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
  23-27.11.2015, No. 598  
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Foreign Policy

China, ASEAN seals deal to upgrade bilateral FTA (Xinhua)
China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) sealed a deal here Sunday to upgrade their free trade area (FTA), injecting fresh impetus into regional economic cooperation. A protocol that pronounces the full conclusion of China-ASEAN negotiations on upgrading their ceremony in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center in the presence of visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and leaders of the 10-member ASEAN. The upgrade of the FTA, China's first with foreign trading partners, was nailed down after only four rounds of talks that officially started in August 2014, in a sign of the common aspiration and practical need of both sides to deepen and expand cooperation in trade and economy. Covering a wide range of areas including goods, services, investment, and economic and technological cooperation, the upgrade will provide fresh momentum for economic development of both China and ASEAN. Conducive to fostering a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny, the move is also to help realize the target of scaling up two-way trade to 1 trillion U.S. dollars by 2020 and promote the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. In their negotiations, China and ASEAN attached great significance to the facilitation of trade in goods and investment, further opening up the services market and lifting the level of economic and technological cooperation, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng told reporters after the signing ceremony. China enjoys abundant capital and strong technological strength, while ASEAN aspires for accelerated regional integration and has great needs for industrial development and infrastructure, Gao said. Therefore, the two sides have compatible concepts of cooperation, complementary economic advantages, and great potential in bilateral collaboration, he added. Taking effect in 2010, the China-ASEAN FTA has made China the bloc's biggest trading partner and ASEAN the third largest trading partner of the world's second largest economy. Thanks to the FTA, China-ASEAN economic and trade relations have enjoyed heathy and stable development. Bilateral trade surged nearly nine times from 54.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2002 to 480.4 billion in 2014, according to the minister. Established in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ^ top ^

Spotlight: Chinese premier visits Malacca to send message of peace amid U.S. meddling in South China Sea (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday squeezed several hours out of his tight schedule in Malaysia to visit Malacca, a port city about two hours' drive from Kuala Lumpur. […] Although most of the nations in the region aspire for closer ties with China, a few countries have been hyping up "China threat" theories and wrongfully accusing China of bullying its neighbors. Hegemony is never within China's culture and policy, as proved by ancient Chinese navigator Zheng He's great expeditionary voyages during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Li reiterated the message during his stay in Malaysia. […] However, maritime disputes have been simmering in recent years in the sea area where Chinese ancestors used to sail around. The United States, with its high-profile strategy of rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, is meddling in regional affairs and stoking tensions. Prior to the meetings, U.S. President Barack Obama labeled the South China Sea as "a major topic," and U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice dubbed it "a central issue of discussion." Last month, Washington infuriated China and alarmed the region by sailing a naval vessel very close to China's Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. […] In a five-pronged proposal for peace and stability in the South China Sea, he [Li] also suggested that sovereign and jurisdictional disputes in the region be settled through friendly consultation and negotiation. […] Malacca, located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, not only plays a critical role in China-Malaysia friendship since ancient times, but also stands at a key point along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013. In an early step to put the initiative into action, the Malacca State established a friendly partnership with South China's Guangdong Province in September, and the industrial park is a major project currently under construction by companies from both sides. […] After the expansion, it will turn into a center of tourism, logistics and high-tech marine industries, with a deep sea port, a ship yard and a duty-free trade zone added to the construction list. […] The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, covering a population of 4.4 billion people, will connect markets along its route and produce enormous economic potential. […] ^ top ^

72-hour visa-free entry program will be expanded to raise consumption (Global Times)
China will expand the scope of its 72-hour visa-free entry policy to boost consumption and provide new impetus to domestic demand. The country will also improve the tax refund policy for foreign visitors and hasten the opening of more duty-free shops in cities included in the visa program, according to a guide issued on Monday on the official website of China's central government. The guide did not reveal further details of how the 72-hour visa-free entry policy will be expanded. An official with the Bureau of the Exit and Entry Administration under the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said that the policy has been adopted by 18 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, news site reported on Monday. Travelers from 51 countries and regions - including the US, Russia, Britain, France and Japan - can enjoy a 72-hour stay in 18 cities upon entry, provided they have visas for entry to a third country or region and tickets to leave for a third country or region within 72 hours, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Experts and officials in the 18 cities have said that the move will boost international tourism, cultural exchange and commercial and trade cooperation. "Many cities in the world, such as Tokyo, have visa waiver programs to attract more visitors, and they have achieved good results," Wei Xiang, a professor of tourism management at Beijing International Studies University, previously told the Global Times. ^ top ^

China's inclusiveness promotes Asia-Pacific integration: experts (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping promoted to build an open economy, speed up regional integration, and enhance interconnectivity at the just-concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Manila, the Philippines. What Xi called up at the APEC meeting aroused interest among scholars in Singapore, and they believed that China's inclusiveness promotes the Asia-Pacific integration. […] "Xi's suggestions are important follow-up to the APEC Connectivity Blueprint that was signed at the 22nd APEC Summit in Beijing in 2014, particularly the suggestion on persevering in the implementation of the development agenda." said Chan. Gu Qingyang, associate professor of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of National University of Singapore, said Xi's four-point proposal at the APEC meeting come down in one continuous line with the efforts to promote interconnectivity. Practices such as the Belt and Road Initiative, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will propel Asia-Pacific integration. […] It is known that the devil of economic integration is in the implementation of the myriad of policies at the regional and domestic levels. On this point, China has demonstrated its responsibility as the second largest economy in the world. President Xi stressed that "as China is a member of Asia-Pacific region, the development of China is rooted in the region, and will benefit the area." Chan thought that the Belt and Road initiative brought up by China shows the country has recognized this major challenge and committed to resolve it. "The Belt and Road Initiative has become an important part of regional economic integration as it dovetails not only with the APEC Connectivity Blueprint but also with the sub-regional Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity. On top of that, the Belt portion of the Initiative provides the Asia-Pacific region possible links to other regions, particularly the largely untapped Central Asia region." said Chan. The Belt and Road Initiative has been warmly received by the over 60 countries and international organizations that have registered their interest. When President Xi mentioned the initiative in his speech at APEC meeting, the audience burst into warm applause. Besides the four points on propelling economic development of Asia-Pacific region, President Xi also introduced the 13th Five-Year Plan, elaborating on the concept of "innovation, coordination, green, open, and sharing". He said China will pay more attention to quality, efficiency, innovation, fair and justice, sustainable development as well as opening-up. […] ^ top ^

China, Malaysia vow to boost trade, investment (Xinhua)
China and Malaysia on Monday pledged to cement their economic ties by promoting bilateral trade and investment amid a closer partnership. The latest move came as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang wrapped up his official visit to the Southeast Asian nation, where he also attended the annual East Asia leaders' meetings. Addressing a bilateral high-level economic forum in Kuala Lumpur, Li said that China would grant a 50-billion yuan (8.2-billion-U.S. dollar) quota to Malaysia under the Renminbi-Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program to facilitate bilateral trade and mutual investment. China will buy Malaysian government bonds in line with the market rules, he said, calling for more joint efforts to stabilize financial markets and boost investment and trade cooperation to tackle global financial instability and other economic woes. "A waterfront pavilion gets the moonlight first," he said, quoting a Chinese saying. He pledged that China, close in distance and culture with Malaysia, will open wider its economy to the Southeast Asian country. Bilateral trade stands at over 100 billion dollars annually and mutual investment has been growing rapidly. Malaysia has been the largest trading partner of China among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the past seven years, while China remains Malaysia's biggest trading partner. […] Li urged the two sides to strengthen cooperation in various areas including aviation, marine economy, science and technology, national defense, law enforcement, anti-terrorism and the fight against cross-border crimes. The Chinese premier, who also visited Malaysia's Malacca State and interacted with local residents on Sunday, said that Beijing and Kuala Lumpur should promote people-to-people exchanges and enhance cooperation in education and tourism. […] After their meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of a host of bilateral cooperation agreements in areas ranging from economy and trade to production capacity and ports. In a joint declaration issued after the meeting, China and Malaysia vowed to further enhance bilateral trade, actively encourage two-way investment, promote the involvement of the private sector and support cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises and service institutions. Malaysia holds the rotating chair of ASEAN this year. China has pledged infrastructure loans totaling 10 billion dollars to Southeast Asian countries during the ASEAN summits and also proposed railway and production capacity cooperation amid closer partnership with the economically converging region. ^ top ^

China, Germany hold "candid, in-depth" dialogue on human rights (Xinhua)
China and Germany held "candid" and "in-depth" talks during their 13th Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing on Tuesday, according to an official press release. The two sides exchanged views on new development in fields of human rights, different understandings of the human rights concept, human rights judicial protection and other affairs, said the press release. Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Supreme Court, the top legislature, the government departments in charge of security, judicial, ethnic, religious, information, woman and children affairs as well as relevant department of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) participated in the dialogue, an annual event in recent years. The Chinese side expounded to the German delegation the progress and achievements made by the CPC and the Chinese government in fields of human rights in the past year, calling on the German side to adopt a comprehensive and objective view of China's human rights situation. China also urged the German side to better address the refugee crisis, exclusivism thoughts, police excessive use of force and other issues, according to the press release. The dialogue should be continued on the basis of equality and mutual respect, said Li Junhua, director-general of the the Department of International Organizations and Conferences of the Foreign Ministry, at a press conference following their talks. The Germany delegation will pay a visit to Tibet autonomous region, Li told the press conference, adding that he hopes the tour will help the German side get a correct and objective understanding of the region. ^ top ^

Spotlight: China, Central and Eastern Europe eye infrastructure-led all-round cooperation (Xinhua)
China and 16 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries on Tuesday identified priority areas for cooperation from 2015 to 2020, ranging from infrastructure, finance, agriculture to culture, in a latest effort to make their cooperation develop in an all-round way. The priority areas were set out in a medium-term agenda released after the fourth China-CEE summit, which gathered Chinese Premier Le Keqiang and leaders from 16 CEE countries in east China's Suzhou city. Despite traditional friendly ties, China and CEE countries scored a fast growing yet moderate trade volume of some 60 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, accounting for one tenth of the volume between China and all the European countries. […] Chinese and CEE countries leaders agreed to link China's Belt and Road Initiative with development strategies of CEE nations, taking advantage of China's strength in infrastructure construction and finance and meeting CEE countries' own needs for better infrastructures and connectivity. Both sides are eyeing a series of flagship projects. On the sidelines of the summit, China signed separate deals with Hungary and Serbia on construction and revamping of a rail link between the Serbian and Hungarian capitals. […] The leaders discussed the China's initiative to promote cooperation among port areas in the Baltic Sea, the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea and make ports with favored conditions become a habitat for various industries. China also expressed willingness to participate in Slovenia's Port of Koper renovation. […] Premier Li said China will also work with parties involved to promote building of the China-Europe land-sea express passage, which will help strengthen connectivity and scale up trade between China and European countries. […] China and the CEE countries will explore opportunities to bring into full play the role of the 10-billion-U.S. dollar special credit line, to create a 3-billion-U.S. dollar investment fund and to establish a RMB fund in support of 16+1 cooperation. […] "In capacity cooperation, as long as CEE countries use products and equipment made by China, China will provide financing support," the premier said. […] Agriculture is expected to be a new highlight in China-CEE trade.China will increase import of competitive farm produce from CEE countries and enhance quarantine with them, Li said. […] China is a long-term partner for Europe and its cooperation with CEE countries is win-win cooperation. By enhancing trade and investment in CEE countries, China is also helping the recovery of the European economy, Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. […] ^ top ^

China supports ASEAN Community building (Xinhua)
China on Tuesday welcomed the establishment of the ASEAN Community, vowing to firmly support ASEAN integration. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks in response to a question regarding the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community, which was adopted at the 27th ASEAN summit on Sunday.According to the declaration, the ASEAN Community will be established on Dec. 31, 2015 and be comprised of three pillars: the Political and Security Community, the Economic Community and the Socio-Cultural Community, a milestone in the bloc's integration. Hong called the ASEAN Community a landmark in ASEAN integration, adding this first sub-regional community in Asia marks a higher stage of regional cooperation. China supports ASEAN's centrality in regional cooperation, Hong said, pledging joint efforts with ASEAN countries to enhance political trust, trade and cultural cooperation, to boost building closer China-ASEAN community of shared destiny. ^ top ^

Xi to attend Paris climate conference, pay state visits to Zimbabwe, South Africa, attend FOCAC in Johannesburg (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping will attend an opening ceremony of a climate conference in Paris from Nov 29 to 30 at the invitation of French President Francois Hollande and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who will preside over the conference, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced on Wednesday morning. President Xi will meet US President Barack Obama on the first day of the Paris climate talks on Nov 30 at the start of the two-week climate conference, said White House officials on Tuesday, consulting on key negotiations issues on global climate change. Xi will pay a state visit to Zimbabwe from Dec 1 to 2 at the invitation of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, according to the spokesperson Lu Kang. At the invitation of South African President Jacob Zuma, Xi will pay a state visit to South Africa from Dec 2 to 5, and he will also chair the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, Lu said. ^ top ^

China to add civilian facilities on S. China Sea islands (Xinhua)
China is to build new civilian facilities on some islands and reefs of the South China Sea, said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson here on Tuesday. "This is aimed at fulfilling China's international responsibility and offer better public goods and service for countries in the region," said spokesperson Hong Lei at a routine press briefing. He said China will build necessary defense facilities on some islands, adding the construction will be moderate and has nothing to do with militarization. "The construction will not target any country nor impede navigation and overflight freedom enjoyed by other countries in accordance with international law," Hong added. China has built two lighthouses on South China Sea reefs, which ensure the safety of ships, and completed a land reclamation project on some of the Nansha Islands in June, he added. ^ top ^

New ship to ferry supplies to S. China Sea (ChinaDaily)
The ground force of the People's Liberation Army commissioned its largest ship in Sansha, Hainan province, on Monday, planning to use it to transport materials to islands in the South China Sea. PLA Daily, the military's newspaper, reported on its website on Tuesday that the ship is a new-generation logistics support vessel for the PLA Army. It is 90 meters long and has a full-load displacement of 2,700 metric tons, making it the largest ship in the Army's watercraft fleet, the report said, without revealing the vessel's designated class. The ship is capable of ferrying heavy-duty weapons and accommodating a helicopter. It will be used to transport supplies, weapons and equipment to places in the South China Sea and to conduct search and rescue operations there, the newspaper said. Photos released on the website show the ship bearing a designation of GY820, which indicates it belongs to the Guangzhou Military Command. Cao Weidong, a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told China Daily that Army soldiers guard many islands in the South China Sea and that transporting their living necessities is the Army's responsibility. "Compared with the Navy's logistics support vessels, which mainly supply combat ships at sea, the Army only uses such ships to transport materials to soldiers stationed on islands, so their ships are smaller and have fewer weapons," he said. According to earlier reports, the PLA Shenyang Military Command received a ship of the same class in November last year. Footage broadcast by China Central Television showed that the Shenyang Military Command ship can carry at least one Type 99 main battle tank, which weighs around 60 metric tons, and several trucks. CCTV quoted Colonel Zhang Xichun, head of shipping operations at the Shenyang Military Command, as saying that, compared with other transport ships of the PLA Army, the new vessel has a higher speed and takes less time to load and unload. ^ top ^

China puts links with central and Eastern Europe on the fast track (SCMP)
China is scaling up its economic presence in central and Eastern Europe, pledging to boost investment in the region and hoping to join the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development next month. The heads of 16 countries from the region, who have been visiting China for the past two days, yesterday joined Premier Li Keqiang for a high-speed railway trip from Suzhou to Shanghai during which Li vowed to step up cooperation on infrastructure. Beijing has been strengthening its engagement with Europe in recent months, with President Xi Jinping visiting Britain in October, when London gave its support to the yuan's inclusion in the “supranational” reserve currency of the International Monetary Fund and Chinese efforts to reach a free-trade pact with the European Union. In talks with Poland's President Andrzej Duda yesterday, Xi called on the two countries to explore using Poland as a hub for logistical cooperation with central and eastern Europe, and for cooperation over the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. “We would like to see Poland push the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative to connect with the EU development strategy,” Xi said, state-run CCTV reported. Hungary said it would issue government bonds denominated in yuan with the Bank of China in the hope of attracting more Asian investors. Hungary's economy ministry did not provide any details about the timing or size of the issue, but said Hungary “would be the first country in central-eastern Europe to issue renminbi bonds”. A consortium led by China Railway Group has been awarded a 10 billion yuan (HK$12.1 billion) contract to build the Hungarian section of a railway linking Budapest with Serbia's Belgrade. The railway, which will be 350km long when the Serbian portion is included, is scheduled for completion in two years. When finished, it will be able to accommodate trains travelling up to 200km/h. In a sign of Chinese funds heading to the region, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is likely to accept China as a stakeholder by December 25, the bank's president Suma Chakrabarti was quoted by Xinhua as saying. China's inclusion fulfilled Beijing's strategic intentions of participating more in multilateral financial institutions, he said. The European leaders are in China for the fourth China-CEEC (Central and Eastern European countries) summit. On Tuesday, China proposed creating a financial firm to fund projects in the region. In a joint plan for cooperation, covering the period 2015-2020 and issued after the summit, the leaders agreed to strengthen financial cooperation, and explore the setting up of a US$3 billion investment fund, currency swap and local currency settlement. Beijing scored a diplomatic success earlier this year when it set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with key European countries signing up despite objections from Washington. Zhao Xijun, deputy director of the School of Finance at Renmin University, said while the AIIB focused on infrastructure in Asia, China also needed to consider Europe. “China should establish a financial institution to specifically service central and eastern Europe and connect with the AIIB's business in Asia…the 'One Belt One Road' can be extended to Europe from West Asia,” he said. Cui Hongjian, head of European Studies of the China Institute of International Studies, said China had pledged to provide US$10 billion in special loans to central and eastern European countries in 2012, but that had not worked out because it required governments to provide guarantees, which conflicted with EU policies. By setting up a financial firm, such government guarantees would not be required, he said. Central and eastern European countries needed investment from China after the global financial crisis and China wanted to use the region as a gateway to the EU, he said. ^ top ^

China Railway Group wins Hungarian railway project (Xinhua)
China Railway Group Limited (CREC) announced one of its subsidiaries has won the Hungary-Serbia rail contract with another Chinese company and a Hungarian peer. The consortium will jointly construct the Hungarian section of the railway, which links the Serbian and Hungarian capitals. The project marks the Chinese rail company's first step in entering the European market and will help promote Chinese rail technology going abroad, an official with the CREC said on Wednesday. The contract is estimated to be worth about 10 billion yuan (about 1.57 billion U.S. dollars), among which the CREC and its Chinese peer, the international subsidiary of China Railway Corporation (CRC), jointly hold a share of 85 percent. A formal cooperation agreement was inked between Chinese and Hungarian governments on Tuesday on the sidelines of an annual summit between Chinese and Central and Eastern European leaders in east China's Suzhou city. ^ top ^

Premier Li meets Lithuanian prime minister (Global Times)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius on Wednesday in east China's Suzhou City, calling for more progress in joint railway and port projects. "As 2016 will mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Lithuania, China is willing to take the opportunity to expand cooperation with Lithuania, China's largest trade partner in the three Baltic countries," Li said. He urged both countries to increase cooperation on Euroasian transportation, push for progress in China-Europe cargo freight train services and a joint railway project in the Baltic Sea area as well as port and industrial park development. Li said he has high hopes for China and Lithuania's work together in RMB settlement for cross-border trade, e-commerce, trade in farm produce and exchanges in culture and tourism. Calling China an important partner of Lithuania, Butkevicius said Lithuania is willing to hold more political dialogues and to cooperate more with China in trade and agriculture to celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Butkevicius is in China for the fourth summit of China and Central and Eastern European countries, an annual event established in Warsaw in 2012, and subsequently staged in Bucharest and Belgrade. ^ top ^

President Xi Jinping to meet Barack Obama at climate change summit, but will offer no new concessions (SCMP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping will bring no new concessions to the negotiating table when he attends key UN climate change talks in Paris next week, a senior Chinese diplomat said yesterday. World leaders were going to France “to lend political impetus” to the meeting but were “not there for negotiations”, said Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin. “The Paris conference is not about tabling new proposals – it's about narrowing differences and reaching agreement on the basis of existing proposals,” he said. Liu also called for countries to be “realistic” about the different capabilities and responsibilities of rich and poor nations. His remarks came as a White House official said US President Barack Obama would meet Xi and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the first day of the Paris talks on November 30. Obama's meetings with Xi and Modi at the start of the two-week summit would “send a strong message to the world about their strong commitment to climate change”, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said. The French ambassador to China, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, said the talks would use a 51-page text prepared by negotiators as their basis, and numerous options would be debated. France, as chair of the summit, wanted any agreement to be legally binding. He said a review mechanism requiring countries to increase emission cuts every five years needed to be a key element in the new climate agreement, dealing with the post-2020 period. France also wants countries to agree on transparency of emission reporting, climate financing, carbon markets and long-term commitments to cut emissions. “If by December 12, we don't have the major elements in the agreement – especially the review mechanism – it will be a huge problem,” the ambassador said in Beijing on Wednesday. China would play a “pivotal” role, bridging developing and developed countries on these issues, and a successful summit would be in China's interest, he said. Most of the key elements were included in a joint statement between France and China, which set the bar high for their ambitions, he said. China pledged last year to peak carbon output by around 2030, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and offer help to poor countries adapting to the impact of global warming. Xi is to have a private dinner with French President Francois Hollande on November 29. They would discuss issues including counterterrorism and global governance ahead of China's hosting of the G20 meeting in Hangzhou next year, the French ambassador said. ^ top ^

Immigration mega-fraud: The rich Chinese immigrants to Canada who don't really want to live there (SCMP)
The case of Xun “Sunny” Wang, a Vancouver-area consultant jailed for masterminding the biggest immigration fraud in Canadian history, is startling in scope. Wang, 46, who was sentenced on October 23 to seven years in prison, conducted his fraud on an almost industrial scale, as he helped rich Chinese clients maintain Canadian permanent-resident status and later obtain citizenship. Chinese passports both real and fake were shipped in bulk to the mainland, where professional forgers would doctor them to make it look like their owners had been present in Canada when they had actually been in China. Wang would set up his clients in fake jobs at his firms, printing business cards for them and issuing pay slips - adding insult to injury, their fake salaries were so low his wealthy clients were able to file tax returns that allowed them to claim from Canadian coffers tax benefits intended for the working poor. Letters from schools and lawyers were also forged, as well as lease agreements. Fake mailing addresses and phone numbers were set up. From 2006 until his arrest in 2014, Wang and his employees at his unlicenced New Can and Wellong immigration consultancies in Richmond are known to have helped 1,200 clients cheat immigration rules. They paid Wang C$10 million (HK$59 million) for his illegal services, the Provincial Court of British Columbia found. Yet the most significant aspect of Wang's case is neither the scale of his operation, nor its sophistication and audacity. It is the motivation of his clients. Immigration fraud as the public typically understands it involves various schemes to allow unqualified people to live and work in Canada. Yet, bizarrely, Wang's case involved clients willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to AVOID living in Canada when they were perfectly entitled to do so, having already obtained permanent resident status. Understanding their motivation is key to understanding how Wang found such a steady stream of customers. Wang's clients wanted to be able to maintain their PR status without actually living in the Great White North, since their jobs and businesses were back in China. And by faking their presence in Canada they would eventually be able to claim Canadian citizenship, with all the privileges it confers, including the right to live in Canada – eventually. That anyone should immigrate to Canada while regarding living there as a burdensome task to be endured or avoided might sound weird, but the concept is so common among some Chinese immigrant circles that there is a word for it: yiminjian, or “immigration jail”. The term refers to the period of compulsory Canadian residency (now, four years out of the previous six) which one must suffer before applying for citizenship. Think of a Canadian passport as the get-out-of-jail card. It needs to be emphasized that this mindset does not apply to all Chinese immigrants - only that subset for whom greater opportunities exist back in China (and only a subset of those). The problem isn't about nationality or ethnicity - it's about wealth and the commodification of immigration status.The case against Wang did not state the specific programs under which his clients arrived in Canada, but they were described as “wealthy” and “well-to-do” by prosecutors. A long-time Canadian immigration industry source with decades of involvement in Chinese immigration said “the biggest single category would clearly be the investor-class [husbands]”. […] However, he said the case illustrated the inherent difficulty in policing programs which encourage PR status and citizenship to be viewed as a commodity to be bought and sold, and that for some rich immigrants, what he called “the bigger fraud” begins from the moment that they falsely undertake to live in Canada. […] The fallout from Wang's fraud continues. Seven of his former employees have been charged; two are fugitives while five were due in court this month. As for the fate of Wang's 1,200 clients, Judge Reg Harris ominously warned in sentencing: “I expect the immigration authorities will have to review the circumstances of all those concerned and it is quite likely that some persons will be removed from Canada.” ^ top ^

China to pledge more aid to Africa during Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip (SCMP)
China is set to announce new aid to African nations when President Xi Jinping visits Zimbabwe and South Africa next month, a senior Chinese official said on Wednesday. The trip is likely to boost China's relations with Africa, which supplies oil and raw materials such as copper and uranium to the world's second-largest economy. China is Africa's largest trading partner and the trade volume between them amounted to US$220 billion in 2014, according to Xinhua. Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said Xi would provide further details in his keynote speech on December 4. “As for whether China will continue to provide support and aid, there will be no doubt about it,” Zhang said, declining to provide further details on the aid amount and its purpose. Xi is scheduled to meet Zimbabwe's 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe on December 1-2, Zhang said. He will also meet South Africa's President Jacob Zuma on December 2-3 and co-chair a two-day summit between China and African countries in Johannesburg after the meeting. The summit in December would be the second such high-level forum following one held in Beijing in 2006, Zhang said. “This African trip by President Xi Jinping will be the most important, comprehensive and valuable visit in recent years,” Zhang said. Xi visited Africa in 2013 shortly after he took office as president. Mugabe reciprocated with a visit to China in 2014 in an attempt to seek loans and investments to lift Zimbabwe's struggling economy. Beijing's focus on growing trade and aid in Africa leaves it open to charges by the West of turning a blind eye to conflicts and rights abuses in the continent. Trade with resource-rich Africa has exploded in the last decade as China feeds its industrial machine amid African demand for cheap Chinese products. The EU has rejected what they call China's “chequebook” approach to doing business with Africa, saying it would continue to demand good governance and the transparent use of funds from its trading partners. Chinese firms in Africa also face criticism for using imported labour to build government-financed projects like roads and hospitals, while pumping out raw resources and processing them in China, leaving little for local economies. China's friendship with Africa dates back to the 1950s, when Beijing backed liberation movements in the continent fighting to throw off Western colonial rule. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy calls for efforts to solve hotspot issues in Sahel region (Global Times)
A Chinese envoy to the United Nations Wednesday called on the international community to put in efforts to solve hotspot issues in the Sahel region and support its peace process. "At present, the situation in the Sahel region is a source of concern and calls for greater input and integrated approach by the international community," Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the UN, told a Security Council meeting on situations in the Sahel region. Liu said that the international community should actively support the political process in countries in the region to steadily achieve peace, stability and development. He called for active support to relevant parties in Mali for the comprehensive implementation of the peace and reconciliation agreement signed in June, 2015. The envoy also suggested that the UN should make more efforts to promote counter-terrorism actions in the region. "The international community should assist the countries in the region to speed up security capacity building and support their counter-terrorism efforts," he said. On development, Liu noted that countries in the Sahel region should take the opportunity of the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which was adopted in September, to formulate their development agenda and strategies to their national conditions. "The Chinese government attaches great importance to China-Africa relations. China has made unremitting efforts in promoting peace and development in Africa by providing bilateral assistance and participation in peacekeeping operations," Liu said. Next month, a summit of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, which will be the first FOCAC meeting in Africa. Leaders from China and African countries will gather to draw up a plan for the development of China-Africa relations and cooperation for the next three years. "China will take this opportunity to further strengthen cooperation with African countries in industrialization, agricultural modernization, public health, people-to-people exchanges, peace and security and other areas so as to bring tangible benefits to African countries including those in the Sahel region and achieve win-win cooperation and common development," Liu said. ^ top ^

China, Peru bolster industrial capacity, investment cooperation (Global Times)
Chinese Ambassador to Peru hailed the pragmatic cooperation between China and Peru on Monday, calling on the two sides to further tap the great potential in industrial capacity and investment cooperation. "Advancing industrial capacity cooperation has become a national strategy for China. It will take advantage of China's industrial capacity, technology and financial resources to directly facilitate Peru's economic development," Ambassador Jia Guide said at an event held by Peru-China Chamber of Commerce on Monday. Jia said Chinese investment is expanding from energy and mining areas to electricity, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, telecommunications and financial services sectors, and a feasibility study on a proposed railway linking Peru's Pacific port of Bayovar and Brazil's Atlantic coast is under way. The project, if completed, will make it easier for exported goods from Latin America to reach China's northern port city of Tianjin. Peruvian Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano, who was also attending the event, highlighted in his speech two copper mining projects being developed by private Chinese firms in Peru's central Junin region and the Andean region of Apurimac, which he said are expected to help boost Peru's economy. "This government will leave two major mining projects in full operation: Toromocho, which is already operating... and Las Bambas, perhaps the largest mining project in our country's history," Cateriano said. Peru is China's second largest investment destination in Latin America, which has attracted more than 14 billion US dollars of direct investment from China. Over 170 Chinese companies have set up branches there. China and Peru signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening industrial capacity and investment cooperation in May during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the South American country. ^ top ^

China's top legislator vows deepened strategic mutual trust with Argentina (Xinhua)
China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang held talks with Argentine Vice President and head of the Senate Amado Boudou on Wednesday, vowing to continuously deepen political and strategic mutual trust with Argentina. China will continue to view the relations with Argentina from a strategic standpoint, said Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). The exchanges and cooperation between legislative organs is an important component of China-Argentina comprehensive strategic partnership, he said. The NPC is willing to enhance exchanges and cooperation with Argentine congress to make positive contributions to bilateral relations, he added. Zhang urged the two sides to launch a political dialogue mechanism between the two legislative bodies as soon as possible in order to push forward the institutionalization and normalization of their exchanges. He called on legislative bodies between the two countries to create a stable, transparent and fair legal environment for China-Argentina cooperation, to guarantee the lawful rights of investors from the two countries. He also urged the two countries to speed up the ratification process of inter-governmental cooperative agreements and push forward the implementation of major cooperative projects between the two sides. Zhang suggested legislatures of the two countries enhance cooperation within multilateral parliamentary organizations and beef up coordination on issues concerning global governance and climate change. The Argentine congress and the NPC are going to establish a political dialogue mechanism, which will greatly push forward the exchanges and cooperation between the two legislatures, said Boudou. He reaffirmed Argentina's adherence to the one-China policy. After their talks, Zhang and Boudou attended the signing ceremony of the agreement on establishing political dialogue relations between the NPC and the Argentine congress. Boudou started his visit to China on Wednesday, which will last through Saturday. ^ top ^

US, Japan get South China Sea warning (Global Times)
China on Thursday urged the United States and Japan not to display military might and create tensions in the South China Sea. Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and US Pacific Command head Admiral Harry Harris agreed to continue joint exercises between the US military and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, as well as to help Southeast Asian countries increase their capabilities. "We call on relevant countries to do things that contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea and refrain from flexing their muscles, creating tension or militarizing the area," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing. Also on Thursday, China's defense ministry warned the US not to send military vessels again to Chinese territory in the South China Sea, after the US angered China by sending the destroyer USS Lassen to waters near Zhubi Reef. ^ top ^

China, CEE countries agree to promote Belt and Road Initiative (Global Times)
China and five central and eastern European (CEE) countries on Thursday agreed to promote the Belt and Road Initiative. The agreement was reached after Chinese President Xi Jinping met with leaders from CEE countries who attended an economic and trade forum in East China's city of Suzhou. The framework of China-CEE cooperation, also known as the "16+1" mechanism, establishes a new platform covering extensive and multi-dimensional fields of cooperation, Xi said. China expects the participation of CEE countries in developing the connectivity-based Belt and Road Initiative, and will support the integration of Europe and improve the Sino-Europe comprehensive strategic partnership, Xi added. Xi also said China will support the integration of the "16+1" mechanism with respect to the individual growth demands of CEE countries to better serve their interests with concrete projects. China is willing to cooperate with CEE countries to help solve the refugee crisis, according to Xi. Hailing the long-standing bilateral friendships, Polish President Andrzej Duda and other leaders of CEE countries said the "16+1" mechanism has set up a new platform for both parties, which are experiencing economic transformation. CEE countries are willing to participate in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative and look forward to further cooperate with China in industrial modernization, energy conservation and environmental protection, transportation and logistics, infrastructure and other fields. China and the Czech Republic signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday to jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative. Bilateral ties are developing faster and yielding more fruits than ever, Xi told Czech Republic Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. "China hopes to discuss high-speed railways, roads and bridges and other infrastructure projects with the Czech Republic, which is an important country along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road," Xi said. Sobotka said the MOU will bring more opportunities for cooperation, adding that he hopes for more partnerships with China in areas such as industry, environment, finance and aviation. ^ top ^

China-Africa ties enter 'new stage' (Global Times)
China will strengthen cooperation with Africa to help the continent's industrialization, food security, public health and disease prevention, the Chinese foreign minister said Thursday. Calling Africa "the foundation of the foundation" in Chinese diplomacy, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the 15th Lanting Forum that the forthcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg will help lead the development of China-Africa relations, which is expected to enter a new stage. Chinese President Xi Jinping will make a State visit to South Africa and chair the FOCAC from December 2 to 5. This year's summit will focus on improving people's livelihood, reducing poverty and investing in the least developed countries and on women and children, according to Wang. China will help Africa achieve self-reliance and create a peaceful and stable environment for its long-term interests, Wang said, noting that China does not attach conditions to assistance, nor does it constrain or interfere in the domestic affairs of African countries. "China will not follow the path taken by past major powers and will not sacrifice Africa's environment and long-term interests," Wang stressed. "Anyone wearing tinted glasses or making remarks on China-Africa cooperation with ulterior motives in the face of the overwhelming facts will be powerless," he said. "The [FOCAC] summit will send a strong signal to the international community on the importance, respect and support China gives to Africa. We hope that will make the international community more confident and invest more in Africa," the minister said, adding that China is willing to work with other parties for Africa's development. South Africa's ambassador to China, Dolana Msimang, said China is the continent's best partner and Africa needs Chinese investments. Aside from trade and investments, China and African countries can exchange governance experiences, as the voices of both China and Africa should be heard on major issues, Liu Hongwu, director of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University, said at the Lanting Forum. Liu told the Global Times that China-Africa cooperation can turn the world order into one that will allow developing countries a greater role in global peace and development. The sound development of China and African nations can show the world that public well-being and economic development will also be manifestations of democracy, according to Li. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China disciplines 4900 violators of frugality rules in October (Xinhua)
Communist Party of China (CPC)'s top anti-graft body announced on Sunday that over 4,900 officials were reprimanded for violating austerity rules in October, bringing the total punished this year to 36,600. The officials punished last month, including two provincial and ministerial level officials, were implicated in over 3,800 cases, about a fourth of which involved unapproved use of public vehicles, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a routine report on its website. Unauthorized allowances and subsidies, lavish weddings and funerals as well as illicit gift giving and receiving were included in violations. The CCDI has established a monthly reporting system since August, 2013 to monitor the implementation of "eight-point rules" nationwide, which was introduced on Dec. 4, 2012 by the CPC aimed at reducing bureaucracy, extravagance, and undesirable work habits. According to the CCDI, over 71,000 officials were subject to disciplinary action for breaking austerity rules in 2014. As of the end of October, some 27,000 cases involving four provincial and ministerial level officials has been dealt with in the country's frugality campaign in 2015, it said. ^ top ^

China to build world's biggest animal cloning factory in Tianjin (SCMP)
Tianjin is building the world's largest animal cloning factory, aiming to produce one million cattle embryos annually, state media reported yesterday. According to a Xinhua, mainland scientists have signed a deal to establish a 200 million yuan (HK$242 million) commercial animal cloning centre in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, a government-sponsored business development park. Its main building was already under construction and due to be completed by June next year, the report said. Among the animals it will clone are sniffer and pet dogs, high-grade beef cattle, racehorses and "non-human primates". These animals will be used for commercial services and improving breeds. The project could rapidly improve the quality of livestock and bring the controversial science one step closer to mainstream acceptance, Xinhua reported. […] Boyalife chairman Xu Xiaochun said the centre would produce 100,000 cattle embryos a year before expanding annual output to one million. Xu said mainland farmers had struggled to breed enough beef cattle to meet market demand and the centre would be the largest of its kind in the world. The factory also plans to set up a cloning lab, a gene bank and a science education centre. […] Sinica has cloned more than 550 sniffer dogs working for airports, customs and police. In April, scientists from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou successfully edited human DNA in an embryo for the first time by "cleaving" a gene responsible for beta thalassemia, a common and sometimes deadly blood disorder among children in southern China. Scientists in Shanghai have also been rewriting the rules of reproduction with a groundbreaking experiment that combined genetic material from two female mice to create healthy offspring. ^ top ^

China vows to win battle against poverty (Xinhua)
China reiterated its commitment to eliminating poverty on Monday as poverty-relief is considered key to preserving social stability and increasing domestic demand. "The realization of our goal of building a 'moderately prosperous society' hinges partly on eliminating poverty, an endeavor which has entered the last-minute dash," according to a statement issued following a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), chaired by President Xi Jinping. Poverty relief is required for the CPC to solidify its ruling foundation and the country to achieve long term peace and stability, according to the statement titled "Decision to Win the Battle against Poverty." As China enters the "new normal" of slower growth, poverty relief is an important way to increase domestic demand and spur growth, the statement said. "Precision" poverty relief -- a targeted approach to fight poverty rather than the previous "one size fits all" approach -- should be the order of the day, the statement said. The central leadership also called for parallel efforts in environmental protection, saying "the insistence on conserving lush hills should not waver." China has vowed to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020, when its next five-year-plan is completed. At the end of last year, China still had 70.17 million people in the countryside living below its poverty line of 2,300 yuan (376 U.S. dollars) in annual income by 2010 price standards. […] Monday's statement said China will lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2020 through support for industry, education, employment and medical care. "Dibao," a program guaranteeing subsistence, will cover the remaining 20 million poor people who are unfit to work, and they will receive financial aid to ensure they live above the poverty line. "This shows that China is seeking to diversify its poverty-relief measures," said Huang Chengwei, vice director of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China. In addition, the government will improve infrastructure in rural areas, encourage financial institutions to lend support and mobilize social assistance. […] Over the past three decades China has delivered 700 million rural residents from poverty. It was the first developing country to meet the Millennium Development Goals target of reducing the population living in poverty by half ahead of the 2015 deadline. ^ top ^

No room for organ donation from the condemned: expert (Xinhua)
There is no room for organ donation from criminals on death row in China, a Chinese medical expert has said. Huang Jiefu, head of a national human organ donation and transplant committee and former vice health minister, said in a recent interview with the Beijing Youth Daily that the number of organ donors saw an increase after China banned the use of organs from executed prisoners this year, with 2,297 organ donations so far in 2015. It is estimated that more than 10,000 organs, a record high, will have been transplanted in the whole year of 2015, according to the newspaper. "I can guarantee that there is not a single organ from executed prisoners in the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS)," he was quoted as saying. When asked whether organs from condemned prisoners who donate voluntarily should be permitted, Huang said it is inappropriate to talk about the issue while China's legal system is not yet sound. "Mixing organs from executed prisoners with other loving donors will lead to mistrust in our donation system," he added. China has long focused on the issue of prisoner organs. In 2011, unauthorized organ trade was listed as a crime in an amendment to China's Criminal Law, before a new system for organ management and distribution was launched in 2013 to better regulate the source of donations. ^ top ^

China hits the launch button for massive PLA shake-up to create a modern, nimble force (SCMP)
Top leaders of the People's Liberation Army were yesterday told the long-awaited overhaul of the armed forces had been launched, with the existing seven military commands to be regrouped into four strategic zones, sources close to the PLA said. The restructure was formally announced at a plenary session of the leading group for national defence and military reform under the Central Military Commission. The session was attended by President Xi Jinping and top leaders from the PLA's four headquarters, seven key military commands, navy, air force, missile corps and armed police. One of the sources told the South China Morning Post that Xi, who is also CMC chairman, urged the leaders to comply with what is expected to be a long and extensive restructuring. “It's a long-anticipated overhaul for grass-roots soldiers because it's a practical push to turn the PLA into a real modern army of international standard,” the source said. “However, it's also a setback for some senior officials who lost out in the reform. That's why Xi has ordered them to obey discipline.” Another independent source told the Post that the commanders and political commissars of the seven commands had been alerted that three of the areas would be scrapped. The defence ministry's political power would also expand, the source said. The Post reported in early September that a sweeping overhaul of the PLA would phase out its Soviet-style command structures in favour of a US-style model. […] The Post also reported in September that the cuts would result in 170,000 military officials losing their jobs. But there are signs of resistance within the military. Just last Thursday the PLA Daily published a commentary by two PLA officials from the PLA National Defence University's department of strategic education and research, warning the central leadership that the reform could destabilise the armed services and society if it went ahead without addressing salaries and pensions. […] The second source also said there would be an announcement about a restructure of the military's nerve centre. Of its four existing headquarters – its General Staff, General Political, General Logistics and General Armaments departments – only the one for general staff would remain. […] ^ top ^

China's coal output continues to drop (Xinhua)
Coal output in China, the world's largest coal producer, continued to decline in the first ten months of 2015, as the impact of clean air and renewable energy policies began to weigh on the industry, official data showed on Tuesday. China's coal production fell 3.6 percent year on year to 3.05 billion tonnes in the first ten months, according to figures from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). In the first ten months, China imported 170 million tonnes of coal, slumping 29.9 percent year on year. The country's coal industry has been cooling due to weaker demand in a softening economy and government measures to reduce pollution. The country aims to bring its share of non-fossil energy to 15 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030. Coal accounts for about 66 percent of China's primary energy consumption, 35 percentage points higher than the world average. ^ top ^

Death toll of NE China colliery fire rises to 22 (Xinhua)
Twenty-two miners were confirmed dead following a coal mine fire in northeastern China. The body of the last missing miner was retrieved on Tuesday afternoon. The fire broke out at around 9:50 p.m. on Friday at a coal mine in Jixi, Heilongjiang Province. It is operated by state-owned Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group, according to the city government of Jixi. Sixteen out of 38 miners who were working down in the shaft when the fire broke out managed to escape. The other 22 workers were trapped. According to the emergency rescue headquarters, families of 20 victims have signed compensation agreements with the coal mine as of Tuesday. The coal mine, with a production capacity of 2 million tonnes every year, is fully licensed. An investigation is under way. ^ top ^

China mulls registering 13m 'ghost citizens' (Global Times)
China is considering registering its tens of millions of people who lack a hukou, or household registration, which would mark a historic solution to a decades-old problem. According to a national census in 2010, there were at least 13 million people who did not officially exist in China since they did not have a hukou. Experts have explained that many people are in this situation because they have lost the official record of their hukou in the process of moving around the country and did not attempt to reregister. A large number of them, however, lack a hukou because they were children born in violation of the one-child family planning policy, according to State-owned news site According to a guideline reviewed at a Saturday conference of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), policies will be issued to solve the problem posed by the massive population without hukou. Authorities will also establish a new type of hukou system to "safeguard people's interests" and "lay a sound foundation to further push forward modernization of governance," the Nanfang Daily reported Tuesday. The guideline added that receiving a hukou is a basic right granted by the Constitution and other laws, noting that it is related to social justice, harmony and stability, China Business News reported. According to the household registration regulation established in 1958, all babies should be allowed a registration without having to meet additional conditions. In 1988, the MPS and National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) jointly released a regulation prohibiting local governments from linking household registration with the issuance of a certificate showing payment of the social maintenance fee for additional children or other family planning policy records. However, some local authorities still demand that such documents be issued before allowing families to register additional children, previous media reports have said. ^ top ^

Gao Yu, Chinese journalist jailed for leaking state secrets, gets prison term reduced on appeal (SCMP)
A veteran Chinese journalist who was jailed for seven years after she was convicted of leaking state secrets has had her sentence reduced, according to her lawyer. Gao Yu will now serve five years after her appeal was heard earlier this week, said her attorney Shang Baojun. Gao appealed against her conviction on Tuesday at Beijing's High Court. Shang said the court announced on Thursday that her sentence would be cut. Gao, 71, was convicted in April of sharing with an overseas news magazine a document detailing the Communist Party leadership's resolve to aggressively target constitutionality, press freedoms and groups that seek to change society but operate outside the party. Foreign governments and human rights groups denounced the verdict against Gao earlier this year as politically driven. They urged the authorities to release the elderly journalist, who is in poor health with heart problems. ^ top ^

Mickey Mouse operations: China fines five fake 'Disney hotels' in Shanghai ahead of giant theme park opening (SCMP)
Shanghai has fined a hotel chain for infringing on Disney's trademarks at five of its branches as part of an effort to protect the US entertainment giant's brand in the run-up to the opening of its theme park next year. The five hotels owned by the Shenzhen Vienna Hotels Group in Pudong district, where the theme park is due to open in the first half of next year, were found to have used the Chinese characters for Disney on their signboards, websites and electronic displays in their lobbies without authorisation, the Shanghai regulators said. “Some of the hotels are more than 10km away from Disneyland. They misdirect customers to very far away places in the name of Disney. This kind of behaviour exploits Disney's trademarks and goodwill and will cause real damage to its trademarks,” Xinhua quoted the regulators as saying. The establishments had infringed trademark rights, and some were suspected of unfair competition, the report said. The hotels were fined a combined 100,000 yuan (HK$121,000). The hotels had put the Chinese characters for Disney in brackets, in some cases along with street names, after their chain name – Shenzhen Vienna International Hotel. One declared itself the “Disney branch”, despite being more than 15km from the site of the park. The investigation into the hotels followed a complaint by Disney in the first half of this year, Jiefang Daily reported. The fine comes three weeks after the State Administration for Industry and Commerce announced a nationwide, year-long campaign to protect Disney's trademarks by stamping out knock-off goods. Lin Wei, a Shanghai-based intellectual property lawyer, said the behaviour of the hotel chains was likely to amount to unfair competition, because they advertised themselves and misled customers into believing they were connected to Disney. “Because Disney is an internationally known trademark, [companies] should be authorised by Disney before using [its name] for publicity purposes,” Lin said. But Xu Xinming, an intellectual property lawyer in Beijing, said whether a hotel had infringed Disney's trademarks depended on various factors, not only whether the term Disney was used. “Firstly, it depends on whether the name will cause confusion among customers. Secondly, we need to judge whether the company had the intention to cash in on [Disney's name],” Xu said. Xu said if a hotel near Disneyland was only using the word Disney to best describe its location – without an intention of attracting customers from the real Disney hotels – it might not be a trademark infringement. ^ top ^

Tibetan monks in Qinghai to be educated on separatism (Global Times)
Officials will be deployed in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries to guard against continued overseas influence of separatism on monks in Northwest China's Qinghai Province, according to local officials. The county government of Nangqian has been recruiting new officers to be stationed at Tibetan monasteries. An announcement released by the county government of Nangqian on Tuesday says it will choose 13 people from local governments and other public institutions to be stationed in the monasteries. Ninety-seven percent of the county's population is ethnic Tibetan. This is part of the province's program to assist monks' welfare and educate them on the negative influence of separatist ideas, officials told the Global Times on Wednesday. "Education can ensure that monks and nuns do not participate in activities to split the country and disrupt social order," Dorje, director of the Publicity Department of the Nangqian County Party Committee, told the Global Times. Dorje said the officials will provide monks ideological, moral and legal education, and prepare study trips or visits for them. Lian Xiangmin, an expert at the China Tibetology Research Center, said that most of the monks are law-abiding, but some of them may be used by hostile foreign forces and religious extremists such as the Dalai Lama and could cause damage to both the monasteries and society. "The monks are Chinese citizens first, so there is nothing wrong with educating them about the country's laws to avoid separatism spreading among them," Lian told the Global Times on Wednesday. Officials in Qinghai Province have been assisting the local monasteries' democratic administration committees since 2013, with 78 officials selected in Nangqian in the same year, Jiang Shuwei, vice-director of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China Nangqian County Committee, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "The 13 candidates will fill the vacancies of previously-selected officials who were too busy to handle the job or had retired this year," Jiang said. The announcement says candidates must be clearly against separatism and should have a good understanding of China's ethical and religious policies. Candidates are likewise required to know the Tibetan language and have at least two years of grass-roots work experience. "It's not an easy job to deal with religious affairs. Therefore, all of our candidates are from the government and public institutions," Dorje said. "Rendering services to the monks is the priority of the officials' work, and they should also help manage the monasteries," Jiang said. There are 103 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and religious facilities in Nangqian, most of which are located in remote areas. Aside from the unfavorable locations, monks in these monasteries can barely speak Chinese, which has caused inconveniences in their daily lives. "Before we stationed officials in the monasteries, monks had to travel enormous distances to the local government to express their needs and demands, while the government had to arrange working teams every year to visit all of them annually. The lack of an intermediary has caused inconveniences for both sides," Jiang added. Officials stationed in monasteries can provide services, such as making sure they have running water, electricity and roads, and assist them in applying for social security and healthcare, Dorje said, adding that the officials can also provide timely information to the monks on new government policies. Dorje added that officials can also offer to help manage the monasteries. The monasteries' internal affairs are independently handled by the "democratic administration committees." Generally, the monks would vote for members to the monastery's democratic administration committee, who are in charge of the monastery's general administrative affairs, cultural relics and the lamas' welfare. According to Dorje, the monks run the monastery by themselves, while government officials only offer them assistance, such as settling disputes among monks. ^ top ^

Police crack down on organized gambling, prostitution (Global Times)
Chinese police will start a crackdown on gambling and prostitution, focusing on gangs that offer protection for such illegal activities, according to the Ministry of Public Security. "The action is aimed at criminals organizing, forcing, alluring, harboring and introducing women for prostitution as well as groups operating and providing an 'umbrella' for gambling activities," the ministry statement said on Wednesday. Key venues for the crackdown include clubs, bath houses, massage parlors and Internet cafes, it said, without specifying when the campaign will start or how long it will last. The ministry urged police ensure culprits receive due punishment and concerned venues correct their businesses, warning that officers who fail to fulfil their duties to stem gambling and prostitution in their jurisdictions will be held accountable. The statement noted that police officers who take part in gambling and prostitution or protecting violators by informing them of planned raids beforehand will be dismissed, underlining the underhand ties between some gangs and officers. ^ top ^

China conducts first mother-daughter womb transplant (Xinhua)
A Chinese woman successfully received a womb donated by her mother after Chinese doctors conducted their first uterus transplant, giving hope to more women struggling with infertility, a hospital in northwest China's Shaanxi Province announced Wednesday. "This is China's first human womb transplant. Currently, the donor and recipient are in good condition," said Li Xiaokang, deputy head of the Xijing Hospital in Xi'an, where the surgery was performed. Thirty-eight surgeons took part in the operation, which lasted for around 14 hours. A robot assisted in removing the mother's uterus before doctors transplanted it into the daughter's body, Chen Biliang, director with the gynecology and obstetrics department of the hospital, told Xinhua. After the daughter recovers, doctors will transfer frozen fertilized embryos into the new womb, allowing her to carry her own biological child. The embryos were created by the daughter and her husband using in-vitro fertilization prior to the transplant. The woman, 22, was born without a uterus but has her own ovaries and can make eggs. Her mother is 43. Doctors prepared for the surgery for two years, practicing the technique on goats, which are believed to share similar wombs with humans, Chen said. Uterus transplants are not new. In the 1960s, Britain and the United States began to experiment with uterus transplants on animals. In 2000, the world's first human womb transplant took place on a 26-year-old woman in Saudi Arabia. The transplanted uterus failed after three months and had to be removed. In 2011, doctors successfully performed a uterus transplant on a woman in Turkey. Two years later, nine women in Sweden had successfully received transplanted wombs donated by relatives. However, public opinion on human womb transplants is divided. "Womb transplants can provide an alternative for women unable to have their own children due to problems," said Chen, adding that using a surrogate to carry a pregnancy is not allowed in China. In 2001, China's health authorities issued a regulation to ban the practice in order to reduce the huge black market for underground surrogacy. According to Chen, eight percent of infertility in women is caused by womb problems. It is estimated that 100,000 to 120,000 girls in China are born without a functional vagina or uterus each year. But critics argued that it is a complicated and risky surgery. "How do you connect complex blood vessels? Will the anti-rejection drugs harm a fetus?" user "bushiyongqi" asked on microblog Sina Weibo. Others pointed out that womb transplants, which are not aimed at saving life but improving the quality of it, are not worth the risk. With the successful transplant in China, some people have called for men to receive such transplants to replace women in giving birth. "It is good news for women if their husbands can give birth. Men should experience the pain and happiness of child birth, so they can better understand their wives," user "crosshands" commented on her Weibo account. Chen said men have visited him to ask about similar gender reassignment surgeries in recent years. "It could be possible to transfer a womb into a man's body after surgery and drug therapy," she said. Currently, China has no laws or regulation on womb transplants for men. "Undoubtedly it will raise more healthy, ethical and legal concerns," said Liu Liang, an expert on medical ethics in Xijing hospital. ^ top ^

Darwin was wrong and the fittest mutations may fail when it comes to tumour cells, Chinese scientists say (SCMP)
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection does not work at a cellular level, a finding that could profoundly influence the battle to find a cure for cancer, according to joint study by a team of researchers from the University of Chicago and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The results were published in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Darwin made a compelling argument for how only the fittest survive and thrive, and this was long believed to be the case with cancerous cells in the human body. Many in the scientific community thought that stronger, mutant cells breed at an out-of-control rate - much like pesky rabbits in the Australian outback - because they are more able to adapt to their environment, resulting in tumours. This led to the widespread belief that the key to treating cancer lies in targeting and eliminating these “super cells” using drugs or other methods. But this may prove far from the mark. The latest study, which was led by Professor Chung-I Wu at the University of Chicago Medical Centre, found that tumour cells carrying various mutations compete fiercely with one another, rather than any one proving dominant. Instead of solving the problem by removing the “fittest” mutant cells, doing so could actually upset the delicate balance of power that goes on inside a tumour, they said. Such treatment could trigger the explosive growth of other cancerous cells, which would then spread to other parts of a patient's body, according to Wu's research. But the study was rebuffed by other scientists. “It is just another claim to challenge Darwin's theory, and it is likely to fail,” said Professor Qin Zhihai, principal investigator of tumour microenvironment and tumour immunity at the Institute of Biophysics in Beijing. “Darwin's theory is one of the best-tested golden rules in natural science. It explains the phenomenon of life at all levels, from humankind's position in the universe to the fate of cells,” he added. But just as Einstein's grand theory of everything failed to elide with the microscopic world of quantum mechanics, Darwin's famous theory faced challenges at a molecular level. According to the English naturalist who helped shape the way we view ourselves, organisms that are better adapted to their environment thrive and produce more offspring. But in the 1960s, some scientists including Japanese biologist Kimura Motoo observed that the development of life at much smaller - even cellular - scale was driven by random mutations and genetic drift that were neither beneficial nor detrimental to the host organism. They labelled this phenomenon “neutral evolution”. According to this theory, every organism has the same chance of survival, and those who make it may not be the fittest, just the luckiest. These counter-Darwinian theories raised heckles and sparked much debate among biologists, especially with the rapid development of molecular science starting in the 1980s. The latest study has made the issue “suddenly medically relevant,” Wu said in a press release. Wu, together with a team led by Professor Lu Xuemei at the Beijing Institute of Genomics, carried out the most rigorous genetic sequencing ever on a single tumour. They examined an ordinary tumour removed from a patient's liver. Using the latest technology and hardware, they sequenced or genotyped nearly 300 regions in the tumour to search for genetic abnormalities. They were shocked by the number of mutations they found in the tumor, which measured about 3.5 centimetres in diameter, making it smaller than a ping-pong ball. It contained over a billion living cells, among which were found more than 100 million distinct mutations. The huge amount of genetic diversity in such cells may explain why many cancer treatments fail. “With 100 million mutations, and each one capable of altering a protein in some way, a significant minority of tumour cells are still very likely to survive, even after aggressive treatment,” Wu said. Moreover, such heavy-handed treatment could give them a boost, the team said. “This could potentially change how we think about tumour growth and [how these] spread, but the direct clinical implications of this study may not be obvious on the surface,” said medical oncologist Daniel Catenacci, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. He co-authored the study. Meanwhile, Qin said evidence showed that some mutations were in fact more deadly than others, adding that cancer may even form a part of Darwin's theory by weeding out the weaker of the species. ^ top ^

China Exclusive: Anti-terror robots debut in Beijing (Xinhua)
Three robots specializing in reconnaissance, small explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and armed attack have debuted at the just-concluded 2015 World Robot Conference in Beijing amid escalating global terror threats. The toy-sized robots can coordinate with each other on the battlefield. The scout, or reconnaissance robot, is responsible for field detection through camera or sensor, according to Wu Yanpeng, an engineer at HIT Robot Group in northeast China's Harbin city, developer of the robots. When the scout detects or senses something suspicious such as poisonous gas, dangerous chemicals and explosives, the information is transmitted back to headquarters for further analysis, said Wu. Based on the analysis of the type of explosives and need for evacuation, the small EOD robot and the armed attack robot will start their missions. The small EOD robot is tasked with moving and defusing the bomb. If the complexity is beyond the robot's capabilities, then bomb experts in the office have to come up with a proper solution, said Wu. The small EOD robot, which weighs about 12 kg, is specially designed for soldiers working alone. Made of aluminum alloy and industrial plastic, the robot can be carried on the back of a single soldier. The armed attack robot, or the attacker, is designed to carry minor-caliber weapons, recoilless rifles and grenade launchers. With a sighting telescope, a trigger and a safe installed, the attacker can hit its target from a long distance. The set of three robots is priced at 1.5 million yuan (about 230, 000 U.S. dollars), according to Chen Deqiang, sales manager of HIT Robot Group. Wu said the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau is among the buyers who have shelled out for the robots. Apart from anti-terror operations, they can also be applied in fire fighting, public security, forestry and agriculture, said Chen. Guo Shengkun, head of the national anti-terrorism leading group and China's police chief, urged heightened alert and prevention of terrorism at a televised meeting following the deadly Paris attacks. Guo asked officials to maintain their awareness and warned them not to take chances when it comes to protecting people's safety and property. ^ top ^

A climate for change: how China went from zero to hero in fight against global warming in just 6 years (SCMP)
When the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit ended without reaching a legally binding deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions, China was demonised for wrecking the negotiations. Six years later, the world's largest carbon emitter has become an unlikely leader in the international dialogue. China is now praised for its plans to tackle climate change – by peaking its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, and helping poor countries adapt to global warming. The changes, made possible by economic restructuring and public pressure to tackle pollution, come as the country – now the world's second-largest economy – straddles the division between developing and developed nations. The distinction was enshrined at the 1992 UN climate change convention under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. As a developing country, China was not required to make carbon emission cuts under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – the international treaty that has been extended until 2020 and that commits only industrialised nations to mandatory targets. As a developing country, China was entitled to grow its economy with unchecked carbon emissions until 2020 – giving it what Chinese officials privately called a “golden opportunity”. So when negotiators from more than 190 nations met in Copenhagen in 2009, China refused not only to take on cuts itself, but ruled out including concrete emission targets in the summit's agreement. Beijing was criticised because then, China was already the world's largest carbon emitter and third-largest economy. Qin Gang, a foreign ministry spokesman, defended China's stance later that year. “As a developing country, China firmly upheld the principle of 'common but differentiated responsibilities', steadfastly defended the development rights and interests of the vast number of developing countries and unswervingly safeguarded their unity and coordination.” For years after Copenhagen, those “development rights” remained a high priority for China. During the final hours of the Durban climate summit in 2011, China's top negotiator Xie Zhenhua ingratiated himself to the Chinese public by rejecting developed nations' demands for developing countries to do more. “What qualifies you to lecture us on what to do?” he was filmed as saying, raising his voice and waving his hands. The footage, broadcast on CCTV, won him huge popularity at home. But since then, the tone has quietly changed […]. Just a few years ago, many researchers expected China's coal consumption to peak no sooner than 2020. But it might be too early to call this the end of China's coal era – or to celebrate the country's role as a “leader” in the international climate negotiations. One worrying sign is that China has given the green light to the construction of 155 coal-fired power plants this year, after central authorities delegated the right of approval to local governments, according to Greenpeace. The 470 billion yuan (HK$570 billion) capital cost of the projects meant local governments would cling to investment-driven growth, even though central leaders were calling for economic restructuring and a focus on boosting consumption, said Greenpeace's Lauri Myllyvirta. Coal accounts for nearly 80 per cent of China's carbon emissions, prompting some environmental groups and think tanks to call for the country to cap its coal consumption between 2016 and 2020. Yet such a target is missing from the Communist Party's latest five-year development plan, approved earlier this month, raising questions over the future of coal use in China. ^ top ^

China unveils military revamp (Global Times)
China has unveiled an outline of the highly-anticipated military reform plan, including a redrawing of the regional military command system and streamlining the leadership of the Communist Party of China, to develop a modern military system "capable of winning information-age warfare." Analysts said the latest military reform marks a landmark adaption to the increasingly complicated global situation faced by the world's largest rising power. Addressing a two-day meeting on reforming the armed forces that ended Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that a structure should be created to give the Central Military Commission (CMC) authority over both the administration and command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Xinhua News Agency reported. It will restructure its military regions, Xinhua quoted Xi as saying, without giving further details. China has seven military area commands in Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Jinan, Shenyang, Lanzhou and Guangzhou. Under the CMC's leadership, the area commands will focus on engagement, while the PLA army, navy and air force will focus on developing their respective force. The structural reform aims to better integrate the command over the PLA, Xinhua added. The reform will establish a three-tier "CMC - battle zone commands - troops" command system and an administration system that runs from CMC through various services to the troops. According to Beijing-based military expert Zhao Xiaozhuo, armed forces construction would include research into military weapons and equipment and recruiting and training of army personnel to properly operate the equipment. […] It also comes at a time of stricter supervision and strengthening the rule of law in the military. "The reform is geared towards modernization, which follows the trend set by the US and Russia," Gong told the Global Times. "Aside from that, we've also learned from countries such as Israel involving military logistics support and civil-military integration." Anti-corruption drive At the same time, a PLA disciplinary body, an auditing department and political and law committee will be established as part of the central authorities' anti-corruption initiative in the military. Analysts said the announcement comes at a perfect time. Two former vice CMC chairmen, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, have been brought down for corruption in the past two years. "By building a sound social and Party culture, people will place the military's and nation's interest on top, and will avoid personal and clique interests," Gong noted. A PLA economic expert told the Beijing Times that paid public services provide the military with resources after serving the troops, including military-run hospitals that can theoretically help provide funds for medical research and help improve military doctors' skills. However, paid services in the PLA can also attract some illegal activities. They could also lead to a welfare gap between troops with paid services and those without, according to the expert, the Beijing Times reported. Kou Jie and Li Ruohan contributed to this story PLA reform outline Purpose of reform: Get rid of systemic hurdles, develop combat capability, build a powerful national defense Strengthen the absolute leadership of the Party over the military Areas of reform: Adjust Central Military Commission (CMC) headquarters system, adopt multiple departments under the CMC Establish general command center for land forces Regroup military area commands, establish joint combat command system Set up new disciplinary committee and new auditing department Cut PLA troops by 300,000 Timetable: Breakthroughs are expected in administrative system and joint combat system by 2020. ^ top ^

Second children put China's public services to test (Xinhua)
To have a second child or not is the question of many young Chinese couples as they hesitate before facing the fierce competition for public services. Huang Xiaoli, a mother in Hefei, Anhui Province, was excited when she heard about the second-child policy in October. Building on the happiness brought by their child, she and her husband were eager to have another, but their enthusiasm quickly went cold as they tried to find a kindergarten for their first born. "Public kindergartens are too far; good private ones too expensive; others are substandard." "How can we have another child when it is so hard to find a kindergarten for the one we already have?" Huang said. China's public service system developed in tandem with the strict one-child policy. Annual child births have increased by about one million since couples without siblings were allowed to have a second child in 2013. Now, any couple can have two children and the birth rate is expected to grow, straining already burdened public services, especially education. In Hefei's Nanqi residential area of 90,000 people, only a few dozen families had a second child before the new policy was introduced, now the number has grown to more than 400, local social worker Yu Zhiqiang said. The residential area has ten kindergartens, five primary schools and one high school but no junior middle school. "We can barely meet the need for education at the moment, but problems will emerge as more children reach school age." "Today's parents are not be satisfied with just having enough schools, they want good ones," Wang Ming, chief of the elementary education research at the Ministry of Education. In addition to building more schools, it is vital to improve the quality and competence of teachers, Wang said. As more children grow up, there will be an urgent need for preschool education. Building more kindergartens is a top priority, he added. If the search for kindergarten curbed Huang's enthusiasm for a second child, the endless queue for obstetric checks was a deadly blow. She has neither time nor stamina to wait in line. Competition is unbearable, before the second child is even conceived. Since the policy change, family planners tasked to prevent births have turned into medical workers. "As our work changes, we have to learn new skills," said long time family planner Luo Qiao. Luo and her colleagues have to organize lectures and workshops on maternal health, care and immunization of newborns as well as pre-pregnancy medical checks. Many women over 35 are now planning a second child, bringing different challenges, Luo said. China's healthcare in general will be burdened with much greater demand in the long term. People in Nanqi already need to travel long distances to bigger hospitals as the area has only one public clinic and five small private clinics. The second-child policy may give rise to even more social problems such as discrimination against women in the job market, as employers seek to avoid losses incurred by maternity and lactation leave. "China needs to modify its laws and policies, enhance social security and improve public service to adapt to the expected and unexpected changes brought out by the second-child policy," sociologist Fan Hesheng said. ^ top ^

Jailed Chinese journalist Gao Yu granted medical parole after appeal in state secrets case (SCMP)
Veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu was on Thursday granted medical parole, hours after a court reduced her seven-year jail sentence for “leaking state secrets” by two years. Beijing's Third Intermediate People's Court granted the parole based on a medical report that said Gao, 71, suffered “serious disease”, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported. Gao's appeal had been heard at the Beijing Higher People's Court, which reduced her sentence – imposed in April – to five years. “The parole is surely a good thing, considering her age and health status,” Gao's lawyer, Mo Shaoping said. “This is plea bargaining with Chinese characteristics,” he said of the reduced sentence, which matched the minimum penalty for the charge. “We hoped she would be pronounced innocent. But the reduction of the sentence is better than nothing.” Gao admitted her guilt during her appeal, despite having refused to plead guilty at her first trial. “She does not want to die in prison,” said another of Gao's lawyers, Shang Baojun. “Her health can barely be kept from deteriorating in detention.” She does not want to die in prison Lawyer Shang Baojun Gao, who suffers heart disease, high blood pressure and a chronic skin allergy, has been in custody since April last year. She had recently started to suffer a lymphatic system disease, Shang said. It was common for convicts in China to be granted lighter sentences or probation once they formally admitted their guilt, even in cases involving dissidents, said veteran rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan. “It is rare in such cases that the sentence is reduced at appeal, as most defendants plead guilty at the first trial or simply remain defiant at their appeal,” he added. Hong Kong-based China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said this did not mean Beijing had changed its attitude to dissidents. “Cases of a similar kind were still not given leniency,” he said. Gao's case had attracted international attention and would be another headache for Beijing had the sentence not been changed, he said. When Gao was sentenced in April, the court said she had sent an electronic version of a photocopy of a Communist Party circular known as Document No.9 to the US-based Chinese-language news website Mingjing in 2013. The document ordered cadres to tackle seven subversive influences on society, including “Western constitutional democracy” and “universal values” such as human rights and free speech. The founder of the website denied Gao had sent the document. Gao is known for hard-hitting reports on politics. She was locked up for 15 months on the eve of the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989 and was detained again in 1993 and later given a six-year jail term for leaking state secrets. ^ top ^

China's ailing social welfare system needs two big fixes, says finance minister (SCMP)
The increase in social security spending in China has outpaced its revenue growth over the past five years, posing a major challenge to the country's welfare system, the finance minister says. In an article detailing the 13th five-year plan, Lou Jiwei  called for a slew of measures to address the problem, including having 30 per cent of state-owned enterprises' profits go towards covering the shortfall. The rise in spending on state-owned firms' employees' basic pension, also known as “old-age insurance”, was 6.6 percentage points higher than the increase in its revenue, Lou said in the article published this month. Growth in spending on medical insurance for both urban and rural residents was 5 percentage points higher than its revenue increase. The burden of providing income support and medical care fell too heavily on the government, the finance minister said. China's rapidly ageing population – the result of its decades-old one-child policy – has put great strain on its social welfare system. Some 15.5 per cent of the population was aged above 60 last year. The proportion is expected to rise to 39 per cent by 2050, according to official estimates. Meanwhile, a slowing economy has cut into the central government's fiscal revenue and local governments are struggling to cope with rising debt. To augment social welfare funds, Lou wrote, one way was to diversify contribution channels and expand investment channels. Part of state-owned capital – referring to state-owned firms' profits – could be used to cover the funds' deficit, with SOEs handing over 30 per cent of annual profits. Another way was to gradually postpone retirement, raising the age for residents to receive their pensions, Lou said. Employees could also be promised higher returns if they contributed more and for longer towards their pension insurance. Professor Zheng Chunrong from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics said the basic pension fund's low revenue was because of a lack of incentives for employees to pay the fees and lax rules in imposing payment. The fund's annual investment return was less than 3 per cent – often lower than the consumer price index – official data showed. “This is why people are not willing to pay for it; the return is so low,” Zheng said. In August, the central government finalised guidelines allowing 2 trillion yuan (HK$2.4 trillion) of pension funds to be invested in products with higher returns from next year. Zheng said lax regulations also allowed people to avoid making further insurance payments after the first 15 years. China's policy grants retirees pensions if they have paid at least 15 years of insurance. About one-fifth of all employees stop contributing towards the fund after the first 15 years, he estimated. “[Also,] when local governments try to draw investment … to their localities, they may [accede] to firms' requests to reduce the amount of social insurance fees they have to pay. This has also caused the loss of social insurance revenue,” Zheng said. ^ top ^



Non-CPC personnel should play bigger role: top advisor (Xinhua)
Outstanding personnel outside of the Communist Party of China (CPC) should play a bigger role in maintaining social stability and building a well-off society, said a top political advisor on Tuesday. The united front work manages relations between the CPC and non-Party people, including individuals and those in organizations with social, commercial or academic influence, or representatives of important groups, in order to ensure that they support the CPC and national development. Delegates of the national conference were told by Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, that the united front work in universities is important as non-CPC academics could push for reform and development, and maintain social stability. More opportunities should be provided to non-CPC personnel, Yu said, adding that they should be encouraged to engage more with national development and innovation strategies. Sun Chunlan, head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, said ethnic minority teacher and student exchange should be promoted, religion should be separated from the education system, and students from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan as well as overseas Chinese should enhance their Chinese identity. ^ top ^

500 Beijingers rewarded for terrorism tip-offs (Global Times)
Some 500 Beijing residents have been rewarded over 600,000 yuan ($93,900) for providing tips about terror-related crimes since the reward system was launched in March 2014, the Beijing police announced Tuesday. The capital police announced that they have recently rewarded three citizens who provided tips, calling for the public to help fight terrorism. A resident was rewarded 3,000 yuan on Thursday for providing information on a bomb threat after noticing online posts about suspected bombs. Police detained one suspect based on the tip and have placed the suspect in criminal detention for disorderly conduct, the Beijing-based newspaper the Mirror reported. Another two Beijing residents were also rewarded 3,000 yuan each for providing tip-offs about terror-related activity. Police said one of them noticed a possible provocation during a major event, while the other reported a suspicious-looking person. No further details were offered, according to the Mirror. The reward system, which was implemented on March 1, 2014, allows citizens to report to police in person, by phone or online about any activities, organizations or individuals planning or instigating terror-related crimes. The authorities said they plan to give better rewards to important or timely tips and are working to enhance counter-terrorism publicity, the Mirror reported. ^ top ^

Chilly capital (Global Times)
Beijingers will have to wrap up extra warm in the coming days, with the city forecast to see its coldest November day in 45 years this week. According to the National Meteorological Center, temperatures at night will drop down to a biting minus 12 C on Wednesday and Thursday. The last time Beijing experienced weather as frosty as this in November was in 1970, meteorologist Li Huan'an told the Beijing Times. The early snowfall and appearance of icy temperatures in recent days has worsened traffic and brought inconvenience for pedestrians that have to negotiate the city's slippery sidewalks. On Sunday night, nearly 700 flights from Beijing Capital International Airport were canceled […]. […] According to Beijing Youth Daily, the city sent out 37,000 workers and more than 4,000 vehicles to shovel snow off the streets on Monday, using 13,824 tons of salt. […] Zhou Bing, senior engineer from the National Climate Center, believes the El Nino phenomenon is to blame for the recent abnormal weather in China. "El Nino is taking its toll. The 'wolf' is coming!" Zhou was quoted as saying by the China Meteorological News. "Although the mid-high latitude areas of China haven't had a direct connections with it, its indirect impact is showing." ^ top ^



Premier urges stronger reform in financial service in Shanghai FTZ (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has urged financial service institutions in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) to carry out stronger financial reforms and opening up. The negative list approach should be expanded to financial services such as banks, securities, insurance and funding companies, so as to better manage foreign investment, Li was quoted as saying by a Thursday press release following his inspection of the Shanghai headquarters of the People's Bank of China on Wednesday. First piloted in the Shanghai FTZ in 2013, the negative list model states sectors and businesses that are off limits to foreign investment, and will be adopted nationwide in the next five years. It will help motivate foreign investors, ensure the protection of foreign investors' rights and better allocate their money. Since the launch of the Shanghai FTZ in 2013, China has tested a number of new policies including negative list management on foreign investment, preferential trade and financial policies, and opening up more industries to foreign investors. Local authorities and financial institutions should continue to carry out effective readjustment measures, support the opening up of the capital market to the world, and improve the supervision and regulation mechanism for the finance industry, Li said. China's four pilot Free Trade Zones (FTZ) have seen significant progress in attracting foreign investment with the help of financial reforms. In the Jan.- Sept. period, the number of newly registered foreign-invested enterprises in the Shanghai FTZ rose 52.6 percent year on year while such entities more than tripled in the Guangdong, Tianjin, and Fujian province FTZs, data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) showed. ^ top ^



Five Guangdong officials investigated for graft (Xinhua)
Five officials from Guangdong Province have been investigated on suspicion of taking bribes, the Supreme People's Procuratorate said on Friday. The people involved are Lou Xukui, former deputy party chief of Panyu District of Guangzhou City, Deng Xiaobing, former deputy party chief of Zhongshan City, Liu Xian, former vice general manager with the China Southern Airlines, Liao Feng, former deputy party chief of Maoming City, and Huang Jinhui, former vice mayor of Huizhou City. Guangdong provincial procuratorate approved the arrest of the five officials. ^ top ^

Former Hainan vice governor indicted for taking bribes (Xinhua)
Prosecutors in Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong province, have indicted former vice governor of Hainan Province, Tan Li, on a charge of bribe taking, according to a statement issued by the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Tuesday. The indictment alleged Tan sought profits for others and accepted "a huge amount of bribes" while acting as a member of the standing committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Chengdu municipal committee in southwest Sichuan province and vice governor of southern Hainan province, among other posts. Tan's case was exposed in July when the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced an investigation into him for "suspected serious violation of discipline and laws." ^ top ^

First human H7N9 case this winter reported in S China (Xinhua)
The first human H7N9 case this winter was reported in South China's Guangdong province, the provincial health commission announced Tuesday. The case in a town under Meizhou city was confirmed on Monday, said the Guangdong Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission. The patient was a farmer in his 70s. He is in hospital. The transmission is being investigated. All live poultry markets in the township suspended operation on Monday for one week. H7N9 is a bird flu strain first reported to have infected humans in March 2013 in China. It is most likely to strike in winter and spring. Last winter, human cases of H7N9 were reported in several Chinese provinces and municipalities, including Guangdong, Shanghai, Fujian, Jiangxi, Guizhou and Zhejiang. Health specialists advised that people steer clear of live poultry to reduce infection risks. ^ top ^



Dalai clique using climate talks to gain wide attention: report (Global Times)
Attempts made by the Dalai Lama clique to use the upcoming Paris climate talks to call attention to themselves are "sinister intentions," said an opinion article Monday on a State-owned news site. "Ever since their defection in 1959, the Dalai Lama clique has often used world opinion to promote and gain attention for themselves in an attempt to advocate 'Tibet independence' … But it is recognized by the world that Tibet is an inalienable territory of China. No matter how many sinister intentions they hold, the Dalai Lama clique will see nothing but failure," said the article on Lhasa-based news site The comments come following a statement issued by the Dalai Lama clique in October that they want an effective climate change agreement and also want to have a say in the upcoming Paris climate talks, Reuters reported. They claim that two-thirds of the glaciers in their mountain homeland may disappear by 2050 due to climate change. Close to 200 countries will meet in Paris in December to try to hammer out a deal to slow man-made climate change by attempting to keep temperatures below a ceiling of 2 C above pre-industrial levels. The article said that the Dalai Lama clique is trying to create a delusion that the Tibet Autonomous Region is not part of China, as members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change must be sovereign nations. "China will be sending a delegation to the conference. Tibet, as part of China, is represented by the delegation," it added. ^ top ^



State media offers in-depth coverage of anti-terrorism action in Xinjiang (Global Times)
Chinese State media have recently run detailed reports on anti-terrorism achievements, especially in West China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Experts believe that this proactive and transparent step can help gain public support for and provide solid evidence of the government's response to terrorism, as the nation vows to contribute to global anti-terrorism efforts. Unlike previous "one-sentence" news, reports on the latest achievements contain more details, said Turgunjan Tursun, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. Liu Zhijun, an armed police officer enlisted in a Xinjiang squadron, was stabbed in the mouth by a spear when fighting three terrorists, according to a feature story portraying the Xinjiang police's strenuous efforts against terrorism published by the Xinhua News Agency on Sunday. The feature comes two days after a report that Xinjiang police disbanded a terrorist group after 56 days of fighting. The Publicity Department of Xinjiang said that a group of armed men attacked a coal mine in Baicheng county, Aksu prefecture on September 18, killing 11 civilians, three policemen and two auxiliary police officers in addition to injuring 18 others, Xinhua reported. According to the official statement, the terrorist group was directly guided by an overseas extremist group and led by two local Xinjiang men named Musa Tohniyaz and Mamat Aysa. Ordinary people will be able to understand the necessity of the government's anti-terrorism policy after learning from these reports that the government faces severe challenges in safeguarding the stability of Xinjiang, Zhang Zhian, vice president of the School of Communication and Design at Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, told the Global Times. Terrorism is a global issue, and the Paris attacks to some degree have triggered concerns about the domestic anti-terrorism situation among Chinese citizens, added Zhang, explaining that timely disclosures showcasing the responsive actions of the Chinese government will help ease citizens' concerns. In the meantime, the government is also worried that such disclosures may provoke possible revenge and violence, experts said. Zhang suggested that such reports could follow the principles of "non-violence" and "peace journalism," an approach that reports the facts but avoids inciting violence. Moreover, the government cannot adopt an "ostrich" policy - in which it deals with problems by avoiding addressing them - in regard to anti-terrorism reports, as rumors may arise when disclosure is insufficient, said Tursun. ^ top ^

Some officials took part in terrorism, watchdog says (China Daily)
Some officials in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have supported and even taken part in terrorist activities, the head of the regional disciplinary watchdog said. During a time when terrorists in the region have become more active and anti-terrorism operations have intensified, some officials have failed to stand firm, said Xu Hairong, Party chief of the Xinjiang regional Commission for Discipline Inspection. His comments appeared in a signed article published in the daily newspaper run by China's top disciplinary watchdog, Chinese Discipline Inspection and Supervision, on Tuesday. He did not disclose any details of how the officials were involved or whether they were charged. Religious extremism has penetrated deep into Xinjiang, home to more than half of China's Muslim population, and led to an increasing number of terrorist attacks in the region and other parts of China. It is thought some of the terrorists involved have been trained abroad. "Some officials in the village were removed from their posts for turning a blind eye to religious extremist activities," said Nurmemet Niaz, the new Party chief of Handaikejiran village in Wushi county, in southern Xinjiang's Aksu prefecture. "Some villagers who were under the influence of religious extremism later participated in terrorist activities. Such damage is hard to reverse." Party officials, especially those at the grassroots level, are crucial in guiding villagers in the right direction and making sure no one participates in terrorist activities, he added. The central government has made clear that achieving long-term stability is the top priority for Xinjiang. Zhang Chunxian, Party chief of the region, said Xinjiang Party officials must take the lead in the fight against the "three forces" of extremism, separatism and terrorism. They should never be vague in their attitude toward the "three forces" nor act two-faced by airing opposite views in public and private on this key matter, he said. Party officials will be disciplined if they are found inciting ethnic disturbances or being involved in separatist activities, Xu said. They are also strictly prohibited from organizing or using religious activities to oppose the Party's policies and decisions. ^ top ^

Some Xinjiang CPC members support terror: discipline chief (Global Times)
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region's top disciplinary inspector accused some Party members of participating in terrorist activities, a newspaper affiliated with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC) reported on Tuesday. "Certain Party members made irresponsible remarks on decisions made by their superiors, some of which are opposed to the requirements of the CPC Central Committee and Xinjiang regional committee," according to an essay written by Xu Hairong, head of the Xinjiang Discipline Inspection Commission, on the China Discipline Inspection News. "Some are double-tongued about significant issues on anti-separatism, ethnic unity and national unification," Xu said. A Xinjiang-based expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Tuesday that a few grassroots and middle-rank officials of ethnic minority groups are ambivalent about the anti-separatism campaign, despite being faced with terrorism, extremism and separatism as well as pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism. "Some grassroots may be inclined to provoke terrorist activities while some middle-rank officials, who better understand pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism, tend to advocate separatism," he said. He was referring to several village Party secretaries who led villagers in a terrorist attack in Xinjiang. Extem Helil, a local official in Wensu county, Aksu prefecture in the South of Xinjiang was sentenced to six years' imprisonment in 2013 for sharing downloaded documents that advocate jihad and incite ethnic hatred, news site reported. Zhao Xinwei, the editor-in-chief of the Urumqi-based Xinjiang Daily, was expelled from the Party and removed from his post in early November, for making "groundless comments" on the nation's major decisions, earlier media said. […] ^ top ^

China's Xinjiang records more than 38,000 people with HIV/AIDS (Xinhua)
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a region with high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, recorded 38,283 HIV carriers and AIDS patients by the end of October, health authorities said Tuesday. Sexual transmission took up more than 62 percent of the cases to become the main channel of Xinjiang's AIDS prevalence, while over 28 percent of cases were infected through intravenous drug use, the region's health and family planning commission stated ahead of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. For decades, Xinjiang has been plagued by serious drug problems. The region lies on a trade route for illicit drugs that begins in the rich poppy fields of the so-called "Golden Crescent" area of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The prevalence of needle-sharing among drug users was previously blamed for the spike in Xinjiang's HIV/AIDS cases. Over the past five years, the central and regional government have provided more than one billion yuan (around 156 million U.S. dollars) of funds to improve HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Xinjiang. Ni Mingjian, an HIV/AIDS expert with center for disease control and prevention in Xinjiang, said a total of 91 designated hospitals in the region provide anti-virus treatment, and 485 voluntary HIV counselling and test stations have been set up. Ni said Xinjiang's 306 HIV/AIDS screening labs have screened more than five million people as of the end of October, nearly 20 percent of the region's total population. Xinjiang has also made efforts to ensure HIV-positive patients' access to equal employment and medical treatment and to improve their life quality. The number of people living with HIV/AIDS in China hit 497,000 by the end of October 2014, with 154,000 deaths, according to official figures.  ^ top ^



Out with the old: Two big-name pan-democrats ousted in tight district council election races (SCMP)
A pair of pro-democracy heavyweights were marginally unseated in a District Council poll generating a record turnout rate of 47 per cent and the emergence of fresh faces, some of them inspired by the Occupy protests. The election results did not pose a significant change to the proportion between the pro-democracy and pro-government camps, as the latter continued to enjoy a numerical edge despite a lower increase in the share of seats compared to the last election. But some newly elected politicians illustrated the continuing support behind last year's Occupy protests in an election that had a higher turnout rate than the record 44 per cent set in 2003 after a 500,000-strong anti-government protest that year. Two of at least four successfully elected “Umbrella soldiers” remarkably defeated pro-establishment heavyweights such as lawmaker Christopher Chung Shu-kun, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and Kowloon City district council chairman Lau Wai-wing. The NeoDemocrats, a breakaway group of the Democrats, fared especially well. They won 15 of 16 district seats they contested, attaining the minimum number for nominating a super-seat candidate. The Civic Party won 10 seats, three more since the last election […]. The rise of the pro-democracy youngsters, coupled with the fall of veteran big names in the same camp, fuelled uncertainty about who would run for the super seats in next year's Legislative Council election as two of the three incumbent pro-democracy “super-seat” lawmakers failed to secure a district position. […] The overall picture for the pro-democracy camp, however, was not completely dim. In particular, the pro-government camp appeared to be losing its majority in the Sha Tin district council according to early results, with pro-democracy rivals getting elected to 19 seats, equalling the tally held by the pro-establishment camp. Citywide, the Democratic Party won one more seat and scored 43 in total. […] “The election results show that we have to listen to the voices of the young people,” said Business and Professionals Alliance lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun […]. ^ top ^

Anthem booing in HK probed (Global Times)
Hong Kong may face punishment again after its soccer fans booed the national anthem before a home game against the Chinese mainland last week, triggering public criticism of fans' politicization of the game and disrespect for their country. The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) said Tuesday that they have received an official letter from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), announcing that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the HKFA regarding the incident ahead of the match at Mong Kok Stadium on September 17. The match ended with a 0-0 draw and crushed the mainland team's hopes to qualify for the 2016 World Cup. The HKFA said FIFA has requested that the organization provide a statement and any supporting evidence that it may consider relevant to the present case by December 1. The final result of the FIFA disciplinary proceedings will be officially released before the end of December 2015. FIFA's letter said that HKFA appeared to be in violation of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, requiring clubs and associations to ensure law and order are maintained in the stadiums and immediate surroundings and that matches are organized properly. Previous reports said that when the national anthem was played, many Hong Kong fans started booing, while some held placards with the word "Boo" printed on them, despite the fact that local government officials and the HKFA warned fans to behave themselves ahead of the match and not to boo or heckle when the national anthem is played. It was not the first time that Hong Kong football fans booed the national anthem before a match. The HKFA was fined more than $5,000 after fans booed the anthem during a match against Qatar in September. The booing triggered an uproar among the public and media outlets. Some Chinese experts pointed out that booing the national anthem is disrespectful to the fans' own country, adding that an entertaining game should not be politicized. Hong Kong-based newspaper Wen Wei Po said in an editorial on November 18 that it is disgusting for some people to use football matches to express political appeals or political sentiments, adding that people became even angrier when some fans tried to incite others to echo their calls for Hong Kong independence. "Hong Kong citizens will condemn their ulterior motives altogether, remain cautious about actions that instigate discord between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland and will never tolerate the spread of separatism," the editorial said. An article published on Hong Kong-based news site said fans' actions "disgraced Hong Kongers and also insulted the game of football. It is believed that those fans' extreme behavior will be severely punished by FIFA." According to the FIFA Disciplinary Code, Hong Kong may face further sanctions as serious as points deductions or disqualification from the competition if the home association is found liable for improper conduct by spectators, including displaying insulting or political slogans in any form or uttering insulting words or sounds. ^ top ^



Macao to host int'l clean energy forum (Xinhua)
The International Forum for Clean Energy (IFCE) will host its fourth session in Macao from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17, according to a press conference held in Beijing on Monday. Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences and related think-tanks will discuss China's energy strategy. They will discuss topics such as innovation of photo-voltaic technology, clean technology of coal-fired power generation, and how China's energy industries will "go global" as the country sets out to develop the Belt and Road Initiative. The Macao-based IFCE is a non-profit international organization established in April 2012 which aims at policy research for clean energy development. ^ top ^



Candidates register for Taiwan leader election (Global Times)
Eric Chu, chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang party, formally registered to run in the 2016 leader's election on Wednesday. Chu registered with his running mate Wang Ju-hsuan at the island's election commission. James Soong of the People First Party, one of Chu's rivals, registered with running mate Hsu Hsin-ying on Tuesday. The other pair of eligible candidates, Tsai Ing-wen of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and her running mate, Chen Chien-je, announced earlier that they will register on Friday, the deadline for candidate registration. Every pair of candidates is required to submit proper application and identification documents as well as a deposit of 15 million New Taiwan dollars (about 460,000 US dollars). The election commission will exam the documents and announce a formal list a few days later. The election is scheduled for Jan. 16 next year. ^ top ^



Aging China gives rise to new business opportunities (Xinhua)
China's fast growing aging population has prompted fresh business chances concerning old-age financial services, health care, housing and cultural industries, an official said on Saturday. Wu Yushao, deputy head of the office of the China National Committee on Aging, said at a forum in Beijing that there were 212 million people over 60 years old in China, about one third are 60-65. "This new generation of aging people has the desire and ability to enjoy high quality services," said Wu. The elderly sector needs government support due to high investment, low rate of return and long payback period, he said. It is estimated that by 2020, the over-60s will make up 19.3 percent of China's population, rising to 38.6 percent in 2050. To defuse the pressure on pension payment, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security will diversify and improve pension investments, and coordinate surplus and deficit across regions to balance supply and demand, according to ministry spokesperson Li Zhong on Friday. In the first 10 months of 2015, the pension fund had a surplus of more than 210 billion yuan ($33 billion), according to Li. China's pension funds, which account for roughly 90 percent of the country's total social security pool, had net assets of 3.5 trillion yuan at the end of 2014. Since 2014, an increasing number of provincial-level regions have reported pension fund deficits due to rising standards and increasing retirees. Jianxin Pension Fund Management Corp., the first of its kind in China, was founded on Friday with a registered capital of 2.3 billion yuan, aiming to pilot market-oriented approaches to solve the aging problems. Authorized by the State Council, 85 percent of the company's shares belong to China Construction Bank, while the rest are held by the National Council for Social Security Fund. ^ top ^

Leading economist upholds service industry for growth (Xinhua)
Renowned Chinese economist Li Yining on Sunday said China should further promote the service industry, which has started to make bigger contributions to the economy. "China should make more customized products and offer more humanized services, so as to promote the Made-in-China brand abroad and attract more foreign customers to domestic market," Li said at a forum about China's economic issues in Beijing. China's economic structure has been improving with the rise of service industry, which is more efficient, energy-saving and can provide more jobs. In the first three quarters of 2015, the value added of the service sector accounted for 51.4 percent of GDP, up 2.3 percentage points from the same period last year. The government should ensure stable employment and enhanced social security while advancing steadily on the path of structural reform and promoting an economy led by the service sector, Li said. Also on Sunday, China's State Council pledged to strengthen support for consumer services to upgrade the consumption structure and bolster economic growth. Infrastructure for public services will be improved and a better consumption environment for both domestic and international customers will be built. The upgrading of service industry as a leading sector will inevitably affect the growth speed and cause a slowdown, according to the experience of developed countries, Li said. The Chinese economy expanded 6.9 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2015, the first time the quarterly growth rate has dropped below 7 percent since the second quarter of 2009. In 2015, the government rolled out a string of pro-growth measures to tackle economic slowdown, by promoting monetary easing, stepping up infrastructure construction and nurturing new growth points. ^ top ^

News Analysis: China-CEE leaders' meeting to drive more cooperation (Xinhua)
The fourth meeting of leaders of China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries will be held in east China's Suzhou city from Tuesday to Wednesday, providing a valuable opportunity to plan their cooperation. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and leaders from the 16 CEE countries will attend the meeting, and about 1,000 Chinese and CEE business leaders will participate in a trade and investment forum. […] Established as an annual event in Warsaw in 2012 and subsequently staged in Bucharest and Belgrade, the new platform has greatly increased scope for cooperation. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the "16+1" face a much improved situation and more established working patterns after the first three meetings. When it comes to the next step, Wang Yi said the most important thing is to take advantage of the 16 countries' respective advantages and promote partnerships among them, notably in major projects such as the Hungary-Serbia high-speed railway. With the theme of this year's meeting "New beginning, New fields, New vision," Wang Chao said the host country hopes to make it "a new milestone in the development of China-CEE cooperation." The meeting will hear proposals on new measures in connecting infrastructure, investment, trade, finance, agriculture and people-to-people exchanges. […] The trade volume between China and CEE countries was 43.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, increasing to 60.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2014. […] The 16+1 serves as a platform for CEE countries to vitalize their economies, organize international industrial cooperation and building of infrastructure to help realize their development plans, Zhou said. During Wang Yi's visit to the Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria last month, leaders of the three countries all expressed keenness to support and join in construction of the "Belt and Road" initiative, which will add richer connotations to the fourth leaders' meeting. China and CEE countries will be more closely linked by this China-proposed regional trade and infrastructure network, creating potential for deeper cooperation, noted Vice Commerce Minister Gao Yan. Wang Yi said China was not just interested in partnerships with the old European powerhouses of the UK, France and Europe, but also with governments across the continent: "China's diplomacy toward Europe is all-dimensional and open to all European countries." ^ top ^

Bank of China held in contempt of court in US for refusing to hand over Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent counterfeiting suspects account details (SCMP)
A US judge has held the Bank of China in contempt for refusing to turn over account information of Chinese suspects accused of selling counterfeit luxury goods. US District Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan, firing off the latest salvo in the battle between China and the United States over financial transparency and national sovereignty, held that the bank must pay a fine for withholding its customers' records. Sullivan said he would probably decide on the amount of the penalty by Monday. The records sought involve Chinese entities that were sued in 2010 by subsidiaries of luxury goods conglomerate Kering, including Gucci Group, Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent. Bank of China itself is not a defendant in that lawsuit. The companies subpoenaed the Bank of China seeking records of the alleged counterfeit sellers' accounts, but the state-owned bank argued that it could not turn over the records without violating Chinese privacy law. The bank also said the New York court had no jurisdiction over it. Bank of China's lawyer, Laura Hall, said at Tuesday's hearing that the bank had no choice but to refuse to turn over the records and be held in contempt so that it would have a right to appeal to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals. “We're bound by conflicting systems of law,” she said. […] The dispute is part of a larger conflict between China's opaque, state dominated economic system and the disclosure based US regulatory regime. Clashes have grown more frequent as Chinese companies have sought to expand overseas or tap international capital by listing in the United States. […] ^ top ^

Most Chinese luxury consumption happens overseas: report (Xinhua)
China accounts for nearly half of the world's luxury consumption so far this year, but Chinese consumers do most of their shopping outside of the country, a Beijing-based consultancy said in a report on Tuesday. Chinese are expected to spend 116.8 billion U.S. dollars on luxury goods this year, accounting for 46 percent of the world's total, said the Fortune Character Institute. However, 91 billion worth of luxury purchases, or 78 percent of all Chinese luxury consumption this year, happens outside of China, up 12 percent from last year. Increased buying overseas has led to a 1 percentage drop in China's luxury market share in the world's total, to 10 percent. The institute also estimates that the world's luxury market is set to grow 11 percent this year to 255.2 billion U.S. dollars. The report also found that 83 percent of luxury brands have closed some of their retail outlets in China this year and closures will continue. It predicted more overhauls of existing shops next year to focus on experience and service as more consumers opt to purchase online. This year also witnessed an emergence of luxury online retailers in China. But the institute said a survey of high net worth individuals in China suggests that only 4 percent of them are willing to shop luxury goods at domestic online retailers while 44 percent prefer buying at brands' official websites. ^ top ^

China Focus: China pushes energy network construction (Xinhua)
In the next five years, northwest China's Xinjiang region will invest 200 billion yuan (31 billion U.S. dollars) in building power grids to connect the region to the country's east, Pakistan and central Asian countries. Resources-rich Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the core area for the Silk Road Economic Belt, will create power transmission lines by 2020 as it builds the "Power Silk Road", said a source with the Xinjiang Electric Power Company under the State Grid Corporation of China. The grid projects are an important infrastructure plan for the region, guaranteeing power supply for local residents and enterprises in Xinjiang, said the company. Chinese President Xi Jinping told the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September that China proposes discussing a global energy network to meet global power demand with clean and green alternatives. […] China began to purchase electricity from Russia in 1992. Currently, Heilongjiang Province in northeast China has four operating power transmission lines connecting Russia. This year, the Heilongjiang Electric Power Company will import 3.6 billion kilowatt hours of power from Russia, or 5.4 percent of the power sold in the province. […] NE China is planning the construction of UHV [ultra-high voltage] grid to transmit power to the country's eastern coastal developed areas. […] The China-proposed initiative refers to a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia to Europe and Africa through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Liu Zhenya, president of the State Grid, said the country will accelerate grid interconnectivity with neighboring countries such as Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Laos, Nepal and Thailand in the coming decade. He estimates a global energy network will be basically completed by 2050. It is estimated that from 2016 to 2030, China's annual investment in clean energy and related infrastructure will reach 820 billion yuan, according to Liu. […] ^ top ^

E. China high court goes online via Alibaba (Xinhua)
Alibaba has joined with the higher court of east China's Zhejiang Province to launch an online court for e-commerce disputes on Tuesday. The court specializes in disputes in e-commerce, copyright and online financial services. All procedures from initiating a lawsuit to carrying out the sentence can be done on the website at During the court's trial run that began late August, it received 406 cases, of which eight have been resolved, 58 are being mediated, 22 being investigated and 115 being reviewed. The court can use Alibaba's big data to improve the efficiency of e-commerce related cases. It can also help trial transparency and avoid wrong or contradictory sentences, Xu Jie, deputy chief of Zhejiang Higher People's Court, said. Alibaba has also been working with Zhejiang's higher court in judicial auctions since 2012. In the first nine months of the year, courts in Zhejiang auctioned over 11,000 items with a value of 23.7 billion yuan (about 3.7 billion U.S. dollars) at, China's top e-commerce platform under Alibaba group, saving 500 million yuan of commission fee. More than 1,000 Chinese courts are auctioning goods at ^ top ^

Apple Pay coming to China in time for Spring Festival in February if no more hurdles arise, reports say (SCMP)
Apple's much-anticipated entry into China's booming mobile payments market could put the US technology giant on a collision course with domestic providers Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings. Analysts on Wednesday said the reported introduction of Apple Pay on the mainland early next year may create a more dynamic market, but it will not have a big impact on the existing industry leaders. “The main obstacles for the wide adoption of Apple Pay are current user behaviour on the mainland and its lack of a merchant ecosystem,” Forrester Research analyst Charlie Dai said. “Alibaba's Alipay and Tenpay, the mobile payment service of Tencent used on WeChat, are very popular in large cities because of the convenience those platforms provide.” Gartner analyst Sandy Shen added a more telling disadvantage for Apple Pay in the country: The majority of smartphone users are on Android devices. Apple Pay is expected to launch on the mainland by February, following deals Apple has made with the big four state-owned banks, a Wall Street Journal report said, citing people familiar with the discussions. China UnionPay, which operates the country's largest payment and clearing network, will help introduce Apple Pay to the market, a Bloomberg report said, citing sources. Apple's Beijing-based spokeswoman said the company had no news to announce. In May, Apple chief executive Tim Cook told China's state-run news agency Xinhua that he was “very bullish on Apple Pay in China”. That was about the same time when speculation surfaced that Apple wanted to partner with Alibaba to introduce Apple Pay on the mainland. The iPhone maker already has a growing mainland retail network, which is expected to total 40 Apple Stores by next year. If the reports prove true, Apple Pay will be made available in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland almost at the same time. Cook said last month that the company's mobile-payment and digital-wallet service will be launched in Hong Kong next year with partner American Express. The service, which was launched in the US in October last year, was made available in Britain this July. Mobile-payment transactions in mainland China jumped 134 per cent to 22.6 trillion yuan (US$3.537 trillion) last year, according to central bank data. Gartner's Shen pointed out that Apple Pay is currently used by a little over 5 per cent of its iPhone user base since the recent large-screen models were equipped for the service. “Given the low penetration of iPhone users in China, Apple Pay's addressable market is much smaller compared to Alipay and Tenpay,” Shen said. ^ top ^

The Chinese are coming: Insurers expected to pour US$73b into overseas properties (SCMP)
Chinese insurers are expected to spend US$73 billion in acquiring overseas properties over the next five years as they speed up diversification, according to a research report published on Wednesday by real estate services firm DTZ/Cushman & Wakefield. The report says the recent volatility in equity markets worldwide would prompt mainland Chinese insurers to accelerate their real estate investment strategy, diversifying away from domestic holdings. “Major gateway cities will form the initial focus of activity. Current investments in London and New York underscore this move. Other leading cities will also regularly witness transactions of over US$100 million,” said Cristine Lai, an analyst at the Asia-Pacific forecasting team of DTZ/Cushman & Wakefield. The major cities include Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo in the Asia-Pacific region. Property investment activity will expand to Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Paris, according to the team. The North American markets of Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington will also attract high investment activity, she said. Last year, the report said total real estate holdings accounted for 0.8 per cent, or US$13.4 billion, of Chinese insurance industry's assets under management, well below the permitted allocation of 30 per cent. Just under half of this US$13.4 billion is estimated to have been deployed overseas. “For the five largest Chinese insurers, total allocations remain low and no greater than two per cent, with some below 1 per cent,” said director and head of capital markets research Nigel Almond. Over the next five years, the report forecast, allocations are expected to grow from the current levels to nearly five per cent, with an additional US$73 billion poured into overseas real estate properties. That will raise total overseas real estate investment from US$6 billion last year to US$79 billion by 2019, and to US$154 billion by 2024. The report comes two weeks after China Life Insurance (Group) agreed to buy an office tower with retail space in Hung Hom from Wheelock & Co for HK$5.85 billion, in the single largest office-tower purchase in Kowloon district. DTZ/Cushman & Wakefield said the 15 largest insurance companies are expected to take the lead in overseas investments although smaller companies are also likely to follow in their footsteps as they grow their teams. Chinese insurers' rapid expansion into overseas real estate investment follows the China Insurance Regulatory Commission's permission to allocate up to 30 per cent of total assets in real estate, half of it overseas, since October 2009. Lai said more sophisticated insurers are also expected to move into development projects in major gateway cities. ^ top ^

China, Hong Kong stocks sink, yuan slides to 3-month low ahead of IMF verdict (SCMP)
The Shanghai Composite Index gave up 28.42 points, or 0.78 per cent, to 3,607.14, with the Shenzhen Composite down 12.76 points, or 0.55 per cent, to 2,312.93. The large-cap CSI 300 dropped 32.29 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 3,727.13. The tech-heavy ChiNext dipped 6.49 poitns, or 0.23 per cent, to 2,826.71. After failing to break a losing streak on Thursday, Hong Kong extended its losses in Hong Kong as the Hang Seng Index gave up 144.62 points, or 0.64 per cent, at 22,344.32. The H-share China Enterprise Index declined 105.62 points, or 1.04 per cent, to 10,002.77. In the first 10 months of this year, the aggregate profits of industrial firms declined 2 per cent year-on-year to 4.87 trillion yuan, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics. In October alone, profits plunged 4.6 per cent to 559.5 billion yuan. Meanwhile, China's yuan sank to three-month low against the US dollar ahead of the International Monetary Fund's decision on the inclusion of the currency in its Special Drawing Rights basket on Monday. The People's Bank of China set the yuan's midpoint at 6.3915 against the US dollar on Friday, and the currency has been trading downward. As of 10 am, the onshore yuan (CNY) stood at 6.3938, the lowest in three months. The offshore yuan (CNH) was trading at 6.4392. The CNY-CNH spread widened to over 450 basis points. Woes at some mainland Chinese brokers deepened as both Citic and Guosen securities confirmed late on Thursday they had been investigated by regulator China Securities Regulatory Commission on suspected breach of relevant securities laws. Margin financing balance in Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses have declined by 1.8 billion yuan to 1.2 trillion yuan as of Thursday. ^ top ^


Former minister appointed as key point man in China's diplomacy with North Korea (SCMP)
China's government has appointed a former deputy foreign minister to head the Communist Party department that handles much of its diplomacy with North Korea. Song Tao, 60, has replaced 66-year-old Wang Jiarui, who had held the position for 12 years, to become the minister of the party's International Department, according to its website. The department handles much of the ruling Communist Party's relations with foreign countries' political parties and has held a particularly important role in liaison work with Pyongyang. China and North Korea are both socialist countries. The Communist Party of China and the Korean Workers' Party traditionally have close relations,” said Cui Zhiying, a Korean affairs expert at Shanghai's Tongji University. The department also plays an important role in relations with other communist-ruled countries such as Vietnam and Cuba. Wang has been a key figure in party-to-party diplomacy with North Korea over the past decade. He hosted five visits by North Korea's late paramount leader Kim Jong-il, father of present supreme leader Kim Jong-un, as well as visits by many of the country's envoys. He was also a frequent visitor to Pyongyang. Song surprised many observers last month when he joined a delegation to Pyongyang in his capacity as general office deputy director of the party's foreign affairs leading group. Song worked at the foreign ministry from 2001 to 2013 before assuming his role with the leading group. He was assigned to posts in India, Guyana and the Philippines and was promoted to vice foreign minister in 2011. Song was born in Jiangsu province and spent his early career in Fujian province working at a forestry college, an industrial research institute, in local government and at provincial state-owned 8companies. He was the assistant general manager of the Fujian Textile Company and the deputy president of Fujian International Trust and Investment Company in the late 1990s, when President Xi Jinping was a provincial leader. Song studied at Monash University in Australia and has a doctorate in economics. ^ top ^



President Ts. Elbegdorj held official talks with French President Francois Hollande (InfoMongolia)
On November 19, 2015, President Elbegdorj has held official talks with President of the French Republic, Mr. Francois Hollande and attended the signing ceremony of cooperation documents. Mongolian President was welcomed by Mr. Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace - the official residence of the President of the French Republic. President Francois Hollande said: "I would like to express my gratitude to the President of Mongolia for paying an official visit to France during this difficult time. Mongolia is one of our privileged partners in Asia. Our two countries enjoy common values of democracy. The bilateral economic cooperation between France and Mongolia has been intensifying in recent years. We have great opportunities to collaborate in food production, agriculture and other spheres." In his turn, President Ts.Elbegdorj expressed sincere condolences following the terrorist attacks in Paris that left dozens of people dead and said that every Mongolian shares the grief over the tragedy. The President of Mongolia highlighted that he is pleased to pay an official visit to France on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and noted with satisfaction the intensive mutual relations and cooperation in particular sectors in the recent years. He noted: "Our two countries have the opportunity to expand cooperation in defense and peacekeeping. Also, enhancing the mutual cultural cooperation is important. The both countries have cooperated in the field of archeology. Let us cooperate to open an exhibition of Mongolia's culture in France." At the meeting, President of France introduced about the goals of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21), which will be held in Paris and asked for Mongolia's support. He has expressed his intention to attend the 2016 ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar and France's support in organizing it. Mr. Francois Hollande praised President Elbegdorj's initiative on the Permanent Neutrality Policy of Mongolia, "I think permanent neutrality is important to strengthening democracy", he said. Also, Mongolian President noted that the bilateral cooperation in livestock farming would be one of the most important outcomes of his visit.  ^ top ^

Mongolia and France sign cooperation documents (InfoMongolia)
During the official visit of President Ts.Elbegdorj to the French Republic, a number of bilateral agreements were signed on November 19, 2015. Following the official talks, the Heads of State of Mongolia and France attended the signing ceremony of cooperation documents and inked the "Joint Statement by the President of Mongolia and President of the French Republic". The following documents were signed:
- An Intergovernmental Agreement on Educational, Cultural and Technical Cooperation between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of France;
- An Intergovernmental Agreement on Assistance Programs of the French Food Aid Fund between the Governments of Mongolia and France;
- An Agreement on Implementing a Joint Scholarship Program between the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France;
- A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Film Industry between the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia and the National Center of Cinematography and the Moving Image (CNC) of France;
- An Agreement on Cooperation in Tourism Sector between the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism of Mongolia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France;
- A Letter of Intent for Cooperation in Selection and Breeding of Cattle between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Mongolia and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry of France. ^ top ^

President attends Mongolia-France business forum (Montsame)
Mongolia-France Business Forum took place on the sidelines of the official visit of Mongolian President to the Republic of France. The "Movement of the Enterprises of France" (MEDEF), the largest employer federation in France, organized the conference, which attracted some 50 businessmen from 36 Mongolian companies and delegates from 50 French small and medium enterprises, as well as world giants. Trade turnover between Mongolia and France totaled to USD 62.9 million as of 2014. Today, 57 French companies are represented in Mongolia, the investments made to Mongolia from France since 1990 is valued USD 43.4 million. Businessmen and economic representatives' introducing of their businesses in Mongolia from France, the world's sixth largest economy, an influential member of the European Union and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and their cooperation "are of great significance for our country", said the President in his opening remarks. Investments from France have an impact on exercising our country's national security policies and balancing its foreign economic relations, he added. The President also highlighted Mongolia's efforts to become a stronghold for businesses and transit transports, as it is located between the two giant markets. “Mining businesses take up a great proportion in Mongolia's economy. However, the processing and manufacturing industries have been intensively developing recently. Quality shift has been occurring in Mongolia's economic spheres. Therefore, I am delighted to meet with French businessmen on such a turning point”, he continued. The President applauded Mongolian-French business cooperation in agriculture, civil construction, infrastructure, and energy production. “Mongolia and France have more capacity to cooperate in energy sector, not only in producing energy out of coal, but also in renewable energy. The Presidents and the governments will promote your actions”, he noted. ^ top ^

Official visit of President Ts.Elbegdorj to the French Republic concluded (InfoMongolia)
President Ts.Elbegdorj returned after an official visit to France at the invitation of the French President Francois Hollande. During his visit, Mongolian President held official talks with President Hollande and met with the President of the French Senate Gerard Larcher and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. On the sidelines of the visit, President Ts.Elbegdorj met with the Director General of the World Organization for Animal Health, Mr. Bernard Vallat on November 19, 2015. Dr. Bernard Vallat noted that he regards Mongolia as one of the important partners of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The sides exchanged views on taking preventive measures to reduce the spread of infectious animal diseases. President Ts.Elbegdorj expressed appreciation for the OIE's assistance during the foot-and-mouth outbreaks among livestock in 2014-2015. Also, the President of Mongolia delivered his opening remarks at the Mongolia-France Business Forum and met with representatives of business and cultural organizations. ^ top ^

Sixteen members of Parliament support dismissal of Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg (InfoMongolia)
During the regular Autumn session of the State Great Khural (Parliament of Mongolia) commenced on October 01, 2015, MP Gantumur UYANGA suggested to dismiss Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg to the Parliament. She blames PM Ch.Saikhanbileg for signing agreement on Oyu Tolgoi Underground Mine Development and Financing Plan at unacceptable conditions on May 18, 2015 during his working visit to the United Arab Emirates. […] On November 23, MP G.Uyanga (Justice Coalition) announced the names of parliament members who support her to the public. Moreover, Mongolian parliament will have to discuss her proposal officially if number of members supporting her reaches twenty. However, she has signature of only 16 parliament members so far.  ^ top ^

Mongolia to cooperate with Czech EGAP (Montsame)
The Mongolian Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat has met with authorities of the Czech Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation (EGAP), within his visit to the Czech Republic. The EGAP's leaders pointed out that the corporation is giving insurance services to several projects being implemented in Mongolia. Saying that insurance companies have a big importance in projects' realization, the Minister pointed out that our producers want to purchase the European-made facilities and equipment. After this the sides have exchanged views on technologies projects that could be implemented in Mongolia. The EGAP has expressed a readiness to support projects on the industrial sector in Mongolia.  ^ top ^

Minister of Industry meets leaders of Export Bank of Czech Republic (Montsame)
In the Czech Republic recently, Mongolia's Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat has met with Mr Karel Bures, a director of the Czech Export Bank (CEB) and other administrative officials, to exchange views on projects in Mongolia, their financing and further cooperation. Mr Karel has hoped that ongoing joint projects, being implemented in Mongolia, will contribute to the trade and economic development of the two countries. Erdenebat said that, despite one year after the establishment of the Ministry of Industry, the Mongolian parliament adopted a state policy on industry which reflects investments issues for supporting the export, heavy and light industries. He said Mongolia needs to introduce Czech-made facilities and technologies in order to boost export-oriented industry, its policy, as well as the small- and middle-sized productions. Then, the parties have affirmed that there are many ways to develop mutually-beneficial economy and to finance joint projects. Present at the meeting were D.Zumberellham, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Czech Republic, and other officials.  ^ top ^

Ch.Saikhanbileg PM meets Yan Junqin (Montsame)
The Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg Tuesday met with Ms Yan Junqin, the vice Chairwoman of the Standing committee of the National People's Congress of China (NPCC). Noting that a developing of long-term and sustainable friendly relations and cooperation with the People's Republic of China (PRC) is one of the priorities of Mongolia's foreign policy, the Premier underlined that a state visit of the Mongolian President to China this November 9-11 contributed to forwarding our comprehensive strategic partnership. He expressed a satisfaction with an establishment of the general credit agreement of USD 1 billion, and pointed out the Mongolian government re-approved a list of projects that will be implemented with the loan's capital. Mr Saikhanbileg also told that the issues of the Mongolia-China relations and economic cooperation and accelerating mega-projects in the energy and infrastructure sectors were touched upon during his meeting with Li Keqiang on the "fields" of the Summer Davos World Economic Forum September 9-11 in Dalian. […] In response, Ms Yan underlined a vital role of high level visits in forwarding the trade and economic ties with Mongolia and an importance of keeping a frequency of visits. She expressed her satisfaction with an intensive development of the bilateral relations with mutual efforts. […]  ^ top ^

Launch of the Urban Profile of Children: Children in an Urban World (InfoMongolia)
UNICEF urged the Government to put children at the heart of urban planning and to improve services for allat the launch of “Urban Profile of Children”. For that, more focused, accurate data is needed to help identify disparities among children in urban areas and how to bridge them. The shortage of such data results in neglect of children's issues. Children in peri-urban and urban areas are often the silent face of poverty and deprivations. Urban centers can offer children the advantages of schools, clinics and playgrounds. Yet the same cities are also the setting for some of the greatest disparities in children's health, education and opportunities. The disparities and deprivations endured by children in poor urban communities are often obscured by broad statistical averages that lump together all city dwellers, rich and poor alike. The further analyses of the Social Indicators Sample Survey (MICS5) by Oxford Policy Management on Urban Profile of Children in Mongolia, supported by UNICEF Mongolia illustrate persisting intra-urban disparities in children's circumstances. The preliminary findings show that the apartment residents in Ulaanbaatar city have almost universal access to improved drinking water (99.6%), while this indicator for UB Ger district residents is only just over 50% (50.7%). The urban disparity in access to improved sanitation is even more alarming if we use the country specific definition. The indicator is 99.2% for apartment dwellers, while this is only 4.7% for Ger residents. Other important child well-being indicators also illustrate considerable disparities between apartment and Ger districts. For instance, the stunting is almost twice high among children living in Ger districts (9.1%) compared to children living in apartment districts (4.9%). The child labor indictors are 3 times higher for Ger district children (9.6%), compared to children living in the apartments. “As Mongolia is urbanizing rapidly, the unplanned and underdeveloped peri-urban areas with no proper facilities for basic social services are expanding. This leads to significant disparities in urban settings” said UNICEF Mongolia Representative Roberto Benes. “With our mandate to close the existing gaps in children's situation and with our equity agenda, UNICEF has established a MoU with the City Governor's Office in May 2015 to improve the well-being of children living in the capital and to reduce urban disparities in children's access and utilization of basic social services. Together with the city, we will be joining our efforts to ensure that every child living in the city, regardless his or her place of residence, have access to basic social services and opportunity to develop to their full potential” added Mr. Benes. ^ top ^

The XIX Intergovernmental Committee meeting between Mongolia and Russia held in Chita (InfoMongolia)
The 19th Intergovernmental Committee meeting on Trade, Economy, Science and Technical Cooperation between the Governments of Russia and Mongolia was successfully held in Chita City of Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia on November 22-24, 2015. The Joint Commission meeting was led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Mr. Lundeg PUREVSUREN and the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, Mr. Sergey Yefimovich Donskoy. The parties exchanged views on broadening and developing the traditionally friendly relations between the two countries, enhancing bilateral economic ties in the fields of road and transportation, fuel and energy, industry, mining, construction and agriculture. Following the meeting, the Ministers signed the Protocol of the 19th Intergovernmental Committee meeting, reports the Press and Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia. ^ top ^

Mongolia joins the International Development Law Organization (InfoMongolia)
Mongolia joined the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) during its annual Assembly of Parties, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy in Rome on November 23-24, 2015. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Shijeekhuu ODONBAATAR, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Italian Republic, highlighted Mongolia's engagement with the international agenda, particularly in fostering partnerships among new and restored democracies, and working for peace and security in Northeast Asia and hailed IDLO's programming in Mongolia, which dates back to 1998 and continues to expand. Moreover, Honduras and Pakistan also joined IDLO with Mongolia this year, taking the number of Member Parties to 30. The International Development Law Organization was established in 1983 with sole goal to promote the rule of law around the world, and it is the only intergovernmental organization exclusively devoted to promoting the rule of law. IDLO is headquartered in Rome, and also one of its branch offices situated in Mongolia. ^ top ^


Mrs. Justine Anken
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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