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
  11-15.5.2015, No. 572  
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Foreign Policy

China, Russia agree to integrate Belt initiative with EAEU construction (Xinhua)
China and Russia agreed here Friday to integrate the former's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with the latter's aspiration under the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) framework. The pledge was made in a joint statement signed by visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, after their talks. According to the document, China supports Russia promoting regional integration within the EAEU framework and agrees to launch talks with the EAEU on an economic and trade cooperation deal. In the document, the two sides vowed to discuss the docking of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative and the EAEU construction, saying that they agreed to set up a dialogue mechanism for the integration. They pledged to maintain a continuous and stable economic growth in the region, strengthen regional economic integration, and safeguard peace and stability on the Eurasian landmass. The two countries also listed out eight measures that could help boost regional cooperation:
-- to expand investment and trade cooperation, optimize trade structure and cultivate new growth points for economy and employment.
-- to facilitate mutual investment, launch major investment cooperation projects and jointly build industrial parks and cross-border economic cooperation zones.
-- to enhance the interconnection in logistics and transportation, and work together on infrastructure construction projects.
-- to set up trade-facilitating mechanisms in ripe areas, formulate common policies in fields of common interests, and study the long-term objective of establishing a free trade zone between China and the EAEU.
-- to create a better environment for medium- and small-sized enterprises that can play an important role in boosting regional economic cooperation.
-- to promote the local-currency settlement in bilateral trade and deepen cooperation in export credit, insurance and trade financing among many other fields.
-- to enhance financial cooperation through the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
-- to advance regional and global multilateral cooperation and expand international trade.
Xi arrived in Moscow on Friday for a visit to Russia, where he is scheduled to attend a series of events to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War. ^ top ^

Chinese president meets Russian PM (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping met here on Saturday with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev after he attended the Victory Day parade marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War, Russia's term for World War II. Xi told Medvedev during the talks that the parade demonstrated Russian people's new achievements in building their country and also showed the world Russia's faith, alongside other countries, in safeguarding world peace. Stressing that the current visit is his fourth trip to Russia since he assumed the Chinese presidency, Xi noted that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had in-depth talks on a wide range of issues a day earlier. Xi also said he and Putin agreed to integrate China's "Silk Road Economic Belt" initiative with Russia's aspiration under the Eurasian Economic Union framework, which would make the interests of the two sides more intertwined and better serve the two countries' needs for development and revival. The development of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is based on staunch political common understanding between the two countries and profound amity between the two peoples, Xi said. The Chinese people would never forget the contributions made by the Russian experts who came to help the newly-founded People's Republic of China decades ago, Xi said, mentioning that he met with some of those experts and their relatives on Thursday. In addition, the Chinese president urged both sides to further tap the potential of bilateral cooperation, so as to bring more benefits to both peoples. Medvedev, on his part, thanked Xi for attending the commemorating events for the victory of the Great Patriotic War. The Russian prime minister said he had read Xi's signed article published on a Russian newspaper prior to his visit. He agreed completely with Xi that forgetting history is equivalent to betrayal. The China-Russia relationship is better than ever, with close communications and coordination maintained at all levels and in various areas, he added. Medvedev said the Russian side is willing to join hands with China to deepen cooperation in a wide range of fields including finance, investment and energy. ^ top ^

Xi attends Russia's V-Day parade, marking shared victory with Putin (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday attended a grand military parade held in Moscow to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War, Russia's term for World War II (WWII). Xi, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, was among more than 20 leaders of countries, regions and international organizations to attend the commemorative event. President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan were welcomed by Putin at the Kremlin on Saturday morning. Accompanied by Putin, Xi, together with other distinguished guests, walked to Red Square and ascended to the reviewing stand to watch the Victory Day parade. At 10:00 a.m. (0700GMT), the commemorative event began. Eight guards of honor marched into Red Square carrying Russia's national flag amid the WWII-themed song -- "the Sacred War". Delivering a speech at the event, Putin said the victory of the Great Patriotic War was decisive for the WWII and saved Europeans from Nazi Fascism. He noted in particular that China was the main battlefield in Asian countries' resistance against militarism in WWII, sacrificing millions of lives. The Russian president stressed that the commemoration today is meant to build a peaceful and tranquil future based on equality and non-alignment among countries. Amid Russia's national anthem and rumble gun salutes, the grand parade started. About 15,000 servicemen, marched into Red Square proudly in many formations. In the historical part, Russian soldiers of three services wearing the uniforms which servicemen wore in 1940's and holding military flags of the patriotic war, goose-stepped into the Red Square, as a reminiscence of the war time experience. In the modern part of the parade, Russia's military regiments of three services as well as the military equipment formations passed by the reviewing stand, as jets roared overhead. China's guards of honor, consisting of 102 members, joined the parade and marched through the Red Square.It was the first time for Chinese soldiers to participate in Russian Victory Day parades. Xi waved to them. Xi then walked with other leaders to the nearby Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to lay red flowers in salute to the soldier who sacrificed lives in the WWII. May 9 is the Victory Day of Russia's Great Patriotic War. The Soviet Union made great contribution in the fight against the German Fascist forces in the European theater, which cost the Soviet Union 27 million lives. ^ top ^

China says DOC not tool for Philippines to whitewash wrongdoings (Xinhua)
China on Friday said the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) is not a tool for the Philippines to whitewash its wrongdoings, urging the Philippines to stop unfounded accusation and hyping of China's construction work. "The Philippines' willful abuse and distortion of the DOC is in itself a breach and damage to the DOC," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Friday, when asked to comment on the Philippine officials' criticism of China's construction on some maritime features of the Nansha Islands. They also said what the Philippines has done on some occupied islands and reefs are just minor "repairs and maintenance" allowed under the DOC and that the Philippines built the airstrip on Zhongye Dao before the signing of the DOC in 2002. "Illegal construction is illegal construction. Its illegal nature will not change no matter how it is covered up," Hua said. She said a legal principle states that "Ex injuria jus non oritur" (Law does not arise from injustice). Just like its construction work on all the illegally occupied islands and reefs, the so-called "repairs and maintenance" by the Philippines, whether massive or minor, old or new, are illegal and invalid, as they are conducted on China's islands and reefs grabbed by the Philippines since 1970s, she said. "The Philippines keeps vowing that its actions are totally in line with the DOC. Is that true?" Hua asked. "As long as we take a close look at the DOC, we will see that the Declaration focuses on efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, keep the situation in check, and enhance practical cooperation on the sea," Hua said. Peace, amity and cooperation is the quintessence of the DOC, which reflects the political desire and wisdom of China and ASEAN countries to keep the situation stable and promote friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation,she said. The DOC has no direct bearing on issues concerning the sovereignty of maritime features, nor does it empower the Philippines to encroach upon China's Nansha Islands, Hua said. There is not a single item in the DOC that can justify the Philippines' action of illegally taking away China's islands and reefs before 2002, or back up the Philippines' illegal expansion and construction on the relevant maritime features,she said. Hua said the Chinese side has repeatedly stated its position on China's construction work on some of its garrisoned maritime features of the Nansha Islands. In response to the Philippines' remarks void of factual and jurisprudential basis, Hua said she would like to underline a few points. China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters is fully supported by historical and jurisprudential evidence, Hua said. In accordance with the series of international treaties defining the boundary of the Philippines, the Nansha Islands have never been part of the Philippines. Since the 1970s, the Philippines has illegally seized by force one after another maritime features of China's Nansha Islands in disregard of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations. That is the root and direct cause of relevant disputes between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, Hua said. As for China's construction on some maritime features of the Nansha Islands, Hua said one aim of the construction is to better fulfill China's international responsibility and obligation in maritime search and rescue, navigation safety, ocean science and research, etc. Hua cited an example in February 1987 when the 14th Session of the Assembly of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO adopted a global sea level observing plan, entrusting China with the building of five out of the 200 ocean observation stations across the world, including those on the Nansha Islands. As for the scale of construction, China, as a major country, assumes due international responsibility and obligation. The scale of China's construction work should be commensurate with its responsibility and obligation as a major country and meet actual needs, she said. The DOC requires the full and effective observation of all signatories, and peace and stability would not be possible without the joint efforts of all parties concerned, she said. "We urge the Philippine side to respect China's territorial sovereignty, reflect upon its own actions, stop the unfounded accusation and hyping of China's construction work, and meet China halfway to jointly uphold peace and stability of the region," she said. ^ top ^

US 'distorted' report on China's South China Sea reclamation, says Beijing (SCMP)
China's defence ministry said yesterday a US report on its military, which accused Beijing of dramatically ramping up land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea, had distorted the facts, the official Xinhua news agency said. US officials made the claims in the Pentagon's annual report to Congress on the state of China's military, saying that it was building artificial islands at an unprecedented pace to bolster its territorial claims in the disputed area. The rapid construction of artificial islands in the strategic waters comes to 800 hectares, with 75 per cent of the total in the last five months, officials said. "China has expanded the [area] on the outposts it occupies by some four hundred times," said a US defence official. However, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng hit back, and was quoted by Xinhua as saying: "The US defence department's report on China's military and security development situation distorts facts and continues to play up the 'China military threat' cliché." He said the US report made "groundless accusations" about China's intentions regarding national defence, space development, the internet and military transparency. The report repeated accusations that Beijing was staging cyber attacks to gather information on American defence programmes. Geng made no direct mention of land reclamation in the South China Sea, but said China was justified in upholding its sovereignty in the area. The South China Sea is home to strategically vital shipping lanes and is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Washington is concerned China's efforts carry a military dimension that could undermine America's naval and economic power in the Pacific. Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost the whole of the South China Sea, including areas close to the coasts of other states, using a nine-segment line based on one that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s. "The military build-up aims to maintain sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, and guarantee China's peaceful development," Geng said. Professor Shi Yinhong, a Sino-US expert at Beijing's Renmin University, said the Pentagon's report had simply reiterated Washington's position on the disputed issues. "The US once suggested all parties involved in the territory disputes to keep the status quo of the South China Sea, and China's islet expansion project obviously made Washington very unhappy," Shi said. In its report, the US did not endorse land reclamation by any of the countries that have territorial claims in the South China Sea. However, US officials said that "the pace and scale of China's land reclamation in recent years dwarfs that of any other claimant". ^ top ^

China agrees multi-billion dollar deals with Belarus (SCMP)
China has extended US$3 billion credit to Belarusian companies and US$4 billion in commercial credit to Belarusian banks for financing business projects, the former Soviet republic's economy minister, Vladimir Zinovsky, said yesterday. The credits, which appeared to include US$1 billion of loans to two banks announced on Sunday, were part of a raft of deals resulting from a visit by President Xi Jinping to Minsk, Moscow and Almaty. At the same time, the Belarusian central bank announced a three-year currency swap agreement that will put 7 billion yuan (HK$8.9 billion) into its reserves and help with foreign debt repayments of US$4 billion due this year. The former Soviet republic's economy has been badly hurt by currency volatility in Russia arising from the Ukraine crisis and a plunge in the price of oil. The International Monetary Fund forecasts the economy shrinking 2 per cent this year. Zinovsky, quoted by the national news agency BelTA, said the US$3 billion credit to firms would be on favourable terms and the US$4 billion to banks would be earmarked for financing business projects. China and Belarus on Sunday also signed a five-year potash supply memorandum of understanding, though volumes and prices were not disclosed. Cash-strapped Belarus reached an unexpected agreement with China in March over 2015 prices for the crop nutrient potash, undercutting Russian and North American rivals who were negotiating for higher rates. Xi said on Sunday that Belarus could become a key hub for China's much-vaunted Silk Road vision - a project to bridge Europe and Asia through a series of transport and energy links. Chinese officials estimated the total value of the Belarus deals at US$15.7 billion. The Belarusian economy is highly reliant on Russia, where growth has been suffocated by falling oil prices and Western sanctions for Russian actions in Ukraine. That has pushed Belarus to try to vary its economic relations, although its options with Western Europe remain constrained by diplomatic tensions. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said after meeting Xi in his nation's capital, Minsk, that China was investing in building and modernising Belarusian infrastructure. Under one of around 20 deals signed on Sunday, China's state development bank is providing its equivalent Belarusian lender US$700 million in low-interest credits to be repaid within 15 years. China Development Bank also agreed to extend commercial Belarusian lender ASB Belarusbank credit worth US$300 million. Analysts believe deals with China could help Belarus weather the economic crunch provoked by troubles in Russia. "China has opened up a window of opportunity for Belarus," said political analyst Yaroslav Romanchuk. "Lukashenko has been given a magic wand." Belarus will be able to capitalise through its status as a transit country and will strive to become a hub for the transfer of Chinese goods to Europe." Xi, the first Chinese leader to visit in 14 years, is expected to leave Belarus today. ^ top ^

Myanmar president meets Chinese state councilor (Xinhua)
Myanmar President U Thein Sein met with visiting Chinese State Councilor Yang Jing here on Monday with both sides pledging to deepen their cooperation. Noting that this year marks the 65th anniversary diplomatic establishment between China and Myanmar, Yang said leaders of the two countries continued to maintain close contact and reach consensus on pushing forward China-Myanmar comprehensive strategic cooperation. China is willing to implement the consensus, expand party-to- party exchange, deepen cooperation in the fields of agriculture, financing, culture and health, Yang said, adding that the Chinese side will push productive cooperation and connectivity project under the framework of "Belt and Road" initiative to gain greater achievement in the new era of China-Myanmar relations. Yang voiced support of Myanmar's efforts in maintaining domestic stability and achieving national reconciliation, hoping that the Myanmar side will create conditions for the maintenance of stability and development on the China-Myanmar border. U Thein Sein said his country values Myanmar-China fraternal friendship and highly appreciates the development of the two countries' friendly ties. He also expressed Myanmar's wishes in actively participating in China's "Belt and Silk" initiative, hoping that it will further boost the two countries' mutual connectivity and industrial cooperation. The "Silk Road Economic Belt" and "the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road," is aimed at reviving the famous ancient trade routes that span Asia, Africa and Europe. Taking the opportunity of the 65th anniversary diplomatic ties between the two countries, he called for pushing Myanmar-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to a new stage. The president also expressed Myanmar's willingness to closely coordinate with the Chinese side and maintain the stability of Myanmar-China border area. ^ top ^

Chinese premier to visit Latin America (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will pay an official visit to Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Chile from May 18 to 26, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday. Li is visiting at the invitation of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Tasso and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Jeria, Hua said at a regular press conference. ^ top ^

Kerry to visit China, South Korea (Xinhua)
Secretary of State John Kerry will visit China and the Republic of Korea in the coming days to discuss a range of issues, including their presidents' upcoming visits to the United States, the State Department said Monday. During his stay in Beijing on May 16-17, the top American envoy will meet with senior Chinese leaders to "advance US priorities" ahead of a new round of Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China and discuss President Xi Jinping's state visit in the fall, the agency said in a statement. The next round of the dialogue, a mechanism created in 2009 to help the US and China to manage their bilateral relations and promote communication, is to be held in the US in June, while President Xi's visit is slated for September. While in Seoul on May 17-18, Kerry will meet with President Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se to discuss "a range of global, regional and bilateral issues," including President Park's upcoming visit to the US, the State Department said. ^ top ^

Chinese and Russian navy ships conduct first joint drills in Mediterranean (SCMP)
China started its joint naval drills with Russia in the Mediterranean Sea yesterday, the China News Service reported. It is the first time the two countries have held a joint military exercise in the area. It is also the first time the People's Liberation Army Navy vessels have held an exercise this far from home ports, although the scale of the drill is limited. China deployed three ships and two shipboard helicopters for the drill, led by the Russian Navy, the report said. Russia sent six vessels to the exercises that conclude on May 21. The PLA ships include the frigates Linyi and Weifang and the supply vessel Weishanhu, which have completed an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden. The Linyi was also involved in evacuating hundreds of Chinese and foreigners from Yemen last month. In another development, China has invited Russian troops to march in a parade in Beijing in September to commemorate the end of the second world war, the defence ministry said yesterday, a move likely to further put off Western leaders from attending. China has been coy about which countries it plans to invite to the parade, but says it will probably invite representatives from the Western Allies who fought with China in the war. President Xi Jinping attended a parade in Moscow last Saturday to mark 70 years since the end of the war in Europe. The ministry said Fan Changlong, deputy chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, told Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu that China warmly welcomes Russian military leaders to take part in the September events in Beijing. The parade will be Xi's first since he became party leader and military chief in 2012 and as state president in 2013. ^ top ^

China invites Russian troops to take part in second world war parade (SCMP)
China has invited Russian troops to march in a parade in Beijing in September to commemorate the end of the second world war, the Defence Ministry said on Monday, a move likely to further put off Western leaders from attending. China has been coy about which countries it plans to invite to the parade, but says it will probably invite representatives from the Western Allies who fought with China during the war. President Xi Jinping could be left standing on the stage with few top Western officials, however, diplomats said, due to Western governments concerns over a range of issues, including the expected presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Xi attended a parade in Moscow on Saturday to mark 70 years since the end of the war in Europe. A Defence Ministry statement said Fan Changlong, deputy chairman of China's powerful Central Military Commission, told Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu that China warmly welcomes Russian military leaders and army formations to take part in the September events in Beijing. Xi's visit to Russia and appearance at the Moscow commemorations “pushed the China-Russia all-round strategic partnership relationship to a new level”, Fan added, according to the statement. Western leaders boycotted the Moscow parade over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis. The Beijing parade, which will probably see troops marching through Tiananmen Square, will be Xi's first since he took over as Communist Party leader and military chief in late 2012 and as state president in early 2013. Sino-Japan relations have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war. US President Barack Obama's top Asia adviser, Evan Medeiros, said last month that he had questions about whether a large military parade would really send a signal of reconciliation or promote healing, drawing a rebuke from China. ^ top ^

Xi calls for early ratification of China-Belarus cooperation treaty (SCMP)
Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday urged the legislatures of his country and Belarus to approve the just signed treaty of bilateral friendship and cooperation. He made the appeal during a meeting here with Mikhail Myasnikovich and Vladimir Andreichenko, respectively speaker of the Council of the Republic and of the House of Representatives, or the upper and lower house of the National Assembly of Belarus. The treaty, signed Sunday by Xi and his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, will make into law the lasting friendship between the two peoples as well as the objectives, principles and direction of developing bilateral ties, said the Chinese president. He expressed the hope that the Chinese and Belarusian parliaments will endorse the accord as soon as possible, while continuing to boost exchanges and cooperation in line with the current needs of the development of their countries' relationship so as to implement the new consensuses the two sides have reached. Xi noted that Beijing and Minsk have maintained a long-standing friendship and have supported each other firmly on issues concerning their core interests. Parliamentary exchanges, he said, have become a crucial part of the China-Belarus comprehensive strategic partnership, with the National People's Congress of China and the National Assembly of Belarus having carried out frequent friendly interaction in recent years. The Chinese leader called on the two countries' legislative bodies to further beef up their cooperation so as to help drive forward the development of bilateral relations. In addition, Xi recalled that the Chinese and Belarusian people forged a strong friendship during their common fight against fascists and militarists in World War Two (WWII). The commemorative events the two countries hold this year, he stressed, are aimed at safeguarding the anti-fascist victory in WWII as well as historical fairness and international justice. Myasnikovich and Andreichenko, for their part, warmly welcomed Xi's visit to Belarus, which they lauded as very successful. The treaty of friendship and cooperation, together with the joint statement the two presidents signed on further deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between Belarus and China, will broaden bilateral cooperation and greatly advance bilateral ties, they said. The Belarusian legislature, they added, will speed up the ratification process of the treaty, earnestly implement the important consensuses reached by Xi and Lukashenko, and play an active role in deepening bilateral political and economic cooperation. With a growing number of Belarusians enthusiastic about learning the Chinese culture, the National Assembly of Belarus supports the expansion of people-to-people exchanges in such sectors as education, culture and tourism, in a bid to further firm up the public support for bilateral friendship, said the two speakers. Voicing the Belarusian parliament's readiness to strengthen exchanges with its Chinese counterpart, they pledged to keep close contact and coordination with the Chinese side in regional and international affairs and further cement mutual trust and support. They stressed that Belarus supports China's plan to hold commemorative events to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. The Belarusian and Chinese commemorative events, they echoed, are aimed at remembering history, upholding justice and safeguarding world peace. The Chinese president arrived here Sunday for a three-day state visit to Belarus, the last stop of his three-nation tour, which has already taken him to Kazakhstan and Russia. ^ top ^

Kerry to visit China as regional concerns rise (Global Times)
US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with senior Chinese leaders in Beijing this weekend at a time of heightened concerns over regional stability following enhanced defense cooperation guidelines between the US and Japan. The US State Department announced Monday that the top US diplomat will visit Beijing Saturday and Sunday to discuss the annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), scheduled to be held in Washington in late June, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to the US in September. Observers believe that current Sino-US relations have been challenged by renewed security and economic concerns, following revised defense guidelines between Japan and the US for the first time in 18 years that will grant Japan a bigger role in Asian regional stability. Economically, observers also pointed out that the US experienced a "foreign policy failure" following its alleged futile attempts to lobby its allies, including Australia, not to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The US has publicly welcomed the AIIB, but has announced no plans to join as a founding member and voiced concerns over the bank's standards. "It is rare for a US official of such a high rank to visit China ahead of the S&ED, which shows the US attaches great importance to the upcoming meeting," Wu Xinbo, Director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times. "There are considerable parts of the renewed defense guidelines between Japan and the US that come with implications for China. US officials may justify the guidelines during the meeting, but the Chinese side will restate that it opposes any move that will shake regional stability," Wu said. Wu said he believes the S&ED agenda will be set during Kerry's visit. Results from the meeting will pave the way for Xi's planned US visit in September. The S&ED, first announced by US President Barack Obama and then-Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2009, is a high-level dialogue for the two countries to discuss a wide range of regional and global strategic and economic issues. The first meeting was held in Washington in July 2009. The seventh round of the S&ED will also take place in Washington this June. The meeting will be headed by Kerry, US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang. Meantime, the sixth annual US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchanges (CPE) will also be held in late June in Washington and will be chaired by Kerry and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong. The CPE is a high-level annual forum for government and private-sector representatives from both countries to discuss ways of strengthening people-to-people ties between the US and China in the fields of education, culture, health, science and technology, sports, and women's issues. Zha Xiaogang, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said he believes the S&ED remains an essential platform for regular communications in the face of conflicts and disagreements between the world's two biggest economies, especially on how the US can adjust to China's recent rise as a superpower. The two experts said other thorny issues including the East and South China Sea territorial disputes, North Korea's nuclear program, climate change, cyber security, and the renminbi's inclusion in the International Monetary Fund's basket of the Special Drawing Rights may also be discussed at the S&ED. China has repeatedly said that continued US interference in the South China Sea would threaten the trend of regional peace and stability. Kerry is also scheduled to visit Seoul on May 17 for talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. ^ top ^

China wary of Japan military bills' effect on regional security (Global Times)
China has urged Japan to respect Asian security concerns and not to threaten China's sovereignty, after Japan's ruling coalition gave formal approval to bills that will expand the scope of operations by its self-defense forces. Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito Party of Japan held consultations on the new security defense law on Monday. "We call on the Japanese side to respect its neighbors' security concerns, to take prudent action and not to harm China's sovereignty and security interests," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, after Monday's green light set the stage for Cabinet approval and submission of the bills to parliament. Hua said China will continue to closely follow moves by the Japanese side and will take action to safeguard national security, regional peace and stability. After reviewing and agreeing on a series of bills including an amendment to the law in response to armed attacks, which approves the right to collective self-defense, the two parties would submit the bills to the parliament on Friday. ^ top ^

China, Russia strengthen anti-graft efforts (Global Times)
Leaders of China and Russia issued a joint statement in Moscow on a strategic cooperation on anti-corruption efforts, according to the Chinese discipline inspection authority Tuesday. The joint statement was signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 8, before Russia's military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) will meet with the Russian anti-corruption authority and will set up an anti-corruption mechanism to further promote China's anti-corruption campaign, while the cooperation will help to hunt down fugitive Chinese officials and strengthen the investigation, according to the statement. The setting up of an exchange and cooperation mechanism among the CPC Central Committee, CCDI and the Russian President's Office reflects high mutual trust between the two countries, the statement wrote. This is the first time China has included anti-corruption cooperation in a joint statement with other countries since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, according to the CCDI. "The fact that both leaders stressed anti-corruption cooperation in the document shows the two leaders' commitment to tackling corruption-related issues and their mutual trust," a spokesman of the CCDI's international cooperation bureau said, according to the CCDI website. He added anti-corruption authorities of both countries have been in close touch since the Chinese Ministry of Supervision signed a cooperation memorandum with the Russian Inspectorate in 1999. The spokesman pointed out that the joint statement shows that the two countries have brought anti-corruption cooperation to the national level and see it as an important part of diplomacy work of two countries, and is crucial to maintaining a high standard of and stable development of China-Russia strategic cooperation partnership. China launched a "Sky Net" campaign earlier this year to arrest corrupt officials who have fled abroad, following the Fox Hunt 2014, during which 680 fugitives suspected of economic crimes were repatriated to China from July to December 2014. ^ top ^

Xi's 3-nation trip highlights China's resolve to safeguard world peace (China Daily)
Chinese President Xi Jinping's six-day trip, which brought him to Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, has achieved substantial results, and has opened a new chapter for the Chinese diplomacy, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters upon the conclusion of the tour. Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan returned to Beijing on Tuesday night after visits to Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus His Kazakhstan trip is at the invitation of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. At the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Xi visited Russia from Friday to Sunday and attended the ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow. Xi also paid a state visit to Belarus from Sunday to Tuesday as guest of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. In the span of six days, the president held talks with his counterparts of the three nations, and attended more than 50 bilateral or multilateral events, met with people from all walks of life including political leaders and WWII veterans, promoting China's notion of promoting peace, development and win-win cooperation. Xi's trip to the three Eurasian countries mainly has two themes: to attend commemorative activities for the victory of World War II (WWII) and to further promote political trust and pragmatic cooperation between China and the three countries. ^ top ^

Xi's Eurasia trip boosts Belt and Road (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping's Eurasia trip, which concludes on Tuesday, has injected fresh vitality into the Belt and Road initiative, in addition to strengthening partnerships. The plan, which refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, international trade and infrastructure projects proposed by China in 2013, has been high on Xi's agenda in this trip. In his visit to Belarus, the first by a Chinese president in 14 years, the two sides agreed to further cooperation, particularly concerning their largest cooperative project, the building of an industrial park near Minsk. The industrial park, covering 91.5 square km, will focus on developing electronics, biomedicine, chemistry and other industries. China and Belarus have agreed to establish the park as a model for the Silk Road Economic Belt, which connects Asia with Europe. With trade between the two countries nearing 1.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, an annual expansion of 27.3 percent, the project should bear real fruit rather than just being window dressing for the initiative. The Belt and Road also made headway in Russia. Xi agreed with Russian leaders to integrate the Silk Road Economic Belt with Russia's vision of a trade and infrastructure network across Eurasia. China and Russia also signed a series of cooperation deals in areas including energy, transportation, space, finance and media exchanges. Xi's visit to Kazakhstan, his second to the Central Asian country since he took office in March 2013, is significant because the Silk Road Economic Belt proposal was first raised in the central Asia nation by Xi. And the support from the central Asian country for the initiative during Xi's latest trip will give a further boost to bilateral cooperation as the two sides strive to increase the volume of their trade from 22.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2014 to 40 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. All these responsive signals from the three countries prove the popularity of the Belt and Road initiative. The three nations, with enormous landmasses and a combined population of about 170 million have obvious significance to this infrastructure network, so the recent meetings bring great cause for confidence. As bilateral trade figures show, the Belt and Road is not wishful thinking by China. It is a blueprint for common development and will benefit people in China and the other countries involved. Trade between China and Belt and Road countries reached 236 billion U.S. dollars and their mutual investment totaled more than 2.5 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2015. These numbers will almost certainly rise as the potential of cooperation is unleashed. ^ top ^

Nepalese hail tireless efforts of China's rescue team during quake disaster (China Daily)
The Nepalese people have shown their gratitude to China and the Chinese International Search and Rescue Team (CISAR) members for their stalwart deeds in Nepal during the country's time of dire need in the post-earthquake days. A large number of Nepalese people expressed their thanks and appreciation to China for the great effort and contribution made and offered from the Chinese side to provide rescue and relief services to those effected by the devastating earthquake. The 62-member CISAR team has returned safely home from Nepal after working tirelessly in dangerous conditions for the two weeks, with their efforts leaving a lasting impression on the locals they served, helped and, ultimately, saved. Govinda Bhandari, 39, a local resident of Manamaiju, Kathmandu, one of the worst quake affected areas, describes China's rescue efforts with nothing but praise. "The Chinese have won the hearts and minds of the Nepalese by showing a great contribution in a time of unimaginable disaster time," Bhandari said. "The Chinese team will remain in our hearts forever." Bhandari, a local entrepreneur, who saw the work of the CISAR team from up close, was particularly impressed about the team's honest dedication to their work and tireless efforts. "Nepal and other countries could learn a lot from China's example here," he said. ^ top ^

Chinese military helicopters evacuate 108 people from Nepal's quake-stricken areas in one day (Xinhua)
Three Chinese military helicopters on Wednesday evacuated 108 people from several areas in Nepal, a day after a fresh 7.5-magnitude earthquake that claimed at least 65 lives and injured over 1,900 people, officials said. On the request of Nepal, China sent a fleet of helicopters from an army aviation brigade of the Chengdu Military Region of the People's Liberation Army to Nepal. The fleet, which has been commuting between China's Tibet Autonomous Region and the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu since May 6, is responsible for delivering relief supplies and evacuating stranded personnel from the Himalayan country's quake-stricken areas near the border between the two neighbor countries, said Yang Lei, commander of the army aviation brigade. Prior to Tuesday's powerful quake, the Chinese helicopter fleet was primarily responsible for relief supplies delivery, while after the quake, evacuating personnel -- both victims and aid workers, became another primary task. Dindu Tamang, 43, a lodge owner in Langtang, a northern Nepalese village close to the border, had been stranded in his village for 14 days after the 7.9-magnitude quake that struck on April 25, until Wednesday afternoon, when he, together with 14 fellow villagers, were airlifted to Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport. "We have been trapped since the first earthquake and it has been 14 days...We have no any trials to walk down and all because the old village is completely covered with the avalanches and snow storms," Tamang told Xinhua. "As our village Langtang is very close to the Chinese border, that's why we hope the Chinese government can support our old village Langtang and rebuild it as before. So we really hope the great support from your country because your country is supporting our country since very long...We are so grateful to the Chinese government, to the people and especially to the pilots and all. Even though the weather is bad, they came and saved our lives," said Tamang. Stanley Mayer, an aid worker of the Canadian Red Cross was providing assistance near Kodari, a border crossing from Nepal to China, when the 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck. "We were attending two patients and were very busy when a large landslide after the earthquake occured. A very large dust storm was very suffocating. So we got all the patients and all people that were around our unit into our tents and closed the window to protect them from the dust. We waited there for a while and there was numbers of aftershocks," Mayer, evacuated by another Chinese military helicopter, recalled. "I am not a geologist but it looks like the size of the mountains are very unstable and if there is any other larger aftershock, they could come down and they could take up the whole area over there, so its very precarious," said Mayer. Talking about the Chinese military helicopter and its crew that evacuated them to Kathmandu, Mayer said: "They are very professional...We were glad to see them." Before his helicopter evacuation, Nima Dorhe Sherpa, an aid worker from a local monastery, had been trapped in a remote area for one night. "They are really helpful...they were waving their hands towards us and very humble. I felt it and like those things. I feel really great towards Chinese military and Chinese government. Thank you!" Sherpa told Xinhua. The Chinese military helicopter fleet's mission in Nepal continues. "Since May 6, we've had over 100 sorties and delivered a total of over 50 tons of relief supplies to those areas. To ensure the quality of the supplies, instead of airdropping, we'd rather choose to land and deliver, even as local weather was not quite satisfactory," Yang told Xinhua. ^ top ^

Belt and Road Initiative gathers steam (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping's Eurasia visit solidified deals and secured support for China's Belt and Road Initiative, which concluded on Tuesday. The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road initiative was high on Xi's agenda throughout this trip. An editorial in the "People's Daily", the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, said the trip was a milestone in the initiative. President Xi first floated the idea of an economic corridor during a visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013. He proposed an economic belt of improved infrastructure along the main strands of what, centuries ago, was the network of land routes used by silk traders and others to carry merchandise to and from China through Central Asia and Russia to northern Europe. A month later, in Indonesia, he proposed a maritime route that would stretch from south China to Southeast Asia, and even to Africa. In the past few months, the initiative has been given a real push. China has earmarked 40 billion U.S. dollars for a Silk Road Fund to support infrastructure projects along both routes. The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is on the horizon, with 57 countries having joined as founding members. Xi's trip to Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, underlined China's efforts to integrate the initiative with local development strategies, and to promote mutually-beneficial projects, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. Nearly 90 cooperation deal were signed during Xi's visit, in areas including trade, energy, space, finance, investment and infrastructure. Concrete projects indicated the ambitious blueprint had obtained progressive implementation, said Wu Hongwei, a researcher with the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In addition, strategy coordination arrangements were also crucial to push forward the Belt and Road Initiative, analysts said. Yang Shu, head of the Institute for Central Asia Studies at Lanzhou University, said such coordination helped secure common ground between the Belt and Road Initiative and Russia-proposed development plans. Yang's comment came in response to media reports about concerns of how the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative would affect the development of the Russia-proposed Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Current member countries include Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. According to arrangements, the Silk Road Economic Belt will integrate with the EEU, as well as other projects including Kazakhstan's new economic strategy the Bright Road and domestic development plans in Belarus. The Belt and Road Initiative "will be a real chorus comprising all countries along the routes, not a China solo," Xi said in March at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan Province. Trade between China and nations along the Belt and Road reached 1.12 trillion U.S. dollars in 2014. Xi has said he hoped this will surpass 2.5 trillion dollars in a decade. ^ top ^

China, Afghanistan pledges strengthen cooperation for a secure trading environment (Xinhua)
China will strengthen security cooperation with Afghanistan and take measures to protect personnel and organizations in each other's country, China's Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun said Wednesday. This will help create a secure and sound environment for building the Silk Road Economic Belt and promoting regional prosperity and stability, Guo said when meeting with Afghanistan Interior Minister Olomi Noorol Haq. Guo's meeting with Olomi is the first annual meeting between China's Public Security Ministry and Afghanistan's Interior Ministry. The two countries' law-enforcement departments maintain close ties, Guo said, hoping that the two sides will continue to deepen cooperation in such areas as combating terrorism, drug control, border management, and capacity building of law-enforcement. Afghanistan will strengthen security and law-enforcement cooperation with China so as to ensure the security of trade and personnel exchanges between the countries, Olomi said. ^ top ^

China "seriously concerned" about U.S. military move in South China Sea (Xinhua)
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday voiced "serious concern" toward a U.S. official's remarks on the Pentagon's plan to send military aircraft and ships to the South China Sea. Spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a routine press briefing that the U.S. side should clarify relevant remarks. According to a Reuters report, a U.S. official said on Tuesday the Pentagon is considering sending U.S. military aircraft and ships to "assert freedom of navigation" around Chinese-made artificial islands in the South China Sea. China has always advocated freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, Hua said. "But freedom of navigation does not give one country's military aircraft and ships free access to another country's territorial waters and airspace." China will resolutely safeguard its territorial sovereignty, she said, urging the U.S. side not to take any risks or make any provocations so as to maintain regional peace and stability. ^ top ^

Beijing concerned by Pentagon plan (China Daily)
Beijing expressed "serious concern" on Wednesday over a reported Pentagon plan to send military ships and aircraft into areas near South China Sea reefs and demanded that Washington issue an immediate clarification. "We request the parties concerned to speak and act in a cautious manner, not to take any risky or provocative actions, and to maintain regional peace and stability," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news conference in Beijing. On Monday, a Chinese frigate monitored the activities of a US combat ship in waters near Nanwei Island in the South China Sea. Hua said China will continue its surveillance of the waters and airspace to ensure territorial sovereignty and safety. According to a Wall Street Journal report, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter asked his staff to look at options that include flying navy surveillance aircraft over South China Sea islands and positioning ships as close as 12 nautical miles from Chinese reefs. Twelve nautical miles is the United Nations' standard for the breadth of a country's territorial sea, measured from specific baselines. "We are considering how to demonstrate freedom of navigation in an area that is critical to world trade," a US official was quoted by Reuters as saying. China has always upheld freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, Hua said, but that doesn't mean any foreign military ship or plane can enter the territorial waters or airspace of another country at will. US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to visit China this weekend to prepare for key talks later this year, including the annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. The South China Sea could be a topic of his discussion with senior Chinese leaders. Chen Qinghong, a Southeast Asian studies researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that Washington, which is worried about China's construction work on islands in the South China Sea, is trying to stir up trouble in the area. "Once China does anything in response, the US might use it as an excuse to justify its challenge to China's territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea," Chen said. Moreover, he said, freedom of navigation should not be asserted in such a way. "It is quite possible for foreign military ships to conduct secret investigations near the islands, which could pose a risk for other countries," he said. ^ top ^

Modi eyes $10 billion in deals in first state visit to China (Global Times)
Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Shaanxi Province's capital city Xi'an on Thursday in Modi's first official visit to China to bolster economic and cultural ties. The two countries are likely to sign deals worth $10 billion during Modi's first visit as prime minister that will also take him to Beijing and Shanghai as he attempts to attract investments for Indian manufacturing and infrastructure. Jiang Jingkui, director of the Department of South Asian Languages at Peking University, told the Global Times that it is a rare practice for a Chinese leader to receive a foreign leader outside the capital city Beijing. Xi'an bears a special significance as it is also the capital city of Xi's home province. "It has been less than a year since Xi's maiden visit to India in September, when he went to Modi's hometown in Gujarat. This makes Xi's invitation to Modi to visit Xi'an a reciprocal gesture of goodwill," Jiang added. Xi'an is also known for its cultural and historical significance as the confluence for ancient China and India exchanges. Xuanzang, the most famous Chinese Buddhist monk, is known for his 17-year journey to India to study Buddhism. During his trip, Xuanzang obtained some 657 Sanskrit texts, which he later brought back to China and translated into Chinese while living at the Ci'en Temple in Xi'an to help facilitate the spread of Buddhism. Modi's visit comes amid a rising wave of Western media portrayal that positions the two countries as geographical rivals, overshadowed by longstanding border disputes. Days before Modi flies to China, the Indian government summoned the Chinese envoy in Delhi to object to China's $46 billion investment in an economic corridor linking China's west to the Arabian Sea through Kashmir, a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, reported NDTV, an Indian news channel. Observers, however, believe the two countries' differences can be overcome by the increasing economic exchanges which have drawn the two emerging Asian economies closer than ever. India recently signed up as a founding member of the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. In a recent interview with Time magazine, Modi said that the India-China border has been largely peaceful for nearly three decades, and that both countries are showing great maturity and a commitment to economic cooperation. Modi also wrote on his recently-registered Weibo account that the two biggest nations in the region should unite to unleash the vast potential of development and avoid wars. "In economic, technological and cultural fields the exchanges are still small compared to the potential they present. In the economic field, trade and investment are likely to grow. Both sides may relax current visa restrictions," Manoranjan Mohanty, former chairperson of the Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies, told the Global Times. China is India's biggest trading partner with bilateral trade of $70 billion, but India›s trade deficit with China rose to $37.8 billion last year, a gap Modi is expected to bridge during his visit by tapping into the potential of the Chinese market. To bridge the trade deficit, Mohanty said China can substantially increase its investments in India, while at the same time give access to Indian pharmaceutical products, IT and financial services to the Chinese market. Xi is expected to hold a summit and dinner banquet with Modi in Xi'an on Thursday. Modi will then travel to Beijing and meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before signing the trade deals. He will spend his last day in Shanghai to meet with Chinese business leaders and attend the China-India Business Forum. ^ top ^

Hometown diplomacy highlights Modi's Xi'an tour (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Xi'an, capital city of Shaanxi Province and Xi's hometown, on Thursday afternoon. "This is the first time I have treated a foreign leader in my hometown and I hope you have a happy stay," Xi said at the start of the meeting. Xi welcomed Modi and thanked him for the warm reception he received on his India visit in September, when the Indian PM accompanied him to visit his home state of Gujarat. "That left me with a deep and good impression," Xi said. In September, Xi and Modi "reached an important consensus on promoting the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation and forging a closer partnership of development," according to the president. Both sides have maintained frequent high-level contact and engagement, promoted cooperation in priority areas including construction of railways and industrial parks, strengthened exchanges, controlled border areas, Xi said. China-India relations are experiencing stable development and facing broad prospects, he added, predicting that Modi's visit will strengthen the partnership. Xi called on the two countries to look at their ties from a long-term perspective, strengthen coordination on global and regional affairs, and "steer the international order to develop in a fairer direction". The two countries could strengthen communication on the Belt and Road Initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and Modi's "Act East" policy, find areas of common interest, and hone a mode of cooperation with reciprocal benefit, Xi said. He said the two countries should seek common ground in their respective development strategies to jointly promote the region's economic integration and contribute to global economic growth. He called for more bilateral cooperation in areas including railways, industrial parks, urbanization and training, pledging to encourage Chinese companies to invest in India. The president also expressed hope that the two countries can trust each other more and control their disputes to avoid weakening bilateral ties. Xi also called on the two countries to strengthen exchanges between media, think tanks and young people to promote mutual understanding. Calling China a great neighbor, Modi said India was ready to communicate and cooperate more closely with China, increase cultural exchanges and properly handle disputes. He also voiced hope for more bilateral trade and closer cooperation with China within the AIIB. He said he believed the AIIB will play an important role in regional economic and social development, and that India welcomes China to increase investment. With regard to South Asia, Xi stressed that China has close relationships in the area and supports the region to maintain friendly ties. China is ready to strengthen reciprocal cooperation with all South Asian nations and promote the region's peace, stability and prosperity, he said. Modi echoed Xi, saying India attaches high importance to communication in South Asia. India is ready to cooperate with China concerning the Belt and Road Initiative to promote the region's development and prosperity, he said. After their meeting, Xi accompanied Modi to the Da Ci'en Temple and the Wild Goose Pagoda, where the famous Chinese Buddhist monk Xuan Zang presided over translation of Buddhist scriptures and expounded Buddhist doctrines in the Tang Dynasty. The Da Ci'en Temple has witnessed a long history of friendly exchanges between China and India, said Xi, vowing to push forward the friendly ties between the two countries. Modi said he was deeply impressed by the Xi'an visit and presented saplings of Bodhi tree to the temple. Xi said the Bodhi trees presented by ex-Indian Prime Minister Javaharlal Nehru in 1954 continue to thrive today and have become a telling symbol of the friendship between the two peoples. After the visit, Modi was accorded traditional Tang Dynasty welcome at the Xi'an city wall and Xi welcomed him at the watchtower of the wall. The two leaders also enjoyed a brilliant art performance staged by Chinese artists. This three-day tour is Modi's first China visit. Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang will also meet him in Beijing on Friday. ^ top ^

Cheers for Modi reflect closer links (China Daily)
Visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoyed a festive day in Xi'an on Thursday, with President Xi Jinping accompanying him as people cheered the two leaders wherever they went. "This is the first time I have received a foreign leader in my hometown," the president told Modi at the start of their meeting. It is also very rare for China's top leaders to accompany foreign guests outside the capital. "I hope you have a great time here," Xi said. The president's family comes from Shaanxi province, and during Xi's visit to India in September, Modi took the Chinese president to his home state of Gujarat. Modi visited the Terracotta Warriors and two famous temples in the province's capital that played significant roles in the spread of Buddhism from India to China. The city held a ceremony for Modi based on the royal welcoming events of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), and Xi then hosted a banquet for him in a building on the ancient city wall. The BBC noted that the day's events were very different from the way China normally receives foreign leaders. "The Terracotta Army is a heritage of the world. It is a testimony to China's civilizational achievements," Modi wrote in the visitors book at the site, adding that he was "deeply impressed" by the way the warriors had been preserved. As Modi was being driven along a busy street, he saw crowds of people who were hoping to see him. He asked the driver to stop and left the car to greet them and shake hands, and they responded by waving and calling out his name. "I know him, he is the Indian prime minister," said a passer-by surnamed Wang, who is in his 60s. "I have never seen such a scene." The friendly welcome reflected the improving relationship between the countries, once marred by border disputes, a lack of trust and other issues. ^ top ^

China vows commitment to new Iran nuclear talks (Xinhua)
China will continue playing a constructive role in nuclear talks with Iran, as the latest international negotiations on finalizing an accord on the matter take place in Vienna, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson vowed on Thursday. Cheng Jingye, China's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, will attend the negotiations, Hua Chunying announced at a regular news briefing. Iran and the P5+1 -- China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States, plus Germany -- have held several rounds of talks on a comprehensive nuclear accord since 2008. The talks resumed in Vienna on Thursday between the EU and Iran, and the P5+1 is set to join the talks on Friday. The talks have already entered a stage of negotiating on the text, according to Hua. She called on all the parties involved to seize the opportunity, preserve political composure and accommodate each other's concerns so that the talks can achieve substantial progress. China will continue to participate in the talks and work with the other parties to facilitate a fair, balanced and mutually beneficial accord, the spokesperson said. Iran's nuclear program has long been a subject of concern for Western powers, who believe it to be geared towards developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists it has an inalienable right to develop its civilian atomic plan. ^ top ^

China urges Japan to speed up chemical weapons destruction (Xinhua)
China on Thursday urged Japan to speed up the destruction of abandoned chemical weapons (ACWs) in China as a precondition for ensuring personnel and environmental safety. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks when asked to comment on the delays in the disposal of Japanese ACWs in China at a routine press briefing. Hua said the JACWs are one of the grave crimes committed by the Japanese militarists during Japan's war of aggression against China. The JACWs are still threatening and jeopardizing the safety of Chinese people's life, property and the ecological environment, even though the war ended 70 years ago, said Hua. The Chinese government has been pressing Japan to destroy the JACWs as soon as possible in accordance with the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention(CWC) and the Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) between China and Japan on the Destruction of ACWs in China. Some progress has been made in the disposal of the JACWs through joint efforts of the two countries, she said. With assistance from China, Japan has already excavated and recovered about 50,000 ACWs in China and destroyed 37,825 of them in Nanjing, Shijiazhuang and Harbaling area of China's Jilin Province, said Hua. However, the destruction process is far lagging behind the time limit set by the two sides, she said, adding China has repeatedly voiced concern and discontent over the delays. Hua reaffirmed that according to the provisions of the CWC and the MoU on the destruction of ACWs signed by China and Japan in 1999, Japan should offer all necessary funds, technology, expertise, facilities and China will provide assistance. She urged Japan to fulfill its obligations and allocate more manpower and resources to the destruction work, so as to eliminate the threats and hazards to both the safety of local people and the ecological environment. Japan abandoned at least 2 million tonnes of chemical weapons at 40 sites in 15 Chinese provinces at the end of World War II, most of them in the three northeast provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning. ^ top ^

Chinese premier congratulates Cameron on re-election (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday congratulated British Prime Minister David Cameron on his re-election and vowed to enhance cooperation with Britain. In a phone conversation, Li said that China-Britain relations have witnessed new progress in recent years and that he and Cameron have maintained good communication and cooperation through meetings, phone calls and correspondence. The Chinese government, Li added, attaches great importance to the relations with Britain, and is willing to work with the new government led by Cameron to inject new impetus to bilateral ties and tackle the challenges presented by the global economic downturn. He pledged to work with Cameron to strengthen political mutual trust, boost exchanges and dialogue, and carry forward practical cooperation in trade and investment, finance and other fields. Li invited Cameron to pay an official visit to China this year and attend the annual meeting between the premiers of the two countries. Cameron thanked Li for his congratulations and invitation and said that Britain-China relations are in a golden era of development. He said he treasures his close working relationships with Chinese leaders and is willing to enhance communication and cooperation with China to further advance bilateral ties in his new term of office. Cameron said he looks forward to his visit to China and the annual meeting with the Chinese premier, and expressed the hope that the two countries will deepen practical cooperation in various fields and push forward the free trade negotiations between China and Europe. Cameron's Conservative Party won general elections on May 7, giving him a second term as British prime minister. ^ top ^

Investment, travel to boost China and India ties (Xinhua)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will looking to attract Chinese investment in manufacturing and infrastructure during his three-day trip to China that started today (Thursday) in Xi'an. Modi visited many countries last year, and kept touting the government's new policy - manufacturing development. The trip to China may still be Modi's bid to push for "Made in India." "Since China has been graduating from low technology to medium technology, and China has become one of the manufacturing centers in the world. So I think the visit is quite obvious from this point of view, to make the 'Made in India' policy successful," said Srikanth Kondapali, Cinese Studies Professor in Jawaharlal Nehru University. Rebooting the Indian economy was Modi's promise during the election campaign. Many leaders from local governments have joined the delegation to China in a bid to bring more Chinese investment to India. "It is likely that during Prime Minister Modi's visit, we would probably see 10 billion more US dollars investment coming from China, in addition to the 20 billion dollars announced last September," said Srikanth Kondapali. The US $20 billion came from deals signed last year during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India. Analysts say China and India may reach US $100 billion in trade this year. Cultural exchanges may also get a boost during Modi's visit because India may simplify its travel document application and Chinese citizens could be granted visas on arrival. ^ top ^

Beijing cautions Tokyo over new security bill (Global Times)
China said on Thursday Japan should learn from history and maintain peaceful development in Asia, after Japan's ruling party passed a new security bill. "Changes to Japan's security policies are closely followed by its Asian neighbors and the international community given some historical reasons. We hope that Japan would learn lessons from history, strictly follow a path of peaceful development, and do things positively and conducive to peace, stability and development of Asia," Hua Chunying, spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Thursday. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet approved a set of bills Thursday afternoon which revised the country's national security legislation, expanding the scope of the Self-Defense Forces' (SDF) activities overseas and areas in which they can operate. The revised law would remove the geographical constraint and allow the SDF to render rear-guard support not only to US forces but also to other foreign militaries responding to "situations that gravely affect the peace and security" of Japan. Another proposed reform would allow Japan to exercise, on a limited scale, the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of a friendly nation under attack. More than 30,000 people including scholars protested against the bills Tuesday and criticized the government for ignoring voices in the Diet and its citizens, according to A survey by public broadcaster NHK aired this week showed that 50 percent did not approve of Japan's expanded military role in the new US-Japan defense guidelines. The Chinese government has also repeatedly expressed its position and concerns to the Japanese side on its right to collective self-defense, calling on Japan to respect the legitimate security concerns of its Asian neighbors and take prudent actions so as not to impair the sovereignty and security. ^ top ^

Expats like Beijing (Global Times)
Over 60 percent of foreigners living in Beijing are fond of the city, with a pleasant atmosphere, ample job opportunities and friendly residents being the main attractions, according to a survey released on Thursday. The survey was conducted by the China Communist Youth League Beijing Committee in 2014, covering 900 foreign nationals aged between 18 and 35 who have lived in Beijing for over six months, the China Youth Daily reported on Thursday. The respondents hail from 86 countries and regions, with 18.6 percent being South Koreans, 12 percent Americans, 6.4 percent Japanese, and some 6 percent Canadians. Those four countries constitute the biggest sources of foreign citizens in China. The survey showed that 61.7 percent of the foreigners like or are very keen on Beijing. Some 34 percent, 21 percent and 20 percent of them care for the metropolis due to the pleasant cultural atmosphere, ample job opportunities and friendly residents, respectively. It also showed that less than 33 percent of the foreign citizens polled have been in Beijing less than a year, 10 percent for eight years or more, and another 20 percent has stayed for nine years or more. Beijing now has some 90,000 foreign residents. Nearly 79 percent of the people surveyed said they have been able to integrate themselves into life in Beijing with an average level of proficiency in Chinese, while 61 percent said they get along with their Chinese neighbors and classmates. "But I'm still dissatisfied with the air pollution and bureaucracy," an anonymous British man, who has lived in Beijing for two years, told the Global Times. The American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing found some 48 percent of the 365 foreign companies it surveyed doing business in China's northern cities and pointed out that concerns over air quality were turning senior executives away, Reuters reported in March 2014. A majority of those surveyed by the Communist Youth League expressed their confidence in China's development, speaking highly of its new diplomatic policies, anti-corruption drive and environmental governance. The survey also found that many foreigners come to China to familiarize themselves with Chinese culture. About 80 percent evinced an intense interest in the culture, including food, folk customs and festivals. However, what stimulated their interest varies between countries. Young people from the Europe and the US say they think Chinese culture is something fresh and new. In contrast, people from other Asian countries influenced by Confucianism, such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore, came to China because of shared values and culture. Many South Koreans came to China to learn traditional Chinese medicine, while a few Japanese study ancient Chinese and philosophy. The survey also showed that about 70 percent of the respondents first learned about China via the Internet, television and magazines, instead of through direct communication with Chinese people. However, 87 percent said they want to make more Chinese friends. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Wang Qishan highlights Party discipline in anti-corruption effort (Xinhua)
As the countercorruption campaign shifts up a gear, anti-graft chief Wang Qishan vowed to "awaken the awareness of discipline and rules among Party members". Wang, head of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), made the remarks during an inspection trip to coastal Zhejiang Province that ended on Sunday. Wang also pledged to enhance institutional innovation and let discipline and rules take the lead in the anti-graft campaign. Recalling the beginning of China's fight against foreign aggression in 1840, the founding of the CPC in 1921 and the founding of the nation in 1949, Wang said the CPC must continue to lead the great renewal of the nation, adding that the strict governing of the Party was a precondition of ensuring the success of socialism with Chinese characteristics. He said Party discipline was stricter than the law. "To comprehensively strictly govern the Party, we must make discipline a ruler and the bottom line that can not be crossed by Party members." Wang said that revisions to Party regulations on disciplinary penalties should separate Party rules from legal provisions while comprehensively advancing rule of law. Wang also urged graft-busters to take the lead and weed out corrupt officials "like a woodpecker". During his trip, he also went to the site where the CPC convened its first national congress, visited local enterprises and talked with Party cadres and common people. ^ top ^

China repatriates No 2 'Sky Net' fugitive official who fled to Singapore after alleged 94m yuan fraud (SCMP)
Li Huabo, who fled to Singapore in 2011 after alleged fraud involving 94 million yuan, later jailed in city state for receiving stolen funds: China's campaign targeting the 100 "most wanted" corrupt officials that have fled abroad has led to the repatriation of the No 2 fugitive on the list, state media reported yesterday. Li Huabo, former section director of the finance bureau in Poyang county, in Jiangxi province, fled to Singapore in January 2011, after being accused of fraud involving 94 million yuan (HK$119 million). He was returned to China yesterday after serving a 15-month jail sentence in Singapore. The detention of Li is a major coup for Beijing's "Sky Net" anti-graft operation. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection published a detailed list on April 22 of 100 fugitives it wants to extradite back to China. These fugitives are subject to Interpol red notices, which appeal for the location and arrest of each wanted person and ask member states to extradite them. The notices include a photo of each fugitive, and details about their gender, former employment, passport details, date of fleeing, nations where they are thought to have gone, and their alleged crimes. In the hunt for Li, Xinhua said Beijing officials paid eight visits to Singapore to negotiate his arrest and the retrieval of fund. It was reported that China had requested assistance from Singapore's justice system to provide evidence leading to Li's assets in Singapore being frozen. He was arrested, prosecuted and jailed for 15 months in Singapore after being convicted of receiving stolen funds. Li had previously told a Singaporean court in 2013 that his personal wealth, including the S$1.5 million (HK$8.7 million) he used to obtain permanent Singaporean residency and a S$1.3 million three-bedroom apartment he bought in the city state had been earned through his legitimate business dealings, rather than by siphoning off public funds. He had previously denied any embezzlement. A Singapore prosecutor claimed Li had set up a shell company in 2006 and used bogus government seals and fake invoices in order to steal millions of yuan. He was arrested in March 2011 by Singapore police after a tip-off and a request from Beijing via Interpol. No extradition treaty exists between Singapore and China. Li's had been paid 3,000 yuan a month as a county finance bureau official, but he also traded in coal, cotton and fertiliser, ran a tourism agency that organised trips to Macau, and owned a 42 per cent stake in an oil refinery. He was alleged to have embezzled 94 million - equal to a quarter of the struggling county's annual revenue. But Li had said he had earned about 100 million yuan over three years from his refinery investment. Officials in Poyang set up a task force in February 2011 after Li had allegedly phoned a colleague, and confessed to stealing from the government. However, Li said he had never made any such call. ^ top ^

China ex-security tsar Zhou Yongkang's trial delayed amid speculation he withdrew confession (SCMP)
The trial date for China's former security tsar Zhou Yongkang has been postponed amid a push by the authorities to build a stronger case against him. Sources confirmed the trial was originally set for late April, but that this had now been pushed back. The reason for the delay is not known, but there is speculation Zhou may have retracted his confession. The long-awaited official announcement that Zhou would face trial came at the beginning of last month. He will be tried by a court in Tianjin, about 120km from Beijing, on charges of taking bribes, abuse of power and intentionally leaking state secrets. The maximum punishment for bribery is death; the state-secret and abuse of power charges each carry up to seven years in jail. Zhou, who was detained in mid-2013, is undergoing so-called "shuanggui", an internal disciplinary procedure for Communist Party members, particularly those suspected of graft. A source confirmed that his two sons - Zhou Bin and Zhou Han - had also been detained. Both have chosen their own lawyers with the authorities' approval, and at least one has been allowed to meet his lawyer in Hubei. It is common for confessions that officials make during investigation to be used as evidence in court. One topic of speculation concerns whether Zhou has retracted any confessions he might have made during this period. "Conventionally, cases involving senior officials usually go according to plan, as almost all have confessed to the charges prior to trial," said a lawyer with experience in such cases. "Taking back confessions in court wouldn't help much." If Zhou felt the court was likely to hand him the death sentence, he might have decided to retract his statements so as to implicate other officials who might otherwise have gone free, said Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan. "He may see it as: 'If I am going to die, you won't live a good life either'," he said. Another source of speculation surrounds Zhou's defence and whether he will represent himself. As the former head of the mainland's legal and security apparatus, he has deep insight into the criminal trial system. If the proceedings are open, mounting his own defence gives him a powerful platform. In April, authorities reportedly choose Gu Yongzhong, a legal professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, to be Zhou's lawyer. Gu has refused to confirm this, and his acquaintances have refused to discuss the matter. So far, at least a dozen of Zhou's top aides have been targeted in the investigation, but only two have been tried. Jiang Jiemin, former China National Petroleum Corporation chief, admitted in a Hubei court last month to taking bribes, possessing assets from unidentified sources and abusing his position. His sentencing date has not been announced. Li Chuncheng, former deputy provincial party chief of Sichuan - one of Zhou's power bases - pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and abusing his power less than two weeks later. Prosecutors said that "under Zhou's suggestions, [Li] has violated related rules to help others gain illicit interests". It was the first time Zhou's name had appeared in court documents released to the public. He was referred to indirectly in the corruption trial of Bo Xilai, the former party chief of Chongqing, in 2013. Bo testified he had received orders from the party's top law and order commission headed by Zhou in early 2012 on how to cover up the defection of his right-hand man, Wang Lijun. Bo was jailed for life. Zhou is the first member of the supreme Politburo Standing Committee to be criminally charged, and whether the proceedings are open or not, the event will invite comparisons with the mainland's most famous trial - that of the "Gang of Four" member Jiang Qing. Jiang, the wife of late leader Mao Zedong, was put on trial in the 1980s for crimes including counter-revolution. She refused to confess, and was sentenced to death, later suspended. After her release from prison on medical grounds, she killed herself in 1991. As Jiang Qing's trial was televised and Bo's court proceedings were released in detailed transcripts on social media, there are growing calls for an open trial of Zhou to dispel concerns that the charges are politically motivated. But the charge of leaking state secrets may prevent the authorities from making Zhou's trial as transparent as Bo's. ^ top ^

China's leadership reshuffle 'in line with Xi's plan to promote reformists' (SCMP)
Changes among Chinese senior officials reflect move to make best use of people who are innovative and open to change, according to analysts on the mainland: Personnel changes among senior Chinese officials in the last two months are in line with President Xi Jinping's call to elevate those who promote reforms, paving the way to a leadership reshuffle ahead of next year's 19th party congress, analysts say. At least 33 senior officials at provincial and ministerial level were promoted or transferred to another post since the last annual parliamentary session in March. Almost a third of them were technocrats, academics or doctoral-degree holders. “The recent position changes among cadres must have taken into consideration the personnel layout for the 19th party congress,” said Profesor Zhu Lijia, a public policy expert at the Chinese Academy of Governance, which trains middle and senior government officials. “The changes reflect an innovation in personnel selection standards, which was to mainly choose officials who promote reforms,” Zhu said. Xi last Tuesday voiced his intention to elevate those who supported and helped accelerate reforms. “We should use cadres who want to reform, plan for reforms and are good at reforms,” Xi was quoted as saying. Zhu said most of the personnel changes over the past two months accorded with Xi's new standard. In particular, officials who used to be scholars and analysts were favoured as they were generally more innovative and open to reform. “The exchange of officials among the academic field, political circles and state-owned enterprises has been common in the 60-odd years since the founding of the state, but it was sped up quite a bit recently,” he said. “An important reason is that China is undergoing a transitional phase of reform and facing complicated developments that require competent officials of high quality.” One academic-turned-official is former Tsinghua University party chief Hu Heping, who was appointed Shaanxi province's deputy party chief last month after a stint in Zhejiang province. Hu, 52, started as an instructor at Tsinghua's hydraulic engineering department and worked his way up the ranks at the prestigious university. He left to become chief of the Zhejiang provincial party committee's organisation department in late 2013. His colleague, former Tsinghua president Chen Jining, was appointed environmental protection minister in January. Hu's Tsinghua predecessor, Chen Xi, left to join the education ministry in 2008 and became deputy chief of the central committee's organisation department in 2013. The department oversees senior officials' appointments. Chen was Xi's classmate at Tsinghua's chemical engineering department during their undergraduate days. Technocrats were also among those elevated in the recent personnel changes. Ma Xingrui, 55, former head of the China National Space Administration and the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, was appointed Shenzhen party secretary last month. His predecessor Chen Qiufa, 60, was named Liaoning province's deputy party secretary this month after two years of chairing Hunan province's consultative body. But Renmin University political scientist Zhang Ming said neither an academic nor a technology industry background mattered when it came to officials' promotions. “China's officials can come from any occupation. It's not their occupational background that matters. The key is their political achievement and whether they belong to any political faction,” Zhang said. “Former university heads taking up posts at government departments are very common. Such experience does not have any special significance.” Most of the 33 senior officials recently promoted or transferred are in their 50s. Almost two-thirds were born in the 1960s. Zhu said officials born in the '60s had become the majority at provincial and ministerial level as those born in the '50s were approaching retirement. Provincial- and ministerial-level officials retire at 65 while their deputies retire at 60.  ^ top ^

Fatal police shooting under investigation (Global Times)
A probe has been launched into the fatal police shooting of Xu Chunhe, a man who allegedly attacked police at a railway station in Heilongjiang Province on May 2, the Ministry of Public Security said Tuesday. The ministry promised to announce the results as soon as possible. A statement from the ministry said railway police authorities had sent investigators to Qing'an County, Heilongjiang. Prosecutors are also involved, it added. The statement said there are clear rules on the carrying and use of fire arms by police officers, and it will take time to confirm whether police had opened fire legally in the case. The investigation team and prosecutors have contacted witnesses and gained evidence after checking video tape related to the incident and interviewing dozens of travelers and locals in recent days, according to the statement. ^ top ^

Families refuse payout in rail station shooting (Global Times)
The mother of the man who was shot dead by local police at a railway station in Qing'an, Heilongjiang Province, has refused to accept 200,000 yuan ($32,197) in compensation offered by local authorities, the Global Times learned Monday. Xu Chunhe, 54, was shot while passing through the security checkpoint at the Qing'an railway station on May 2. He allegedly stopped other passengers from entering, then grabbed and threw his young child at the police while trying to snatch a gun before he was shot and killed by an armed officer, China News Service reported. His mother Quan Yuxun, who witnessed the entire event, said she refused to accept the authorities' offer of compensation. She also authorized lawyers to deal with the case on her behalf Monday morning. Xie Yanyi, a lawyer representing Quan, told the Global Times Monday that the compensation was offered by the Harbin public security bureau. "The local government has also helped with coordination as they want to close the case as soon as possible," he said. "Quan told us that this is not about the amount of the money. It is rather about criminal responsibility. The incident must be investigated. She wants justice, and for the government to reveal the truth," Xie said. He added that the case is now under investigation. ^ top ^

Campaign focuses on improving Internet security (China Daily)
China is planning its "biggest ever" cybersecurity education campaign in hopes of keeping the public away from online fraud and hackers, an Internet watchdog said on Tuesday. The weeklong initiative - scheduled for the first week of June - will mainly target young netizens who are heavy Internet users but have little knowledge of safety, according to the Cyberspace Administration of China, a key organizer of the event. "It will be the biggest Internet safety campaign the country has ever seen," said Yang Chunyan, deputy director of the cybersecurity bureau at the administration. The Public Security Ministry, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and eight other organizations will co-host the event. "Young people born after 1990 will be a major pillar of Chinese Internet in the future, and the strongest power to guard cybersafety." A third of the nation's 650 million netizens are younger than 30, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. Young people are frequent users of online shopping and financial services, making them more vulnerable to malicious Web attacks. Yang said the younger generation is also more likely to teach seniors in their family how to protect their privacy online, allowing the initiative to benefit more people. China's Internet vulnerabilities are starting to affect people's daily lives. More than 40 percent of Chinese netizens described the country's Internet service as "not safe", according to a CNNIC survey released earlier this year. The basic Internet infrastructure in China is an easy target for hackers, said Shen Yi, an Internet affairs professor at Fudan University. "The country should pay more attention to upgrading the anti-hacking system protecting infrastructure. It is not easy to build a 360-degree bulletproof protection in every country, but we should have done a better job," he said. The mobile Internet has become an Achilles heel for Chinese cybersociety. The number of threats targeting the less-protected sector is seeing a surge as more than 230 million people shop via smartphones, the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team and Coordination Center warned last month. Malicious apps designed to charge service fees without acknowledging users are the paramount threats, according to the center. ^ top ^

Wenchuan earthquake: Seven years on (China Daily)
Tuesday marks the seventh anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake, which hit Wenchuan in Southwest China's Sichuan province on May 12, 2008. It is heartbreaking to remember the magnitude 8 earthquake that claimed more than 80,000 lives and traumatized hundreds of thousands who survived. But at the same time it is heartwarming and inspiring to see the new towns that have sprung up in places that were flattened by the earthquake and the better quality of life the survivors now enjoy. ^ top ^

China's top advisory body studies judicial reform (Xinhua)
China's top political advisory body held a special seminar to study the reform of the country's judicial system on Tuesday. The seminar was presided over by Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Senior political advisors and legal experts made suggestions and offered opinions on the topic. Officials from the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the Political and Legal Affairs Commission of CPC Central Committee, the Supreme People's Court and other related organs introduced an overview of the judicial system reform. Yu said after the discussion that judicial reform should stick to the Party's leadership and conform to China's own situations. He urged political advisors to make contributions to judicial reform. Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, said at the seminar that the court system will solidly advance all judicial reform efforts in a bid to make the people realize the results of reform. ^ top ^

China to improve Internet speed, cut fees (Xinhua)
The State Council, China's cabinet, pledged faster broadband and lower price for Internet services on Wednesday. China will accelerate construction of a high-speed network with cheaper charges so as to improve people's livelihood, support "Internet Plus" and foster new growth impetus, according to a statement released after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. "Internet Plus", put forward by Li, means the integration of the Internet and traditional industries through online platforms and IT technology. The meeting urged telecom companies to quickly publish detailed plans for faster and cheaper broadband services and free upgrades for the contracts already signed. Optical and broadband network will be further promoted in the countryside, aiming at realizing access to broadband services for 14,000 villages by the end of this year. China will expand bandwidth to help the country connect with the world more easily and to help attract investment, the statement said. Open market, fair competition and more financial supports will help with upgrades of broadband facilities in rural areas lack of infrastructure and expand pilot broadband access business to over 100 enterprises by the year end. Stricter monitoring of broadband services and charges will protect consumer rights. Any false advertising or fraud in network flow will be tackled. ^ top ^

China makes fresh efforts to unleash economic vitality (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for more efforts to streamline administration procedures and scale back government controls to unleash economic vitality. The government will cancel more approval items, make enterprise registration easier and waive administrative charges it deems unreasonable this year, Li said at a national teleconference of China's senior and middle-level officials. The transformation of governmental functions should address people's concerns, improve government services and strengthen supervision to guarantee a transparent, orderly and just market environment, the premier said. The meeting underlined the leadership's resolution to tackle the long-standing issue of red tape, in the hope of promoting a more streamlined and efficient economy. Li stressed encouragement of start-ups and innovation as well as enhancing services in employment, financing and intellectual property, so as to attract valid investment and realize easy and fair services for all people. He also urged stronger monitoring of big data, cloud computing and "Internet Plus" put forward by Li which means the integration of the Internet and traditional industries through online platforms and IT technology. There has been some progress in simplifying government procedures and streamlining government functions in the past few years, but the premier said there was still a big gap between actual results and people's expectations. Last Wednesday, during a State Council meeting, the premier expressed his displeasure at excessive regulation and red tape, ridiculing scenarios in which citizens were asked to prove "your mother is your mother" when obtaining a government permit. Fighting red tape has become more pressing as China's growth slows, and reform measures rolled out to steer the economy away from its unsustainable model, powered by state-directed investment, to more vital growth engines such as private consumption and services. Since 2013, the premier has championed the streamlining of administrative approval and the slashing of red tape to help the market function efficiently. Central government departments controlled 1,526 approval items in 2013. By the end of 2014, about a third have been canceled or delegated to lower agencies. A total of 205 were abolished last year and another 248 will follow this year. China's economic growth slowed to 7 percent in the first quarter, the lowest level in six years, and latest indicators pointed to continued weakness in the second quarter, which makes finding new growth more urgent. By streamlining administration and delegating powers, the country aims to encourage both foreign investors and domestic would-be entrepreneurs, who have long complained that it is hard to get bank loans and bureaucracy makes it difficult to start a business. Currently, before an investment project is officially approved, a company often needs stamps of approval from more than 30 government departments. Xu Shaoshi, head of China's top economic planner, has said the number of such steps will be reduced to two to three by the end of 2015. Meanwhile, thanks to a new business registration policy, which took effect in March last year, the number of newly-founded companies in China surged almost 46 percent year on year to 3.65 million in 2014, with their total registered capital hitting 19.05 trillion yuan (3.11 trillion U.S. dollars), up 99 percent, official data showed. The country's campaign of cutting red tape has become more detailed with higher efficiency, said Zhang Liqun, a researcher at the State Council's development research center. He believed the role of government shall be changed from controlling to serving, just as a waiter ready to take orders from people as customers. Liu Enzhuan, a Tianjin-based FTZ economist, illustrated the meaning of such campaign, citing Chinese tardy customs clearance with fussy red tapes hinder free trade with foreign countries, and only establishing domestic FTZ first with less approvals can help gradually adapt to global rules. A free trade zone was inaugurated in Shanghai in September 2013 as a testing ground for market policies that reduce government controls and give markets a "decisive" role for allocating resources in the world's second-largest economy. As of late April, the free trade zone has seen 73,900 registered enterprises, of which more than 16,300 are overseas-funded firms, according to official statistics. ^ top ^

War heroes under fire (Global Times)
When 82-year-old veteran Wang Jingzhong heard that some online celebrities were expressing skepticism about the stories told of the exploits of Chinese war heroes, he felt angry and sad. "We were in the same battlefields with these war heroes and saw the sacrifices they made for the country with our own eyes. We picked up our lives from the battlefields, but they died. How can people question the truth of their sacrifice?" Wang said. Wang, who joined the army at the age of 15, served alongside Huang Jiguang during the Korean War (1950-53). He also met Qiu Shaoyun during the war. Huang and Qiu's heroic stories have appeared in school textbooks for decades and are well known among many Chinese. Huang used his body to block machine gun fire and protect his comrades in the battle on Shangganling Mountain, North Korea in 1952. Several days earlier, Qiu chose to burn to death rather than reveal his unit's location after an incendiary bomb went off by his side during an ambush attempt in the Korean War, according to official records. Eyewitness testimony In the past few years, posts questioning the authenticity of these stories have been surfacing on social media. Some said that Qiu's ability to remain silent while burning to death defies their understanding of human physiology. Others said that they did not understand how Huang's body could block bullets fired by a machine gun. Some wrote online doubting the truth of the deeds of Lei Feng, a young soldier who has been held up as a moral model for his thrift and willingness to help others since the 1960s. The posts said the photos showing Lei helping other people were set up, and he was also a young man who liked smart clothes and other material luxuries. The discussion over these figures escalated when online celebrity Sun Jie, known as "Zuoyeben" or "Notebook," who has 8 million followers on the Sina Weibo microblogging website, crudely described Qiu as "roasted meat," a comment which enraged many people. Yuan Jingcheng, an 84-year-old veteran who was in the same unit as Qiu during the Korean War, told the Global Times that Qiu did choose not to move under the fire to protect more than 500 other soldiers from being exposed in the ambush attempt. "His fingers were deeply thrust into the soil when we found him after the battle, and it told us how much pain he had endured in the fire," Yuan said. Some said Qiu had already been choked to death due to heavy smoke before the fire engulfed him, and that is why he did not move while on fire. Wang Chengjin, curator of the Chongqing-based Qiu Shaoyun Museum, has attempted to verify Qiu's story by interviewing men who fought with Qiu. He wrote in an open letter that Qiu was alive and conscious before the fire engulfed him after the firebomb landed from two meters away, according to witness accounts. "He must have endured the extreme pains with his strong mind," Wang wrote. Huang Jiguang's fellow soldier Wang Jingzhong said his other comrades who came back from the battle told him that after seeing his comrades die one after another, Huang, who had been shot in the leg, threw his body onto the machine gun. Li Jide, a soldier who fought alongside Huang at the frontline, told the PLA Daily on May 7 that he witnessed how Huang heroically blocked enemy gunfire. Huang's sacrifice earned others time and they quickly occupied the strongpoint, according to Wang. "We saw that his chest was full of bullet holes when we helped clean his body before carrying him back for burial in our country," said Wang. Questioning the questioners Questioning these stories has not only disappointed some veterans but has made analysts reflect on how to better communicate these accounts to skeptical netizens. "Some people, especially the young, just cannot understand our beliefs and our willingness to make sacrifices for the country at that time. Anyone who participated in that kind of battle would do anything to protect their comrades and to defeat their enemies," Yuan said. In response to the rampant online skepticism, the PLA Daily also argued in an article on April 10 that such heroes were "born to fight" and their acts during the war could well be beyond one's normal reasoning. "While other nations pay tribute to their war heroes in many different ways, some of us are questioning and humiliating our own ones like this. How could we expect people to join the army and fight for our country if we do such thing?" Major General Luo Yuan, standing vice-president of China Strategic Culture Promotion Association, told the Global Times. "No matter what the motives these people might have, destroying the image of these heroes is an attempt to deny our national spirit," said Luo. "After hearing the online discussions, I felt angry as well as worried. We should not follow the path of the Soviet Union whose collapse began with denying of the merits and achievements of some great soldiers," Wang said. Jia Yuanliang, head of War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression Culture Foundation, said the authorities should also reflect on the past publicity methods, which were prone to exaggeration and often didn't show the complexity of a person's full personality when describing a hero. "Only by telling the whole truth of these heroes' background, the battle environment they were faced with at the time and what people were thinking about in those days, can people be convinced in the Internet era," said Jia. Jia added that it was good to see veterans stand up and speak of their own experiences and verify the stories of these heroes, which is a good way for the public to better understand their sacrifice. "We need to record interviews with the veterans because they saw what really happened in those years. We should also use the law to safeguard the images of these heroes when someone attempted to tarnish them," Luo said. "Just as a Chinese writer said that a nation without a hero is unfortunate. It is hopeless situation when a nation has heroes but shows no respect to them. We should pay tribute to those who made contributions to our country," Luo said. ^ top ^

China announces holiday for V-Day celebration (Global Times)
The Chinese government on Wednesday announced a national holiday for this year's celebration of the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II. A brief statement published on the website of the Chinese government,, said the move aims to allow all people nationwide to participate in activities commemorating China's victory in the war against Japanese aggression and the victory in the World Anti-Fascist War during the holiday on Sept. 3. China announced earlier this year it will hold a military parade to mark the event. It will be the first time for the country to hold a special parade to commemorate the WWII victory. Japan signed the formal surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, and China celebrated its victory the following day. September 3 was declared Victory Day. ^ top ^

Ten panda poachers caught in Southwest China (China Daily)
Ten people have been apprehended in Southwest China's Yunnan province for killing a panda and trading in its meat, local authorities confirmed on Wednesday. The suspects allegedly killed a giant panda in Zhaotong, Yunnan. Of the ten suspects, three have been formally arrested, a forestry official told Xinhua. The panda's fur, skull and leg bones were seized by police. Police also seized ten kilograms of meat. The dead animal was an adult female. Internet users burst into anger on Weibo condemning the crime of killing national protected animals. The topic "pandashunted" has been discussed with more than 1.14 million hits by 8:30 am Thursday. According to Yunnan Forestry Administration, a sheep belonging to a man named Wang was killed in December. Wang and his brother tracked the predator across a nearby hillside with a hunting dog. Only after he shot what he described as a "big animal", did Wang realize it was a panda. The injured animal climbed a tree, and Wang shot it again. Wang later sold the panda's meat and feet to a man named Li. The meat then changed hands between other five people. Pandas have not been seen in Yunnan for centuries, but after the killing, the provincial forestry administration searched nearby areas and concluded that at least one panda lived there. The administration found the area to be a suitable habitat for pandas and will establish whether pandas live in the area. Giant pandas are one of the world's most endangered species. About 1,600 live in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces, while more than 300 live in captivity. ^ top ^

Lawsuits against authorities see dramatic increase (China Daily)
Individuals and companies are filing a lot more lawsuits against government authorities in Beijing. The number more than doubled last year compared to 2013. Such cases are expected to increase following the implementation of a revised law on May 1, making it easier for people to access the judicial process. Last year, courts in the capital received 21,478 administrative proceedings, which are lawsuits filed against governments and bureaus, Wang Mingda, vice-president of Beijing High People's Court, said on Tuesday. The figure was a year-on-year increase of 105 percent. Governments and bureaus were accused of adopting behavior and policies that violated the interests of individuals and companies. The major focus of such cases was related to urban development, public security, business and land resource issues. By May 8, 349 lawsuits were filed against county and district governments in Beijing, 62 percent more than all of last year. Cases sent to trial involving governments in the capital accounted for 10.5 percent of the total number in the country last year, according to a report on administrative lawsuits released by the Beijing High People's Court on Tuesday. This showed that people now have easier access to protecting their interests and have a better understanding of how to use the legal system, according to Wang. Administrative bodies have also changed their attitude toward lawsuits filed against them to some degree. In 12.7 percent of these administrative proceedings, courts ruled against the governments, ordering them to cancel or change their actions and policies. County governments in the capital lost 30.4 percent of administrative lawsuits brought against them last year, the highest proportion ever. Governments in lawsuits involving business, land resources and information exposure lost often, according to the report. Wang said the number of cases lost by governments has continued to grow in recent years. The report said the revised law on administrative proceedings will give the public and companies improved access to judicial proceedings in such cases, increasing the number of these lawsuits. Beijing No. 4 Intermediate People's Court, which now handles administrative lawsuits against county and district governments, has dealt with 349 cases from its opening on Dec 30 until May 8 - an increase of 62 percent from that of last year, said Chen Lianggang, a judge at the court. "In the first week after the revised law was implemented, we received 51 lawsuits against county and district governments, nearly triple the average weekly level in the capital last year of 17.5 cases," he said. Wang Jingbo, a public policy professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said that judging from the report, county and district governments in Beijing have plenty of room to improve their administration in accordance with the law. ^ top ^

Mainland opposes "Taiwan independence" in any form (Xinhua)
The Chinese mainland is firmly opposed to "Taiwan independence" activities in any form by any person, a spokesperson said. Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office (SCTAO), made the remarks when commenting on the scheduled visit by Tsai Ing-wen, chair of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), to the United States. Tsai is the DPP's candidate for the island's 2016 leadership election. Fan said adhering to the "1992 Consensus" and opposing the political basis of "Taiwan independence" were key to safeguarding the peaceful development of the ties between the mainland and Taiwan, and the peace and stability on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. In November 1992, the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation reached a common understanding that each of the two organizations should express verbally that "both sides of the Taiwan Straits adhere to the One-China Principle." At Wednesday's press conference, Fan also confirmed that the mainland and Taiwan are in communication on arrangements for a meeting between the two cross-Strait affairs chiefs, SCTAO head Zhang Zhijun and Andrew Hsia, mainland affairs chief in Taiwan. The two were scheduled to meet on Feb. 7-8 in Kinmen. The meeting was postponed as the two sides focused on the aftermath of the TransAsia Airways crash in Taiwan on Feb. 4, when more than 40 people, including both Taiwanese and mainlanders, were killed. ^ top ^

China cuts red tape on non-administrative reviews (Xinhua)
The State Council, China's cabinet, on Thursday canceled all non-administrative reviews to cut red tape and inject market vitality. In a decision signed by Premier Li Keqiang, the State Council said it would remove 48 non-administrative review items and move another 84 items into an internal review category. "As of today, the category of non-administrative review and approval no longer exists," read the statement urging further streamlining and delegation. Fighting red tape has taken on extra urgency as growth slows and the economy is steered away from an unsustainable model powered by state investment toward one driven by private consumption and services. Non-administrative reviews date back to 2004, one year after China published its Law on Administrative Approval. According to Li Zhangze, spokesman for the team clearing up review items, most items back then involved only government internal reviews and approvals. More items were added in the following years covering areas ranging from local tourism to tax breaks. The system gradually became a hotbed for corruption as the process is not strictly standardized. Business creation, innovation and employment were stifled. Any government department could set up a non-administrative review item, simply by issuing an official document under the pretext of so-called "internal procedures", Li said. "In such circumstances, non-administrative reviews gradually became a 'grey zone' and a great number of items that came from these 'grey zones' did not comply with the Administrative Approval Law but had the nature of administrative reviews," he said, adding that the status quo ran counter to China's drive toward rule of law. Xu Jimin of Sichuan University, said unlike administrative reviews regulated by the Law on Administrative Approval, non-administrative reviews are often a result of "self-authorization" by government agencies. The central government has promised to cancel all non-administrative reviews this year. "It goes without saying that powers should not be held without good reason," Premier Li said. ^ top ^

Top political advisory body holds meeting (Xinhua)
China's top political advisory body held its 29th chairpersons' meeting on Thursday. The meeting was presided over by Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee. The meeting adopted the agenda of CPPCC National Committee's 11th meeting scheduled to be held in June. Political advisors will make suggestions for the 13th five-year plan (2016-2020) draft. Senior political advisors said at the meeting that the CPPCC further exert its role in making suggestions for decision-making process. ^ top ^

Police officer cleared in fatal shooting (Global Times)
Local police investigators have cleared a police officer of wrongdoing and released security camera footage that showed the man who was fatally shot by the officer had attacked him aggressively and threw his own six-year-old daughter to the floor. The investigation, which had taken more than 10 days, concluded that the officer had abided by the police code of conduct. Although the investigation has come to an end, the fallout from the incident had reached far beyond the discussion of whether the police had used excessive force. The highly "politicized" incident not only unveiled a series of corruption scandals among local officials but also stirred up a nationwide debate that continues to polarize public opinion, as some, in deep mistrust of the authorities, continued to challenge the authenticity of the footage and demand that the officer be severely punished. Xu Chunhe, 45, was shot dead at Qing'an railway station on May 2 in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. The Harbin Railway Public Security Bureau in Heilongjiang immediately formed an investigation team that conducted an on-site investigation, reviewed all the security camera footage, and interviewed more than 60 witnesses. The investigation found that Xu, who was traveling with his 81-year-old mother and three children, blocked the entrance to the waiting room of the train station that left some 40 passengers unable to board the train. After Xu refused to step aside, the train station staff called the police. Xu allegedly initiated the assault on the police officer, Li Lebin, and continued the attack despite multiple warnings. Video footage showed that Xu repeatedly tried to grab the police officer's long baton, punched the officer in the head, pushed his mother to Li, and eventually threw his six-year-old daughter to the floor in front of Li as a threat. After Li took out his gun, Xu continued to attack the officer, leaving Li no choice but to shoot him. Li said in an interview with China Central Television that he did not fire a warning shot because he was afraid that the bullet could hurt other people in a congested space like a train station. He said that Xu was constantly targeting his hand, making it difficult for him to aim his gun. Xie Yanyi, a lawyer representing Xu's mother, told the Global Times Thursday that Xu had a history of petitioning and "the result is an elaborate local government conspiracy and it will not change the fact." Xie asserted that "the fact" was that Li was suspected of committing the crime of intentional murder and should be punished. Some Net users supported the police while others said that the video was incomplete and the reason why Xu stopped others from entering the station still remains unclear. However, an official from the publicity department of the railway police told the Global Times that the video is complete. "We cannot answer netizens' questions one by one," the official said. "For a long time, some have been vocal about their mistrust of government. No matter what the government says or does, they believe that the government either lies to them or is completely wrong," Wang Jingbo, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times. Wang stressed that the case should not be politicized. "It should be dealt with in accordance with the law." The incident, which has drawn tremendous attention to Qing'an, also acts as a catalyst that leads to extensive media coverage of corruption among local officials. Dong Guosheng, deputy head of Qing'an, has been suspended from his post on suspicion of faking his age and educational background. Dong's wife reportedly received her salary for four years while she was on sick leave, news portal reported. Dong was suspended after he visited the police officer who shot Xu, which caused an uproar. Meanwhile, Wei Pengfei, the county's chief prosecutor, was accused by his subordinate of abusing the use of public vehicles. Provincial prosecutors said that they have launched a probe into this allegation. Other officials in the county were also reported by local teachers for allegedly selling 300 permanent teaching positions ranging from 30,000 ($4,839) to 50,000 yuan each. Wang said that although there is no direct link between the alleged abuse of power of officials and the deadly shooting, it highlighted the problems embedded in grass-roots officialdom, which will catch the attention of the central government. Wang said she believes that the situation will get better under the nationwide anti-graft campaign. "Authorities will investigate these cases but opinions made online should not cloud the issue," she added. ^ top ^

Operation Fox Hunt secures return of 150 economic fugitives from 32 countries (China Daily)
Chinese police departments have brought back 150 economic fugitives from 32 countries since the beginning of the year and intensified their efforts to curb economic crimes. Eight of the suspects had been on the run for more than 10 years, and 44 of them were involved in cases relating to tens of millions of yuan. Gao Feng, the political commissar of the economic crimes bureau at the Public Security Ministry, said the result is part of the campaign dubbed Operation Fox Hunt 2015 that sought to hunt down suspects who absconded to foreign countries with their ill-gotten gains. Gao said China will continue to work with other countries to repatriate economic crime suspects and assist the operation of Sky Net launched by China's top anti-graft authority. The ministry announced an "unprecedented" haul of 680 suspects, who absconded to 69 countries and regions, from July to December in Operation Fox Hunt 2014, 4.5 times the total number in 2013. Among them were 117 suspects who had been at large for more than a decade and 390 people who turned themselves in. The ministry also stressed their efforts in cracking down on domestic economic crime, which has risen sharply in recent years and caused enormous economic loss to people and various entities. A total number of 100,000 economic crime cases involving nearly 192 billion yuan ($31 billion) have been dealt with, mainly illegally fundraising from the public, credit card fraud, producing fake commodities and currency in the Chinese mainland, Gao said. Illegally soliciting money from the public is the toughest economic crime for the police to deal with because the culprits usually solicit money under the guise of attractive investments, he said, adding that these crimes frequently occur in sectors such as investment consultation, investment guarantees and online loans. Cases of deliberate overdrafts on credit cards increased by more than 50 percent in some provinces last year, according to the ministry. Counterfeit credit cards rings were found to be producing fake cards with upgraded technology, making it hard for banks to detect. ^ top ^




Stranded Tibetans return from Nepal (Xinhua)
Forty-six Tibetans who had been stranded in Nepal by last month's earthquake returned to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, Monday morning. Landslides had these border residents, from Zham Town in Nyalam County, stuck in a tiny town in Nepal following the quake on April 25, according to the government of Shigatse, which administrates Nyalam. The Tibetans were mostly on business in Nepal, a few had crossed the border to go shopping on the day of the quake. According to one of those stranded, Cering Lhamoi, as the roads were inaccessible, the group had walked to the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu for help. The Tibetan government sent staff to Nepal to help evacuate the Chinese nationals and the government of Shigatse supplied plane tickets to get them home. Another of the group, Gama Zhaima, said: "I was thankful when the plane landed in Lhasa." As of Monday, the death toll from the earthquake stood at 8,019, with 17,866 injured. Nepalese climbers stranded in Tibet also began to return to Nepal on Sunday. ^ top ^

Latest Nepal quake hits Tibet (Xinhua)
One woman was killed and two others were injured in Tibet after China's neighbor Nepal was jolted by another earthquake on Tuesday afternoon. All three were in a car that was hit by falling rocks in Gyirong township, Tibet, when the 7.5-magnitude quake struck at 3:05 p.m. The deceased has been identified as Chodron. According to Karma Tenzin, a border inspection officer, Chodron was local to the area. The two injured are undergoing medical treatment. In three counties bordering Nepal, the earthquake shut down eight telecommunication stations, said Qingqi, chief of Tibetan Communications Administration. The telecommunication in Rongshar Town of Dingri County has been cut off. Telecommunication companies have sent emergency response teams to quake-hit areas in Tibet. Xinhua reporters in Gyirong saw landslides on both sides of the border, accompanied by loud noises. Wu Aijun, a police officer in Zham township, Nyalam County, saw boulders rolling off the hills. "Roads were cut off by debris from landslides," he told Xinhua via telephone. He said he could see across the border and a village in Nepal was also battered by landslides. China evacuated thousands of residents from Zham after the April 25 quake. Police stayed behind to guard the county. "All the police have now been evacuated. No casualties were reported," said Phurjung from the Zham Police headquarters. In Nyalam, power was cut off and three houses collapsed. The devastating 8.1-magnitude quake on April 25 had claimed more than 8,000 lives in Nepal as of Sunday, and left 26 dead in Tibet, southwest China. ^ top ^



New ideas emerge on creation of joint immigration checkpoint for Hong Kong high-speed rail (SCMP)
Allowing mainland immigration officers to work at the Hong Kong terminus of the new high-speed rail link to Guangzhou would not contravene the Basic Law, a top legal adviser to Beijing has told the South China Morning Post. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the adviser said such officers would be dealing only with mainland immigration requirements, an issue outside the scope of Hong Kong authorities, and therefore their work would not amount to interference in the city's affairs by a central government department, something prohibited under Article 22 of the Basic Law. The planned formation of a checkpoint in Hong Kong handling both mainland and local immigration procedures has been mired in legal and constitutional difficulties, raising the prospect that passengers may have to undergo two sets of checks on either side of the border, as is the case with the existing rail link to Guangzhou, which would add at least 30 minutes to travel times. National People's Congress delegate Michael Tien Puk-sun yesterday proposed amending an annex of the Basic Law to accommodate the mainland officers at a joint checkpoint facility at the West Kowloon terminus following completion of the line. Tien, a former boss of the Kowloon-Canton Railway and a New People's Party lawmaker, said this would prevent those opposed to such a checkpoint applying for a judicial review into the matter. But the adviser, a Basic Law expert, disagreed that Article 22 created a hurdle to setting up a joint checkpoint. "Article 22 does not appear to be infringed, as the mainland officials will merely be processing applications to enter the mainland. This is not interfering with any affairs which [Hong Kong] administers on its own," the adviser said. Article 22 also states that departments of the central government can set up offices in Hong Kong with the consent of both governments. A joint immigration checkpoint is seen as key to ensuring a speedy rail link between the two ends of the Pearl River Delta. Opponents of a joint checkpoint have expressed concerns that mainland officers stationed in Hong Kong could arrest people in the city and deport them to the mainland via the rail link. But the adviser said: "I doubt there would be any proposals that mainland officials make arrests in Hong Kong. If there were any suspected offence under mainland law, this could be dealt with using the assistance of Hong Kong police in the same way as it is currently." T ien's proposal was criticised by legal-sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party, who said any additions to a Basic Law annex should be confined to national defence, diplomacy or laws outside Hong Kong's autonomy. "The Basic Law should not be distorted to resolve the problems of a railway, even if it means we can't maximise the value of the high-speed rail link," Kwok said in a statement. […] ^ top ^

HK gov't fully supports anti-corruption efforts: chief executive (Xinhua)
Chief Executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Leung Chun-ying said on Monday that the Hong Kong SAR government fully supports local graft-buster Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). Addressing the 6th ICAC Symposium opening ceremony, Leung said that a number of international surveys continue to rank Hong Kong among the cleanest places in the world, and local community insists on upholding the core values, including a level playing field for all,the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and the firm belief that corruption in any form and at all levels cannot be tolerated. "These values are embedded in our people's personal, business and public lives. They are rock solid in our community," he said. Talking about a few widely reported corruption cases involving prominent members of local community in recent years, Leung said these cases reflect, and reaffirm, the independence of Hong Kong's judiciary and the robustness of the ICAC's anti-corruption efforts. "The sentences imposed by the courts in these cases also sent a clear signal that corruption is not tolerated. And the manner in which these cases were investigated demonstrates the ICAC's determination to fight corruption without fear or favor, regardless of the background, status or position of those involved, " he said, adding that the ICAC's Annual Survey last year found that only 1.5 percent of respondents believed they had come across corruption in the previous 12 months. Leung said corruption knows no borders, no boundaries, and the fight against it demands international collaboration -- strategies that embrace governments, unite organizations and educate law- enforcement colleagues. The 6th ICAC Symposium will be held in Hong Kong from Monday to Wednesday. The theme of this year's symposium is "A future without corruption -- one vision, multiple strategies." ^ top ^

Thousands support HK reform package (Global Times)
More than 360,000 Hong Kong citizens showed up at a signature campaign in support of the political reform package for the next chief executive election in 2017, campaign organizers said Monday. "We set up more than 900 signature stations all over the city and as of Sunday, we have received more than 360,000 signatures, a very positive response," Robert Chow Yung, the founder of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, which organized the campaign, told the Global Times Monday. The campaign from May 9 to 17 hopes to gain the Hong Kong people's support for the constitutional reform package for the election of the next chief executive by universal suffrage. The reform package was unveiled by the Hong Kong government on April 22. "We have not set a target number but we hope people who support the package would come out and sign and show opposition groups the true public sentiment," Chow said. He explained that the campaign only accept signatures of Hong Kong citizens over 18 years old to ensure an objective, accurate result. Among the signers were top government officials including Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam. Lam said on Sunday that Hong Kong's constitutional reform is at its most critical moment and the government is working hard to gather more public support for the reform package in the coming weeks, stressing that the reform package is a comprehensive and legally practical one. The reform package will be reviewed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) after being endorsed by a two-thirds majority of all 70 members of Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo) in June. Lam said the government will find more ways to explain the proposed universal suffrage package to citizens so as to gain more public support before submitting the package to the LegCo. Some pan-democratic lawmakers and civil groups, however, said earlier this month that they are planning to launch another protest to obstruct LegCo's operations to prevent the reform package from passing, drawing criticism from many local citizens. ^ top ^

Hong Kong, Guangdong police wrap up heiress kidnapping case (Global Times)
Police of Guangdong Province and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) announced Thursday that a Hong Kong heiress's kidnapping had been solved, with police arresting nine men and recovered HK$28 million ($361,230) ransom payment. According to the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department Thursday, eight of the suspects were arrested in cities in Guangdong and Guizhou Province, while another suspect surnamed Zheng was arrested in Hong Kong. All HK$28 million ransom money and valuables, including watches and jewelry, were recovered. Queenie Rosita Law, the granddaughter of late textiles tycoon Law Ting-pong, was kidnapped from her house in Sai Kung district of Hong Kong on April 25. Kidnappers broke into her house and stole jewelry, watches and other valuables worth HK$2 million. Law was then held in a secluded cave in Fei Ngo Shan for three days and was released after the family paid a ransom of HK$28 million. She was not injured. All of the arrested suspects were Chinese mainland residents, the department said. Among them, seven conducted the kidnapping, one helped smuggle the kidnappers into Hong Kong and another helped dispose of the stolen goods. The gang had been planning the kidnapping since early April. Hong Kong police said the suspects were not targeting specific tycoon's family members but was rather targeting a specific house. They said the case has been solved but investigation will be continued. Guangdong Province police said they will strengthen cooperation with the Hong Kong authorities in the future to address cross-border crime. ^ top ^



China's imports, exports fall amid further signs of weakness in slowing economy (SCMP)
Many economists had expected a rise in the sale of goods overseas in April: China's imports and exports contracted again in April in a new sign of economic weakness, adding to pressure on Beijing to roll out more stimulus measures to avert a sharper economic slowdown. Imports fell by a bigger-than-expected 16.2 per cent over a year earlier to US$176.3 billion following March's 12 per cent decline. Exports fell 6.4 per cent to US$142.1 billion, adding to the previous month's 15 per cent decline. The unexpectedly weak data “suggest that both foreign and domestic demand has softened going into” the current quarter, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics. China's government is trying to steer China to more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption and reduce reliance on trade, but a sharp decline since mid-2014 has raised concerns about politically dangerous job losses. To shore up growth, Beijing has cut interest rates twice since November and also lowered reserve requirements for banks to boost lending. The Communist Party leadership promised additional steps to support growth following a high-level meeting two weeks ago. Economic growth fell to 7 per cent in the first quarter of the year, its lowest since 2009 in the aftermath of the global crisis. The dismal trade performance raises the risk that second-quarter economic growth may dip below 7 per cent for the first time since the depths of the global financial crisis, adding to official fears of job losses and growing levels of bad debt. In an earlier report, the International Monetary Fund said China's growth was expected to moderate to 6 per cent by 2017 and then stabilise around there. “This is bad. I expect an interest rate cut this weekend,” said economist Tim Condon at ING in Singapore. “This is going to make 7 per cent growth hard to attain. It looks like the weakness in the first quarter wasn't transitory. It's persistent.” Alfred Schipke, a senior resident representative at the IMF in China, told a press briefing in Beijing on Friday that the IMF expected a gradual recovery of global growth. “That means that export demand is likely to pick up. That's good news for China. We are kind of confident that [China's] export growth in 2015 will be stronger,” he said. Chinese manufacturing suffered its sharpest contraction in a year in April, according to a survey by HSBC Corp. It said new orders and employment both declined. Measures of employment have fallen to their lowest level since the crisis, according to Citigroup. “Early signs of a job market slump may suggest the rising new economy, including services, is unable to fully offset job losses in traditional sectors,” said Citigroup economists in a report this week. Total imports and exports in the first four months of the year contracted by 7.6 per cent compared with a year earlier, according to customs data. That made it increasingly unlikely the ruling party could achieve its target of 6 per cent trade growth this year. Measures imposed to cool an investment boom have cut demand for imported iron ore and other industrial raw materials. That has depressed revenues for commodity exporters such as Australia and Brazil. “We expect negative export growth to prove short lived,” said Evans-Pritchard. “Meanwhile, although slowing investment growth will remain a drag, import growth should begin to recovery gradually.” ^ top ^

China cuts interest rates for third time since November as economy sputters (SCMP)
Central bank acts after run of weak data: Beijing slashed interest rates for a second time this year in a bid to spur the slowing economy and cut fundraising costs for cash-starved businesses. The People's Bank of China announced on Sunday that the one-year benchmark lending rate would be cut by 25 basis points to 5.1 per cent, while the deposit rate would also go down 25 basis points to 2.25 per cent. The new rates take effect today. Lower lending and borrowing rates have been expected amid mounting concern about job losses and business collapses, after the central bank said last month it would flexibly use monetary tools to maintain appropriate liquidity in the economy. "It's important for China to sustain relatively fast economic growth due to the demands for creating new jobs," said economics professor Zhao Quanmin of the China Executive Leadership Academy in Pudong. China's economy slowed from 7.4 per cent last year to 7 per cent in this year's first quarter, with analysts expecting growth to fall below this year's targeted 7 per cent. Exports fell 15 per cent in March before a further 6.4 per cent decline last month. The rate cuts also came amid concern over growing deflationary pressures, as producers' prices fell for the 37th consecutive month by 4.6 per cent in April and consumer price inflation was only 1.5 per cent. Beijing has been determined to de-leverage an economy facing rising financial risks such as soaring bad loans and a rampant shadow banking system lacking proper regulatory oversight. Last month, the PBOC said it would prioritise liquidity as a further slowdown was seen. "The cuts are a sign there's a big change in policy direction," Industrial Bank chief economist Lu Zhengwei said, adding they could reduce fundraising costs. Premier Li Keqiang is striving to give small businesses greater access to capital as he pushes financial reforms to let market forces play a bigger role in borrowing and lending. Last month, he said China's four free-trade zones would put pressure on banks to cut borrowing costs for businesses. Yesterday's cuts are the third since the previous two reductions in November and March. Banks can now offer depositors rates as much as 50 per cent higher than the benchmark 2.25 per cent for what the PBOC called a move to deepen the reform on a market-based interest rate mechanism. But analysts say banks are unlikely to offer the maximum rates. ^ top ^


Top North Korea official, President Xi Jinping exchange only small talk at Moscow victory parade (SCMP)
North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, apparently had no substantial talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping when they attended a war ceremony over the weekend in Moscow, according to an official report today. Kim held talks with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Cuban President Raul Castro on the sidelines of a military parade on Saturday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. But KCNA said only that Kim, head of North Korea's parliament, “met and exchanged greetings” with Xi and others including the presidents of Egypt, Mongolia, South Africa, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Medvedev told Kim, ranked second in the Workers' Party of Korea, that Russia was “attaching importance to the development of relations” with Pyongyang, KCNA said. He, meanwhile, conveyed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's regards to the Cuban president and “exchanged views on the issue of boosting the friendly and cooperative ties between the two countries”, according to KCNA. The KCNA report provided no information on what Kim Yong-nam discussed with other leaders in the Russian capital. It is known that the head of state had talks with Xi in February last year when they attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in the Russian resort city of Sochi. China remains North Korea's most important political ally and trading partner. But Kim Jong-un, presumed to be 32 years old, has yet to visit China or meet with Xi since he inherited power following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011. China has cooled its relations with North Korea following Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February 2013 in defiance of warnings from the international community. Russia had suggested that North Korea's young leader would be part of the second world war ceremony. But the Kremlin announced in late April that he would not attend the commemoration due to North Korea's “internal affairs”. The trip would have been Kim's first abroad since taking the helm of North Korea. ^ top ^



President of Mongolia to pay a working visit to France in June 2015 (Infomongolia)
On May 13, 2015, Chief of the President's Office, Mr. Puntsag TSAGAAN received the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the French Republic to Mongolia, Mr. Yves Delaunay and Vice President for Business Development at Air Liquide's Large Industries World Business Line (WBL), Mr. Dieter Grabenbauer. The Air Liquide's Large Industries WBL provides gases to customers in the refining, chemicals, energy and metallurgical industries, and the French multinational company with its subsidiary Lurgi GmbH have been conducting exploration in Mongolia for over 3 years. As a result, the company is working on a project to produce synthetic combustible gas from liquid and brown coal. During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on the project overview and on documents that are expected to be signed during the upcoming visit of the President of Mongolia to France on June 11-12, 2015. Also, the Ambassador Yves Delaunay noted that the Air Liquide is interested to invest in Mongolia's agriculture, high technology, industry and other sectors as well as notified that bilateral documents on these issues are ready to be signed by French side during the Presidential visit to France. ^ top ^

Mongolia and South Korea to establish a sea transportation joint venture (Infomongolia)
At the regular Cabinet meeting of the Government held on May 11, 2015, the Minister of Roads and Transportation N.Tumurkhuu and the State Property Committee are authorized to establish a Mongolia-South Korea Maritime Joint-Venture. The joint venture will be established between the Maritime Administration of the Ministry of Roads and Transportation of Mongolia and a Sea Transport Company of the Republic of Korea, and the Mongolia-Korea Company will be registered in South Korea. Mongolia is a landlocked country that set goals to utilize a privileged rights of using sea exit as well as to participate in the international trade and transportation activities flying its national flag on a ship and to use the marine resources. Therefore, the country has achieved certain aims in recent years and as a fact, Mongolia joined over 20 treaties and conventions of the International Maritime Law and ratified the Laws on Sea Exploitation and Registration of Ships. ^ top ^


Mrs. Lauranne Macherel
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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