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
  9-13.11.2015, No. 596  
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Foreign Policy

Air power: US flew B-52 bombers near disputed South China Sea islands, Pentagon says (SCMP)
Two US B-52 strategic bombers flew near artificial Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea this week and were contacted by Chinese ground controllers but continued their mission undeterred, the Pentagon said. The latest US patrol in the disputed South China Sea occurred in advance of President Barack Obama's visit to the region next week to attend Asia-Pacific summits where he is expected the reassert Washington's commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight in the area. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than US$5 trillion in global trade passes every year, and the United States has said it will continue conducting patrols to assure unimpeded passage. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims in the region. In the latest mission, which occurred overnight on November 8-9, the bombers flew “in the area” of the Spratly Islands but did not come within the 12-nautical-mile (22km) zones that China claims as territory around islands it has built in the chain, said Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman. “The B-52s were on a routine mission in the SCS [South China Sea],” taking off from and returning to Guam, Urban said. Chinese ground controllers contacted the bombers but the aircraft continued their mission unabated, Urban said. “We conduct B-52 flights in international air space in that part of the world all the time,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told a news briefing earlier on Thursday. Last month, a US warship challenged territorial limits around one of China's man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago with a so-called freedom-of-navigation patrol, the most significant US challenge yet to territorial limits China claims around its new islands. China reacted angrily to the patrol. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he did not know whether the South China Sea would be on the formal agenda at any of the three Asia summits that Obama will attend but added that it would be “on the minds and lips” of world leaders who gather there. Obama's first stop will be Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit, where Chinese President Xi Jinping will also be present. The US president will then go to Kuala Lumpur for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia summits. “We are quite concerned about protecting freedom of navigation, the free flow of commerce in the South China Sea,” Earnest told reporters. “And we're going to continue to encourage all parties, big and small, to resolve their differences diplomatically and to not try to use their comparative size and strength to intimidate their neighbours.” In an apparent show of US resolve, Obama will take part in what the White House described as “an event that showcases US maritime security assistance to the Philippines”. US officials did not elaborate. But in September, Navy Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, visited the National Coast Watch Centre, a facility at the Philippines coast guard headquarters that Washington has helped Manila build to improve its ability to monitor developments in the South China Sea. ^ top ^

US Congress Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi visits Tibet during China trip (SCMO)
US House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has led a delegation on a rare trip by foreign politicians to Tibet, during a visit to China that included meetings with officials in Beijing. Pelosi, the former House speaker, has been a frequent critic of China's human rights record, including in the remote Himalayan region where Beijing is accused of suppressing demands for greater religious and cultural freedoms. She was asked about her Tibet trip during a meeting on Thursday with Zhang Ping, a vice-chairman of the Chinese parliament, but her response was inaudible to journalists in the room. The Tibet visit was not announced in advance. Pelosi made no direct reference to Tibet in her opening comments at the meeting with Zhang at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of the legislature in the heart of Beijing. “We consider (the meeting) an important one, to be with your distinguished colleagues, as we increase our relationship between the two Congresses and we'll talk about our two countries as well and the success of the presidents' meetings,” Pelosi said. The visit by Pelosi and six other Democrats was intended to focus on boosting trade ties, along with talks on national and cyber security, climate change and human rights. Pelosi has been outspoken on the issue of human rights throughout her nearly 30 years as a Democrat representing California in Congress. She last travelled to China in 2009. Some of Pelosi's strongest comments on Tibet came during a March, 2008 visit to the Dalai Lama at the headquarters of his self-declared government-in-exile in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala. She then called for an international probe into deadly anti-government riots in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa earlier in the month. It had triggered unrest in many ethnically Tibetan regions across western China in the days that followed. “If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression and China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world,” Pelosi said. Since the 2008 riots, Tibet has been largely off-limits to foreign media and diplomats, and travel there by ordinary foreign tourists requires a special permit. During sensitive political dates, such as the anniversary of the riots, visits are even more tightly restricted. Details about the length of the delegation's visit to Tibet and its agenda were not immediately available. China refutes accusations of human rights abuses in Tibet, claiming instead to have brought development to what it describes as a backward theocracy before the arrival of communist forces in 1950. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule and is shunned by Beijing as a die-hard separatist. Pelosi's most recent trip to China comes amid questions about Chinese hacking attempts on American corporate intellectual property, as well as tensions over US challenges to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. Pelosi was joined by Democratic representatives Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Betty McCollum and Tim Walz of Minnesota, Joyce Beatty of Ohio and Alan Lowenthal and Ted Lieu of California. ^ top ^

China, Mekong countries launch Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework (Xinhua)
The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) framework was officially launched on Thursday following talks among senior foreign affairs officials from China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in Jinghong, Yunnan Province. The Lancang-Mekong River is a natural link between the six countries. At the first LMC foreign ministers' meeting, they decided to cooperate in three key areas - politico-security issues, economic affairs and sustainable development, and social affairs and people-to-people exchanges. At the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Nam Hong, Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Thongloun Sisoulith, Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh attended the meeting, and Wang Yi and Don Pramudwinai co-hosted the meeting. The LMC is the first sub-region cooperation by the six countries involved, and the cooperation framework is in accord with development demands, and the fundamental, long-term interests of the six countries, Wang said. The foreign affairs officials also expressed their willingness to have more frequent high-level visits, jointly deal with threat of traditional and non-traditional security issues, improve connectivity and industrial capacity cooperation, deepen cross-border economic cooperation, make proper use of natural resources and achieve sustainable development. The representatives reached a consensus that the LMC will be open and inclusive, and it will work with other sub-regional frameworks to promote regional integration. The six countries along the Lancang-Mekong River have close geographical, social and cultural link, Don Pramudwinai said, noting the LMC framework is equally participated and jointly built by the six countries, and it will create more common benefit. […] The LMC framework was proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in November 2014 when he attended the 17th China-ASEAN leaders' meeting. As a follow-up to the initiative, the first and second LMC senior officials' meetings were held in April and August this year. According to Wang, his counterparts from Mekong countries discussed the LMC early harvest projects and they expect to see an early implementation of these projects to benefit the people in the region. At the meeting on Thursday, 78 cooperation projects were raised by the officials from six countries, which cover areas like water resource management, poverty alleviation, public health, infrastructure, personnel exchanges, science and technology. To carry these projects forward, Wang called for government policy support, capital investment, personnel training and think tank construction. When discussing the funding of these projects, they agreed it would be at the consultation of the governments concerned and the support from other financial mechanisms and international institutions will also be considered. They suggested the first LMC leaders' meeting be held next year, which is expected to provide political guidance to LMC' s development in the future. ^ top ^

China, Mongolia issue joint statement on all-round cooperation (Xinhua)
China and Mongolia issued a joint statement on deepening their comprehensive strategic partnership on Wednesday as Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj wrapped up his three-day visit. Invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Elbegdorj made a state visit to China and held meetings with Xi and other senior leaders on cooperation in bilateral and multilateral fields from Monday to Wednesday. The current China-Mongolia relationship is the "best ever" in history, the joint statement said, stressing that the two sides will unswervingly push forward exchanges and cooperation in various fields. The statement touched on cooperation in politics, defense, counter-crime, economy, trade, investment, people-to-people exchanges, global and regional affairs, and so on. Both sides will actively promote signing a treaty on aligning China's Belt and Road initiative and Mongolia's Steppe Road plan, the statement said, adding the two sides support financing cooperation between Mongolia and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund in big infrastructure projects. China backs Mongolia's efforts to join the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), supports it to actively take part in East Asia cooperation and supports it to participate in the East Asia Summit and the China, Japan, ROK cooperation in an appropriate manner, said the statement. The statement vows support for trilateral cooperation among China, Mongolia and Russia and calls for completing the drafting of a program for the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. China also agrees with Elbegdorj's initiative to host a dialogue on Northeast Asia security in Ulan Bator, it said. Mongolia invited China's leader to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in the country next year, the statement said, noting China has provided significant support for the event. […] Stressing that the global economic and financial situation keeps fluctuating recently, the premier said developing countries need to make joint efforts to deal with the economic downward pressure. For his part, Elbegdorj said Mongolia is willing to make the best use of bilateral mechanisms including the intergovernmental joint committee, expand trade on energy resource and livestock product. He also called on both sides to forge ahead with cooperation on major projects and financial investment, explore to conduct negotiation on free trade agreement, enhance building of cross-border economic zone and transportation construction. In the morning, China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang also met with Elbegdorj. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislative body, said the two countries should further strengthen parliamentary cooperation. He said the NPC was ready to work with Mongolia's State Great Hural, the highest legislature, to strengthen their exchanges and make full use of a regular exchange mechanism, scheduled to be initiated at the end of this month. Elbegdorj echoed Zhang saying Mongolia would further enhance the bilateral parliamentary exchanges. It is Elbegdorj's second trip to China this year. The Mongolian president visited Beijing in September to attend 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. ^ top ^

China mourns death of former German chancellor (China Daily)
The death of former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt is being mourned deeply in China, which highly appreciates his contribution to ties between the two countries, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. Schmidt, 96, died on Tuesday. Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that throughout his political life Schmidt made a tremendous contribution to improving Sino-German relations and European integration. Hong said Schmidt was a pioneer and driver of ties between the two nations and also a politician and strategist who commanded global respect. His death is a big loss to Germany and the world. Ma Canrong, a former Chinese ambassador to Germany who spent most of his professional life in the European country, said Schmidt was frank, assertive, steadfast, discerning and "areal China hand". Ma was first posted to the former West Germany in 1973 and served there until 1981, largely coinciding with Schmidt's term as chancellor from 1974 to 1982. Schmidt made a state visit to China in 1975, becoming the first German chancellor to visit the country since diplomatic relations were established in 1972. Ma said Schmidt firmly supported China's reform and opening-up policy and had long predicted the nation's rapid development. "He once said there would be three major international currencies in the world - the dollar, the euro and the renminbi," the former envoy recalled. Having developed a "good personal relationship" with Schmidt over the years, Ma said Schmidt remained influential in Germany and the world after serving as chancellor. "His advice and judgments were valued not only by his successors but also by the public, as he was such a magnetic speaker and eloquent debater," Ma said. "He was even called' Schmidt the Lip' in his early years." "I went to him for advice and devoted a chapter to him in my memoirs when my term as ambassador ended in 2009." Gu Junli, a German studies expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, "From 1972 to 1975, ties between China and Germany developed but at a slow pace. It was Schmidt who pushed the bilateral relationship forward. "The new oriental policy of Willy Brandt (Schmidt's predecessor) improved the relationship between Germany and the Soviet Union, but Schmidt then extended Germany's olive branch more toward China." Schmidt was the only German chancellor to be received by Mao Zedong, and he also knew other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and Hu Jintao, personally. Based on his deep understanding of China, Schmidt wrote many works about the country, helping to introduce it to the world. Gu said Schmidt did not view China through the "tinted spectacles of Western values", and held a relatively objective view of the country and its development. Current German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed Schmidt as a mastermind of international cooperation whose decisions continue to have an effect today. ^ top ^

China, Russia to restructure trade to tackle slumps (Xinhua)
China and Russia will adjust their trade structure and deepen economic cooperation to revive bilateral trade after sharp declines amid the gloomy global climate. The two sides have agreed to jointly take action to promote steady development of economic and trade relations by expanding bilateral trade, expanding market access, deepening local cooperation and reinforcing multilateral and regional coordination, according to a ministerial meeting held here on Tuesday. Chilled by feeble global economic recovery and commodity price volatility, companies from the two countries have been confronted with difficulties since earlier this year. Bilateral trade volume tumbled nearly 30 percent year on year to 55.91 billion U.S. dollars in the first ten months, customs data showed. At the meeting, China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said the slumps prompt the two sides to accelerate trade restructuring and cooperation transformation. The two countries can focus on cooperation in high technologies, clean energy, modern agriculture, equipment manufacturing and the development of the Far East, and step up efforts to implement strategic projects, Gao said. Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukaev said Russia will work with China to improve trade structure, boost exports of electromechanical products, high-tech merchandise and farm produce and encourage mutual investment and economic and technological cooperation. Mainly affected by external headwind, the trade slumps should be temporary, Ulyukaev added. Both major economies, China and Russia have seen closer ties and booming trade and investment after rapid growth of cooperation over more than 20 years. Leaders of the two countries have held multiple talks to further economic cooperation since the start of 2015. Gao said the two sides will push forward cooperation between the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Eurasian Economic Union and strengthen coordination in multilateral organizations. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are scheduled to meet in December to discuss economic and trade cooperation. ^ top ^

China responds to Pentagon chief's speech regarding S.China Sea (Xinhua)
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday refuted a recent speech made by the U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, stressing that China is a maintainer, builder and contributor to the current international order. China unswervingly defends peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region as well as international justice, spokesman Hong Lei said at a press briefing when commenting on the speech by the Pentagon chief on Saturday. Carter reportedly said that China presents a challenge to the "international order," noting that he went aboard an American aircraft carrier in the South China Sea earlier the week to demonstrate U.S. commitment to freedom of navigation. The current international order is based on the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and jointly established by the international community, Hong said, stressing that the most fundamental principles are respect to each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, equality and non-interference in others' internal affairs. "International order" can not be defined by any individual in the United States at his own will, the spokesman said. As for the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, Hong said China's position is consistent and clear and remains unchanged. China has the right to carry out construction on its own territory, because the Nansha Islands have been Chinese territory since ancient times, Hong said. "It won't cause any damage to any other country, nor affect the region's navigation freedom," Hong said. China has always been committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law. The country is willing to work together with ASEAN countries to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, said the spokesman. China's position is reasonable and lawful and the U.S. side has no right to make irresponsible comments, Hong said. Referring to a U.S. warship's entry into waters off a Chinese reef in the South China Sea without permission from China, Hong said the move posed serious damage to China's sovereignty and security while exacerbating tensions in the region. "It is very clear who is breaking the international order and making trouble,"said Hong. ^ top ^

China's Xi to attend G20, APEC meetings to promote economic, regional cooperation (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping will fly to Antalya, Turkey to attend the G20 summit from Nov. 14 to 16 and then fly to Manila to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting from Nov. 17 to 19 to promote global economic cooperation and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a press briefing held here on Tuesday. "The participation of President Xi at the G20 summit shows the high attention that China pays to the G20 cooperation," Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong told the press briefing. "It also reflects that China is ready to work with all countries to jointly promote world economic growth, enhance global economic governance and forge ahead with economic reform and transition," Li said. During the summit, Xi will attend all formal events and elaborate his views on the world economic situation, advance cooperation to address challenges and jointly explore new impetus for economic growth, said Li. Xi will also introduce the recently released proposal on formulating the country's 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020) and measures to comprehensively deepen reform and build a new open economic system, according Li. As China will be the host country of the G20 summit in 2016, Xi will also talk about general ideas regarding the meeting, Li added. Prior to the summit, Xi will attend a meeting of leaders of BRICS countries, a thriving cooperation mechanism that groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and deliver a speech to call for more collaboration and communication within the BRICS. G20 is a leading international cooperation forum representing nearly 80 percent of global trade. Li said China supports Turkey to host a successful G20 summit and will work with all member countries to realize the goals of leading a new round of global economic growth, pushing forward the transition of G20 from a mechanism of addressing risks to long-term governance, building and maintaining an open economy, and adopting a responsible macroeconomic policy. On the APEC meeting, Xi will expound China's policy on the cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, and the implementation of the consensus reached in the Beijing APEC meeting last year, Li said. The Chinese president will also introduce progress on the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative), and the opportunities the China-proposed initiative will bring to the region and the world, he said. Li said China expects substantial results from this year's APEC meeting, including promoting regional economic integration and reaching consensus on Asia-Pacific free trade agreement at an early date, advancing connectivity and infrastructure construction and boosting mutual understanding among Asia-Pacific economies. On the sideline of both meetings, Xi will meet with leaders on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common concern, Li said. ^ top ^

Handshake to end the hacking: China and Germany pledge for peace in cyberspace by 2016 (SCMP)
China and Germany aim to wrap up a deal over commercial cyberespionage as early as next year, according to German ambassador to China Michael Clauss. The two countries had agreed to start negotiating an agreement to abstain from such activity when Chancellor Angela Merkel visited China at the end of last month, Clauss said. The aim was to sign the deal at the next Sino-German intergovernmental consultations in Beijing in the first half of 2016, he said, adding that the agreement would cover not only the cybertheft of intellectual property, but also data security. "Such an agreement would also help to promote bilateral innovation cooperation, such as on Industry 4.0 and Made in China 2025," said Clauss, referring to the two countries' development strategies for their manufacturing sectors. He said private companies and in particular small and medium-sized firms were important drivers for Germany's Industry 4.0 strategy, and that China was hoping to involve more German technology companies in its market. "Improving data security and removing obstacles to moving data internationally would be important steps to enhance Sino-German cooperation on innovation," Clauss said. The talks are the latest efforts by China to end a years-long turf war with Western countries, particularly the United States, over cyberattacks on the business and governmental sectors. In September, US President Barack Obama hinted he was considering sanctions against Chinese institutions and individuals suspected of perpetrating cyberattacks against commercial targets. At the time, Chinese officials said China was itself a victim of such attacks and denied the country had any cyberattack forces. Shortly afterwards, during President Xi Jinping's state visit to the US in late September, Obama said the two countries had reached "a common understanding" against cyberespionage and agreed to "promote international rules of the road for appropriate conduct in cyberspace". During Xi's trip to Britain a month later, the two countries agreed to establish a "high-level security dialogue" on issues such as cybercrime. They also agreed "not to conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property or trade secrets of confidential business information with the intent of providing competitive advantage". Business executives are concerned that a lack of progress on protection of property rights, market access and data security as well as slow internet speeds will dissuade foreign investors from entering China and may hurt the business of those already established. Clauss said internet speeds in China were a frequent gripe of German entrepreneurs and needed to be addressed. Wang Yiwei, the director of the Centre for European Studies at Renmin University, said that the internet was "key for reindustrialisation" efforts. "Cooperation and innovation requires a consensus on cybersecurity", he said. "Cybersecurity is becoming a prominent issue. Internet hackers and infringement have hurt mutual trust between countries and hindered trade and investment," said Wang. ^ top ^

Washington 'showing anxiety in stance adopted toward Beijing' (China Daily)
The Chinese missile destroyer Jinan prepares to rescue a small naval vessel as part of the first joint military drill to be staged between China and the US in the Atlantic Ocean. The six-hour exercise took place on Saturday and each country sent three warships. [Photo/Xinhua] The United States has undergone several changes of mood in its attitude toward China over the past 10 years, moving from "concern" to "worry" and then to "anxiety", according to a Chinese researcher. Fan Jishe, a US studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was reacting to comments by US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who expressed concern over China's expanding influence. Fan is author of the book US Military Strategy in the Post-Cold War Era-Adjustment and Adapting. Carter said, "In the face of Russia's provocations and China's rise, we must embrace innovative approaches to protect the United States and strengthen that international order." He made the remarks on Saturday at a forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs in California. On the same day, China and the US staged their first joint military drill in history in the Atlantic Ocean, which lasted for six hours. Each side sent three warships. Referring to the US sending a guided-missile destroyer to sail in waters near Zhubi Reef off China's Nansha Islands in the South China Sea on Oct 27, Carter said, "We've done them (patrols) before, all over the world, and we will do them again." Carter visited the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier transiting the South China Sea, on Thursday. Fan said, "Carter's remarks and the US military's recent moves in the South China Sea demonstrate their anxiety in terms of dealing with China. "They don't really know what to do. So they just simply chose to take the defensive position. They act tough and want to make the first move in areas that make them feel anxious, like the South China Sea, to show their strength." Fan said the US has shown "selectivity" over what it tends to believe is China's stance over the South China Sea. Carter said he has accepted an invitation from Beijing to visit China next year, according to the US Ministry of Defense. ^ top ^

Upgraded Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 fighter jet to become joint export product (Xinhua)
Officials from Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) command said Monday at the ongoing Dubai Airshow that an upgraded version of the jointly developed JF-17 fighter jet is expected to be exported to more customers. Briefing the international media at the AVIC chalet on the tarmac of Al Maktoum International Airport, Liu Yu, Vice President of China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation, said the next generation of the JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft will satisfy the growing market demand from third parties "as the future JF-17 aircraft is a comprehensive elevation of the aircraft." The future JF-17 will have more advanced capabilities, such as air-to-air refueling, data link and electronic warfare, and will be integrated with more new guided weapons, said Liu. A dual-seated version of the JF-17 fighter/trainer is also under development, added Liu. Meanwhile, PAF Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik said the Pakistani army expects the new version jet to get into service by the end of 2016. The JF-17 fighter is co-produced by AVIC and PAF since 1998 based on the principle of "joint investment, joint development, and sharing risks and returns." At present, JF-17 fighter is already procured by a third party customer, and several potential customers are conducting or plan to conduct the evaluation of the JF-17 fighter. It is believed that in the near future, with its outstanding flight performance, strong operational capability and high performance-to-cost ratio, JF-17 fighter will be favored by more and more third party customers, said both sides. The 14th Dubai International Airshow officially kicked off in Dubai on Sunday, and is going to run through Thursday. AVIC participated in the airshow with a large-scale JF-17 fighter model, furthering its efforts in exploring the international market. Previously, JF-17 fighter was displayed in several international airshows, including Zhuhai Airshow and Paris Airshow. In last two Dubai Airshow in 2013 and 2011, JF-17 fighter also made aerobatic performances. ^ top ^

President Xi Jinping tells Hanoi parliament China and Vietnam can survive 'disruptions', but fails to mention South China Sea dispute (SCMP)
China and Vietnam are good socialist neighbours with a long-shared history of revolutionary friendship and should be able to dispel and survive any "disruptions" in relations, President Xi Jinping said in Hanoi on Friday. In a 20-minute speech to nearly 500 members of the Vietnamese parliament, Xi reiterated the peaceful dream and "peaceful gene" of Chinese people, saying the growth of China would enhance global peace-keeping. Emphasising similarities between China and Vietnam, especially their socialist characteristics, Xi urged the two countries to remain "trusted comrades", "win-win partners", "good neighbours" and "friends". The speech - the first address by a head of state to the Vietnamese National Assembly in the newly built Parliament House, came despite the two communist-led states' disputes in the South China Sea. "China and Vietnam are joined by mountains and water and the friendship between our two peoples goes back to ancient times," Xi said. "We must trust and help each other to move forward together, not letting anybody hinder our steps or shake our systems." Xi made no mention of the South China Sea, nor the brief border war in 1979, when China invaded Vietnam to punish it for toppling the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. His speech was received by Vietnamese MPs with caution. Duong Trung Quoc, an outspoken MP, said Xi's visit and speech had taken place amid an unfavourable atmosphere in Vietnam, as the tensions in the South China Sea had stirred discontent. "Mr Xi can speak from the position of China's interests, but Vietnam's interests cannot be pushed aside," Quoc said. "It's not only a challenge for Mr Xi himself, but also a challenge for Vietnamese leaders. People expect them to show their capacity in this balancing game, keeping diplomatic ties and winning people's hearts at the same time." Xi and Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong had agreed to maintain peace and build a trusting relationship, the chairman of Vietnam's legislature Nguyen Sinh Hung told lawmakers. Xi's visit is timely, and aims to rebuild relations amid uncertainty over what kind of leader will emerge from Vietnam's five-yearly party congress in January. The party has traditionally been close to Beijing, but is receiving growing Western attention. China's reclamation work near the Spratly Islands has fuelled resentment and put Vietnam's leaders in a tough position. Vietnam has been diversifying its ties and although China is not among its top investors, it is its largest trading partner with trade between the countries accounting for about US$60 billion a year, making for a dependence that remains a contentious domestic issue. Xi ended his trip in Hanoi on Friday after meeting Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Professor punished for 'radical views' amid fears China is tightening noose on freedom of speech (SCMP)
The punishment of an English language professor under new Communist Party guidelines that restrict cadres from criticising government policies has heightened fears the mainland is tightening the net on freedom of speech. Liang Xinsheng was removed from his post as deputy head of the English department at Lingnan Normal University in Zhanjiang for publishing "radical opinions" on his Weibo account that had been a "bad social influence", Guangdong's provincial anti-graft watchdog said on Wednesday. The posts by Liang, who remains a professor, were made between 2012 and 2014 and Liang had also violated "political discipline and rules" in July, the commission said, but it did not specify what the posts had said. The posts have been taken down. Citing a new discipline guideline, the commission warned party members against making remarks that contradicted the central leadership's decisions or spreading opinions that contradicted the party's policies. Neither should they fabricate nor spread rumours tarnishing the image of the party or country. The announcement of Liang's punishment comes just days after Zhao Xinwei, the former editor-in-chief of Xinjiang Daily, was expelled from the party over allegations he openly "made improper remarks" on key policies. He was accused of making comments opposing how the party was run in Xinjiang and his "words and deeds" were said not to match the central or Xinjiang party committees' positions on separatism, terrorism and extremism. Last month the party amended its disciplinary rules to add such offences as vilifying party leaders, distorting party history, making inappropriate comments and challenging policies. Ma Senshu, a senior party official with the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection who was involved in amending the rules, had previously warned that open discussion of party policies by officials had severe consequences. He said it "destroys the party's unity and solidarity, and prevents party policies from being thoroughly implemented". The punishment of Liang and Zhao has worried some political scientists, who fear the guidelines may be abused. "It is a 'pocket crime' that can be imposed on anyone who dares to express different opinions," said Zhang Ming, an analyst with Beijing's Renmin University. "It is not new in the history of the party that people have been punished for expressing their opinions. Before and during the Cultural Revolution there were also people arrested for criticising the government." Gu Su, a political philosophy professor with Nanjing University, said the punishments showed control over party members was getting stricter. Ma Guoxian, at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said as a party member he felt no pressure giving opposing opinions in dealings with government officials, but the latest incidents should make party members think. "Don't spread unverified rumours about senior party leaders. Beware when criticising government policies and never, ever take advantage of propaganda tools such as television, radio or newspapers," Ma said. ^ top ^

China's Communist Party could reach out to dissidents in drive to mobilise allies, top political adviser says (SCMP)
The Communist Party's main outreach arm could consider engaging dissidents on a case-by-case basis, a former senior united front official suggested yesterday. Zhu Weiqun, former deputy head of the United Front Work Department and Beijing's one-time point man in the negotiations with the Dalai Lama, hinted at the possibility in an article in Global Times discussing the coming priorities in the area. It comes after President Xi Jinping said in May that united front work – efforts to mobilise allies outside the party – was entering a new era centred on “making friends” to make the party stronger to strive towards common goals. Addressing discussion on whether united front work should be expanded to include dissidents, Zhu said targets of lobbying should be defined by social status – political affiliations, social strata, ethnicity, religions or geographic locations – rather than ideological position, which did not rule out dissidents as targets for engagement. “Dissent is about ideology, not a social status … and it varies from time to time,” Zhu wrote. For mainlanders, the bottom line should be their support for socialism with Chinese characteristics, Zhu wrote, referring to a concept based on one-party rule. Residents in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau had to support unification of the country while those outside China had to be in favour of the national revival of the Chinese people, he wrote. “Any dissidence outside of the areas could be tolerated. If this could be achieved, then the united front is successful in 'unifying all possible power',” Zhu wrote in the tabloid affiliated with party mouthpiece People's Daily. “[But] if someone disregards the constitution and laws, that would be another question.” Zhu is a member of the standing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and heads its panel on ethnic and religious affairs. Veteran Hong Kong-based China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Zhu's comments did not necessarily signal the central government would have a more accommodating attitude towards dissidents in Hong Kong. “Zhu's article was for theoretical discussion, it is not an actual guideline on the implementation of work to build a united front,” Lau said. “The subjects of his remarks are the people in the ethnic minorities and religious sector, not those in politics. It is unlikely to be a welcome sign for democrats in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.” Despite its effort to crack down on human rights activists, the party appears to be making united front work a higher priority and taking a softer approach to court potential supporters. For the first time in its history, the party published a directive on the work in May, expanding targets to include people who have studied overseas and opinion leaders in new media. The department's chief, Sun Chunlan, has a seat on the Politburo and is considered the most powerful director of the agency in decades. A front-page People's Daily commentary that month said the party alone would not be able to realise the “Chinese dream”, and that it needed the help of other powers. It also said there were hundreds of millions of people in the united front cause, including members of non-communist parties, religious leaders as well as patriots in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. ^ top ^

Fall in line: PLA Daily orders Chinese soldiers to obey Communist Party commands (SCMP)
The military's mouthpiece has ordered officers to toe the Communist Party line in a volley of commentaries apparently aimed at countering internal resistance to personnel cuts. Military analysts said the commentaries indicated President Xi Jinping's military reform was still meeting some resistance from vested interests. The PLA Daily has published five commentaries in the past two weeks that call for the entire military to obey the party's order. In September, Xi, who is also chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), announced 300,000 troops would be cut, taking the force to 2 million by 2017. Up to 170,000 officers are slated to be axed. The reduction is part of Xi's push to turn the army into a nimble, modern force on par with the best of the West. “Our military has endured several rounds of streamlining and restructuring since the 1950s, with one million personnel cut in 1985 … and every time, all officers and soldiers obeyed the arrangement of the CMC with pleasure,” read the fifth commentary, published yesterday. “Today, despite the great changes in social context … obeying the party's command and central leadership's order is still the army's most valuable spirit.” Hong Kong-based based military observer Liang Guoliang said the articles had hinted that some senior officials were trying to challenge Xi's military reform. “The PLA's spirit has been fading as many senior officials just care about their personal benefits, with some creating their own interest networks and groups,” Liang said. “It's very dangerous if those interest groups join together to challenge Xi's power.” Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said the five articles indicated the PLA's traditions had been severely undermined over the past two decades by corrupt officials such as former CMC deputy chairmen Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong, who were brought down during Xi's massive anti-graft campaign in the army. Xu died before charges could be brought while Guo is under investigation. “It's urgent for the army to root out Xu and Guo's influence. The most effective measure the military leadership can take is reiterating the army's traditional values,” Li said. ^ top ^

New online media research center formed to foster Internet ideology (Global Times)
China recently unveiled its first domestic new media studies research center, affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in order to form a new force supported by scholars and officials to safeguard ideology on the Internet, media sources reported Thursday. According to a report on news site, the center was established on Saturday after a year of planning. Over 60 experts and officials have participated in the establishment of the center, including those from government bodies like the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the Cyberspace Administration of China and the Ministry of Education. Citing several experts from the center, the report added that the Internet has become the main battlefield for ideological combat and there is no other authoritative research institution that brings together people from different fields. "The research center on new media will mainly serve as a long-lasting and stable channel for communication between authorities, new media experts and online opinion leaders. It will gradually become an influential think tank for ideology studies, especially for those related to the Internet … It will effectively safeguard the security of China's Internet ideology," Zhu Jidong, director of the newly established center, was quoted as saying by Experts from the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army and prestigious universities such as Peking and Tsinghua universities also played a role in establishing the research center, along with famous journalists and Internet celebrities. ^ top ^

Police arrest 900 people in crackdown on hacking cases (Global Times)
Chinese police have arrested more than 900 people suspected of engaging in hacking activities as part of a crackdown launched in July, authorities announced on Thursday. The suspects were allegedly involved in 400 incidents and are accused of a wide range of cybercrimes, including fraud, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said. In one case from March, five suspects allegedly hacked into the e-mail accounts of a Vietnamese company planning to purchase goods worth $75,000 from a Chinese company, and acquired trade information. The five used that information to pose as staff of the Chinese company and obtained the money for the deal from the Vietnamese, according to the MPS. It said in a statement that the five included three foreigners but did not reveal their nationalities. In another case, a group of 31 suspects from China and South Korea stole bank card information from South Korean citizens through Trojan programs and phishing websites. The South Korean suspects called the victims in the name of banking staff and transferred their deposits after convincing them to remove their security settings, according to the statement of MPS. The ministry said it has set up 300 specialist facilities across the country aiming at improving the monitoring of cybercrimes and evidence collection. It also vows to strengthen international law enforcement cooperation. Meanwhile, the ministry also warned Party and government organs and companies to make sure their electronic information is secure.  ^ top ^

Migrant population is growing (China Daily)
More workers taking elders with them when they move to cities for employment China's migrant population is becoming older on average and will continue to grow in the next few years, according to a report released by China's top health authority. As of the end of last year, the number of migrants reached 253 million, an increase of 32 million over 2010, according to the report released on Wednesday by the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The number of migrants will continue to rise by about 6 million annually over the next few years, and the total number is expected to reach 291 million by the end of 2020, according to the commission. The report shows that the migrant population has been growing over the past several years and more migrating families are taking their elders with them. In other words, the elders become migrants as they accompany their working children. The elders are often not workers. Migrants over 45 years old accounted for 12.9 percent of the total last year, compared with 9.7 percent in 2010, the report said. In addition, more than half of those in the migrant population are willing to settle down in the cities where they work. On average, migrant workers have stayed in the place where they are living now for more than three years, the report said. Yuan Xin, a professor of population studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, said the rising number of elders in the total migrant population shows that the group has been living a steadier life and are better integrated into society. […] The rise in migrants above 45 years old is putting greater pressure on the public services and social welfare systems of big cities, according to Wang Qian, chief of migrant population management at the National Health and Family Planning Commission. "We have been paying attention to the fact that China has entered into a stage where elders have started migrating," he said. "We have conducted surveys on the conditions of those elders, especially their health status and access to health services, for future policymaking." The health authorities will make more efforts to help migrants to have equal access to healthcare services with permanent residents, and ensure uninterrupted services in different places, he said. Yuan said that although migrant workers, mostly from rural areas, still do not enjoy the same social welfare benefits as urban residents, the gap has been narrowing in recent years. "People's minds are changing. Society takes more measures to acknowledge the contributions of migrant workers in urban development," he said. "But I think it will take time for migrant workers to enjoy the same status as urban residents." The current household registration system in China needs to be reformed so that migrant workers from rural areas can enjoy the same status and social welfare benefits as urban residents, he said. China will unify its urban and rural household registration systems to help migrant workers gain access to benefits by 2020, according to a guideline issued last year by the State Council, China's Cabinet. ^ top ^

100-plus companies in China city found releasing unprocessed gas (Xinhua)
More than 100 small flooring companies in a city in heavily polluted northeast China were found to be discharging unprocessed exhaust gas, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The violators, located in the city of Fushun in Liaoning Province, were exposed in an inspection targeting ten cities in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, northeastern provinces hard hit by air pollution since early this month. "Many problems affecting air quality were found in some enterprises, especially in small-scale companies and coal-burning heating units," said Zou Shoumin, head of the ministry's environmental inspection bureau, on Thursday. Emergency responses for heavy air pollution in China require limiting road traffic and halting construction projects and factory production. However, Zou noted that many enterprises and construction sites were found to be operating normally. Local environmental protection departments have been urged to punish violators and oversee their rectification, Zou added, without specifying how they will be punished. On Monday, when the inspection started, the maximum hourly reading for PM2.5, airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, hit 860 micrograms per cubic meter in Changchun, capital of Jilin. The World Health Organization sets the maximum for human health at 25 micrograms on average over a 24-hour period. The ministry forecast that heavy pollution in the region will last until this weekend. ^ top ^

NE China's Shenyang smothered with smog, PM2.5 above 1,017 (Global Times)
Serious air pollution shrouded 14 cities in Northeast China's Liaoning Province on Sunday, with provincial capital Shenyang witnessing a peak reading of the concentration of PM2.5 - airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter - of 1,017 micrograms per cubic meter, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Experts believed that the phenomenon has resulted primarily from the generation of heating supply for winter. Based on statistics released by the environmental protection agency of Liaoning Province, the Air Quality Index (AQI) surpassed 300 - the maximum threshold of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's measurement system - in nine cities, while Shenyang and other cities saw an AQI of over 500. According to China's standards, an AQI of over 300 is defined as "serious pollution," which may harm people's health and cause certain diseases. Children, seniors and the ill are advised to stay home under such conditions, while all others should avoid outdoor activities. "Air pollution may worsen in winter due to the [need for] heating supply, since most areas in Northeast China still use coal for heating. Burning coal may produce harmful pollutants such as toxic particles and gases," Wang Gengchen, a research fellow at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Science, told the Global Times on Sunday. "China's coal consumption accounted for about 66 percent of primary energy use in 2014," Fang Junshi, head of the coal department of the National Energy Administration was quoted by China Energy News as saying in May. Wang explained that relatively static atmospheric conditions have slowed and hindered the diffusion of accumulated pollutants, while the burning of stubble fields hass only worsened the level of pollution. Based on a Ministry of Environmental Protection report received by the Global Times in October, the number of places across China where stubble fields were being burned increased to 862 between October 5 and 17 - 54 more areas than the same period last year - most of which were in northern China. "If the air quality continues to deteriorate, the local government may launch emergency measures, such as closing schools and controlling traffic," Wang said. ^ top ^

Only 10% apply for second baby (China Daily)
A birth approval certificate for a second child is shown by a pregnant woman in Quzhou, Zhejiang province, in April last year. [XU YUANCHANG/CHINA DAILY] Tradition of large families has changed in big cities with economy and govt policy, expert says Most couples don't want to expand their families, if the low number applying for a second child in Beijing under today's rules is an indicator of parental thinking. Even if a couple is eligible, under the current policy, for a second offspring because one parent is an only child, only about 10 percent seek more children, according to data released on Friday by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning. By the end of October, 55,851 qualified couples applied to health authorities in Beijing to have a second child since the city adopted the policy in February last year, the commission said. That is roughly one-tenth of the estimated 550,000 couples who are eligible under that standard, set in 2013. Previously, a second child in most urban areas of China was restricted to parents who were both only children. The central government further relaxed the policy last month, allowing all couples in China to have two children. The change must still be approved by the National People's Congress, the top legislature, before it becomes law. By the end of May, 1.45 million couples with one parent being an only child had applied to have a second baby, accounting for about 13 percent of all eligible couples, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The number of eligible couples applying to have a second child in the country has increased between 80,000 and 90,000 every month, the commission said. Yuan Xin, an expert in population studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, said that with the development of the Chinese economy and society over the past several decades, the traditional concept of having more children has changed and more people are opting for fewer children, especially in big cities such as Beijing. "It has been a mainstream concept among Beijing residents to give birth to fewer children after decades of the family planning policies the city adopted in the 1970s", and allowing all couples to have two children will improve the population structure of Beijing and maintain the vitality of society, the Beijing commission said The city will amend its population laws and improve family planning services, such as building more maternal care and nursery institutes and kindergartens, to cope with an increase in births, it said. ^ top ^

Money woes hobble anti-AIDS groups (China Daily)
Private organizations committed to HIV/AIDS control are heading into another cold winter without the support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which pulled out of China in 2011. From 2002 until then, the biggest international fund ever in health had given China grants totaling $804 million, but it left four years ago because the World Bank reclassified it as an upper-middle-income country. The Global Fund had required involvement of private organizations, "thus its departure has substantially affected those organizations and even the HIV intervention efforts in general," said Cheng Xiang, director of Beijing Ren'ai Group, which is committed to HIV prevention among gay people. More than 1,000 private Chinese organizations engaged in AIDS control, including Ren'ai, used to receive project grants from the Global Fund, from several thousand to hundreds of thousands of yuan, according to Ren Minghui, chief of international cooperation at the National Health and Family Planning Commission. After the Global Fund left, almost 40 percent of those groups folded because of financial difficulties, insiders said. "That put an end to many HIV control initiatives," Cheng said. Many of the private organizations are the work of people from susceptible groups, such as gay men and prostitutes, so they have an advantage over the health authority in reaching out with intervention to those at high risk. Xiao Dong, head of China Rainbow, an anti-AIDS organization, said he and his colleagues went to gay bars in Beijing to promote HIV prevention, distribute free condoms and lubricants, and provide rapid testing. "They are happy with our services because we're from the same community. Government officials couldn't do what we do," he said, calling for more government support for their work. According to Wu Zunyou, head of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, HIV/AIDS hit gay men hard in recent years, accounting for more than 85 percent of the new diagnoses in some big cities. "I think the private organizations will play a greater role in helping to address the challenge," he said. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in the US, said some other countries suffered even more with decreased international support. Since 2000, the World Bank has reclassified 28 countries from low-to middle-income, after which they faced increased prices for AIDS drugs, through the tiered pricing system of pharmaceutical companies, and reductions in foreign aid, he said. Seventy-five percent of the world's poor now live in middle-income countries, and so do the majority of HIV sufferers, he said. "With the largest proportion of the global HIV burden, they are fighting the epidemic with less money." In an open letter to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Weinstein called for a revision of the classification system "which is not linked to public health realities on the ground." ^ top ^



A tiger down in every province: senior official becomes first in Beijing to be probed for graft (SCMP)
It was finally the turn of the capital to see its first senior official ensnared in President Xi Jinping's relentless anti-corruption crackdown - a day after Shanghai announced that a vice-mayor was being investigated. The toppling of two senior officials in China's political and economic capitals, on consecutive days, show that Xi's sweeping campaign is not letting up. Yesterday, the Communist Party's discipline watchdog said Lu Xiwen, the deputy party boss of Beijing municipality, was being probed for "severe disciplinary violations", a euphemism for corruption. Lu's downfall means that each of China's 31 provincial-level administrative areas now has at least one "tiger" - Xi's metaphor for powerful officials - who has fallen from grace. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) has accelerated its clampdown recently. Five senior officials - three in provincial-level governments and two in state-owned enterprises - were placed under investigation this month. In the financial industry, more than a dozen powerful figures have been taken away for investigation in recent months, following the meltdown of China's stock market. The anti-graft campaign launched by Xi three years ago has netted thousands of officials nationwide and tracked scores of others who fled overseas. Lu, 60, has worked for the capital since graduating from university. Before becoming deputy secretary of the municipal party committee, Lu governed the city's Xicheng district for seven years and spent another seven years as head of the party committee's organisation department - a crucial body in charge of personnel arrangements. Lu last appeared in public on Friday. Lu's investigation was made public the day after Ai Baojun, a vice-mayor of Shanghai, was said to be facing a graft investigation. Like Lu, Ai was the first disgraced "tiger" in his city under the current crackdown. Financial news outlet Caijing reported that Ai's wife, who died a week ago from kidney failure, was investigated for stock market manipulation during the mainland's financial turmoil in the summer. Wu Muluan, a professor of Asian and Policy Studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said Xi's crackdown on graft would maintain its momentum at least until the semi-leadership transition in 2017. "Some people thought he would stop after [security tsar] Zhou Yongkang was jailed, but that's not the case. If he stopped then, [the crackdown] would be merely a power struggle. But he has resolved to carry on," Wu said. Beijing party boss Guo Jinlong applauded the CCDI's sudden decision. He told local officials yesterday that the city's leadership "strongly supports the [party leadership's] decision". ^ top ^



Under investigation: Shanghai vice-mayor Ai Baojun becomes city's first 'tiger' caught in anti-corruption spotlight (SCMP)
Ai Baojun, a vice-mayor of Shanghai, has become the first city-level official in the mainland's largest metropolis to be investigated by the Communist Party's anti-graft body as part of a nationwide crackdown. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) announced on Tuesday that Ai, 55, was being investigated for disciplinary violations - a stock euphemism for corruption - without providing details. A source close to local investigators in Ai's case told the South China Morning Post that the vice-mayor was suspected of economic crimes and the probe had taken several months. The investigation of Ai, who was also a chief of the city's free-trade zone (FTZ), ended a guessing game on who would be the first disgraced "tiger" - or powerful official - in Shanghai, after a two-month investigation by the party's graft-busters between July and September last year. At that time, CCDI chief Wang Qishan promised zero tolerance of corruption. Wang's remarks heightened expectations of a fruitful crackdown on unethical officials in Shanghai, a power base of former president Jiang Zemin. Government sources said Shanghai officials were apprehensive about the two-month investigations last year as the CCDI's move could stir up a hornet's nest of political and graft scandals. The investigation of Ai followed initial findings by a CCDI advance team who were deployed with local police with experience in dealing with economic crimes, the source said. The latter probe uncovered Ai's alleged wrongdoings during his tenure at Baosteel Group, one of China's biggest steelmakers. "Strong evidence [of Ai's wrongdoings] was collected before June but it is not known why it took so long to make the announcement," the source said. Shanghai Communist Party boss Han Zheng told local officials yesterday that Ai's disciplinary breaches were a "painful" lesson and that every city official should strictly follow the policy lines of the state leadership. Hu Xingdou, a professor of economics at Beijing Institute of Technology, said: "People believe corruption exists everywhere in the country and that Shanghai, as an economic hub, can be no exception. Based on the public announcements, the number of officials found to be corrupt does not appear to be enough to convince people that the anti-corruption campaign has been successful." It was highly expected that some heads would roll in Shanghai and Beijing. Almost all other provincial areas reported that at least one or two senior officials were under investigation since President Xi Jinping came to office. The investigation of Ai leaves Beijing as the only provincial-level administrative area that has yet to see the downfall of a senior official. Ai is the second senior official at Shanghai's FTZ to be investigated. Dai Haibo, the zone's former executive deputy director, is also being investigated for graft. Ai is the highest-ranking Shanghai official to fall since former Shanghai party secretary Chen Liangyu was jailed for 18 years in 2008 for graft. ^ top ^



Tibetan nuns, monks receive anti-espionage education (Global Times)
Monks and nuns from a city in Tibet Autonomous Region have received anti-espionage lectures from local security officials. Twenty-two monks and nuns from three temples in Nyingchi, a city in southeastern Tibet, close to the Sino-Indian border, received the three-hour lecture at Lamaling Temple on the counter-espionage law by local national security officials, news portal reported Tuesday. The lecture expounded on how to abide by the counter-espionage law and the legal consequences of violating the law, said the report. "Nyingchi is of special importance to anti-espionage efforts because there are many military sites," Penpa Lhamo, deputy head of the contemporary studies institute of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. The monks and nuns are considered vulnerable to espionage activities, as many senior officials in China often visit eminent monks. And temples have always been a focus of government to maintain the stability of Tibet, according to Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. The lecture also covers the intention, content and significance of the counter-espionage law, enacted in November 2014, said the report. […] There have been other activities to publicize the counter-espionage law in Tibet, including a joint promotional campaign on the law in eight counties in Tibet in November, according to a website affiliated with the Chamdo Prefecture government. Analysts believe that many overseas intelligence agencies have targeted Tibet as a critical battleground for espionage activities, taking advantage of the active ethnic separatists in the area to provoke conflict and turmoil. Lian Xiangmin, director of the Modern Institute of the China Tibetology Research Center, told the Global Times that the move could aim at countering espionage activities by the Dalai Lama's "government-in-exile." The 14th Dalai Lama had advocated the political ideal of a plan for a "Greater Tibet" with "a high degree of autonomy," which was slammed by the Chinese authorities as an attempt to create a "state within a state" on Chinese territory as an interim step toward the ultimate goal of full independence. Several officials were investigated in 2014 for allegedly participating in the illegal underground "Tibetan Independence" organization, providing intelligence to the Dalai Lama clique and assisting in activities that would harm national security, authorities in Tibet announced in January. Tibet is a significant battleground for foreign intelligence institutions, and the trend is likely to continue, as ethnic separatist forces in Tibet are good targets for those agencies, said Li. Li added that the Internet has basically connected everyone and espionage activities are conducted in various forms. China has in the past year strengthened its crackdown on espionage. Four employees of an unnamed State-owned defense company suspected of leaking confidential information to overseas spy agencies were arrested by local security officers in Sichuan Province, the Chengdu-based West China Metropolis Daily reported Wednesday. Security authorities in Northeast China's Jilin Province and South China's Hainan province both launched counter-espionage hot lines in 2015, through which citizens and organizations can report suspected espionage. ^ top ^

Officials warned of Dalai worship (Global Times)
Tibet will severely punish Party members and officials who secretly follow the Dalai Lama and those who secretly hold religious beliefs, as the region pursues its efforts against separatism, the Tibet Autonomous Region Party chief said on Monday. Such efforts should go hand-in-hand with the strict implementation of Party disciplines to make sure there is no double-talking on the issue of anti-separatism in Tibet, a major battleground against separatism, Tibet Party chief Chen Quanguo said in an interview with a newspaper affiliated with the nation's top disciplinary watchdog. 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 Resources and Social Security reported in September. "Ethnic separatists have recently expanded their influence to the grass-roots level. Enhancing officials' awareness in fighting separatism would make them more effective," Wang Chunhuan, an expert at the Tibet Autonomous Region Academy of Social Sciences, previously told the Global Times. However, a Tibet-based expert who requested anonymity said it's hard to identify such people because separatism is an ideological issue and is usually difficult to spot during recruitment simply through their words and deeds. The expert added that the 14th Dalai Lama has been deodorizing his image, and local governments should provide more information of his activities in a transparent and open manner. Chen also warned Party members and officials against participating in or supporting ethnic separatist activities, such as going on overseas pilgrimages to worship the Dalai Lama and attending prayer sessions and lectures, or sending their children and relatives to schools linked to his clique. Local authorities have issued several rules in choosing local officials, among them to avoid participating in or supporting ethnic separatist activities; and avoid going aboard to enshrine the Dalai Lama or sending relatives or children to schools linked to the Dalai Lama. The 14th Dalai Lama and his clique have fooled many Tibetans into attending his schools, mostly in India, to learn the "Traditional Tibetan culture." The schools are actually teaching separatism, Lian Xiangmin, director of the Modern Institute of China Tibetology Research Center, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Many Tibetans were fooled by separatists trumpeting "a better life overseas," but their movements are limited and they are forced to protest and join political activities against their will, according to Lian.  ^ top ^



Hundreds arrested as police crack phone-scam gangs based overseas targeting Hong Kong, mainland China (SCMP)
In an unprecedented joint operation, police from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan cracked two overseas-based syndicates operating phone scams and made 431 arrests. One gang, set up in Indonesia, had allegedly duped Hongkongers out of HK$118 million in 431 cases this year, police sources said. The other syndicate operated in Cambodia and did not target Hong Kong. Another racket that preys on Hongkongers is still believed to be operating in the Philippines. "It will be our next target," said a source close to the operation. Intelligence indicated all three gangs were headed by people from Taiwan. The operation was coordinated by the mainland's Ministry of Public Security and involved officers working with their counterparts in regional countries. It came to light when 254 mainland suspects arrested in Indonesia and Cambodia last month were sent back to Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Guangzhou on chartered flights yesterday. Xinhua said the Indonesia-based syndicate involved more than 3,000 reports of telephone scams in Hong Kong and the mainland. Veteran soprano Li Yuanrong, 73, who was duped out of more than HK$20 million in Hong Kong, was one of the victims. Calling it the "biggest and most sophisticated telephone deception syndicate", the source said the gang set up its base in Indonesia, where 224 people from the mainland and Taiwan were arrested on October 19. Guangdong police picked up a further 39 suspects. Police from Hong Kong, the mainland and Taiwan are understood to have gone to Indonesia last month ahead of a series of raids on eight locations. But none of the victims' money had been recovered and no Hong Kong residents were arrested. "The victims deposited money in different mainland bank accounts, which was then transferred to Taiwan," the source said. "Officers lost track of the money after it went to Taiwan. Police are still investigating how the gang laundered the money." Police said the syndicate recruited mainlanders and Taiwanese to make scam calls from Indonesia. Members were given a script outlining their roles and what to say over the phone. One call centre was set up in a luxury villa in the Indonesian city of Surabaya. New members were locked up, had their passports confiscated and were barred from using their phones, according to a Shanghai-based news website. "To avoid detection, the internet calls were made through many computer servers located in mainland China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and other Asian places," another source said. He said Hong Kong police were responsible for locating the call centres with overseas help and identifying the syndicate's key figures. Xinhua said the gang in Cambodia was broken up when police raided three locations and arrested 168 people in a joint operation on October 29. Some suspects portrayed themselves as victims, claiming they "felt pressure every day". They worked from 8am to 5pm and were forced to submit the details of 150 prospective victims each month, mainland police told The report said some gang members had been recruited with bogus job offers. They were the first arrests since the State Council set up an inter-ministry task force in June to crack down on such crime. In the past 10 months, fraudsters posing as mainland officials have duped Hongkongers out of HK$266 million in 1,255 cases. Victims are typically told they have broken mainland laws and have to prove their willingness to cooperate by transferring money to mainland bank accounts. ^ top ^

Democratic Party to raise Hong Kong police's Occupy handling and plight of domestic helpers at UN torture hearing (SCMP)
Allegations of police brutality and inadequate oversight of the force, screening of asylum seekers and the plight of foreign domestic helpers will top the agenda when a delegation of NGOs and political activists makes a presentation to a United Nations committee next week. The UN Committee Against Torture will hold a two-day hearing next week to discuss how Hong Kong and mainland China are implementing the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishments. "[The committee] has no power to threaten or order the SAR government to do anything … but if the government refuses to implement any [of the committee's recommendations], it would need to give an explanation," said Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing as she prepared to go to Geneva. Among the recommendations the Hong Kong government had repeatedly ignored, Lau said, was a call to set up an independent body to investigate complaints against police. The UN committee will hear from both the Beijing and Hong Kong governments before non-governmental groups present their findings. In its report to the committee, Lau's party dubs the government's efforts to implement the convention "feeble, haphazard and insufficient". It points to the response to last year's Occupy protests as one issue. "We urge the committee to ask the HKSAR government to conduct an independent inquiry to find out why 87 rounds of tear gas were fired at peaceful demonstrators, and why excessive force was used on peaceful demonstrators and journalists," the party's report reads. Aside from policing, Lau said her party would ask the committee to press the government to allocate more resources to ensure a more effective and fairer mechanism was put in place to assess the claims of the 10,450 asylum seekers now in Hong Kong. It would press for more resources and power to be allocated to the Labour Department to oversee more than 1,000 domestic helper employment agencies in the city to prevent a repeat of the assault on maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih last year. ^ top ^



Taiwan's president on defensive after summit with Beijing (SCMP)
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has hit back at opponents who have accused him of selling out by holding a historic summit with mainland China's President Xi Jinping. Ma said he had not shied away from referring to Taiwan as the Republic of China – its official name, which Beijing does not recognise. “I stated it so clearly,” he told broadcaster TVBS in an interview aired on Wednesday. “No one in history has said it before to the mainland's leader, so I feel I fulfilled my duty as the Republic of China's president.” The meeting in Singapore on Saturday was the first between leaders of the two sides since their acrimonious split in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war. Although it is a self-ruling democracy with a fierce sense of its own identity, Taiwan has never formally declared independence from Beijing, which sees it as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary. However, since his 2008 election, Ma and his Kuomintang (KMT) party have bound the island closer to the mainland, with the start of direct flights that have ramped up tourism, and a many-fold increase in mainland investment. But his policy of alignment has become increasingly unpopular in Taiwan and the KMT looks set to get a thumping in presidential elections next year, which the nominally pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] appear likely to win. DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen said the summit was a personal vanity project for Ma, which ran the risk of locking Taiwan too tightly to mainland China. “[Ma] tried to limit Taiwan's future into a political framework to achieve his own political status, completely taking away the freedom of choice for 23 million people,” said Tsai. “Because, for Taiwanese people, the Ma-Xi meeting... Taiwan's democracy was absent from beginning to end, and didn't see any trace of the existence of the ROC [Republic of China].” ^ top ^

Taiwan opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen's Facebook page flooded with posts from the mainland (SCMP)
Tens of thousands of posts apparently from the mainland have flooded Taiwan presidential election front runner Tsai Ing-wen's Facebook account, demanding that the island reunify with the mainland. Her response yesterday was to welcome mainland interest in democracy. The surge in posts, nearing 70,000, is all the more astonishing because Facebook is generally blocked in the Communist Party-ruled mainland, although there are ways of getting around the firewalls. “I hope this rare new experience can let the 'new friend' see a more complete democracy, freedom and pluralism of Taiwan,” Tsai posted to contributors “from across the Strait”, the strip of water separating the mainland and Taiwan. “Welcome to the world of Facebook!” Beijing deems proudly democratic Taiwan a breakaway province to be taken back, by force if necessary, particularly if it makes moves towards formal independence. Tsai is the leader of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which traditionally favours independence from the mainland and is expected to win presidential and parliamentary elections in January. The surge in posts underscores how much attention is being paid to the island and its relationship with the mainland since a historic meeting between the two leaders at the weekend, the first since the Chinese civil war ended in 1949. State media praised the summit as a success on the road to unification. The posts, many written in simplified Chinese characters used on the mainland, did not appear to be machine-generated spam or an attack, said DPP spokesman Cheng Yun-peng. They seemed genuine, but the DPP had not verified their authenticity, he said. One read: “...peaceful unification. One country, two systems. Break through the machinations and return to me Formosa”, referring to the island by its former name. Chiang Kai-shek's ruling Kuomintang fled to Taiwan after being defeated by the Communists in 1949. The island has been self-ruled since. Both sides agree there is “one China”, but disagree on the interpretation. There were as many posts defending Tsai and the DPP, written in traditional Chinese characters used on the island. One said “online pen wars” may give writers from the mainland a sense of freedom. “But when we take our presidential vote to the ballot box, you will wake up from your daydream because this is democracy – and you don't have it,” it said. ^ top ^

Taiwanese opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen extends lead in post-Xi-Ma summit opinion poll (SCMP)
Taiwan's opposition presidential candidate retains a big lead ahead of forthcoming elections, according to two opinion polls released on Monday, despite a historic summit between President Ma Ying-jeou and President Xi Jinping. The breakthrough meeting on Saturday was the first by the leaders of the two sides since the Chinese civil war ended in 1949, but it has stoked public debate over the island's ties with its giant neighbour in the lead-up to presidential and parliamentary elections in January. The independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, has accused Ma of trying to revive the chances of the governing Kuomintang in the elections with the surprise summit. An opinion poll by Taiwan's Cross-Strait Policy Association on Sunday showed 48.6 per cent of 1,014 people surveyed supported DPP leader and candidate Tsai Ing-wen while 21.4 per cent backed KMT candidate Eric Chu. That compared with support of 45.2 per cent for Tsai in mid-October and 21.9 per cent for Chu in an earlier poll by the association, which is comprised of prominent scholars and bipartisan figures. "The Ma-Xi meeting wasn't aimed at interfering in Taiwan's elections. It is to set the tone for the cross-strait relationship in the post-Ma generation," Pang Chien-kuo, a member of the association, said on Monday. Tsai has been critical of the summit, saying she was disappointed Ma made no direct mention of Taiwan's freedoms and democracy. In the poll taken on Sunday, 46.8 per cent of those surveyed said they did not think Ma protected nor maintained Taiwan's sovereignty and interests in the meeting with Xi, while 32.9 per cent said he did. A second poll of 1,330 people by a new group founded last month of bipartisan academics in Taiwan called the Justice Association found that 32.7 per cent would vote for Tsai, while 21.1 per cent backed Chu. The remainder gave their support to minority candidates or chose not to vote. Ma's attempts to forge closer ties with the mainland, mostly on the economic and trade front, have been greeted with some suspicion in Taiwan, with student protesters last year storming and occupying Taiwan's parliament for several weeks to demand the scrapping of a wide-ranging trade pact with the mainland. Xi said on Saturday that proponents of Taiwan independence must not split the two sides, a viewpoint since widely echoed in mainland state media. "If she takes office, Tsai will see her 'Taiwan Independence' policy responded to by powerful countermoves from the mainland," a Global Times editorial said. "The Xi-Ma meeting pushes forward the cross-strait relationship and has been applauded globally. Yet Tsai, appearing wrathful, voiced harsh words that tried to belittle the meeting and exposed her support for 'Taiwan Independence'." Only the people of Taiwan can decide its future, Tsai said on Sunday. ^ top ^

Did Ma Ying-jeou stand up for Taiwan in closed-door summit with Xi Jinping? Full transcript of Ma's remarks has the answers (SCMP)
Taiwan's leader Ma Ying-jeou went to lengths to persuade Beijing to remove missiles pointed at the island during his closed-door summit with President Xi Jinping on Saturday. "I'd like to address to Mr Xi that the [Taiwanese] opposition often refers to a recent drill at Zhurihe base and the problem of missiles to criticise cross-strait ties," Ma said, according to a transcript of his remarks in the talks, released by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Office on Monday. "If your side could make some friendly moves, it could dismiss such unnecessary criticism." Footage by mainland state broadcaster CCTV in July showed a drill at the People's Liberation Army's Zhurihe base featuring a complex similar to Taipei's presidential residence, fuelling talk in Taiwan about Beijing's hostility. A report on the PLA by Taiwan's Ministry of Defence in August said Beijing now had 1,500 short-range missiles deployed against the island. After Ma raised the missiles issue, Xi "replied that such deployments were … not directed at the Taiwanese people". During the meeting, Ma urged Beijing to give Taiwan more international space. He also referred to "the Republic of China", a term that risked raising Beijing's ire. "One China, one Taiwan; or the independence of Taiwan, is not permitted by the constitution of the ROC," he said. Critics had accused Ma of not highlighting the fact that both sides have different interpretations of what "one China" meant when mentioning the 1992 consensus on which cross-strait ties are based. The 1992 consensus states that both sides agree that there is only "one China", but agree to disagree on what that means. The transcript showed, however, that Ma did mention both sides had different views of what "one China" meant. A commentary in People's Daily's overseas edition said the consensus bound future Taiwanese leaders so that no one could again behave in the way the island's two former pro-independence presidents, Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, did. The full transcript was released to dispel the Taiwanese opposition's doubts over Ma's meeting with Xi, analysts said, but views were split on whether the move achieved its aim. A survey by pro-independence think tank Cross-Strait Policy Association showed 48.5 per cent of those polled were not satisfied with Ma's performance at the summit, against 39.6 per cent who thought he did well. Another poll, by the pro-Kuomintang United Daily News, showed that 37.1 per cent of those surveyed were satisfied with how Ma performed during the meeting with Xi, against 33.8 per cent who were not. The KMT is presently Taiwan's ruling party. "His attitude [on the missiles] was lukewarm. Beijing only reiterated what had been said before," said Taiwan-based analyst Wang Hsing-ching, adding that Ma should have firmly stated Taiwan's discontent over the issue. Another political commentator, Niu Tse-hsun from Taipei's Chinese Culture University, said the goal to improve Ma's personal legacy and the KMT's chances in the upcoming presidential race had been met. "After all, it's the first meeting of the leaders of the two sides since 1949. Ma has brought cross-strait ties to a new level," Niu said.. ^ top ^

Peaceful message from Xi-Ma meeting encourages cross-Strait travel (Xinhua)
Thousands of locals crowded the 10th Taipei Cross-Strait Travel Fair on Monday after leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Strait pledged to promote peace and prosperity at a historic meeting in Singapore Saturday. Ciou Jyu-syong, a marketing manager with Pro-Tour Express Inc, a Taipei-based travel agency, has been busy handing out leaflets for the company's travel package to southwest China's Guizhou Province throughout Monday morning. "Taiwanese like Guizhou. The landscape is very much different from Taiwan and the weather is very mild throughout the year. In addition, we do not have a problem with language and culture differences," said Ciou, who himself has been to Guizhou at least eight times. Only about a third of his flyers were left by the time noon rolled around. "The weekend was even more crowded than today," he told Xinhua. About 270,000 people attended the fair from Friday to Sunday, organizers said. A Taipei woman surnamed Yu in her fifties collected a bag full of travel leaflets from the mainland delegation's main desk. "I have made several trips to the mainland but I still plan to go. I would like to visit Xinjiang (in northwest China) and Hainan (in the very south)," she said, adding she visited central China's Hunan Province in September. It used to be very difficult, if not impossible, for ordinary residents to travel across the Strait since the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 after being defeated in a civil war. Business and personnel exchanges resumed in the late 1980s but free travel, especially from the mainland to Taiwan, remained difficult. The two sides lifted the ban on mainland tourists in package tours to Taiwan in 2008 and on independent tourists in 2011. Cross-Strait tourism has been one of the most prosperous businesses since 2008, an outstanding indicator of improving ties. In the first nine months of this year, about 4 million Taiwan people visited the mainland while 3.11 million mainland tourists went to the island. At the meeting with Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore, Xi Jinping said that there are still many Taiwan people who have never been to the mainland and he welcomes their visit. Hsu Chin-jui, head of the Taiwan Travel Quality Assurance Association, told Xinhua that the meeting between the two leaders sent a message of peace and stability across the Strait, which is exactly what tourism business needs. Tourism business from both sides should take advantage of this favorable situation and work together to provide people with more quality products and services, Hsu said, adding that their efforts will contribute to cross-Strait peace and exchanges as well. At this travel fair, the mainland sent a large delegation of 820 people, including travel agencies and government tourism officials, and installed booths with a total area of 3,800 square meters. Zheng Weirong, deputy head of the tourism department of east China's Fujian Province, told Xinhua that the Xi-Ma meeting is definitely good news for tourism. "I hope that, with the leaders meeting each other, more detailed policies will follow to simplify paperwork and other procedures for cross-Strait travel," he said. Taiwan is a major source of tourists for Fujian, which is directly across the Strait.  ^ top ^



China allows direct trade of yuan with Swiss franc (SCMP)
China's national foreign exchange market will introduce direct trading of the Swiss franc, the operator said on Monday, as the country pushes greater international use of its yuan currency. Trading of the Switzerland currency against the yuan begins on Tuesday, the China Foreign Exchange Trade System said in a statement on its website. Direct trade increases efficiency and reduces the cost of transactions as deals do not need to use a third currency like the US dollar. The country's foreign exchange market already hosts direct trading of a number of currencies, including the Singapore dollar, the euro, Britain's pound and the New Zealand dollar among others. China is seeking to promote the yuan - also known as the renminbi (RMB) - as a global reserve currency alongside the dollar, an ambition that depends on its willingness and ability to loosen tight restrictions on the currency's trade. One major step towards achieving Beijing's goal is convincing the International Monetary Fund to include the yuan in its internal "special drawing rights" reserve currency basket, with an IMF decision expected soon. The central People's Bank of China said in a separate statement that Swiss franc trading would promote bilateral trade and investment between China and Switzerland. The yuan can only move up or down 2 per cent against the US dollar from a mid-rate set daily by the central bank. The Swiss franc will be allowed to fluctuate 5 per cent on either side of a central rate, the market operator's statement said. In August, China unveiled a surprise devaluation of the yuan against the dollar, moving it nearly 5 per cent lower in one week. Beijing said the move was part of broader reforms aimed at shifting towards a more flexible exchange rate, but it raised concerns that the Chinese economy was performing worse than had been acknowledged. HSBC, one of the market makers for yuan-Swiss franc trading, said direct dealings would facilitate greater cross-border use of the Chinese unit. "We believe the RMB is well on its way to becoming a fully convertible, global currency," Ryan Song, head of markets for China at HSBC, said in a statement. ^ top ^

China's inflation rate falls again in further sign of weakening demand in the economy (SCMP)
Consumer inflation in China fell to 1.3 per cent year-on-year in October, the authorities said on Tuesday, in another sign of weak demand in the world's second-largest economy. China is a key driver of global growth, but expansion slowed to its lowest rate in nearly a quarter of a century in 2014 and has continued to weaken this year. The rise in the consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, released by the National Bureau of Statistics was the lowest since May and down sharply from 1.6 per cent in September. It was also well below market expectations of 1.5 per cent in survey of analysts by Bloomberg News. Moderate inflation can be a boon to consumption as it pushes buyers to act before prices go up, while falling prices encourage shoppers to delay purchases and companies to put off investment, both of which can hurt growth. The authorities pledged to accelerate reforms at a key Communist Party meeting, but analysts warn that more needs to be done to avoid a hard landing for the economy. The producer price index, which measures the cost of goods at the factory gate, fell 5.9 per cent year-on-year in October, matching the figures for September and August, which represented a six-year low. Consumer inflation has been at or below two per cent for all of 2015, while the drop in the producer price index, a leading indicator for consumer inflation, was the 44th consecutive monthly fall. Economic growth in China hit a 24-year low of 7.3 per cent in 2014 and has slowed further this year, with gross domestic product increasing seven per cent in each of the first two quarters. Domestic and overseas demand have slackened, with official trade data at the weekend showing imports down nearly 19 per cent in October and exports falling almost seven percent. ^ top ^

China's construction sector forecast to slump to historic lows: no recovery expected until 2030 (SCMP)
Construction growth in China, the world's second largest economy, is forecast to reach historical lows in the short term, with housing construction registering a decline for the first time ever. Construction is then expected to make a slight recovery in the years leading up to 2030, according to a report by Global Construction Perspectives and Oxford Economics released on Tuesday. China is one of the main drivers of construction worldwide, followed by the US and India. “China has passed the peak in terms of construction activity, I would say the peak was more like 2013. Last year we saw decline in terms of new starts, and also sales volume,” said Joe Zhou, head of research in China at JLL real estate consultancy, adding housing has been in decline since last year but there have been positive signs the market will stabilise. Construction output during the 2014 to 2020 period is expected to grow at a rate of about 3.9 per cent annually, less than one third of the average rate hit between 2005 and 2014. In the long run however, growth is forecast to reach 4.8 per cent in 2020 to 2025, and 5.2 per cent in 2025 to 2030. Housing will also be the slowest growing sector as it is projected to grow by only 2.5 per cent annually until 2020 before reaching 4 per cent from 2020 to 2030, the report said. Representing about 40 per cent of construction last year, the sector expanded at a rate of about 11 per cent yearly from 2005 to 2014. Yet China remains the world's largest construction market. By 2030, China, US and India will account for 57 per cent of all global growth in construction and engineering, adding over US$4.5 trillion to construction growth. China will contribute US$2.1 trillion to output and represent almost a quarter of all construction activity worldwide, slightly higher than present levels. To boost construction, the nation is set to encourage infrastructure investment through its 'one-belt, one-road' policy - a project linking China with Europe through central and western Asia - as well as introducing new public-private partnership regulations to allow investment into domestic infrastructure. Despite the projected slowdown, the nation's rapidly ageing population and the high proportion of people migrating to urban areas would spur potential long term growth in the sector. The share of people aged 65 and above will reach almost 20 per cent by 2030. The rise of China's ageing population will cause the construction of new hospitals and other health care facilities. China currently has over 24,000 hospitals that need to be modernised, and consulting firm McKinsey & Company predicts that health care spending will increase to US$1 trillion by 2020, the report said. Last month, China also announced that it will abolish its decades-old one-child policy and allow couples to give birth to two children. The increase in population by 2030 may potentially increase the labour force and drive further growth. On average, an estimated 8.5 million new houses could be built annually between 2014 and 2030, the report added. ^ top ^

China's exports drop 6.9pc as imports fall, raising fears economy heading for hard landing (SCMP)
China's trade figures disappointed analyst expectations by a wide margin in October, reinforcing views its economy will likely have to do more to stimulate domestic demand given stubborn softness in overseas markets. While Beijing has already repeatedly cut interest rates and softened the exchange rate to prop up the economy, latest trade numbers suggest that a greater risk of a hard landing remains. October exports fell 6.9 per cent from a year ago, dropping for a fourth month, while imports slipped 18.8 per cent, leaving the country with a record high trade surplus of US$61.64 billion, the General Administration of Customs said on Sunday. A range of economists had expected dollar-denominated exports to fall 3 per cent after September's 3.7 per cent dip, and imports to decline 16 per cent, improving from a sharp drop of 20.4 per cent. Combined exports and imports fell 8.5 per cent in the first 10 months from a year earlier, well below the full-year official target for growth of 6 per cent. "We see that the trade will unlikely turn around the momentum in the near term, and the [yuan] exchange rate will be under downward pressure especially as [the US Federal Reserve] has signalled it will hike [interest rates] soon," Commerzbank China economist Zhou Hao said. Last week, the Ministry of Commerce said the value of China's exports this year was likely to stay similar to 2014 levels, while imports could drop sharply in the fourth quarter. For 2016, the ministry expects to see steady growth in combined exports and imports as policy measures to support the trade sector take effect. The central bank cut interest rates in late October for the sixth time in less than a year, and again reduced the amount of cash that banks must set aside as reserves. It also guided the yuan into weaker territory against the dollar. The onshore yuan has weakened by more than 2 per cent this year. Some analysts expect to see further rate cuts before the end of the year, but while this will relieve firms with high debt loads - which are concentrated in the state-owned sector - so far rate cuts have done little for exports. Buyers at the Canton Trade Fair, which ended last week, saw contract values fall 7.4 per cent from the last fair with attendance also declining. ^ top ^



President of Mongolia pays a state visit to the People's Republic of China (Infomongolia)
Upon the invitation of the President of China, President Ts.Elbegdorj is paying a state visit to the People's Republic of China. This visit is highlighted as the first state visit since the establishment of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries and continuation of bilateral high-level dialogue. On November 10, 2015, President Xi Jinping and his spouse Peng Liyuan welcomed the President of Mongolia and his spouse Kh.Bolormaa at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. During the welcoming ceremony, official delegates from both sides were present. Following a gun salute, the state hymns of the two countries were performed and two Presidents greeted by a military honor guard. After which, President Ts.Elbegdorj held official talks with President Xi Jinping. President Xi Jinping noted: "I would like to thank His Excellency, Mr. President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj for paying a state visit to China. The relations between the both countries are at their most pleasant time. During my visit to Mongolia in 2014, our two countries established the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership bringing the mutual relations into a new stage of development. I'm truly satisfied with the successful development of bilateral relations thanks to our joint efforts, common interest and our people's support. China and Mongolia are good neighbors, good friends and good partners. The Chinese side attaches great importance to ties with Mongolia and the bilateral relationship is always put in an important place in China's neighborhood diplomacy." In response, President of Mongolia said: "I am glad to pay a state visit to the People's Republic of China upon the invitation of His Excellency, Mr. President of China Xi Jinping. As the first state visit since the establishment of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries, this visit will contribute to the deepening of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. By increasing exchange of high-level visits and official meetings, we will be able to promote mutual understanding and political trust between the two countries. Our two countries have great potential to enhance mutual economic cooperation which is an important component of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and we do have the opportunity to expand bilateral trade to USD 10 billion by 2020." The parties have noted with satisfaction the development of bilateral relations in economy, culture, education, sciences, technology, healthcare, humanitarian and other sectors and have exchanged views on expanding partnership in agriculture, creating agricultural park, and exporting ecological and healthy products to China. Moreover, President Ts.Elbegdorj mentioned about Mongolia's permanent neutrality which was announced during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, reports the Press and Communications Division of the Office of President of Mongolia. ^ top ^

President meets Xhang [sic] Dejiang (Montsame)
In People's Republic of China (PRC) with the state visit, the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj Wednesday received Mr Zhang Dejiang, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). The President expressed a satisfaction with meeting Mr Zhang again and with big achievements in a present bilateral cooperation. He said he is happy with a signing of 11 documents on broadening the Mongolia-China economic cooperation. He also emphasized a significance of a creation of a permanent mechanism of talks between the legislative bodies of the two countries which will bring their relations into a newer level and increase their roles in a development of the ties. The parties underlined that an increase in a frequency of high level mutual visits and meetings has been promoting the mutual political trust, and expressed a mutual satisfaction with enriching of the cooperation between the legislative bodies with new contents. They considered as necessity to actively cooperate in forming a legal fundamentals for deepening the developmental policies of the two countries such as understanding each other's positions, learning each other and exchanging information and experiences in order to make common values of the legislative bodies. In a scope of this matter, Mr Zhang hoped that the forthcoming 1st meeting of the Permanent meeting mechanism between the two legislative bodies will succeed during a visit of a delegation led by Ms Yang Junqi, the Vice Chairwoman of the Standing committee of the NPC to Mongolia this month. The sides also agreed with an importance of implementing big projects that will contribute to the economic development of both countries and give benefits to people. The state visit of the Mongolian President will give impetus to strengthening of the mutual trust and understanding, to enhancing of friendly atmosphere of the bilateral relations, to deepening of the comprehensive strategic partnership relations, and to fortifying of the equal and mutually-beneficial cooperation, the sides consider. ^ top ^

Credit agreements between Government and ADB ratified (Montsame)
The State Great Khural (parliament) ratified the credit agreements of Government of Mongolia and Asian Development Bank on program of supporting social welfare and on additional funding for the project on agriculture and rural development at the plenary meeting of November 10. Finance Minister B.Bolor read the introductions of the agreements. In frames of implementing the measures for overcoming economic difficulties, the Government requested support from the ADB in order to diminish the negative impact of the current economic decline on the vulnerable strata. The Bank accepted the request and resolved to make two separate installments of credit worth 150 million US dollars in 2015 and 2016. The program of supporting social welfare will complete on December 31 of 2016. The bill on ratifying this credit agreement was backed with 83.1 percent approval of MPs. Agricultural and rural development project has been involving providing assistance to many farming cooperatives, with an aim to promote herders and cooperatives which are main suppliers of agricultural raw materials. The project's first phase has allocated 176 incentives to 104 cooperatives that is worth 1.46 million USD, so far, being implemented in 38 soums of six aimags. It has also given 23 types of training to more than 4,300 people. In collaboration with commercial banks, the project also allowed credits of 22.3 million USD or 29 billion MNT to 12 newly established businesses, and created 1,854 jobs. The second phase of this project needs additional funding of some 50 million USD, in order to continue its actions toward improving value-added production's network in Mongolia. The credit agreement between the Government and ADB on additional funding for phase two of Agricultural and Rural Development Project was backed by 84.5 percent.  ^ top ^

Over 2,000 convicts released by amnesty law (Montsame)
Under newly adopted law on amnesty, which was came into force last month, 2,071 people have been released from prisons. It was reported at a news conference called Monday by D.Ganbat, head of the Standing committee on justice; and Colonel G.Tuulkhuu, a deputy head of the General Authority for Implementing Court Decisions. The released people have been sent to their home, and five homeless people have been belonged to the “Sense of right living” NGO, D.Ganbat said. All the convicts were released by court decisions, and money of 130 million Togrog has been allotted from the governmental reserve for transporting them, he emphasized. “Just after the release of the convicts, some false news have been delivered through media about repeating criminal acts. There are no information until today about any recidivism,” he stressed. ^ top ^

G.Shiilegdamba wants to resign from his post (Montsame)
The Minister of Health and Sport G.Shiilegdamba last Friday sent an official letter of the Prime Minister to resign from his post. He is being detained in the 461st unit at the General Authority for Implementing Court Decisions for being accused of corruption. In his letter, G.Shiilegdamba denied committing any illegal acts, and hoped that this case will be fairly resolved during an investigation or trial process. But this definitely will take a long time due to a current political situation, he said. He explained the request on resignation from his post, saying that he does not want to break normal activities of the health sector and to make the sector's reputation fall. Through his letter, G.Shiilegdamba expressed thanks to those people who supported him to become the Minister of Health and Sport during the latest formation of the cabinet. ^ top ^

Mr L.Purevsuren gives speech at closing of ASEM FM Meeting (Montsame)
The Mongolia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr L.Purevsuren delivered a speech at a press conference and a closing meeting of the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting (ASEM FMM12) held on November 5-6 in Luxembourg. Mr Purevsuren expressed thanks to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for successfully organizing the ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and said he is satisfied with openly exchanging his views on climate change, sustainable development and management on reducing risks of natural disasters. He also gave reports about his participation in the Meeting together with Ms Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Commission's Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; and his counterpart of Luxembourg Mr Jean Asselborn. “Gaining a right to host the 11th ASEM Summit is a part of Mongolia's contributions to the ties between Asia and Europe. Now, Mongolia is working hard to organize the forthcoming ASEM Summit, and it is noticeable that this Summit is coincided with the 20th anniversary of the ASEM,” Mr Purevsuren emphasized. He pointed out that Mongolia intends to work out a draft Declaration of Ulaanbaatar that will conclude the 20-year initiatives, programmes and projects of the ASEM and will determine future of unofficial talks of the Asia-Europe cooperation. The UB Declaration will reflect proposals from ASEM members, he went on. Following the press conference, Mr Purevsuren has met with his counterparts of Russia, the Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands and Thailand, exchanging views with them on the bilateral relations and cooperation. ^ 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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