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
  16-20.11.2015, No. 597  
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Foreign Policy

Beijing-backed free-trade plan fails to advance at Apec (SCMP)
A Beijing-backed plan for a regional free-trade pact failed to advance on Thursday afternoon, with Asia-Pacific leaders simply repeating their support for a goal made at last year's Apec summit. In a joint declaration to wrap up the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the 21 leaders again backed a strategic study of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), the goal they set in 2014 at their meeting in Beijing. They also said the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) were “possible pathways” to realising the FTAAP. “We reiterate our belief that the FTAAP should be pursued as a comprehensive free-trade agreement by building on ongoing regional undertakings,” the leaders' statement said. The declaration came a day after TPP signatories met in the Philippine capital on Apec's sidelines. The statement also came after President Xi Jinping  warned that rival trade pacts in the Asia-Pacific region might cause “fragmentation” of the regional economy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Apec leaders that he believed the trade pact would create a new economic order and could serve as a platform to determine rules for the FTAAP. He also said Tokyo would like to accelerate the negotiations for the RCEP, which includes China. The South China Sea disputes, which Washington had threatened to bring up during the economic summit, remained the elephant in the room. References to the territorial disputes were absent from the declaration but the issues were the major topic of almost all the bilateral meetings held by the Philippines, the United States and Japan. Former Taiwanese vice-president Vincent Siew Wan-chang, who represented the island at the summit, said none of the leaders raised the issue during the summit yesterday. “And no one raised the issue with me [during our chats ahead of the banquet last night],” he said. Siew said he had an extended conversation with Xi as the two walked to the banquet hall. He said he also witnessed a relaxed chat between Xi and US President Barack Obama. “While we were talking, Obama approached to say hi to both of us,” Siew said. “Xi asked Obama if he flew directly from Turkey to the Philippines after the G20 Summit … Then Obama asked Xi if he suffered any jet lag,” he said. Siew said Xi replied that he hadn't this time but maybe he would suffer in Paris during the climate change summit. Xi's presence in Manila was low-profile. He limited bilateral talks to meetings with the leaders of Malaysia, Colombia, and New Zealand. Hopes of meetings between Xi and Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Abe were not realised. After Xi left for Beijing yesterday, Abe and Aquino met and agreed in principle for Tokyo to supply defence equipment to Manila, a deal seen as helping to boost the Philippines' presence in the South China Sea. “We share deep concern over unilateral action taken to change the status quo in the South China Sea such as land reclamation works,” Abe said after the meeting, without naming China. He also brought up Manila's arbitration case in The Hague, saying Tokyo supports dispute resolution based on international law. ^ top ^

Chinese President condemns Islamic State killings but has little room for next step (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping  on Thursday strongly condemned Islamic State's killing of a Chinese captive in the Middle East, a stand bolstered by Apec's call for international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. But analysts said China's ability to retaliate against the radical Islamist group was limited, given Beijing's long-standing policy of non-intervention in other countries' affairs. “Terrorists are the common enemy of humankind,” Xi said in a written statement. “China firmly opposes terrorists of all forms and resolutely cracks down on any crimes that challenge the foundation of human civilisation.” IS said on Wednesday it had killed a Chinese hostage along with a Norwegian, who had been held since at least September. The foreign ministry confirmed the Chinese national as Fan Jinghui, a 50-year-old Beijing man who was a teacher before moving into advertising and TV production. He was the first Chinese national known to have been held and killed by the group. With its declaration yesterday, Apec made a rare departure from purely economic and trade concerns, calling for global solidarity to combat such violence. “Under the shadow cast by the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and against Russian aircraft over the Sinai, and elsewhere, we strongly condemn all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism in all their forms and manifestations,” the declaration said. “We stress the urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism.” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she could not confirm the killing of its national, said to be 48-year-old Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad. China's foreign ministry pledged Beijing would “certainly bring the criminals to justice”. But it was not clear how the government could do this. “China is now in a dilemma,” Shanghai-based military analyst Ni Lexiong  said. “If it joins the allies, or even sends troops, it might trigger further revenge from IS, and cause bigger losses of Chinese life and for companies overseas.” Liu Zhongmin, an expert on the Middle East at Shanghai International Studies University, said Beijing was feeling global pressure to take action in the fight against terrorism. “It is very unlikely China would initiate military action over this incident … Even if China wanted to, conditions do not allow it,” he said. The country has no military presence in the Middle East. William Callahan, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, said China did not have many options for bringing IS to justice, given Beijing's strong support for the doctrine of non-intervention. “The only thing that Beijing can do is work through the UN to get a Security Council resolution that would sanction attacks within Syria. But China will not be a major player in this because the main countries [there] are France and Russia.” Additional reporting by Sidney Leng, Laura Zhou and Associated Press. ^ top ^

China demands US stop "provocations" in South China Sea (Global Times)
China's People's Liberation Army Navy commander Wu Shengli on Thursday called on the United States to stop its "provocations" in the South China Sea. The Chinese navy, "bearing the bigger picture of bilateral ties in mind," had exercised "maximum restraint" in the face of US provocations, Admiral Wu of the People's Liberation Army's Navy told Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, in a meeting in Beijing. He was referring to recent US maneuvers near Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea without the permission of the Chinese government. The Chinese navy had been closely monitoring those "provocative acts" and had given warnings on several occasions, Wu said. The Chinese admiral urged the US to cherish the "good development" of ties between the countries, and "control" its maritime military operations. Wu commended Admiral Swift's welcome visit to China as a sign that both sides attach great importance to the development and maintaining of the new type of major-country and military relations between the two sides. The visit will contribute positively to the deepening of practical cooperation between the two navies and to the alleviation of tensions in the South China Sea as well as safeguarding regional peace and stability, he said. But recent maneuvers by US aircraft and naval vessels near Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea in the name of "freedom of navigation and aviation" have been a sheer provocation to China's sovereign rights and posed grave threats to the security of islands and reefs in the South China Sea, Wu said. "The US conduct does not contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea whatsoever," he said, "The US cannot impose its own claims on other nations. It cannot sabotage other nations' sovereignty and security." The Chinese admiral went on to defend China's island building in the South China Sea as "sensible, reasonable and legitimate," adding that Chinese and US navies should view their differences rationally, and avoid "situations of exigency." Admiral Swift, for his part, said the US navy does not want the South China Sea to become an issue disrupting ties between the two sides, expressing hope that the two navies could maintain high-level exchanges and hold more joint drills. The navies should also improve implementation of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, to preclude misunderstandings and misjudgment and avoid maritime and aerial accidents, Swift said. ^ top ^

Su-35 purchase shows China-Russia trust: expert (Xinhua)
China has reportedly purchased 24 Su-35 fighter jets for $2 billion from Russia, a move that analysts believe shows trust between the two countries and will help enhance China's military. The contract was signed by the two countries, with China becoming the aircraft's first foreign buyer, the Tass news agency quoted Russian daily Kommersant as saying on Thursday. An anonymous high-ranking official in the Khabarovsk Territory government told Tass that "talks between representatives of China and Russia were held on Sunday in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and these negotiations have been going on for several years." Rostec Director-General Sergey Chemezov also confirmed with the Kommersant that the contract has been signed. Rostec is the Russian high-technology state corporation. "China has officially become the first foreign contractor of the Su-35 aircraft. The contract has no precedent in the history of military aircraft deliveries," he said. "The signing of the contract is a crucial step for military trade, but we still need confirmation from China, since it's a bilateral deal," Fu Qianshao, a Beijing-based air defense expert told the Global Times on Thursday. If the deal is reached, the trust between China and Russia will reach a new level, Li Shuyin, a Beijing-based expert on Russian studies, previously told the Global Times. "They will help strengthen China's military capability and improve China's presence in the South China Sea and East China Sea," added Li. "The Su-35 is a leading aircraft in third-generation jets, which can detect fighters 400 kilometers away, and is also capable of detecting stealth targets," said Fu. He added that the Su-35 can fly farther and boasts of a wider combat radius than the Su-27 and Su-30 fighters. "The Su-35 can complement other third-generation fighters in China as well as fourth-generation jets in the future for an improved air combat system," added Fu. Russia needs to ease economic and political pressure by exporting military products, and the deal might boost exports of other military equipment and facilities, Qin Zhen, a weapons expert and editor of Ordnance Knowledge, told the Global Times. The reported contract comes amid the visit of a Chinese delegation to Russia headed by Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, together with senior PLA navy and air force commanders. Xu stressed that China is willing to work with Russia to promote defense cooperation, the Xinhua News Agency reported. During his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Xu hailed the high-level growth of bilateral comprehensive partnership of strategic coordination, which brought along the fruitful cooperation of the two armed forces. ^ top ^

PLA overhaul could 'destabilise' Chinese society: Military officials fire warning shots over pay and pensions (SCMP)
Two People's Liberation Army officials at the mainland's top military academy have warned Beijing it could destabilise the armed services and society if it goes ahead with plans to restructure and slash the size of the country's military without addressing salaries and pensions. “The reform will surely involve structural and personnel adjustments and touch on the interests of numerous fellow soldiers,” Sun Kejia and Han Xiao said in an article published on Thursday in the People's Liberation Army's mouthpiece, the PLA Daily. Reform needed support from the country and society, but if it was not handled properly it could threaten not only the stability of the military but also society, they said. Sun and Han are researchers at the PLA National Defence University's department of strategic education and research. Sun is deputy director of its military ideology and history office. Many nations had failed to carry out military reforms successfully because they had not properly budgeted for staff pensions and salaries, they said. Sun and Han added that reform of the US armed forces in the 1970s had gone smoothly because military pensions and salaries had improved. The open expression of their concerns is unusual. Most military figures to have publicly commented on the expected shake up so far have stuck to demonstrations of political loyalty. The article was deleted from the newspaper's website, but remained on the website of the Ministry of National Defence. During a parade in September to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war, President Xi Jinping  revealed he planned to cut the size of nation's military by 300,000 personnel – twice the size of the British army. The South China Morning Post reported that the cut would see 170,000 military officials lose their jobs. Since then, numerous military officers have expressed their support of the plans in various state-run newspapers. Reports have repeatedly stressed that all PLA officers support the plans, regardless of exactly who is laid off. “It's really hard to settle the laid-off personnel and give them equivalent salaries. And it's natural for them to have hard feelings,” said Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong . Many in the army – the main target of the cuts – believe its role was being sidelined as the navy and air force were elevated, Ni added. More than half of the cuts would target officials, and de-mobilisation, and re-employment for them would not be easy, said Hong Kong-based military expert Liang Guoliang. “The fact that the PLA Daily brought this up means it's a problem big enough to effect the reform as a whole,” he said. ^ top ^

China, India agree on closer security cooperation (Global Times)
China is willing to set up a high-level meeting mechanism with India on security to further promote security and law enforcement cooperation, Chinese State Councilor Guo Shengkun said here Thursday. Guo, who is also public security minister, made the remarks during talks with India Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh, who is the first Indian home minister to visit China in ten years. Guo said the rapid development of China-India relations has brought up new demands for cooperation on security and law enforcement. "The China Public Security Ministry is willing to work with the India Ministry of Home Affairs to set up a high-level meeting mechanism in accordance with the strategic plans agreed by leaders of both countries," said Guo. He called on both sides to strengthen exchanges on various levels, forge ahead with counterterrorism and drug-control cooperation, effectively address common challenges and maintain regional and international peace and stability to create sound environment for bilateral cooperation. Singh said India was ready to enhance security cooperation with China to lift bilateral ties to new heights. ^ top ^

China expects 'ambitious, legal-binding deal' at Paris climate conference (Xinhua)
China's chief climate negotiator on Thursday unveiled the country's position on the Paris climate change conference, saying China hopes that "a powerful, ambitious and legally binding deal" can be reached in Paris. Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative on climate change, made the remarks at a press conference where he released a report on China's efforts to cope with climate change. Xie added that a 2015 deal should reflect the principles of "common but differentiated responsibilities" and "respective capabilities." The Paris climate change conference, due to begin at the end of November, is the latest attempt by world leaders to reduce carbon emissions, considered by many to be the main reason behind extreme weather and the rising number of natural disasters. In the run-up to the conference, major differences remain. Xie said developed nations still have much to do to in their pledges to provide money and transfer low-carbon and environmental friendly technology to developing countries. "Each country should deliver what they have promised, which is the basic foundation of political trust," said Xie, adding that mutual trust is a prerequisite for a successful conference. He also reiterated China's goals in its own "Intended Nationally Determined Contribution" (INDC) -- China will cut its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, aiming to increase non-fossil fuel sources in primary energy consumption to about 20 percent and peak its carbon emissions by the same date. "China will ensure that the INDC targets will be accomplished in whatever circumstances. The Chinese government and the Chinese people will abide by our promises," said Xie. ^ top ^

PLA officials' visits strengthen Sino-Russian military cooperation (Global Times)
The visit by senior Chinese military officials to Russia shows growing military cooperation and relations between the two countries, experts said. The Chinese delegation headed by Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, flew to Russia on Sunday following an invitation from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to China's Ministry of Defense. Xu was joined by Liu Sheng, deputy director of the PLA General Armaments Department, and PLA navy and air force commanders. "The visit from officials of China's ground, air and naval forces shows the broad military cooperation between China and Russia," Li Shuyin, a Beijing-based expert on Russian studies, told the Global Times. Xu's visit is a routine activity of a Sino-Russian committee on military cooperation, and the mechanism of such regular exchanges shows that Sino-Russian military cooperation is on a fast track, said Li. Li added that technology cooperation is the essence of Sino-Russian military cooperation, and that Russia is eager to boost military cooperation as the country faces economic and political challenges, and Moscow also needs military trade to improve its GDP. There is speculation that Xu's visit may involve a deal on military hardware, following reports that China will purchase SU-35 fighters and S-400 Triumf missile systems from Russia. "The contract was supposed to have been signed either at the end of 2014 or the start of 2015," Russian military manufacturer Sukhoi First Deputy Director General Boris Bregman told the Global Times at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in November 2014. According to an ITAR-TASS report in April 2014, negotiations between Russia and China to purchase S-400 Triumf missile systems were underway. If a deal to purchase Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missiles is reached, the trust between China and Russia will reach a new level, added Li. "They will help strengthen China's military capability and improve China's presence in the South China Sea and East China Sea." ^ top ^

Clouds hang over disputed seas, islands between Japan and China, as Abe flags 'gradual improvement' (SCMP)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told the G20 summit of global leaders that he sees an overall improvement in relations with China, a spokesman said on Sunday, although sticking points remain around the East China and South China Seas. China, the world's second-largest economy, and Japan, the third-largest, have a difficult political history, with relations stained by the legacy of Japan's second world war aggression and conflicting claims over a group of East China Sea islets known as the Senkakus in Japan, which controls them, and Diaoyus in China. “The prime minister said that Japan-China relations as a whole see gradual improvement,” Yasuhisa Kawamura told reporters on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Turkey, which Abe is attending. However, Kawamura added that issues around the East China Sea and South China Sea remained a “concern” for the region. Abe has in the past been critical of China's assertiveness in the South China Sea, through which much of Japan and South Korea's trade and energy supplies pass. Abe told South Korea's president this month that he wanted cooperation between the two countries and the United States in maintaining an open and peaceful South China Sea. In a sign of the improvement in Sino-Japanese relations, Abe has met President Xi Jinping twice since last November. Kawamura also quoted Abe as saying that Japan would take anti-terrorism measures at home and to protect its citizens overseas in the wake of the attacks in Paris that claimed more than 130 lives. The Paris attacks, which have been claimed by Islamic State, cast a shadow over this year's G20 summit in the Turkish coastal province of Antalya, a meeting that was supposed to focus on boosting global growth. ^ top ^

China's interaction with APEC members shows Xi's diplomatic charisma (Global Times)
Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose charisma has drawn worldwide attention, will once again be in the limelight at another upcoming international gathering -- the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting -- this time in Manila, the Philippines. In September, Xi visited the United States, where the world was seeing the two countries strive to address issues including cyber security and the South China Sea, while building a new model of major-country relationship, a proposal initiated by Xi. Xi and his US counterpart Barack Obama saw a long list of tangible results achieved during the Chinese leader's first state visit to Washington, also his third major summit with Obama. The Xi-Obama summit also helped soothe worries about a potentially damaging China-US rivalry and assure the world, especially the Asia-Pacific region, that the two remain partners in safeguarding peace, stability and prosperity in the world. After his successful US tour, Xi's just-concluded visits to Vietnam and Singapore earlier this month have created new engines for cooperation and set a new model for regional cooperation. Besides economic cooperation, Xi touched upon issues such as the South China Sea while visiting Hanoi, reiterating China's stance and urging the two sides to properly manage and control differences, safeguard stability at sea and focus more on cooperation. During Xi's visit to Singapore, China's commitment to peaceful development and common prosperity was reflected not only in economic cooperation deals, but also in its unwavering support for the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. […] A great opportunity to strengthen bilateral cooperation, Xi's upcoming visit to the Philippines is also welcomed by civil society organizations and the private sector in the Southeast Asian country. […] With regard to bilateral cooperation in the sphere of modern infrastructure, Joseph Emilio Abaya, secretary of the Philippine Department of Transportation and Communications, said the country can learn a lot from China when it comes to mass transit projects and traffic management. After rounds of competitive bids earlier this year, Dalian Locomotive, a subsidiary of China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation, had finally won the contract to supply 48 light vehicles for Manila's Light Rail Transit System Line MRT-3. Established in 1989 as a forum for the 21 Pacific Rim economies to promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region, the APEC is becoming an increasingly important mechanism to address economic issues not only within the region, but also around the world. "China is a great power. We are all inspired by how China has always been so amazing in knowing how to promote business. In every Chinese person, there is an entrepreneurial spirit. That can inspire people to learn from China," said Doris Magsaysay-Ho, chair of APEC Business Advisory Council 2015. ^ top ^

Xi, Putin meet at G20 summit, renewing pledges on cooperation (China Daily)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Sunday reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing extensive cooperation between their two countries. China aims to build an "innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive" world economy along with all the other members of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies, as it holds the rotating presidency of the G20 next year, Xi told Putin. "We are willing to strengthen communication and cooperation with Russia in the course of hosting the G20 summit," he said when the two leaders met on the sidelines of the group's 10th summit in Antalya in southwest Turkey. Putin voiced support for China in playing a greater role in boosting international economic and financial cooperation as the next chair of the G20. The two leaders also pledged to deepen cooperation within the framework of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS and in a wide range of areas, such as politics, economy, trade, finance, energy and culture. They renewed their consensus on aligning China's Silk Road Economic Belt with the Russia-initiated Eurasian Economic Union. Putin told Xi that Russia and China, both committed to safeguarding the principles of international law, share similar views on many major world affairs, while Xi expressed his hope that the two countries can jointly push for a more just and equitable international order. Also on Sunday, both Xi and Putin attended a meeting of BRICS, which gathers Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. ^ top ^

Economy vs defence: America's allies take a 'dual track' diplomatic approach as Chinese clout grows (SCMP)
As President Xi Jinping continues on his whirlwind schedule of overseas tours, an increasing number of countries are treading a delicate line in their relationships with China and the United States as competition between the two intensifies. As China increases its presence on the world stage – Xi is visiting Turkey and the Philippines this week, Paris and South Africa next month – observers say some of Washington's traditional allies are adopting the “dual-track” system, already in place in some East Asian countries, in which China is seen as a key economic partner while the US is a security anchor. This is presenting them with a dilemma and forcing Beijing to rethink its approach to diplomacy, they say. Escalating tensions between the two powers over the South China Sea have polarised the region, with countries – claimants or not – either challenging China's behaviour or seeking to avoid upsetting Beijing. The issue has already stirred discussions within the South Korean government on how to respond in order not to offend either power, a source said. This year, the US' assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Daniel Russel, said Seoul should “speak up” over the South China Sea, presenting a dilemma for Seoul, which increasingly relies on China for its economic growth while the US remains a vital security ally. Countries outside Asia could find themselves in similar tight spots as China's economic clout expanded, said Yan Xuetong, an international relations expert with Tsinghua University in Beijing. Yan said European countries were increasingly siding with Beijing for economic opportunities while maintaining security ties with Washington. “These countries have only two choices – either they choose a side or they remain neutral, there is no third choice,” Yan said. London, a US ally, rolled out the red carpet for Xi's state visit last month and signed deals worth billions of US dollars. Britain's announcement in March that it would join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank surprised many and prompted Washington to express concern over “a trend of constant accommodation” of Beijing. Yan said China could “hide behind others” in the past when countries shared power more equally than now. But the world was becoming increasingly bipolar and China could no longer “lie low”, he said, referring to late leader Deng Xiaoping's  foreign policy mantra. But David Zweig, a professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said Beijing's assertive behaviour had backfired and it had failed to translate its economic power into strategic influence. “Anytime it tries to flex its military power, it creates a backlash,” Zweig said. “As its economic power shifts to strategic power, it causes the states to move away from China and get close to the US.” ^ top ^

Turkey says 'yes' to China's trade initiative, 'no' to its missiles (SCMP)
Turkey says it will actively take part in Beijing's “One Belt, One Road” economic and trade initiative, but has cancelled a controversial tender for a Chinese-made missile system. An official at the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's office told Reuters yesterday Ankara had cancelled a US$3.4-billion long-range missile defence system tender provisionally awarded to China in 2013. “The decision was signed off by the prime minister this week,” the official said. The Nato member's decision to award the tender to China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp as the preferred candidate for the deal had stirred American and Western concern. But the official told Reuters Turkey was now planning to launch its own project to build such a system. The news came hours after President Xi Jinping arrived in the Turkish city of Antalya for the G20 summit and held a meeting with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan said his country was ready to join hands with China to lift bilateral trade to a higher level. Turkey was willing to actively participate in the One Belt, One Road initiative and was glad to see Chinese enterprises invest more in Turkey in fields such as infrastructure, Erdogan said. The initiative was proposed by Beijing in 2013 as a trade and infrastructure network. It will connect Asia to Europe and Africa through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Xi said China was ready to explore ways with Turkey to facilitate bilateral trade and investment, and that both sides should make full use of platforms such as the Silk Road Fund and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank to innovate, cooperate and achieve common development and prosperity, Xinhua reported. Xi suggested expanding the use of the two countries' currencies for bilateral trade and investment and called for deepening security cooperation. The pair also discussed Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Erdogan said Turkey would never allow any group to conduct on its soil anti-China activities or actions that undermined the Sino-Turkish relationship. Beijing had blamed Ankara for undermining its anti-terrorism efforts, with media reporting that Turkish diplomats and businessmen in Southeast Asia had helped Uygurs from Xinjiang obtain fake documents so they could travel to Syria and join terrorist groups. Overseas activists have long condemned Beijing's ethnic and religious policies in Xinjiang as repressive, but Beijing insists there is religious freedom and blames violence on extremists. Xi would use the G20 summit to elaborate China's views on the world economy and explore new avenues for growth, Xinhua said. ^ top ^

China builds buoy-backed observation system in western Pacific (Xinhua)
China has built an observation network backed by submerged buoys in the west Pacific, a move essential to continuous maritime observation. China's most sophisticated research vessel, Kexue, or "science," returned to the eastern port city of Qingdao on Sunday after wrapping up a 77-day expedition covering 11,000 nautical miles, during which it recovered 15 sets of deep-sea buoys in the west Pacific and retrieved more than 380 pieces of observation equipment, according to the Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Weighing 4,711 tonnes, Kexue is 99.8 meters long and 17.8 meters wide, with a cruising capacity of 15,000 nautical miles and a top speed of 15 knots. Wang Fan, the voyage's chief scientist, said another 13 sets of submerged buoys and more than 350 pieces of observation equipment have been placed there. "With the retrieved buoys, we have obtained valuable scientific statistics about ocean temperature, salinity and circulation for a year over the tropical West Pacific," Wang said, adding that the data will help scientists better understand the relationship between the ocean currents in the western Pacific and China's climate change. Wang said the successful retrieval of the buoys is an indication that China "has built its own observation network for scientific research over the tropical West Pacific." China completed large-scale installation of submerged buoys in the western Pacific ocean for the first time in Oct. 2014. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Gay men hit hard by HIV/AIDS epidemic (China Daily)
China has reported nearly 110,000 HIV/AIDS cases so far this year, a slight increase over last year, said the nation's top AIDS specialist. The gay male population has been hit particularly hard, accounting for more than 25 percent of the total. Wu Zunyou, head of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, made the remarks on the sidelines of the ongoing 2015 National Conference on HIV/AIDS. "The situation among gay men is alarming and in some cities one out of five gay men is HIV positive," he said, citing a national average of 8 percent among the group. In worse-hit cities such as Beijing and Harbin, more than 70 percent of the cases reported in 2015 involved gay men, he added. Worse, young students have been hit hard in recent years by the epidemic, he said, and 70 to 80 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases detected in 2015 among them involved gay sex. "It's a big challenge to protect young students from HIV/AIDS," he said. Thanks to robust intervention efforts initiated in 2003, China has a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS (0.06 percent), according to Shen Jie, deputy director of the Chinese Association of STD and AIDS Prevention and Control, which hosted the conference. "But the rapid increase of HIV cases among gay men has hardly been curbed," she said. Mainstream prevention strategies like education and behavioral intervention didn't work well for them, said Wu. Condom use, for instance, has never exceeded 50 percent of the gay male population, he noted, citing previous investigations. "I even saw a gay medical doctor who had unprotected gay sex," he said. Many of them are aware of the risks and preventive measures like condoms and lubricant use but simply don't practice accordingly, he pointed out. Wu suggested that improved treatment should be the best way to help curb the quick spread of the virus among gay men. HIV/AIDS sufferers are much less likely to pass the virus to others if put on antiretroviral therapy, he explained. In that regard, "treatment is prevention," he said. ^ top ^

Scientists in Shanghai create mice without use of sperm (China Daily)
In a major reproductive breakthrough, scientists in Shanghai have created mice by using two eggs and no sperm. The team achieved this pioneering feat by modifying an egg and making it work as a sperm replacement that is injected in another egg to activate fertilization. A paper on their discovery was published in China-based international scientific journal Cell Research on Nov 17. They promoted cell division of a mature egg through chemical means and created a line of cells. After modifying one cell by removing two genes, they injected the cell into another egg as part of artificial fertilization process. "In our experiments, more than 15 out of 100 embryos finally developed into mice. They are healthy and show no difference in development and fertility from the ones that are naturally conceived," said Zhong Cuiqing, one of the researchers in the team led by Li Jinsong from the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, a branch of Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Zhong said the success rate can be called surprisingly high as the rate of the regular artificial fertilization that involves an egg and sperm-derived haploid cell on mice is between 20 and 30 percent. The scientists also conducted experiments on whether two sperm cells can create the next generation, but that however ended up in failure. The study is a revolutionary step as it comes close to proving that mammals can possibly reproduce without the need for sperm. But it has also raised concerns. "It will trigger severe ethical problems if such technique is applied to human beings," said Li Yinhe,China's best known sexologist. "The whole social order would substantially change." Liu Ping, deputy director of the fertility center of Peking University Third Hospital, said it will take pretty detailed discussions about whether to apply an assisted reproductive technology to humans both technically and ethically, and she believes such innovation will not bring negative effects on the human society. "After all, life is a serious matter," she said. ^ top ^

China pledges to achieve cuts to greenhouse gases (China Daily)
China will ensure the fulfillment of its pledges for cutting greenhouse gas emissions that it submitted to the United Nations, regardless of the outcome of the Paris climate summit, China's climate officials said. More than 80 world leaders will attend a summit in Paris to set a global framework to combat climate change, a summit that the French government said will go ahead as scheduled despite the latest terrorist attacks. Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative on climate change issues, said China hoped that the Paris conference could be a "landmark" one and that delegates from more than 190 countries would reach an "ambitious, strong and legally binding" agreement, Xie said at a news conference on Thursday. In late June, China officially submitted to the UN its intentions to achieve peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. The targets were set on the basis of a two-year scientific verification and China will ensure the fulfillment of these targets no matter how difficult it will be, said Xie. "To further improve the target will need more efforts. First, it needs innovation. So we want to establish an incentive mechanism to work together globally." Financial and technological support from developed countries are very important measures for enhanced actions from developing countries, said Xie, adding that China will make efforts to reach its peak emissions earlier by improving energy efficiency and adjusting its energy structure. China has dwarfed all other countries in the world in terms of clean energy installations. It accounts for 25 percent of the world's total installed capacity of renewable energy in the past five years. Its rapid development of wind and solar power has greatly reduced costs of renewable energies. Su Wei, China's chief climate negotiator and director-general of climate change at the National Development and Reform Commission, said the significance of the Paris summit lies in whether it can successfully guide the world to switch to a sustainable, green and low-carbon pathway. "Reaching consensus on goals for cutting emissions is important," Su said at the Global Climate Governance Seminar in Beijing on Thursday. "But what's more important is to provide a direction for the global sustainable development and make more people aware of the urgent challenge facing humanity and how to make adjustments accordingly." Zou Ji, a professor at the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, said the success of the Paris agreement will be judged on whether it will be an "equitable, effective and win-win one". "Of course, we hope the Paris meeting will generate an outcome, and we will actively contribute to that, but for China, transition to a low-carbon economy and reaching its goals is a must. There is no Plan B," Zou said. ^ top ^

The battle of the century: Defining the legacy of China's late liberal leader Hu Yaobang (SCMP)
The centenary on Friday of the birth of Hu Yaobang is a time for the present regime to remember the late leader's spirit of liberalism and tolerance and not just play up the legacy that benefits the Communist Party, analysts say. The late party chief, whose death in 1989 sparked the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, was born 100 years ago to a poor family in Hunan province. Known for his liberal and undogmatic style, Hu was in charge of China's economic and political reform efforts in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, but was purged in 1987 for tolerating “bourgeois liberalisation”. He was also accused of being too lenient with students protesting in 1986 for democracy and freedoms. Hu died on April 15, 1989, from a heart attack. People saw him as a victim of oppression from the conservative leaders and hundreds of thousands turned out on the streets to mourn him. The mourning later transformed into the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement, which ended in the June 4 crackdown. A formal commemorative ceremony is expected to be held today, and other remembrance activities will take place in his hometown in Liuyang on Monday. The official People's Publishing House released a collection of his essays and speeches on Thursday, Xinhua reported. His son, Hu Deping, said at the Central Party School this week it was published with the permission of the Central Committee's document research office headed by President Xi Jinping. A five-part documentary on Hu's life would also be broadcast on state television from Friday, news portal Sohu reported. Son Hu Dehua earlier declined to say if the ceremony would be similar to one held in 2005 at the Great Hall of the People to mark the 90th anniversary of his father's birth. That event was attended by then-premier Wen Jiabao  and former vice-president Zeng Qinghong. In the run-up to the centenary, a number of articles on Hu's legacy have appeared in state media, most focusing on his role as a loyal party member, determination to crackdown on corruption, concern for the people and economic reform efforts. But analysts say the official media have avoided mentioning his democratic leanings and his tolerance for different opinions, even those critical of the government. The media have also avoided any mention of his death and the pro-democracy movement it inspired. Analysts say the official narratives should not selectively ignore Hu's liberal side, including his courage to free Chinese people from the strictures of Maoist dogma and his respect for intellectuals. As deputy head of the Central Party School and later the party's propaganda chief, Hu encouraged independent thinking and rejection of the worship of Mao. Hu Dehua said last year he was proud of his father's advocacy of democracy and the rule of law, his opposition to repressive rule and his campaign to rehabilitate political victims. Hu's liberal approach is in stark contrast to President Xi Jinping's  style. Xi's rule has overseen a revival of Maoism, a tightening of ideology and an escalation of crackdowns on government critics. Yuan Weishi, a retired history professor formerly with Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, said Hu should be remembered for his spirit of political liberalism, adding that he “possessed the qualities of a modern leader” in his respect for citizens' rights and opposition to the oppression of intellectuals. “It shouldn't be about form but the inheritance of his spirit. [It should be about] carrying forward his righteous attitude,” Yuan said, noting that although China is open economically, “it is still severely restricted in politics and thought”. Hu Yaobang maintained that political reform should go hand in hand with economic reform. In 1986, he was planning a draft law to safeguard press freedoms, but he was purged in 1987 before it could be enacted. Political reforms were stalled after the 1989 crackdown. For Chen Daoyin, a political scientist at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, Hu is “a landmark figure” in history as he helped restore the party's political legitimacy after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). With paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's  blessing, Hu embarked on a series of economic and political reform measures and rehabilitated millions of people wrongly persecuted in the 10 years of tumult. “He was a symbol of China's transition,” Chen said. “Hu reversed the verdicts [against those wrongly accused] and played a crucial role in winning people's hearts and minds.” Now, through commemorating Hu, the authorities want to profit from his popularity, scholars say. Chen said that by hosting official commemorations of Hu's birth, the authorities were trying to control the perception of the late popular leader, excluding references to his more human, tolerant reputation. […] Analysts noted that Xi's conservative ideology and heavy-handed approach towards government critics differed not only from Hu, but his own father, who was a Hu ally. Xi Zhongxun, a reformist party elder who suffered in the Cultural Revolution, pushed publicly for protection of different opinions. Last month, the party banned its members from making “inappropriate comments” on its key policies, vilifying party leaders and distorting party history. Veteran China watcher Ching Cheong said the party had selectively played up the parts of Hu's legacy “to dress itself up as [Hu's] legitimate heir” but “it is afraid of his other side, which is liberalism and tolerance”. […] ^ top ^

China requires college counselors must be Communist Party members (Global Times)
China is considering requiring all college counselors to be members of the Communist Party of China (CPC), according to a draft amendment issued by the Ministry of Education on Tuesday, amid the nation's continuing efforts to strengthen ideological education. The amendments to the original political requirements for college counselors are aimed at strengthening student management and optimizing counselors' work, the ministry said. College counselors are responsible for ideological education, class management and providing personal and academic counseling services. The amendment said every college counselor must be a CPC member and must have received relevant ideological and political education. Previously, anyone with a bachelor's degree or above who obtained a related training certification was qualified. The proposed requirements say that counselors must also be patriotic and loyal to the CPC and shall not conduct themselves poorly or make statements that are in any way harmful to the national interest and the growth of students. They should also actively study ideological and political education and related knowledge. College counselors should carry out socialist core values education and integrate such values into all aspects of the daily management of student services to help shape students' daily conduct, the amendment said. They are urged to strengthen their communication with students, closely watch students' activities online and offer guidance to public opinion on topics of heated public discussion. They are also required to promote ideological and political education online by taking the initiative to rectify discourse on the Internet. Each school should provide a college counselor to each department and each year, while at least 70 percent of counselors at each college must be full-time workers. "Since some students do not pay attention to Marxist values, it is urgent that the Party win them over," Tang Zhongbao, an associate professor at the School of Marxism of Jiangnan University, told the Global Times previously, suggesting creative and entertaining forms of ideological education should be developed to cater to students. China began to emphasize ideological education at universities in January, when central authorities issued guidelines highlighting the importance of universities in championing Marxism, the Chinese Dream, socialist core values and traditional culture. The Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee and the Ministry of Education in October called for further spreading and promoting Party ideology at colleges via the Internet. The guidelines also require college teachers to undergo at least 20 hours of ideological education every year. ^ top ^

Interrogation chairs 'padded for comfort', claims Chinese official as Beijing denies torturing or holding political prisoners (SCMP)
China denied that it held political prisoners and said it prohibited the use of torture when it faced a United Nations' review of its record on Wednesday, evoking derision from exiled dissidents. Winding up a two-day scrutiny of the country's human rights performance, senior Chinese officials evaded questions about the number of police or prison guards prosecuted for torture and the treatment of high-profile prisoners, including several of whom died in custody. A report by Amnesty International last week detailed how suspects received electric shocks, were punched, kicked, hit with shoes or bottles filled with water, denied sleep and locked in iron chairs forcing them into painful postures for hours on end. Patrick Poon, one of the researchers behind the Amnesty report, said after the hearing that the chairs were among the biggest complaints from lawyers and their clients. Li Zhongcheng of the Chinese prosecution authority insisted they were needed to hinder detainees from escaping, injuring themselves or their interrogators. “To avoid such situations we use interrogation chairs. The chair is sometimes packaged with soft padding to increase a sense of comfort and to increase safety,” he said. Jens Modvig, one of the committee's top investigators, remained unconvinced, pointing out that “in a detention place there [should be] no need for restraints”. The 10-member UN experts committee periodically reviews the records and compliance of all 156 countries, including China, that have ratified the Convention Against Torture. UN experts pressed Chinese officials on Tuesday about persistent allegations that torture was rife in the country's police stations and prisons, especially of political prisoners, and about deaths in custody. “There are no such cases of political prisoners,” said Jin Chunzi of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission. “The allegation of cruel treatment of suspects from ethnic minority groups is groundless.” Committee chairman Claudio Grossman said in his summary: “I was surprised to hear that solitary confinement is a 'management tool'. I want clarification because it is certainly perceived as a penalty.” The experts questioned the use of electric shocks and rigid interrogation chairs which left inmates in painful positions for long periods. Golog Jigme, a prominent Tibetan monk who broke out of a Chinese detention centre in 2012 and attended the session after receiving Swiss asylum last month, voiced disappointment. “Back in Tibet I was used to Chinese propaganda and to hearing lies each and every time there were communications by the Chinese government,” he said. “I can honestly say there was not the slightest truth in anything they said today. […] Committee member Alessio Bruni responded dryly that those penalties seemed “rather mild”. Meanwhile, officials from Hong Kong were taken to task over the police crackdown on last year's pro-democracy protests. Hong Kong's permanent secretary for security Joshua Law Chi-kong insisted to the committee that the police force had shown “a high degree of restraint”, saying that 133 officers had been injured during the 79-day protest. Hong Kong activist Ken Tsang, who was filmed during the protests being punched and kicked by a group of police officers while in handcuffs, did not agree. “They are just lying... They are trying to minimise the violence towards the demonstrators,” he said after the hearing. Seven police officers were charged with assault over the incident, while Tsang himself was also charged with attacking 11 police officers. ^ top ^

Antibiotics in China far overused, poorly understood: WHO (Global Times)
The past decade has seen more than half of outpatients in China prescribed antibiotics, a level far above that recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the organization said in a Monday report. A new survey commissioned by the WHO for the first-ever World Antibiotic Awareness Week, which began Monday, shows that public awareness of antibiotics and their use is low in China. Some 61 percent of respondents in China believed antibiotics were effective against colds and the flu, despite the fact that antibiotics have no impact on viruses. About 35 percent of those surveyed said they thought antibiotics were effective against headaches. "Antibiotics are a crucial part of modern medicine, but they have become victims of their own success. As a result of overuse and misuse of antibiotics by both doctors and patients, antibiotic resistance is now a gravely serious global health problem, including here in China," said Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO representative in China. "Antibiotic resistance affects us all. It means infections which were once easily cured are becoming harder to treat, and common surgical procedures such as caesarian sections and appendix removals could become life-threatening due to the risk of untreatable infections," Dr Schwartländer explained. China's National Health and Family Planning Commission started to launch regular campaigns to crack down on the inappropriate use of antibiotics for clinical use in 2011. Doctors who violate the rules are warned or have their licenses revoked. However, the WHO has said more needs to be done to address the problem, both by healthcare professionals and patients. ^ top ^

Netizens object to double standard on terror (Global Times)
Several landmark buildings in China have been lit with the colors of the French flag to show solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks. However, Chinese public opinion online remains divided, as many renewed criticism that Western media has a double standard when reporting on terrorism. On Saturday, the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai joined a slew of famous buildings worldwide illuminated with blue, white and red as a gesture of grief for the victims of the Paris attacks. The action has aroused heated discussion online. The Oriental Pearl's post about the lighting on its official Sina Weibo account has received more than 4,370 comments since Saturday. While many Internet users voiced support for the lighting and compassion for victims, some were dissatisfied with the building's gesture, pointing out that China has not gained equal support from the West when facing terrorist attacks. Steven Dong, a professor at the Academy of Media and Public Affairs at the Communications University of China, told the Global Times that the Oriental Pearl's move aroused much controversy because many people felt angered by the double standard adopted by the West. "Many Chinese people expressed their anger this time because when terrorist attacks happened in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Western media did not show compassion for the innocent civilians, but used them to make an issue," said Dong. "Terrorism does not only happen in the West, but also in China, and we are allies in fighting terrorism." Dong suggested that Internet users break away from narrow-minded patriotism and express their opinions in a more mature manner. Many netizens also reposted a chart published in 2014 by the online affiliate of the People's Daily comparing the words used in Western media outlets to describe two events characterized as terrorist attacks: the Kunming train station attack in 2014 and the London killing of a British soldier in 2013. On March 1, 2014, a group of assailants armed with knives attacked civilians at the railway station in Kunming, the capital of Southwest China's Yunnan Province, killing 31 people and injuring 141. A knife attack in 2013 on the streets of London left one man dead, media reports said. Reports on the Kunming attack in Western media used words such as "knife attack," "violence," "incident" and "mass stabbing," while for the London attack, the same media outlets used words such as "terror attack," "terrorism," "long-feared attack" and "brutally murdered," according to the chart. Reuters on Saturday quoted Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, which advocates the secession of Xinjiang, as saying that "China was using the shootings in Paris to whip up anti-Uyghur sentiment in China." In response, Gao Cheng, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said on her Weibo account on Sunday that "the West is picking on other countries' anti-terrorism efforts while being attacked itself." "Terrible double standard and moral superiority," Gao wrote. ^ top ^

Government on target for reduced pollution in 2017 (China Daily)
China's major cities should reach their targets in reducing major air pollutants by 2017 as planned, experts said, though ozone poses a more stubborn problem. Among the six major air pollutants listed in the Action Plan on Air Pollution Control and Prevention, the concentrations of five saw significant decreases in 2014 in 74 major cities, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. For example, PM2.5, a fine particle that poses health hazards, saw a reduction of 11.1 percent per cubic meter in 2014, while the concentration of sulfur dioxide was reduced by 20 percent year-on-year. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and PM10 also decreased. However, a rising level of ozone may require the country to take more comprehensive measures, experts warned. "It has become harder for governments to cut the emissions of airborne pollutants as more complicated problems pop up," He Kebin, head of School of Environment at Tsinghua University, said on Monday. Excessive ozone concentrations at ground level are generated mainly through complicated photochemical reactions. They have a close relationship with many other air pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, said He. Average ground-level ozone levels-which can be harmful to health, unlike the protective layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere-increased by 4.3 percent in 2014, reaching 145 micrograms per cubic meter, Fu Lu, the China office director of Clean Air Asia, an international nongovernmental organization, said on Monday. China plans to reduce the concentration of PM2.5 in Beijing to 60 micrograms per cubic meter by 2017, according to the municipal environmental watchdog, down from 89 micrograms per cubic meter in 2014. The country has seen a great improvement in major air pollutant levels since the release of the action plan in June 2013, which marked the start of the national campaign against smog. Governments will face tougher challenges in improving air quality, like the thorny problem of curbing ozone, and some cities will not see a large reduction in pollutants in 2015, He said. ^ top ^

Tougher rules proposed for delivery companies (China Daily)
The central government is coming up with stricter rules to regulate the booming delivery industry, which has been largely buoyed by the growth in Chinese e-commerce. Under the draft released on Monday, Chinese courier companies might face fines of up to 50,000 yuan ($7,800) and lose their licenses for leaking customers' personal information. The draft also addresses the rough handling of parcels, which has led to a number of customer complaints. Couriers who toss or step on parcels, or otherwise mishandle packages in a way that causes damage, could face fines up to 50,000 yuan as well as suspension of company operations. Jiang Chuanjun, 37, a lawyer in Shanghai, said he was once really surprised to find that a ceramic kettle he bought online was delivered to him in pieces. The box had a huge dent in the center with the corners all badly torn. A complaint to the online retailer was in vain because the shop owner told him it was the responsibility of the courier. But the courier said they had done everything according to the company's regulations, seeing nothing wrong in the whole process. The new rule will prevent similar cases from happening. The draft will be posted online to solicit public opinion until Dec 15, the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council said. "But it is one thing for the government to come up with stricter rules, but quite another for the companies to really improve their quality," said Jiang. "I have shopped a lot from overseas online platforms and was never disappointed once. "I think Chinese companies should have the awareness themselves and improve their services because they want to. Only in this way can the industry see a healthy development." According to the State Post Bureau, the Chinese delivery industry had total revenues of 204 billion yuan in 2014, up 42 percent year-on-year. The total number of goods delivered by courier firms reached 14.6 billion items, overtaking all other markets in the world. ^ top ^

Poll finds reluctance to have 2nd child (China Daily)
Despite the planned universal two-child policy, many young couples are reluctant to have a second child because of concerns including the possibility of a lower standard of living, a survey has found. The survey, conducted by China Youth Daily, polled about 3,000 people, more than half of them women. It found that although 46 percent of the respondents expressed a willingness to have a second child, 52 percent said they worried that having one more child would reduce the standard of living they now enjoy. Lei Lei, a Beijing resident whose daughter is 2 years old, said she doesn't want to give birth to another child, although her mother-in-law has urged her to do so. "The cost of raising a child is high, and having another child will add to our already heavy financial burden," said the 28-year-old, adding that she is hiring a nanny to take care of her daughter and that she also is shouldering a house loan. "Both my husband and I are State-owned company employees, and I earn about 7,000 yuan ($1,100) a month," she said. "Hiring a nanny alone costs 5,500 yuan (a month). We can spare no more for a second child." However, Wang Libo, a professor of population studies at Shenyang Normal University in Northeast China's Liaoning province, said that raising a second child doesn't necessarily lead to a lower standard of living. "Having another child doesn't mean parents have to buy a brand-new set of everything for the new baby. Many things used by the first child, such as clothes and books, can be shared with the second one," she said. But Wang Haifeng, whose son is in fourth grade at a primary school in Beijing, disagreed, saying she believed that "children's education is actually the major field of cost". "My son's tutorial classes alone cost me 30,000 to 40,000 yuan each year. We also have to bring him out for trips and traveling each year in hopes of broadening his horizons," said the 40-year-old. "I don't think we can afford a second child." Lin Qingqing, a 29-year-old Beijing resident who gave birth to a second child seven months ago, has a deep understanding of the influence that a second child can have on quality of life. "Expenditures have increased in every aspect. What's more, I have to spend almost all of my time taking care of my two children." ^ top ^

China's police chief orders tighter counterterrorism net across nation in wake of Paris attacks (SCMP)
China's police chief on Sunday ordered the country's counterterrorism agencies to beef up intelligence gathering and analysis, as well as reinforce patrols at key venues, after Friday's terror attacks in Paris. Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun, who also heads the national leading group on counterterrorism, told a video conference held jointly by the group and the ministry that all departments should boost their preparedness and early-warning systems against terrorism to safeguard public security and social stability, Xinhua reported, citing a ministry statement. Among those taking part in the video conference were Wang Ning, commander of the paramilitary  People's Armed Police, as well as the heads of the previously little-known counterterrorism leading group under the  Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, according to the ministry's statement. Xinhua said the participants were briefed of the attacks in Paris. Guo urged officials to “intensively strengthen analysis and research on anti-terrorism intelligence” to ensure “precise strikes and enhanced capacity in early-warning, precautionary and prevention measures, and to make efforts to smash violent terrorism before it occurs”. He also pledged “high pressure and deterrence against violent terrorism” and to push ahead with the counterterrorism campaign. Controls on guns, dangerous and explosive materials, as well as on goods delivery would be firmly implemented, Guo said, adding that efforts be taken to prevent other kinds of major violence and extreme acts by individuals. He ordered agencies to come up with more detailed security measures and to step up security inspections, especially at important sites, to eliminate potential threats. Beijing has blamed separatists in Xinjiang, home to the Uygur ethnic minority, as well as militants of the overseas group the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, for terror attacks and violence across the mainland in recent years that has killed hundreds of people. Exiles and many rights groups have said that the real cause of the unrest in the region is the government's heavy-handed approach, including curbs on the Uygur culture, and a dearth of economic opportunities. ^ top ^

China stimulus push stalls as local officials try to avoid anti-corruption spotlight (SCMP)
Local officials in China are dithering over project approvals and business deals, some to avoid the spotlight of an anti-corruption campaign, impeding Beijing's plans to use infrastructure spending to arrest slowing economic growth. Though the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approved 1.9 trillion yuan ($300 billion) of investment projects in the first 10 months of 2015, the country's top auditor estimates $45 billion of projects are behind schedule, including a railway line in Yunnan delayed five years by official sloth. Provincial and city officials were once in the vanguard of China's breakneck expansion, and they didn't always play by the rules for procurement or when awarding contracts or rights for land use. Now, when the central government is trying to lift growth from 25-year lows, they fear drawing attention to themselves in case their past comes back to bite them. […] “Many people fear that the more they do, the more likely they will get into trouble,” said an official in southern Jiangxi province, who requested anonymity. “Local officials are not fully implementing the central government's policy measures,” said the official. Prosecutors investigated 4,040 civil servants at the county level or above in 2014, an average of 11 a day, parliament was told in March. But keeping their heads down is also getting them into trouble. State media reported in September that nearly 250 officials had been punished for failing to spend government funds, delaying projects or sitting on land earmarked for development. Premier Li Keqiang has repeatedly scolded procrastinating officials for laziness. Local media said he pounded the table as he blasted officials for inertia at a meeting last year. Li has since been trying a little carrot to go with the stick, promising to promote “upright” officials while sacking crooked ones, and give them a bit more rope to do the right thing. “We should give local authorities more autonomy in making decisions and give more support for local officials who are willing and capable of doing things,” Li told provincial officials during a meeting in October. In the first 10 months of the year, local reticence has contributed to a slowing of annual growth in fixed-asset investment to 10.2 percent, the weakest pace since 2000, despite the NDRC's quickening of project approvals. Low returns and the lack of legal protection have hampered Beijing's efforts to lure private investment into infrastructure projects, adding pressure on the government to spend more. “It will be very difficult to stabilise economic growth without local support,” said a researcher with the NDRC. […] The anti-corruption campaign is not the only reason officials are dragging their feet. Provinces and cities are groaning under 24 trillion yuan in debt, equivalent to almost two-fifths of GDP, after responding to Beijing's last big stimulus push during the global financial crisis in 2008-09. Economic growth slowed to an annual 6.9 percent in the third quarter, and many analysts expect it to slow further. “The economy still needs policy support, and it will depend on whether policy measures can be implemented at local levels,” said an influential economist at a top government think-tank. Xi said last week that annual growth of at least 6.5 percent was needed over the next five years to realise a goal of doubling GDP and per capita income between 2010 and 2020. But policy insiders say weakness may persist if local government continue to thwart Beijing's policy. “The anti-corruption campaign will continue, but corruption cannot be resolved overnight, and they need to boost local confidence,” said an official in the eastern Zhejiang province who requested anonymity. “The central authorities may have to make some adjustments. If you cannot boost the economy, everything else could be just empty talk.” ^ top ^

Fighting for an identity (Global Times)
Li Xue, 22, a resident of Dongcheng district in Beijing, cannot prove to others who she is, because she has never been issued an identity card. Li is the second child in her family, and never received her hukou (household registration) because her parents could not afford a 5,000 yuan ($784) fine for having a second child 22 years ago. Like Li, there are at least 13 million people who don't officially exist in China. They cannot attend public schools or universities, buy train tickets, receive insurance, find jobs or get married. They are said to be "living in the shadows." Some 7.8 million of them are in this position because they were additional children forbidden under the one-child family planning policy. Li was an unexpected child. Her mother had injured her legs, and the doctor said that an abortion could be dangerous. Li's parents are both handicapped, and thought they were eligible to have a second child. But according to family planning policy rules that took effect in 1991, they were not. "The policy also said that anyone who has a special situation and needs to have a second child could apply for approval from the municipal family planning commission," said Li. Li and her parents appealed to different departments. The local police station refused Li's father when he tried to get Li registered in the household system. Four months later, an official from the sub-district family planning commission came to the house and asked the parents to pay a 5,000 yuan fine, known as the social maintenance fee. At that time, if parents wanted to get their newly born second child registered, they needed to present a certificate proving they had paid their social maintenance fees. Li's mother was fired four days after Li was born. With a monthly income less than 150 yuan, the family had no hope to raise the 5,000 yuan. According to the household registration regulation established in 1958, all babies should be registered without additional conditions. In 1988, the Ministry of Public Security and National Health and Family Planning Commission jointly released a regulation to ban local governments from linking the issuance of a certificate showing payment of a social maintenance fee or other records of family planning policy with household registration. "But local governments still ask parents to hand in their certificate of abiding the family planning policy or social maintenance fee in order to get their child registered," according to an anonymous official at a family planning commission from Shandong, adding that this is an unavoidable behavior to implement family planning policy. Linking the registration of newly born babies to paying the social maintenance fees is the root reason for having 7.8 million unregistered households, according to a report made by Wan Haiyuan, a research fellow from the Academy of Macroeconomic Research of the National Development and Reform Commission. […] In order to get Li registered, Li's family has petitioned for almost two decades, and they received nothing but a stack of useless papers. "Linking conditions with the current registration system is the root reason of the unregistered households. Only when separating the system from the penalty of birth control measures could the number of them stop growing," said Wang. […] On October 29, China announced that it will allow all couples to have a second child, which ends the one-child policy. The new policy gives hope to Li and another 13 million people, who are still fighting to get an identity. ^ top ^



US lawmaker reports 'heated exchanges' with China on Tibet (SCMP)
US lawmakers on a rare congressional visit to Tibet last week had some “heated exchanges” with Chinese officials as they called for Beijing to renew dialogue with exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, one participant said on Tuesday. Seven Democrats led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made the first visit by US lawmakers to Tibet since anti-government unrest in 2008. The region has also been largely off-limits to foreign media and diplomats since then. Pelosi said that while President Xi Jinping had rejected independence for Tibet, the United States and Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, only wanted autonomy. “So if they (Chinese authorities) think it is about independence, he (Dalai Lama) says it's about autonomy, we only support autonomy... then I think there is an opportunity to find common ground,” she told a news conference. Representive Jim McGovern from Massachusetts, who accompanied Pelosi to the regional capital of Lhasa, said the visit was an important gesture by the Chinese government but “too often” they heard characterisations of Tibet and the Dalai Lama that reflected old prejudices. “I believe that the Dalai Lama is part of the solution, not the problem, to resolving the issues confronting Tibetan autonomy,” McGovern said, calling for genuine dialogue to address the concerns of Tibetans who are seeking more autonomy, the freedom to practise their Buddhist religion and preservation of their culture. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule and is shunned by Beijing as a separatist. Pelosi, who last travelled to China in 2009, said the delegation's visit, that also took them to Hong Kong and Beijing, followed an invitation to “come see for yourself” when she raised congressional concerns over human rights with Xi during his visit to Washington in September. In Beijing, they met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. “I considered the trip constructive, bridge-building, and we want to continue building that bridge through reconciliation and clearer understanding,” Pelosi said. They also discussed cybersecurity and climate change. McGovern said the delegation saw what Chinese officials wanted them to see in Tibet, but at Peloss insistence, visited religious sites too. They came away uncertain about what steps the Chinese government was willing to take on reconciliation in Tibet, but not feeling “the door was entirely closed to anything,” including to opening a US consulate in Lhasa. “I can't tell you with certainty that the Chinese government will agree to do x, y and z, but I don't think any of us came away feeling that the door was entirely closed on anything,” McGovern said. “Some discussions were more heated than others and there were some discussions that I felt signalled openness to a constructive dialogue,” McGovern said. ^ top ^



Xinjiang gives tuition, fees reductions to all students (Global Times)
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has reduced or remitted tuition and fees for school supplies and textbooks for all students during the nine-year compulsory education period, media reported Thursday. Xinjiang has provided free textbooks and waived tuition and other fees for 2.05 million students in 56 poverty-stricken counties since 2003, news website reported. School fees have also been waived for students in urban areas of the region since 2008. The policy of "two exemptions and one subsidy" - exemption from miscellaneous fees and textbook fees in addition to subsidized living expenses for boarding students - was adopted by China in 2001, but is mainly implemented in poverty-stricken areas. The State Council announced Wednesday that the policy will be expanded to both urban schools and private schools starting in 2017. Xinjiang spent 50 billion yuan ($7.8 billion) per year on average on education over the past five years, and the share of Xinjiang's GDP that went toward education expenditures was higher than the nationwide required ratio of 4 percent, according to Zhou Xiaoxi, a youth psychologist with the China Association for Mental Heath, told Xinhua that basic education in Xinjiang needs to be strengthened to help combat terrorism. "Free education in high schools will lift the enrollment rate of middle school graduates and will prevent them from being brainwashed by the extremist ideologies behind terrorism." ^ top ^

Chinese security forces kill 17 alleged terrorists in Xinjiang - Radio Free Asia (SCMP)
Chinese security forces in the restive far western region of Xinjiang have killed 17 people, including women and children, accused of involvement in an attack at a coal mine two months ago that left at least 50 dead, US-based Radio Free Asia reported on Wednesday. Hundreds of people have died in unrest in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uygur people, and other parts of China over the past few years. China blames the violence on separatists and extremists. The government has made no public comment about the September 18 attack at the Sogan colliery in Aksu, with Radio Free Asia reporting most casualties were members of the Han Chinese majority and police blaming knife-wielding separatists. Radio Free Asia, citing Xinjiang police, said the 17 killed were all suspects in the attack, including three men believed to have been the ringleaders and their family members. Repeated calls to the Xinjiang government seeking comment went unanswered. “I heard from colleagues who participated in the operation that the military blew up the cave where the suspects were hiding,” the report quoted Xinjiang police officer Ghalip Memethe as saying. “That is why we were able to kill all of them with zero victims [from our side]. Seventeen corpses were gathered after the explosion.” On Saturday, state media microblogs published pictures provided by the Ministry of Public Security of armed police on what it said was a 56-day mission to root out militants in Xinjiang, though it gave no details of who they were hunting, only that all the suspects had been killed. Some of those reports were later removed from the Internet. Radio Free Asia said that report likely referred to the operation to find the suspects in the coal mine attack. The Ministry of Public Security did not respond to requests for comment. While the government often gives details about violence in Xinjiang, it is not uncommon for them not to report certain incidents at all. Rights groups and exiles say the violence in Xinjiang stems more from widespread Uighur resentment at Beijing's controls on their religion and culture rather than being committed by a well-organised militant group. China strongly denies abusing human rights in Xinjiang, and says it is facing a determined campaign from religious radicals and separatists. China has appealed for the international community to provide more help in its campaign against Xinjiang militants following the attacks in Paris. Western countries have long been reluctant to share intelligence with China or otherwise cooperate, saying China has provided little evidence to prove the existence of a cohesive militant threat and citing worries about possible human rights abuses in Xinjiang. ^ top ^

China says global war on terror should also target Uygur militants (SCMP)
The struggle against Islamist militants in China's violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang should become an “important part” of the world's war on terror, China's foreign minister said following the attacks in Paris. Hundreds of people have died in unrest in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uygur people, and other parts of China over the past three years. Beijing has blamed the violence on Islamist militants, led by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group it said had ties to al-Qaeda. More recently China has reported that some Uygurs have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamic State and other groups. Chinese state media has already sought to link China's own “war on terror” with the Paris attacks. Over the weekend, pictures appeared on the microblogs of state-run newspapers showing Chinese armed police supposedly on a mission to root out militants in Xinjiang – pictures put out after what happened in France on Friday. Speaking in Turkey on Sunday on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the international community to form a “united front to combat terrorism” in the aftermath of Paris attacks, the Xinhua news agency said on Monday. “The UN's leading role should be brought into full play to combat terrorism, and a united front in this regard should be formed,” Wang said. “China is also a victim of terrorism, and cracking down on ETIM should become an important part of the international fight against terrorism,” he added. Over the weekend, pictures appeared on the microblogs of state-run newspapers showing Chinese armed police supposedly on a mission to root out militants in Xinjiang – pictures put out to coincide with what happened in France. Both the United Nations and Washington placed ETIM on lists of terror organisations after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US. Many foreign experts doubt that ETIM exists as the coherent group that China portrays. Rights groups and exiles say the violence stems from widespread resentment among Uygurs at Chinese controls on their religion and culture, rather than an organised militant group. Xinhua said that ETIM had claimed responsibility for three recent attacks, including a fatal vehicle crash in 2013 in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in which five people died. ^ top ^

Mainland officials confirm Xinjiang terrorist attack that reportedly killed up to 50 people (SCMP)
Mainland authorities have for the first time confirmed a "terrorist" attack in Xinjiang that occurred two months ago and reportedly killed up to 50 people. A statement yesterday morning on an official social media account run by the Ministry of Public Security - and posted just hours after the deadly attacks in France - said police in the far-western region had successfully hunted down those responsible. Previously, there had been no official reference to large-scale incident taking place in the Uygur homeland in September. "On November 13, the black Friday, Paris was hit by the most serious terrorist attack in its history, with hundreds of casualties," the ministry said in the post. "On the other side of the planet, China's police force in Xinjiang, after hunting for 56 days, finally achieved a tremendous outcome." Several pictures accompanied the post. One shows uniformed policemen armed with rifles in a mountainous region lighting a campfire at night. Another showed what was described as a diary of an officer involved in the operation and which said all the wanted terrorists had been captured. The ministry did not specify what triggered the manhunt, and the post was later deleted. At least 50 people died and 50 others were injured when knife-wielding assailants descended on a coal mine operation in the central western county of Baicheng in Aksu prefecture on September 18, the US-based Radio Free Asia reported at the time. Most of the victims were migrant Han workers, it said, quoting three sources, a local official. Five police officers were among the dead. An officer at a police station in Baicheng told the Sunday Morning Post the area had indeed suffered an attack on that day. Another officer at a separate station in Sayram town confirmed the incident but had no information on any ensuing operation. Wanted posters displayed in Baicheng suggested the attackers were ethnic Uygurs, all of whom apparently escaped into the craggy foothills of Tianshan, not far from China's border with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, The New York Times reported last month. A policeman at Toqsun town said several arrests had been made after the attack. Dilxat Rexit, a spokesman for the World Uygur Congress, said an attack took place in Baicheng but it was the result of Beijing's ethnic policies over the past six decades, according to an earlier Reuters report. Overseas Uygur activists have long condemned Beijing's ethnic and religious policies in the region as repressive, but the central government insists there is religious freedom and the perpetrators of violence are jihadists seeking independence. Li Wei, director of the counterterrorism research centre at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the nation faced an increased terror threat but attacks like the one in Paris were unlikely. "With the rise of ISIS and as more Chinese nationals are smuggled over the border to join it, China faces a bigger threat of terrorism," Li said. "[But] it's harder to obtain tools and China has a tighter control over terrorist activities," Li said. ^ top ^



US Congressional committee calls for US-UK review of whether Beijing has adhered to Hong Kong's Basic Law since 1997 handover (SCMP)
A US congressional committee has called for a joint US-UK review on whether Beijing has adhered to the Basic Law since the handover in 1997. The latest report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission also highlighted the city's political turmoil over electoral reform that led to the three months of Occupy protests last year, increasing self-censorship in the media, and the controversy over a key managerial appointment at the University of Hong Kong. "The commission recommends Congress engage parliamentarians from the United Kingdom in an interparliamentary review of China's adherence to the Basic Law since the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, with specific attention to rule of law, progress in achieving universal suffrage, and press freedom," the report said. In the 27 pages that were dedicated to Hong Kong, the annual report said the failure to pass electoral reform set out under Beijing's rigid parameters had led to even more fractured and polarised views on the issue. "The United States and Hong Kong share many values, including respect for rule of law and for civil liberties," the report stated. "To bolster Hong Kong's stability and prosperity, the US government encourages Beijing and Hong Kong to continue to work together to further Hong Kong's democratic development in accordance with the Basic Law." It said there had yet to be consensus on how to pursue electoral reform, as Hong Kong would be stuck with its current electoral method for the 2017 chief executive election, in which a committee representing only 0.02 per cent of eligible voters would vote for candidates. The report also laid out serious concerns over the erosion of press freedom as Beijing wields an "enormous economical and political influence in Hong Kong" and had exerted indirect pressure on the media, leading to more serious self-censorship. The University of Hong Kong saga - in which its ruling council rejected liberal scholar Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro-vice-chancellor - was "only one example of Beijing's interference in Hong Kong academia". A spokesperson for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "Britain's long standing commitment to Hong Kong … is as strong as ever." The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said: "Foreign governments and legislatures should not interfere … in the internal affairs of Hong Kong". The city "has been exercising a high degree of autonomy", which "demonstrates the successful implementation of the 'one country, two systems' principle'." ^ top ^

Xi voices full support to work of HKSAR chief executive, government (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday voiced full support to the work of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the HKSAR government. Xi met with Leung on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, which is being held in the Philippine capital. After hearing the report made by Leung on recent situation in Hong Kong and the work of the HKSAR government, Xi said that the HKSAR government has shifted its focus onto economy and people's livelihood, which received positive response from all circles in Hong Kong. The central government fully affirms and supports the work of HKSAR chief executive and the HKSAR government, said Xi. He expressed his hope that the HKSAR government could lead all circles in Hong Kong to build consensus on development, and concentrate on developing economy, improving people's livelihood and promoting harmony. The HKSAR government, Xi said, should seize the opportunity of the formulation of the 13th Five-Year Plan and the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative to advance Hong Kong's long-term development. ^ top ^

Gay rights groups urge UN committee to issue rebuke over Hong Kong's treatment of transgender people (SCMP)
The city's leading gay-rights group will next week urge the UN Committee Against Torture to rebuke the city's government for its treatment of transgender people. The Pink Alliance condemned a rule under which the government recognises people in their preferred gender only after they have undergone full realignment surgery - a lengthy, painful process that results in sterilisation. It said the UN's special rapporteur on torture had recognised that such rules might constitute torture or inhumane treatment. The rule has led transgender people to face awkward questions when using travel documents, opening bank accounts or applying for credit cards. The Department of Justice has been leading a review of the rules for almost two years. The UN committee, which will receive reports from the Hong Kong government and local NGOs, has increasingly included lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex issues in its reports. Billy Leung, the alliance's outreach and advocacy officer, said: "We hope the committee will urge the government to abolish the surgical requirement [and] take full measures so trans people do not have to face such treatment … to enjoy their legal rights in their preferred gender." In January last year, the government formed a working group on gender recognition, which is considering what measures might be needed to protect transgender people's rights. Hospital Authority figures show between 2008 and 2013, 27 patients underwent sex reassignment surgery. But 95 people in 2012/13 sought counselling over their gender. A Department of Justice spokeswoman said the working group's remit included "recognition and post-recognition issues". For the former, it was "reviewing issues such as options for a gender recognition scheme, the qualification criteria and the application procedure". "As for post-recognition issues, the [group] is reviewing all the existing legislative provisions and administrative measures … that may be affected by legal gender recognition," she said. The group was "consulting widely … to gather the views of interested parties". ^ top ^



KMT's Eric Chu names former labour minister as running mate in Taiwan's presidential election (SCMP)
The presidential candidates of Taiwan's Kuomintang and People First Party announced their running mates on Wednesday, completing the field for the island's presidential race in January. Eric Chu, KMT chairman and presidential candidate, named former labour minister Wang Ju-hsuan as his running mate at a party meeting. Wang, 54, was a human rights and labour rights lawyer before taking up the ministerial job in 2008 as part of Ma Ying-jeou's administration, Central News Agency reported. While in office, Wang proposed raising Taiwan's minimum wage, resulting in a political uproar that led to her resignation in 2012. James Soong Chu-yu, PFP chairman and presidential candidate, tapped Minkuotang chairwoman Hsu Hsin-ying to join him on the party's ticket. “I chose Hsu because I want to form a coalition government. This is not for the interest of one party or one people, but to really put aside partisan struggles and find our common ideals again,” Soong said. Hsu, 43, was elected as a county legislator in 2012 as a member of the KMT, which she quit to found the Minkuotang in March. On Monday, Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen – the front runner in the polls – announced that Chen Chien-jen, the former vice-president of the Academia Sinica, as her running mate. A poll published yesterday by the think tank Taiwan Brain Trust showed Tsai in the lead with 48.4 per cent support. Chu was second on 20.4 per cent, and the PFP's Soong had 9.3 per cent. Hsu Yung-ming, the director of the think tank's survey centre, said the poll was conducted before the vice-presidential announcements, but in general the choice of vice-presidential candidate did not affect the overall outcome of the surveys, CNA reported. ^ top ^

'I had no time': Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou defends safe play in opening speech during historic summit with China's Xi Jinping (SCMP)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou on Friday defended his safe play in his speech before last week's closed-door summit with President Xi Jinping, saying that Beijing and Taipei had agreed to steer clear of sensitive issues in public. Ma was labelled a traitor by the island's opposition party for not elaborating in his opening remarks that Beijing and Taipei differed on what "China" refers to in the "one China" principle. On Friday, Ma said he had saved the elaboration for the closed-door meeting as he did not have time to raise the contentious issue publicly. "Time was limited," he said. "We had also reached the consensus to save contentious issues for the [closed-door] meeting. It's not like we dared not say it." The island's Mainland Affairs Office released the full transcript of Ma's remarks in the meeting on November 9. It showed that he did tell Xi the two sides had agreed to disagree on the interpretation of "one China". Ma said more than 60 per cent of people polled by the Mainland Affairs Office after the talks believed cross-strait ties had benefited from the meeting. The president said he had not made any plans to meet Xi again. He also appeared more impressed with former president Hu Jintao than with Xi. "I was truly impressed when Hu called former US president George W. Bush after I was elected in 2008 … and mentioned we differed on China's definition when he talked about the 1992 consensus," Ma said. Asked about his impression of Xi, Ma said simply that Xi was a "candid and flexible" leader who could make "fast" decisions.  ^ top ^



APEC leaders reaffirm commitment to FTAAP (Xinhua)
The 23nd APEC Ecomomic Leaders' Meeting concluded here on Thursday with a declaration reaffirming commitment to endorsing the Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and making contribution to translate the vision of the FTAAP into reality. "We reiterate our commitment to achieve the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment by 2020 and to the eventual realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP)," said APEC Leaders' Declaration. In November 2014, APEC Leaders endorsed the Beijing Roadmap for APEC's Contribution to the Realization of FTAAP. The roadmap provides a Collective Strategic Study on Issues related to the Realization of the FTAAP to be concluded by end of 2016, as well as enhanced information sharing and capacity building. The study will provide an analysis of potential economic and social benefits and costs, analyze the various pathways towards a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, and identify challenges economies may face in realizing the FTAAP. ^ top ^

Oversupply delays China's housing market recovery (Xinhua)
Recovery in China's real estate sector slowed in October as fewer cities reported price increases, mainly due to continuing oversupply of homes. Of 70 large and medium-sized cities surveyed in October, new home prices climbed month on month in 27, down from 39 in the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Wednesday. Meanwhile, 33 reported month-on-month price declines, up from 21 in September, according to NBS data. On a yearly basis, China's housing market continued to warm in October, with 16 cities posting new home price increases, up from September's 12. New home prices surged 40.5 percent year on year in Shenzhen City, the sharpest increase last month among the country's major cities. Prices for existing homes remained weak in October, with 23 cities reporting month-on-month declines, up from 18 in September. A total of 38 cities saw price increases, compared with 39 in the previous month. "Trends in Chinese real estate have diverged notably," said NBS statistician Liu Jianwei. Home prices in top-tier cities, where demand is high, saw strong growth. In second-tier cities, prices staged mixed performances, while they continued to drop in third-tier cities. China's housing market took a downturn in 2014 due to weak demand and a supply glut. The cooling has continued into 2015, with both sales and prices falling and investment slowing. To combat the housing market weakness and a broader economic slowdown, China's central bank has cut benchmark interest rates five times since last November and lowered banks' reserve requirement ratio three times since February. The country also eased down payment requirements for second-home purchases and some local governments have rolled back their restrictions on home purchases. Thanks to support measures, the housing sector recovered to some extent in summer and autumn with improving home prices. In the Jan.-Oct. period, total investment in the property sector in China rose 2 percent year on year, according to NBS data. However, investment dropped 2.4 percent in October, indicating less housing construction. The country's unsold home inventory hit a record of 686.3 million square meters at the end of October, up 17.8 percent from the previous year. "Oversupply is the most serious problem in the property market. Home prices will remain soft if the glut continues," said Yang Hongxu, deputy head of property market researcher E-house China R&D Institute. According to Yang, a sluggish housing market will delay the bottoming out of the Chinese economy and even threaten the stability of the financial system as properties are widely used as collateral for bank loans. China's top leaders have attached greater significance to the real estate sector, an important pillar industry of the world's second-largest economy, with a focus on reducing the huge inventory. President Xi Jinping urged more effort to address oversupply, when he presided over a meeting of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs last week. Earlier this month, Premier Li Keqiang told a cabinet meeting that the government should overhaul China's household registration system in a bid to encourage more rural residents to settle in cities to boost consumption of homes and electronic appliances. "Previous stimulus played a part in accelerating the process of de-stocking, but cannot reverse the oversupply trend, especially in smaller cities, in the short term," said Chen Jie, a researcher with Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. "Both Xi and Li stressed the importance of housing inventory reduction. I expect the government to roll out more measures to encourage home purchases," said Yang. ^ top ^

China to host 2016 G20 summit amid high expectations (Xinhua)
China will host the 2016 Group of Twenty (G20) summit in the eastern city of Hangzhou, best known for its scenic West Lake, on Sept. 4-5, President Xi Jinping announced here Monday. Its theme will be "Building an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy," Xi said while addressing a working lunch during the just-concluded 10th G20 summit in this Turkish resort city. China's preparations, Xi told world leaders, will be focused on innovating upon growth patterns, improving global economic and financial governance, boosting international trade and investment, and promoting inclusive and interconnected development. "We need to increase the representation and voice of the emerging-market economies and developing countries (in global governance), so as to enhance the capabilities of the world economy to resist risks," the president said. Explaining China's selection of the theme and priorities, Xi noted that although the world economy has walked out of crisis, the recovery remains highly fragile and growth underpowered. "The trends and policies of major economies are becoming increasingly divergent," he said. "We are in dire need of new sources of growth to push for a new round of prosperity for the world economy." Meanwhile, the reform of global economic governance has not progressed smoothly over recent years, and the G20 members need to take concerted actions to lead international economic cooperation, Xi added. The president also called for concerted efforts to help the group shift from a mechanism of crisis response to one of long-term governance, so as to consolidate its status as a main forum for global economic governance. […] The G20 is a main forum for global economic and financial cooperation that brings together the world's major advanced and emerging economies, which represent around 85 percent of global GDP, 80 percent of world trade, and two-thirds of the world population. The G20 started in 1999 as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis. The members included 19 individual countries along with the European Union. In 2008, the first G20 summit was held in Washington, D.C., in the United States, and the group played a key role in the response to the global financial crisis. The G20 presidency rotates annually among its members. To ensure continuity, the presidency is supported by a "troika" made up of the current, immediate past and next host countries. In 2015, the members of the "troika" are Turkey, Australia and China. Last year's G20 summit was held in Brisbane, Australia. Also on Monday, the second day of the Antalya summit, Xi shared his views on the reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and anti-corruption. He expressed appreciation over the IMF's suggestion in a recent review report on the inclusion of the Chinese currency into its Special Drawing Rights basket. On anti-corruption, Xi pledged "zero-tolerance" and called for international cooperation, saying China supports the G20 in stepping up collaboration on hunting fugitives and recovering illicit assets. The two-day summit concluded Monday with the release of a leaders' communique and an anti-terror declaration. […] International experts have voiced their expectations and offered suggestions on China's hosting of the G20 summit. "It will be a success and we have some reasons to believe in that," said Yuksel Gormez, a senior economist with the Central Bank of Turkey. "Remember the APEC meeting in Beijing last year? The organizational capacity of China is very strong. […] Actually, Xi has already shown the world China's confidence while addressing the summit on Sunday. In the next five years, China will adhere to a path of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, and will encourage a system that nurtures innovation, he said. The president said the Chinese economy is predicted to grow about 7 percent this year, which will continue to contribute about one third of global growth. "China has the confidence and capability to maintain medium-high growth," Xi told world leaders. Guven Sak, chairman of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, an Ankara-based think tank, said that Turkey is trying to make the G20 summit this year more inclusive and aims to make it a bridge for the G20 and other countries, but it is just a beginning. He suggested China continue on this track and make the G20 a more inclusive place for non-G20 countries. Tristram Sainsbury, a research fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy, hailed the Chinese presidency as one of the "most highly anticipated" years in the G20's short history as a high-level forum. He suggested that China be ambitious but realistic, and focus on a few specific and pragmatic goals. "The hope is that China can leave a positive legacy that reverberates for years to come," he added. ^ top ^



Draft resolution on nat'l programme on combating corruption submitted (Montsame)
An advisor to the President on legal policy Ch.Onorbayar Thursday submitted to the Speaker a draft resolution of parliament on approving a national programme on combating corruption and strengthening responsibilities and justice. Mongolia has been enjoying some benefits of measures for reducing corruption rate, minimizing bureaucracy in public services, ensuring transparency, improving responsibilities and values of justice. However, the country still faces problems such as blurring corruption crimes by depoliticizing it, and a number of crimes related to bribery and posts is still high. The corruption is a problem in Mongolia because concrete changes have not been made in those areas possibly involved in conflicts of interest and corruption, and a system has not been formed yet to save the informants. "This is why the national programme on combating corruption and strengthening responsibilities and justice has been worked out. It aims to refine the legal regulation in combating corruption, forming fair and disciplinary conditions in public activities, to form a just system of public services, harmonizing it with the present situation, and to design a state policy on reducing and preventing corruption risk", he said. ^ top ^

UB Mayor to visit North Korea (Montsame)
The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city E.Bat-Uul will pay an official visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on November 19-24 by invitation of the N.Korean side. The sides will hold an official meeting and will exchange views on sewage plant and ecological issues. The visiting group is to include T.Bat-Erdene, a Deputy Mayor of UB in charge of ecology and green development affairs; S.Ganbaatar, a non-staff advisor to the Mayor on road, transportation and infrastructure affairs; D.Narantsetseg, head of the External Relations Section of the city's administration; D.Otgonbaatar, head of the Project and Cooperation Division; B.Battsengel, head of the City's Department of Culture and Arts; B.Jamsran, second secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Section of Asia, Middle-East and African Affairs; and others.  ^ top ^

President Ts.Elbegdorj starts official visit to France (Montsame)
Mongolia's leader Ts.Elbegdorj started Wednesday the official visit to the French Republic. Coincided with the 50th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic relations, this event is the first foreign visit to France at a State Head level after the serial terrorist attacks which took place last Friday in Paris. Mr Elbegdorj was officially welcomed by high officials headed by Ms Martine Pinville, the Secretary of State in charge of Trade, Crafts and Social Solidarity Economy. Present were also L.Purevsuren, Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs; M.Batsaikhan, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to France; D.Erdenebat MP, the Minister of Industry; A.Battor, an advisor to the President on security and foreign policy; also Elisabeth Barsacq, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Mongolia; a head of the Guards of Honor of Paris and Protocol Department. Mr Elbegdorj paid tribute to the state flag of France, then, the two national anthems owere played. After this, the President received Mr Gerard Larcher, the president of the French Senate (upper house of parliament) at the Palace of Senate. Mr Larcher thanked the Mongolian President for visiting France in difficult time after the tragic event in Paris, and underlined that this is the very first meeting held between the Mongolian President and Senate president of France "since Mongolia declared its independence in 1911". The bilateral cooperation have been expanding in agriculture, energy and culture, he noted. In reponse, the President expressed a satisfaction with a meeting with the Senate president of France and said the Mongolia-France ties have been widening in spheres of mining, agriculture, defense and tourism and also within the multilateral cooperation. Mongolia wants to intensify the collaboration with France in the agriculture and animal husbandry sectors, he went on, particularly in improving livestock breeds. He also expressed condolences to France over deaths of many people during the terrorist attacks. After this, the two dignitaries shared views on the bilateral relations and cooperation and international matters of mutual interest. At the end of the meeting, the President conveyed an invitation of the Speaker of Mongolian parliament Z.Enkhbold to Mr Larcher to visit Mongolia.  ^ top ^

Ambassador S.Sukhbold gives speech at UNGA's plenary meeting (Montsame)
The Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations S.Sukhbold delivered a speech at the 53rd Plenary Meeting of the UNGA 70 on Report of the Human Rights Council on Tuesday. Sukhbold expressed deepest condolences to the families of victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris and said the Mongolians are with the French in the difficult time. He emphasized that the current report of the Human Rights Council shows a realistic picture of the current human rights violations and challenges worldwide and recommended possible ways and instruments to defend human rights, liberty, equality and dignity and combat intolerance, discrimination and violence, and added that Mongolia highly spoke this report. He also reaffirmed a basic position of the Mongolian government over human rights issues, and pointed out that Mongolia has been undertaking concrete steps in issues of education for human rights, ensuring gender equality, enforcing women, protecting rights of children, elders and people with disabilities, combating human trafficking and abolishing the capital punishment. He thanked those countries who supported Mongolia in its being elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2016-2018 tenure, and said Mongolia will make big efforts to fulfill its voluntary pledges for human rights and saving human rights across the world. ^ top ^

Master budget for 2016 adopted (Montsame)
After passing the 2016 budget frameworks, 2017-2018 budget assumptions and other laws, submitted together with a bill on 2016 master budget, the plenary meeting of the parliamentary session last Friday passed the draft law on 2016 master budget. By the 2016 master budget law, economical regime will be maintained in budgetary organizations of all levels, and tolerant current expenses such as money for domestic and foreign traveling, receptions of guests, trainings, seminars and publishing, were cut by MNT 16.4 billion. In connection with minimizing expenses to be financed from the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) for projects and measures, the credit interest payment was cut by 26.6 billion Togrog. In addition, projects and measures of 149.9 billion have been removed from the investments expenses. In place of this, other projects and measures of 79.2 billion Togrog have been reflected in the expenses. Due to the changes in the budget, a net revenue of the master budget is expected to be 7,0139 billion Togrog, which is equal to 25.4% of the GDP, total expenses--MNT 7,954.4 billion equal to 28.8% of the GDP, and total deficit--940.5 billion equal to 3.4% of the GDP in 2016. The Standing committee on economy considered as necessity to take some measures in conjunction with the master budget's adoption. ^ top ^

Erdenes Tavantolgoi's director to be dismissed (SCMP)
“It was a tragic action that S.Erdene, the chairman of Board of “Solidarity” Labor Union and a personnel of Erdenes Tavantolgoi, attempted a self-emmolation protesting a structural and management change in the company”, said the Minister of Mining R.Jigjid at a press conference on Friday. PM Ch.Saikhanbileg summoned related officials on this matter and obligated them to take immediate actions. He assigned that acting Minister of Health and Sports and the deputy PM Ts.Oyunbaatar take care of the health conditions and treatment of S.Erdene. The Premier gave a direction that it is only appropriate that Erdenes Tavantolgoi incurred charges for his treatment and aftercare. “Associated authorities have been obligated to promptly settle the current circumstances in accordance with the regulations. In regard to this, a decision was made to dismiss the executive director of Erdenes Tavantolgoi JSC B.Batbileg and to appoint its director for legal matters T.Bilgee to acting director's position”, said the Mining Minister. ^ 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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