases were known to Dui Hua in 2013 appeared from their names to be Tibetan or Uygur, despite such groups making up a small minority of China's population. Since Xi Jinping became China's president in 2013 the Communist Party has launched one of its toughest crackdowns on political critics in decades. The number of arrests and prosecutions for endangering state security was about three times that of a decade ago, when Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao, took power, Dui Hua said. The rise came despite authorities' increased use of non-political charges, which would not count as endangering state security, such as “picking quarrels” and “running an illegal business”, to prosecute dissidents. China has also cracked down on fringe religious groups under Xi, with official statistics showing 1,554 trials in 2013 for membership or leadership of “illegal cults” – a 60 per cent rise year on year, Dui Hua said. Figures for last year have not been released, but last year saw several high-profile state security cases, including Uygur academic Ilham Tohti, who was convicted of separatism and sentenced to life in prison. His conviction drew outrage from rights groups, who said he had been punished for his persistent moderate criticism of China's policies in the mainly Muslim far-west Uygur homeland of Xinjiang. ^ top ^

China police force 'spent 150,000 yuan on Trojan horse viruses to monitor smartphones' (SCMP)
A police bureau in Wenzhou, southeast China, has spent about 150,000 yuan (about HK$190,000) on monitoring devices that install Trojan horse viruses into smartphones, an investigative reporter claims. Liu Hu, a reporter with the Changjiang Times, posted a screenshot on his Sina Weibo page showing a list of the devices bought by the police bureau in Wenzhou Economic Technology Development Zone, Zhejiang province, which had been published on the development's zone's official website on December 15. The list allegedly included a 49,000 yuan Trojan horse virus for mobile phones and a 100,000 yuan device that injected the virus into phones – both supplied by a Hubei company, Wuhan Hongxin Telecommunication Technologies Co. The virus targeted illegally unlocked Android phones or iPhones, and could provide real-time monitoring of their calls, text messages and photos, the list suggested. Liu's posting was later shared widely on Weibo, but the list can no longer be found on the official Wenzhou website today. The deputy head of the Wenzhou municipal public security bureau was quoted by The Beijing News as saying that his department was investigating the claim. In October 2013, Liu – who previously worked for the Guangdong-based newspaper, Modern Express – was arrested by Beijing authorities after using his Weibo account to call for an investigation into Ma Zhengqi, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, Beijing prosecutors released him on bail last August after failing to conclude a case against him within the lawful arrest period, Liu's lawyer claimed. Liu announced only days ago that he had recently joined the Changjiang Times. ^ top ^

University websites face pressure, shut down (Global Times)
A resource-sharing website providing video and learning resources to students at a university in Beijing removed all its resources by "force majeure" on Thursday, triggering a new wave of discussions on the inaccessibility on similar websites. "Server is closed due to force majeure. Thank you for your understanding," read the web page,, which now only offers bulletin board system (BBS) service to users. The website was reportedly founded by students from Beihang University to share free foreign movies and TV series and online courses through the Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6). "The shutdown of the website is not surprising, considering what happened to some leading websites providing free resources. The website's administrator faced growing questions on copyright violations," said a moderator of the website, adding that it was time for Net users to protect the copyright of authorized editions. "Those websites could provide students who registered with a university Internet protocol address to download more online resources in a more effective way. More importantly, it is free," a website user, who is also a postgraduate student of computer science, told the Global Times. Net users have also complained about similar shutdowns at other universities, including of Northeastern University in Shenyang, Liaoning Province and of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. […] ^ top ^

Real-name registration required of online authors (Global Times)
Chinese online literature authors are now required to register with their real names before their works are made available to their readers, according to a recent guideline issued by China's media watchdog. Experts believe the requirement could help authorities better manage the online literature industry and protect the authors' intellectual property. The guideline, issued by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television on Monday, also said that editors and publishers of such works would be held accountable. Online literature is becoming more popular, but the booming industry lacks management, Zhang Yiwu, a professor of Chinese at Peking University, told the Global Times. "The guideline could make authors more aware of their rights and duties," said Zhang, "Authors enjoy freedom but also need to obey the law. The new guideline also better protects the intellectual property rights (IPR) of online authors, he added. Shen Jiake, an online author and media commentator, agrees with Zhang. He told the Global Times that authors would need to exercise greater self-discipline in the future under the new guideline, as anyone who violates laws and regulations in their works would be held accountable. China will guide creative works towards a healthier and higher direction over the next three to five years, the guideline said. It also vowed to provide increasing fiscal support to the industry, while continuing to crack down on pornography and other "harmful" content. ^ top ^

Nanjing party chief removed from post (China Daily)
Yang Weize, Party chief of Nanjing, capital city of east China's Jiangsu Province, has been removed from post for suspected "serious discipline and law violations." The decision was made by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee in a statement on Thursday. Yang was also member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Jiangsu Provincial Committee. The CPC's discipline agency announced earlier this month that Yang has been placed under investigation for suspected serious violation of party disciplines and laws. ^ top ^

Genes make H7N9 nimble killer, study finds (SCMP)
A deadly bird-flu strain first reported among humans two years ago is a swift transformer loaded with more genetic ammunition than previously thought, a mainland study reveals. Researchers found that much of the virus' deadly power came from within, and at least half of its six genes are capable of causing illness in humans. They also found that H7N9 changed rapidly after finding a new host. In some cases mutations that helped it survive better in mammals appeared in just four days, enabling the virus to spread quickly and inflict more damage inside the new host. The study, by a team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Key Laboratory of Pathogenic Microbiology and Immunology, was published in the Journal of Virology late last year. Lead author Bi Yuhai said H7N9 was probably the most elusive avian flu virus that scientists had encountered. Since its emergence early in 2013, several key questions remain unanswered, including why it causes so few symptoms in birds - making early detection extremely difficult - and why it is so lethally active in humans. So far, at least 175 of about 460 people known to have been infected with the virus have died. "In just under two years H7N9 infected as many people as H5N1 did in more than a decade," Bi said. "H5N1 was deadly to birds. H7N9 has almost no effect on birds. That is quite puzzling. "Scientists have deep concerns about H7N9. Some fear it could be one of the most likely candidates to evolve into a 'doomsday virus' capable of human-to-human infection." […] ^ top ^



Beijing PM2.5 density drops in 2014 (Global Time)
Beijing, which is often besieged by smog, saw slightly improved air quality in 2014, recording 204 "good days" and 45 heavily polluted days, the local environmental protection bureau announced Sunday, yet the problem is still grave and requires tougher measures. The average density of PM2.5, airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter and a major air pollutant, dropped by 4 percent from the 2013 level to 85.9 micrograms per cubic meter, Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said in a statement. However, it is still 1.5 times higher than the revised national standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter that was set in 2012. Among the 204 good days, 93 were marked "excellent air quality," 22 days more than in 2013. Despite a 22 percent drop, the city saw 45 days of heavy pollution, nearly one-eighth of the year, spread over nine months except June, August and September. In 2014, Beijing residents suffered seven heavily polluted periods that lasted more than three days, including a weeklong period in February. The city also witnessed an increase in density of other air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and PM10, which grew 1.3 percent and 7.1 percent respectively, said Zhang Dawei, director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center. Strong emissions cuts were a major reason for the improvement in 2014, said the bureau. Preliminary data suggests that the city cut emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by 7,200 and 18,000 tons respectively, both figures a more than 7 percent reduction on 2013.The achievements were reached through a series of measures. Beijing reduced coal consumption by 2.6 million tons, removed 476,000 outdated vehicles from roads and shut down 375 factories last year. It also sharply increased air pollutant discharge fees by 14 to 15 times, a pioneering move in the country, according to the statement. The generally better meteorological conditions in 2014 than 2013 helped with the air quality improvement. […] In 2015, Beijing aims to cut the PM2.5 index by 5 percent and reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by 6 percent from last year, a goal which experts said is reasonable if the new Environmental Protection Law is successfully implemented. The new law, dubbed the "strictest ever," took effect on the first day of 2015. It imposes unlimited fines for polluting activities and tougher liabilities on violators, law enforcers and local officials.[…] The pollution problems in Beijing and surrounding regions have hampered competitive advantages on the international stage. […] ^ top ^



Censors suppress Shanghai stampede coverage as blame game begins (SCMP)
Shanghai authorities have brought down a wall of strict censorship on local coverage of Wednesday night's deadly stampede, as questions mount over how such a tragedy could have occurred in the mainland's wealthiest and best-managed city. Local sources said the censorship was "unprecedented and harsh" and officials were worried that they could be blamed for the stampede that killed at least 36 people. […] The stampede happened at 11.35pm at Chen Yi Square in the Bund area, one of the city's most popular sightseeing spots, as thousands of revellers thronged to the riverfront to watch a light show. […] As exhausted people fell or were knocked down, tripping more behind them, panic quickly spread through the huge crowds, with "young girls screaming desperately for their lives and the sounds of all sorts of curses around", wrote one eyewitness on social media. Survivors described the scene as "hellish", Xinhua reported. Some social media reports initially suggested that the stampede might have been caused by a large amount of banknote-shaped coupons raining down from a nearby building, but Shanghai police dismissed this as the cause of the stampede as only a few people came to pick them up. […] Relatives and victims were under close police guard and local and overseas media were told that they needed Shanghai propaganda department permission to speak to the injured. The Communist Party's propaganda department in Shanghai has issued several notices to local media in the past two days, instructing them on various issues, ranging from the scale of coverage and use of photos to interview protocols, according to three senior journalists. "It seems ridiculous that local newspapers were instructed not to use photos showing people mourning for the dead victims," a senior newspaper editor said. The stampede's cause has not been identified but media and government officials said they expected the authorities to gradually play down the incident by describing it as a simple accident. Pundits are also watching to see if the city's party secretary Han Zheng and mayor Yang Xiong suffer in the political fallout. "It is a do-or-die moment for many of the city's officials now," a source said. "Shanghai police and the propaganda department are doing their utmost to avoid negative reports." Shanghai's historic Bund riverfront runs along an area of narrow streets amid restored old buildings, shops and tourist attractions. The China Daily newspaper in February reported that the city's population was more than 24 million at the end of 2013. Last year, 14 people - some of them children - were killed and 10 injured in a stampede that broke out as food was distributed at a mosque in China's Ningxia region. Also last year, six students were killed in a stampede at a primary school in Kunming in the southwest, after the accidental blocking of a stairway corridor. ^ top ^

Chinese families demand release of Shanghai stampede victims' bodies after foreigners' remains are returned (SCMP)
Dozens of relatives of those killed in the New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai protested outside the gate of the municipal government building yesterday, demanding that the authorities compensate them and let them take the bodies of their loved ones home. Many of the victims' bodies are still being kept in funeral homes by the authorities as investigation into the stampede continues, but the bodies of two foreigners - a Malaysian and a Taiwanese - have already been sent home. Local families demanded the same prompt handling for their loved ones as well as compensation, but negotiations yesterday fell through after officials remained firm on not releasing the bodies, one relative said. At least 36 people were killed and 49 injured in the stampede at Shanghai's riverside Bund late on Wednesday night, 25 minutes before New Year's Day. Most were in their 20s. As of noon yesterday, 25 people remained hospitalised, including seven seriously injured, according to the Shanghai government. One was in the intensive care unit at the Shanghai No1 People's Hospital. A young man from Chengdu, Sichuan province, who had lost his cousin in the accident, said the authorities were keeping a close watch over the relatives. "We have been arranged to stay at different places. There are three people following us wherever we go," he said, referring to people sent by the government to manage the relatives. The man, who did not want to be named, said city government officials had yet to offer the relatives any kind words or to initiate any discussion on the incident, which many believe was a result of the government's negligence. "The mainlanders are being treated so differently from the Taiwanese … We wanted to talk to the government, but it didn't want to talk to us," he said. "At least the Taiwanese family has taken the body home, but we, local families, are still being banned from seeing the loved ones we lost." The father of victim Wu Caixia, from Hubei province, said officials told the relatives the government still needed more time to sort things out as they had only finished identifying the victims on Saturday. State media earlier said that President Xi Jinping had instructed the authorities to "do everything in their power" to help those injured and to launch an immediate inquiry into the incident. Shanghai police have admitted they underestimated the number of people expected to show up for the festivities at the Bund and that they did not deploy sufficient manpower for crowd control that night. A senior police source was earlier quoted as saying that many Huangpu district officials and police were likely to lose their jobs over the incident. "A lot of heads will roll" because the tragedy had infuriated state leaders, the source said. In a similar case in Beijing's Miyun district in 2004, more than a dozen officials were held responsible after 37 people died and 15 were injured in a stampede on an overcrowded canal bridge in a park during Lantern Festival celebrations. The district mayor resigned and 14 other officials were punished, including two who were each sentenced to three years in prison. ^ top ^



Police fire on Tibetans after self-immolations in Sichuan: rights group (SCMP)
Police have fired on Tibetan protesters demonstrating in Sichuan province after a series of deadly self-immolations by people from Tibet campaigning against Beijing's rule of their Himalayan region, a London-based rights group said on Friday. A monk was shot in the arm after police used teargas and opened fire during a clash with Tibetans outside a police station in the western province of Sichuan, which borders Tibet, rights group Free Tibet said in a statement. The group did not say when the violence happened and police in the area could not be reached for comment. Human rights activists say China tramples on religious freedom and culture in Tibet, which it has ruled strictly since PLA troops “peacefully liberated” the region in 1950. China rejects such criticism, saying its rule ended serfdom in Tibet and brought development to a backward, poverty-stricken region. Tibetans in Tibet and in other parts of China have in recent years been protesting by setting themselves on fire after pouring petrol over themselves. In 2012, more than 80 Tibetans staged such fiery protests, according to rights groups. Most are believed to have died. The number of self-immolations has fallen in the past couple of years but a 37-year-old Tibetan monk set himself on fire outside a police station in Sichuan's Dawu county on Tuesday, the third fatal self-immolation in eight days, Free Tibet said. A 20-year-old woman set herself on fire on Monday in Ngaba County in Sichuan, and last week, a 34-year-old man set himself alight in front of a police station in the western province of Gansu, also adjacent to Tibet. The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959. He has called the self-immolations “sad” but “understandable”. He says he does not encourage them and has questioned their effectiveness. China denounces the Dalai Lama as a separatist and says he is seeking autonomy for Tibet. The Dalai Lama told a French broadcaster last week that hardliners in Beijing were preventing President Xi Jinping from granting Tibet genuine autonomy. ^ top ^

China Focus: China to publish encyclopedic dictionary of Tibetan language (Xinhua)
China plans to publish its first encyclopedic dictionary of the Tibetan language beginning in late 2015, according to the China Ethnic Publishing House Thursday. The dictionary includes 13 volumes, covering technology, medicine, phonology, Buddhism, Nyaya philosophy, rhetoric, phraseology, prosody, drama, astrology, Tibetan literature, Bon belief and Tibetan culture, said Gyangkar, an editor at the China Ethnic Publishing House, the dictionary's publisher. The first three volumes of the dictionary will be published by the end of this year and the remaining 15 volumes are expected to be published by 2018, said Gyangkar. With an investment of about 10 million yuan (1.6 million U.S. dollars) from the Chinese government, compilation of the dictionary started in 2006 and involved efforts from more than 10 Tibetan language experts from Beijing and China's vast Tibetan-speaking regions. The dictionary will have about 150,000 entries, three times that of the Tibetan-Chinese dictionary published in 1985, the most comprehensive Tibetan-language reference book until now. It will include 9,000 new words and 60,000 technical terms. WeChat, the most popular instant messaging tool in China, will be called "trinqiong" in Tibetan in the dictionary. "Broadband" will be called "tayang" and "robot" will be called "trimen," said Gyangkar. […] ^ top ^



Political commissars promoted to serve in Xinjiang in PLA reshuffle (SCMP)
Three political officers have been promoted to serve in the Lanzhou Military Area Command, according to a mainland media report, the latest personnel changes in a major reshuffle within the People's Liberation Army. Lieutenant General Liu Lei, the former military political commissar in Xinjiang, has taken up the same role in the higher Lanzhou regional command, the news service Caixin reported. It cited a report in the People's Army, the Lanzhou command's official newspaper. Lanzhou command oversees the restive Xinjiang region, as well as the neighbouring northwestern provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi and Qinghai, and the Ningxia region. Liu replaces Lieutenant General Miao Hua. He has become political commissar in the PLA Navy. Liu, 57, who originally comes from eastern Shandong province, joined the army when he was 16. He has spent more than 40 years serving in the northeast of China, including Lanzhou, Xinjiang and southern Xinjiang. The former military area political commissar in Yunnan province in the southwest, Shi Xiao, 57; and Kang Chunyuan, 56, ex-deputy director of the political department in the Beijing Military Area Command, have been promoted to vice political commissars in the Lanzhou Command. Meanwhile, Major General Zhou Yaning, 57, was promoted to vice commander of the Second Artillery Corps, known as the strategic missile force. Dozens of top military officers have switched jobs in recent weeks as part of the reshuffle in China's military. Analysts say the changes in personnel come in the wake of President Xi Jinping's campaign to crackdown on corruption in the PLA. The former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xu Caihou, is to face bribery charges after he was formally stripped off all his titles last year. ^ top ^

Xinjiang enforces new website rules (China Daily)
Regulation increases digital transparency, bans religious extremism, terror-related content Website operators offering instant communications, online storage or audiovisual sharing services in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region must now register their services or set up servers in the region. The regional government issued and began enforcing a regulation on Internet services on Dec 24, Xinjiang Daily reported on Wednesday. Website operators are also required to follow State rules on approval and registration. Individual users must register with their ID cards before being able to publish information and organizations must provide licenses to site providers. Website operators must also keep all information secure unless required legally to reveal it. They are forbidden to leak, falsify or damage information or to benefit from user information. Operators and users must not edit, copy, broadcast or keep information related to violence and terrorism. […] Anti-terrorism experts say the crackdown on terrorist-linked video and audio content on the Internet must intensify, as such information has fueled the spread of religious extremism and terrorist attacks in China. Video and audio files released on the Internet by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a terrorist group listed by the United Nations, have spiked-from 32 files in 2012 to 109 in 2013. In the first half of 2014, the terrorist group released 72 such files. […] Websites that abide by the law should instead be promoted to youths, said Erken Shamshak, a teacher with the Law College of Xinjiang University. The country needs to defend cyberspace, leaving no room for religious extremism and rumors, he said. ^ top ^



Hong Kong to handle arbitration cases in deal with international court (SCMP)
Hong Kong will begin to hold arbitration for disputes involving states and private and public companies, after China and the city signed agreements with an international court. The agreement with the Permanent Court of Arbitration, based in The Hague, Netherlands, means Hong Kong could handle many of its outstanding cases involving Asian parties. The PCA provides dispute resolution services to the international community, handling cases such as the simmering maritime dispute between the mainland and the Philippines. Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin signed the Host Country Agreement with the PCA in Beijing yesterday, while Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung signed a related memorandum that would let the city conduct the hearing of such disputes. Yuen said there was increasing demand for arbitration services for disputes in Asia involving states, intergovernmental organisations, and private parties, and the city could conduct cases as assigned by the PCA. "Not only does Hong Kong enjoy judicial independence, it accords utmost importance to the rule of law, and hence is an ideal venue for conducting international arbitration," Yuen said. Liu said the arrangement would enable Hong Kong to play a bigger role in providing arbitration services for the region. "Diplomacy mirrors domestic policies. Accordingly, China, which is committed to advancing the rule of law at home, will also act as a strong defender and promoter of the international rule of law," Liu said. The PCA now has 96 pending cases, about a third involving one or several Asian parties. One notable case is between the mainland and the Philippines, which initiated the case at the PCA in 2013. China has insisted it will not participate, branding it an underhand attempt to exert political pressure over territory that in inherently Chinese. Professor Chin Leng Lim, of the University of Hong Kong's law faculty, said the new agreement would allow Hong Kong to catch up with Singapore, which has had a PCA facility since 2007. Hong Kong will become the 10th jurisdiction worldwide - and the fourth in Asia after Singapore, India and Vietnam - to hold arbitration based on a PCA deal. ^ top ^

'Report to us,' Hong Kong police tell 30 key Occupy Central figures targeted for arrest (SCMP)
More than 30 key figures of civil disobedience face prosecution after police initiated their first post-Occupy Central arrests yesterday over the mass sit-ins for democracy. At least four pan-democratic party leaders-cum-lawmakers are on a list of people the police force is inviting to help with the investigations. The Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit, Labour Party's Lee Cheuk-yan and League of Social Democrats' Leung Kwok-hung were among those requested to visit police headquarters in Wan Chai, according to a police source. Once there, the source said, they would be arrested for instigating, organising or aiding and abetting an unlawful assembly over the 79-day protests. Also listed were Occupy's organising trio - the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming and academics Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man - who turned themselves in last month. "They are asked to go to the police headquarters to assist in a probe in connection with a case of unlawful assembly," the source said, adding they would be arrested and then granted bail. "If they fail to come, we will visit them and make arrests." Other big names include media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, Democratic Party legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan, People Power legislator Raymond Chan Chi-chuen and NeoDemocrat Gary Fan Kwok-wai. Key members of two pupil groups that spearheaded the movement were also listed, including Alex Chow Yong-kang and Eason Chung Yiu-wa of the Federation of Students and Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung. Some of these people were arrested during the police's clearance of the Admiralty base camp on December 11 for obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty and for taking part in an unlawful assembly. […] "We target the key players first and then we will contact others in the next phase of the operation," the source said. The action came after police secured enough evidence against the activists, he said. […] ^ top ^

Hong Kong government submits report surrounding Occupy protests to Beijing (SCMP)
The government report supposedly reflecting Hongkongers' sentiments on Beijing's rulings on political reform has been dismissed by pan-democrats as "economical with the truth". Pan-democrats yesterday accused the government of intentionally distorting public views with the "unsubstantiated" conclusion that "it is the common aspiration" of Hongkongers to have universal suffrage in 2017 "as scheduled and strictly in accordance with the Basic Law and [Beijing's rulings]". They vowed to veto any reform proposals based on the rulings in August by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which they claimed would not allow Hong Kong "genuine universal suffrage". The report, which is mainly a summary of events and protests related to the August 31 ruling, was submitted to the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office yesterday and was also made available online. "The office has noticed the development and changes in situations in [Hong Kong], and the central government understands the views of different sectors," an office spokesman said, adding that the August 31 decision was conducive to national interests and that "its legal effect is undoubtable". In an odd move, however, the government report carries a disclaimer, saying it had only collected materials "in the public domain". It did not "verify the accuracy" and "shall not be held responsible" if anyone incurs any legal liability in using the report. It also said it "cannot guarantee" all opinions were included. The compilation of the report was promised by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at a meeting in October with activists from the Federation of Students, which had led the 79-day Occupy Central protests that ended on December 15. […] Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, said he was disappointed […]. "We welcomed the government's idea to compile a public sentiments report with a hope that it could explore the ways forward to ease the political deadlock, but it fails to meet that objective," said Chung. He said it failed to acknowledge that the mass civil disobedience movement last year originated from its first-round reform consultation report to Beijing that had disappointed many democracy supporters. […] One notable omission from the report was the stripping of former Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun of his seat on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in October after his calls for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down. […] ^ top ^

Politicians condemn public consultation that gives 'little leeway' for reform debate (SCMP)
The second round of public consultation on political reform offers limited room for discussion about how the city should elect its chief executive and legislature. That was the pessimistic consensus among stakeholders from across the political spectrum as the government set about collecting views starting yesterday. Pan-democratic lawmakers maintained their vow to boycott the exercise and to veto a reform proposal that the government planned to table at the Legislative Council in the second quarter. Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said the consultation was "unnecessary and a waste of time". He said: "The government is selling fake [democracy] and cheating the people. I am sure the people know what is true and what is false and won't fall for it." Outside Legco, pro-democracy groups were also downbeat. Federation of Students deputy secretary general Lester Shum, a key leader in the Occupy Central sit-ins, expected protests to flare up when the government presented its proposal to Legco. Shum's Occupy ally, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, criticised the consultation paper as having "no room to accept any proposal that has a chance of satisfying global standards of universal suffrage". Hong Kong 2020, a group led by former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, lamented the government putting forward mostly "technical" issues for debate, which "do nothing to make the overall method of electing the chief executive in 2017 more fair, more just or more transparent". On the other side of the political divide, pro-business Liberal Party leader Vincent Fang Kang agreed "the room for consultation is not big". But Fang and his party colleague James Tien Pei-chun, a critic of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, believed lawmakers should support the government's reform package. "Otherwise, we might elect a '689' again," Tien said, referring to the number of votes Leung received in the 2012 election. Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said his party would hold seminars in all 18 districts and run surveys to gather opinions. In the business sector, both the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and Chinese General Chamber of Commerce vowed to engage members on ideas presented in the paper. ^ top ^

Hong Kong must consider national interest in education policy, says top Beijing adviser (SCMP)
China's national interest must be considered when Hong Kong formulates education policies, a key adviser to Beijing said, as he gave a stern reminder that the city's top official in charge of schooling was “under the supervision of the central government”. Chen Zuoer, head of a semi-official think tank and a former deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said the government should take into account national sovereignty, safety and other interests when it makes education plans, including curriculum design. He also said a distinct lack of national civic awareness and knowledge of history and culture among Hong Kong's youth made changes to the city's education urgently needed. […] “Many people have a distinct lack of national democratic and civic awareness, life goals, and knowledge in geography, history and culture,” he said. Many young people have been “brainwashed” into supporting Occupy Central, and academics in the field are looking at ways to rectify the problem, Chen said. Action is urgently needed by the Education Bureau, particularly the Secretary for Education, to meet demands and hopes that have arisen from the situation, he said. […] Chen said the secretary for education was “under the supervision of the central government and Hong Kong society at all times”, citing articles 48 and 104 of the Basic Law, which say the official, and other political appointees, have sworn to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to Hong Kong. […] The remarks came after Rao Geping, a Basic Law Committee member and law professor at Peking University who advised the mainland on Hong Kong affairs, said yesterday that the government should try again to introduce national education into Hong Kong schools, with the emphasis on Chinese culture rather than ideology. That was despite the government backing down on plans to introduce national education in all schools in the face of massive protests in 2012 by opponents who described it as tantamount to brainwashing. […] ^ top ^



Galaxy Macau fire sees 6,000 workers evacuated from extension construction site (SCMP)
More than 6,000 workers were evacuated when fire broke out on the roof of an extension under construction at the Galaxy Hotel in Macau this morning. The blaze started on the roof of the yet-to-be completed 36-storey building at about 11am when workers were carrying out welding work, according to the Macau fire department. Nine fire engines were dispatched and nearly 40 firefighters were deployed. The spokesman said the fire was extinguished shortly before noon and no one was injured. Construction and decorative materials were damaged by the fire and the outer walls near the roof were blackened. According to the Macau fire department, construction workers were allowed to return to the site after 1pm. Initial investigation showed that a giant decoration mounted on the outer wall of the top floor of the building caught fire as workers were carrying out welding work nearby, the fire department said. […]He said initial investigation showed there was no damage to the interior of the building under construction. The fire broke out on the top floor of the building at the phase two site of Galaxy Macau where construction is in progress, the Galaxy Entertainment Group confirmed. The group said all construction workers were safely evacuated with no injury reported and the group is working closely with relevant parties for further investigation related to the fire. ^ top ^



Disgraced former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian freed from jail on one month's medical parole (SCMP)
Disgraced former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian has just been freed from prison after being granted one month's medical parole. He had spent more than six years in jail after being convicted of corruption during his time as the island's leader between 2000 and 2008. […] [M]ore than 300 supporters outside, who chanted “A-Bian Innocent”, and “A-Bian, go, go, go”. […] More than 200 police officers had been on duty in the area outside the prison as a precaution. Authorities will check on his condition next month to decide whether he must return to prison to continue his sentence in future. The one-month medical parole was granted by the Agency of Corrections under the Justice Ministry. A 10-member panel, led by Wu Hsien-chang, director of the agency, approved his request for release because of failing health after holding a lengthy review, starting at 9am. […] A tearful Koo Kwang-ming, the DPP veteran who offered to help Chen pay bail of NT$2 million (about HK$487,000) told the Central News Agency that the authorities should have released Chen a long ago. […] Last month Chen said that all his money had been confiscated during the corruption inquiry and he could not afford to pay bail for his medical parole. […] Chen, who has been serving a 20-year prison sentence, was jailed in late 2008. His health has been deteriorating for several years. Since then, he and his family have repeatedly requested his release on medical parole so that he could receive better medical care at home. Chen, 64, is reported to be suffering from depression, sleep apnea, a deterioration in his mental functions and a heart complaint. The hospital team sent its report to ministry on December 31, but the delivery was delayed in a traffic jam and arrived only a few minutes before the close of business. ^ top ^

Taipei 'regrets' that flag raising ceremony in Washington embarrassed US (SCMP)
Taipei yesterday expressed regret at embarrassing its chief ally the United States after a Taiwanese flag-raising ceremony in Washington sparked US criticism and Beijing's anger. Taiwan's flag was raised over its de facto embassy in Washington on New Year's Day for the first time since the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. The US was "disappointed with the action", State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday. "The flag-raising ceremony violated our longstanding understanding on the conduct of our unofficial relations," she told reporters, adding that it had not been informed in advance of the ceremony. Beijing had said on Monday that it "resolutely opposed" the flag-raising and had lodged a protest with the US. The United States has long held a "one-China" policy, and does not have full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing still claims as part of its territory. Washington has a representative office in Taipei, while Taiwan maintains representation at a luxury estate in the US capital known as Twin Oaks. "This is an isolated incident. We regret that it caused the US inconvenience," Taiwanese deputy foreign minister Andrew Kao told a parliamentary session yesterday. "We have an understanding [with the US] and we will continue to enhance communication." De facto ambassador Shen Lyu-shun, who made the decision to raise the flag, was subjected to fierce grilling in the session but defended the move. Shen said his office had deliberately not informed the US government about the flag-raising. "It was a goodwill gesture," said Shen. "If [mainland] China protests, you can say you didn't know." Shen also denied that the incident had damaged Taiwan's relations with the United States. "We are not primary school students and there was no denunciation," he said. Kao admitted that Taipei had not been aware of the ceremony in advance, too, but said it respected and supported Shen's decision. ^ top ^



Hong Kong-Shenzhen stock connect next, says Li Keqiang (SCMP)
A Shenzhen-Hong Kong stocks through-train scheme is on the cards, Premier Li Keqiang said in Shenzhen yesterday. Li is the highest-ranking official to hint at a cross-border stock trading arrangement involving Shenzhen, a development widely anticipated in both markets since November's launch of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme. "A stock connect between Shenzhen and Hong Kong should be next," Shenzhen media quoted Li as saying on the second day of a visit to the city. It was Li who announced the through-train scheme between Hong Kong and Shanghai in April. Hong Kong and international investors can now trade up to 13 billion yuan (HK$16.4 billion) a day in Shanghai listed A shares, while mainland investors can trade up to 10.5 billion yuan a day in Hong Kong stocks. "Shenzhen has three major roles to play," Li said. "It needs to continue to act as the laboratory for the country's opening-up policy; it needs to introduce more innovation; as well as set a good example for other cities." Bringing in Shenzhen into the mix would be the most logical next step to encourage cross-border trading and the use of the yuan as an investment currency Christopher Cheung, legislator Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, the legislator representing the financial services sector, said Li's comment would boost the market. "Premier Li's statement means a Shenzhen-Hong Kong connect may happen sooner than we imagine," Cheung said. He said that despite a slow start, the Hong Kong-Shanghai scheme had been operating smoothly. "As the Shanghai-Hong Kong stock through-train has run smoothly, the country's leaders are comfortable with the idea of expanding the scheme," Cheung said. "Bringing Shenzhen into the mix would be the most logical next step to encourage cross-border trading and encourage the use of the yuan as an investment currency." Cheung, who is also a stock broker, said many Shenzhen-listed stocks had good growth potential. "People in southern China know Hong Kong stocks better," he said. "Local brokers can also easily go over to Shenzhen for company visits. This could lead to a better cross-border turnover between Shenzhen and Hong Kong than between Hong Kong and Shanghai." […]^ top ^



Tavan Tolgoi tender negotiation begins as scheduled (UB Post)
The first negotiation meeting to establish a strategic investment agreement between the Mongolian government and the three-party consortium selected as strategic investor to cooperate on operating the Tavan Tolgoi deposit started as scheduled, on January 5. The selection of the three-party consortium of China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd of China, Sumitomo Corporation of Japan, and Energy Resources LLC of Mongolia as the Tavan Tolgoi tender winner was announced on December 22, 2014. During the meeting, CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC Ya.Batsuuri informed the attendees of the current financial status and operations at the Tavan Tolgoi deposit. In addition, Executive Director of Mongolian Railway P.Batsaikhan presented essential information regarding current progress in the construction of a railroad between Tavan Tolgoi and Gashuun Sukhait, contractors in charge of the construction, and relevant financial issues. On behalf of the consortium, Deputy CEO of Energy Resources LLC L.Oyunbat introduced information regarding the strategic investment agreement, including the contents of the agreement and international standards to be adhered to in the agreement. Attending the negotiation meeting, the Mongolian side was represented by head of the Tavan Tolgoi tender working group and Minister of Mongolia M.Enkhsaikhan, Minister of Mining R.Jigjid, Minister of Roads and Transportation N.Tumurkhuu, and other members of the working group. The investor's side was represented by CEO of Energy Resources LLC G.Battsengel, Deputy CEO of Energy Resources LLC L.Oyunbat, Board Chairman of China Shenhua Overseas Development and Investment Co., Ltd Shao Junjie and Vice President Zhou Tienjun, and General Manager of Sumitomo Corporation's Ulaanbaatar Office Hiroto Fujiwara and Sumitomo's Advisor to the General Manager of Mineral Resources Division No.2, Coal Department, Keiji Kiribuchi. In developing the deposit, the consortium will invest in the form of project funding, which is a type of investment designated for attracting international banks and financial institutions to a project. The parties agree that all affiliated agreements and negotiations will be carried out transparently, as required by international standards and banks. ^ 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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