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
  22-26.2.2016, No. 611  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents



^ top ^


Foreign Policy

THAAD deployment in ROK may threaten China's security interests: FM (Xinhua)
The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), an advanced U.S. missile defense system, in the Republic of Korea (ROK) may impair, or even threaten China's security interests, visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Thursday. The range of X-band radar associated with the THAAD system goes far beyond the Korean Peninsular and well into the interior of China, the Chinese minister said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank. "We believe China's legitimate security concerns must be taken into account" as the U.S. and ROK discuss the deployment of the defense system, he said. "A convincing explanation must be provided to China," the top Chinese diplomat said. "I don't think it's too much to ask. It's a reasonable position." The United States and the ROK started talks on THAAD after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and allegedly launched an Earth-observation satellite to test ballistic missile technology on Feb. 7 this year. In his speech, Wang reiterated China's principle of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the realization of the goal through negotiations. He said that Beijing and Washington have "far more common interests than areas of disagreement," adding that the two sides should boost strategic mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation and constructively manage differences to achieve greater progress in bilateral ties. Developing a strong China-U.S. relationship is in the interests of both sides and is in accordance with the aspirations of the international community, he said. The Chinese foreign minister, who arrived here Tuesday for a three-day official visit, also held meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Wednesday. ^ top ^

'A message to the US': Chinese missile frigate enters service in East China Sea (SCMP)
The Chinese navy has put into service a domestic-made advanced missile frigate in the East China Sea, upgrading the force's combat capabilities amid rising maritime tensions. Xiangtan, named after Mao Zedong's hometown, entered service with the East Sea Fleet on Wednesday in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province. The Type 054A frigate, which has a displacement of more than 4,000 tonnes, has long range surveillance and strong air defence capabilities, according to state news agency Xinhua. The news came a day after a senior US military official said China was “militarising” the South China Sea. Although the new ship will be stationed in the East China Sea, the high level of publicity granted to it was a response to recent diplomatic tussling with the US, said military analyst Ni Lexiong. China has deployed eight Type 054A frigates in the East China Sea, while another eight were sent to the South China Sea between 2007 and 2014. “The US destroyers' patrols in the South China Sea are seen as showing off and provocative,” said Ni. In recent months, two US guided-missile destroyers have sailed within 12 nautical miles of Chinese controlled islands in the South China Sea. Type 054A frigates can attack enemy ships and submarines alone or in coordination with other naval forces, Xinhua said. Their anti-submarine capabilities are particularly good, which is why they have previously been deployed to the South Sea Fleet – to act as a deterrent against the submarines of Vietnam and other Southest Asian countries, said naval expert Li Jie. “Xiangtan's dispatching to the East Sea Fleet is to fill the gap of defence in the East China Sea,” said Li. “It shows that China is speeding up the upgrade and renewal of warships.” China is involved in disputes with Japan over the Diaoyu islands – called the Senkakus by the Japanese – in the East China Sea. China has invested billions in building ships to meet the navy's growing demands. Its second aircraft carrier, and first domestically made one, is under construction and will have a standard displacement of 50,000 tonnes. The Pentagon said Beijing could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years. The PLA Navy has at least 12 advanced Type 052D missile destroyers, which have powerful offensive weaponry, and 22 Type 054A frigates, according to the magazine Kanwa Defence Review in Canada. China's military budget in 2015 was 886.9 billion yuan (HK$1,055 billion), up 10.1 per cent from a year earlier. Dong Qian, the captain of Xiangtan, said the crew had mastered the skills needed to control the frigate during more than a year of training and had completed a trial voyage. Xiangtan was also the name of an old Type 053H frigate, which participated in the battle for Johnson South Reef of the Spratlys with Vietnam in 1988. The ship was sold to Bangladesh in 1989. ^ top ^

ICBC calls for employees' release, questions legitimacy of bail denial (Global Times)
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) on Thursday called on Spanish authorities to release three employees of its Madrid branch who were allegedly involved in a money-laundering case. A spokesperson for ICBC told the Xinhua News Agency that it is hard to understand why a Spanish judge turned down the bail request from the three employees of the bank's Madrid office. According to Spanish criminal procedure, bail should be refused only if conditions the detainees may attempt to escape, commit new crimes or destroy evidence after being released, the spokesperson said. However, one of the detainees, the branch manager, went to Madrid after the investigation started. Another female employee returned to Madrid voluntarily to cooperate with the investigation from China. According to the spokesperson, Spanish authorities have taken away all the materials involved in the case during the raid on February 17, and there is no possibility for the detainees to destroy the evidence. In addition, one of the female detainees submitted medical records to the court before the investigation, and also has a young daughter to be taken care of. The Spanish authorities should respect the facts and guarantee the detainees' legitimate rights, the spokesperson said. ICBC is paying close attention to the case and will continue to cooperate with the investigation, the spokesperson said, adding that ICBC will also continue to improve its own anti-money laundering system. Spanish Civil Guards reportedly raided the Madrid offices of ICBC on February 17 as part of a joint operation against alleged money laundering by the Civil Guard and Spain's Anti-Corruption Attorney's Office. The raid was reported to be connected with a major police operation known as Operation Snake, which has seen over 65 searches carried out in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia since its launch in May 2015, and it has led to over 30 arrests, Xinhua said. ^ top ^

Climate of change: Chinese envoy Xie Zhenhua's decade at the forefront of global warming talks (SCMP)
He's not sure what the future holds but one thing from the past is certain: the deal sealed at last year's Paris climate summit was a high-water mark in his environmental career. Xie Zhenhua, 66, China's special representative for climate change, said yesterday the deal was not perfect but it was a “consummate ending” to his professional life. “I've taken part in climate change negotiations for about nine to 10 years. After all these years of negotiations, the monumental Paris agreement has drawn a satisfactory full stop to my... work in this field,” he said. In all, 195 nations signed the legally binding accord to limit greenhouse gas emissions as part of a push to cap rises in global temperature. Xie warned that the toughest part of the deal – its implementation – was still to come. But he was not sure how long he would continue on the front line of talks. “There are some uncertainties regarding where I will be in the future. It is all based on the country's need,” he said. Xie has been at the forefront of international climate negotiations since 2007, when he led the Chinese delegation during climate talks in Bali. That was shortly after he wrapped up two decades at the mainland's environmental watchdog to become a deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission. It was also around the time that China surpassed the United States to have the world's biggest greenhouse gas footprint, accounting for 24 per cent of global emissions. Much had changed since China took a back-seat role in the 2007 talks. […] Xie said his time at the NDRC taught him to view environmental issues from a broader perspective. “I used to be the chief of the [former] State Environmental Protection Administration and view problems only from the environmental perspective,” he said. “After joining the NDRC, which is a wide-reaching department that oversees social and economic development, I learned to put environmental issues in a bigger framework. “It was then that many problems seemed immediately a lot easier to solve. […] It's his broader outlook that also makes him cautious about assertions supported by some researchers and a top State Grid Corporation official that China's carbon emissions can peak by 2025. “Because there are many uncertainties in overall economic and social development, it is hard to predict how it will be,” he said. He warned that China had tougher work cut out for it in the decade ahead. “Improvements in the economy will reduce emissions. But the more it improves, the less potential there will be to do so. We weeded out most backward capacity during the 11th and 12th five-year plans, reducing emissions significantly,” Xie said. “But there is very little left to be phased out. Now what we've got is overcapacity. Some of them have very advanced technology. It's just that we don't need so much output.” He encouraged Hong Kong to join the mainland's carbon-trading market after the national system was launched in 2017. “Hong Kong's expertise in the financial industry and free-market operations can help the mainland build the carbon-trading market,” he said. ^ top ^

Can China seize its chance to set G20 agenda? (SCMP)
The gathering of G20 finance ministers and central bankers this week will offer a test of Beijing's ability to set the global agenda. While its image as a smart manager of the economy and markets has been tainted by its handling of the domestic stock rout and the yuan exchange rate, Beijing's ambition to make its mark in the group of the world's top 20 economies is undiminished. It is unlikely that any development on the scale of the 1985 Plaza Accord – an agreement between France, West Germany, Japan, the United States and Britain, to depreciate the US dollar in relation to the Japanese yen and German Deutsche Mark by intervening in currency markets – will occur at the Shangri-la Hotel in Shanghai. But China has other ways to make the meeting relevant to the world economy, perhaps by seeking new ways to buoy global growth, from infrastructure investment to green finance, researchers say. […] France's hosting work is widely regarded as key to the success in reaching a climate change deal at the end of last year. Preferences by the host country, in this case China, for what “should be talked about” could not be neglected, said Zhu, even though short-term turmoil in the financial markets threatened to steal the limelight. President Xi Jinping has said China's presidency of the G20 in 2016 is themed around moving towards an “innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy” – a topic rarely discussed over foreign exchange interventions or fiscal and monetary easing. Rather than argue over currency tensions, with little hope of Beijing and Washington agreeing, China might look at “solving a few targeted problems in the global economy where agreement is realistic, and building cooperation on longer-term issues of shared interest,” said Tristram Sainsbury, a research fellow at the G20 Studies Centre with the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney. It would be “damaging for the forum if G20 countries were to enter into concrete agreements that are not helpful for their domestic context and cannot be necessarily implemented,” Sainsbury added. When it hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2014, China tabled a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific proposal to give the gathering something concrete to discuss. In 2005 when China last hosted the G20 finance ministers, it inked a separate agreement, in addition to the regular communique, on reforming the Bretton Woods system. China managed to get what it wanted, including winning the yuan a symbolic status as an international reserve currency and gaining bigger voting rights, along with other countries like India, at the International Monetary Fund. Meanwhile, China as host will be able to shelve issues it doesn't like talking about, such as the yuan exchange rate. […] In 2010, China blocked a proposal by then US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, of capping trade imbalances to 4 per cent of GDP, from being included on the G20 agenda in South Korea. China had feared such a strict line would invite unnecessary restrictions on its exports. Even so, Lou and Zhou Xiaochuan, China's central bank governor, will need to explain China's economic and financial health to their counterparts. Beijing needs to restore confidence in its ability to govern the economy, said Scott Kennedy, a director at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “The angst and anxiety about China is so pervasive that this has to be addressed head on.” Even if the Shanghai meeting fails to bring a breakthrough in global policy coordination, it shouldn't be too heavy a blow to China's hunger for global influence. China's international clout and leadership depended on its pursuit of reform and growth, and its G20 performance was “a result, not the source”, of China's power, said Ren Kangyu, a professor with the G20 research centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University. “China knows that real power is never about a noisy conference, spectacular accommodations, fancy subjects or a lot of celebrity speakers,” Ren said. ^ top ^

US-China talks fail to ease tensions over South China Sea, but 'progress' made on North Korea nuclear test (SCMP)
China and the United States failed to contain tensions over the South China Sea during talks between their top diplomats, but made progress on a UN resolution over the North Korea nuclear crisis. Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State John Kerry said they did not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state and were close to an agreement on punishing the country and limiting its nuclear programme. “It has been very constructive in the last days and there is no question that if the resolution is approved, it will go beyond anything that we have previously passed,” Kerry said at a press conference with Wang on Tuesday. But the talks were overshadowed by South China Sea tensions, with reports suggesting China had deployed radar and missiles on islands in the disputed waters. Also on Tuesday, Admiral ­Harry Harris, the commander of US forces in the Pacific, told the US Senate China was “clearly militarising” the South China Sea and “you have to believe in a flat Earth to think otherwise”. US officials have previously claimed that China has sent ­Shenyang J-11 and Xian JH-7 war planes to the disputed Woody Island of the Paracels, and that it has deployed surface-to-air ­missiles there. On Cuartron Reef, one of the artificial islands in the Spratlys, China has reportedly installed an advanced radar system. “Regrettably there are missiles, fighter aircraft, guns, artillery and other things that have been placed in the South China Sea and this is of great concern to everyone who transits and relies on the South China Sea for peaceful trade and commerce,” Kerry said. But Wang said other claimants had deployed weapons on the islands they occupied, and that every day more advanced arms and equipment emerged in the sea “including strategic bombers and missile destroyers”. He said China was committed to non-militarisation and that all other claimants and the US should be, too. Two US destroyers have recently patrolled within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-controlled islands. The Pentagon said these operations were to exercise the right to freedom of navigation. Nina Hachigian, US ambassador to Association of Southeast Asian nations, said yesterday the US respected China's navigational rights, including its decision to sail a naval ship within 12 nautical miles of the Alaska coast last year, and that China should respect the rights of other countries. “We have conducted these operations around the globe since 1979 including in the South China Sea, and the South China Sea ­cannot be an exception,” said Hachigian. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said there was no dispute over ownership of the Paracels, so China could deploy what it wanted on its territory there. Analysts say the differences between China and the US in the South China Sea will not be resolved until the balance of power completely alters. China's strategic power was growing in the region through its land reclamation and military deployments, but it faced a long period of criticism by the international community as the US was setting the agenda, said Jin Canrong, a government foreign affairs adviser from Renmin University. “But being a superpower, China should learn to live with criticism,” said Jin. ^ top ^

China has deployed fighter aircraft at contested island in South China Sea, say US official (SCMP)
China has deployed fighter jets to the same contested island in the South China Sea where it has also sent surface-to-air missiles, US officials said. Fox News, citing two unnamed officials, said US intelligence services had spotted Chinese Shenyang J-11 and Xian JH-7 warplanes on Woody Island in the disputed Paracel Islands chain over the past few days. Navy Captain Darryn James, a spokesman for US Pacific Command, confirmed the report, but noted that Chinese fighter jets have previously used the island. Woody Island, which is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, has had an operational airfield since the 1990s, but it was upgraded last year to accommodate the J-11. “We are still concerned that the Chinese continue to put advanced arms systems on this disputed territory,” James said. The move was reported as US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in Washington. China confirmed last week it had placed “weapons” on Woody Island, defending what it said was its sovereign right to do so. A US official said China has deployed surface-to-air missiles on the island, which have a range of about 200 km. Wang had been scheduled to visit the Pentagon earlier on Tuesday, but the visit was cancelled due to a “scheduling conflict”, officials said. The Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies released satellite imagery on Monday showing what appeared to be a high-frequency radar installations under construction on an artificial island on Cuarteron Reef in the Spratlys chain. China's land reclamation and military buildup in the South China Sea have drawn international condemnation and the United States has said it will continue to sail through waters claimed by Beijing to exercise the right to freedom of navigation in international waters. ^ top ^

China installing new radar on Spratly Islands that could greatly boost control of South China Sea: US think tank (SCMP)
Recent satellite images show China may be installing a high-frequency radar system in the Spratly Islands that could significantly boost its ability to control the disputed South China Sea, a US think tank said on Monday. Military experts said the possible high-frequency radar system in the disputed area was capable of monitoring surface and air traffic from the Malacca Strait and other strategically important channels where US naval fleets usually appear, and aimed to collect information of the US navy's sea and air moves in the region. China wants to monitor and study US naval activities in the South China Sea, which would make the Americans, who have sailed through the region for decades, “very uncomfortable,” said a Beijing-based naval expert, who requested anonymity. The Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said the images showed that facilities being built on Cuarteron Reef, which China calls Huayang, were nearly complete and that the artificial island now covered an area of about 21 hectares. “Two probable radar towers have been built on the northern portion of the feature, and a number of 20-metre masts have been erected across a large section of the southern portion,” the report said, adding that these could be a high-frequency radar installation. The report, based on analysis of satellite images from January and February, said China already had significant radar coverage of the northern part of the South China Sea, given its mainland installations and in the Paracel Islands to the northwest of the Spratlys. It also pointed to “probable” radars on Gaven, Hughes and Johnson South Reefs in the Spratly as well as helipads and possible gun emplacements at the former two features. China's Ministry of Defence said the facilities China had established on the islands and reefs served civilian navigation and meteorological uses. “At the same time, we have deployed necessary defensive facilities on the islands,” the ministry said, adding the facilities were “legal and appropriate”. The Beijing-based naval expert said that detecting American stealth aircraft was just part of China's military goals in the South China Sea, while its main goal was to counter US naval domination in the strategic shipping channels in the region. The advancement of China's radar has raised concerns over the capabilities of the Chinese military. Last week, Yin Zhuo, a former Chinese Navy officer and military expert, told China's Central Television that the Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor, a fifth-generation stealthy fighter jet designed for the US air force, couldn't evade the country's radar detection when it flew to the East China Sea. However, Hong Kong-based military expert Liang Guoliang said that capability of identifying F-22 doesn't mean China was also able to challenge the all-weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft. “It's not clear that Chinese radar identified the F-22 during the day or night, and it's questionable that Chinese aircraft can trace and push the F-22 out when it turned on its supersonic and subsonic speeds.” The report comes a day before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to the US, at which American concerns about China's assertive territorial claims will be high on the agenda. ^ top ^

China welcomes Russia-U.S. agreement on Syria ceasefire plan (SCMP)
China on Tuesday welcomed a plan for a cessation of hostilities in Syria that the United States and Russia announced on Monday. The U.S. and Russia said in a joint statement that any party engaged in conflict in Syria will indicate to Russia or the U.S. their commitment to the ceasefire by no later than 12:00 (Damascus time) on Saturday. "The agreement indicates a willingness to convert consensus into action," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing. The cessation of hostilities can be traced back to a Feb. 12 meeting in Munich, Germany, of the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG), which comprises the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, and 17 countries including China. Hua said a ceasefire and an end to violence is an important part of the political process in Syria, adding that it can help to maintain progress and peace talks. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement. "It is a long-awaited signal of hope to the Syrian people that after five years of conflict there may be an end to their suffering," he said in a statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday called the ceasefire agreement "a real step" toward ending five years of bloodshed in Syria, Moscow and Washington will establish a hotline and, if necessary, a working group to exchange information after the cessation of hostilities has gone into effect, he said. U.S. President Barack Obama, in a telephone call with Putin on Monday, emphasized that the priority now was to ensure positive responses by the Syrian government and armed opposition as well as faithful implementation by all parties, the White House said. China hopes the ISSG will urge relevant parties to fully implement the concrete arrangement and create beneficial external conditions for the resumption of new Geneva talks on Feb. 25. A political settlement is the only solution to the Syrian issue, Hua said. China also hoped relevant parties can implement the UN Security Council 2254 Resolution and the joint communique of the fourth foreign ministers' meeting of the ISSG in Munich to maintain dialogue and negotiation momentum. The announcement of the ceasefire agreement came a day after five deadly bombings killed at least 150 people in central and southern Syria, marking one of the highest death tolls in a single day during the conflict. China strongly condemned the terrorist bombings and terrorism in any form, Hua said. ^ top ^

China's overcapacity problems complicate EU vote on market economy status: business group (SCMP)
European Union countries will find it difficult to grant market economy status to China because its efforts to achieve that transformation have fallen short, a Western business lobby says. A report on Monday by the European Chamber of Commerce in China said there were concerns within the bloc it was losing jobs to the Asian giant. The report said industrial overcapacity – which caused trade tensions with some EU companies ­- had worsened since 2009 and this was a problem that could not be solved by the “One Belt, One Road” initiative or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It required deep changes in the government and its approach to managing the economy, it said. “China has not managed to actually become a market economy as its leaders anticipated in 2001,” chamber president Joerg Wuttke said. The EU is about to review whether it should grant market economy status to China this year as part of Beijing's accession agreement to the World Trade ­Organisation. But the bloc's member countries are divided on the move, while the United States has opposed it, arguing the economy relies heavily on central organisation and government-set pricing. Wuttke said it was widely held inside the European Parliament that China was challenging jobs in Europe. He said concerns over job losses had fuelled protests in Brussels. A weakening yuan could give China's exports a boost, making it more difficult for the EU to reach a decision, he added. Overcapacity had led to growing trade tensions, for example, in the steel sector, the report said. China's steel exports to the EU rose 41 per cent in 2015 over 2014, while domestically, the utilisation rate – which measures how much capacity is used in production – fell to 67 per cent in 2015 from 80 per cent in 2008. Conferring market economy status on China would mean Chinese firms could have a better defence against allegations of anti-competitive trade behaviour. Wuttke said China's chances could be helped by developments later this year, such as the conclusion of an investment agreement between Europe and China. The chamber believes protectionism at the local government level is a main reason for China's growing overcapacity. Beijing should address the roots of overcapacity by reforming its fiscal system to give local governments more funding options, Wuttke said. ^ top ^

China almost doubles weapons exports over past five years, with Pakistan biggest buyer: think tank (SCMP)
China has almost doubled its weapons sales over the past five years, an international military think tank said yesterday, as the world's third-largest weapons exporter pours capital into developing an advanced arms manufacturing industry. At the same time, the nation's arms imports fell 25 per cent between 2011 and 2015 compared with the previous five years – indicating its growing competence in home-grown weaponry, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its latest report on international arms transfers. Mainland military analysts said China's military research and development push was yielding results after years of increasing spending, and exports would continue to grow as Beijing pressed on with plans to boost its defence industry. The analysts estimated that one-third of the country's military budget – which stood at 886.9 billion yuan (HK$1 trillion) last year, would go to weapon purchases and military R&D. The Sipri report said Chinese exports of major arms grew by 88 per cent in 2011-2015 compared with the previous five years. Its share of global arms exports rose from 3.6 per cent to 5.9 per cent, while the United States (33 per cent) and Russia (25 per cent) remain the dominant sellers worldwide. China supplied major arms to 37 countries, but three-quarters of these exports were to countries in Asia and Oceania, where Chinese arms exports were 139 per cent higher than in 2006-2010. Pakistan was the main recipient of Chinese exports, accounting for 35 per cent, followed by Bangladesh with 20 per cent and Myanmar 16 per cent, the report said. Three weeks before President Xi Jinping's (習近平) trip in July, Pakistan approved a US$5 billion deal to buy eight submarines from China, Reuters cited an unnamed Pakistani government official as saying. Experts said that deal would be China's largest single sale of submarines. Globally, flows of arms to Africa increased by 19 per cent between 2006-2010 and 2011-2015, and 26 per cent for Asia and Oceania. Exports to the Middle East were up 61 per cent over the period but there was a fall in arms sales to Europe and the Americas, the report said. Xu Guangyu (徐光裕), a retired general who is now a senior researcher at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said greater security risks and better economic conditions in Africa, Asia and the Middle East prompted countries in the region to stock up on arms. “On the one hand this means improving economies in these regions enabled countries to upgrade their military facilities,” Xu said. “On other hand, it means that countries in these regions need new weapons to face new security threats.” Retired colonel Yue Gang said many of the buyers were attracted to the Chinese weapons because of their lower cost and they could not afford Western arms. “Chinese weapons are well-known for their excellent quality and low price, which is very attractive to many small countries, especially less-developed nations who don't want to spend more on maintenance,” Yue said. But the Sipri report also said China remained partly dependent on imports for some key weapons and equipment, including large transport aircraft and helicopters, and engines for aircraft, vehicles and ships. China's largest supplier was Russia, which accounted for 59 per cent of Chinese imports, followed by France with 15 per cent and Ukraine with 14 per cent, the report said. ^ top ^

Chinese warships visit Cambodia (Xinhua)
Two Chinese guided-missile frigates docked at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on Monday for a five-day goodwill visit to Cambodia. Liuzhou and Sanya, the 21st Chinese naval escort task force, were led by Rear Admiral Yu Manjiang, commander of China's naval unit in the region, and political commissar Senior Colonel He Qingfeng, The two warships were warmly welcomed by Cambodian navy officials and Chinese embassy officials as well as Chinese company and community representatives in Cambodia upon their arrivals at the port. Speaking at a welcoming ceremony, Yu said it was the third time that Chinese naval ships visited Cambodia, but it was the first time that the Chinese warships made a port call in Cambodia. He recalled that the Zhenghe training ship visited Cambodia in 2008 and the Peace Ark hospital ship in 2013. "China and Cambodia are good partners and friends. Through this visit, it will further increase mutual trust and friendly relations between our two countries and also contribute to enhancing cooperation between the navies of the two countries," he said. During the visit in Cambodia, the Chinese naval delegation will hold talks with Cambodian navy and defense leaders as well as senior government officials in order to exchange views on bilateral relations as well as regional situation. Chinese and Cambodian naval personnel will conduct a rescue exercise and organize a friendly football match during the stay. Moreover, Chinese sailors will visit Cambodian communities in order to know about the Cambodian culture and people's daily lives. The Sihanoukville Autonomous Port is located in southwestern Cambodia's Preah Sihanouk province, which is the kingdom's largest coastal zone. The province was named after late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk. ^ top ^

China, Pakistan to facilitate pragmatic cooperation of OBOR (China Daily)
Chinese and Pakistani officials and experts on the "One Belt and One Road" initiative gathered on Friday during a visit to China Railway 17 Bureau Group Co. to exchange views and investigate on the potentials for strategic cooperation under the strategy. Zhao Baige, member of NPC Standing Committee, Deputy Director Commissioner of NPC Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairwoman of Advisory Committee of CASS-RDI introduced the prospects and opportunities of "One Belt and One Road". "We should follow a principle 'co-consulting, co-constructing and sharing' for the strategic cooperation of the 'One Belt and One Road' to promote the progress of China countries along the line", said Zhao, who urged to expand the cooperation with Pakistani in the industry by using the advantages of both sides. Zhao said the "One Belt and One Road" is by no means a strategy of China on its own. Instead, it connects the development of China with that of countries along the Silk Road and creates a community with common responsibilities and interests for the future. "When boosting the "One Belt and One Road" construction, both sides should fully explore their complementary strengths in various fields are expected to be fully explored, so as to expand the industrial cooperation" Zhao said. Saleem Mandviwala, expert of RDI China-Pakistan International Cooperation Committee, senator of Pakistan, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Investment and former undersecretary of Ministry of Finance introduced investment opportunities and environment. Mandviwala interpreted Pakistan's policy on "One Belt and One Road" and introduced both side's cooperation. ^ top ^

China to innovate permanent residence policy to attract foreign talent (Xinhua)
China will ease the permanent resident application process for foreigners and provide them with better services, in the hope of attracting more international talent. To ensure continued economic and social development, China must attract elite professionals from outside the country in a more open manner, said the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) in a statement on Thursday. China's permanent residence policy should be further improved, in light of the need for more foreign talent as well as the need of foreigners working in China to apply for the permits and lead a convenient life, said the statement. According to a circular issued on Thursday by the general offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, China will explore grading applicants' qualifications based on their salaries, taxes and social scores, and allow more entities to employ permit applicants. For foreigners working in fields with strong government support, conversion of work permits to permanent residence permits should be eased. Restrictions will be eased for outstanding overseas students to work in China, and they will be provided channels to apply for permanent residence, the circular said. The MPS has already implemented the pilot policy in Shanghai Technology Innovation Center and Beijing's Zhongguancun, which is often referred to as "China's Silicon Valley," according to the statement. The circular calls for permanent residence permits issued to overseas Chinese for reasons of working or visiting families in China. The circular also clarified that foreigners with permanent residence will enjoy equal treatment with Chinese citizens in purchasing property, education, obtaining a driver's license, and other areas of life. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Precise approach taken on poverty relief (China Daily)
New measures carried out as government seeks to end hardship for 70 million people by 2020 China will stage its largest annual political and legislative events - the "two sessions" - starting on March 3. China Daily takes a close look at a series of likely hot topics and catchphrases during the sessions. Today's catchphrase - Precise Poverty Alleviation: This basic concept, aimed at designing and guiding poverty relief policies, was introduced by the central government in late 2013. It sets precise targets for projects, the use of capital, and for end results to find the best solutions to eradicate poverty. Based on this guidance, the government compiled a national database to better analyze the number of people living in poverty. More precision projects have been arranged, money for poverty alleviation reallocated more effectively, and accomplishments seen more clearly. Meng Fansheng and his wife, who are both in their 60s and have health problems, used to live a meager existence in Changfeng county, Anhui province. Because of poor health, the couple are unable to work. Apart from a government allowance, they lived mainly on land transfer rent, and the family's annual net income was about 1,800 yuan ($293). But their living standards improved greatly in 2014, when a photovoltaic generator was installed in their house for free by the local government as part of a municipal project to expand the distribution of solar power panels to help alleviate poverty in rural areas. The program has not only given households free energy supplies, but has allowed them to sell surplus energy to the power grid. "We earn about 2,500 yuan each year, which is quite a big sum for our family," Meng said. The money is paid to him at the end of each year through his bank account, which was set up by the municipal government to prevent corruption among community officials. This is just one example of a local government exploring precise methods to alleviate poverty. On several occasions, China's top leaders have stressed that poverty alleviation is an important task in the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). In February, President Xi Jinping highlighted rural poverty relief when he made a pre-Spring Festival visit to Jinggangshan in Jiangxi province. […] China has completed the identification and registration of the poor population nationwide, identifying 128,000 impoverished villages, 30 million poor families and 70 million people. In December, the country's blueprint to tackle poverty was released, giving specific instructions for poverty reduction in the next five years. The blueprint states, "The goal will be the most arduous task on China's path toward building a moderately prosperous society." There should be ways to ensure that poor people in rural areas have access to food, clothing, basic education, medical care and safe homes by 2020, according to the document. Other government bodies, including education and financial departments, are required to join the campaign. Xiang Deping, director of Wuhan University's China Poverty Alleviation Development Academy, said, "It is important to improve education quality in impoverished regions to avoid chronic poverty." The government will improve financial policies and services to enable more impoverished farmers to obtain loans for business start ups. ^ top ^

Fund will help relocate workers (China Daily)
China will spend 100 billion yuan ($15.3 billion) over the next two years to relocate workers in steel, mining and other sectors suffering from overcapacity, officials from the nation's industry watchdog said on Thursday. The government is also trying to close a large number of nonprofitable State-owned enterprises, known as "zombie" companies, to curb production of steel, flat glass, cement and more materials amid weak demand, said Feng Fei, vice-minister of industry and information technology. "The 100 billion yuan fund, set up by the central government, is designed to help laid-off workers get new jobs by offering training and other services," he said at a news conference, adding that local authorities will play a key role in solving the layoff issue. The central government is more in favor of mergers and acquisitions instead of bankruptcies in eliminating zombie enterprises, Feng said. Because of sluggish foreign exports, China's industry output grew by 6.1 percent year-on-year last year, while the rate was 8.3 percent in 2014, according to Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology. Miao estimated that the growth rate this year will stay around 6 percent. "It will not be practical to pursue faster growth," he told the same news conference on Thursday. The minister said that besides encouraging growth of technology-intensive emerging sectors, eliminating surplus production capacity is a key to keeping industry readings on a healthy track. The worst-affected industries in China's industrial restructuring include coal, steel, cement and glass. As the country aims to cut crude steel production by 100 million to 150 million metric tons in the next five years, roughly half a million workers will need to find jobs elsewhere, according to an estimate from the China Iron and Steel Association. Some companies in sectors with overcapacity are making attempts to send workers to industries that are better off. Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group Co, an SOE that operates four major mines in Heilongjiang province, has relocated 22,500 workers to agriculture, timber and public service areas since November. Declining demand sank coal prices, leaving 90 percent of the mining companies losing money, according to Jiang Zhimin, deputy chief of the China National Coal Association. But skepticism remains. Gao Jianqiang, an instrument technician from a medium-sized steel factory in the inland industrial city of Lanzhou, said he does not put all his hopes in the government fund. "There are just too many factories that are not doing well. One-hundred billion yuan sounds like a huge sum, but I do not think it will solve problems for everyone," said the 45-year-old. The factory Gao works for lost 7 billion yuan last year. Gao said some of his colleagues will be hired by a subway company after the city's first underground railway line opens in two years. He said he had no idea whether he will be able to find a new job. ^ top ^

Blue book reveals unbalanced regional growth (China Daily)
A competitive index released on Thursday revealed unbalanced economic development across different regions and provinces in China. The Blue Book of China's Provincial Competitiveness (2014-15), an annual report compiled by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, calculated a competitive score and found remarkable gaps in the eastern, central, western and northeast regions. "High quality public resources are mainly concentrated in the economically developed regions," said Pan Jiahua, director of the Institute of Urban and Environmental Studies at the CASS. "The resources in the eastern region should be transferred to the central and western regions on a large scale." In the report, researchers from Fujian Normal University and Management World magazine weighed nine crucial indexes including the macroeconomic strength, industrial economic strength, sustainable development and government function of 31 provincial regions. The eastern region was the most competitive, with a rating of 48.8. Eight out of 10 provinces in the eastern region ranked at the upper level nationwide. The western region, with a rating of 33 points, lagged far behind. A majority of western provinces ranked at the lower level on a national scale; however, the western region narrowed the gap by 0.58 points in 2014, indicating an increase of competitiveness. Its competitive disadvantage was also reduced when compared with the central region, which was at 37.8 points. However, the competitiveness of the northeast region declined in 2014 to 36.6 points. Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces were at the lower level of competitiveness in 2013 and 2014. Although Liaoning province ranked at the upper level, its ranking dropped from eighth in 2013 to ninth in 2014, and its competitiveness score saw the largest decline (-2.41 points) among all 31 provincial regions. Overall economic competitiveness was highest in Guangdong, Jiangsu, Beijing, Shanghai and Zhejiang, while the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai and the Tibet autonomous region ranked the bottom five on the list. "If the authorities don't readjust the pattern of national resources, it will be almost impossible for the central and western regions to improve their competitiveness to the level of the eastern region," Pan said. ^ top ^

Lawyer behind illegal religious protests: police (Global Times)
Police in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, said that Beijing lawyer Zhang Kai was the organizer of a series of illegal gatherings involving religious believers, local media reported Thursday. A report by, a news site run by official newspaper Wenzhou Daily, stated that Zhang has assembled over 10 illegal gatherings in Wenzhou since July 2015, in which religious believers paraded in public places while holding crosses. Police found that Zhang had been using his identity as a lawyer and a Christian to draw in religious believers and had distorted facts, claiming the local government removed unauthorized structures as part of a crackdown on Christianity. Within a month, he won the trust of over 100 local churches and earned between 5,000 ($765) and 30,000 yuan in legal fees from each institution, totaling some 2 million yuan. After Zhang's arrest in August 2015, police reported Zhang confessed that he had used financial aid from overseas organizations to make three trips to Western countries since 2009 in order to learn how to hype up cases. The organizations would then record the cases he provided in China's human rights report in a bid to tarnish China's image. Zhang said that he was promised that if he was arrested, he would be rescued through diplomatic channels and helped to flee abroad. "Cases involving religion are highly sensitive. By hyping up these cases, I could gain overseas funds easily while raising my reputation," he said. US Secretary of State John Kerry called for the release of Zhang in 2015. ^ top ^

Chinese legislators deliberate seabed exploration, NPC agenda (Xinhua)
The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) convened its bimonthly session Wednesday, deliberating legislation on deep sea exploration and the agenda for the fourth annual session of the 12th NPC. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over the opening meeting. The draft law on deep seafloor resource exploration, submitted for a second reading, stresses that the activity should feature the principles of peaceful use and cooperation. The draft reads exploration and development should protect the maritime environment and safeguard the common interests of mankind. China is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that international seabeds and their resources are the common property of mankind. According to the draft, the nation will protect the rightful interests of Chinese citizens and organizations in their exploration of deep seafloor resources and deep sea surveys. A report presented by the NPC law committee said legislation is necessary to ensure sustainable exploitation. Also deliberated were a work report by the NPC Standing Committee and a State Council report following the inspection of vocational education, delivered by Minister of Education Yuan Guiren. According to Yuan, China's vocational education has received increased government support following a survey by the top legislature last year that exposed weaknesses in the system. By December, all provincial governments in China had set a budgeted amount of spending for each student at vocational colleges and allocated the money to colleges accordingly, Yuan said. To prepare for the NPC annual session next month, legislators also deliberated draft lists of the presidium and general secretary for the annual session as well as those who will sit as observers. In addition, legislators reviewed the qualifications of several NPC deputies as well as appointments and dismissals during Wednesday's meeting. The Fourth Session of the 12th NPC will begin in Beijing on March 5. ^ top ^

Chinese Communist Party's propaganda departments targeted in graft review (SCMP)
It's the turn of the Communist Party's top propaganda departments to come under the scrutiny of the party's internal disciplinary inspection process. The anti-graft agency announced the target of its latest review yesterday, just days after President Xi Jinping's rare high-profile tour of top party mouthpieces where he delivered a keynote directive on state media's propaganda work. The Central Publicity Department, and the government censor – the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television – along with 30 other ministries and government agencies will be reviewed during the year's first round of inspection tours, according to the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection. Since the revolutionary days, the party has stressed that “the gun barrels and the pen holders” were the two most important elements to staying in power. Xi kicked off a massive campaign to overhaul the People's Liberation Army last autumn. Propaganda work is under the portfolio of ideological tsar Liu Yunshan, the fifth ranking Politburo Standing Committee leader. The propaganda department, an organ of the party instead of the government, ranks higher than any ministry in the State Council. Inspection tours have been labelled a key weapon in the party's sweeping anti-corruption campaign. However, tours in the past year have focused on political loyalty. The ideology and cultural departments will be reviewed on whether they are in line with Xi's two landmark speeches on ideology and propaganda, said anti-graft chief Wang Qishan yesterday in a meeting kicking off the new round of inspection exercise. One speech, delivered two years ago, was devoted to literature and art. He urged artists to create works that were not just artistically outstanding but also politically inspiring. It was described by many, including state media, as an imitation of Mao's Zedong's speech in 1942. The second speech came on Friday, after Xi finished his tour of the three main mouthpieces. They were told to remain aligned with the party's central leadership. Apart from the propaganda system, other departments would also be inspected for their implementation of policies made by the central leadership, CCDI said. “All problems found by the inspecting tours since the 18th Party Congress all stemmed from faith that was not firm enough, or indecisive implementation of policies by the central leadership,” Wang was quoted as saying in the CCDI's statement. Economic regulators will be examined for adhering to the mindset of the central leadership on macro and micro economics; the civil affairs departments will be reviewed on its implementation of policies to fight poverty. The implementation of central policies was also stressed in a separate meeting chaired by Xi yesterday. Those who did not attach enough importance to policies from the central leadership, and those who implemented the policies incompletely should be held responsible, Xinhua reported, quoting the meeting of the leading group on comprehensive reforms. ^ top ^

Gay TV series reportedly removed from several video streaming sites (Global Times)
A popular gay-themed online drama was not available on its broadcast platform on Monday, once again sparking public debate over Chinese society's acceptance of the LGBT community. A search for Addiction - a 15-episode series about love between two teenage boys - returned no results on video streaming website, which previously broadcast the series. The public relations department of Tencent, the website's parent company, refused to comment on the alleged removal when reached by the Global Times. Though the page for Addiction on streaming site could still be viewed, the video page could not be opened. Comments left by viewers showed that the series has been unavailable since Monday. The show, which debuted on January 29, remained the second most-viewed TV series on as of press time. "There's no reason. It's a result of the broader context," Chaijidan, writer of the series, told news outlet on Tuesday. Another TV show based on a novel by Chai has also been removed. Online discussions on Sina Weibo hashtagged "removal of Addiction" have received over 110 million hits as of press time. Though there has been no official announcement of the removal, speculation runs high that the series' gay themes and sexually explicit dialogue might be the triggers. About 95 percent of 13,000 Net users voted against the removal in an online poll launched by the Chengdu Committee for the Well-being of the Youth, a government-supported social organization based in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. In the same poll, 281 Net users voted that "it is inappropriate for children to watch gay videos." The number of gay-themed films and videos made and watched in China has increased in recent years as the topic has gained increasing attention and popularity, though many of the videos are removed as supervision of such films has strengthened online, LGBT documentary filmmaker Fan Popo told the Global Times. Fan's 2012 documentary on how parents react to their children coming out as gay was also removed from the Internet in December 2014. ^ top ^

China's looming pensions crisis: Public urged to pay longer into scheme amid impending funding shortfall (SCMP)
China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security has urged the public to pay into their pensions after the minimum 15-year contribution is completed, saying it is “worthwhile” amid a looming pensions crisis, according to a newspaper report. The ministry is working on incentive policies for pension contributors to make sure those who pay more will receive higher pensions when they retire, the National Business Daily reported. Employees pay about 8 per cent of their monthly salary into an individual pension account each month. Their employers pay about 20 per cent of each person's monthly salary in a central pension fund, according to Chinese regulations. Employees are entitled to pension benefits after retirement if they have made contributions for at least 15 years. They receive payments from their individual account and the public fund, but how much they get depends on government regulations when they retire. Because of a severe funding shortage – with some analysts estimating that the cash shortfall could rise to as much as US$11 trillion in the next 20 years – as well as the central government's decision to gradually raise the retirement age over the next five years, many pension payers have started to feel concerned they may not get back what they have paid in. An unnamed official from the ministry was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “An individual will get higher pension payment if he or she pays longer and pays more into the fund.” The ministry said relatives were entitled to inherit pension payments if a pensioner died before he or she received back all their payment, but whether the relatives would be entitled to inherit from the public fund, and how much, was still being studied. ^ top ^

Outspoken Chinese tycoon comes under fire for attacking Xi Jinping's lecture to the media (SCMP)
An outspoken tycoon has come under fire for his comments about Chinese President Xi Jinping's exhortation to media last week that it must show absolute loyalty to the Communist Party. Ren Zhiqiang, who stepped down from his Hua Yuan Property company in 2014, said on Weibo shortly after Xi toured Xinhua, People's Daily and CCTV on Friday that the media should serve the people. Ren stressed that the news outfits were funded by taxpayers' money, and so should serve the public, rather than the leadership. On Monday morning, a news site affiliated with the Beijing municipal party committee said Ren was spreading “anti-Communist Party” thought. Ren represented capitalism that sought to topple the party's rule and establish Western-style constitutionalism on the mainland, said the commentator on Controlling the media through capital ownership was a crucial part of their plan, it said, adding that the tycoon, who is a party member, had “completely” lost his party spirit. With more than 37 million followers, Ren is a popular figure on social media, where he is known as "Cannon" for his critical and often controversial comments about a host of issues, including housing and income inequality. He has a reputation for being an unapologetic supporter of the market economy, arguing that poor people are poor because they couldn't or didn't want to invest in property in the past. During his tour of the leading state media outlets, Xi said all news media run by the party must speak for the party's will and protect its authority and unity. “All news media run by the party bear the surname of 'party',” Xi said. Ren addressed the president's speech in two posts on his Weibo account. “When does the people's government turn into the party's government? [Are the media] funded by party membership dues? Don't waste taxpayers' money on things that do not not provide them with services.” He also wrote: “Are there two opposite camps now? When all media have surnames and do not represent public interests, the people will be forgotten and abandoned!” The posts have since been deleted. Ren remains outspoken even after other Weibo celebrities, including real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi and venture capitalist Lee Kai-fu curtailed their activities online since a crackdown in 2013. ^ top ^

Xi's speech on news reporting resonates with domestic outlets (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping's speech at a symposium on news reporting and public opinion on Friday has generated discussions across domestic media outlets. According to Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the Party's media work should guide the public, serve the country's overall interests, unite the general public, instill confidence and pool strength, tell right from wrong and connect China to the world.h Xi delivered the speech following his visits to the People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television, the country's three major news providers. The People's Daily, in one of its two commentaries published since Sunday said Xi had directed the route along which the journalism industry should develop, and provided fundamental principles to follow. The article said that media outlets run by the Party and the government must follow the party's leadership, reflect the Party's will, and be the mouthpiece of the party and the people. The Overseas Edition of the People's Daily said in an article Monday that Xi's speech has clearly defined the responsibilities and missions of news reporting in a new era. Meanwhile, Xinhua News Agency published commentaries on three consecutive days expounding Xi's speech, vowing to stick to the CPC's leadership and focus on positive coverage. Following the Party's leadership was the fundamental principle for journalism, Xinhua said, adding the Party's leadership over the media would never change despite the development of time and transformation of media patterns. Guangming Daily, another major media outlet, called the speech a source of encouragement in a front-pate commentary on Monday. It said the speech signalled historic opportunities for journalists, and it called on them to pay attention to the political direction of their articles in addition to truthfulness of details. News outlets lauded Xi's speech regarding their role in the realization of the Chinese dream. Guangming Daily said news reporting and public opinion work is closely related to the party's mission and has played an important role in the construction of the People's Republic of China. The newspaper said while the nation was deepening overall reform, news media should guide public opinion to rally support for achieving the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the nation. The view was echoed by the People's Daily, which said positive coverage should dominate reporting, and unity, stability and encouragement should feature prominently in stories. The People's Daily added to realize the Chinese dream, news media must create a public opinion that is conducive to sticking to the party's leadership and socialism, to promoting reform and development, to enhancing national unity, and to maintaining social harmony and stability. Acknowledging public opinion serves as an important force that impacts on social development, Xinhua called on journalists to study Xi's speech and play their part in improving the news reporting and public opinion guidance capability of the party's news media, thus, providing strong spiritual force for the realization of the Chinese dream. Calling for new concepts, content and methods, Xi told media groups to make use of new media's edge in publicity, amplify their voices on the international stage, tell stories about China well and build flagship media groups with strong global influence. The requirements demonstrated that the CPC Central Committee commanded deep understanding of news communication rules and media development trend, according to an article released by Xinhua. Official new outlets must tell Chinese stories well to the outside world and make the Chinese voice better heard, Xinhua said. "There are so many voices about Tibet worldwide, thus, we are required to write quality work with thought and warmth, showing the world the prosperity of new Tibet and reflecting the success of the central authorities' governing and the new life of people living in Tibet," said Dorje Dramdui, deputy head of Xinhua's branch in Tibet Autonomous Region. The Overseas Edition of the People's Daily said in an article on Saturday that Xi's speech raised an important issue: how a nation's image should match its strength. Zhao Suisheng, a professor with the University of Denver, told the Overseas Edition of the People's Daily that Xi had raised new requirements for Chinese media, suggesting they report on China's achievements of reform and opening up and its stories of tackling difficulties in development. ^ top ^

China's new securities chief Liu Shiyu is a natural choice for the job, say analysts (SCMP)
The appointment of Liu Shiyu as the new head of the mainland's securities regulator, after months of turmoil in the nation's stock markets, came as a surprise to many, but the chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China is a natural choice for the role, according to analysts. The China Securities Regulatory Commission has had seven chairman before Liu and six had previously worked in state banks. Shang Fulin, the longest serving chairman in the regulator's history, was also the head of the Agricultural Bank of China before he took on the role. Liu's experience as a former vice governor at the central bank also stood him in good stead. Hi predecessor at the securities regulator, Xiao Gang, had also worked as a vice governor at the People's Bank of China, as had the head of the agency before him, Guo Shuqing. […] The top position at the securities regulator is usually taken by bankers rather than officials with experience working at brokerages, said Zuo. It is seen as essential that regulators “keep a certain distance” from those working in the field they oversee, she said. “A regulator, ideally, shouldn't have a lot of friends in the field he watches – he should act like a cat ready to catch every sly mouse,” she said. Liu, a graduate from the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing, worked at the People's Bank of China for 18 years. He also worked for Zhu Rongji when the former premier was mayor of Shanghai. He is experienced in managing financial risks as he was a key official in cleaning up the country's urban credit cooperatives. He was also current central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan's deputy in reforming China's state banks in the early 2000s when most state lenders, including the Agricultural Bank of China, were suspected to be technically insolvent. Liu faces huge challenges in his new role, according to analysts. His priorities will include restoring investor confidence, streamlining regulatory procedures for the listing of new companies without flooding bourses with new shares, plus opening up China's stock market to foreign firms and investors. Benny Mau Ying-yuen, the chairman of the Hong Kong Securities Association, said the new appointment was unlikely to affect moves to increase cooperation between mainland bourses and the Hong Kong stock market. “There will only be more and more mutual market connections between Hong Kong and the mainland,” he said. Agricultural Bank of China was not entirely free of controversy during Liu's term in charge. The bank announced in late January that its Beijing branch was handling a “serious risk incident” involving 3.9 billion yuan (HK$4.6 billion). Suspects in the case include two employees who allegedly misused commercial paper transactions to get money from the bank to speculate in share-related financial funds. Liu is said by observers to be a serious man and highly attuned to financial risks, but has on occassions shown a sense of humour in public. Liu, then a vice governor of the central bank, was scheduled to speak at a forum two years, but when he got on the podium he took out at printed speech and exclaimed to the audience, “Damn, I've got the wrong document! I was told to speak on internet finance, but I was in such a hurry this morning I grabbed the wrong report. Never mind.” He then delivered a half-hour speech warning of the risks surrounding wealth management financial products. ^ top ^

China outlines roadmap to build better cities (Xinhua)
Chinese central authorities on Sunday issued guidelines on urban development, two months after leaders met for the Central Urban Work Conference and promised to make China's sprawling cities more livable, efficient and green. The document, from the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, set the basic principles, key tasks and targets for future urban development and management, aiming to ensure that cities are "orderly constructed, properly developed, and efficiently operated". The last time China held a meeting like the Central Urban Work Conference was in 1978, when only 18 percent of the population lived in cities. That had increased to 56.1 percent by the end of 2015. Urbanization in the past few decades has brought about significant social and economic changes in China, spawning problems including traffic jams, pollution and compromised public safety. Such urban ills have provoked public ire, putting pressure on city planners to find solutions. Chen Zhenggao, minister of housing and urban-rural development, said Sunday's document was drafted based on careful research by its ministry and 29 other related departments. The guidelines said China will limit cities from growing beyond the means of their natural resources and environment. Currently, Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities all have populations exceeding 20 million. Cities like Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen each have more than 10 million. Priority will be given to the protection of farmland, while land for construction use will be "properly allocated". The country plans to take around five years to inspect and clear up illegal construction. It also called for city planners to differentiate cities with urban landscape based on local characteristics. Aside from the exterior of buildings, factors including resource and energy conservation as well as environmental protection should also be taken into account in the process of designing and constructing, the guidelines said. As part of efforts to provide low-income urban residents with affordable housing, China aims to complete renovation of rundown urban areas and dilapidated housing by 2020. China will also improve urban planning and construction of infrastructure, both underground and overground. Construction standards and project quality will be raised, the guidelines said. To ease traffic jams in the cities, China looks to expand public transport network such as buses and railways. By 2020, China aims to raise the penetration of public transport to 40 percent in megacities, 30 percent in big cities and 20 percent in medium- and small cities. Efforts will be intensified to cut pollutant emission in the cities with increasing supply of clean fuel to improve energy structure, the document said. It also called for developing smart cities through various Internet technologies, such as big data and cloud computing, aiming to upgrade urban management and services. ^ top ^

Xi instructs media to follow Party's lead (Global Times)
Speaking in a symposium Friday afternoon after touring China's three leading news providers, the People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television, Xi, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, called Party- and government-run news outlets the "publicity fronts" of the Party and the government. All news media run by the Party must work to speak for the Party's will and its propositions and protect the Party's authority and unity, Xi said. They should enhance their awareness to align their ideology, political thinking and deeds with those of the CPC Central Committee and help fashion the Party's theories and policies into conscious action by the general public while providing spiritual enrichment to the people, he said. Marxist journalism education must be promoted among journalists, Xi added, to make them "disseminators of the Party's policies and propositions, recorders of the time, promoters of social advancement and watchers of equality and justice." Xi said the mission of the Party's media work is to provide guidance for the public, serve the country's overall interests, unite the general public, instill confidence and pool strength, tell right from wrong and connect China to the world. To do so, Xi continued, they should also stick to guiding public opinion on the correct path in every aspect and stage of their work. According to Xi, managing journalism and publicity is "crucial for the Party's path, the implementation of Party theories and policies, the development of various Party and state causes, the unity of the Party, the country and people of all ethnic groups, as well as the future and fate of the Party and the country." "Truthfulness is the life of journalism, and the facts must be reported based on the truth," Xi said. "While accurately reporting individual facts, journalists must also grasp and reflect the overall situation of an event from a broad view." Xi on Friday morning visited the People's Daily, the organ of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and sent greetings for the coming Lantern Festival to netizens through the newspaper's social media platforms. "The traditional Chinese festival, the Lantern Festival, is approaching, I'm sending festival greetings to wish everyone good health, smooth work and a happy family!" Xi said in an audio message he recorded while inspecting the new media center of the People's Daily, and sent it out via the newspaper's Weibo, WeChat and mobile app platforms. The message became an instant hit on China's social media; the Weibo post of the People's Daily about it was forwarded more than 12,000 times within two hours, with more than 21,000 likes. The Lantern Festival, which will fall on Monday, is the 15th day of the lunar new year and traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year holidays. When visiting the People's Daily Online's studio on Friday morning, Xi used an online video platform to talk with reporters who were covering poverty relief efforts in a village in Ningde, Fujian Province. ^ top ^



Beijing plans more subways, roads to ease congestion (China Daily)
Beijing is planning more subways and roads, including a new ring road, to address its traffic problems, the city's traffic authority said. By 2020, the megacity of 21 million people will add 220 kms (136 miles) of roads and highways 100 kms (62 miles) of highways, and connect existing roads to form a "third-and-half ring road" between the third and fourth ring roads, the city's commission of transport told Xinhua. The city's 554-km urban rail network will be extended by about 350 kms (217 miles). Biking will also be encouraged as a greener way of commuting, with 3,200 kms (1,988 miles) of cycle lanes and at least 100,000 bicycles for rent by 2020. "The priority will be biased toward biking and walking," said Rong Jun, spokesman of the commission. "The city will create a safe, convenient and comfortable environment for cyclists and pedestrians." Traffic jams have prompted Beijing to limit the number of vehicles, encourage public transport and restore the popularity of bicycles, the once dominant vehicles on Chinese roads whose lanes are now commonly occupied by automobiles as a result of increased car ownership. Beijing also plans to follow a national guideline to build a dense network of narrow roads. Big cities in China usually feature wide yet loosely-distributed roads, which experts say are inefficient and unfriendly to pedestrians. ^ top ^

Would you swap Hong Kong for Beijing? Capital to offer talented Hongkongers chance to settle in capital permanently (SCMP)
Hongkongers who qualify through a talent scheme will be able to permanently settle in Beijing and apply for household registration from next month, under measures announced by the Ministry of Public Security yesterday. The policy, which takes effect on March 1, makes “special talents” and their families from Hong Kong and Macau eligible for permanent residency and Beijing household registration, which will grant them access to social welfare services, Xinhua reported. Meanwhile, foreign “high-level talents”, “innovative and entrepreneurial talents” and Hong Kong and Macau “high-level talents” who hold permanent residency or work residence permits, will be allowed to bring foreign domestic helpers to the capital. On the mainland, the phrases “special talents” or “high-level talents” usually refer to senior managers and professionals with significant experience in high-tech industries. The city's Human Resources and Social Security Bureau determines whether an overseas talent is qualified. The measures were among 20 announced by the ministry as part of Beijing's efforts to support innovative development. Beijing's Zhongguancun Science Park, a high-tech hub, will pilot the policies. Some Hongkongers working in Beijing were unimpressed by the move. “I am here because Beijing offers better job opportunities, permanent residency is a not a significant factor to make me stay,” said George Yue Hong-chu, who has been working in Beijing in technology and operation management for eight years. Yue had no plans to stay permanently as he said it was difficult to integrate into the local culture, while pollution was also a concern. “Permanent residency may offer some benefits in medical and other areas, but these are not enough to attract me to stay for a very long time,” he said. Tomy Chan Joon-sheng, founder of Beijing-based bicycle accessory start-up Bikiros, doubted his family would benefit from permanent residency. “I prefer sending my son to international school. I think we will not enjoy the medical benefits as we don't go to public hospitals. The main reason I am staying is opportunity for work,” he said. Eddy Kwan King-hung, from EK Immigration Consulting in Hong Kong, said Hongkongers working as senior executives on the mainland might not find local medical or educational services attractive, because most preferred international hospitals, clinics and schools. But if obtaining household registration enabled Hongkongers to enter industries that were previously restricted, some businessmen might found it attractive. ^ top ^



Shenzhen police detain 50 foreigners for drug use (Global Times)
Fifty foreigners were among 95 people detained by police in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province for suspected drug use, authorities announced. A total of 491 people who gathered around an overpass culvert north of Shenzhen were taken away by Shenzhen police, who received a tip Sunday morning, the city's Internet Information Office announced on its Sina Weibo account on Monday. Urine tests showed 118 of them were tested positive for drugs, and most of them had used marijuana, said the announcement. Two suspected drug dealers were also arrested in Shenzhen's Shekou district through information provided by the alleged drug users. Their nationality was not revealed. The number of foreigners detained for alleged drug-related offenses last year has risen as a result of a police crackdown and deeper international collaboration, Liu Yuejin, vice commissioner of China National Narcotics Control Commission, said at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday. A total of 1,927 foreigners were arrested and 13 tons of drugs were seized in 2015. The suspects came from 39 countries, including Myanmar, Vietnam, Nigeria and Pakistan, according to the 2015 China Drug Situation Report. Foreign drug dealers usually obtain Chinese visas by posing as students or refugees, and then sell drugs in China with other compatriots. If they get deported, they change their identity and reapply for a visa, returning to China to continue their trade, news website reported in 2014. ^ top ^



250 bilingual kindergartens to be built in Tibet region (Global Times)
A total of 250 bilingual kindergartens will be set up in rural areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region by 2020, making bilingual education available throughout in the region. Regional government will increase the gross enrollment ratio in preschool education to 80 percent during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), the Tibet Business Daily reported on Wednesday. The regional authorities also guaranteed that all schools will feature instruction in two languages, Tibetan and Putonghua. The ratio between 2015 and 2016 was 61.49 percent, according to data released by the region's education department. Regional authorities pledged to improve preschool education, accelerate the opening of new bilingual schools in cities, as well as agricultural and pastoral areas. "We will hire and train more teachers who are fluent in both Tibetan and Chinese, and promote exchanges between teachers in rural areas and cities," an official in charge of elementary education at the department was quoted by the Tibet Business Daily as saying. A total of 1,000 teachers for bilingual education and disciplines that lack faculty will be trained. At present, there are 87,951 students in 882 kindergartens with 4,118 teachers in Tibet, the department said. ^ top ^

Tibetans appeal verdict of inciting separatism (Global Times)
Two Tibetans, including a monk, have appealed a Qinghai court sentence after being found guilty of inciting to split the country, the court's deputy head said Tuesday. Gomar Choephel, a monk from the Longwu Monastery, filed an appeal on Monday after being sentenced to two years in jail by the Intermediate People's Court of the Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, according to Wu Yunyue, the court's deputy head. He was found guilty of collecting and circulating pictures, including photos of the Tibetan flag, also known as the "Snow Lion Flag," and of the Dalai Lama on the Internet on April 2 and 7, 2015, which "have undermined China's national unity, disturbed the social order and endangered social stability," Wu told the Global Times, citing the verdict. Wu denied a report from Radio Free Asia Monday that Choephel was convicted on two charges. Police detained him on July 10, 2015 and arrested him on August 28, according to the verdict. In a separate case, Druklo, or Shokjang as he is known by his pen name, filed an appeal immediately after he was sentenced to three years, Wu said. He was detained on March 30, 2015 and arrested on May 30 for viewing and forwarding posts containing images and text which "disturbed the social order, and incited and deluded people," on Sina Weibo and WeChat's Moments, a social-networking function similar to Facebook's timeline on March 6, 7 and 16 last year, read his verdict. Those who post, copy and circulate books, text, pictures, audio and video containing religious extremism and terrorism on the Internet are considered guilty of inciting a split in the country, according to a guideline jointly issued by the Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security in September 2014, the Beijing Times reported. ^ top ^



On-arrival visas issued to foreign visitors in Xinjiang border town (Global Times)
Foreign citizens visiting China for business or pleasure can enter the country by obtaining a visa on arrival at the border city of Khorgas in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as of February 18. The border checkpoint is the first border crossing in northwestern China where arrival visas are available, reported, a news portal under the administration of the local government of the regional capital, Urumqi. The visa-on-arrival policy can apply to foreigners who require emergency entry to China, including those invited to the country on urgent business or to perform rush repair work. The policy can also apply to tourist groups. According to an official with the management committee of the Khorgas border checkpoint, the on-arrival visa can be issued within 12 hours and will allow recipients to stay in China for 7 to 30 days, depending on the type of visa an individual requests. Previously, a foreign citizen entering China via Khorgas had to have been invited to China three months in advance. They also needed to apply for a visa at their local Chinese embassy or consulate, a process which would take at least a month. The new policy has greatly shortened the waiting time, providing great convenience for foreign citizens, businessmen and scholars in Central Asia. It can also promote the development of tourism and business in Khorgas, the report said. Khorgas has established two offices in the city and at the border crossing to issue on-arrival visas to foreigners. ^ top ^

Xinjiang cotton at crossroads of new Silk Road (China Daily)
The Youngor cotton spinning factory is one of the biggest employers in Aksu, an agricultural town on the edge of the Taklamakan desert in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Youngor, one of China's largest shirtmakers, opened the plant in 2011 to be closer to the main cotton-growing region in the Xinjiang region. Soon it will be joined by others: China wants to create 1 million textile jobs in Xinjiang by 2023. According to the regional government's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), Xinjiang will become a key hub for textile production. It will also extend the industry chain from cotton spinning to making garments. By 2020, Xinjiang is expected to produce about 500 million garments annually and create more than 600,000 jobs. Aksu, in southern Xinjiang, will become one of three textile cities in the region, the plan for 2016-2010 said. It also will encourage residents to start their own textile workshops to make traditional ethnic clothing and carpets. Xinjiang fits into Beijing's larger vision of shifting labor-intensive industries such as textiles out of the Pearl River Delta and into the interior. China is putting less value on being "the world's workshop" amid labor shortages and competitive pressures from Southeast Asia. The textile hub is also a key initiative in President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to link development from western China to Central Asia and onward to Europe. "We must promote employment as a permanent cure to maintain social stability and achieve long-lasting peace, and particularly solve the unemployment problem for people in southern Xinjiang," a 2014 official document stated, outlining a massive expansion of Xinjiang's textile industry. Xinjiang, which is home to more than half of China's Muslims, has always been China's front line on religious extremism that is blamed for terrorist attacks in the region in recent years. The regional government believes employment and better education can help young people stay away from such extremism. Almost all of the 520 employees at the Youngor factory are from the Uygur ethnic group. The average factory floor salary is around 3,000 yuan ($456) a month, and comes with food and lodging. That compares to roughly 4,000 yuan for textile workers in the southern China factory belt. "There are still a lot of people to come out of (Xinjiang's) countryside," said Xu Zhiwu, general manager at Youngor's Aksu factory, referring to government data that show 2.6 million rural residents sought work in Xinjiang's cities in 2014. Xinjiang Youngor Cotton Spinning, a unit of Youngor Group, is planning to expand its factory, built among apple orchards on Aksu's outskirts, Xu said. Yarn maker Huafu Top Dyed Melange Yarn is already at work on a 5 billion yuan plant outside Aksu. And Texhong Textile Group, one of China's top spinners, is targeting a 1-million spindle project in the region. "The scale of the project has to be big to ask for more favorable policy support from municipal governments," Texhong reported in a stock exchange statement, referring to subsidies Beijing offers to lure firms to the region. ^ top ^



Hong Kong budget winners and losers: relief for taxpayers but little fresh thinking on society's divides (SCMP)
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's budget speech for 2016-17 ended after an hour and a half, in contrast to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's marathon two-hour-plus policy address last month. Unlike Leung's address, the speech was not liberally peppered with references to the central government's “One Belt, One Road” initiative, and it was better received by internet users despite some saying the content was largely unexciting and predictable. Here the Post presents a run-down of the major winners and losers from the budget, as well as some surprises in the speech. Winners Tax-paying workers Tsang announced a 75 per cent reduction in salaries tax and tax under personal assessment for 2015-16, subject to a ceiling of HK$20,000. The proposal will benefit 1.96 million taxpayers. The elderly Tsang proposed an extra allowance for social security recipients equal to one month the standard payment. This includes recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, old age allowance, old age living allowance and disability allowance. It will involve additional government expenditure of HK$2.8 billion. Starting from 2016-17, a recurrent provision of HK$17 million will provide 160 additional day care places for the elderly in care homes. A recurrent provision of HK$140 million will also be rolled out to provide more subsidised residential care places, enhance existing residential care services and upgrade 1,200 care places. The government has also earmarked HK$800 million for providing 3,000 vouchers for care services to elderly residents across Hong Kong. A pilot scheme issuing a “Silver Bond” will be launched this year and next year, targeting Hong Kong residents aged 65 or above, with a maturity of three years for the first issuance. An extra HK$180 million will also be allocated to strengthen residential care services, transport services and community support services for those with disabilities, and to provide support for children with special needs and their families. Families The allowance for maintaining a dependent parent or grandparent aged 60 or above will rise from HK$40,000 to HK$46,000, and from HK$20,000 to HK$23,000 for those aged between 55 and 59. Some HK$2.9 billion a year will also be set aside to implement the Low-Income Working Family Allowance Scheme starting this year, which will provide an additional 3,800 places in the Extended Hours Service available at eligible child care centres. A pilot scheme will also be introduced in the first quarter of this year to provide child care training for grandparents. Small and medium-sized businesses The government will reduce profits tax for 2015-16 by 75 per cent, subject to a ceiling of HK$20,000. The proposal will benefit 130,000 taxpayers. Business registration fees will also be waived, benefiting 1.3 million business operators. An HK$500 million Pilot Technology Voucher Programme will subsidise businesses' use of technological services and solutions to improve productivity and upgrade business processes. The three-year pilot programme will provide a maximum subsidy of HK$200,000 for each eligible business. Tourism Measures costing HK$140 million were laid out to help the struggling tourism industry, including waiving licence fees for tens of thousands of travel agents, hotels and guesthouses, restaurants and hawkers for one year. A total of HK$240 million will be dolled out to expand the scale of tourism events, promote Hong Kong's image and subsidise information technology development in the industry. Entrepreneurs The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation will set up a HK$8.2 billion project to promote “smart” production and research at the Tseung Kwan O industrial estate. Robots and IT solutions will be used to help promote value-added industries. The government has also earmarked HK$500 million to set up an innovation and technology fund to encourage different sectors to use innovation and technology solutions to improve quality of living. Losers Non-tax-paying workers Major losers will be workers who pay no tax owing to their incomes being below the threshold, since tax rebates will not benefit them. These workers often do not qualify for social security assistance because they have an income, yet Tsang did not announce any help for this group. Public housing tenants In last year's speech, Tsang announced the government would pay one month's rent for lower-income public housing tenants. This year the policy was scrapped. Property owners Although Tsang did not scrap a waiver on property rates, he reduced the amount from HK$2,500 per quarter to HK$1,000. The elderly Despite the short-term sweeteners announced, there were no innovative long-term policies to reduce the wealth gap in Hong Kong or redistribute wealth, nor any progress on a much-anticipated universal retirement scheme. Surprises Cantonese and localism Tsang's endorsement of Cantonese language and film came as a pleasant surprise to many after recent government pronouncements on the benefits of learning Putonghua. Some HK$20 million will be pumped into the Film Development Fund to subsidise promoting locally-produced Cantonese films on the mainland. Tsang also quoted a line from a classic Canto-pop song and praised Hong Kong's football team, to add a tinge of localism to his speech, which lead some internet users to say the speech was more like a prelude to a chief executive election bid in 2017. Lack of 'One Belt, One Road' Tsang only mentioned the term four times in his speech, in contrast to 48 in Leung's policy address. Many had expected Tsang to follow his boss and endlessly glorify the policy, but its absence won praise online. Same old stuff No thinking outside the box Although the government is rolling out money to develop the innovation and technology industry, the budget speech was screaming out for fresh thinking and ideas to tackle the wealth gap and help small businesses, address problems brought by an ageing society, help creative industries and diversify the economy. Heavy on politics As expected, more acute criticism was handed down over the Mong Kok riot and the socio-political divides said to have been behind it, but there was no outline of where the government's responsibility lay on the topic. ^ top ^

'Idealistic' bill to protect Hong Kong whistle-blowers likely to face opposition from business sector (SCMP)
A private member's bill to protect whistle-blowers who make disclosures in the public interest from civil liability will be tabled in the legislature next month, but is likely to face opposition from the business sector. Accountancy lawmaker Kenneth Leung, who drafted the Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2016, argued the act was already “very pragmatic, reasonable and humble” and said its enactment would boost the governance of the city as well as corporations. Under the proposed bill, which would amend the Employment Ordinance, an employer could not be dismissed or threatened with dismissal for making a “qualifying disclosure”. Whistle-blowers would also be exempted from civil liability if, for instance, they broke a confidentiality agreement. Leung, of the pan-democratic camp, emphasised the threshold of defining a “qualifying disclosure” was very high to discourage abuse. “The employee must be making the disclosure in good faith and not doing it for personal gain,” he told the Post in an interview, adding that the information disclosed must be substantially true. Leung said he decided to put forward such a bill because of his experience working in the Legislative Council's Public Accounts Committee, such as having a number of Civil Aviation Department staff filing anonymous complaints about the safety of a new air traffic management system. “We have seen that lots of employees are actually willing to report misdeeds to the Public Accounts Committee as it conducted the investigations, yet they do not want to be named for fear of breaching the confidentiality agreement,” said Leung. “The credibility of these claims would increase if they are willing to go on the record.” The bill could encourage insiders to report corporate wrongdoings, such as firms breaching their environmental responsibilities or even inappropriate practices in infrastructure projects. An example would be recent media reports that exposed substandard concrete being ordered for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. “It could have saved lots of taxpayers' money should such problems have been exposed earlier,” he said. Leung also stressed that the bill was not trying to pit employees versus employers, as the former could also report the wrongdoings of colleagues. He said the bill was already pragmatic as it was not applicable to consultants and subcontractors, which meant it would not apply to the case of consultant Jenny Ng Pui-ying, who was asked to resign two years ago after accusing the government of misquoting her firm's assessment of the television market during a row over a free-to-air TV licence in 2013. Nor would it apply to Billy Fung Jing-en, former president of the University of Hong Kong's students' union who abandoned confidentiality rules of the school's council to reveal what other members had said behind closed doors. But Liberal Party chairman Felix Chung Kwok-pan slammed the door shut on Leung's proposal, saying it would not be welcomed by the business community. “Some big corporations might indeed have such protection already internally, but 90 per cent of business firms in Hong Kong are small and medium enterprises,” he said. […] The bill will be moved in Legco's panel on administration of justice and legal services in early March. But it cannot be officially moved in the chamber unless it wins the approval of the Legco president and the chief executive, and it must gain majority support from both the geographical and functional constituencies to pass. ^ top ^



Transfer of fugitives to mainland China was all above board, says Macau minister (SCMP)
The Macau government proceeded “according to the law” and there was “no occult action” regarding the handing over of fugitives to the mainland, the city's secretary for security, Wong Sio-chak, said. He said Macau's decision to turn over a permanent resident of Hong Kong to the mainland in 2008, as reported by the Sunday Morning Post, was in line with the region's obligations to Interpol. The woman was red-flagged by the international police organisation for alleged burglary on the mainland and the Public Prosecutions Office agreed to hand her over, Wong said on the sidelines of a press conference on Monday, news agency Lusa reported. The Judiciary Police “followed a judicial decision” and proceeded “according to the law”, Wong noted, denying the existence of any “occult action”. The secretary said that the Court of Final Appeal and the Public Prosecutions Office had different interpretations. Jorge Neto Valente, head of the Macau Lawyers Association, said he strongly opposed such logic. “The Public Prosecutions Office cannot override the court. The Prosecutions Office and the Judiciary Police carry out the material execution of decisions. But it's not up to the Public Prosecutions Office to establish conditions or to interpret the law,” he said. The Court of Final Appeal concluded in February 2008 that to hand fugitives to mainland China was illegal, recalling a decision made a year earlier. “This court having already decided … in 2007 that it was illegal to return fugitives to mainland China authorities... it was insisted to proceed with such a return, without a law or agreement, without an organised process, without allowing the defendant's defence and without an order from a judge. These acts discredit the justice, [and] undermine the rule of law,” a court document read. The secretary clarified on Monday that the woman – also a permanent resident of Hong Kong – involved in the 2007 ruling by the Court of Final Appeal was not actually sent to the mainland. He said that after 2008 Macau had not returned fugitives to the mainland. Wong insisted that Wu Quanshen, a former member of China's Communist Party wanted by the mainland for alleged corruption, was handed over last year because he lacked a resident permit to remain in Macau after it was revoked by the government. But Wong's argument did not convince Macau lawyers. “It's a lame excuse … People cannot be expelled like that just because their residency permit was revoked,” said criminal lawyer Pedro Leal. Fears are growing in Macau and Hong Kong over the possible use of extrajudicial methods – particularly after five Hong Kong booksellers ended up “assisting investigations” on the mainland – and the terms of an agreement for surrender of fugitives between the cities, which have been discussed behind closed doors for two and a half years. ^ top ^



No change foreseen in Taiwan policy (China Daily)
The central government foresees no major changes in its Taiwan policy after the island's recent leadership elections, according to An Fengshan, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office. An made the comment on Wednesday as negotiators from both sides of the Taiwan Straits continued to communicate about their next face-to-face meeting. "No matter the party or group, no matter what they have advocated in the past, as long as they are willing to recognize the 1992 Consensus and acknowledge the fact that both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China, we are willing to engage with them," An said. He said that since 2014, the office and Taiwan's cross-Straits affairs department have established a communication mechanism that has been playing a positive role in promoting positive relations. An said the face-to-face meeting between department heads is an essential part of the mechanism, but did not say whether a meeting would take place before May 20, when the island's newly elected leader Tsai Ing-wen is expected to take office. A member of Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, Tsai won the island's leadership election in January, beating rival Eric Chu of the Kuomintang. "Our fundamental policies toward Taiwan have always been clear and consistent," An said, adding that mainland authorities would continue to promote the peaceful development of ties across the Taiwan Straits and protect peace and stability in the region on the basis of the 1992 Consensus and opposition to Taiwan independence. He condemned some members from the DPP who recently suggested that Taiwan should no longer hang portraits of Sun Yat-sen on public occasions. "Mr Sun Yat-sen spent his life pursuing national unity and revitalization. He was admired by all Chinese people," An said. "People from both sides should be aware of activities that jeopardize cross-Straits relations." He also condemned former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui's views on politics in his new book, saying Lee has been against people from both sides by preaching the independence of Taiwan. "We resolutely oppose all forms of secessionist activities and will take measures to safeguard China's sovereign and territorial integrity," An said. ^ top ^



Payment app Alipay denies information theft claims (Global Times)
One of China's major online payment service applications, Alipay, defended itself on Tuesday against accusations of personal information theft, saying that it has never invaded users' privacy or leaked their personal information. The company fell under public scrutiny late on Monday when a Net user named "typcn" wrote on Twitter that the Alipay application on Android phones starts the phones' cameras and microphones every few minutes to take pictures and record sounds that the application later uploads to a server. The Net user also claimed that users' contacts, call records and other information stored in the phone would be leaked by Alipay. The post immediately triggered heated discussion on social media, as more Net users reported that they have experienced similar problems with the application. In response, Alipay - the payment arm of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd - said Tuesday on its official Sina Weibo account that Alipay only records personal information after getting authorization from users. The post also said Alipay would never collect information in private or leak users' personal information. It went on to explain that the application is authorized to use a phone's camera when users need to scan a QR code to pay a bill and may only make a recording when the user needs to send a voice message. Even with user authorization, Alipay will not start the camera to take pictures or make recordings secretly, the company asserted. ^ top ^

China's Politburo stresses steady course for economic growth (SCMP)
The mainland will work to keep its economic growth within a reasonable range this year, the top decision-making Politburo said on Monday after a meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping. The government would continue its proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, state-run broadcaster CCTV quoted a Politburo statement as saying. The government will also “work to strengthen supply-side structural reform” to nurture new driving forces for growth. An earlier Politburo meeting said supply-side reform could become a distinctive feature of the country's economic and social policies for this year and beyond. The Politburo said the government would work to revive and promote China's traditional “comparative advantages”, a reference to the mainland's labour-intensive and export-oriented manufacturing industries. Monday's Politburo meeting discussed and approved Premier Li Keqiang's government work report, a state-of-the-union-style address to be delivered at the upcoming annual session of the National People's Congress. This year's annual session of the national legislature will also officially rubber-stamp the 13th five-year plan beginning this year. The session will open on March 5. Various government officials have indicated that Li will target growth in a range of 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent this year. The 13th five-year plan aims to double the country's gross domestic product and per capita income by 2020 from the 2010 level in a push to transform China into a “moderately prosperous society”. Meeting the targets will require just 6.5 per cent growth in the coming five years. But most economists believe that even that will be a great challenge in the face of a stubborn slowdown. Annual growth dipped to 6.9 per cent last year, the lowest since 1990. The post-meeting statement said the government would manage the macroeconomy with new approaches, through improved use of policy target ranges, more targeted measures, as well as greater flexibility and responsiveness in implementing such measures. The aim was to “create a stable environment for economic development and structural reform”, it said. The government pledged to further open up its market, despite its economic difficulties. ^ top ^

China's machinery industry cools in 2015 (Xinhua)
The machinery industry in China is facing tough times as investment has slowed, but structural changes may offer a silver lining. In 2015, the value-added output of the machinery industry increased 5.5 percent year on year, 4.5 percentage points lower than the growth rate seen in 2014, and slower than the 6.1-percent rise in the average value-added industrial output, data from the China Machinery Industry Federation (CMIF) shows. "The slower-than-average growth rate in the machinery sector is very unusual and it highlights the difficulties the industry's facing," said Chen Bin, CMIF executive vice president. Only 18 out of 64 main machinery products reported production growth. Products relying on heavy investment as well as those facing overcapacity such as general machine tools saw the biggest decline, while output of consumption-driven products such as sports utility vehicles and those that promote energy efficiency continued to rise. The changes were in line with China's transition to a consumption and innovation driven green economy. Looking forward, the CMIF predicts that value-added output growth in the machinery industry will remain around 5.5-percent while exports from the sector may rise in 2016. ^ top ^



China and US agree to 'very tough' UN sanctions on North Korea (SCMP)
China has agreed on a draft United Nations resolution that would impose tougher sanctions on North Korea amid growing criticism over its handling of Pyongyang's recent provocations. But scepticism remains over Beijing's willingness to rein in its wayward neighbour amid a rare diplomatic spat between China and South Korea over the possible deployment of an American ­missile defence system. China and the United States, both UN Security Council members and major stakeholders in the North Korean nuclear crisis, have agreed on a draft resolution that contains “very tough measures” and could be adopted soon, according to UN diplomats. In a meeting in Washington on Wednesday, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice and China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, agreed on “the importance of a strong and united international response” to Pyongyang's provocations, according to a White House statement. This would include a UN Security Council resolution that “goes beyond previous resolutions”, the statement said. The White House said US President Barack Obama joined the meeting at some point “to underscore his interest in building a ­durable, constructive and productive US-China relationship.” Whether a new round of sanctions can effectively halt North Korea's nuclear activities was ­unclear, analysts said. “The key is whether China can faithfully fulfil, in both words and actions, in both flesh and soul, the UN-mandated obligations,” said Lee Seong-hyon, a research fellow with the Sejong Institute. But Beijing has rejected ­suggestions that it holds the key to the North Korea issue. Instead, ­officials and academics have said the crux of the problem is in Washington's hands. Li Kaisheng, a researcher with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the sanctions would be futile unless Pyongyang returned to the negotiating table. And to do that, the US was the key, he said. “It's important that the US refrains from military manoeuvring, especially in its upcoming military drill [with South Korea] so that North Korea can see a way out through negotiation,” Li said. China has been under international pressure for its reluctance to impose stricter measures in response to North Korea's nuclear test and missile launch. Although political ties between the communist allies have deteriorated significantly since Kim Jong-un took power in 2012, Chinese academics say Beijing still considers North Korea an ­important geopolitical buffer – the value of which outweighs the security risks posed by Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. South Korea responded earlier this month by announcing that it was considering deploying a US missile system known as THAAD for its own defence. This prompted vigorous protests from Beijing, which sees the missile system as an extension of US surveillance on China. In a rare display of displeasure, China's ambassador to South Korea warned on Tuesday that ­bilateral relations would be ­“destroyed in an instant” if THAAD was deployed. Qiu Guohong made the remarks in a meeting with Kim Jong-in, the leader of the country's main opposition party. His warning immediately drew protests from Seoul. The South Korean foreign ministry summoned Guo for an explanation on Wednesday. Presidential Office spokesman Jeong Yeon-guk said that whether to deploy THAAD was a matter of self-defence to be decided in ­accordance with security and ­national interests. “And China will have to recognise the point,” Jeong said. ^ top ^

China, Japan 'plan talks over North Korea's nuclear test and rocket launch' (SCMP)
Japan and China are arranging a meeting between foreign ministry officials later this month to discuss responses to North Korea's long-range rocket launch and nuclear test, a Japanese government source said on Monday. Kong Xuanyou, China's assistant foreign minister, is expected to meet with Japanese deputy foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama in Tokyo in what would be the first visit by a senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official to Japan since North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on January 6, the source said. The planned meeting comes as Japan's efforts to arrange telephone talks between Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi following the nuclear test have proven unsuccessful. Kong has previously headed the Foreign Ministry's Asian affairs department and been posted in Tokyo as minister at the China's embassy. Tokyo has been calling for tougher international sanctions against North Korea in the wake of its nuclear test and a rocket launch earlier this month, which was widely seen as a cover for testing long-range ballistic missile technology But Beijing, North Korea's most important economic sponsor, remains reluctant to impose harsh measures that could cripple its impoverished neighbour. ^ top ^

China warns against extended sanctions on N.Korea (Global Times)
China warned on Friday that no action directed against North Korea that undermines a "third party's legitimate interests" would help resolve the nuclear issue, in a response to new sanctions imposed by the US against North Korea on Thursday. "China believes that no hot spot issue can be fundamentally resolved merely through pressure or sanction … It would only complicate the situation," Hong Lei, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a daily briefing on Friday. US President Barack Obama on Thursday signed measures passed by Congress, tightening sanctions on anyone importing goods or technology related to weapons of mass destruction into North Korea, or anyone who knowingly engaged in human rights abuses, in a bid to punish the nation for its recent nuclear test and rocket launch, AFP reported on Friday. "The Korean Peninsula is in a complex and sensitive situation. Relevant parties should remain calm, exercise restraint, and stick to the direction of resolving the issue through dialogues and consultations," Hong said. "We urge relevant parties to act prudently and not to make troubles." The sanctions targeted not only North Korea, but "secondary sanctions" against those who do business with it, according to Reuters. Banks and enterprises in China, North Korea's biggest trade partner are likely to fall victim to the sanctions, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported on Friday. However, experts said that the measures will not have huge impact on Chinese firms and financial institutions. […] States are directed to prevent the provision of financial services or the transfer of any financial or other assets or resources, according to strengthened measures levied by the Security Council in 2013. Lü estimated that only companies which made large-scale investment in North Korea and also do business in US allies like Japan and South Korea will be affected by the sanctions, adding that the number of such firms was limited. "Besides, since the companies listed for sanctions by the US are based on its intelligence and open reports, those whose business was unknown to the public are unlikely to be involved in the new round of sanctions," Yang Mian, a professor at the Communication University of China, told the Global Times. He noted that the US has to leave leeway to allow China to maintain interests in North Korea when implementing the measures. Citing the heightened risk of North Korea instigating terror attacks, the South Korean government sought to push through a sweeping anti-terrorism law, Reuters reported on Thursday. South Korea's National Intelligence Service said it believed that the North Korean leader had ordered his military to prepare acts against the South, including possibly kidnapping or attacking people or targeting subways or power utilities. The US listed North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism until 2008. ^ top ^



Metissen appreciates preparation for ASEM Summit (Montsame)
A delegation headed by Mr Michael Metissen, a chief consultant to the European Union's External Relations Division on ASEM affairs, called a press conference Thursday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to talk about the preparation for the 11th ASEM Summit. Mr Metissen is here for the second time, to witness the course of the preparation and to give some advice. He said the hosting of the ASEM Summit is a big challenge for any country, "this Summit, which is to celebrate its 20th anniversary as well, expects 53 countries' leaders and high-level officials". He said Mongolia is ensuring the preparation very well. “The government of Mongolia is experienced in hosting biggest international gatherings, and we hope Mongolia will successfully organize the ASEM Summit. The EU has decided to support Mongolia in hosting this event,” Mr Metissen said. Ahead of the Summit, Mongolia will organize the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP9) Meeting this April 21-22. As of today, some 20 countries have applied to take part in the ASEP9. In frames of the visit, Mr Metissen and accompanying him delegation has met with D.Gankhuyag, the State secretary of Foreign Ministry and chair of the ASEM preparation commission; B.Boldbaatar, the secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office; P.Tsagaan, a head of the Presidential Office; Kh.Gantsogt, the State Secretary of the Finance Ministry; and Ts.Enkhtsengel, a Deputy Mayor of Ulaanbaatar on social and development affairs. ^ top ^

EU will support Mongolia in hosting ASEM Summit (Montsame)
The European Union (EU) is grateful to Mongolia for hosting the 11th ASEM Summit this July, "Mongolia has vast experience in strengthening the democracy, and this Summit is to coincide with its 20th anniversary, so the EU will support Mongolia in hosting this grand event".. A chief consultant to the European Union's External Relations Division on ASEM affairs Mr Michael Metissen said it at a meeting with B.Boldbaatar, the secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office of Mongolia, in the State House Wednesday. Boldbaatar expressed a satisfaction with meeting the EU delegation and said that Mongolia's joining the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is an expression of its aim to contribute to strengthening of the democracy in its region and to actively participate in worldwide and regional actions. He said Mongolia successfully organized last year's September the OSCE parliamentary autumn session, and thanked the EU for collaborating with Mongolia in ensuring a preparation for the forthcoming ASEM Summit. He pointed out that Mongolia had sent official letters to legislative bodies' leaders of ASEM countries to the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP9) Meeting, which will run here this April 21-22. After this, Mr Metissen introduced to Boldbaatar the delegates, who came together with him, noting that some of them will work here until a conclusion of the ASEM Summit. ^ top ^

Mongolia's reports on CEDAW reviewed (Montsame)
The 8th and 9th periodic reports of Mongolia have been reviewed on realization of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This happened at a meeting of the 63rd committee of the CEDAW on this February 19 in Geneva of Switzerland. Mongolia was represented at the meeting by G.Narangerel, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Population Development and Social Welfare; officials from Ministries of Justice, of Health and Sport, of Labor, and of the National Committee of Gender. Within the discussion of the reports, they highlighted Mongolian government's policy and actions for promoting women's role and their participation in political and social-economic life, for upgrading the legal landscape of women's employment, education and health, and for resolving urgent problems. Members of the Convention committee applauded works done in Mongolia for renovating/refining the legal landscape for protecting women's rights, and asked Mongolia to keep efforts to implement all laws and resolutions on women's rights, to improve women's status, and to maintain recommendations issued by the Convention committee. ^ top ^

Head of Cabinet Secretariat addresses developmental forum (Montsame)
Head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government S.Bayartsogt made the opening remarks at the “Developmental Data” forum, which kicked off Wednesday in the State House. Bayartsogt said the government has established a financing agreement with the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) on realizing the “Smart government” project in 2015-2020. It has been aiming to back civil role in the state actions, to create a general system of state IT as well as an open area for providing data of state actions. As a result, activities of state bodies will become more transparent, the correlation between state bodies will improve, the general data of state activities will be made, said Bayartsogt. Mongolia was the 65th in 2014 by its index of state services through IT, among UN members, Bayartsogt reminded. All provinces, soums and big settlements have been connected to the Internet after a fundamental infrastructure of IT has been developed throughout the country, moreover, a united center of state services was established this year in the UB city to deliver 204 types of services, he said. As of 2015, a number of active cell phones reached 165 per 100 people, "in other words, some three million Mongolians use four million 971 thousand such phones, plus, a permanent users of the Internet has surpassed one million, he added. Co-organized by the Cabinet Secretariat and the WB, the forum has brought together some 80 representatives of Ministries, agencies, international organizations and the private sector. Within the forum, reports will be delivered on a present situation of open data of the registration and statistics, utilizing big data for urban infrastructure, experiences of South Korea, health big data. Discussions will also run with related themes.  ^ top ^

Deputy PM about winter and spring conditions (Montsame)
The Deputy Premier Ts.Oyunbaatar introduced to the Ministers at the cabinet meeting Monday a report about winter and spring in localities. After this, an obligation was given to the FM to ask foreign countries and international organizations to give humanitarian assistance. According to the Deputy PM, some 70% of the territories have been covered by snow; 98 soums of 18 aimags are suffering from the dzud (heavy snow natural disaster); 113 soums of 20 aimags are in critical condition due to snow. The animal loss has reached 125 thousand heads by February 22. Some herders are in worse condition due to absence of an access to hay and fodder,. and lack of cash. They are also suffering from a shortage of animal vaccines as well as vehicles to receive state services. The cabinet decided to ask international humanitarian organizations for aid in order to overcome the spring with less damage and to prevent possible difficulties. ^ top ^

Mongolia attends Asia-Pacific Security Conference (Montsame)
A Mongolian delegation headed by Colonel Sh.Enkhbat, the Commander of Air Corps at the Armed Forces of Mongolia, has participated in the Asia-Pacific Security Conference within the Singapore Airshow, which took place February 16-21 in Singapore. The delegation included Lieutenant-Colonel S.Erdenemonkh, a flight and technical inspector; P.Ider, an officer at the Air Military Commander; and diplomats of the Mongolian Embassy in Singapore. High-level government and military delegations, as well as senior corporate executives around the world attend the Singapore Airshow every two years to forge partnerships and seal deals in this region. As Asia's largest Airshow, this is the place to be for leading aerospace companies and budding players eager to make their mark in the international aerospace and defense market. The event features the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit, which attracts an unprecedented network of international senior commercial&government delegations. The other two strategic conferences that were held during the week of the show are the A*STAR Aerospace Technology Leadership Forum and the Singapore Aerospace Technology and Engineering Conference. ^ top ^

Mongolia at Central Asian Investment Forum (Montsame)
A decision on financing agreement of the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine development is a significant move for boosting Mongolian economy in general, namely, improving and stabilizing the investment environment, restoring the trust from foreign investors, creating new jobs, increasing profits for contractor companies in the project, bringing the business innovation and technology into Mongolia. It has been said by B.Byambasaikhan, CEO of “Erdenes Mongol” company, at a panel discussion of the 2016 Central Asian Investment Forum (CAIF) which was concluded February 18 in Istanbul of Turkey. Opening remarks were made by Mehmet Şimşek, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey; Suma Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); and Ali Kopuz, the Board Vice President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB). Co-organized by the EBRD, the Financial Times newspaper and the TOBB, the CAIF brought together governmental and business delegates of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Mongolia. The Ambassador of Mongolia to Turkey Mr B.Batshishig and the General Consulate of Mongolia to Istanbul Mr E.Monkh-Ochir met with fellow countrymen--representatives of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and business delegates who took part in the forum. They discussed ways of boosting the economic and trade ties between Mongolia and Turkey. ^ top ^

Gobi preservation to be settled after compensating for mining permit holders (Montsame)
Tost and Tosonbumba Mountains, located in Gurvantes soum of Omnogovi (South Gobi) aimag, have officially been taken as a state reserve by the Government of Mongolia. Media has been covering critical news stories about how the area should be taken under state special protection for the sake of its precious ecosystem. This issue was addressed by the Mining Minister on January 28. During the Transparent Mining monthly press conference, the Minister R.Jigjid explained that Tost and Tosonbumba Mountains have been named the state reserve in order to make time for required preparation to enforcing special protection. The Government is required to compensate for the damage this decision is making to the seven mining companies that operate in the area with special permits, which have been issued in 2003-2009, he said. ^ top ^

“Erdenes MGL” CEO meets with EBRD president (Montsame)
During the Central Asia Investment Forum in Istanbul of Turkey, the “Erdenes MGL” CEO B.Byambasaikhan met Thursday with Mr Suma Chakrabarti, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Byambasaikhan informed him about investment and business environment and development in Mongolia, after which the two discussed issues of the Mongolia-EBRD cooperation. Mr Chakrabarti underlined a significance of resolving the financial matter for the Oyu Tolgoi mine for accelerating the economic development of Mongolia, and then talked about the cooperation policy and methods to be realized in Mongolia in energy, mining and other fields. He also backed a proposal on hosting next Central Asia Investment Forum in Mongolia under auspices of the EBRD. Present at the meeting were B.Batkhishig, the Ambassador of Mongolia to Turkey, and directors and officials of the EBRD for regional and Mongolian affairs. ^ top ^


Mrs. Mirjam Eggli
Embassy of Switzerland

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage