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
  17-21.10.2016, No. 644  
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Foreign Policy

Clinton likely to win, but China's prepared for whoever becomes next US president (SCMP)
China is prepared for the likely victory of Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election next month, but is confident it will be able to handle bilateral ties whichever candidate wins, say Chinese foreign policy experts. In the third debate between the two presidential candidates on Thursday morning (Hong Kong time), China played an even smaller role than it did in the first two debates. Democrat Clinton criticised Republican candidate Donald Trump for shedding “crocodile tears" as he himself used Chinese steel. “One of the biggest problems we have with China is the illegal dumping of steel and aluminium into our markets,” Clinton said. “Donald has bought Chinese steel and aluminium. The Trump Hotel here in Las Vegas was made with Chinese steel. He goes around with crocodile tears about how terrible it is, but he has given jobs to Chinese steel workers, not American steel workers.” Trump did not directly respond to the accusation. Meanwhile, Trump said China's leaders were smarter than America's politicians. “We are the greatest business people in the world. We have to use them to negotiate our trade deals. We use political hacks. We use people that get the position because they made a campaign contribution. And they're dealing with China and people that are very much smarter than they are,” Trump said. He also called for an end to US policies that supported other countries in defence. “As far as Japan and other countries, we are being ripped off by everybody – we're defending other countries. We're spending a fortune doing it. They have the bargain of the century,” he said. “All I said is we have to renegotiate these agreements because our country cannot afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany, South Korea and many other places.” Trump did not, however, explicitly mention the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system that is being backed by Washington and will be deployed in South Korea. China has strongly protested against THAAD, saying the system's powerful radar could be used to spy on the Beijing. Wang Yiwei, director of Renmin University's Institute of International Affairs, said that while Trump's performance had improved since his first debate, the Republican candidate was unlikely to win. “At least this time they look like they're having a serious debate,” Wang said. Both candidates were more focused on policy issues rather than personal attacks this time, he said. “The important thing is that Trump represents the sentiment among the American public that they are not satisfied with the current situation,. He is not likely to win, but at least he managed to send the message across.” Clinton is leading Trump by 9 percentage points, according to a Bloomberg survey of likely voters, which was conducted after the video leak of Trump boasting about his sexual advances on a married woman. The video leak resulted in many Republican leaders withdrawing their support for Trump. Clinton, now tipped as the likely winner in the election, is expected to adopt a tough stance towards China. The former US Secretary of State is known for her sharp criticism of China's human rights record and her deep involvement in the United States' strategy to rebalance itself towards Asia. Even so, Beijing was not particularly worried about bilateral relations under a new US leadership, according to the Chinese foreign policy experts. “The gap between the US and China has narrowed in recent years, in particular in terms of their influence in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Wu Xinbo, director of Fudan University's Centre for American Studies. Renmin University's Wang echoed Wu's view. While the Chinese public were following news of the US presidential election very closely and much interest and curiosity, Chinese policymakers were a lot calmer and more certain about where Sino-US relations were heading, Wang said. “We don't care that much about the US [election politics] now. With our 'One Belt, One Road' initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, we are not as reliant on the US as we were before,” he said. “After all, existing cooperation will not be affected by the change in leadership.” Jia Qingguo, professor and associate dean of Peking University's School of International Studies, said even though Clinton was much more likely to win, he would not totally rule out the chance that Trump might still emerge victorious in the election. “China will still prepare for both possibilities. But Hillary has a much bigger chance of winning and, of course, China is prepared if she wins.” Wang and Wu said that as America grew increasingly divided from the bitter public struggle between Clinton and Trump and its “Asia pivot” lost momentum under incumbent US President Barack Obama, the resultant power vacuum gave China room to advance its regional diplomacy without US interference. “It will take at least six months to a year before the new US president develops a full-fledged strategy in foreign policy … The current situation is favourable to China,” Wang said, citing as examples the recent warming of ties between China and two US allies in Asia – the Philippines and Japan. Such gains in regional diplomacy would give Beijing the upper hand in dealing with the future US president, Wu said. “When we manage relations with our neighbouring countries well, it gives us an advantage in containing [America's] 'rebalance to Asia' strategy,” he said. “We have to take the initiative in our diplomacy strategy vis-à-vis the US, and not be led by our noses.” ^ top ^

'We're neighbours and blood brothers': Xi tells Duterte as firebrand leader announces 'separation' from US (SCMP)
President Xi Jingping told his Philippines counterpart Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday that the two countries could put aside disputes and improve ties. “This truly has milestone significance for China-Philippines relations,” Xi said, praising Duterte's landmark visit to Beijing to reset the relationship that had been damaged by territorial disputes in the South China Sea. In a further sign of his shifting allegiances, Duterte said he was announcing his “separation” from the United States at a business forum in the afternoon in the presence of Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. On the South China Sea issue, Xi suggested the two sides “temporarily put aside” the disputes, and learn from the “political wisdom” of history when the two nations had successfully kept their differences in check through talks. “As long as we stick to friendly dialogue and consultation, we can frankly exchange views on any problem, manage differences, discuss cooperation, and temporarily put aside what is hard to reach by consensus,” Xi said. Xi said although relations had “weathered storms, the foundation... of their relations would not be changed” as the two countries were neighbours across the sea and the two peoples were blood-linked brothers. “We have no reason to take a hostile attitude or confront each other,” he said. “I hope we can follow the wishes of the people and use this visit as an opportunity to push China-Philippines relations back on a friendly footing and fully improve things.” Duterte said improved and developed relationships would benefit both peoples. “Even as we arrive in Beijing close to winter, this is the springtime of our relationship,” he told Xi at the Great Hall of People. He hoped the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could play a role in Philippine economic development, and said his country would work to promote China-ASEAN relations in regional issues. The two leaders later oversaw the signing of 13 of agreements on ranging from trade and investment to drug control, maritime security and infrastructure. Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters that China and the Philippines had agreed on Thursday that disputes in the South China Sea were not the sum total of their relations and that the two countries would restore consultations on diplomatic and defence matters. “It means that a new page has now opened between the two countries in addressing the South China Sea issue through bilateral dialogue and consultation,” Liu said. He also said China would restore Philippine agricultural exports to China and that Beijing would provide financing support for Philippine infrastructure projects. On the eve of the meeting Duterte said that “it's time to say goodbye” to the US as his foreign policy veered towards China. “I will not ask but if they (the Chinese) offer and if they'll ask me, do you need this aid? [I will say] Of course, we are very poor,”” he told hundreds of Filipinos in Beijing on Wednesday night. “I will not go to America anymore … We will just be insulted there,” he added. But Xu Liping, a senior fellow at the China Academy of Social Sciences, said Duterte's statement did not necessarily mean that the Philippines would lean to China. “It's a pendulum effect,” said Xu. “Duterte is just adjusting and revising his predecessor's excessive one-sided policy towards the US. I would not call him 'inclining to China'”. As ties warmed up, China might be able to resume some of the Philippines halted infrastructure projects like a railway in the northern Philippines, and open other, Xu said. The Philippines form an important part of Xi's One Belt One Road development plan. Geopolitically, Duterte's distancing from the US would reduce the stake the US has in the region, which could lower the pressure on China from the US “Asia rebalance” strategy and improve China's strategic environment, said Zhang Mingliang, a Southeast Asia expert at Jinan University in Guangzhou. Next year the Philippines will be the rotating chair of the Asean, where the South China Sea disputes have been on the agenda. “Without an improved relationship, the Philippines would use the Asean platform to embarrass China on the South China Sea issue,” said Zhang. “China and the Philippines are neighbours across the sea and the two peoples are blood brothers,” Xi said. He added that both sides should “appropriately handle disputes”, although he did not specifically mention conflicts over the South China Sea. “I hope we can follow the wishes of the people and use this visit as an opportunity to push China-Philippines relations back on a friendly footing and fully improve things,” he said. ^ top ^

Rekindling Beijing-Manila ties carries no meaning for Philippine-US alliance (Global Times)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is now in Beijing to warm up his country's ice-cold ties with China. The move has nothing to do with Manila's traditional alliance with Washington. As Chinese President Xi Jinping rolled out red carpet to welcome his Philippine counterpart on Thursday morning, many around the world were predicting that the Southeast Asian nation was getting ready to pivot away from the United States, its traditional ally. Some even said that Beijing would receive handsome gains if the Philippine-US alliance truly gets weakened.h These observers are wrong although they think they have proofs as the new leader in Manila has been an open and fierce US critic and threatened to cancel his country's joint military drills with US armed forces. The Chinese government never attempts to build up its ties with other countries on condition that these nations have to sacrifice their partnership with any third party. To be more specific, the most important thing Beijing seeks to get from a sound bilateral relationship with the Philippines is that the two sides can work together to strengthen their economic and trade cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit as well as respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It's totally up to the Philippine authorities to decide how they are going to handle their relations with other parties, including the United States. If America's partnership with the Philippines has indeed started to unravel, perhaps the very first thing politicians in Washington need to look into is their own way of doing business with the country they consider as a key ally in the Asia-Pacific region. And it is unfair and meaningless to scapegoat either China or Mr. Duterte. They should also know that to sustain a partnership, they need to at least learn how to be respectful and stop being bossy. Now that the Philippine leader is in China to fix the impaired ties, he will almost surely return home with his hands full as the two nations are expected to reach a series of agreements and step up their cooperation in areas such as fruits trade and anti-narcotics. True friends need to be candid and honest. The visit is also a fine opportunity for the two governments to start their talks on the South China Sea dispute. A proper handling of their maritime dispute, especially after the law-abusing arbitration episode that led bilateral ties to fall to a historical low, would build a solid foundation for the two countries to further their future cooperation without worrying that the island spats could relapse as time rolls on. ^ top ^

China concerned about worsening ties with Slovakia (Xinhua)
China on Thursday urged Slovakia to take measures to address the negative impact resulting from a meeting between President Andrej Kiska and the Dalai Lama. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks after Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak on Wednesday stressed that the country supported the one-China policy, three days after Kiska's meeting with the Dalai Lama. Lajcak said the meeting between Kiska and the Dalai Lama harmed China-Slovak relations. Lajcak made the comment after his meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Slovakia Lin Lin. "Kiska's meeting with the Dalai Lama seriously damaged the political foundation of bilateral relations," Hua said. Hua said China had noted Slovakia's commitment to the one-China policy and Lajcak's view of Tibet as an inalienable part of China. "We urge Slovakia to honor its promise, respect China's core interests and take measures to eliminate the negative impact of the meeting so that bilateral relations can return to normal," she added. Also at the daily press briefing, Hua reiterated that China firmly opposes any official of any country meeting with the Dalai Lama, "China's stance is clear." Her comments came after the city of Milan, Italy, awarded the Dalai Lama with honorary citizenship. ^ top ^

Officials pledge closer cooperation between China's northeast, Russia's Far East (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and his Russian counterpart Yury Trutnev on Thursday pledged to boost cooperation between China's northeast and Russia's Far East. They made the pledge during the second council meeting of regional cooperation between China's northeastern provinces and Russia's Far East. As the China-Russia relationship is in its best period ever, the two regions enjoy rare opportunities for further cooperation, Wang said at the meeting. Wang said China stands ready to work with the Russian side to link their policies, expand cooperation, promote connectivity, make use of existing financing platforms and improve business environments to achieve substantial results. Trutnev, also presidential envoy to Russia's Far Eastern Federal District, said China is an important partner for Russia to develop the Far East, and Russia will make joint efforts with the Chinese side to elevate cooperation there. Earlier on Thursday, Wang and Trutnev delivered speeches at the opening ceremony of the 1st International Industrial Capacity Cooperation Forum and the 8th China Overseas Investment Fair. ^ top ^

Chinese official proposes free trade area for SCO members (Xinhua)
A free trade area should be set up to facilitate regional economic cooperation between members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a senior Chinese official said Thursday. Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming made the proposal at an SCO economic forum. He also called for the establishment of an SCO development bank, which would provide funding for regional projects together with other multilateral funds and development banks, to be expedited. Most SCO members are also members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and should actively implement the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement to cut trade costs by 10-15 percent and remove restrictions in service trade, Qian told the forum. He called for better coordination and more policy transparency in cross-border investment, noting that protectionism must be avoided. Investment in infrastructure, industrial cooperation, agriculture and high-tech areas should be expanded between SCO members, Qian said. The SCO, an inter-governmental organization founded in Shanghai in 2001, groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, covering over 30 million square km and accounting for a quarter of the world's population. It has Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers, and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey as dialogue partners. ^ top ^

Xi: China, Vietnam should value positive momentum in relations (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping said China and Vietnam should value the positive developments in their bilateral relationship, properly handle disputes and expand cooperation. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks on Thursday while meeting Dinh The Huynh, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and executive secretary of the Secretariat of the CPV Central Committee. Xi said that with efforts from both sides, China-Vietnam relations could maintain positive momentum with good progress and cooperation across the board. The two countries should continue their friendship, maintain their current ties, properly handle disputes and expand cooperation, he added. Calling the two countries "a community of a shared future," Xi said closer communication between the CPC and the CPV would help them reach a strategic consensus. He also urged the two ruling parties to continue to share their experience in governance to enhance the abilities of both sides. Huynh said it was a consistent strategy and policy choice for Vietnam and the CPV to strengthen friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries. He said the Vietnamese side was willing to strengthen political trust, make better use of cooperation systems and enhance bilateral cooperation to promote the sound and stable development of relations between the two countries. Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, held talks with Huynh on Thursday afternoon, pledging to enhance party-to-party relations and share experiences in Party building and national governance. Liu said both countries should safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea region, properly manage differences and push forward maritime cooperation. Huynh said Vietnam and China should appropriately handle the South China Sea issue, maintain maritime security and increase the friendly feelings of the people to achieve the long-term healthy, stable development of bilateral relationship. ^ top ^

China comments on Japan's withholding dues to UNESCO (Xinhua)
China said on Wednesday that it is irresponsible for Japan to pressurize the UNESCO by withholding its dues and its attempts will not succeed. Hua Chunying, spokesperson with the Foreign Ministry, made the comments at a routine news briefing. Japan is reportedly holding back more than 40 million U.S. dollars it owes to the UNESCO after documents relating to the Nanjing Massacre were included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2015. The Nanjing Massacre is a heinous crime the Japanese militarists committed during the World War II and a historical fact recognized by the international community, Hua said. The inclusion of the documents to Memory of the World Register proves that they fully comply with the UNESCO's evaluation criteria, Hua said. "This will give full play to the positive role of the documents in helping remember history, cherish peace and safeguard human dignity." The files show the atrocities of Japanese invaders in China, who killed 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers from Dec. 13, 1937 to Jan. 1938. It is the duty of member states to pay membership fees to international organizations, Hua said, adding that Japan's words and behavior, once again, exposed its unwillingness to face up to history. "It is irresponsible for Japan to pressurize the UNESCO by withholding its dues and its attempts will not succeed." ^ top ^

Dutch envoy suspended over love affair with Chinese (Global Times)
The Dutch ambassador to China involved in a "love affair" with a Chinese embassy employee has been suspended as an investigation gets underway. "An inquiry into this case has been opened," Mariska Driessen, policy officer of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in China, told the Global Times in an email, noting that Ambassador Ron Keller, 58, would not perform any functions for the embassy while the probe is being conducted. Keller had a secret affair with a Chinese national who worked at the embassy, and the relationship between the ambassador and the Chinese woman had only recently come to light, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Monday. "A complaint against The Netherlands' ambassador to China is being investigated... The integrity of the complaint procedure requires that, at this stage, the ministry cannot share further details regarding the inquiry," said the email. Keller is currently in his country and not likely to return to Beijing, the newspaper said. He was appointed ambassador to China and Mongolia in December 2015. He had represented his government in Turkey, the Russian Federation and Ukraine before assuming his post in Beijing, said the official website of The Netherlands Embassy and Consulates in China. According to the Daily Mail, a statement, released upon Keller's appointment, said that "Keller hopes to contribute to a further strengthening of the cooperation and friendship between The Netherlands and the People's Republic of China and Mongolia." ^ top ^

Rising China to test US on global security, Henry Paulson says (SCMP)
A rising and assertive China will definitely challenge the United States in global security, but the two powers should work together on regional problems such as the North Korean nuclear crisis and South China Sea disputes. That was the assessment of former US treasury secretary Henry Paulson in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong on Monday. Paulson said China and the US would need to confront more regional security issues, but both countries should realise the importance of compromise to minimise conflict and avoid debilitating competition. “There is going to be greater security competition in Asia. China has a more assertive, proactive foreign policy as its interests are growing around the world,” he said, adding that the toughest and most urgent issue was the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. “The challenge is we are going to continuously hear voices in the US saying that China is an enabler of North Korea. But there is also an opportunity because this is a great threat... and it's close to China right here in your neighbourhood. “There is an opportunity for the two sides – the US and China – to work together to get tangible things done.” But China has insisted that it is Washington, and not Beijing, that Pyongyang wants to talk to. In a roundtable discussion with Hong Kong-based journalists, Paulson said ties between China and the US had long been affected by US-Russian and European-Russian relations, with China taking advantage of strains in those relationships. “I believe some of the tensions the US has had with Russia, and that the Europeans have had with Russia … China is taking advantage of some of those dealings. I think [the Chinese] have been very smart in dealing with that,” he said. “I think the Chinese are wise. After all, they know the US is in a very different league than Russia. The US is the major power in the world and the US-China relationship … is very important to global stability, to sustain global economic growth.” In a public conversation with Hong Kong economist Professor Lawrence Lau, academics and students at Chinese University – the publisher of the Chinese edition of the former treasury secretary's book Dealing with China – Paulson said the US should not take sides on the validity of claims over the South China Sea because the issues were complex. “When you look at territorial disputes, there are good arguments on any sides. I think it's important that we don't take sides on legitimacy,” he said. “So the position that the US takes, and I very much agree with, is that it should not be solved through force, or coercion or threats of force because what that does, the worst case is it spills into real conflicts, and that's unthinkable,” he said. ^ top ^

China urges Japan to reflect on history after Abe's offering to shrine (Xinhua)
China on Monday called on Japan to face up to and reflect upon its past aggressions, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The Yasukuni Shrine, regarded by many as a symbol of Japanese militarism, honors 14 Class-A convicted war criminals as well as millions of war dead. "We firmly opposes the wrong-doings of Japanese politicians," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing, stating that Japan should make a clear break with its militarist past so as to win trust from its Asian neigbors and the international community. ^ top ^

Spotlight: Xi's South, Southeast Asia tour deepens mutually beneficial cooperation, creates win-win prospect (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping's visits to Cambodia and Bangladesh, and attendance at the eighth BRICS summit in India have yielded fruitful results, contributing to further cooperation among developing countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday.
The friendship between China and Cambodia has always been solid and full of vigor since the two countries established diplomatic ties 58 years ago, Wang said. In recent years, the bilateral comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership has been developing to a higher level, bringing concrete benefits to both peoples, he said. During Xi's visit to Cambodia, the first leg of his Southeast and South Asia tour, the two sides have reached broad consensus on strengthening pragmatic cooperation in various fields, and have signed 31 cooperative documents on major projects such as those under the auspices of the Belt and Road Initiative, the dovetailing of development strategies, production capacity investment, and the construction of the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone. Xi and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen have agreed to deepen the bilateral comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership so as to better serve the two peoples, Wang said.
Xi's state visit to Bangladesh is the first by a Chinese head of state in three decades, Wang said. During Xi's visit, the two sides issued a joint declaration, upgrading China-Bangladesh relationship to a strategic cooperative partnership. Xi and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agreed that their countries will support each other and cooperate closely during their respective processes of realizing the dreams of "two centenary goals" and "Sonar Bangla," Wang said. The two countries have decided to cooperate in major projects in production capacity, energy and electricity, transportation, telecommunications, infrastructure and agriculture, and agreed to start the feasibility studies on the establishment of a China-Bangladesh free trade area, and establish a series of mechanisms such as bilateral dialogue and cooperation on maritime affairs, according to Wang. The two sides have also signed more than 30 important cooperative treaties, Wang added. During the visit, both leaders have reached important consensus on implementing mutually beneficial cooperation, and jointly pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative. They agreed to broaden cooperation in marine economy, seaport construction, and connectivity, a well as speeding up the construction of the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) Economic Corridor
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) cooperation mechanism. After 10 years of fast development, the bloc has expanded cooperation and played an active role in promoting global economic growth and improving global governance, Wang said. Xi attended the annual BRICS summit in the western Indian state of Goa on Sunday, and made a five-point proposal for the BRICS nations to join hands in tough times -- building an open world, mapping out a shared development vision, coping with the most pressing global challenges, safeguarding fairness and justice in the international community, and deepening partnerships within the bloc. Xi boosted confidence of BRICS cooperation, and stressed the importance of cultural cooperation among BRICS countries to increase impetus to the mechanism. Xi also attended a dialogue between BRICS and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) leaders, and called for the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative and the BIMSTEC programs, so as to advance infrastructure construction and connectivity, and strive for common development. Xi's visit successfully implemented China's neighborhood diplomacy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness by consolidating good neighborliness, pushing the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of respective countries, strengthening unity and cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries, the Chinese foreign minister concluded. ^ top ^

Chinese astronauts set for lift-off as manned missions resume (SCMP)
A two-time veteran astronaut will head China's longest manned space mission yet when the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft lifts off on Monday as part of a bigger programme to build a space station. A Long March-2F rocket would blast off with the spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre on the edge of the Gobi Desert at about 7.30am, state-run Xinhua quoted Wu Ping, mission spokeswoman and deputy director of the manned space engineering office, as saying on Sunday. It is the country's first manned space mission in more than three years – the Shenzhou-10 was launched in early 2013. Wu said Major General Jing Haipeng would lead the 33-day mission, and be accompanied by Colonel Chen Dong. Jing's previous space flights were on the Shenzhou-7 mission in September 2008 and the Shenzhou-9 in March 2012, Xinhua reported. Jing and Chen will dock within two days with the Tiangong-2 space laboratory, which was sent into orbit last month. The two astronauts will stay aloft twice as long as the previous crew on the Tiangong-1 to conduct a series of pharmaceutical, physics and biology experiments. Of the 40 studies the pair will carry out, three come from the winners of a space-science contest for Hong Kong secondary schools last year. The Hong Kong middle school students involved in the winning projects will be at the launch centre in Inner Mongolia to see the lift-off. The two astronauts were reportedly in good shape and spirits on the eve of the mission. “The job is challenging, risky and dangerous but there is nothing else I would rather do,” China Youth Daily quoted Jing, 49, as saying. Jing would turn 50 while in orbit, the report said. “[For this mission] we have improved our ability to deal with emergencies, first aid and space experiments,” Jing said. This would be Chen's first space flight, Xinhua reported. “I will treasure every moment in space and ensure I record my experience in my diary and enjoy the out-of-this-world view,” he was quoted as saying. Chen is an experienced air force pilot and was among a second intake of Chinese astronauts in May 2010. The Tiangong 2 is a prototype for the country's planned permanent space station, which it hopes to have in orbit in 2022, two years before the International Space Station goes out of service. It would leave China as the only country with a permanent space presence then. ^ top ^

China, S. Africa pledge deepened cooperation within BRICS, FOCAC (Xinhua)
China and South Africa on Saturday vowed to boost bilateral cooperation within the framework of the BRICS mechanism and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The pledge came out of a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, on the sidelines of the eighth BRICS summit in the western Indian state of Goa. Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are expected to discuss BRICS cooperation and other issues of common concern at the Oct. 15-16 summit themed "Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions." During the meeting, Xi praised the sound development momentum of bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, saying China is ready to work with South Africa to push for concrete outcomes in mutually beneficial cooperation, so as to benefit people of the two countries. The two sides should maintain high-level exchanges and deepen communication and cooperation between political parties, legislative bodies, armed forces and security sectors, said Xi. He called for experience sharing on state governance as well as mutual understanding and support between the two sides on issues concerning each other's core interests and major concerns. On friendly and win-win cooperation, the Chinese president suggested the two sides make substantial progress on existing cooperative projects, including a railway corridor, a science and technology park, vocational training and local cooperation. Xi called on the two sides to maintain close collaboration in international affairs and make concerted efforts to push forward the stable development of BRICS cooperation, so as to make greater contribution to world peace, stability and prosperity. China supports South Africa in playing a bigger role in international and regional affairs, he noted. Xi said China is firm in supporting African nations' pursuit of development paths that suit their own national conditions and free themselves of external interference and control. China is willing to work with African nations including South Africa to earnestly implement the consensus reached during the Johannesburg Summit of the FOCAC held last December, in a bid to promote win-win cooperation and common development, he added. The five BRICS leaders just met last month in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou when China hosted the 11th summit of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies. Zuma said South Africa highly appreciates the achievements of the Hangzhou Summit, especially the great attention paid to the development issues as well as the cooperation between the G20 and developing countries. South Africa is committed to deepening its relations with China, he said, voicing appreciation for China's support to South Africa in such areas as infrastructure construction and personnel training. He said South Africa is ready to strengthen cooperation with China and Africa-China cooperation within the framework of the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit. Xi arrived in Goa on Saturday noon to attend the eighth BRICS summit. India is the final stop of his Southeast Asia and South Asia tour, which has taken him to Cambodia and Bangladesh. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China upholds corruption conviction of Wukan village chief (SCMP)
A court in Guangdong province on Thursday rejected appeals by both the defendant and prosecutors of a lower court's conviction of a former village leader who led a fight against illegal land grabs. The Foshan Intermediate People's Court said in a statement on its website that Lin Zuluan, 72, the former committee head of Wukan village in Lufeng city, accepted the court's ruling on the appeal. It made no changes to the original sentence of 37 months in prison and a fine of 200,000 yuan. Prosecutors had been seeking a heavier sentence. “The court finds that Lin has committed offences of taking bribes and taking bribes as a non-state official,” the statement read. It alleged that Lin had confessed to taking bribes as a non-state official in order to receive a lesser sentence. However, during his appeal trial on October 12, Lin renounced the guilty plea he made in his first trial in September. Lin was among a group of people popularly elected in Wukan village in 2012 to replace officials implicated in illegal land seizures. He was arrested on June 18 just ahead of a planned rally the next day, which was meant to draw attention from a higher level of government to alleged illegal land sales in the village. In a video clip later released by authorities, Lin confessed to having pocketed 80,000 yuan from 420,000 yuan in funding for a local school. However, his wife and family members said the confession was false, and that Lin only made it because police had also detained his grandson. At least two lawyers hired to represent Lin were replaced against his family's will by the authorities. Lin was last month convicted of taking the funds from the school project as well as a 150,000 yuan kickback from another project, of which Lin said he had no knowledge, according to mainland media reports. Massive protests were held almost daily in Wukan after Lin's arrest, until a crackdown by riot police last month led to scores of injuries and unconfirmed reports of one death. Wukan villagers first began protesting in September 2011, over the then village committee chief selling land without their consent. Those protests eventually forced the provincial government to intervene and allow the village to pick new leaders in an open election. Lin was elected in March 2012, winning 90 per cent of the 6,899 ballots cast. ^ top ^

8-part documentary features corrupt officials' confessions (Global Times)
"I have never dreamed of coming to this end... I came from a poor family and have always hated corrupt officials but I myself have become one. This is extremely sad," Zhou Benshun, the former Party chief of Hebei Province who was sacked and indicted for corruption, confessed in a documentary aired on Monday. Zhou also discussed his obsession with Buddhism. He said despite being an atheist Communist Party of China (CPC) member, he donated money to temples whenever he encountered one and gave his dead pet turtle a Buddhist rite and buried it with handwritten scriptures. Zhou is one of 10 former Party leaders to make a rare appearance in a documentary that takes viewers behind the scenes of some of the major corruption cases. The eight-part television documentary, Always on the Road, highlights the Chinese government's resolve to pursue its fight against corruption and to help build momentum for the upcoming sixth plenary session, analysts said. Former Yunnan Province Party chief Bai Enpei and Deputy Sichuan Province Party chief Li Chuncheng also appear in the documentary. The documentary also shows footage from the trials of some former senior officials, including Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing Municipality Party chief and Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. As of press time, the Sina Weibo webpage with the hashtag Always on the Road had been viewed 480,000 times. The documentary, which started airing Monday, was jointly produced by the Publicity Department of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and CCTV. "Compared with past education materials on anti-corruption, this documentary is more impressive. Introspection from these corrupt officials could serve as a warning as well as a reminder to all officials and Party members to abide by the Party discipline," Fu Siming, a professor from the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, told the Global Times. Fu said that the CPC has also shown its resolve in cracking down on corruption, stressing that the campaign is "always on the road" and will never turn back. Future efforts "The documentary also adds momentum to the upcoming sixth plenary session of the 18th Central Committee. It serves as a link between the past and future: it summarizes the achievements against corruption since 2012 and highlights the Party's future efforts on comprehensively strengthening Party discipline," Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Research Center for Government Integrity-Building at Peking University, told the Global Times. The sixth plenary session is scheduled to be held from October 24 to 27. A work report will be submitted to the CPC Central Committee by the Political Bureau at the plenary session. It will also review key issues affecting the comprehensive and strict management of the Party, a draft on the norms of intra-Party political life, and amendments to an intra-Party supervision regulation. Zhuang said keeping Party organizations clean and selecting cadres strictly could include weeding out of unfaithful and slack officials and remove obstacles for reforms, especially when different and complicated interests are involved. Intensifying Party discipline and intra-Party supervision is not a temporary campaign but will be institutionalized with details and practices in the near future, said Zhuang. According to the CCDI's latest statement on Monday, problems such as weak Party leadership and the erratic appointment and promotion of officials were common in five institutions, including the Ministry of Public Security's Communist Party of China committee. The anti-graft watchdog has called for improved leadership and promotions. ^ top ^

Disgraced Chinese officials confess to crimes on television (SCMP)
A number of senior party officials toppled in President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign made confessions on state television this week, as Xi lays the groundwork for a once-in-a-decade leadership reshuffle. Analysts said the public humiliation of fallen senior cadres highlighted Xi's determination to enshrine his anti-graft campaign, get ruling elites to toe the party line and discourage any potential political challengers. The confessions were included in an eight-part TV series that was jointly produced by China Central Television and the Communist Party's disciplinary watchdog under Wang Qishan, Xi's right-hand man. The first episode was broadcast to the country's television viewers on Monday. The series, Always on the Road, will air daily until next Monday, when a four-day plenary session of the Central Committee is scheduled to start. It will be the committee's last major meeting before a new central leadership is formed next year. “The series paves the way [for Xi] to have a successful plenary session,” said Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance in Beijing. “This television programme syncs perfectly with the plenary session's theme: governing the party in a strict manner.” Many of the details revealed in the series cannot be independently verified. Interviews with jailed senior officials, for example, are highly unlikely to be granted to journalists outside of state media. The first episode on Monday, subtitled “Feelings of the people”, showed images of Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, the two former vice-chairmen of China's top military commission. Both disappeared from public view after being placed under investigation for graft. Guo was jailed for life in July, while Xu died of cancer while in custody last year. According to Monday's episode, Bai Enpei, the former party secretary of Yunnan province who is serving a life sentence, had many jade bracelets in his home, and his wife once demanded one worth 15 million yuan (HK$17 million) as a bribe. A disciplinary official said in the broadcast that expensive furniture and other luxury items were found in his home. Li Chuncheng, a former party deputy secretary in Sichuan province serving a 13-year sentence and a close aide to disgraced security tsar Zhou Yongkang, burst into tears during an interview segment of the programme. Li said he regretted his greed and the fact that “everyone's life is a live broadcast, and there's no way to live it again”. The episode also claimed that Zhou Benshun, the former Hebei party secretary and another close associate of Zhou Yongkang, lived in an 800 square metre house and hired a nanny to look after his pets. When one turtle died, Zhou, officially an atheist, reportedly wrote a Buddhist sutra and buried it with the pet. The broadcast also included old video clips of Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing party boss, and Zhou Yongkang, the former security tsar, on trial. However, there were no new images of the two. Zhang Ming, a political science professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said public humiliation of senior officials was part of the Cultural Revolution days, and that the televised confessions showed some similarities to those times. “It sends a warning shot to those who are still in office,” said Zhu from the Chinese Academy of Governance. ^ top ^

China establishes largest online data platform to store court cases (China Daily)
China has established the world's largest online data platform to store court case information. The platform currently contains information from 91 million cases, an official announced on Oct 16. During a conference about the intersection of Internet and law in Beijing on Oct 16, Wang Lansheng, deputy director of the Information Office under the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said that the SPC spent three years working toward the publication of case information from all the courts in China. Wang added that four open platforms have been established under the centralized data management platform, reported. The platform updates its information every five minutes, with 50,000 to 60,000 cases added daily. It includes all cases, including newly accepted cases, archived cases, closed cases and pending cases, according to an official announcement on SPC's website. Zhang explained that one of the four platforms is designed for searching judicative papers. Prestigious institutions including Harvard and Oxford have already used the platform to study China's judicial adjudication. Another platform offers public access to the implementation of criminal punishment, in addition to providing information about dishonest citizens. Currently, over 5 million people are included on the blacklist. So far, 17 high people's courts have set up information management centers and centralized data management platforms, utilizing data to conduct dynamic analysis and provide judicial commendations regarding economic and social development. ^ top ^

State firms in China launch US$1.8 billion fund to invest in poor regions (SCMP)
A group of 51 enterprises run by China's central government has launched a fund to invest in the country's poorest regions as part of a state plan to use market forces in the fight against poverty. The fund starts at 12.2 billion yuan (HK$14 billion), but firms including the Three Gorges Project Corporation, the State Grid Corporation and the State Development and Investment Corporation will gradually increase it to 100 billion yuan, the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said on its website. The state-run Xinhua news agency says 70 million people still live on less than 2,300 yuan per year, which is China's official poverty line. China has said it aims to reduce that number by at least 10 million annually, starting this year. Xinhua said the fund would invest in resources, construct industrial parks and promote urbanisation in China's poorest regions. It said priority regions included ethnic minority and border areas as well as old “revolutionary bases” of the Chinese Communist Party. China's cabinet said in a separate document on Tuesday that it would launch a pilot programme at the end of the year to develop hydropower and mineral resources in some of the most poverty-stricken regions. It said the programme would allocate stakes in hydropower and mine projects to rural collectives to give impoverished communities a bigger share of the profits. China is in the middle of a sweeping reform programme designed to rejuvenate its lumbering state sector and create industrial champions competing internationally. But the government and the Communist Party have delivered mixed messages to giant state firms, saying they should be more responsive to the market while fulfilling their social and political responsibilities. President Xi Jinping told heads of state-owned firms at a meeting this month that the Communist Party would continue to play a leadership role in reforming the state sector. He described state-owned enterprises as “the most dependable support for the party and the state” and an important force behind party efforts to “win many more historical victories”, according to an account of the meeting published by the supervision and administration commission. ^ top ^

China's top legislature schedules bi-monthly session (Xinhua)
China's top legislature will convene its bi-monthly session from Oct. 31 to Nov. 7, according to a statement issued after a chairpersons' meeting Tuesday. Attendees of Tuesday's meeting, which was chaired by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), suggested that at the upcoming session of the 12th NPC Standing Committee, legislators would continue deliberating draft laws on the film industry and public cultural services, draft general rules for the civil code, draft amendments to the marine environment protection law and the law on private education, as well as draft revisions to the law on the Red Cross Society. Legislators will also study and discuss proposals to review draft revisions to the law on small and medium-sized enterprises and the law on surveying and mapping, and to review the draft law on nuclear safety, among others. Legislators will consider a number of reports, including those on the enforcement of the exit-entry law, and inspection of environmental protection law enforcement. ^ top ^

Chinese PLA veterans' protests for pensions pose test for President Xi Jinping's modernisation plans (SCMP)
For Yu Shuiping and other Chinese veterans, the country they served has yet to show its gratitude. Fed up with paltry pensions and benefits, they are taking to the streets, hoping to shame the government into recognising what they say is its obligation to those who battled in harsh conditions along the country's borders. While largely peaceful, the sporadic protests amplify concerns over labour unrest and threaten to undermine rank-and-file support for Communist Party leader President Xi Jinping's campaign to modernise the world's largest-standing military by attracting better qualified and more highly motivated soldiers. “We support the party and the government, and we don't oppose the party or hate society,” Yu, from the central province of Hunan, said. “We just want better treatment.” Yu has for years been petitioning the government for more benefits, although he declined to discuss the specifics of his efforts. Activist Huang Qi, who tracks unrest in China, estimates that veterans have staged as many as 50 protests this year, highlighted by a demonstration on October 11 outside the Defence Ministry in central Beijing, where such actions are extremely rare. Surrounded by police and plainclothes officers, roughly 1,000 veterans from across the country, many dressed in their old uniforms, sang and marched for hours before being taken away in buses. Behind the heavy security response lies the spectre of street action by laid-off workers that has long haunted China's communist leaders, obsessed with preserving social stability at all costs. Following a wave of worker protests in the early 2000s, China faces a new round of cuts in coal mines, steel mills and other state firms, throwing millions of workers on the scrap heap. Such veterans' protests go back decades and are now facilitated by adept use of social media. The government censors information about them and veterans are highly reluctant to discuss their plight with foreign media for fear of being accused of disloyalty. Thus far, however, their actions have borne little fruit. According to most accounts, the central government's response has been to fob them off on local authorities, who then fail to act on their complaints. The authorities work to ensure some veterans are satisfied, thus keeping them from forming a united front, said Neil Diamant, a professor of Asian law and society at Pennsylvania's Dickinson College in the United States, who studies the veterans' issues. They also arrest emerging veterans' leaders, infiltrate the groups and monitor their communications, detaining large numbers if necessary, he said. “So far, this has allowed them to muddle though,” Diamant said. “My guess is that they just wait them out, hoping that age will eventually prevent many from becoming overly feisty.” Veterans also lack high-level contacts or powerful advocates, while the wars they fought in have never been particularly popular. Their status in society does not come close to matching the prestige the ruling Communist Party bestows on them, and most Chinese are more likely to sympathise with causes such as pollution and corruption that affect their daily lives. Their appearances outside government offices are met with a firm though non-confrontational response from the security forces, who in Beijing tend to load them onto buses and drive them to the outskirts of the city where they are detained until agents from their local governments arrive to take them home. “Having served in the army and taken part in war, we hope only that the government not treat us harshly,” said Yu, who added he did not take part in the recent protest in Beijing. The Defence Ministry said resolving veterans' concerns was something it took very seriously and that a new set of policies was being rolled out to address these concerns at the local level. “The temporary living difficulties of a portion of retired soldiers will gradually be resolved,” the ministry said. For the military, the immediate priority is finding work for the 300,000 soldiers being cut under an order issued last year by Xi. While demobilised soldiers used to be given jobs in state companies, that possibility no longer exists. And with a slowing economy and tightening job market, there is no certainty that the private sector will be able to absorb them in such numbers. While re-employment poses its own challenges, for older veterans such as Yu, pensions and benefits are the main concern. Despite operating the world's largest standing army, with 2.3 million personnel, China does not have a central government body to handle veterans' affairs, such as the US Veteran's Administration. Instead, cash-strapped local government offices are responsible for their welfare, and treatment varies widely across the country. While the government requires that their incomes be marginally higher than the average in their home regions, that is often not the case, especially in the countryside where most veterans live and are provided with as little as 400 yuan (US$60) per month, according to Yu. Urban dwellers suffer from a huge disparity depending on where they live, ranging from a token amount to something closer to the local average income, he said. Given the lack of centralised information, it is difficult to tell how many veterans are now receiving pensions, including those who fought in the 1950-53 Korean War, the 1962 border war with India and the 1979 invasion of Vietnam. The localised and scatter-shot nature of the system also precludes any unified figure on what the government spends on veterans. Meanwhile, China's fast-growing defence budget hit US$146 billion this year, making it the world's second largest after the US, and includes significant expenditures on welfare for troops currently serving. In the military's quest for excellence, shoddy treatment of veterans could harm efforts to attract the best recruits. That is part of the reason protesting veterans were not harshly treated, said Gao Wenqian, senior policy adviser at Human Rights in China, which has been monitoring the protests. “Stable morale among the military is one of [Xi's] biggest concerns,” Gao said. ^ top ^

China Focus: Poverty reduction highlights China's progress in human rights: white paper (Xinhua)
Poverty reduction is the most telling evidence of China's progress in human rights, as the number of citizens China has raised from poverty accounts for 70 percent of the world's total, said a white paper issued on Monday. Over the past 30 years or more since the launch of reform and opening up, more than 700 million Chinese people have been raised from poverty, said the white paper published by the State Council Information Office under the title "China's Progress in Poverty Reduction and Human Rights." "After years of trials and experimentation, China has accumulated a wealth of experience in promoting human rights through development-oriented poverty reduction, and established a new model of development-oriented poverty alleviation with Chinese characteristics," the paper noted. To fight poverty, the Chinese government assigned special poverty relief funds amounting to 189.84 billion yuan (about 28.17 billion U.S. dollars) from 2011 to 2015, with an average annual growth rate of 14.5 percent. The government will allocate more funds to keep pace with the needs of poverty relief in the coming five years, said the paper. By the end of 2015, China still had 55.75 million people living in poverty, equivalent to the entire population of a medium-sized country. The country plans to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020.
The Chinese government prioritized education in its efforts to eradicate poverty during the 2011-2015 period, said the paper. To ensure poor people's access to education, the government has taken measures to promote balanced compulsory education, bridge the education gap between urban and rural areas, improve education infrastructure in impoverished areas and allotting living subsidies to the students, the paper said. In 2012-2015, the central government injected 83.1 billion yuan in renovating schools for compulsory education and earmarked 14 billion yuan to build dormitory buildings for some 300,000 teachers in remote rural areas, the document showed. In less-developed central and western China, the number of children enrolled in kindergartens rose from 21.53 million in 2011 to 27.89 million in 2015, up about 30 percent. The country offered cost-of-living subsidies for rural teachers in contiguous poverty-stricken areas, benefiting over one million teachers in 600 counties. A directional enrollment program was carried out in poverty-stricken areas, enrolling 183,000 students in 832 impoverished counties from 2012 to 2015. In 2013-2015, the average annual growth rate of rural students from poor areas enrolled in key universities was kept above 10 percent, according to the document.
In order to ensure children's rights to social security, education and other public services are effectively protected in its poverty relief efforts, China has introduced an appropriate and all-inclusive welfare and service system for children and carried out experimental work on encouraging social protection of minors, said the paper. The country also promoted the establishment of a system for rescuing and protecting minors and a children's welfare and protection network at the county, township and village levels, the document showed. Since 2011, more than half of China's counties have implemented a program of nutrition improvement for rural students receiving compulsory education, with the central government spending 67 billion yuan benefiting 33.6 million rural students. As of 2012, the government carried out a nutrition improvement program for children in poor areas, providing free nutrition packages to infants aged six to 24 months and popularizing knowledge on healthy feeding among guardians. In 2015 alone, the central government allocated subsidies of 500 million yuan to this program, benefiting 2.11 million children in 341 counties, the white paper said.
China has entered the crucial stage of poverty reduction as the fight against poverty remains tough despite remarkable achievements in the past, according to the white paper.
The country still has a large population living in profound poverty and the sulutions to their problems are becoming increasingly costly and complex, said the white paper.
"This will prove a hard nut to crack," the white paper said, referring to the country's poverty reduction task in future.
Most of them live in extreme poverty and have weak capacity for development, while the time pressure is huge for China to accomplish its target of lifting all the poor out of poverty by 2020, the paper said.
Moreover, a large number of those who just escaped poverty can be pushed back into it as a result of natural disaters, illness, or high costs of education, marriage and housing, according to the paper.
To eradicate poverty by 2020, China has pledged to lift 10 million people out of poverty every year from 2016 through developing specialty industries, transfer employment, relocation and social security coverage.
The central government will continue to increase transfer payments to impoverished areas and ensure substantial growth in its funding for poverty alleviation, said the paper.
Investments within the central budget will be tilted in support of the poor, the white paper noted. ^ top ^

China set to free 'last Tiananmen prisoner' – but he'll be frail and ill, rights group says (SCMP)
A rights group said the country's last-known prisoner held in relation to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests would be released on Saturday, but he would face freedom as a frail and mentally ill man. Miao Deshun's release follows an 11-month sentence reduction, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that advocates for the rights of political prisoners in China. Dui Hua executive director John Kamm said the 51-year-old former factory worker was severely ill after spending more than half his life behind bars. Miao's release date could not be independently verified. The authorities did not respond to requests for comment. Troops converged in Beijing to quash pro-democracy protests on the night of June 3-4, 1989, killing hundreds of people. Miao, then 24, received a suspended death sentence for arson after he was convicted of throwing a basket at a burning tank with other four workers during the protest. His sentence was commuted to life in jail in 1991 and reduced several times afterwards. In May, Dui Hua said Miao's term had been cut by 11 months for good behaviour. It said he would be released from Beijing's Yanqing Prison on Saturday. Miao had never admitted his wrongdoings in the protest, the foundation said at the time, quoting a former inmate. Dui Hua also said Miao suffered from hepatitis B and schizophrenia. Miao is widely seen as the last person to remain behind bars for his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of state-run Global Times, previously wrote in a commentary about Miao that “the life of anyone who bet on the wrong side of history weighs less than a feather”. ^ top ^



China's internet censors target video viewers' live comments (SCMP)
Internet censors in China are targeting another pastime enjoyed by millions – the joy of making rubbish real-time comments while watching online videos. For censors in Shanghai, such light-hearted comments – often no more than “hahaha” or a few emoji flashing for a few seconds – are too dangerous to be left unwatched. Internet security authorities in Shanghai said on Tuesday they would step up oversight of the content published on video streaming sites, including live comments from viewers, which are known as danmu – meaning “barrage” or “bullet screen”. The move reflects the increasingly intrusive and pre-emptive internet censorship on the mainland, as authorities get more assertive about controlling online information. The decree, released by the internet security department of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, said that video websites hosted in the city had to set up a keyword database to filter out words that “violate laws and rules”. The sites also had to assign staff to review all online comments on videos in real time, and set up channels for online users to file complaints through. The new rules come after the Shanghai police shut down more than a million live broadcasting accounts and checked the identities of 450,000 live broadcasting hosts. And the Shanghai clampdown is just one part of the country's overall efforts to tame the internet. For instance, China has revised its laws to make spreading online rumours a criminal offence, and from this month on, records of private conversations from online chatrooms can be accepted as legal evidence. Tightened state control over the internet is now a day-to-day reality for China's online service operators. “We have been very cooperative with the authority for a long time,” said the chief editor of AC Fun, a video streaming website that is well known for its “bullet screen culture”. Another site rich in danmu is Bilibili, which has 50 million users. “It's a cat and mouse game,” said David Bandurski, a researcher for the University of Hong Kong's China Media Project. He said the authorities wanted complete control of information but also wanted to have a vigorous internet to boost the economy. In a recent speech on cyberspace, President Xi Jinping said China should seek more home-grown internet innovations and enhanced cybersecurity measures, according to Xinhua. However, even though China has formidable internet policing and censorship technologies, it will be hard for the government to eliminate unwanted live comments completely. “It might be difficult to implement those rules, as live streaming content has always been hard to control,” said Zoe Dong, a vice-president at investment bank China Renaissance. ^ top ^


Inner Mongolia

China sentences former senior policeman to 18 years (Xinhua)
A former senior policeman in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of bribery, illegal possession of firearms, and corruption. The Hulun Buir Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday found Feng Zhiming guilty of taking bribes worth 3.89 million yuan (about 580,000 million U.S. dollars) between 2008 and 2014, and he was unable to account for another 34.4 million yuan (5.13 million U.S. dollars) in his possession. Feng was also found to have four unauthorized guns and 549 bullets in his possession. Feng, former deputy director of the Public Security Bureau of Hohhot City, enraged the Chinese public after his role in the wrongful conviction of a teenager was exposed. Under his watch, an innocent teenager named Huugjilt was executed for murder and rape in Hohhot in 1996. Years later, a serial rapist confessed to the crime, which eventually resulted in the exoneration of Huugjilt and suspicion about Feng's performance of his duties. Feng was taken for questioning in December 2014. Further investigation into the case led to the discovery of more crimes committed by Feng during his term of office. Feng stood trial on August 1, 2016. ^ top ^



Hong Kong's NGOs isolated and confused by mainland China's new law restricting activities, research finds (SCMP)
The mainland's adoption of a law governing overseas NGOs has sent a chill throughout the sector in Hong Kong that operates there, with some groups saying they had stopped work over the border, a study has found. The research, released by the China Philanthropy Research Institute and China Global Philanthropy Institute, found many non-governmental organisations in the city felt alienated and uncertain after the law was passed in April. They said it was especially troubling the law categorised NGOs in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as overseas groups, even though they were based in China. Organisations interviewed for the study said they felt mainland government agencies had undergone a change in attitude. Some reported considerable increase in paperwork, and stricter and more complicated procedures to get projects or activities approved. Some said their sponsors had asked them to suspend their work on the mainland. Others declined to even be interviewed, citing concerns over the law. One founder of an unidentified Hong Kong NGO was quoted as saying the group was started in 1998 and all its members were Hongkongers. Given Hong Kong was part of China, they should be treated as local NGO, the founder said. Under the Law on Management of Domestic Activities of Overseas Non-governmental Organisations, all overseas NGOs must register with and obtain approval from the police rather than the Ministry of Civil Affairs, which their domestic counterparts must do. The requirement takes effect next year. “Hong Kong NGOs are concerned about the new law,” Huang Haoming, secretary general of the China Association for NGO Cooperation, said. “I think dialogue should be conducted at the government level to communicate and find a package solution, rather than for each NGO to go through the [approval] process one by one.” Nearly 10,000 overseas philanthropic groups are present on the mainland. Nine Hong Kong NGOs are currently registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs as overseas foundations. But more than 100 members of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service were involved in projects on the mainland in 2013 with 2,000 staff members based there, the report quoted the council as saying. The report said the relationship between NGOs and local governments was fraught with uncertainty, and even for groups with strong ties, it was still unclear how the registration would work, given their work spanned so many areas. Contributions by Hong Kong NGOs account for the bulk of overseas donations to the mainland, with 8.21 billion yuan given between 2009 and 2014. In 2014 alone, 1.15 billion yuan (HK$1.32 billion) was given to the mainland, representing 58 per cent of all overseas donations. ^ top ^

State media Xinhua repeats news of Sing Pao chief embroiled in alleged illegal funds scandal (SCMP)
Mainland state media yesterday repeated news that the boss of local newspaper Sing Pao Daily News was allegedly involved in illegal financial activities with a Shenzhen-based finance platform. The report by Xinhua said Gu Zhuoheng, 44, chairman of pro-establishment Sing Pao Media Enterprises since October 2014, was wanted by Shenzhen police for an alleged connection to a case of illegally receiving some 150 million yuan (HK$173 million) from financial platform, based in Shenzhen. Gu denied similar reports, published previously, in a statement in August, saying he had no relationship with the platform, which claimed to be China's first online medium of its kind providing services from peer-to-peer lending to financing for small and medium-sized enterprises. Gu also stressed that he had been free to travel between Hong Kong and the mainland. He earlier claimed he had been under revenge-driven political attack since last year because he would not submit to a “certain power”. He has not identified the power. The details of the case had been carried by mainland media including Southern Metropolis Daily in April last year, and the semi official Hong Kong China News Agency in August this year. Some pro-Beijing newspapers in Hong Kong also repeated the reports. The recent reports followed an attack by the usually pro-establishment Sing Pao against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in August. The newspaper accused Leung of allowing Beijing's liaison office to interfere in domestic affairs, alleging the office might not be representative of the central government's view. Its attacks against Leung and the office escalated last month to include state leader Zhang Dejiang, who heads Hong Kong and Macau affairs. The newspaper, known for its conservative editorial policy, first raised eyebrows in August with a full-page commentary accusing Leung of indirectly encouraging Hong Kong independence talk. ^ top ^

Hong Kong legal battle over lawmakers' oath-taking goes to the heart of city's unique constitutional status (SCMP)
In two weeks' time, the Court of First Instance will deal with one of Hong Kong's most significant constitutional law cases ever: whether the chief executive has a sound argument for overturning the Legislative Council president's decision to hear a second oath from pro-independence, anti-China lawmakers. The government's central argument in the unprecedented lawsuit brought by Leung Chun-ying and justice secretary Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung is that Youngspiration lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching failed to deliver a proper oath when they appeared to pledge allegiance to a Hong Kong nation last week. With that failure in mind, they should be deemed disqualified, according to a court submission late on Tuesday night by Johnny Mok Shiu-luen SC, who represented the government and is a member of Beijing's Basic Law Committee. On the other hand, Jat Sew-tong SC, who acted for Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, dismissed the nature of the government's argument as “dubious”, cautioning the court against moves that would constitute “serious deprivation” of the pair's constitutional rights. Two legal provisions are at stake in the legal battle. Under Article 104 of the Basic Law, lawmakers assuming office should “swear to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China” and swear allegiance to the HKSAR of the PRC. Under section 21 of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance, any lawmaker who “declines or neglects” to take an oath duly requested should either have his or her office vacated or be disqualified from the office. In the urgent court proceedings on Tuesday – which primarily dealt with, and quashed, the government's request for an interim injunction against a new oath for the two – Mok offered a glimpse into the government's main argument for reviewing Andrew Leung's decision. He said under the Basic Law provision, special attention should be given to the words “of the People's Republic of China” after mentioning Hong Kong. The emphasis on national sovereignty, he added, reflected the spirit in the law which was betrayed by the acts of the two lawmakers. “The members not only neglected to [take the oath] but... they want to exhibit to the world [that] 'I do not accept these principles',” Mok told the court. University of Hong Kong legal scholar Eric Cheung Tat-ming lamented that the argument was “a far cry” from his understanding of the Basic Law – the mini-constitution that gives Hong Kong special status distinct from the mainland. The arguments, he added, “were familiar in the sense they bore resemblance to the editorial views of Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po”, two of Hong Kong's most pro-communist papers. For pro-democracy lawmakers and academics, the government's move was a threat to – if not violation of – the separation of powers. HKU law professor Johannes Chan Man-mun said: “As the Legco president has already made a ruling... the secretary for justice's decision [to lodge a judicial review] is in contravention of separation of powers and appears to be based on political, rather than public, interests.” But the justice secretary dismissed such worries. “When the view of the legislature or the Legco president differs from that of the executive authorities, the most appropriate way is to submit the question to the court for adjudication,” Yuen said yesterday. “This is a practice that shows respect for the rule of law. Oath-taking is... different from Legco's own affairs.” Ronny Tong Ka-wah, ex-lawmaker and former Bar Association chairman, agreed that if a lawmaker-elect failed to complete the oath-taking process, he or she could be considered disqualified. The decision rested with the judiciary rather than the legislature, he said. The justice secretary said there was no need at this stage to start the hugely controversial option of seeking an intrepretation of the Basic Law by the National People's Congress Standing Committee: “We understand the central authorities have the right to interpret provisions of the Basic Law but we consider the Hong Kong judiciary capable of handling the questions in the judicial processes we launched last night.” There were strong protests in the legal sector when the Tung Chee-hwa administration sought Beijing's constitutional interpretation that effectively overturned a right-of-abode decision by the city's top court. The Basic Law guarantees that Hong Kong's judicial system enjoys the power of final adjudication – unless the NPC Standing Committee considers it necessary to interpret the law in cases that are the responsibility of the central government or concern the relationship between the central government and Hong Kong. When government lawyers enter the courtroom again in two weeks, it will be far more than just another legal debate. It is a case that could trigger the unprecedented scenario of democratically elected lawmakers being disqualified – or unpredictable reactions from mainland officials wary of public office holders preaching secessionist agendas. Either way, the case sets the stage for uncertainty and public resentment. ^ top ^

Hong Kong chief executive election candidates will have to sign new 'loyalty' declaration (SCMP)
A controversial government move to screen out independence advocates from running in last month's Legislative Council polls will be extended to the election for the city's top leader in March. According to guidelines issued on Thursday by the Electoral Affairs Commission, chief executive candidates will have to sign a “confirmation form” to acknowledge their understanding of the Basic Law. The wording of the confirmation form was not revealed, but the guidelines stated that it was to help the returning officers “ensure that the nomination procedure is completed in accordance with the law”. This is in addition to the requirement for candidates to sign a declaration that they will uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong special administrative region. A commission spokesman said the additional requirement was decided after “taking into consideration the views received during a 14-day public consultation exercise” in June. A source said the government was merely executing a legal requirement in a consistent fashion, following similar arrangements for Legco election candidates. The requirement for signing an extra confirmation form was introduced in July during the nomination period for the Legco elections amid a rising tide of calls for Hong Kong independence. Critics condemned the measure as censorship of political thought and some pan-democrats questioned its legality. Many pan-democrat Legco candidates did not sign the form but their nominations were still validated, while pro-independence candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei, who had signed the form, was disqualified. Two others, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching of the localist party Youngspiration, did not sign the form but were allowed to run. They won seats but are now steeped in a controversy over their use of “insulting and derogatory words against the Chinese people” during their swearing-in last week. Their oaths were rejected. The government is taking the case to the court in a bid to disqualify them. Dr Chung Kim-wah, a political analyst at Polytechnic University, said the government's latest move was to “silence critics who have argued against the new form during the Legco elections”. “I can't imagine someone who is against the Basic Law or who does not recognise that Hong Kong is part of China can get nominated by the Election Committee,” he added. Under the guidelines, the ceiling of election expenses will be raised from HK$13 million in 2012 to HK$15.7 million, but the commission has not specified when the nomination period will start. The leadership election will be held on March 26 next year. Candidates will have to be nominated by at least 150 members of the 1,200-strong Election Committee. Incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has yet to confirm whether he will seek a second term. Other widely tipped candidates include Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. In a poll commissioned by Lingnan University, Tsang was the most popular pick among the public, with the support of 20 per cent of the 1,015 respondents, compared with 5 per cent for Leung and 3.4 per cent for Lam. ^ top ^

No need for NPC to intervene in Hong Kong oath-taking saga, veteran politician Rita Fan says (SCMP)
Beijing-friendly political heavyweight Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai on Thursday dismissed any need for the national parliament to interpret Hong Kong's Basic Law after the city's government clashed with the legislature over whether to allow a pair of anti-China lawmakers to take a fresh oath of office. Fan, a former Legislative Council president and a member of the National People's Congress standing committee, also came to the government's defence over its application for a judicial review of the Legco president's decision to allow them to retake the oath. The move would not undermine the city's separation of powers since such a system did not even exist under its mini-constitution, she said. Fan waded into the debate as the two pro-independence, anti-China lawmakers who were obstructed from retaking their oath by pro-establishment politicians this week remained unapologetic and even combative towards their own supporters. Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching angered Chinese and Hong Kong officials by declaring allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation” and pronouncing China as “Chee-na”, which sounded like the derogatory “Shina” used by Japan during the second world war. The legal battle to disqualify them has sparked concerns as to whether Beijing may intervene through an interpretation of the Basic Law, possibly on what constitutes a valid oath. But Fan, part of the inner core of the national parliament, echoed Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung in dismissing such speculation. “I have not heard about the NPC mulling a Basic Law interpretation to resolve the oath-taking saga, nor do I find that necessary,” she said. Fan pointed out that the separation of powers was not a constitutional reality, when asked if Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had violated such a principle by legally challenging Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen's decision to give the offending localists a second chance. Without naming them, Fan criticised their “irresponsible” conduct. “Some lawmakers took the oath childishly, insincerely and irresponsibly,” she said. “A human being should be prepared to be accountable [for] what he or she did.” A poll released on Thursday showed that public opinion is nearly equally split over whether advocates of Hong Kong independence should be qualified as lawmakers. Some 41.3 per cent said they should, while 40.9 per cent held the opposite view, leaving a significant 20 per cent unsure, according to a poll of 1,015 respondents conducted by Lingnan University's public governance programme and commissioned by Future@Hong Kong group. Some of the localists' own supporters have been chastising the pair for “committing suicide”. ^ top ^

Hong Kong's legislature in total gridlock as pro-establishment walkout leaves localists unable to retake oaths (SCMP)
Two pro-independence lawmakers were unable to retake their oaths yesterday after their pro-establishment rivals forced the session to be aborted by walking out, plunging the Legislative Council into further paralysis and uncertainty at the beginning of its new term. In denying the localists a second chance to be sworn in, after they insulted China and referred to Hong Kong as a “nation” when they modified their oaths last week, pro-establishment politicians were hailed yesterday as “lawmakers who love the country and love Hong Kong” by state news agency Xinhua. But their political opponents accused them of siding with the administration in letting it interfere in the legislature's operation – using, in an ironic role reversal, the same tactics that the pan-democrats are known for. Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung dismissed accusations that the government had damaged the separation of powers by mounting a legal challenge the night before the Legco meeting to bar the localists from retaking their oaths. Yuen denied the possibility of Beijing being behind the legal action, and stressed there was no plan to seek the highly controversial option of going beyond local courts to ask the national legislature to interpret the Basic Law. Pro-establishment legislators said their walkout was targeted at Youngspiration's Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who caused offence by pronouncing China as “Chee-na” in their oaths last Wednesday, using what sounded like the derogatory term “Shina” that Japan employed during war time. “Our action was in response to many Hong Kong residents and Chinese all around the world who were angered,” said Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. “We cannot allow those who insult Chinese to retake the oath with no remorse.” Another localist lawmaker, Lau Siu-lai, became collateral damage as the session ended before she could retake her oath. The High Court on Tuesday night rejected the government's last-minute application for an interim injunction to stop the two localists from retaking their oaths. But the court allowed the administration to seek a judicial review of Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen's decision to hold a second swearing-in session, for which a hearing will be held on November 3. Pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho said his camp would do everything possible to shut out the localist pair, including tabling a motion to have the next swearing-in session put on hold until the court ruled on the legality of allowing them to retake their oaths. But that will be difficult to achieve because such a motion will need the democratic camp's support to pass, raising the prospect of further chaos in Legco. The drama in the chamber took all of 19 minutes yesterday. Just as the Youngspiration pair were set to retake their vows, the DAB's Gary Chan made a quorum call to check if at least half of the 70 lawmakers were present. As the bell rang for 15 minutes, all pro-establishment lawmakers walked out, leaving only the 29 members of the opposing camp behind and prompting the Legco president to adjourn the meeting to next Wednesday. The Youngspiration pair said they would not bow to demands for an apology. “We bear the expectations of tens of thousands of voters. If we apologise so easily, it means we cannot live up to their expectations,” Yau said. Baggio Leung added: “If any legislator... could be obstructed by the pro-Beijing majority... to discuss politics and express their views with such measures, then what's the point of the election?” About 300 protesters outside Legco cheered after the walkout, and called the two localists “dogs”. The Legco president said it was “unfortunate” he had to adjourn the meeting, but added “we are far from a constitutional crisis”. Andrew Leung insisted he had the constitutional duty to let the duly-elected localists perform their duties, but noted that the pro-establishment camp also had the right to express their views by leaving their seats. With oath-taking incomplete, the new Legco is unlikely to deal with any bills or other matters. Separately, Foreign Ministry commissioner Song Zhe dismissed the argument for self-determination held by some Hongkongers as “confused and misleading” and “in no one's interest”. ^ top ^

Legco president goes from villain to accidental hero in one week (SCMP)
The Legislative Council's new president, Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, has become an accidental hero – or victim, some might say. Either way, the spotlight is on the pro-establishment lawmaker who now appears to be protecting the election mandates of the very people who so vehemently opposed his presidency, even if it puts him at odds with the government. Having barely started his new job, Leung is now handling a hot potato of a walkout staged by his own pro-establishment colleagues on Wednesday to counter his decision to allow two incoming separatist councillors to retake the oaths they controversially modified in the first council meeting last week. While Leung spoke of being in “a lonely job” with “no friends”, Andrew Wong Wang-fat, the last Legco president during British colonial rule, gave his thumbs up to Leung's performance – at least for how he had handled the swearing-in dilemma so far. “His rivals would certainly raise a lot of criticisms. But the only thing Andrew Leung needs to care about is to strictly follow the rules of procedure,” Wong said. “He has the power to administer councillors' retaking of oath. And in the absence of a quorum, a meeting cannot proceed.” Just as his political rivals were taking him to task over his British citizenship, which Leung had to renounce as the head of the legislature, he was thrust into the spotlight on Tuesday. That was when he invalidated the oaths taken by Youngspiration duo Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching because of their anti-China actions, but decided they should be allowed to retake their oaths. This has put a spanner in the works for the government, which is challenging his decision in court as it seeks to have the pair kicked out of Legco, sparking concerns about the executive branch “interfering” with the legislature. Leung sought to play it down, saying: “We are far from a constitutional crisis.” While refusing to comment on the court case, Leung defended his decision: “Although I did not approve the behaviour of the two members during the oath-taking, and I have also ruled their oath invalid, they are duly elected. And as the Legco president, I have a constitutional duty to safeguard their rights to fulfil their duties as Legco members.” Leung had to adjourn yesterday's meeting when pro-establishment legislators walked out to prevent a quorum needed to swear them in again. He did not criticise his political allies for forcing the meeting to be aborted, only describing it as “unfortunate”. “I know that there are different views in society regarding the behaviour of the two [localists]. And legislators have their right to express their views. They chose to express theirs by leaving their seats.” ^ top ^

Chinese VP meets with HK official delegation (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao on Tuesday met with a delegation from the Hong Kong Special Administration (SAR) Government, stressing patriotism. The delegation was led by Cheung Wan-ching, Secretary for the Civil Service of China's Hong Kong SAR Government, along with other senior officials. Hong Kong has maintained prosperity and stability since it returned to the motherland 19 years ago under the "one country, two systems" policy, and the central authorities will continue to firmly support the work of the Hong Kong SAR Government, said Li. Li called on the Hong Kong officials to "fully and accurately" implement the "one country, two systems" policy, vigorously join the country's development and strive for Hong Kong's bright future. ^ top ^

Bookseller Lam Wing-kei commends US and British governments for Hong Kong concern (SCMP)
Lam Wing-kei thanked British and US officials for their concern over the case of the missing booksellers and for their ongoing support for law enforcement in the territory. In an article released to media, Lam wrote: “I would like to express gratitude to the British and the US government for their continuous concerns for Hong Kong people.” “I appeal to all democratic countries to speak up for the justice of Hong Kong's people, who resist the political powers that are invading their freedoms,” the article read. Lam was one of five booksellers, including three Hong Kong citizens, one Swedish national and British citizen Lee Po, who disappeared separately from Thailand, Hong Kong and Shenzhen from October to December last year. They were later confirmed to have been detained by mainland authorities with state-controlled television broadcasting their confession videos. Four of the five have since returned to Hong Kong, including Lee. Lam's article came after the British government released the six-month report on Wednesday. Citing the disappearance of the Hong Kong booksellers, the report urged Beijing to restore confidence in the “one country, two system” policy. The British report came less than a week after the US congressional commission on China issued its latest annual report on human rights and rule of law conditions in China, which also highlighted similar concerns. Lam slammed the mainland government for increasingly intervening the city's affairs over the years. “Besides political reform, the violent clearance of umbrella movement...the manipulation of the Legco election — the handling of the Causeway Bay Bookstore is the most blatant one,” he said. ^ top ^



Is it one birthday, two Chinas? (SCMP)
The shine of the Republic of China is dimming. But it still symbolises the historic link across the Taiwan Strait. While the world's last major communist-ruled nation and one of Asia's most vibrant free democracies have shared nothing in ideology, rulers on both sides have embraced the 1911 revolution, which overthrew millennia of dynastic rule and founded the first republic, as a milestone in the history of China. That was why cross-strait relations improved steadily under Taiwan's Beijing-friendly leader Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang in the eight years up to 2016. But the bond has weakened after Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, became president in May. Both China's communists and Taiwan's pro-independence forces have long tried to put an end to the Republic of China (ROC). Despite the communist endorsement of 1911 revolution, the aim of the bloody civil war between Mao Zedong's red army and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists between 1945 and 1949, in which millions of innocent Chinese were killed, was to replace the ROC with a communist people's republic. And since its founding in 1986, the DPP has aimed to achieve the island's independence from China, and thus to eventually eliminate the ROC. As Taipei held big events to mark the republic's 105th anniversary on Monday, Beijing was watching carefully whose birthday Tsai's government was celebrating. Which ROC did they mean: a republic also covering the mainland, as the Kuomintang claimed; or just the island, as the DPP said the “ROC in Taiwan”? While Beijing might be disappointed Tsai did not commit to its cherished “one China” principle, she used the occasion to sound a conciliatory note by vowing to maintain the “status quo”. In her first National Day speech as president, she urged Beijing to face up the reality of “the ROC's continuous existence” and “its people's unshakeable faith in democracy”. The events, and Tsai's speech, suggested the DPP government's recognition – despite it being a nominally separatist party – of the self-ruled republic's historical link with the mainland, despite the ROC's sovereignty now only covering the island and its 23 million people. And this might provide reason for both sides to talk to each other, as they both – at least namely – claimed to inherit the ROC's founding father Sun Yat-sen's political legacy of “Three People's Principles”: people's livelihood, nationalism and democracy, as assimilated into the ROC constitution. While achieving national unification by force is out of the question, as it would be another civil war and go against universally accepted norms in modern world, democracy has become the only solution as both sides recognise it. But the political reality is that while the mainland is still under authoritarian communist rule, despite its tremendous economic progress in recent decades, the ROC has evolved a lot from Chiang Kai-shek's autocracy on the mainland before 1949. The island completed its democratic development throughout the 1980s and 1990s, under two reformist leaders – Kai-shek's son Chiang Ching-kuo, and Taiwan native leader Lee Teng-hui – to become one of the most mature democracies in the world. This was evidenced by the first presidential election in 1994 and the first smooth and democratic power transition in Chinese history in 2000 when the DPP's Chen Shui-bian was elected president. In a democracy, any change of the status quo should be approved by the people. That is the “reality of today's ROC” that Tsai means for Beijing to accept as it pushes its reunification endeavour. ^ top ^



China needs more economic reformers to take up top jobs: Henry Paulson (SCMP)
China needs to get “more economic reformers” into key jobs as part of its upcoming leadership reshuffle, in order to break up state-run monopolies and allow the private economy to boom, former US treasury secretary Henry Paulson says. Paulson made the comments in an interview with the South China Morning Post covering a wide range of issues relating to Sino-US ties. Paulson has long experience with China, having dealt with national leaders ranging from President Xi Jinping to anti-corruption tsar Wang Qishan in his decades as an investment banker and a Washington official. He said China's future economic success depended on breaking up oligopolies and putting state enterprises on a “level playing field” with private businesses. But he said this would be an uphill battle for the Chinese leadership due to resistance from the country's vested interests. “The reforms [Xi] has outlined are the right reforms. But to get some of these done will be very difficult and it's going to take strong political will, particularly dealing with state-owned enterprises,” said Paulson, who was in Hong Kong to promote the Chinese version of his book, Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower. “There is big resistance from vested interests in China that don't want to open up to competition,” he said. Paulson, who has served as the chief executive of Goldman Sachs and is now the chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, is often regarded as a key messenger between Beijing and Washington thanks to his extensive ties on both sides. Paulson has spoken with Xi as well as his two predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin. His latest meeting with the current president took place in April – an extraordinary level of access for a former treasury secretary who no longer held an official position. Paulson said there was “a difficult political climate” and “a tough period in terms of the challenges” for relations between the world's two biggest economies. He blamed the tensions on rising sentiments of protectionism and populism, especially on the American side during a presidential campaign. He said the two countries needed to work harder to turn their shared interests into tangible accomplishments. In a roundtable discussion yesterday in Hong Kong, Paulson added that “Xi Jinping is a very strong and ambitious leader who is looking to make a lot of changes in China”. “The bad news is it's a big job,” he added, referring to a host of challenges Xi faced, from the economy to the environment. For Paulson, the biggest risk for China's economy in the short term is overcapacity and a slowdown, with rising debt among local governments and state-owned enterprises a problem for the medium term. He said China's long-term challenge was to find new drivers of growth. His reading of the nation's economy is largely in line with Beijing's own. China, at least on paper, has pledged to reduce excessive capacity, to cut its debt ratio and to empower growth with innovation instead of investment. However, real progress remains elusive. “I will tell you, China has some unprecedented challenges right now in terms of reforming the economy,” Paulson said. “The agenda President Xi Jinping laid out was the right one, but getting it done is proving more difficult.” Paulson's take on key issues: Chinese President Xi Jinping “Xi Jinping is a very strong and ambitious leader who is looking to make a lot of changes in China. He is not looking to follow a Western model based on universal suffrage. That is for sure.” “Xi's view is that the Communist Party is the only institution that is strong enough to maintain stability while modernising the economy and the government.” “In terms of President Xi Jinping's economic reform agenda, I'm very supportive of the agenda. The key challenge is to get it done.” “I think the good news is he is a strong guy. The bad news is it's a big job.” Sino-US relations “What I see is a difficult political climate, a tough period in terms of the challenges, but a need on both countries' parts to find common ground … and turn those shared interests into tangible accomplishments so the public in both countries can see the benefits.” US presidential candidate Donald Trump “I do not believe the United States and the Americans are going to let Donald Trump become president … I think the challenge is Donald Trump, with his anti-China rhetoric and with his anti-trade rhetoric, is going to make the job for all of us more difficult going forward.” The Chinese currency “I look forward to the day when China has a truly market-determined solution... To get there, you need to have a currency that is market-determined, an open capital market, and you are going to need a competitive, open financial system.” South China Sea “When you look at territorial disputes, there are good arguments on any sides. I think it's important that we don't take sides on legitimacy… Economic integration and linkages in Asia are very very important, and I think tensions, or threat of force in the South China Sea threatens those economic linkages.” Hong Kong “I am an American, I believe in universal suffrage … I think there is going to be toing and froing for some time between Beijing and different groups in Hong Kong as they develop the institutions here and as the political system evolves … There will be a lot of people in the world that will be looking at this. I know the Taiwanese people will be looking at this closely.” ^ top ^



NK tourism hardly affected by tensions (Global Times)
Chinese tourist Liu Zhun has always known that security checks in North Korea were unique in the world, but was still shocked when a North Korean security officer asked him to hand in his cellphone and iPad when he landed at the Pyongyang airport during the National Day holiday. The stern officer deftly clicked on iQiyi, a streaming App, trying to see if there were any downloaded South Korean dramas or American movies, both forbidden in North Korea. Other security officers, some speaking fluent Chinese, asked Chinese tourists to form a line and open their luggage for inspection. Liu was one of thousands of Chinese tourists who visited North Korea for the seven-day National Day holiday in early October. Despite North Korea's nuclear tests this year and the strictest UN sanctions, tourism in North Korea was hardly affected. "During the National Day holiday, we sent around 100 tourists each day to North Korea," said an anonymous staff member from the Dandong branch of CYTS Tours in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, adding that the number remains relatively the same as in previous years. He said that the majority of Chinese visitors to North Korea are middle-aged or seniors, who share a special affinity to the country because of the Korean War. Many young people were simply curious. The routes are always the same. They are designed to cover the main landmarks in Pyongyang, including the Tower of the Juche Idea, Kim Il-sung Square, the Triumphal Arch and the Monument to the Korean Workers' Party. They also ride the Pyongyang metro, the deepest in the world, and enjoy a 40-minute performance of well-trained children from the Pyongyang Children's Palace, the top institute for children's extra-curricular activities. Besides Pyongyang, visitors also head south to Kaesong, the capital of ancient Korea, as well as Panmunjom to visit the border between North and South Korea. "You can barely feel the tensions. On the contrary, the North Koreans were very proud of their nuclear tests and missiles," Liu told the Global Times. "But I heard that the visits to Panmunjom were canceled for most tour groups, which might be an effect of the tensions," he said. Liu said that while visiting Panmunjom, the military border that separates the Korean Peninsula, the North Korean tour guide asked him to cover a T-shirt with a US flag printed on it. Tourist experience The tour usually takes from a day to a week, ranging from 750 yuan ($115) to more than 10,000 yuan per person. A 2015 report said that North Korea attracted 100,000 foreign tourists in 2014, including around 95,000 Chinese, which netted $30.7 million, Chosun Ilbo reported. "The North Korean tour does not limit the type of tourists, except for some public servants, whom China prohibits from visiting North Korea," Arirang travel agency's Wang Xia told the Global Times in Beijing. Tourists can only take a tour run by the State-run tourism corporation inside North Korea. They often stay in the country's largest hotels, including Yanggakdo International Hotel and the Sosan Hotel in Pyongyang, and are provided local cuisine, such as pork hotpot or "Samgyetang," ginseng-chicken soup, with waitresses singing and dancing as they dine. Tourists are taken by bus from one venue to another, hardly meeting any locals. At Mansu Hill, where the landmark 22-meter Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il bronze statues are located, tourists would be asked to lay flowers and bow to the statues before they are allowed to take photographs. Tourists may notice that they are constantly being watched at almost all the spots in Pyongyang by young men with cautious looks. Joshua Dummer, a 25-year-old Welshman who visited North Korea in 2015, told the Global Times that it was a strange experience for Westerners to visit North Korea. "As a Westerner, you do have a sense that you have to behave because the rules are enforced strictly," Dummer said. "The experience is fine. North Korean tour guides are very nice. They genuinely want you to have a good time there, but more importantly they want you to respect their country," he said. ^ top ^



Ulaanbaatar to welcome hydroscientists from 14 countries (Montsame)
The 24th Meeting of the International Hydrological Programme's (IHP) Regional Steering Committee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific will take place in Ulaanbaatar on October 23-27. The meeting's main agenda is potential solutions to pressing issues of drinking water source, especially in urban areas. More than 40 scholars from Mongolia, Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam and other countries of Southeast Asia and the Pacific will come up with their ideas and practices of feasible ways and solutions to the problems their own countries are confronted with. ^ top ^

World Bank compliments implementation of national literacy program (Montsame)
Consultants of the World Bank mission on assessment of “National mid-term program for financial literacy” program implementation have been working in Mongolia these days. A meeting on giving recommendations to the program implementation was held at the Bank of Mongolia on October 18. Present at Tuesday's meeting were, Vice Governor of Mongolia's Central Bank B.Lkhagvasuren and international consultants on financial education of the World bank. Mr Lkhagvasuren briefed the guests on the program implementation course and underlined there is still much to do in the future. “National mid-term program for financial literacy” was developed, with World Bank technical assistance support by the Bank of Mongolia, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Financial regulatory commission and approved by the Financial stability council on October 7, 2015 In scope of the program implementation, the financial literacy was reflected in the general education school curriculum, and, as a result, more than a thousand teachers were trained and over 2,000 high school students started taking “business studies” classes. Also, “personal finance” classes were added to the curricula of all tertiary education institutions, and the professors have put together student books and booklets. The program leaders intend to work closely with the NGOs in order to improve financial education of those living in localities and rural areas and of businesspeople in small and medium enterprises, and to open a website to provide basic financial knowledge. The WB consultants applauded Mongolia's progress in such a short period of time in improving the public financial literacy and pledged support for expanding the program outreach. ^ top ^

Polling ends amidst poor attendance (Montsame)
The polling for over 15 thousand candidates for some 7.8 thousand seats in the self-governing bodies of soums (administrative units within provinces) and city districts ended at 22.00. Chairman of the General Election Committee Ch.Sodnomtseren said the voter turnouts were insufficient at almost half of all polling stations. In Ulaanbaatar, the lowest participation was observed in Chingeltei and Songinokhairkhan districts. To be specific, only 4-5 out of Chingeltei's 19 khoroos (smallest electoral administrative unit) saw satisfactory attendance. The voter turnout data are being collected at the moment. The additional polling will be held on October 23. The General Election Committee will hold a press briefing tomorrow (October 20). ^ top ^

UB will cooperate with Busan on decreasing air and soil pollution (gogoMongolia)
J.Batbayasgalan, Deputy Governor Green development and Air pollution Office, reported that he has desire to cooperate with Busan, Korea on issues facing Ulaanbaatar such as air and soil pollution, transportation, infrastructure and garbage. In August, Suh Buyng-Soo, Mayor of Busan, and other representatives visited in Ulaanbaatar and signed mutual conciliation agreement. Accordingly, working group from Busan, Korea had meeting with Deputy Governor. Lee Jong-won, the President of Busan Environmental Corporation, and Kim Byong-chu, the President of Pusan Economic Development Agency, said “We used to dig-in our garbage 30 years ago, but garbage decreased since classification. Currently, we are using technology that buries garbage, produces energy and welds. This issue will be carried by representatives of our Environment corporation. Also, we are interested in projects and programs which have possibility of direct implementation, except for big projects with long term. For instance, related to recent direct flight between Ulaanbaatar-Busan, we are searching for possibility to cooperate in sectors of tourism, health and economics.” Press and Public relation office of Governor Office Ulaanbaatar informed that J.Batbayasgalan, Deputy Governor of Green development and Air pollution Office reported “In our action plan of next 4 years, we aim to make Ulaanbaatar to be financial, business and tourism center of Asia. Thus, we are able to cooperate in tourism and other sectors and we will contact you with relevant agencies. I hope you will have good effort on your objectives and we will happy to help you”. ^ top ^

Chinese president calls for closer exchanges with Mongolia (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for more concrete exchanges with Mongolia in terms of governance and interaction between the two ruling parties. Xi made the remarks while meeting with Miyegombo Enkhbold, chairman of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) and chairman of the State Great Hural, Mongolia's parliament. Hailing the sound momentum of China-Mongolia ties, Xi said both countries have placed great focus on each other when developing their respective foreign policies. The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government have pursued relations with Mongolia from a strategic standpoint and with a long-term perspective, he said, vowing to enhance coordination and cooperation with the country to boost bilateral all-round strategic partnership. Xi urged the two sides to maintain high-level exchanges, deepen political party exchanges, properly handle sensitive issues and support each other on issues regarding respective core interests and major concerns. Enkhbold, who is on his first China trip since taking office in July, spoke highly of the Belt and Road Initiative and China's friendly diplomacy toward its neighbors. "[China has] provided guidance for deepening bilateral ties, maintaining regional peace and stability and boosting cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road," he said. The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It will be a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes. Enkhbold said that the parties of Mongolia, though they may hold ideological differences, all agree to enhancing ties with China. The MPP values its friendly ties with the CPC and expects closer exchanges, he added. Enkhbold attended an annual dialogue between the CPC and various parties of the world, held in Chongqing Municipality in southwest China last week. He said the dialogue was an important sharing platform for parties to discuss how to innovate global economic governance. Later on Tuesday, top legislator Zhang Dejiang met with Enkhbold. Zhang pledged to further strengthen cooperation between China's National People's Congress and State Great Hural. Enkhbold said Mongolia is ready to enhance parliamentary links with China. ^ top ^

Deputy Premier seeks UNFPA's support in hosting Disas Risk Reduction conference (Montsame)
Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh received the United Nations Population Fund Resident Representative Naomi Kitahara on October 17. The Deputy PM extended his gratitude for successful projects and programs in Mongolia. The executive council approved a new country program for Mongolia for 2017-2021 during the 71st session of UNGA in New York in September. In accordance, projects, costing USD 15 million, will be implemented with a vision for improving reproductive health, youth development and gender equality. The Deputy PM pledged support for these projects. Mr Khurelsukh requested assistance in organizing of the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, to take place in Ulaanbaatar in 2018. ^ top ^

No alcohol on Oct. 19,20 (gogoMongolia)
Due to upcoming election day of Citizens Representatives' Khurals of Aimags, the Capital City, Soums and Districts on Oct 19, mayor of UB issued a decree prohibiting any public event and selling of alcohol on Oct 19, 20. The decree clearly states authorities will not give permit to organize any public events. Other cultural, entertainment and sports activity will not take place on this day. Oct 19 is officially non-working day according to the law of Mongolia. Any organization working on this day will provide employees with opportunity to vote. Also, alcohol won't be sold and served on election day and day after election (Oct 19, 20) to prevent criminal activities. UB metropolitan police department and Capital city specialized investigation authority are to work together to monitor. ^ top ^

Border crossings with China to be closed on Oct. 31 (gogoMongolia)
In scope of the birthday of Chinggis Khaan, Mongolian border crossings with China will be closed on Oct 31, according to the agreement on the border ports and their rules between the Mongolia and China. The first day of the first winter month of the year commemorates the birthday of Chinggis Khaan and legislated to be celebrated as "Mongolian Pride Day" and is announced officially as national celebration. However, border crossings will be open on Oct 19 or Election day of Citizens Representatives' Khurals of Aimags, the Capital City, Soums and Districts, reported by the Mongolian Immigration Agency. ^ top ^

J.Erdenebat and Shinzo Abe hold official talks (Montsame)
Prime Minister J.Erdenebat, being on an official visit to Japan, held official talks with his counterpart Shinzo Abe on October 14. Afterwards, the dignitaries made press briefing. At the beginning, head of Mongolian government noted the visit to our close partner is the first-ever foreign visit since he took the office, and that the talks went in a friendly atmosphere. It is priority for Mongolia to develop comprehensive partnership with Japan, which shares key values with Mongolia. During the talks, the two sides agreed on launching new frameworks in wide range of spheres, namely, in politics, economy, culture, education and humanities. As the high level interactions have become more frequent, the mutual trust has strengthened. This visit aims at cementing the excellent people-to-people ties and upgrading the business cooperation with Japan, said the Prime Minister. “I am delighted for the generous support by Mr Abe for Mongolia on realizing the long and medium term development goals on the basis of his high recognition of Mongolia's significance in Japan's foreign policy”, he said. “We agreed on preparing a new medium-term program of implementation of the Mongolia-Japan strategic partnership for 2017-2021, reflecting the line of actions to be taken by the sides in the next four years”, he went on. The Prime Minister of Mongolia pledged close cooperation with Japan, the country that helped build democracy and market economy system and laid the foundation stone of the contemporary development in Mongolia, on bilateral and international, as well as on the regional arenas. Mr Shinzo Abe underlined he views the fact that the Mongolian Premier chose Japan as the first visiting destination as the head of government represents the strong bond and friendship between our two countries. “I am happy to meet you once again three months after the completion of the 11th ASEM Summit”, he said. “Because Mongolia cherishes democracy, human rights and freedom to be its core values, Japan proclaims Mongolia as a strategic partner. For the same reason, I have visited Mongolia for three times”, he noted. Mentioning today's talks were highly productive, Japan's PM shared that the sides conformed to set up a fresh program of the bilateral relations last July, “which will act as the “Google Map” or the “roadmap” of our cooperation”. “Our opinions concerted today on forwarding the preparation of the mentioned program. I am confident the bilateral ties will broaden with mobilization of the program”, said Shinzo Abe, reports the Press and Public Relations Division of the Cabinet Office of Mongolia. ^ top ^

FM welcomes Susan Thornton (Montsame)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil received Thursday the US Department of State delegation, headed by Ms Susan Thornton, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. The Foreign Minister briefed the guests on the general guidelines of action and pressing issues faced by Government. He noted Mongolia places great value to the relations with the US. Ms Thornton highlighted the recent milestones in the US-Mongolia ties. She proposed to organize the meeting of intergovernmental committee on December 1, 2016 in Washington D.C. The 30th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the USA will be marked on January 27 of 2017. ^ top ^

Silk Road Conference asserts Mongolia's role in nomadic tourism development (Montsame)
The International Silk Road Conference of Nomadic Tourism and Sustainable Cities, co-organized by the World Tourism Organization, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia and the World Cities Scientific Development Alliance opened on October 13 at the Tuushin Hotel of Ulaanbaatar. Opening addresses were given by the Speaker of Mongolian Parliament, Mr M.Enkhbold, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Ms D.Oyunkhorol and the Executive President of WCSDA, Mr Dong Yangzhang. Tourism is one of the most thriving industries of economy in this era of globalization, highlighted Mr Enkhbold. The sector creates millions of jobs, incepts intangible exports and waste-free productions, encourages investments, helps eradicating poverty and ensures stable economic growth, he went on. This is a wonderful, the most peacemaking and sharing of all economic sectors, he underlined. Nowadays, tourists tend to be attracted to getaways from their civilized lifestyles for extraordinary cultures and pristine landscapes. This is an opportunity for some nations to exploit, said the Speaker. The Speaker shared with the gathered that the government has set a goal to become a center of nomadic tourism, set out in the Concept of Sustainable Development until 2030. According to the latest statistics, Mongolia hosts about 400 thousand tourist each year, which results in revenue of USD 263 million or 3.2 percent of the country's GDP and 3.6 percent of total export. Tourism in Mongolia created 50 thousand workplaces at home and ranks 99th place in the world and 19th in Asia-Pacific by competitiveness, the Speaker mentioned in his speech. Minister D.Oyunkhorol said Mongolia is the home to nomadic tourism. It is impossible to argue with the fact that Mongolia has played a historic role in developing one of the world's most ancient and important trade route called the Silk Road, which bridged peoples, ethnicities and scientific inventions. I am delighted at hosting this conference at home, said the Minister. The government has been aiming to increase the number of tourists per year to one million by 2020, and the share of tourism revenue in the GDP to eight percent, she said. The WCSDA Executive President Dong Yangzhang stressed Mongolia is a country of ancient history and culture, rich in biological and natural resources. Today's tourism trend is to go back to the wild, and to experience the nomadic livestock herding culture in person. The Silk Road Conference is of historical significance in making Mongolia the hub of nomadic tourism development, he said. The International Silk Road Conference has attracted over 350 delegates from 33 countries and international tourism organizations. ^ top ^


Ms. Annina Burri
Embassy of Switzerland

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
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