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
  31.8-4.9.2015, No. 586  
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Foreign Policy

Awe and peace: As world witnesses massive display of military power in Beijing, Xi Jinping vows to cut 300,000 troops and peaceful intent (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping said on Thursday he would cut military personnel by 300,000 – twice the size of the British armed forces – by 2017, shortly before presiding over an unprecedented parade laden with symbolism and messages. The parade to commemorate China's victory against Japanese aggression in the second world war was groundbreaking in many ways. It was the first parade China had held for a war anniversary and the first with foreign participation. It was also the first time Xi had reviewed troops as head of state and delivered a speech atop the Tiananmen Rostrum. The scale of the event dwarfed all those before it. Some 12,000 soldiers, 50 generals, 500 pieces of military hardware and nearly 200 aircraft went before the Tiananmen Square audience, which included a comprehensive list of current and retired top leaders. Dressed in the slate-grey, high-buttoned Chinese suit named after Kuomintang founder Sun Yat-sen and favoured by Communist founder Mao Zedong, a stern-looking Xi inspected the troops in his purpose-made Red Flag limousine. Fifty generals then led 50 Chinese formations down Changan Avenue, followed by phalanxes from 17 countries. It was a grand gesture that served as a statement of intent to audiences in China and abroad. To Chinese people, the parade symbolised the dramatic transformation of the country from the brink of oblivion to a potential world superpower in the span of a lifetime. […] The Communist Party, which played second fiddle to the Kuomintang in the war, nevertheless sees itself as the true force behind China's renaissance. Its legitimacy rests on how it has returned an ancient civilisation that suffered 100 years of humiliation at the hands of foreign powers to the forefront of the world stage. The parade also served as a morale-booster to the People's Liberation Army, whose leadership has grown complacent and corrupt. Xi's announcement of the troop reduction was part of a larger reform to rejuvenate the army and put it on a par with the best of the West, as the South China Morning Post first reported on Wednesday. “It shows a new image of the military and eases concerns that the PLA has been shaken by the anti-corruption campaign,” Wang said. To the international community, Xi used the occasion to highlight China's contribution to the victory of the Allied Powers. At a cost of 20 million lives, 80 million refugees and widespread destruction of its cities and industries, China bogged down a large part of the Japanese Imperial army for eight years. Its troops fought side by side with American and British soldiers in the jungles of Myanmar. […] As 23 heads of state, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, looked on, Xi pledged that China would “never seek hegemony or expansion”. “All countries should jointly uphold the international order and system underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter,” Xi added. Beijing-based commentator Wu Ge said the timing of the troop reduction announcement was to soften the parade's impact. “It is a tactful move to ease international concerns about the rise of China's military.” ^ top ^

Old and new guard: Three Chinese presidents line up in first for Beijing's military parade (SCMP)
Three presidents, past and present, lined up for the first time on the Tiananmen rostrum as the military parade rolled past yesterday morning. With the help of an assistant, former president Jiang Zemin, 89, made his way slowly up the stairs to the balcony. His successor, Hu Jintao, 72, walked unaided but his left hand had a persistent tremble as he stood with his successor President Xi Jinping. Three former premiers - Li Peng, Zhu Rongji and Wen Jiabao - turned out, as did former vice-president Zeng Qinghong, and former Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference chairman Li Ruihuan. The military has been through big changes since Jiang and Hu commanded the People's Liberation Army. Gone are the top military men from Hu's time, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, both brought down in Xi's anti-graft campaign. Both were rising stars during Jiang's time at the top, with Guo promoted to vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission in 2002, when Jiang was chairman. It was the first television appearance for Jiang since a banquet last September to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the first for Hu since June 19, when he attended a memorial for Qiao Shi, former chairman of the National People's Congress. The health of Li Peng, who played a core role in the crackdown on the 1989 student movement and whose family is a big player in China's electricity sector, has been under scrutiny in recent years but the state broadcast of the parade showed him apparently in good spirits. Overseas China-watchers have speculated about Li's clout after the Communist Party's anti-graft agency launched investigations into the activities of several senior executives of state-owned power firms. His daughter, Li Xiaolin, an industry veteran, is thought to have been sidelined in a merger of state-owned power conglomerates. At 98, Song Ping was the oldest party elder to make an appearance. All other retired and serving Politburo Standing Committee members, including former CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin and Li Changchun, attended, with the exception of jailed former security tsar Zhou Yongkang. A murmur ran through the crowd when two huge screens on Changan Avenue showed Russian President Vladimir Putin walking down the red carpet. Putin was the last state leader to walk the red carpet. Xi shook hands with his "old friend" and smiled before they walked abreast towards the rostrum. They were seen exchanging views while standing on the rostrum during the parade, as South Korean President Park Geun-hye remained seated alongside. Her attendance - in the face of Western pressure - was equally, if not more, important for Beijing. Many Chinese have been impressed by Putin's shows of masculinity and his firm stance against opponents, including Western countries. Photos of him driving tanks, riding horses, practising judo and hunting are widely circulated on mainland social media. The term "if you are getting married, marry someone like Putin" has become a catchphrase on Weibo. But the crowd's welcome extended beyond the Russian leader. When Putin stood to applaud the Russian troops - the last formation of foreign soldiers - the crowd burst into applause. ^ top ^

Japan 'disappointed' with Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech on second world war (SCMP)
Japan said on Thursday it was “disappointed” there were no signs of rapprochement in President Xi Jinping's speech to mark the 70th anniversary of Tokyo's defeat in the second world war, as Beijing showed off its growing might with a huge military parade. “Tokyo had requested that Beijing make sure that the event was not so anti-Japanese, but instead contain elements of rapprochement between Japan and China,” top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters. “It was disappointing that such elements were not in President Xi Jinping's speech today.” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said earlier China should not "excessively focus on its unfortunate past history but show its intention to tackle common issues facing the international community with a view to the future". Suga refrained from directly commenting on the parade and other events taking place in China, only saying the Japanese government “is closely watching related developments”. Suga also expressed Japan's readiness to advance a plan to hold a trilateral summit with China and South Korea as early as October as part of efforts to promote regional cooperation. Japan “will continue communications with China and South Korea and work out a specific timing and venue” for the summit, Suga said, referring to an agreement struck on Wednesday between Xi and South Korean President Park Geun-hye to hold it “at a convenient time including late October or early November”. A trilateral summit has not been held since May 2012. Asked if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would hold a bilateral meeting with Park on the sidelines of the envisaged three-way summit, Suga said: “If there were an offer from South Korea, we would be happy to receive it.” Abe and Park have yet to hold a formal meeting since they took office due to disagreements over territory and views on wartime history. Abe took office in 2012 and Park in 2013. ^ top ^

Chinese president stresses adherence to developing relations with Russia (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday that China firmly sticks to the policy of developing its comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and broadening all-round pragmatic cooperation with Russia. Xi made the remarks during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended commemorations here to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. He expressed appreciation for Russia's support to the commemorations and a Russian guard of honor's participation in the military parade. Both China and Russia, as main battlefields during World War II in Asia and Europe respectively, made great sacrifices and contributions to the victory of the war, he added. The president said his attendance at Russia's commemorations in May to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, Russia's term for WWII, and Putin's attendance at Thursday's commemorations aimed to promote regional and world peace and boost the cause of human peace and progress. The two sides should expand cooperation in the fields of finance, investment, energy and regional affairs, work out a long-term outline to combine the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt initiative and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union project, and implement their cooperation projects, he added. China and Russia are both founding members of the United Nations and permanent members of the UN Security Council, he said. Xi called on the two countries, taking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the world body as an opportunity, to keep strengthening coordination in the international community to review history and create future. The international community should safeguard the fruits of the WWII victory, adhere to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and build a new type of international relationship with win-win cooperation as its core, said the president. Putin said he was deeply impressed by the grand commemoration and military parade earlier in the day. He spoke highly of Xi's address at the gathering, which he said sent a clear, strong message for peace. Russia is committed to deepening its comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with China, he said, adding that his country is willing to keep boosting pragmatic cooperation with China in energy, petrochemical industry, finance, aerospace and other areas. Russia is also ready to strengthen cooperation and coordination with China in the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, Putin said. After the meeting, the two heads of state witnessed the signing of a number of agreements for cooperation in various fields. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier meets UN chief, British envoy (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and British Prime Minister's envoy Kenneth Clarke on Thursday. Liu welcomed the two's attendance of the commemoration marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. The founding of the UN is an important fruit of the victory of the global anti-fascist war and the attendance of UN chief is of special significance, said Liu in her meeting with Ban. China made active contribution to UN's founding and development and is willing to strengthen cooperation with the organization in fields like health, education, women and children, striving for the implementation of Post-2015 Development Agenda, she said. China expects to push its relations with the UN to a new high level via the series of meetings commemorating the 70th anniversary of its founding, said Liu. Ban said he was glad to attend the Sept. 3 commemoration event and that Thursday was a proud day for the Chinese nation. China's great development achievements over the past decades have benefited the world, he said. The UN hopes to promote China's successful experience and strengthen cooperation with China, said Ban. In meeting with Clarke, Liu said China and Britain made great contributions to the victory of World War II. China-Britain relations face new opportunities and joint efforts are needed to achieve more fruits, said the Chinese vice premier. Clarke, former British justice secretary, said he was honored to attend the commemoration as the envoy of British Prime Minister David Cameron. Britain and China were close allies during WWII, said Clarke. Britain expects closer high-level exchange and practical cooperation in all fields with China, he said. ^ top ^

Chinese premier pledges new progress for relations with France (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday that China is willing to push forward its relations with France for new progress based on the current sound level. Li made the remarks during a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who attended commemorations here 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. Li recalled his recent visit to France, when he reached broad consensus with French leaders on further developing bilateral relations and boosting cooperation in such fields as civil nuclear energy, aviation and finance. The two sides also agreed to push for positive results from the upcoming Paris Climate Summit later this year, he said, adding that China is ready to work with France to implement the consensus. The premier described cooperation in third-party markets as a pioneering and innovative move for deepening China-France pragmatic cooperation in the new era. He expressed his hope that the two sides would strengthen coordination for early substantial results, so as to build cooperation in third-party markets as a model for South-North Cooperation and the recovery of the world economy. Fabius said that since Li's visit to France, the two countries have been cooperating well in coping with climate change, nuclear energy and third-party markets. France is willing to conduct close communication and coordination with China to actively implement their consensus and achievements for greater progress in related cooperation, he said. ^ top ^

China's $40b Silk Road Fund signs MoU with Russian firms (China Daily)
Chinese $40 billion Silk Road Fund (SRF), focusing on infrastructure investment under the "Belt and Road" initiative, will cooperate with Russian financial institutions in electricity and energy development projects. The fund signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Vnesheconombank, the Russian state development bank, and the Russian Direct Investment Fund on Thursday in Beijing, witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin after they attended the V-Day military parade as part of China's commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The two countries' financial institutions plan to jointly invest in infrastructure construction and industrial cooperation projects, especially in the electricity and energy sectors. "The cooperation will promote the Silk Road Economic Belt and connect to the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union proposed by Russia," said a SRF statement. "It will also tighten the Sino-Russia ties in bilateral trade and investment." The fund was established in Beijing in December 2014, and its first overseas investment project was in Pakistan, debuted in April. Russian Direct Investment Fund focuses on equity investment completely owned by the Vnesheconombank. The SRF also signed an agreement with the Novatek Inc, Russia's second-largest natural gas producer on Thursday, to purchase 9.9 percent stake of the Yamal LNG - a liquefied natural gas project at Sabetta, north-east of the Yamal Peninsula of Russia. China National Petroleum Co has 20 percent of the projects ownership, and the French company TOTAL owns another 20 percent. It was the fund's first investment project in Russia, and also the first investment in natural gas industry. It will further discuss with the Novatek about stake purchase details. ^ top ^

US expects G20 to urge China to increase transparency over economic policies (SCMP)
Finance chiefs from the Group of 20 developed and major developing economies who meet this week are likely to urge China to increase the transparency of its economic policies to quell volatility in financial markets, a United States official said on Tuesday. The senior US Treasury Department official told reporters it was “a broad proposition” when asked if Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would raise the issue of how China should improve communication with the financial markets at the two-day meeting in the Turkish capital, Ankara, which starts on Friday. The US government regards the recent fluctuations in the financial markets as reflecting uncertainty over China's growth prospects, the official said on condition of anonymity. Global markets have been volatile following Beijing's abrupt move to devalue the yuan last month in an apparent bid to help exporters and revive the sagging economy. The US official called on China to seek an economy that is driven by household consumption rather than rely on its “unsustainably high investment”. In a speech at a finance conference in Jakarta earlier on Tuesday, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, also warned of potential impacts from China's slowdown on the global economy, especially on emerging markets. “Other emerging economies, including Indonesia, need to be vigilant to handle potential spillovers from China's slowdown and tightening of global financial conditions,” Lagarde said. As the Chinese economy was adjusting to a new growth model, growth was slowing, she said. “The transition to a more market-based economy and the unwinding of risks built up in recent years is complex and could well be somewhat bumpy,” Lagarde said. On the US, Lagarde said there were signs that the recovery was growing firmer, enhancing the market view that the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates in the near future. “This could pose a risk for emerging economies, including Indonesia, in the form of weaker capital flows, higher interest rates, and financial volatility,” Lagarde added. There has been market speculation that the US central bank would increase short-term interest rates at the next policy-setting meeting starting on September 16. However, Stanley Fischer, vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve, offered no clear signs about it at a recent event in Wyoming. ^ top ^

Japan criticized for protest over UN chief's visit to Beijing (Xinhua)
Beijing said on Tuesday that Japan's latest complaints over United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's upcoming visit to China for V-Day commemorations are "completely making trouble out of nothing" as the UN chief said it is very important for the world community to learn from the past and move forward. Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that Japan had complained to the UN over Ban's plan, which includes attending a parade on Sept 3, AFP reported. Suga said: "We want to encourage member countries to look to the future and not to unnecessarily focus on particular events in the past". In a response, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN chief, told a daily press briefing in New York on Monday afternoon that: "...the Secretary‑General's thinking behind attending the ceremony in Beijing is that he's attended ceremonies in Ukraine, in Poland, as well as in Moscow." Asked about his response to Japan's concern over his upcoming China visit, Ban told reporters that "the whole world is now commemorating the 70th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War, the most tragic in the history of human beings and at the same time the founding of the United Nations." "It's important to look to the past, what kinds of lessons we have been learning, and how we can move ahead to a brighter future based on the lessons learned. That is the main purpose," Xinhua news agency quoted Ban as saying. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday that Beijing has already taken note of the relevant reports and the clear position outlined by the UN. "At such a moment when the international community is marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the world's Anti-Fascist War in various forms, the relevant comments by Japan are completely making trouble out of nothing," Hua said. Japan is expected to "take a humble attitude, face the past squarely and express deep remorse over the militarist history of aggression", Hua said. The spokeswoman reiterated that the events are being held by the Chinese government on Sept 3 in order to "remember history, recall the martyrs, cherish peace and open up to the future". ^ top ^

US government 'developing sanctions against Chinese companies for cyber theft of trade secrets' (SCMP)
The Obama administration is developing a package of unprecedented economic sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals who have benefited from their government's cyber theft of valuable US trade secrets. The US government has not yet decided whether to issue these sanctions, but a final call is expected soon, perhaps even within the next two weeks, according to several administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Issuing sanctions would represent a significant expansion in the administration's public response to the rising wave of cyber-economic espionage initiated by Chinese hackers, who officials say have stolen everything from nuclear power plant designs to search-engine source code to confidential negotiating positions of energy companies. Any action would also come at a particularly sensitive moment between the world's two biggest economies. President Xi Jinping of China is due to arrive next month in Washington for his first state visit — complete with a 21-gun salute on the South Lawn of the White House and an elaborate state dinner. There is already tension over a host of other issues, including maritime skirmishes in the South China Sea and China's efforts to devalue its currency in the face of its recent stock market plunge. At the same time, the two countries have deep trade ties and the administration has sometimes been wary of seeming too tough on China. But the possibility of sanctions so close to Xi's visit indicates how frustrated US officials have become over the persistent cyber plundering. The sanctions would mark the first use of an order signed by President Obama in April establishing the authority to freeze financial and property assets of, and bar commercial transactions with, individuals and entities overseas who engage in destructive attacks or commercial espionage in cyberspace. ^ top ^

US, China skirt stocks turmoil and focus on positives as Susan Rice meets Xi Jinping in Beijing (SCMP)
China and the United States stressed the positives in their complex relationship during meetings between US National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Chinese officials yesterday, paving the way for President Xi Jinping's visit to Washington next month. Neither Xi nor Rice mentioned recent economic turmoil in their opening remarks, focusing instead on the importance of Xi's visit to strengthening relations between the world's two largest economies. “I look forward to continuing my conversation with President [Barack] Obama and to continue to have in-depth exchanges on important issues of mutual interest,” Xi told Rice. “Together we would like to work with the US to make sure that China-US relations will enjoy sustainable and steady growth.” Xi also spoke of the need to “effectively manage the sensitive issues” between Washington and Beijing, but offered no specifics. Rice referred to “issues of difference and some difficulties” that the sides needed “to work through” and said they would continue to do so. She called Xi's upcoming trip a “milestone in deepening our cooperation and strengthening our relationship”. In addition to a list of issues that are complicating bilateral ties, Rice also made a point to assess the state of China's economy as she met with Xi's top economic adviser. A statement posted on the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website said that Rice had met with Liu He, who heads China's top financial and economic decision-making body. Analysts said the meeting reflected Washington's concerns over China's slowing economy. Turmoil in Chinese stocks over recent weeks has rattled world markets. “The US is very worried about China's economic growth, and so is China itself,” said Jia Qingguo, a professor of international relations with Peking University. Rice also met State Councillor Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister, and Fan Changlong, one of the vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission. There was no mention in any of the comments in front of reporters of cyber issues or the South China Sea. Despite efforts to ensure next month's summit would be a success, both sides had lowered their expectations over what could be achieved as disagreements on major issues remained wide, analysts said. “Even without the economic problems, the overall environment for bilateral relations hasn't been great,” said Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations with Renmin University. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Teen with HIV gets OK to go to school (China Daily)
An 18-year-old female student who is HIV-positive will be allowed into a high school with reduced tuition fees after she was refused by another school that she applied to in Wu'an, Hebei province, last month, according to an official government micro blog on Tuesday. "The girl, nicknamed Ting Ting, had been directed to an appropriate school where she could receive education, and her tuition and living expenses would be reduced," the official micro blog of Wu'an posted. The post also said the high school that declined her had been criticized for not treating AIDS/HIV students the same as others. The No 10 High School in Wu'an, didn't accept her because it was worried parents of other students couldn't accept their children studying with a student who is HIV-positive, China Youth Daily reported on Tuesday. "We had sympathy for her, but we still couldn't take her," an official from the school was quoted as saying. The student had been ostracized from schools and society since she was diagnosed with HIV at age 2 after her mother died from AIDS, her father, Wang Weijun, said. Her mother got the virus from a blood transfusion conducted by a hospital that used forbidden self-collected blood. The disease alienated most of her classmates when she was in primary and middle school. "I have had no desk mates since the third grade," she said, adding that she seldom left her home and spoke little to others. Even so, Ting Ting hadn't been rejected by a school before this. "I tried to send her to an out-of-town school where no one would know she was a student with HIV," said her father. Wang also tried to find a high school established especially for people with HIV/AIDS, but he found none. Under a regulation on HIV/AIDS that took effect in 2006, no HIV/AIDS-related discrimination is allowed and those who are infected can enjoy the same marriage, work, medical care and education as others. "The school's behavior was understandable. Although people would not catch HIV through normal behavior in everyday life, the disease is horrible after all," a netizen nicknamed Hyunbaisetaidi said, adding that most people don't know much about HIV/AIDS. Liang Liang, an HIV/AIDS health worker in Hebei, said that schools should promote reasonable HIV/AIDS awareness and methods of preventing the spread of the virus so that discrimination could be gradually mitigated. ^ top ^

Insurance to include treatment, diagnosis of birth defects (China Daily)
The national health authority has pledged to include diagnosis and treatment of birth defects under health insurance programs. One baby suffering a birth defect is born every 20 seconds in China. Currently, about 5.6 percent of babies in China have defects, or approximately 900,000 newborns each year, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The rate is higher than the usual 3-4 percent in most developed countries. Common problems include neural tube defects in the brain or spinal cord, hemophilia, congenital heart disease, too many fingers or toes, cleft lip or palate and Down syndrome, experts said. In extreme cases, disabilities or death can follow. Some defects, such as hemophilia, congenital heart disease, and cleft lip or palate are already covered by the health insurance program in rural areas. "The commission has been making efforts to include more birth defects under insurance coverage to help alleviate economic burdens for families with children suffering problems," said an official surnamed Liu. Liu works with the women's and children's health department of the commission and was speaking at an awareness-raising event to mark Birth Defects Prevention Day, which falls on Sept 12. "Birth defects have become a principal cause of children's disabilities and deaths here, many of which actually can be prevented," he said. "The reimbursement rate for the treatment of birth defects will be further increased," he said. Cheng Weiwei, deputy director of the Women and Children's Hospital, China Welfare Institute, stressed the importance of prevention. Many birth defects, particularly if they are hereditary, can be screened out via medical checkups. Also, there are proven preventions, such as folic acid intake to help avert neural tube defects. Therefore, "prevention enabled by public education is essential", she said. In some rural areas, free pre-pregnancy checkups and medical care have been provided to reduce the birth defect rate. "Investment is worthwhile because of the huge medical costs incurred when treating birth defects," she said. ^ top ^

Deputy minister will again oversee impact assessments (China Daily)
The deputy minister of environmental protection will again take charge of environmental impact assessments, returning to a position he held 10 years ago and raising expectations he will once more implement effective steps to control polluting projects. Pan Yue, 55, who has been deputy minister of environmental protection for 12 years, will oversee work related to the assessments. It is his second time in the position, in an adjustment of the ministry's leaders, Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Tuesday. There was no official announcement or confirmation from the ministry on Tuesday, but two sources within the ministry confirmed the change for China Daily. Since the end of 2004, Pan headed the environmental impact assessment of projects, and in the following three years undertook strict efforts to control polluting projects. Environmental impact assessments led to the rejection of 30 major construction projects, including the Xiluodu hydropower plant along the Jinsha River, and each was fined as much as 200,000 yuan ($31,400), according to a statement posted on the ministry's website in 2005. The statement said the hydropower plant, whose construction began before assessment was completed, would have to stop construction and adjust the work area to avoid negative influences on a nearby natural reserve. In 2007, the ministry rejected the assessment of over 80 enterprises due to the projects' inappropriate locations and risks of polluting the environment. Since 2008, Pan had shifted his focus to other issues in the ministry. Many pollution problems from highly polluting industries and projects with excessive emissions are closely related to loose environmental impact assessments in recent years, said Ma Jun, director of the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs, on Tuesday. The environmental impact assessment is the first step before a project begins construction, a necessary move to reduce pollution from the start. However, it has been common for projects to begin construction before an assessment is completed, said Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection, when addressing the concerns of national legislators on Saturday. Chen said the ministry would promote adjustments to the assessment law, making it stronger and more effective. ^ top ^

First film tackling homosexual relationships to be shown in China (Global Times)
China has approved the screening of a movie considered the first in Chinese mainland on gay relationships this winter after a one-year wait, a sign insiders consider a huge step forward for the country's film industry. The film, Seek McCartney, co-produced in China and France starring Chinese singer and actor Han Geng and award-winning French actor Jérémie Elkaïm, has been approved by China's media watchdog, film director Wang Chao announced on his Sina Weibo account on Saturday. Wang, known in the French film industry for his films, The Orphan of Anyang and Luxury Car, said on his Weibo that "it is a small step for the regulator and a big step for filmmakers…It was not easy, but was delightful." Han said on his Weibo that the film might be shown in theaters in winter this year. Cheng Qingsong, a screenwriter and movie critic, told the Global Times on Tuesday that "this is the first movie on gay relationships approved by the country's regulator. After waiting for a year, this is a big step forward [for China's film industry]." Cheng said that, previously, several films with similar themes were banned, and whether other similar films will be approved remains to be seen. Some gay films such as Lan Yu, featuring popular Chinese actors Liu Ye and Hu Jun with full-frontal male nudity, although banned from Chinese theaters, are now available on video-streaming websites. Cheng's views were echoed by Popo Fan, a documentary filmmaker and a LGBT campaigner, who told the Global Times that more mainstream movies have been featuring homosexuals, which could help encourage more people understand them. Fan added the current regulating system, which lacks film classification based on movie content, may restrict the diversity of films. In 2008, China's media watchdog's regulations considered homosexuality part of pornographic and vulgar content. That provision was abolished in 2010. ^ top ^

'Authorities should deliver an honest explanation': First comments by Tianjin's ex-party boss - now current vice-premier - on disaster response (SCMP)
Chinese state media has for the first time reported remarks over Tianjin's deadly blasts by a senior politician, who had served as the Communist Party's city boss before rising to the top echelon of politics. Executive Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, a member of the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, had convened seven video conferences and issued 29 instructions over the rescue operation and investigation into the hazardous warehouse explosion that killed at least 158 and injured hundreds, Xinhua reported, citing Mayor Huang Xingguo at an special meeting on Monday night. According to Huang, Zhang repeatedly called for thorough investigations into those who had violated the law, no matter their position, it said. In the aftermath of the blast, media reports have questioned how the warehouse's operator, Ruihai International Logistics, was able to secure authorities' approval to convert a logistics centre near residential areas and highways into a time bomb. The investigation should be a thorough one, Huang quoted Zhang as saying. The authorities should be transparent in their response and deliver an honest explanation to the public. On Sunday, Zhang called for precautions in handling the work at the disaster scene, as rain was forecast in the upcoming days, Xinhua's website reported. The authorities are still clearing sodium cyanide – a toxic chemical that releases deadly cyanide gas upon contact with water – from the area. Before joining the seven-member standing committee in 2012, Zhang spent five years in Tianjin as its party boss. Binhai New Area, where the blasts occurred, was the hub of the port city's economic growth during his tenure. Official media had previously not carried comments from Zhang about the disaster, even though his immediate boss, Premier Li Keqiang, had inspected the area. Zhang's portfolio focuses on economic and financial issues, while industrial safety falls to Vice-Premier Ma Kai. ^ top ^

Communist Party's elite training school denies shifting sign a snub to ex-president Jiang Zemin (SCMP)
The removal of a stone sign inscribed with Chinese calligraphy written by China's former president Jiang Zemin from the entrance to a key Communist Party training centre is not a sign of disrespect, a senior official said on Monday, after rumours of destabilising infighting in the party. Jiang stepped down as party chief in 2002 and state president in 2003, but remained head of the military for another year after stacking the Politburo, one of the party's elite ruling bodies, with his people. He remains influential to this day. Rumours periodically circulate in leadership and diplomatic circles about Jiang, especially arguments between him and President Xi Jinping about policy, which are almost impossible to verify because China's political system is so opaque and secretive. So when a stone sign for the Central Party School, which was written in Jiang's distinctive calligraphy, was removed from the front entrance more than a week ago, speculation spread that this was a sign of infighting between Xi and Jiang and that Xi was signalling his displeasure with the former president. The party's official newspaper the People's Daily had already stirred the pot with a commentary criticising unnamed officials who clung to power after retirement and caused party splits. Zhuo Zeyuan, head of the school's political science and law department, said he was aware of the concern the removal of the plinth had attracted at home and abroad. The plinth, he told a news conference ostensibly about a huge military parade in Beijing on Thursday marking the end of the second world war, had been moved inside the school's grounds as too many people had been stopping outside on a main road to take pictures of it and that had become a safety issue. “Also, the Central Party School is undergoing a full refurbishment and moving it to the front of the main building in fact does not mean any disrespect to comrade Jiang Zemin. We still respect him as before,” said Zhuo, who has given lectures to the Politburo. A visit to the school by the South China Morning Post soon after the rumours started to spread on the internet confirmed that the plinth had been moved to a prominent position behind the main gate of the site. The school, which trains rising officials, had set up a central axis of displays as part of the renovations, including statues of Deng Xiaoping, who ushered in China's landmark economic reforms in the late 1970s, and Mao Zedong, the founder of Communist China, Zhuo said. Jiang's sign was at the front of that axis, he added. ^ top ^

China adopts amendments to Criminal Law (Xinhua)
China's top legislature on Saturday adopted amendments to the Criminal Law, removing the death penalty for nine crimes, and ruling out commutation for most corrupt figures. The nine crimes punishable by death include smuggling weapons, ammunition, nuclear materials or counterfeit currency; counterfeiting currency; raising funds by means of fraud; arranging for or forcing another person to engage in prostitution; obstructing a police officer or a person on duty from performing his duties; and fabricating rumors to mislead others during wartime. After removing the death penalty for these crimes, those convicted will face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The amendments were voted in by lawmakers at the end of a six-day bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. The move to limit the use of the death penalty comes in the wake of judicial reform pushed forward by the Communist Party of China in recent years to gradually reduce the number of crimes subject to the penalty. It is the second time China has reduced the number of crimes punishable by death since the Criminal Law took effect in 1979. In 2011, the NPC Standing Committee dropped the death penalty for 13 economic-related non-violent crimes including smuggling cultural relics, gold and silver; carrying out fraud related to financial bills; forging or selling forged exclusive value-added tax invoices; teaching criminal methods; and robbing ancient cultural ruins. Under the amended Criminal Law, which will take effect on Nov. 1, the number of crimes punishable by death is 46. Saturday's amendment gives more protection for women and children, as it stipulates that "buying abducted women and children must face criminal penalty." The revised law also repealed the crime of sex with underage prostitutes and reclassified it as rape, meaning it involves a tougher punishment. Under the previous law, people who have sex with prostitutes less than 14 years old face a maximum of 15 years in prison, while those convicted of raping a child may face the death sentence. According to the amendments, criminals convicted on serious corruption charges who have received a two-year suspended death sentence will face life imprisonment after the two years. This aims to "safeguard judicial fairness" and prevent "the most corrupt criminals from serving shorter prison terms through commutation," according to the top legislature. It targets officials who illegally seek commutation, parole or non-prison sentences. The amendments also impose tougher sentences for assaults on police officers on duty and clarify the crime of contempt of court, so as to safeguard judicial authority. Nine lawyers were recently taken under coercive measures, after they used Beijing Fengrui law firm as a platform to provoke trouble and disturb social order. According to the current law, lawyers can be disbarred if they are convicted of disrupting or interfering with due proceedings or inciting others to raise trouble. The new law adds crimes regarding cyber security, enhancing protection of citizens' personal information and ascertaining responsibilities for Internet service providers failing to fulfill duties of network security management. The revised law says that those counterfeiting passports, social security cards and driving licenses will also face punishment. Organizing cheating in exams and bringing civil litigations based on fabricated facts to pursue illegitimate interests, are also listed as crimes that are punishable by imprisonment up to seven years. In its stipulations against terrorism, the revised law adds several items to crack down more heavily on terrorism. Those promoting terrorism and extremism by producing and distributing related materials, releasing information, instructing in person or through audio, video or information networks will face more than five years in prison in serious cases. Those who instigate violent terror activities will also face the same punishment. Harsher punishment will also be imposed on those involved in cults. In serious cases, the maximum punishment may be extended to life imprisonment, the new law says. Previously, the maximum sentence for those found guilty of cult-related crimes was 15 years in prison. ^ top ^

Those who purchase trafficked children to face punishment (Global Times)
People who buy an abducted child from traffickers will now face punishment, according to amendments to the Criminal Law adopted by China's top legislature on Saturday. According to amendments made to Article 241 of the Criminal Law, those who buy an abducted child but "do not maltreat the child nor obstruct his or her rescue" shall now be punished, although that punishment will be lighter than those who do abuse children or hamper their rescue, reported the Xinhua News Agency. The previous provisions stipulated that suspects were exempt from punishment if they did not maltreat the abducted children, which has led to controversies, said experts. The amendments were approved by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Saturday and will take effect on November 1, reported Xinhua. Courts in China heard 7,719 cases involving abducted women and children between 2010 and 2014, and in 57 percent of the cases traffickers received sentences ranging from five years to the death penalty, said Sun Jungong, spokesperson of the Supreme People's Court in February. However, buyers seldom receive such treatment and in most cases are not punished at all, which contributes to the high demand for trafficked people, media reports. […] China has seen a growing number of voices calling for the more severe punishment of those who buy children. Apart from the pain parents feel at losing their children, due to the family planning policy, most parents rely on their only child to look after them when they are elderly. While a lot of attention has been paid to the pain of those affected by abduction, less has been paid to the sorrow of those who are unable to acquire children through natural or legal means. China lacks a liberal adoption system in which a foster family can easily adopt a child as they want, said experts. "If parents cannot get a child as they wish, they will not reject a child obtained in another way," said Ruan, "Especially in many rural areas, the concept of having a male child to continue the family line is deeply rooted." Nearly 70 percent of the abducted children under 6 are boys, while girls make up the largest proportion of abducted children aged from 14 to 18, according to a report from the news portal Many of the abducted children were abandoned or sold by their parents. Among the 133 abductions studied in the report, abducted children were sold by their parents in 69 of the cases. Half of the rescued children cannot go back home, for some were sold by parents who refuse to take them back and some children's hometowns are too remote to be reached by authorities, said the report. Finding and rescuing an abducted child is not the end, but the beginning, as the child needs to heal from the trauma caused by the abduction, reported the Yanzhao Metropolis Daily, quoting a psychologist. "If the abducted child has a strong attachment to their foster family, a forced separation will also hurt him or her," reported China Youth Daily, quoting psychologist Li Xueman. ^ top ^

Plans submitted to move, upgrade about 1,000 chemical plants in China after Tianjin explosions disaster (SCMP)
Plans have been submitted by local governments across the mainland to move or upgrade about 1,000 chemical plants after the huge explosions at a hazardous goods warehouse in Tianjin earlier this month that killed at least 145 people. However, officials have warned that relocating the sites could prove difficult because of opposition from local residents. Miao Wei, Minister for Industry and Information Technology, said his department had received the applications over the past several days and the disaster had prompted provincial-level governments to accelerate plans to relocate chemical plants or upgrade them. "We started to work with the State Administration of Work Safety to make arrangements for the relocation and revamping of chemical plants in densely populated areas last year," Miao was quoted as saying in a report carried by a website controlled by the Communist Party newspaper the People's Daily. "Frankly, our work in the past year or more turned out to be inadequate." Miao told the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress yesterday that the 1,000 plants had cost about 400 billion yuan (HK$484 billion) to develop and that the money involved in moving or upgrading them would be a major issue. Two Shanghai government officials told the Sunday Morning Post the relocation of chemical plants could be an issue that would fester and take as long as 10 years to deal with as there was so much opposition. The mainland has seen a series of huge protests in recent years over plans to construct chemical plants near residential areas. Thousands of residents living in Shanghai's Jinshan district took to the streets in June to demonstrate against the rumoured relocation of a paraxylene project to the suburban area. The local government denied the chemical plant would be built in the district, but the protests went on for more than a week. One of the Shanghai officials, who asked not to be named, said it had proved extremely difficult for local authorities to move dangerous chemical plants. […] The reckless planning of chemical plants that heavily polluted the environment and posed a threat to people's health was a legacy local governments had to deal with, the Shanghai official admitted, but the problem was deep-rooted and widespread. "Even if governments were to map out plans to relocate plants, residents living in areas near the planned new location of the facilities could protest in a wild manner with social stability issues arising," he said. […] Hundreds of tonnes of dangerous chemicals were stored at the warehouse in Tianjin when it exploded on August 12. Government regulations require medium and large-size hazardous warehouses to be at least 1km from homes and other businesses. At least one residential development in Tianjin was less than 1km from the blast site. ^ top ^

China's Communist Party silences former critic, the liberal Nanfang news group (SCMP)
The once outspoken Nanfang Media Group has adopted a raft of measures to align it with the Communist Party, weed out “negative” reports and ensure staff toe the official line. Some employees had already been punished for transgressions dating to 2013, according to a report this week in the Nanfang Daily News. Former editors saw the changes as the final nail in the coffin for what was once the best media outfit on the mainland and further evidence the leadership would tighten its grip on the industry nationwide. The group underwent an inspection by the Guangdong provincial discipline watchdog in April and was roundly criticised in an assessment released the following month. A reform task force was being led by the group's party secretary Mo Gaoyi, who stepped down as deputy director of the provincial propaganda department in 2013. The measures include strengthening the group's party membership base and stepping up editorial management, according to the report. Study sessions had been running since March and employees would be referring to instructional materials on Marxist news values. As part of the overhaul, the group's newspapers would sharply curb “negative” coverage and run “positive and mainstream” stories. “Under the mechanism, Southern Weekly, Southern Metropolis News and 21st Century Business Herald have successfully transformed into mainstream reporting … where general social news, especially negative news has been greatly reduced,” the report said. A former editor at the News who resigned last year said the group had become a pure propaganda vehicle. […] He predicted the crackdown on Guangdong media would be expanded into a national campaign. […] In 2013, editorial staff at Southern Weekly staged a protest over censorship of its popular New Year editorial. The stand-off sparked a rally by activists over government media controls, and grabbed international headlines. The Nanfang group again drew the national spotlight last September, when the top management at the group that publishes the widely read 21st Century Business Herald were arrested over an extortion scam. Correction: A quote was mistakenly attributed to a company statement instead of a report in the Nanfang Daily News. ^ top ^

China confirms prisoner amnesty for WWII anniversary (Xinhua)
China's top legislature has adopted a prisoner amnesty deal which will see thousands of war veterans as well as very old, young or infirm prisoners granted official pardons, in a move marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Sept. 3. The deal, promulgated by President Xi Jinping on Saturday, comes 40 years after China granted an amnesty to war criminals in 1975, and 56 years after it granted its first pardon to non-war criminals in 1959. This is the eighth amnesty since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Four categories of prisoners who are not deemed a threat to society and who were sentenced before Jan. 1, 2015, will be considered: 1) Criminals who fought in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the civil war against the Kuomintang. 2) Criminals who participated in wars to safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity after 1949, with the exception of those found guilty of serious crimes including embezzlement and bribe-taking, terrorism and organized crime, as well repeat offenders. 3) Criminals who are 75 or above, and those with physical disabilities who are unable to care for themselves. 4) Those who committed crimes while under the age of 18 and received a maximum sentence of three years in prison, or who have less than a year of their prison term to serve, with the exception of those convicted of homicide, rape, terrorism or narcotics offences. The National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislature, reviewed a draft of the resolution during a bimonthly session that started on Monday. The lawmakers voted on it on Saturday. Li Shishi, director of the committee's legislative affairs commission, made clear while briefing the session that the amnesty is designed to exclude people guilty of embezzlement and bribe-taking, as China continues a campaign against official corruption. Judicial authorities have been preparing for the amnesty since May and estimate there are "several thousand qualified prisoners," with the oldest aged 95. All pardoned prisoners will be released by the end of this year, said Prof. Chu Huaizhi of Peking University, one of the government's consultants on the amnesty. The exact number of pardoned prisoners will not be known until provincial courts and prisons complete all the amnesty rulings later this year, Chu said, stressing how complicated their decisions will be. Li urged strict and prudent selection of criminals fit for the amnesty. Chu said all prisoners who fought in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the civil war will be more than 80 years old. Their number is very small and they do not pose a threat to society, so they should all be granted amnesty. This amnesty reflects China's tradition of respecting the elderly and caring for the young, and it is in line with the Criminal Law, which was amended in 2011 to allow leniency in the punishment of the aged, according to the professor. Gao Mingxuan, honorary president of the China Criminal Law Research Society, said the amnesty "shows respect for human rights." ^ top ^



Tibet govt enhances recruitment (Global Times)
Authorities from the Tibet Autonomous Region said they will be more selective in recruiting people, stressing that candidates who participate in separatism will be dropped, in its latest move against separatism. A newspaper affiliated with the Ministry of Human Resource and Social Security reported on Monday that political standards come first in selecting cadres in Tibet, and people who violate six rules will be disqualified. The six rules are avoid making speeches against the spirit of or overly agree to but covertly oppose the decisions made by the Central Committee of the CPC; avoid provoking ethnic dissensions or undermine ethnic unity; avoid participating in or supporting ethnic separatist activities; and avoid going aboard to enshrine the Dalai Lama and sending relatives and children to schools linked to the Dalai Lama, according to the report. Wang Chunhuan, deputy director of the Theoretical Marxism Institute of the Tibet Autonomous Region Academy of Social Sciences (TARASS), said these criteria have been applied to the previous recruitment process. But authorities have rarely publicized them. "The notice shows that authorities in Tibet have reinforced their attitude against separatism, and have made this known publicly," Wang told the Global Times. The rules aim to ensure that officials at all levels will truly be in the hands of people loyal to the CPC, the country and the people, read the report. "Authorities have attached more importance to maintaining ethnic unity in Tibet since 1965, and cadres in Tibet play an important role in implementing the central government's ethnic policy," Guo Kefan, deputy director of the Contemporary Tibetan Research Institute at TARASS, told the Global Times. According to the report, 80,000 cadres have been sent to villages and 7,000 to temples. Eight thousand policemen have also been assigned to different districts in Tibet for four years, and those who contribute to the fight against separatism will be promoted. "Ethnic separatists have recently expanded their influence to the grassroots level. Enhancing the cadres' awareness in fighting separatism would make them more effective," said Wang. Wang said that other policies include choosing ethnic Tibetan cadres who support ethnic unity and oppose the Dalai Lama and his supporters to ensure lasting peaceful governance in the region. The top positions in four of the seven districts in Tibet are held by ethnic Tibetans. A total of 694 villages have assigned one ethnic Han and one ethnic Tibetan as principal Party and government leaders. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the region's establishment. ^ top ^

China celebrates Tibet anniversary (Global Times)
China is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region, as the country vows to maintain national integrity and ensure long-term peaceful governance in the region. Teng Tingguo, deputy head of the press section at the regional publicity department, told the Global Times on Monday that the upcoming celebrations this week will include speeches delivered by top leaders and a gala show. Teng declined to give further details. There have been a series of celebrations, including art exhibitions and the release of a documentary, since the beginning of April. A celebratory stamp set designed for the anniversary of Tibet and a musical featuring the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world's highest plateau railway, will also be released. Tibet Autonomous Region was established on September 1, 1965. It was the last provincial-level region established within the People's Republic of China. To further inspect the country's Tibet policy, the 6th Tibet Work Forum was held last week in Beijing, with Chinese President Xi Jinping stating that the country's Tibet policy should be centered on maintaining national integrity and fighting against separatism, ensuring long-term peaceful governance and sustainable growth in the region, and improving social cohesion. The meeting was aimed at setting the basic tone of policy for the next five years, analysts said, adding that although the meeting inherited many previous stances, new touches were also made, such as "enforcing the rule of law in Tibet," "sustainable growth" and "improving social cohesion." "Enhancing social cohesion and an emphasis on a more human-centric approach is being put forward amid increasing conflicts caused by the economy-centered development," Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at the Minzu University of China, told the Global Times. Xiong said that this people-oriented approach had long-been ignored during the economy-driven development of the past two decades. From 1993 to 2014, Tibet's GDP leapt from 3.7 billion yuan ($580,160 million) to 92 billion yuan and the average income of farmers and herdsmen was 7,471 yuan, 10.6 times that of 1993, the Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday. Xi's predecessor Hu Jintao pointed out in the fifth meeting on the work of Tibet Autonomous Region in January 2010 that Tibet should stick to a path centering on economic construction and should safeguard leapfrog development. […] Another highlight of Xi's outline of Tibet development is the call to develop the region by local residents themselves, Penpa Lhamo noted. Xi has asked for more efforts to promote self-dependent economic growth and comprehensive reforms in Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas in four other provinces, in a bid to encourage participation of locals from different ethnic minority groups. Over the past six decades since Tibet's peaceful liberation, Tibet has witnessed rapid development, thanks to special financial, tax and investment policies, and a helping hand from other interior regions - thousands of Party members volunteer to travel to Tibet every year to help locals build modern infrastructure, open new factories and receive better education. Between 1952 and 2013, 95 percent of the investment local governments in Tibet used to develop their economy came from the central government's fiscal transfer payment, reaching 544.6 billion yuan, according to statistics from the regional government. "The central government has put more emphasis on self-reliable development than ever in the meetings on the work of Tibet Autonomous Region," Penpa Lhamo said. She said that self-dependent development can boost the self-esteem of Tibetans who have become used to waiting and asking for aid from the central government and other provinces. "Poor self-esteem will lead to a weak sense of belonging and hamper ethnic unity as a result," Penpa Lhamo said. ^ top ^

CPC's upgraded governance policy of Tibet applauded (Xinhua)
The ruling Communist Party of China's governance strategies in Tibet, unveiled at a recent meeting, show improvement in line with the region's development, analysts say. At a conference on Tibet held by central leadership in Beijing earlier this week, President Xi Jinping underlined national and ethnic unity as the key plans for the Tibet Autonomous Region, vowing to focus on long-term, comprehensive stability and an unswerving battle against separatism. He stressed important principles such as governing Tibet according to the law and striving to make people rich and the region prosperous with long-term development. These thoughts have been put forward by the central leadership since the 18th national congress of the CPC in 2012. […] The administration committee will deal with lawless monks according to law to ensure the monastery and monks abide by law and religious activities continue normally, said Norbu. With the promotion of legal knowledge, people's awareness of law and protection of their interests has seen remarkable improvement, said Zhou Yalin, a senior official of Damxung County, Tibet. They used to turn to monasteries for help in case of disputes or simply solve them privately, but more and more people now know they can seek help from police or courts, said Zhou. Xi Jinping underlined the policy of maintaining a prudent and steady manner in the long-term development of Tibet, requiring far-sight and sustainability in work and measures. He stressed putting ecological protection first. The central leadership's prudent attitude takes into account the ecological pressure of the plateau, said Penpa Lhamo. "Each generation is obliged to protect the region's pure land," she said. This is a required adjustment for Tibet's sustainable and coordinated development after its economic volume reaches a certain scale, said Wang Daiyuan, also with the academy. In the past, fast development was stressed because the region was poor, he explained. Xi also urged persistent stability for Tibet and neighboring provinces, which are home to many Tibetan and other ethnic minorities, including Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu. To stick to the struggle against the Dalai Lama clique accords with the interests of people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, said Penpa Lhamo. ^ top ^



Pakistan tells China 'almost all' Uygur militants eliminated (SCMP)
Almost all members of the Uygur militant group the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) have been eliminated from Pakistan, the country's president said on Wednesday during a visit to Beijing. China blames violent unrest in its far western region of Xinjiang on Islamist separatist groups such as ETIM, who it said wanted to set up an independent state called East Turkestan and have bases in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many foreign experts, however, have questioned whether ETIM exists as the coherent group that China claims it is. At a meeting with President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain said a recent anti-terror operation codenamed Zarb-e-Azb “has been successful in eradicating the terrorism from our country”. Hussain said: “It has also been very helpful in eliminating the ETIM element from our country and I think almost all the ETIM people in our country have been eliminated. Maybe, if they are there, there should be very few.” China and Pakistan were “iron brothers” and always helped each other “with great zeal”, he added. Hussain is in China to attend Thursday's military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war in Asia. Hundreds of people have died in violence in Xinjiang in the past few years, which Beijing has blamed on the militants. Rights groups believe the real cause of the unrest is Chinese restrictions on the Islamic faith and culture of the Uygur people, who call the region home. China said ETIM recruited Uygurs who have gone to Turkey and trained them with extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, with the intent of returning to Xinjiang to wage holy war. ^ top ^



'Stop attacking Chinese tourists': Hong Kong leader says protests are threatening city's 'hospitable' image as visitor numbers drop (SCMP)
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has spoken of his disappointment at a slump in visitor numbers, and has urged Hongkongers not to stage further protests against tourists. Figures released by the Tourism Board on Monday showed 4.92 million people visited the city in July, a decline of 8.4 per cent year on year. Among mainland visitors - by far the biggest group - the year on year fall was 9.8 per cent, to 3.85 million. "It is easy to drive visitors away but hard to invite them back," Leung said ahead of the Executive Council's weekly meeting yesterday. "We do not allow any behaviour or speech that will spoil the hospitable image of Hong Kong. We do not want to see any action attacking tourists." Leung's comments were an apparent reference to protests by so-called localist groups upset by an influx of mainland visitors and the effect it has had on the daily lives and well-being of Hongkongers. A series of protests - specifically aimed at cross-border traders - erupted into chaos in New Territories towns in February and March. Last year, an uncomfortably visible protest was held in the popular shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui. Leung said the visitors helped put food on the tables of many low-income families, while the retail and hotel industries would also suffer if tourists stayed away. The government would continue to promote the city but Hongkongers also had a role to play, he added. When asked whether the fall should be attributed to anti-tourist activities or weak economic conditions elsewhere, Leung admitted various factors had contributed, but said Hong Kong should be vigilant as there was "no anti-visitor movement" anywhere else in the world. Travel Industry Council chief executive Joseph Tung Yao-chung said yesterday that the protests were still having an impact on tourists' desire to travel to Hong Kong. He said news and discussion about unfriendly behaviour towards mainland tourists continued to circulate online. Some tour agencies had told him they remained concerned mainland tourists were not welcome in Hong Kong. "They said: 'Hey, Hong Kong is not welcoming us. Why should we go to Hong Kong?'" Tung said. "This worries us." Tung said he was particularly concerned about a recent drop in the number of visitors staying overnight, which was down 11.6 per cent year on year in July, after a 7.2 per cent fall in June. "This is because overnight visitors spent more than others... So this has an impact on Hong Kong's overall tourism industry," he said. Mainland tourists were being drawn to other destinations which had relaxed visa requirements and where exchange rates were more favourable than in Hong Kong, he explained. Tung urged Hongkongers to stop anti-tourist behaviour and hoped that big events scheduled for the rest of the year, including a food festival and a cycling competition, would draw visitors. ^ top ^

4,000 Hong Kong civil servants to be handed HK$17,500 a month extra with no questions asked (SCMP)
A generous government allowance paid to some of Hong Kong's top-ranking civil servants without requiring them to account for the money has come under scrutiny as the cost to taxpayers looks set to exceed HK$1 billion annually by next year. The Non-Accountable Cash Allowance (NCA) is an expenditure that attracts little attention when the government opens its books every year, but with the ballooning total on track to be more than HK$1.1 billion in less than a year, questions have been asked as to whether it is sustainable. The NCA was introduced by the government in June 2000 to replace previous housing benefit allowances because it provided "flexibility for staff". "The NCA is fully non-accountable and is not tied to any housing expenses," a Civil Service Bureau spokeswoman told the South China Morning Post. But Andrew Shuen Pak-man, interim executive director of the Lion Rock Institute, a public policy think tank, said: "It is accounting trickery to make people think government size isn't growing and public servant pay is under control. But this is growing and nothing is sustainable at this growth rate." The allowance will cost the government an estimated HK$839 million in 2015-16, according to the 2015 budget, up 33 per cent on the HK$629 million spent in the previous year. Every year since 2006 the allowance has grown by more than a third - at that rate the figure will exceed HK$1.1 billion in the next financial year. In 2015, 4,000 of Hong Kong's more than 170,000 civil servants are expected to receive the allowance which averages out at about HK$17,500 each month, or more than the average Hong Kong salary. It is paid in addition to the civil servants' regular salary. Only 85 civil servants qualified for the allowance in 2005. According to the Civil Service Bureau spokeswoman, government employees who earn more than HK$60,000 a month automatically qualify for the allowance, while those earning less than HK$60,000 receive it based on a quota system and years of continuous service. The spokeswoman said civil servants could receive the allowance for a maximum of 10 years. […] But Shuen said while he was sympathetic to the government's need to attract high-quality candidates with large salaries, more transparency was necessary regarding such allowances. Former civil service minister Joseph Wong Wing-ping countered that the size of an allowance alone did not warrant it being reined in or re-evaluated. "You can look at this from an egalitarian viewpoint but that's not how the government runs the civil service," he said. Wong pointed out that the entire civil service pay package was approved by the legislature, including allowances, meaning the allowance was growing within its approved mechanism. ^ top ^

Beijing loyalists not expecting two-thirds majority in elections for Hong Kong legislature, Legco president says (SCMP)
The pro-establishment camp is not expecting to win a two-thirds majority in next year's Legislative Council election following its bungled vote on the government's electoral reform package in June, Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said. Tsang, a leading light of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, made the remark yesterday, a month after his party was given the tough mission during a visit to Beijing. "Some officials in Hong Kong and Beijing … are still dreaming about winning two-thirds of the seats," Tsang said. "This optimism was most obvious at the beginning of this year, because … the Occupy protests cost the pan-democrats public support, and the SAR government … was then optimistic that the political reform package would be approved. "But I think in the last two months, it has been clearer that the pro-establishment camp won't be eyeing a two-thirds majority," he said. In June, the Beijing-decreed reform package for the 2017 chief executive election was blocked after it failed to secure support from the required two-thirds of lawmakers. The pro-establishment camp has 43 seats in Legco and must win four more in September next year to secure a two-thirds majority and push through reform without the need to win over any pan-democrats. Some 31 pro-establishment lawmakers walked out of the Legco chamber seconds before the vote on the package in the mistaken belief voting would be suspended. Pro-establishment legislators feared supporters would be disappointed by the fiasco. Tsang said he thinks "Beijing officials, including those working in the liaison office, are still living in the aftermath of the bungled vote and licking their wounds". He also said optimism had been dampened by the fact that a third of Hongkongers were firmly opposed to the package. ^ top ^



Taiwan allocates NT$3 billion budget to build its own submarines (SCMP)
Taiwan has allocated NT$3 billion (HK$714 million) over four years, beginning next year, to launch a long-awaited programme for the island to build its own diesel-electric submarines. The expected allocation is the first for a plan that has been talked about since the early 2000s, when a deal with the United States for eight diesel-electric submarines was bogged down because of technical and political constraints. The spending was set out in the defence ministry's budget for 2016. The plan comes as other navies in the region expand their submarine fleets in part to create a strategic deterrent against mainland China's growing naval assertiveness in Asian waters. Taiwan has four ageing submarines, including two that date to the second world war, although its military is otherwise considered generally modern. Mainland China has about 70 submarines, along with dozens of surface ships and a refurbished aircraft carrier. China sees self-ruled Taiwan as a renegade province and has never renounced the use of force to take back the island. Critical to Taiwan's indigenous submarine programme is the transfer from the US or other Western countries of submarine-manufacturing technology. Support from US companies or release of export technology controls would need a nod from the US government. But mainland China opposes any form of military technological transfers or weapons sales to Taiwan. The spending plan, which is allotted through to 2019, covers only the contract design phase of what should be a decades-long programme. Taiwan's Ship and Ocean Industries R&D Centre, a government-backed ship designer and technical consultant, is expected to select a consortium to lead the contract design phase, according to military and industry sources in Taiwan. Taiwan lacks submarine design skills, the ministry stated in its budget plan. By carrying out this first phase, the island would be able to deepen its vessel design capabilities, develop its industry and acquire intellectual property, it said. The defence ministry is planning to spend NT$321.7 billion next year, accounting for 16.1 per cent – the biggest share – of the central government's overall expenditures, budget plans show. The government's 2016 budget was delivered to lawmakers this week and will be reviewed when parliament begins a new session later this month. The submarine plan has support in parliament, which is expected to approve the overall budget. ^ top ^


China-led AIIB development bank to offer loans with fewer strings attached: sources (SCMP)
China's new international development bank will offer loans with fewer strings attached than the World Bank, sources said, as Beijing seeks to change the unwritten rules of global development finance. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will require projects to be legally transparent and protect social and environmental interests, but will not ask borrowers to privatise or deregulate businesses for loans, four sources with knowledge of the matter said. By not insisting on some free market economic policies recommended by the World Bank, the AIIB is likely to avoid criticism levelled against its rivals, who some people have claimed impose unreasonable demands on borrowers. It could also help Beijing stamp its mark on a bank regarded by some in the government as a political as much as an economic project, and reflects scepticism in China about the virtues of free market policies advocated in the West. […] A reduced focus on the free market could give the AIIB greater freedom to run projects, said a banker at a development bank, who declined to be named. For example, development banks that finance a water treatment plant may require the price of treated water to be raised to recoup costs, even if local conditions are not conducive to higher prices. The AIIB, on the other hand, could avoid raising prices and rely instead on other sources of financing, such as government subsidies, to defray costs, he said. The bank, to which some 50 countries have signed up to join, also aimed to have a simpler internal review and risk assessment system for projects compared with its peers to hold down costs and cut red tape, sources said. For one, the AIIB was not expected to delay some project approvals by months to allow all parties to do due diligence – a practice in place at other development banks, said a source familiar with the matter. The bank would also minimise expenditure by having only a handful of field offices and a staff strength of between 500 and 600 – about a sixth of the size of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and 5 per cent of the World Bank, he said. A successful AIIB that sets itself apart from the World Bank would be a diplomatic triumph for China, which opposes a global financial order it has said is dominated by the United States and under-represented by developing nations. […] However, down the road, the AIIB could offer concessionary loans and go beyond building ports and funding water, energy and transportation deals to financing policy projects such as health and education, three sources said. It might also expand its remit to fund projects in Africa, where countries had lobbied the lender to work in their region, a source added. To meet its year-end deadline of starting operations, the AIIB had hired a team of former ADB and World Bank bankers, and was drafting its operations manual by revising the ADB and World Bank versions, three sources said. Although the ADB and the World Bank have downplayed any rivalry between them and the AIIB, bankers said the AIIB's advent had prompted the two banks to review how they worked, to the benefit of borrowers. “The World Bank and the other development banks have become more risk-averse over time,” said David Dollar, a former director of World Bank China, who has advised Beijing on the AIIB. “That tends to be make them slow and bureaucratic.” ^ top ^

Asian Development Bank president says yuan 'was overvalued and now at real market level' (SCMP)
The yuan's recent depreciation has moved it closer towards its real market value, says head of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – dismissing fears that China may export deflation to its Asian neighbours by flooding goods made cheaper by a weak currency. Takehiko Nakao, president of the ADB, also said that while China's economy might no longer expand at a 10 per cent pace seen in the past, it would continue to grow steadily as it shifted to a consumption-driven economy with a deeper service sector. “China used to intervene to prevent excessive yuan strengthening, causing some friction with the United States,” Nakao, Japan's former top currency diplomat, told a seminar in Yokohama, in Japan, on Wednesday. “What's been happening recently is that the yuan has become overvalued... depreciation of the yuan is in line with its real market value.” The People's Bank of China (PBOC) has repeatedly intervened to stabilise the yuan since the August 11 devaluation – billed as free-market reform – sent shockwaves through global markets and depressed emerging currencies. Nakao acknowledged that the recent market turmoil partly reflected investors' concern over whether Chinese authorities could guide their economy towards a soft-landing. However, he was sanguine about the outlook, saying that while Chinese stock prices had fallen significantly, they remained above levels seen last summer. “Chinese consumption remains very strong and the country's service sector has great potential to grow,” Nakao said. “I'm not too worried about the outlook.” Worries about a sharp slowdown in China's economy have jolted global financial markets and heightened concern among Asian policymakers about the outlook for the region's economies. Nakao said the slowdown in China might weigh on countries that relied heavily on commodity exports to the world's second-biggest economy such as Indonesia. “But Asian countries have the ability to keep expanding on their own,” he said. “I don't think [China's slowdown] will deal a severe blow to Asia's economic development.” ^ top ^

China's central bank to curb currency speculation with move to make it more expensive to bet on yuan's weakness
Beijing's decision yesterday to impose reserve requirements on currency forward trading is expected to stabilise the yuan by pushing up the cost of selling the currency but may not be able to prevent its depreciation in the long run. Banks will be required to submit 20 per cent of the sales of currency forward trading to the People's Bank of China as a reserve requirement from October 15. The PBOC will conduct monthly checks on banks' reserve requirement pools, according to a document issued to banks and financial institutions yesterday. The central bank said the move was "to improve the prudent management framework over the macro economy, prevent major financial risks, and promote steady operation of the financial institutions". […] But longer-term concern over real effective exchange rate overvaluation remained. A fair bit was now contingent on how third-quarter gross domestic product shaped up on the mainland, he said. If it turned out to be weaker than expected, then the risk of more yuan weakness would be needed over the long run to adjust for the overvalued REER. […] The central bank could use its foreign exchange reserves to defend the currency, while the latest move would ease some pressure on the reserves. However, Wang said it was unlikely to remain in place long and might not influence the yuan's value in the long run as too much intervention in the market would go against Beijing's goal of internationalising the yuan. Andrew Fung, an executive director of Hang Seng Bank, said the move was also meant to reduce interbank settlement risks, as forward contracts involved credit exposure and risk grew as trade became hot. "Also, by increasing the cost of buying onshore dollar forwards, the incentive of doing arbitrage between onshore and offshore prices is lessened," Fung said. "The market interprets this a signal of the PBOC's determination to hold yuan at the current level at least for the time being, without a further depreciation agenda." Adam Xu, a mutual fund manager in Shanghai, said the move had little to do with the stock market. "It seems the government feels a more urgent need to defend the currency before the national parade [tomorrow]," he said. Spot yuan closed at 6.363 to the dollar yesterday. The value of yuan forward transactions in July was US$51.1 billion, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, compared with US$698 billion in the spot market. ^ top ^

Is China losing steam? Factory activity shrinks at fastest pace in three years as domestic and export orders tumble (SCMP)
Activity in China's factory sector shrank at its fastest rate in at least three years in August as domestic and export orders tumbled, increasing investors' fears that the world's second-largest economy may be lurching toward a hard landing. Capital market turmoil has made Chinese businesses and consumers turn more cautious Bill Adams, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Even more worrying, China's services sector, which has been one of the lone bright spots in the sputtering economy, also showed signs of cooling, a similar business survey said. Hurt by soft demand, overcapacity and falling investment, the economy has also been buffeted by plunging shares and a shock yuan devaluation, in what some have called a “perfect storm” of factors that is rattling global markets and could strain relations with China's major trading partners. Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday it would be beneficial for this week's meeting of the Group of 20 major economies to discuss what is going on in China's economy. […] News of deteriorating business conditions set off fresh selling in Chinese shares, with the blue-chip CSI300 index tumbling 4 per cent at one point, dragging down stocks across Asia as well as US stock futures. Analysts said the bleak readings affirmed bets that China, which has slashed interest rates five times since November, must loosen policy again soon to avert a sharper economic downturn that could weigh on global growth even as the US central bank prepares to raise interest rates. China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 49.7 in August from 50.0 in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday. That was in line with a Reuters poll but the lowest since August 2012, and below the 50-point mark separating growth from contraction. New orders – a proxy for domestic and foreign demand – fell to 49.7 in August from July's 49.9. New export orders contracted for an 11th straight month. A private survey by Caixin/Markit focusing on smaller factories pointed to an even sharper slowdown, with the PMI dropping to 47.3, the worst reading since March 2009. Both surveys showed manufacturers were laying off workers at a faster rate as their order books shrank. The closure of factories in northern China to clear Beijing's skies for a huge military parade this week likely also hurt output, as did China's services companies are also showing clear signs of fatigue, to the point where growth in that sector may no longer be enough to offset persistent factory weakness. The official services reading cooled slightly to 53.4, while remaining well in expansion territory, but the private survey PMI fell sharply to 51.5, its lowest level since July 2014. That dragged a composite PMI combining factory and services readings to below 50 for the first time since April 2014. In another sign that economic weakness was spreading to the services sector, the Caixin/Markit services PMI showed the labour market deteriorated for the 22nd straight month in August. Employment in the services sector fell to 50.1, barely remaining in expansionary territory. […] Chinese authorities have launched their most aggressive policy loosening campaign since the 2008-09 global financial crisis to try to put a floor beneath sagging growth. However, the effectiveness of more monetary policy easing has been called into question, with some warning of a “liquidity trap” if China continues to pour cash into a system where the last thing struggling companies want is to take on more debt. The last time China slashed interest rates was on August 25, when it also lowered the amount of reserves banks must hold for the second time in two months. ^ top ^

China removes regulation on loan-to-deposit ratio (Xinhua)
China's top legislature on Saturday adopted an amendment to the Law on Commercial Banks, removing a 75-percent loan-to-deposit ratio stipulation. The ratio will instead be regarded as a liquidity-monitoring indicator, according to the amendment, which was voted in by the National People's Congress Standing Committee at the end of a bimonthly legislative session that started on Monday. China has kept the 75-percent ratio since the law was enacted and put into effect in 1995. The amendment will take effect on Oct. 1. "The ratio was set to prevent overquick expansion of commercial banks' credit scale and control liquidity risk, but it has become improper for current needs," said Shang Fulin, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission. The asset-liability structure of commercial banks has been diversified from 20 years ago, as deposits take lower ratio of liabilities and bonds investment takes more of assets. Commercial banks had to try every means to attract more deposits so that their loans can be increased. But such outdated ratio is now hindering the already market-oriented banks to better support the real economy, Shang said. "It's necessary and rational to remove the ratio now, good for banking reform and economic growth," said Zeng Gang, researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He said such measures will generate more free space for future economic rebound with stronger credit demand. Analysts believe the amount of credit to be released will be decided by the market, estimating no credit surge in short term while considering the weakening investment and financing demand. Guo Tianyong, a professor at Central University of Finance and Economics, said the move will benefit small and medium-sized banks of which the ratio was much closer to the red line, so as to enhance their credit supports for agricultural development and small businesses. Responding to concerns about the move weakening risk control, Shang said the improving supervision system has more effective indicators to monitor the liquidity risk of commercial banks. ^ top ^



Ministry: No troops sent to border with DPRK (China Daily)
The Ministry of National Defense has dismissed a rumor that China's People's Liberation Army was reinforcing the border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Tension recently flared on the Korean Peninsula and then eased within days. Some online speculation and media reports have said photos of tanks were proof of the Chinese army marching toward the China-DPRK border as reinforcements. "The reports... are not in accordance with facts and are purely hype, "ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a regular news conference in Beijing on Thursday. Currently, the China-DPRK border "remains stable overall", and the Chinese border defense forces "have consistently maintained regular combat readiness and training status", Yang said. Zhang Liangui, a Korean studies expert at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said it is inaccurate to base speculation on photos of tanks. The strategic climate of the peninsula "remains stable" despite recent turbulence, Zhang said. "China's recent official responses to the latest peninsula situation are appropriate and necessary," Zhang said. China-US trust The spokesman also confirmed "progress" achieved by Beijing and Washington for reconciling trust-building measures between the two militaries. Yang said that last November, the defense chiefs of both countries signed two memorandums of understanding. The memorandums address the establishment of a mutual reporting and trust mechanism on major military operations, and a Code of Conduct on naval and air military encounters. During the meeting between Central Military Commission Vice-Chairman Fan Changlong and US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in June, Fan called on both sides to strive to complete consultations on the Code of Conduct by August Yang said the two mechanisms are open-ended and could be amended on a consensus basis. This year, the two sides "have conducted several consultations" over the two newly-added memorandums, a code of conduct over airspace encounters and the reporting of military crises. Pang Zhongying, dean of the School of Global Studies at Sun Yat-Sen University, said although Washington remains cautious about China as a competitor, in some respects, "the interdependence is growing" and "it knows that the US cannot go alone". Pang is optimistic that consensus will be reached over military-to-military cooperation during President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to the US in September. "Sino-US cooperation (over defense issues) is actually expanding," he said. ^ top ^



China, Mongolia vow closer ties (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Mongolian counterpart Tsakhia Elbegdorj Thursday after China held a grand military parade at Tian'anmen Square in downtown Beijing. Xi thanked Elbegdorj for attending the commemoration marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, saying it shows Mongolia highly values the bilateral relations. China and Mongolia are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers, said Xi, adding their relations are an important part in China's neighborhood diplomacy. The comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries has been developing smoothly, he said. Xi voiced hopes that both sides cooperate closely to speed up the implementation of consensus. The two countries should maintain close high-level communication and cooperation in all fields, fully understand and accommodate each other's core interests and major concerns, said the Chinese president. Xi called for integrating China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with Mongolia's Steppe Road plan, and launching a batch of key projects to enhance cooperation levels. China is willing to keep close communication with Mongolia and Russia, to push the construction of the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor, he said. Elbegdorj said he was pleased to participate in the commemoration on Thursday morning. He called for implementing the consensus he reached with Xi on advancing bilateral cooperation, and boosting new progress in Mongolia-China all-round strategic partnership. China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang also met with Elbegdorj on Thursday, calling for closer parliamentary exchanges between the Chinese National People's Congress and the State Great Hural of Mongolia. Zhang urged the two parliaments to share governance experience and maintain regular exchanges. Elbegdorj said he expected closer parliamentary exchanges and cooperation in such areas as agriculture, farming and mining. ^ top ^

City Council's head meets delegation from Thailand (Montsame)
Head of the Citizens' Representative Khural of Ulaanbaatar city D.Battulga Wednesday met a visiting delegation headed by Mr Kanintorn Wongsarojan, the first deputy head of the Council of Bangkok city of Thailand. Noting that the capital cities of the countries established sisterhood ties 16 years ago, Mr Battulga emphasized that delegates of the two cities have been visiting each other since a delegation of the Council of Ulaanbaatar paid a visit to Bangkok on November 29, 1999. Mr Battulga added that he visited Bangkok last April, and established a cooperation memorandum, brining the ties into a new level. Mr Battulga also gave information to the delegation about a function of the Citizens' Representative Khural of Ulaanbaatar. Expressing thanks for a warm audience, Mr Kanintorn Wongsarojan said youths of the two cities have visited each other for getting familiarized with culture and history within the cooperation memorandum, whereas his visit to Ulaanbaatar will contribute to widening the ties between the cities as well as the bilateral relations. During the meeting, the sides agreed to hold a meeting between officials of the health offices at both Cities' Councils by a request of the Thailand's side. The visit of the Bangkok's delegation will continue until September 6. ^ top ^

Mongolia-Japan Business Forum held at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia (Infomongolia)
Mongolia-Japan Business Forum was held at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia on August 27, 2015 in framework of the visit of Japanese business delegation headed by Mr. Sadayuki Sakakibara, the Chairman of Keidanren (Japanese Business Federation). The delegation came to Mongolia on August 26, 2015. The forum has discussed current economic and social conditions of Mongolia and possibilities of economic cooperation between Mongolia and Japan. Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren has delivered an opening remarks at the Mongolia-Japan Business Forum. In his remarks, he has stressed the importance of involvement of individuals and private business bodies in implementation of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) established between Mongolia and Japan, and further called Mongolian and Japanese businessmen to put into action the motto “Lets survey together, manufacture together and trade together!” of President Ts.Elbegdorj delivered at Mongolia-Japan Business Forum held during his state visit to Japan on May 20-25, 2015. The Director of Economic Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Mr. Yo.Manlaibayar said: “Mongolia considers Japan as its third-neighbor and our political relations could progress greatly. Mr. Sadayuki Sakakibara, the Chairman of Keidanren has already paid a visit to President Ts.Elbegdorj, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg and the Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold. Based on the results of those meetings I find that there is a huge possibility to deepen our economic relations further, and the goal of this business forum is to introduce profitable economic sectors in Mongolia for investment to Japanese delegation. Leading Japanese companies are financing many major projects like new airport construction project in Khushigt Valley. Furthermore, we plan to introduce economic sectors such as mining, road infrastructure, energy industry and agriculture. As Japan is world leading country in technology it is essential to introduce Japanese mining technology to our mining sectors and inward required investments for the job." KEIDANREN (Japan Business Federation, abbreviation of Keizai Dantai Rengōkai) is a comprehensive economic organization with a membership comprised of 1,329 representative companies of Japan, 109 nationwide industrial associations and 47 regional economic organizations as of June 2, 2015. The mission of Keidanren as a comprehensive economic organization is to draw upon the vitality of corporations, individuals and local communities to support corporate activities which contribute to the self-sustaining development of the Japanese economy and improvement in the quality of life for the Japanese people. For this purpose, Keidanren establishes consensus in the business community on a variety of important domestic and international issues for their steady and prompt resolution. At the same time, we communicate with a wide range of stakeholders including political leaders, administrators, labor unions and citizens. ^ top ^

Mongolia-Russia joint military exercises complete (Montsame)
Mongolian-Russian joint military exercises against terrorism dubbed “Selenge 2015” completed after ten days of intensive training. The maneuvers involved up to 350 servicemen of the Mongolian armed forces and about 500 troops from a unit in the Russian Eastern Military District located in the Republic of Buryatia. The exercises have occupied the Tsugol training range in the East Siberia. The main theme of the military exercises was the anti-terrorism battles in the borderlands with joint troops, and overcoming water blocks with battle tanks. The Russian participants were led by Major-General D.I.Kovalenko and Mongolian troops were commanded by Brigade-General L.Ontsgoibayar. At the closing ceremony of “Selenge 2015”, the vice minister of Defense of Mongolia A.Battor, commander of General Purpose Troops of the Mongolian Armed Forces Brigade-General R.Sukhbat and other military leaders of the Russian armed forces were present. The Selenge military exercises are being held each year since 2008.  ^ top ^


Mrs. Mirjam Eggli
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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