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
  18-27.2.2015, No. 561  
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DPRK and South Korea


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HSBC boss hid US$7m in Swiss account to 'protect' him from Hong Kong staff (SCMP)
HSBC Holdings chief executive Stuart Gulliver painted recent revelations that he held his Hong Kong bonuses in a Swiss account via a Panamanian company as a matter of privacy. In the latest of a string of leaked data on the bank's Swiss unit, British newspaper The Guardian said Gulliver held US$7.6 million in 2007 in an anonymous account in Panama under the name of Worcester Equities. The sum was reportedly bonuses he earned as an executive in Hong Kong. During a conference call with journalists yesterday, at which the bank reported a 17 per cent drop in pre-tax profits for last year, Gulliver said most staff at the time had offshore accounts for their bonuses because those payments were not kept confidential in the computing system the bank used at the time. The use of the Swiss account and Panamanian company were strictly for privacy and offered no tax benefits, he said. "Being in Switzerland protects me from the Hong Kong staff; being in Panama protects me from the Swiss staff," Gulliver said. As a British resident who is domiciled in Hong Kong, he said he had disclosed all payments to tax authorities in those jurisdictions and paid all taxes due. Tax experts in Hong Kong said that, if such disclosures were made by someone domiciled for tax purposes in Hong Kong, the account should be legal. "Provided that everything has been properly reported, there is nothing wrong with this," said Willem Jan Hoogland, a partner at HKWJ Tax Law and Partners. "This could be done for non-tax purposes, if you don't want people to know how much you're making." The Panamanian company was closed in 2009, Gulliver said, at which time his pay was made public. He declined to comment on whether he still held a Swiss account. HSBC has been stricken this month by reports on the tax-dodging activities of its Swiss private bank. Data originally obtained by authorities in 2009 and later leaked to journalists has provided details on how the bank advised clients on avoiding tax around the world. Authorities in 10 countries have launched investigations into the revelations. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Greek PM praises Greece-China cooperation (Global Times)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday praised bilateral cooperation between his country and China and sent best wishes to Chinese people for the Chinese Lunar New Year. "We will seek new ways of cooperation between the Greek state and the Chinese side," Tsipras said in a speech delivered at a reception hosted by the 18th escort fleet of the Chinese navy at Piraeus port. Tsipras said his government will support China's shipping conglomerate COSCO's investment at Piraeus port, as well as Chinese investments in other sectors across Greece. He expressed confidence that Piraeus port, as a key gateway for the delivery of Chinese products to Europe, can become a leading trade hub on a European and international level. Tsipras added that there was great potential for bilateral cooperation in transports, railways, as well as in the tourism and culture fields. The Prime Minister hailed the historical strong Sino-Greek ties, noting that cooperation, in particular in the maritime sector, was a solid basis for strengthening collaboration in other sectors in recent years. Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli, Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Zhang Chuanshu and other Chinese officials welcomed the Greek leader and other dignitaries in the reception to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Thursday. […] "Greece will always stand by the side of Chinese people when needed," Tsipras said, underlining the significance of bilateral collaboration in such operations in Libya and in Albania in the past. Speaking to Xinhua, Greece's Defense Minister Panos Kammenos highlighted the significance of the cooperation of the two countries in the defensive sector. […] Zou said China wishes to enhance cooperation with Greece and achieve prosperity together. "I am confident that the traditional friendly Sino-Greek relationship will be further developed based on the principle of mutual respect, mutual trust and win-win cooperation, benefiting the two peoples and making greater contribution to regional peace and cooperation," said Zou. […] ^ top ^

Sri Lanka to continue with Free Trade Agreement with China (Global Times)
Sri Lanka has agreed to proceed with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China as it will strengthen the country's economic and trade sectors, a local media report said Friday. Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs Harsha De Silva said that a private research agency had done a very interesting study on all FTAs that China had entered into and carried out a comparison exercise. "The government is not pushing it back; we will proceed with it, but there are multiple views. We won't rush it but we are moving in that direction," de Silva said while speaking at a CEOs forum organized by the island country's Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) on Thursday. The CEOs forum was told that the government would reassure China of its relationship with Sri Lanka and President Maithripala Sirisena is planning to make an official visit to Beijing next month. "This government will not fight with anybody, instead we will be friendly with everybody. We have to be a responsible government. Don't forget that it was the United National Party that signed the first agreement with the Chinese, not the Bandaranaikes or the Rajapaksas. We have a strong relationship with China and we are immensely grateful for all it has done for us. Therefore, those relationships will continue," the deputy minister said. In order to strengthen its bilateral relations with China, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera will leave for Beijing on Feb. 27 in the highest-level trip to hold discussions with key Chinese officials and make preparations for a visit by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in March. ^ top ^

China calls in Indian ambassador to voice unhappiness on Modi's visit to disputed territory (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin on Saturday called in the Indian Ambassador to China to lodge stern representation on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to a disputed border region. Liu expressed "strong dissatisfaction and staunch opposition" to the Indian side's insistence on arranging the visit by its leader to the disputed area on China-India border. Modi visited a disputed area in the eastern part of China-India border on Friday to attend activities marking the anniversary of the so-called "Arunachal Pradesh". The Chinese embassy in India lodged representation with the Indian authorities on the visit on Friday night. "The Chinese government has never recognized the so-called 'Arunachal Pradesh'," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a press release on Friday. During the meeting with Indian Ambassador Ashok Kantha, Vice Foreign Minister Liu pointed out that the act the by Indian side undermined China's territorial sovereignty, right and interests. He said such act by the Indian side artificially amplified differences between the two countries on the border issue and thus went against the principles and consensus that the two sides reached on properly addressing the issue. Liu reiterated China's consistent and clear-cut stance on the China-India border issue, saying the Chinese government "has never recognized the so-called 'Arunachal Pradesh' unilaterally set up by the Indian side". It's an universally recognized, unevadable fact that significant disputes do exist on the eastern section of the China-India border, Liu said. He emphasized that China places importance on developing relations with India. He said the two countries, as neighbors and the top two developing countries in the world, share broad prospect on cooperation at various levels. Liu expressed the hope that the Indian side should treasure the sound momentum in the growth of bilateral relations, march toward the same goal with China and abide by the important consensus on the border issue. Liu called for the Indian side not to take any action that may complicate the border issue and stick to the general orientation of resolving the issue through bilateral negotiations so as to maintain the overall growth of bilateral relations. The so-called "Arunachal Pradesh" was established largely on the three areas of China's Tibet -- Monyul, Loyul and Lower Tsayul currently under Indian illegal occupation. These three areas, located between the illegal "Mcmahon Line" and the traditional customary boundary between China and India, have always been Chinese territory. In 1914, the colonialists secretly contrived the illegal "Mcmahon Line" in an attempt to incorporate into India the above-mentioned three areas of Chinese territory. None of the successive Chinese governments have ever recognized this line. In February 1987, Indian authorities declared the founding of the so-called "Arunachal Pradesh." ^ top ^

Iran nuclear talks intensive, pragmatic: Chinese official (Xinhua)
The new round of negotiations over Iran's long-standing controversial nuclear program was intensive and pragmatic, the head of the Chinese delegation said after the talks on Sunday night. Wang Qun, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the latest round of talks was held in good atmosphere, and all sides had substantive negotiations over major issues at stakes. Participating sides agreed to hold the next round of talks at the end of this month, with the exact date and place to be determined, according to him. Wang reiterated that as the negotiations for the Iranian nuclear program is coming to an end, detailed issues become more prominent and challenges mount, which will make the political resolution imperative and even more urgent. He reaffirmed that China hopes all sides will strengthen confidence, invest efforts and inject more political impetus into the talks, to facilitate the achievement of a win-win comprehensive agreement. Representatives from P5+1 group, namely the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, and Iran met in Geneva on Sunday night for fresh talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear program, a move to continue the diplomatic efforts towards reaching a long-term, comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. It has been over a year since Iran and the world powers agreed to come back to the negotiating table for the nuclear problems in 2013. However, wide differences have kept all sides from arriving at a final deal. The negotiators agreed in November 2014 to extend the deadline for another seven months and aimed to reach a political framework deal by the end of March. ^ top ^

Spotlight: China urges political resolve in Iran nuclear talks (Xinhua)
As negotiators are meeting again over the Iranian nuclear issue, China has called for political resolve from all the parties. […] Delegates from Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany met Iranian negotiators on Sunday in Geneva to continue their diplomatic efforts for a long-term, comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. The negotiations are standing at "a crucial juncture," Wang Qun, head of the Chinese delegation, told reporters prior to the start of the talks in Geneva. As the talks go into details, he noted, challenges are mounting. "Thus, political resolve has become imperative and even urgent," said Wang, who is director-general of the Department of Arms Control of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. China, he said, hopes all sides could boost confidence and inject political impetus into the talks so as to reach a comprehensive deal at an early date. […] During his visit to Iran earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged Iran and world powers to jointly push for a successful "sprint finish" of the marathon talks. All sides should be determined to overcome difficulties and obstacles to secure a successful outcome, Wang added. He emphasized China's position of peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue via talks and urged all sides to seize the "historical opportunity" to resolve the nuclear issue. A comprehensive deal will rid the Iranians of economic sanctions and maintain peace and stability in the region, said the Chinese minister. "A DISTANCE TO TRAVEL" U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held bilateral talks on Sunday behind closed doors in an attempt to further narrow their differences. The meeting was a culmination of a fresh round of bilateral engagement between the two countries starting on Friday. Before heading to Geneva, Kerry warned in London that "there are still significant gaps, there is still a distance to travel" in the Geneva negotiations. […] The Iranian leader vowed not to surrender to the sanction pressures from the West, warning that his country can retaliate by stopping natural gas exports to Western countries. On Sunday, Zarif told state media that Iran will not sign any agreements that are "ambiguous and imperfect." Such agreements leave them open for myriad interpretations, hence concerns for all sides involved in the talks, the Iranian minister said. […] Good discussions have been under way over the past days in Geneva, but no agreements have been reached so far since differences remain, particularly over the removal of sanctions against Tehran, he said. ^ top ^

Chinese FM meets Russian counterpart (Xinhua)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at the UN headquarters in New York City on the sidelines of the Security Council open debate initiated by China on maintaining international peace and security. While reviewing leaders of China and Russia met five times last year and noting this year they will meet with each other on a plethora of important bilateral and multilateral occasions, Wang said frequent contacts of the two countries' leaders have ensured that China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership keeps developing at a high level. Wang suggested the two sides should work with the international community and do a good job of organizing a series of activities assigned to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN and the victory of the world anti-Fascist war, to safeguard the fruits of victory of the WWII and international justice and fairness, as well as to fulfill their responsibilities as permanent members of the Security Council in maintaining international peace and security. Lavrov said Russia fully supports China's initiative to convene the open debate and considers it as a timely and necessary move to launch a series of activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory of WWII for this year. He believed it is also helpful for launching several positive signals that heroes of WWII cannot be forgotten, historical justice cannot be distorted, and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be well maintained. Russia is willing to work with China to maintain high-level exchanges, continue to support each other, and strengthen communication and coordination on significant international and regional hotspot issues, said Lavrov. ^ top ^

China highlights four "dos," "don't" in developing international relations (China Daily)
China advocates peace, cooperation, justice, and a win-win approach in expanding international relations in the 21st century, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at an open debate of the UN Security Council held here Monday. Wang presided over the debate, entitled "Maintaining International Peace and Security: Reflect on History, Reaffirm the Strong Commitment to the Purposes and the Principles of the Charter of the United Nations," which was initiated by China. China serves in the position of the rotating presidency of the Council for the month of February. China opposes conflict, confrontation, hegemony and the zero- sum approach in developing international relations in the 21st century, the Chinese Foreign Minister said, stressing "we should uphold peace and prevent conflict." Noting that some regions in the world today are still plagued with turbulence and conflicts, Wang said the fundamental way out of it is to strictly abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, as well as to safeguard the sanctity of the UN and the UN Security Council. "In China's view, any unilateral move that bypass the Security Council is illegal and illegitimate," he said. "The Security Council needs to take more precautionary measures to forestall conflict and act in a timely manner to stop warfare so as to restore peace and promote reconstruction as early as possible." While highlighting the importance of embracing cooperation instead of confrontation in the globalization and the internet era, Wang said China calls upon all countries, major countries in particular, to step up awareness of cooperation and abandon the mind-set of confrontation, working hard to resolve major problems hampering the world's peace and regional development through consultations. "The old mindset of confrontation should be discarded, and consultation and cooperation among the parties should be encouraged if we are to address the major issues affecting world and regional peace and development," he said. China maintains that all countries are equal, regardless of their size or wealth, and that all countries' sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity should be respected and their choice of development path and social system be upheld. While stressing the present time calls for greater democracy and the rule of law in international relations, Wang pointed out that no country in the world is entitled to impose its own will on others or to topple the legitimate governments of other countries. "We should make sure that justice, not hegemony, will prevail in the world," he said. China advocates a new thinking of win-win and all-win cooperation, as well as a new concept of community building for shared interests and common destiny, said Wang. "We should work with each other with a win-win, not zero-sum approach," he said. "We call upon all countries to come together to share rights and obligations and uphold justice while pursuing interests." ^ top ^

China, South Korea inch closer to FTA (Global Times)
China and South Korea are inching closer to implementing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with a draft agreement, the two countries announced on Wednesday, a move that experts said will help promote China's similar negotiations with other countries and regions. China and South Korea confirmed the draft agreement on Wednesday, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced on its website on Wednesday, noting all FTA negotiations have been completed. […]The two governments have agreed to work toward signing the FTA in the first half of 2015, South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy was quoted as saying. The bilateral FTA, which covers 17 fields including e-commerce and government procurement, will remove tariffs on 90 percent of all products traded between China and South Korea, ­China's Ministry of Commerce said in November 2014 on its website, when the two countries concluded the substantive negotiations which began in 2012. […] The report also said that South Korean officials regard the FTA as the most significant trade deal for the country, considering China is already its largest trade partner. Trade between China and South Korea was worth about $290.5 billion in 2014, up 5.9 percent year-on-year, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs. […] Meanwhile, if the FTA is successfully implemented, it will serve as the impetus for free trade negotiations with Japan, both, Bai [a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation] and He, [co-director of the China-US-EU Study Center under the China Association of International Trade] said. There have been six rounds of negotiations among China, South Korea and Japan as of the end of 2014, but Japan rejected a joint proposal from China and South Korea in December 2014, media reports said. But it is hard to tell how much ­encouragement the China-South Korea FTA can bring to Japan because Japan still attaches great importance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) led by the US, according to Bai. The TPP, a regional investment treaty proposal, has 12 Asia-Pacific countries and regions in negotiations, including Japan and the US, but China is not involved. […]After China and South Korea announced the conclusion of FTA substantive negotiations in November 2014, Sun Lih-chyun, the spokesman of Taiwan's administrative authority, said that it is Taiwan's "biggest worry" because South Korea is Taiwan's main trade competitor and the Chinese mainland is the market all exporters want to enter, Taiwan newspaper China Times reported in November 2014. […] ^ top ^

Settle wartime grievances German ambassador to China urges Beijing, Tokyo (SCMP)
China and Japan should learn from European countries in reaching out to settle their disputes over wartime grievances, according to German ambassador to China, Michael Clauss, as Beijing prepares to commemorate the end of the second world war later this year. "Our feeling is that reconciliation in Europe, especially between Germany and France, but also between Germany and Poland, could be a model in this region," Clauss told the South China Morning Post. "That means both sides will have to make an effort and be willing for reconciliation, in this case, Japan and China." Beijing will stage a series of events this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a UN Security Council meeting on Monday that the peaceful post-war order must be preserved, but that some nations were trying to whitewash the facts of the second world war. "Although the historical facts have long been made clear on the war against fascism, there are still some who are reluctant to recognise the truth and even try to … whitewash past crimes of aggression," Wang said. Ties between China and Japan have been strained in recent years, particularly since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's December 2013 visit to the main shrine to the country's war dead, among them convicted war criminals. Clauss declined to comment on China's plans to commemorate the war's end, saying Germany had not received an official invitation. But he said Germany had "undergone a painful process of facing the terrible crimes committed by Germans". His country was now on good terms with Poland after signing a friendship treaty in the 1990s that settled their uneasy ties since German forces invaded in 1939. Germany and France had also ended their old war rivalry, he said. "I believe that the German and European experience could serve as a source of inspiration." In a separate development, Clauss raised the issue of Zhang Miao, an assistant at the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, who was arrested in October. He said Zhang, who is alleged to have attended an Occupy Central pro-democracy gathering in Hong Kong, was arrested for provoking trouble, but it was unclear what actions were the basis for the charge. He said Zhang had had to wait several weeks to see her lawyers. ^ top ^

Keep up pressure for democracy in Hong Kong, student leaders tell world summit (SCMP)
Student leaders behind the “umbrella movement” told a human rights summit in Geneva on Tuesday that the world must stay focused on the human rights situation in China and keep up the pressure on Beijing to allow more democracy in Hong Kong. Federation of Students secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang and his deputy, Lester Shum, also said they would not retreat or lose hope in the fight for genuine universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive election. The pair made the remarks at the annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, where they gave a presentation on the 79-day pro-democracy protests that garnered worldwide attention last year. The summit is organised by a coalition of 20 non-governmental organisations from around the world ahead of the United Nations Human Rights Council's main annual session, which starts next Monday. It is intended to influence the discussions at the UN session, which are dominated by governments. “Only through continuous attention and movement, we can pressure … for change in Hong Kong and China,” Shum said. “We have no right to withdraw hope. We have no space to retreat. We must stay hopeful.” Chow listed the three most important tasks for Hongkongers right now as voting down the government proposal on political reform; uniting society; and cooperating with democracy movements in Taiwan, Macau, and elsewhere. “We must take the regional approach as all these places are interrelated. Progress can only be made by cooperation,” Chow said. “Let's care for one another. Our futures are tightly connected. A better world will come.” He was referring to the government proposal based on Beijing's ruling in August that the chief executive is to be chosen from just two or three candidates endorsed by most of a 1,200-strong nominating committee. The pair were welcomed on stage as “young leaders” who played a key role in last year's unprecedented mass protests, with the forum moderator adding that he “sees hope in this generation”. Shum told the summit that Hongkongers had embraced Western ideologies – such as freedom, liberal democracy, equality, rule of law and justice – during British colonial rule. But he said China saw these ideologies as a threat to its rule, and in order to gain control of Hong Kong it had broken its promise on democracy. “Someone said there is no hope to win over China because it is too powerful and influential. But please do not stop the pressure … There is still hope for change,” Shum said. They were the first Hongkongers to speak at the annual summit, which takes place every February in Switzerland. Activists from around the world attended the one-day event to discuss human rights issues in their countries. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Spring Festival gala reflects anti-corruption themes (Global Times)
An anti-corruption storm swept China last year and the public saw the effects during the annual Spring Festival TV gala on Wednesday evening. At least three pieces in the China Central Television (CCTV) gala had anti-corruption themes. A stand-up routine, "It's not mine," performed by young comedians Miao Fu and Wang Sheng from northwest China's Shaanxi Province, depicted an corrupt official who took bribes including a car, a house and also a woman, if a woman can fairly be described as a bribe. It was labelled the "most sarcastic stand-up comedy in three decades of galas." Miao told the Beijing News that the Shaanxi provincial discipline inspection commission helped them a lot by telling them tales of typical corruption cases across the country. At the end of the sketch the "official" decided to turn himself in to the graft-busters. The show was widely praised on the Internet with the only complaint being that it was not funny enough. Another stand-up routine focused on the social phenomenon of "making friends" through bribery in order to get things done, which no longer works, as the sketch showed. A short play satirized officials using public funds and taking advantage of their superiors' hobbies to get promoted. Anti-corruption terms familiar to the public recently including "tigers and flies" -- high and low level corrupt officials -- were frequently used. The anti-graft drive has brought down scores of ranking officials. The year 2014 saw a number of high profile cases that shocked the country, including that of Zhou Yongkang, former member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee; and that of Xu Caihou, former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. A total of 71,748 officials were punished in 2014 for breaking anti-graft rules, said the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). The CCDI has been open with the campaign, and the public has followed its moves in several ways including through its website and mobile app. ^ top ^

China's Lunar New Year TV gala sparks criticism for 'plagiarism', targeting women (SCMP)
Unoriginal, dull, misogynistic and tone-deaf - this sums up how some members of the public reacted to the mainland's television event of the year. CCTV ran its New Year's Gala on Wednesday night, a 4-1/2-hour mix of singing, dancing, magic routines and comedy acts that attracted an estimated 690 million viewers. But there was a backlash on social media to some of the content, especially sketches that made fun of women, mainlanders with a strong southern accent, and people who are overweight and short. By yesterday afternoon, the topic page "scoffing at Chunwan" - the shorthand name of the show in Putonghua - had drawn more than 9 million views and 26,000 comments on Weibo. "This year's Lunar New Year's Gala is the worst I have seen in my 20 years of life. Even my mum says it was particularly boring," one microblogger said. Many viewers singled out one sketch - "Joy Street" - which starred a slender, fashionable, good-looking woman, and a shorter, more plain-looking woman. "I look beautiful. A bunch of guys surround me, which makes me 'gain face'," the first says. The other woman laments: "I am numb. A bunch of guys surround me only to arm wrestle with me." After the show aired, about 30 feminist activists across the mainland issued a joint statement, asking the producers to apologise for discriminatory content and also calling for an end to the annual broadcast. "I was speechless when I watched Joy Street … How can the gala, as an official programme, express such unenlightened ideas? Merely jeering at it is not enough, we want to do something to change it," 26-year-old activist Xiong Jing, one of the petition initiators, told the South China Morning Post. The petitioners are seeking 10,000 online signatures, and within several hours of posting had received 1,000. Other people commenting online accused the gala of stealing ideas from overseas programmes, saying the theme, dialogue, acting and background music were almost identical to a South Korean comedy show. Another sketch, "Little Cotton-padded Jacket", was seen by some as lifting material from the Japanese comedy duo Unjash. Some viewers criticised the programme for including political statements. "It seems to be more a tool to disseminate the central leadership's political agenda rather than an entertainment show," one user wrote online. Three of the performances touched on President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign - a topic avoided in past years. The producers have yet to respond to the criticism. ^ top ^

Corrupt mainland drug firms 'fuelling crystal meth scourge', says UN official (SCMP)
Corruption within China's pharmaceutical industry is a key factor in Guangdong province becoming the production centre for the burgeoning global trade in crystal meth, a top United Nations drugs official said. Speaking in the wake of a massive seizure of the powerful stimulant near Lufeng district earlier this month - one of the biggest ever in Asia - senior UN drug official Jeremy Douglas said the quick and easy access to precursor chemicals required to make crystal meth clearly pointed to "corruption in the pharmaceutical and or chemical industries'' in the mainland. Douglas was briefed by Chinese officials in the immediate aftermath of the bust in which 2.4 tonnes of methamphetamine - known as Ice in Hong Kong - was seized. His assertion comes amid President Xi Jinping's ongoing drives against graft and drugs, and follows UN pledges to strengthen co-operation with Beijing and others in the region in the fight against drug gangs and the corrupt networks that underpin them. "To operate a lab like this, you need a lot of chemicals, which are legitimate, regulated chemicals from the pharmaceutical industry," Douglas said. "This group has been able to get their hands on the precursor chemicals necessary to produce the drugs. They've been doing it for a long time, which means they're getting these chemicals on a regular basis. "There is some kind of corruption in the chemical/pharmaceutical industry taking place allowing this to happen." Meth can be manufactured using a variety of chemicals - most notably ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are also used in cold and flu medicine. The latest seizure follows the January arrest of Hongkonger Wong Chi-ping - suspected of being a major drugs kingpin in the region - in Indonesia during a raid that netted 860kg of Guangdong-manufactured meth. Last November, 400 tonnes of chemicals seized before they could be turned into meth were destroyed by police in Lufeng. Lufeng is a traditional heartland of Hong Kong's largest triad, the Sun Yee On. Of the latest haul, Douglas said: "It was most likely bound for a whole variety of destinations within and outside China." Hong Kong officials said a record number of drugs busts at the airport last year was due to "enhanced enforcement and intelligence" - not increased trafficking activity. Shenzhen authorities captured 4.2 tonnes of narcotics in November and arrested 5,000 people, a number of whom were involved in drug trafficking to Australia via Hong Kong. And in June, the meth trafficking issue was believed to have been on the agenda when Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok met ministers in Australia and New Zealand. ^ top ^

Roadmap to change (Global Times)
As the early March annual sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC approach, observers say China is at the crossroads of another wave of reforms, a response to changing problems. Sweeping reform Reform has been a catchphrase of the political life of China since the late 1970s, which, along with the opening up policy, created decades of unprecedented economic and social development. This year is seen as a crucial year for comprehensively deepening reform in the political, social and economic spheres and preparing a roadmap of reforms for the years to come. The upcoming "two sessions" is expected to highlight further reform policies in both Premier Li Keqiang's government report and proposals put forth by deputies. A wide range of issues, such as administrative reform, and shifting the role of government from control to service, are expected to be discussed during the meetings and on the sidelines of the two sessions, with policy changes aiming to involve grass-roots organizations and the people in the reforms. […] The rule of law, highlighted during a 2014 Party congress, will be further elaborated and implemented this year as a principle of governance. Faced with increasing demand for social reforms, policymakers are engaging with the task of expanding social equality to create fairer access to education, medical care, pension and other social welfare for the general public. How to gradually loosen the household registration control, or the hukou system, and provide equal opportunities to non-local residents in the face of urbanization and population flow, is an area that will affect hundreds of millions of people. With China's economy headed towards a soft landing, the sweeping reforms are also designed to bolster the economic "new normal," sacrifice the pursuit of specific growth figures to move towards a more technologically advanced economy that can better protect the environment. […] As a key practice of rule of law, it is anticipated that specific anti-graft legislation will be discussed at the upcoming "two sessions." […] Observers have said that the anti-graft law should focus on setting clear rules to define boundaries of public power. It should also integrate the fragmented legal framework governing Party discipline, the Criminal Law and other related laws to punishing the corrupt, pushing what is currently a case-by-case way of investigating onto a more systematic legal track. Analysts have also suggested that transparency in the investigation and trial processes should also be improved to secure the rights of the probed officials and the public's right to know. […] At the start of the "two sessions," Premier Li Keqiang will deliver a government work report highlighting a slew of key economic targets for the year. Among the most closely watched are the yearly GDP growth target, which is widely forecast to be lower than last year's 7.5 percent, mirroring the "new normal" of slower but higher quality growth. […] Since Xi proposed the "One Belt and One Road" initiative, how to best push forward the initiative has aroused heated discussions at home and abroad. The initiative is expected to be one of the focal points in the "two sessions." […] ^ top ^

Watchdog vows no letup in fight against graft (China Daily)
China's top disciplinary body has pledged to persist with its iron-handed crackdown against corruption and other misconduct. In an article published on its website on Monday, the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said some people think the campaign cannot last for long, while others have suggested it has achieved its goal and should now be stopped. "We must firmly oppose such notions and should never overlook the danger of their becoming popular among the public," the article said. It cited President Xi Jinping's recent remarks that the situation in the anti-graft campaign is still "grim and complicated" and that although corruption levels are falling, the problem remains. The commission said the public wants no leniency to be shown toward corrupt officials and for the campaign to continue. "The campaign is expected to encounter greater difficulties as it deepens. Some of the tigers (high-ranking corrupt officials) we are about to deal with are very cunning," it added. "They are good at various maneuvers, such as keeping a low profile during the crackdown." The commission promised to continue the campaign until all corrupt officials have been exposed and punished. "Not a single corrupt official would quit on his or her own.... Corruption often leads to political conspiracy, greatly compromising the Party's leadership and unity. Therefore, we can never leave the anti-corruption campaign uncompleted," the article said. It also said the cases of disgraced former senior officials Zhou Yongkang and Xu Caihou show that some corrupt officials "are very well hidden" within the Party. "The tigers we are now targeting are deceitful and tend to lie low," the article added. Zhu Lijia, a professor of public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the commission released the article to respond to attempts by some corrupt officials to use rumors to create problems for disciplinary inspectors. […] Zhu said the ultimate solution to corruption lies in transparency, democracy and rule of law. Ma Huaide, vice-president of China University of Political Science and Law, said, "The fight against corruption should not be a short-lived movement, but a long-lasting war requiring determination and perseverance. ^ top ^

Reforms to police force in China are a step forward (SCMP)
The police officer's lot on the mainland is not a happy one. Low pay, bureaucratic procedures and a lack of respect from citizens make for a frustrating job. Graft, bribe-taking and extortion among the ranks are well documented, while there are plenty of media accounts of shirking of duties and acting above the law. Recently announced reforms that aim to improve efficiency and image could not have been more timely. More than 100 measures, covering law enforcement, domestic security, administration and personnel have been approved by Beijing. The goals of making the police an effective force and boosting public acceptance are to be attained by 2020. But that is a short time frame for problems that are deep-rooted and have manifested themselves over several decades. How serious authorities take implementation will be key to overcoming the challenges. Of particular concern is the low regard that citizens have for law enforcers. That is perhaps to be expected given the nature of scandals uncovered by journalists or circulated through social media. Poor policing was in large part behind the New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai that left 36 dead; senior officers were dining at a nearby expensive Japanese restaurant at the time. But that is only one of untold numbers of accounts, among them brutal beatings, wrongful convictions, torture, extortion and using positions of authority to give favoured treatment to relatives and friends. The reforms will require police to video criminal interrogations to improve fairness in enforcing the law. It is a worthy step, but will be of limited value unless those accused have proper legal representation. The Ministry of Public Security's operations will also be revamped to ensure that the focus of policing is on crime prevention. A top-down approach in the bureaucracy has been blamed for low morale; decisions are often made by officials in Beijing and at the provincial level, with little understanding of local conditions. Frontline officers have long complained of being over-worked, excessively tied to desks filing lengthy reports and having insufficient resources to carry out investigations. Police worldwide express such concerns, although they are not an excuse for abusive and unlawful behaviour. Reforming the system is much needed, but policing standards and public perceptions will take time to change and are heavily dependent on the rule of law, oversight and resolve. ^ top ^

Apple, Cisco gear off Beijing's shopping list in surveillance fears (SCMP)
China has dropped some of the world's leading technology brands from its approved state procurement lists in what some analysts said was a response to revelations of widespread Western cybersurveillance. More locally made products were approved, which others put down to an impulse to shield China's domestic technology industry from competition. The chief casualty was US network equipment maker Cisco Systems, which in 2012 had 60 products on the Central Government Procurement Centre's (CGPC) list, but by late 2014 had none, an analysis of official data showed. Smartphone and PC maker Apple has also been dropped over the period, along with Intel's security software firm McAfee and network and server software firm Citrix Systems. The number of approved foreign tech brands fell by a third, while less than half of those with security-related products survived the cull. An official at the procurement agency said there were many reasons why local makers might be preferred, including sheer weight of numbers and the fact that domestic security technology firms offered more product guarantees than overseas rivals. China's change of tack came after leaks by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in mid-2013 that exposed several global surveillance programmes, many of them run by the NSA with the cooperation of telecom companies. "The Snowden incident, it's become a real concern, especially for top leaders," said Tu Xinquan, associate director of the China Institute of WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. "In some sense the American government has some responsibility for that; [China's] concerns have some legitimacy." Cybersecurity has been a significant irritant in US-China ties, with both sides accusing the other of abuses. One Western technology firm executive who declined to be identified said the post-Snowden security concerns were a pretext, and the real objective was to nurture China's domestic tech industry and support its expansion overseas. The CGPC list, which details products by brand and type, is approved by China's Ministry of Finance, the CGPC official said. The Ministry of Finance declined immediate comment. "We have previously acknowledged that geopolitical concerns have impacted our business in certain emerging markets," a Cisco spokesman said. An Intel spokesman said the company had frequent conversations at various levels of the US and Chinese governments, but did not provide further details. Apple declined to comment, and Citrix was not immediately available to comment. ^ top ^

Lawmakers review anti-terrorism law (Global Time)
Chinese lawmakers began reviewing draft legislation for the country's first anti-terrorism law on Wednesday, aiming to better counter terrorist activity while protecting citizens' rights. The draft proposal, which comes weeks after fatal attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, is China's latest attempt to address terrorism at home and help maintain security. […] One notable change in Wednesday's text, tabled for a second reading, is an updated definition of the term "terrorism." "Terrorism" is defined as "any speech or activity that, by means of violence, sabotages or threats, generates social panic, undermines public security, or menaces government organs or international organizations." The definition of terrorism in an earlier draft, submitted in October, also included "thoughts" in addition to "speeches and activities," but these were deleted for the sake of accuracy and applicability. In addition, the draft proposed improved aerospace controls in China to guard against potential drone attacks. It also sought to strike a balance between combating extremism and protecting people's rights. Security authorities' access to citizens' information via telecommunication and Internet technology now must undergo "strict approval procedures," and information obtained in accordance with the draft law could only be used for the purpose of counter-terrorism operations, the draft stressed. Approval must also be obtained to inquire into, seize and freeze assets linked to terrorist activity, it read. The new draft has come at a delicate time for China, as the country will mark the one-year anniversary of a deadly terrorist attack in Yunnan Province on Sunday. Twenty-nine people were killed and scores more were injured by knife-wielding assailants at a train station in the provincial capital city of Kunming on March 1, 2014. China does not have anti-terrorism legislation at the moment, though related provisions are scattered in various NPC Standing Committee decisions, as well as the Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law and Emergency Response Law. A string of appalling attacks on Chinese civilians in recent years have made headlines in the country's newspapers. An assault on a market in Xinxiang's regional capital of Urumqi on May 22 killed more than 30 people and injured 94 others, prompting a year-long campaign against terrorism. Three people were killed and 39 others injured when a jeep plowed into crowds near Tiananmen Square in Beijing on October 28, 2013. The draft also proposed the establishment of an anti-terrorism intelligence gathering center. ^ top ^

State Council unveils tax break for small firms (SCMP)
Beijing unveiled tax reductions for small companies yesterday in a bid to ease their financial burden amid a weakening economy and free up funds for them to invest in technology. The policy could herald a round of stimulus measures from the central government amid concerns the mainland is headed for a period of deflation after consumer inflation hit a five-year low last month. The State Council said in a statement after a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang that a proactive approach must be taken to offset the impact of the growth slowdown. According to Xinhua, small firms that pay 200,000 yuan (HK$251,800) or less in profits tax will need to pay only half the amount. The policy comes into effect this year and continues until 2017. […]The State Administration of Taxation said earlier this year about 2.5 million small firms benefited from that incentive last year, leading to a combined saving of 10 billion yuan in payments. The State Council also said the unemployment insurance rate would be lowered, from the current 3 per cent to 2 per cent. Currently, employees contribute 0.5 per cent of their monthly salary towards the insurance, with the employer responsible for 2.5 per cent. […] Small firms also face difficulties in securing bank loans and many resort to the black market or other informal channels with interest hovering at an annualised rate of about 20 per cent. The headline consumer price index climbed 0.8 per cent year-on-year in January, the lowest increase since November 2009, the National Bureau of Statistics said earlier this month. The tax reduction coincided with a pessimistic view expressed by an academic group that said China was dangerously close to slipping into deflation. An article published yesterday in Finance News, a newspaper controlled by the central bank, cited the China Urban Financial Society as saying the risk of deflation was more severe than people expected. The society also speculated the central bank would soon slash interest rates to combat a slowdown, following an interest rate cut in November last year. Jianguang Shen, chief China economist with Mizuho Securities Asia, said earlier the CPI data highlighted deflationary pressures from "lower imported commodity prices, weak domestic demand and excess manufacturing capacity". ^ top ^

90 percent of Chinese cities fail to meet air quality standards (Xinhua)
Ninety percent of the 161 Chinese cities monitored by authorities failed to meet national air quality standards in 2014, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Thursday. Despite decline in coal consumption, only 9.9 percent of the cities met national air quality standards through 2014, NBS said. China consumed 2.9 percent less coal last year compared to 2013, and use of natural gas and electricity increased 8.6 percent and 3.8 percent respectively, according to an NBS report on China's economic and social development in 2014. Hydropower, wind power, nuclear power and natural gas accounted for 16.9 percent of total energy use, while coal made up 66 percent. China also strengthened efforts to protect the environment last year, adding 6 million hectares of forest and improving 54,000 square kilometers of land troubled by water and soil erosion. ^ top ^

China deletes over 60,000 Internet accounts (Xinhua)
Over 60,000 Internet services account names have been rectified to conform to a regulation to be effective next month, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said Thursday. An unidentified CAC official said account names were rectified by Sina, Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba and others. The accounts were involved in all kinds of services such as microblogs, blogs, forums and instant messaging applications. Deliberately misleading names, rumormongers, names linked to terrorism such as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, and other accounts involving violence, pornography and other violations were banned. The CAC issued a 10-clause regulation earlier this month ruling that avatars and account handles should not include information that violated the Constitution or the law; subverted state power or undermined national security and sovereignty; or were deemed rumormongering. Malicious content includes the promotion of cults and the dissemination of pornography or extremism and insults or defamation among others. The regulation is to take effect on March 1. The official appreciated enterprises' sense of responsibility before the regulation takes effect. ^ top ^

Ma Jian disqualified (Global Times)
Vice Minister of State Security Ma Jian was disqualified Wednesday from being a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The decision was made at the 25th chairman's meeting of the 12th CPPCC National Committee. The Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced on January 16 that Ma was under investigation for suspected serious discipline and law violations. The Ministry of State Security is responsible for anti-spy work and "political protection," according to The ministry has a variety of powers, including detention, investigation, inquiry and arrest. The ministry has no official website and there are few news reports on its activities. ^ top ^

Pilot scheme approved to reform rules on controversial rural land sales in China (SCMP)
Legislators have approved a pilot scheme across China to amend the rules on the sale of land in the countryside, a volatile issue that regularly sparks protests among farmers. The National People's Congress standing committee backed the initiative at a meeting on Wednesday, the Beijing Times reports. The project forms part of government attempts to raise the incomes of the country's hundreds of millions of rural workers as they continue to lag well behind the pay of people living in the nation's burgeoning cities. Rural land is state owned and controlled by village collectives. The reforms include giving farmers more compensation for land seized by local authorities for development projects. The trial scheme will also allow farmers to sell the right to use part of their land to others within their village. Buildings such as village-owned factories will also be allowed to be sold on the open market. The scheme will be introduced in 33 counties around the country. One project will be started in each of the mainland's 31 provinces, municipalities and regions. Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces will run two projects. The committee amended laws so that the pilot schemes can be carried out until 2017. Disputes over the compulsory purchase of farmland have led to clashes with farmers around the country, amid allegations that local governments are profiting from deals with developers. Eight people were killed in clashes between villagers and construction workers near Kunming in Yunnan province last October. The news service Caixin reported that villagers had alleged that their land had been seized illegally to build a logistics centre. The government has said any reforms must ensure that farmers' interests and rights are protected and the nation maintains a minimum of at least 120 million hectares of cultivatable farmland. The central government has repeatedly told local authorities to stop seizing agricultural land for development, amid concerns that China does not have enough farmland to feed its huge population. ^ top ^

China narrows terrorism definition by deleting 'thought' from list of crimes (SCMP)
Beijing has narrowed the controversial definition of "terrorism" in the revised draft of its counterterrorism law by removing a reference to "thought" as a crime. But it still proposes that certain "speeches" qualify as terrorism offences. The draft is before the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), which began its two-monthly session yesterday. Su Zelin, deputy director of the committee's legislative affairs commission, said "thoughts" had been dropped "for the sake of accuracy and applicability", Xinhua reported. According to the new draft, terrorism is defined as "any speech or activity that, by means of violence, sabotage or threat, generates social panic, undermines public security, and menaces government organs and international organisations". Concerns over human rights were raised in November when the NPC called for public feedback on the drafts of both the counterterrorism law and changes to the criminal law. Liu Renwen, a criminal law expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it was inappropriate to include thoughts and speeches in the definition. "Terrorism must be strictly defined in law," Liu said. "Combating terrorism is necessary, but we need to make sure to safeguard human rights." Beijing regularly blames three forces - terrorism, separatism and religious extremism - for deadly attacks in Xinjiang, home to the Uygur minority, and other areas in the country, while human rights advocates argue that Beijing's hardline policies on culture, religion and ethnic groups provoke the attacks. The draft also includes provisions about extremism that "distorts religious teachings, spreads religious fanaticism, advocates violence, or is hostile to society". But Liu said extremism should not be included in the law unless it was linked to terrorism. Qu Xinjiu, from China University of Political Science and Law, said it was difficult to define extremism in law and there was no generally accepted international definition. The draft law also proposes tighter control of China's airspace to guard against drone attacks. "Flight control, civil aviation and public security authorities … must improve management of airspace, aircraft and flight activities, and stay on high alert for terrorist activities against aircraft," the draft reads. If the draft goes through, security agencies will have to follow strict approval procedures to gain access to personal information via telecom and internet technology for use in counterterrorism operations. Approval would also be needed to investigate, seize and freeze suspicious assets linked to terrorist activities. ^ top ^



Rising number of dangerous H7N9 bird flu cases prompts ban on live chicken sales in Guangdong (SCMP)
No live poultry will be sold at any wet market across Guangdong from tomorrow until the end of the month, provincial health authorities said. The ban also applied to supermarkets and restaurants, and officials would supervise the slaughter and delivery of poultry, the Guangzhou Daily reported. It will be the first year in living memory in Guangdong that live chickens will not be sold during the Lunar New Year period. The move was instigated after 50 human cases of dangerous H7N9 bird flu were found this year in 15 of Guangdong's 21 main cities. Meanwhile, 36 per cent of samples collected from wet markets and live poultry wholesale markets across the province up to this week have tested positive for the deadly H7N9 strain. Guangzhou already began its five-day ban, from last Friday and yesterday, on the sale of live poultry at all wet markets. But, sales will resume for tomorrow only - Lunar New Year's Eve - in deference to local custom. In the Cantonese culinary tradition, a chicken is indispensable at the banquet. In Guangdong, locals believe the freshness of ingredients greatly affects the taste and texture of dishes. […] Yesterday, live chickens cost between 40 and 60 yuan per kilogram, and about 36 for a duck, at wet markets in Shenzhen's Luohu district. "I paid 100 yuan (HK$126) for a live chicken at the wet market," said She Xuejun, a Shenzhen resident in her 50s. "I'm very unhappy with the ban. The authorities should make healthy live chickens available for sale at wet markets, instead of ruining our banquets. Frozen chickens simply don't taste good." The province's live poultry vendors were also surprised and angered by the decision, saying the government's policy was issued "recklessly" and without proper compensation for their losses. "I first heard about the ban on Monday night," said a live chicken vendor at the Hehua wet market in Shenzhen. "I was supposed to sell 150 to 200 chickens a day this week. Now we will have nothing to sell but rent to pay." ^ top ^

Guangdong to raise minimum wage by 19 pct (Xinhua)
South China's Guangdong Province is to raise the minimum wage by an average 19 percent from May to combat a labor shortage and rising living costs. The pay raises will go into effect in all parts of Guangdong except Shenzhen on May 1, the provincial department of human resources and social security said in a press release on Thursday. Guangdong last raised the minimum salary in May 2013. The minimum monthly pay for full-time workers in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, will be raised by 22.2 percent to 1,895 yuan (300 U.S. dollars), the highest of four levels in the province. Authorities in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, separately announced a raise in the minimum monthly salary for full-time workers of 12.3 percent to 2,030 yuan (320 U.S. dollars), the highest nationwide, from next month. China is facing severe labor shortage due to tough birth control policies over the past three decades. Rising labor costs, coupled with falling orders, have left many manufacturers struggling and driven some to relocate to Southeast Asian countries. ^ top ^



More than 1,700 houses damaged in Xinjiang earthquake (Xinhua)
The buildings of 1,728 households were damaged in the earthquake that hit Shawan County of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China, local authorities said on Monday. As of 2 p.m. Monday, the tremor had affected 6,756 people, and caused a direct economic loss of 92.23 million yuan (about 14.65 million U.S. dollars). No casualties were reported. An earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale hit Shawan of the Tacheng Prefecture in the north of the region at 2:42 p.m. Sunday. Three teams of experts are carrying out disaster relief in 132 villages near the epicenter. Rescuers are striving to ensure transportation and power supply in the affected areas. ^ top ^

Xinjiang short of bilingual teachers (Xinhua)
China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has a shortage of more than 30,000 teachers proficient in both Mandarin and one local language, according to the regional education authority on Tuesday. Xinjiang is heavily populated by Uygur ethnic minority people. Bilingual education has been promoted by the regional government to help spread Mandarin, the official tongue, and minority languages, especially Uygur, which is written in an Arabic-based script. According to Xinjiang's education department, bilingual schools and kindergartens currently enroll 70,000 teachers with bilingual proficiency. Since 2010, some 450,000 children have received bilingual education from kindergartens. Although education facilities in Xinjiang, even in rural areas, have been developing quickly to meet demand over the years, schools are still short of teachers who can speak both Mandarin and one of the local ethnic minority languages fluently. The education department has listed 34,500 recruitment vacancies, including 3,500 kindergarten teachers in the next three years. Deputy head of the Xinjiang education department Ma Wenhua said earlier last year that the regional government has approved a budget of 254 million yuan (41.48 million U.S. dollars) for a program from 2013 to 2018 to provide language training for ethnic minority teachers to make up for the shortage of bilingual teachers in the region. Bilingual education in Xinjiang has been promoted to improve job opportunities for ethnic minorities while preserving local languages in Xinjiang, which boasts over a dozen ethnic minority groups including Uygurs, Kazaks, Hui and Russians. ^ top ^



Beijing moves to meet Hong Kong pan-dems in bid to break universal suffrage deadlock (SCMP)
Beijing officials are due to meet Hong Kong's pan-democratic lawmakers in late March at the earliest to discuss the city's political reform, amid an ongoing stalemate over universal suffrage. Citing Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, pro-democracy lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee said the central government had signalled a "positive attitude" towards meeting the crucial minority in the Legislative Council. "I will lobby Beijing officials into accepting real universal suffrage for Hong Kong people who deserve to have this," said Fung, of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood. "Everything is negotiable," he said, adding that Tam conveyed the message to him about a week ago and the timing for the meeting could be late March or early April. A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also confirmed that the Hong Kong government was trying to set up talks between Beijing officials and pan-democratic lawmakers on political reform. Any meetings would likely come after the annual session of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in early March, the official said. There were concerns about protests outside the meeting venue if Beijing officials came to the city to meet lawmakers, the official said. Guangdong province could be an alternative location, the official said, but arrangements would have to be made for valid travel documents for those who did not have them. Accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung said the meeting should not take place in the liaison office in Western because the body enjoyed "no constitutional status". But Charles Mok, the IT sector lawmaker who is widely seen as a possible pan-democrat who might vote in favour of the government, said he would not object to meeting central government officials in the liaison office. The location is reminiscent of a closed-door meeting between Beijing officials and Democratic Party members in 2010, which resulted in the last-minute withdrawal of opposition to the constitutional reform package. The move landed the group in trouble with many democracy supporters who accused it of "selling out Hong Kong". […]^ top ^

HK seeks to tighten visit scheme for Chinese mainlanders: chief executive (Xinhua)
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday that the Individual Visit Scheme for tourists from the Chinese mainland is not expanding and the government is seeking to tighten it up. Speaking ahead of an Executive Council meeting this morning, Leung said the overall number of mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong during the Lunar New Year was similar to last year, but the number of those came under the visit scheme dropped. Despite the drop, the government will discuss with the mainland authorities measures to tighten arrangements under the scheme, Leung said, adding he understood that mainland tourism growth had placed pressure on local people's livelihoods. He said that contrary to newspaper reports, the scheme was not being extended to more mainland cities, and that he had been advising the central government not to expand the scheme as Hong Kong's capacity to receive tourists is limited. Leung added that the government will develop tourism facilities including shopping malls to increase its capacity for visitors.^ top ^



Taiwan on alert after suspected IS terror threat (Global Times)
Taiwan authorities have tightened security following a Twitter post that seems to have implied Taipei's landmark building could be targeted by Islamic State (IS) militants. The island has been on alert since a Twitter account believed to be connected to IS posted a photo on the microblogging site Tuesday which shows a city in ruins with a building that appears to be the Taipei 101 tower, formerly the world's tallest building, in flames. "When Islamic State attack your cities it won't look nice. By the permission of Allah that day is not far," reads the post. The Twitter account was suspended shortly after the tweet. Taiwan "Cabinet" spokesman Sun Lih-chyun told the Global Times Thursday that the authorities have been on heightened alert after learning about the post, and will keep a close watch on the situation in cooperation with related departments such as the "Immigration Agency" and the "Ministry of National Security." The related departments are currently tracking the source of the post and analyzing the situation, he said. Luo Shou-he, spokesman for the "Ministry of National Defense," was quoted by Taiwan's Central News Agency Wednesday as saying that the photo needs further analysis so it can be determined if it was intended as a threat toward Taiwan, and that his "ministry" will kick off anti-terrorist operations in coordination with other government agencies if necessary. A representative of the Taipei City Police Department told the Global Times Thursday that security has been tightened around Taipei 101, and that the police have set up a communication channel with the management of the tower. The picture tweeted by the alleged IS-affiliated account is one of a series produced by artist Jonas De Ro in 2013. De Ro also depicted Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, Dubai and Moscow in ruins. According to reports, Taiwan's security bureau has been cooperating with international intelligence agencies in order to compile a list of terrorists as part of their efforts to keep extremist groups out of Taiwan. The director of Taiwan's security bureau Lee Shying-jow recently presented a list of 52 international terrorists who were denied entry into Taiwan between 2013 and 2014 to the "Cabinet." China Times, a Taiwan-based media outlet, reported Wednesday that the American Institute in Taiwan last year praised Taiwan's contribution in the alliance against the IS, which includes financial aid and building settlements in Northern Iraq to accommodate refugees from the country and neighboring Syria. ^ top ^



Euro's fall piques Chinese interest in European property (SCMP)
The fall in the euro is fuelling greater Chinese interest in buying European real estate, property agents say. Institutional as well as individual Chinese investors were making plans to buy offices and hotels in Europe in the quest for a return of more than 5 per cent, the agents said. Chinese investors have been buying up European property over the past few years, especially after an economic slump prompted nations such as Portugal and Spain to offer residency to foreigners willing to invest specified minimum amounts. Zhang Kesong, a Beijing-based agent who helps mainlanders buy into the European property market, said the euro's fall had encouraged more clients heading on investment scouting missions to Europe. Zhang said one investor bought 11 flats in the Spanish city of Almeria for €2 million (HK$17.7 million) with the goal of turning them into a family hotel and making a 10 per cent profit. "The falling euro has significantly slashed the cost of travelling to and investing in Europe, and more people are tempted to invest there," he said. For example, a €500,000 property in Spain that cost about 4.1 million yuan (HK$5.2 million) in May would have cost only 3.5 million yuan last month, Zhang said. Many Chinese investors were buying the properties to get residency and to ensure that their children could go to university in Europe, with some selling their real estate in China to fund their overseas venture. Portugal has been particularly active in granting residency to non-European investors. In the past two years, Portuguese authorities issued 1,775 residency permits to investors who spent at least €500,000 on property. Of these, 80 per cent were Chinese. Similar "golden visas" are available in Spain, but only 134 were issued between September 2013 and last October. The visas require holders to spend at least €500,000 on buying a property. Real estate consultancy firms also reported a general increase in Chinese investors buying properties offshore. Knight Frank said Chinese overseas property investment grew by 25-fold to US$15 billion from 2009 to 2014, with Australia, the United States and Britain the top destinations. Property consultancy Savills meanwhile estimated that mainland institutions poured close to US$13.5 billion into the sector last year, more than double the 2012 total. Liu Bing, head of investment and advisory services at real estate consultants North China DTZ, said more institutional Chinese investors were also buying into Europe, with Britain and France the top destinations. Most put their money into office buildings and hotels, which usually saw returns of between 5 and 8 per cent, he said. Liu said that while the euro's fall had cut investment costs, these institutional investors were not guided solely by currency exchange rates. "Chinese companies are also looking for investment opportunities abroad, and they are becoming more familiar with investment conditions in Europe," Liu said. ^ top ^

China imposes one-year ban on ivory carvings imports (Global Times)
Chinese authorities on Thursday announced a one-year ban on imports of African ivory carvings acquired after the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) took effect in 1975. In a brief statement on its website, the State Forestry Administration said it would halt administrative approval for the imports until Feb. 26, 2016. The agency said the move is to protect African elephants, and the one-year timeframe is designed to assess the effects. Ivory carvings and their sales are legal in China if the activities conform with certain regulations. Imports of ivory and its products must be permitted by the State Forestry Administration. According to the rules, raw elephant ivory and its products should be processed at designated places, sold at fixed shops and tracked on an individual item basis. Each legal ivory product can be tracked through a unique photo ID and is recorded in a database. ^ top ^


DPRK and South Korea

North Korea 'committed crimes against humanity, but not genocide': UN official (SCMP)
The head of a UN inquiry into rights violations in North Korea said Pyongyang's actions, while constituting a crime against humanity, fell short of genocide. Michael Kirby, the Australian former judge who headed the UN Commission of Inquiry into North Korea's human rights violations that concluded last year, reiterated the panel's finding that “crimes against humanity have been committed” by the North Korean government in its mistreatment of thousands of prison detainees. “This is a very serious finding,” said Kirby, speaking to reporters in Washington. “It imposed on the international community to make those who are responsible accountable,” he said, adding that the UN human rights body has made North Korea's leader aware of their findings. The investigation, whose findings were released a year ago, gathered testimony from 300 witnesses and corroborating evidence that documented a vast network of prison camps believed to hold as many as 120,000 people. The report said atrocities carried out at the camp include torture, rape and summary executions. The UN inquiry, which wrapped up last year, found that North Korea's human rights violations were “without parallel in the contemporary world”. The panel chairman said he was disappointed that the panel was constrained by a “narrow definition” of what constitutes genocide as they drafted their findings. He expressed disappointment with the report's “very narrow definition” of genocide. “It is a 1948 definition and it was not wide enough for us to find genocide and we did not.” The panel nevertheless urged the UN Security Council to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and made its finding known to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “We wrote a letter to the Supreme leader warning him that the officials of his government and possibly he himself might be accountable,” Kirby said, in remarks made at the Center For Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. The council, following the report, also convened its first-ever meeting on Pyongyang's rights record, which was held despite opposition from China. Kirby expressed disappointment with some aspects of the final report, including the limited contact with officials from North Korea. “We tried in every possible way... to engage with them, but they wouldn't engage with us except on very limited terms favourable to them,” he said, repeating his call for the case to be brought before the ICC. ^ top ^

Top DPRK leader guides island-seizing drill (China Daily)
Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un recently guided a military drill simulating the capture of an island, the official KCNA news agency reported Saturday. Kim expressed great satisfaction with the result of the drill, which was participated by artillery units and subunits of the 4th Corps of the Korean People's Army (KPA), according to the KCNA. The artillerymen defending the southwestern front "are ready to throw the enemies into a crucible," he was quoted as saying. Kim also asked the KPA to "totally remove formalism" in the military training and conduct actual drills frequently under various conditions of modern warfare. A number of senior state and army officials oversaw the drill, including Director of the KPA General Political Bureau Hwang Pyong So, Minister of the People's Armed Forces Hyon Yong Chol and Chief of the KPA General Staff Ri Yong Gil. ^ top ^

Kim Jong-un urges North Korea's 'combat readiness' ahead of US-South Korea drills (SCMP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has urged the army to ensure its combat readiness ahead of US-South Korea military exercises that see an annual spike in tensions on the divided peninsula. In a “historic” speech to the ruling party's Central Military Commission (CMC), Kim said the army had to be “fully ready to react to any form of war to be ignited by the enemy,” state media said on Monday. The CMC meeting followed on the heels of a North Korean military drill – personally overseen by Kim – that simulated an attack on a frontline South Korean island. Participating in the drill were artillery units that shelled the South's Yeonpyeong island in 2010, killing four people and briefly triggering concerns of a full-scale conflict. Stressing the need for the Korean People's Army (KPA) to “focus all its efforts on rounding off combat readiness,” Kim spoke of the need to simplify and reorganise the KPA “machinery,” the official KCNA news agency said without elaborating. The report said the commission also discussed a “radical turn” in national defence operations, but again there were no details. North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, and recently threatened a fourth, amid tensions over fresh US sanctions and UN moves to censure Pyongyang for its human rights record. Those tensions are likely to rise further next month when the United States and South Korea launch their annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises. Seoul and Washington insist the drills are defensive in nature, but they are regularly condemned by Pyongyang as provocative rehearsals for invasion. In his speech, Kim, who is chairman of the CMC, also noted “deviations” in the work of the KPA over the past year. Although the KCNA report did not elaborate, it said Kim insisted on a “strategic line to be always held fast”. Since taking power following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in 2011, Kim Jon-un has moved to fill the top ranks of the military with a new generation of officers loyal to his leadership. Responding to the CMC meeting, the South Korean government said it would “keep a close watch” on the outcome, but added it was unclear if it presaged any significant strategic change. “It's always hard to predict the direction of North Korea's policy,” said Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-Cheol, who urged Pyongyang to avoid any dangerous escalation during next month's joint drills. “North Korea should stop taking issue with the joint military exercises, which are defensive and held annually in a transparent way,” he said. ^ top ^

North Korea bans foreigners from Pyongyang marathon over Ebola fears (SCMP)
At least 40 Hong Kong residents will miss the chance to jog along the broad avenues of Pyongyang after North Korea barred foreigners from joining the capital's marathon because of Ebola travel restrictions, according to a travel agency that specialises in the reclusive state. Nick Bonner, co-founder of Beijing-based Koryo Tours, told the South China Morning Post that a North Korean sports official based in Beijing as well as a business partner in Pyongyang yesterday confirmed the race would be off limits to foreigners. "It's just Ebola, not anything else, not political reasons," said Bonner. "We've got 500 runners waiting to go; it's a big hit for us." Some 120 joined the Pyongyang marathon through the agency last year, he said. The annual race, which this year takes place on April 12, was open to foreign recreational runners for the first time last year, with 225 amateurs and a number of professionals taking part. About 500 competitors had signed up with Koryo for this year's event, with tours listed at €790 (HK$6,985) for a three-day trip or €1,690 for one week. Bonner said 40 were Hong Kong-based expatriates and about five participants held Hong Kong passports. The competitors were of various nationalities, he said, including 23 per cent from Britain, 20 per cent from the United States and others from mostly Western countries. The agency does not accept applications from mainland Chinese. But the company remains hopeful that two runs in North Korea planned for later this year - a 10km charity run in Pyongyang in June and a half-marathon in Mount Paektu, the supposed "sacred" birthplace of former leader Kim Jong-il, in August - will go ahead as planned for those marathon competitors who signed up for them as alternatives to a full refund. Since North Korea shut its borders to foreign tourists in October as part of its Ebola clampdown, all foreign visitors allowed in and even senior North Korean officials returning from trips abroad have been subject to quarantine. No cases of Ebola have been reported near North Korea but state media have suggested the disease was created by the US military as a biological weapon. A Hongkonger who joined last year's race told the Post at the time that the Pyongyang marathon was unusual in the sense that runners had to repeat the same lap four times, which he suspected was a way to "control what runners saw". ^ top ^




Mongolia and Japan sign the Economic Partnership Agreement discussed for over three years (infomongolia)
On February 10, 2015, Prime Minister of Mongolia Chimed SAIKHANBILEG and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe have signed on Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the two Governments. Following the signing ceremony, the two Premiers made joint statements and in his remarks, the Prime Minister of Japan Sh.Abe stated, “I am very pleased to welcome you the Prime Minister of Mongolia, Ch.Saikhanbileg, who is conducting his first foreign working visit to Japan and this visit manifests Mongolia's recognition of Japan as its “Third Neighbor”. Japan and Mongolia have reached an amicable level of partnership in its historical ties. The relationship is not only limited by intergovernmental actions, but also the decent achievements performed by Yokozuna Hakuho and other Mongolian wrestlers in sumo have been respectfully recognized by the peoples of the two countries. The Japan-Mongolia EPA has been negotiated for over three years and finally sides inked the document. I am delighted for this consensus. This is the first EPA for Mongolia and this document will provide the basis for realizing the objectives to deepen our relations and to promote economic development of Mongolia. In this regard, the Government of Japan will be collaborating closely with our counterpart in mobilizing the Japan-Mongolia EPA. During the official talks today, the Government of Japan resolved to allocate an additional loan of 36 billion and 850 million JPY upon Mongolia's request to finance the construction of a new airport being constructed at Khushigt Valley in Tuv Aimag, Mongolia. Moreover, Japan will send experts to Mongolia to help draw up a medium- to long-term economic policy. Japan will strengthen the cooperation with Mongolia in foreign relations and security, in economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres on the basis of the Strategic Partnership”. In his statement, Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg noted, “Thank you very much for the warm hospitality and I am very satisfied with inking the EPA that has been negotiated since July 2012. Also, I would like to express my gratitude to the teams and staffers of related Ministries for forwarding the negotiations. The Agreement will serve to increase the bilateral trade volume, investments, exchange of products and services as well as people-to-people integration. The decision will also contribute to Mongolia's efforts to become more integrated in the regional economy. Relying on this agreement, there are open opportunities for Mongolia to introduce the Japanese “know-how”, to commercialize value-added products to Japan's and third countries' markets, thus communicating our market with the regional industrial networks and economic ties. Today, the discussion we had run in open and friendly atmosphere and I am confident that the Mongolia-Japan EPA signed today would be a great contribution to intensifying of the Strategic Partnership between the two nations”. ^ top ^

Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation pays an official visit to Mongolia (infomongolia)
On February 15, 2015, the Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Mr. Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin arrived in Ulaanbaatar to conduct an official visit upon an invitation of the Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Mr. Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD. On the following day morning, Chairman Sergey Naryshkin and accompanying delegates were welcomed by Speaker Z.Enkhbold at the Chinggis Square with guards of honor. Afterwards, the two heads of top legislative bodies of Russia and Mongolia held an official talk at the “B” Hall of Government House, Mongolia. During the meeting, parties touched upon issues concerning bilateral political, trade, economy, culture, science, education as well as partnership boosting at the border zones. Speaker Z.Enkhbold stressed that the bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries have been in a stagnant situation, and therefore, in order to stimulate the collaboration the inter-parliamentary partnership is vital. Speaker also expressed his interest to collaborate with Russian side on connecting railways, roads, oil and natural gas pipelines, power lines between Russia and China passing through the territory of Mongolia. In response, Chairman S.Naryshkin emphasized that the two countries should utilize fully the opportunities in trade and economic cooperation, and further to work actively in mentioned areas. Concluding the meeting, Chairman S.Naryshkin invited his counterpart to pay a visit at his convenient time. On the same day, Chairman S.Naryshkin paid a courtesy call on the President of Mongolia. […]Mr. Sergey Naryshkin expressed his congratulations on Tsagaan Sar festival, the lunar new year and wished all the best. He said, “The Russian Federation and Mongolia enjoy traditional friendly relations. Enhancing and promoting the strategic relations with Mongolia is one of the top priorities of our foreign policy. Also, we greatly value that Mongolia is successfully developing relations with the Russian Federation in the top priority sectors”. […] ^ top ^

Foreign Minister of North Korea arrives in Mongolia to encourage “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Security Issues in Northeast Asia” (infomongolia)
Upon an invitation of the Foreign Minister of Mongolia L.Purevsuren, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Mr. Ri Su-yong is conducting an official visit to Mongolia on February 22-25, 2015. During his stay in Ulaanbaatar, Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong will be paying courtesy calls on the President Ts.Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg respectively. In the frameworks of the visit, Foreign Ministers of Mongolia and North Korea to hold an official talk, besides, the visiting delegates to meet Minister for Food and Agriculture, Mrs. R.Burmaa, who chairs Mongolia's side for Mongolia-DPRK Intergovernmental Consultative Commission on Economy, Trade, Science and Technical Cooperation. On February 23, 2015, Foreign Ministers of Mongolia and North Korea held a bilateral talk to evaluate the current status of political, economical, cultural, humanitarian and labor relations between the two countries. Moreover, parties exchanged views on “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Security Issues in Northeast Asia” as well as concerning issues of mutual and regional cooperation. Afterwards, the two Ministers established a new version of Memorandum of Understanding between the Foreign Ministries of Mongolia and the DPRK. At the beginning of meeting, Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren noted, “Thank you for accepting an invitation to pay an official visit to Mongolia and this visit is important to maintain high-level reciprocal forays”. DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong mentioned that the peoples of Korea and Mongolia had established a friendly relations in tough times, and expressed his interest to develop economic partnership relied on friendly political relationship as well as to expand collaboration between the two Foreign Ministries and further to support each other in frames of UN and the Non-Aligned Movement. In response, Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren emphasized Mongolia is ready to develop cooperation with North Korea in any sectors and expressed his gratitude that the DPRK encourages Mongolian President's initiation on “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Security Issues in Northeast Asia” and in this regard a delegation from North Korea has arrived in Mongolia. Thereof, Mongolia will be working and supporting the Korean Peninsula issues at all levels to resolve in a peace manner. ^ top ^

Spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy states on Mongolia's recent ratification in promoting and respecting human rights (infomongolia)
On December 11, 2014, the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia ratified the bill on the "Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”. Accordingly, the Spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Maja Kocijancic made a statement regarding Mongolia's recent ratification in promoting and respecting human rights. Statement by the Spokesperson on the ratification by Mongolia of two key human rights instruments: Mongolia's recent ratification of both the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is an important step in promoting and respecting human rights at the international, regional and domestic level. The EU stands ready to assist Mongolia in the full implementation of these key human rights instruments. The EU encourages all countries worldwide which have not yet done so to ratify the Optional Protocol and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to respect their provisions. ^ top ^

Speaker of the Parliament of Mongolia meets the Prime Minister of Japan (infomongolia)
Mongolian parliamentarians headed by Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Mr. Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD are conducting an official visit to Japan on February 23-27, 2015. In the frameworks of the visit, Speaker Z.Enkhbold held a meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe on February 24, 2015. At the beginning of meeting, Premier Sh.Abe noted, “I am pleased to welcome the Chairman of the State Great Khural on your visit that coincides on the day of the establishment of diplomatic relations back in 43 years ago. Your current visit gives an impetus to the development of bilateral political and economical partnership”. In his remarks, Speaker Z.Enkhbold noted, “The People and Government of Japan have been supporting and assisting Mongolia's democracy and reform from the early beginning that has been highly evaluated and appreciated by the People and Government of Mongolia. The “Dynamic” and “+Dynamic” initiations proposed by the Premier Abe are considered vital in terms implementation and its role. The State Great Khural has ratified the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and we believe the Japanese Parliament would accredit the Agreement soon”. In turn, Sh.Abe said, “Japanese investors are keen to invest into Mongolia and thus, we hope the Speaker of Mongolian Parliament would particularly pay attention on this issue to create a favorable investment climate. We appreciate the State Great Khural that approved the EPA shortly and our Parliament is also working to ratify near future”. Concluding the meeting, Speaker Z.Enkhbold requested the Prime Minister of Japan to advocate Japanese companies interested to participate in the project of constructing railway in eastern region of Mongolia, where Japanese “Nippon Steel” company has already offered to supply Mongolia with railway rails. Speaker also added, “Mongolia alone produces 40% of total raw cashmere on world market, but only 10% is being processed. Therefore, we are interested to supply world market with 40% of end-product collaborating with Japan by introducing your technology”. On the same day, Speaker Z.Enkhbold held a meeting with the Chairman of Mongolia-Japan friendship group at the House of Councilors of Japan, Mr. Satsuki Eda and during the meeting, the latter part said members of House of Councilors of Japan are satisfied with the established EPA. ^ top ^

Mongolia and Kazakhstan to sign an Intergovernmental Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons (infomongolia)
The regular Cabinet meeting was held on February 25, 2015, where one of the issues resolved was to sign an Intergovernmental Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons with Kazakhstan. At the meeting it was backed to authorize signing the “Agreement between Mongolia and the Republic of Kazakhstan on transfer of sentenced persons” and after consultation by a relevant Standing Committee of the Parliament, a Resolution by the Prime Minister will be issued to authorize an official representing the Government of Mongolia. Currently, about 1,000 nationals of Mongolia are residing with permanent residencies and over 6,000 citizens of Mongolia visit the country per year. Also, 3 citizens of Mongolia have been sentenced in Kazakhstan and as soon as the Intergovernmental Agreement goes into effect, two nationals of Mongolia, who requested to continue their period of imprisonment in their home country, will be considered in accordance with law. Mongolia and the Republic of Kazakhstan have established the diplomatic relations on January 22, 1992. ^ 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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