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
  14-18.11.2016, No. 648  
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Foreign Policy

China eyes regional trade deal void left by Trump's win (SCMP)
China will step into the political vacuum created by Donald Trump's US presidential election win to forge stronger ties with ­Latin America and advance ­Beijing-led free-trade deals at the Apec summit in Lima, Peru, this week, analysts said. The drive will be spearheaded by President Xi Jinping, who heads to the Peruvian capital for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this weekend. Heading a delegation that includes more than 400 businesspeople, Xi is expected to seize the chance to promote the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership unravels. The RCEP is a proposed deal between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and six other countries in the region. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said yesterday his country would scrap plans to ratify the TPP, and Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said Canberra would work to wrap up a study on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, another regional pact advanced by Beijing. Trump has repeatedly called the TPP – a pillar of US President Barack Obama's pivot to Asia strategy – a “death blow” for US manufacturing jobs and threatened to pull out of the deal. The White House said last week it would not push for ratification. Observers said the uncertainty brought by Trump's election gave China the chance to win greater support from its neighbours. Gavekal Dragonomics economist Arthur Kroeber said Trump's lack of interest in regional trade pacts such as the TPP “gives China an opportunity to execute geopolitical influences and sort of write the rules of regional integration in the Asia-Pacific region”. Kroeber said China's economic growth now depended much more on domestic spending rather than exports to the US, so Beijing would be less concerned about “poaching influence from the US”. “The Chinese can have a stronger position to exert greater political and economic influence in the region, which the government has been interested in for a while and they don't face any significant economic costs,” he said. Other countries have also signalled a shift away from the TPP. Both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed have said their countries are turning their attention towards RCEP. Peruvian President Pedro ­Pablo Kuczynski said last week that the TPP could be replaced with a new deal that includes US rivals China and Russia. Charles Morrison, president of the East-West Centre in the US, said there was no need for panic over Trump's trade policy because comments by presidential candidates on the campaign trail, including by Obama, often did not translate into policy or action. “I think when the president of the US or any other countries meet each other, just like everybody else, they just want to do things together. They don't want to be bad boys and they don't want to be isolated,” Morrison said. “I have a feeling that when Donald Trump becomes more knowledgeable about the public and the government and international relations, he will probably be a very international president.” Cementing ties with resource-rich Latin America, China announced on Monday that it had signed US$2 billion in deals with Peru, covering light industry, textiles, agricultural products, medicine and metals, CCTV reported. Kevin Gallagher, a professor of global development policy at Boston University, said that as Trump was building a wall, Xi was building bridges across Latin America. “Xi and China have become South America's leading trading partner, source of development ­finance and... have engaged in 'south-south' cooperation on a number of fronts,” he said. “Now the agenda will be on infrastructure and industry and how to do so in an environmentally sustainable and socially ­acceptable manner.” ^ top ^

Chinese envoy calls for prioritizing cyber counter-terrorism (Xinhua)
A Chinese envoy on Thursday called for prioritizing cyber counter-terrorism to cut off channels for terrorists to spread their ideology and violent extremist ideas. Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the UN, made the appeal at a Security Council meeting on security cooperation between the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Liu said the international community should adopt vigorous measures to strengthen Internet monitoring and crack down on the terrorist organizations that are using the Internet to spread terrorist ideologies, raise funds and plan acts of terrorism. Liu noted that terrorism is posing a grave threat to the international community and counter-terrorism is an important area where the UN and OIC have conducted significant cooperation. "China supports the strengthening of cooperation between OIC and the UN to consolidate collective security mechanism in a joint effort to maintain international peace and security," he said. "China supports the UN and its Security Council in their cooperation with OIC in fighting terrorist ideology," he added. Liu mentioned the international community should promote dialogue between different civilizations to achieve peaceful coexistence in harmony and to promote mutual respect, openness and inclusiveness across the world. He also said the international community should stick to a unified criteria on counter-terrorism, forge a sophisticated counter-terrorism network and cut off the trans-border flow of terrorists to form a global high pressure upon terrorists. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese legislator meets Egyptian president on cooperation (Xinhua)
Senior Chinese legislator Ji Bingxuan on Thursday met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on bilateral cooperation. The vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) said China supports Egypt's efforts to achieve stability and development and highly values Egypt's key role in the Belt and Road Initiative. "Chinese President Xi Jinping and Egyptian president have reached important consensuses on deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries," Ji said. The Chinese senior official added that China's NPC is willing to join Egypt's House of Representatives to lift mutual political trust and enhance economic, cultural and people-to-people cooperation by providing legal support. For his part, Sisi said "Egypt highly values the comprehensive strategic partnership with China and is keen on benefiting from China's experience in governing the country and achieving developments in various domains." Moreover, Egypt is willing to conjoin its Suez Canal corridor development project with China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, Sisi said. He also expressed his wish that Egypt's House of Representatives and China's NPC will continue to contribute to deepening bilateral relations and boosting cooperation in various fields. Ji arrived in Cairo on Wednesday at the invitation of the House of Representatives of Egypt. During his three-day visit, Ji also met parliament speaker Ali Abdel Aal and members of the China-Egypt Parliamentary Friendship Chamber. ^ top ^

Venezuela, China ink deal to boost oil output (Xinhua)
Venezuela and China have reached a 2.2-billion U.S.-dollar agreement to jointly produce 227,000 more barrels of oil a day, the state Venezuelan News Agency said on Thursday. President Nicolas Maduro announced the deal after meeting with representatives from the China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) in Caracas, the agency said. Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and the CNPC in 2007 created a joint venture, Petrozumano, to increase production mainly for exporting to China. Maduro hailed the accord, saying, "We are going to reach 800,000 barrels a day with China." To increase the output at Petrozumano, the agreement also calls for the construction of the Jienyang Refinery. ^ top ^

S. Korean president to participate in tripartite summit with China, Japan: office (Xinhua)
South Korean President Park Geun-hye plans to participate in the tripartite regional summit meeting with China and Japan if schedules are fixed, Park's office said Friday. Presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk told reporters that he believes Park will take part in the tripartite talks if schedules are fixed, saying Japan, the host nation this year, hasn't determined a meeting date yet. His comments confirmed the press briefing offered by Seoul's foreign ministry spokesman who said Thursday that Park will attend the meeting as her absence would cause diplomatic losses. According to Japanese news media reports, Japan suggested holding the trilateral meeting in Tokyo for two days from Dec. 19. China, Japan and South Korea launched the summit talks in 2008, taking turns in hosting the meetings until Japan's diplomatic ties with China and South Korea turned sour in 2012 for historical and territorial disputes. The summit meeting was resumed in Seoul in November last year after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus. Uncertainties remain whether President Park could sit face-to-face with the leaders of China and Japan as Park is embroiled in a political scandal involving her longtime confidante and former aides. Opposition parties and a number of Park's ruling Saenuri Party members have demanded Park step down or be impeached. Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets every weekend, calling for the scandal-hit president's resignation. ^ top ^

China urges Japan not to stir up troubles on S. China Sea issue (Xinhua)
China on Thursday responded to remarks of Japan's defense minister by urging Japan to refrain from stirring up trouble in the South China Sea. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang was asked to comment on Tomomi Inada's recent remarks that for Japan, safeguarding the South China Sea concerns safeguarding the East China Sea. Inada was quoted by the "Asahi Shimbun" as having said that ASEAN defense ministers believed what happened in the South China Sea would happen in the East China Sea. Geng said ASEAN states could speak for themselves on the South China Sea issue, noting that Japan is not an ASEAN mouthpiece. "We urge Japan, as an outsider, to learn from the past, not to undermine regional efforts to safegurd peace and stability on the South China Sea, and not to stir up enmity," he said. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak both visited China recently, and exchanged views with Chinese leaders on the issue, Geng said. "We have our own view of the ASEAN attitude on this issue," he added. Together China and ASEAN countries are moving the South China Sea situation in the positive direction, Geng said. ^ top ^

Will China take the lead if Trump pulls out of climate change treaty? (SCMP)
All eyes are on China to see if it will make up for a “leadership deficit” in international climate talks following the victory of climate change sceptic Donald Trump in the US presidential election. The world's largest carbon emitter, however, appears to be cautious in responding to expectations that it might take the lead in negotiations to enforce a climate change treaty. Chinese negotiators currently attending the annual international climate change talks in Marrakech in Morocco have offered few clues over how they will respond if the US president-elect walks away from two countries' previous joint leadership in tackling the issue. Chinese negotiators have only said they will stick to pledged domestic initiatives to curb emissions and expand cooperation with developing countries to combat climate change. The world's two largest carbon emitters forged close ties under Xi Jinping and Barack Obama to push forward a global treaty to tackle the problem. President-elect Trump, however, is reportedly seeking the “quickest way” to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and reboot the fossil fuel sector. After the initial dismay and anger over the election of Trump last week, climate diplomats and activists in Marrakech are pledging to push forward with the global deal reached last year to limit temperature rises to well below 2 degrees Celsius, even without the involvement of the US. At the sidelines of the Marrakech climate conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said action on climate change has become “unstoppable” and he urged Trump to make wise decisions as market forces were driving the world economy towards cleaner energies and away from fossil fuels. Jonathan Pershing, the outgoing US climate envoy, refused to speculate on climate policies under a Trump presidency, but said many countries - China, Europe, Canada, Mexico and smaller states - have pledged to push forward with the deal “with or without” the US. Observers say under such a “leadership deficit” countries and pressure groups are likely to pin high hopes on China to step up its leadership role. After meeting with China's top negotiator Xie Zhenhua on Monday, EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete tweeted: “EU-China climate and clean energy leadership now more important than ever. We agreed to boost our cooperation. Announcements soon.” But China's response to calls to take the lead so far seems less than enthusiastic. Reports in official Chinese media covering the Marrakech climate conference refrained from making overt references to Trump's election and its aftermath. Climate negotiator Xie has said China will expand its “circle of friends” in developing countries to tackle climate change, the China News Service reported. His most vocal comment regarding China-US leadership on climate change was that the two countries, as the world's largest developed and developing nations, “should play a leadership role”, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua. China's vice-foreign minister Liu Zhenmin, meanwhile, aimed an apparent barb at Trump's scepticism about the need to tackle climate change. Liu told reporters in Marrakech on Wednesday that China could not have invented global warming as a hoax to harm US competitiveness because it was Donald Trump's Republican predecessors who started climate negotiations in the 1980s. US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush supported the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in initiating global warming talks even before China knew that negotiations to cut pollution were starting, said Liu. Yet soon or later China will have to respond to these calls for leadership, according to Li Shuo, a climate policy expert at the environmental pressure group Greenpeace in China. “Among the many speculations and unknowns [about Trump's climate change policy], if there's one thing that's clear to China, it's that it needs to be prepared to give the world an answer to this leadership question,” said Li. Some Chinese climate experts said the hole left by the US was simply too big to be filled by China or any other country, hence Beijing's reticence in its comments. Zou Ji, a deputy director of China's National Climate Change Strategy Research and International Cooperation, told Caixin magazine that “the international community should not connive at any player's inaction and pin hopes on China”. Zhang Haibin, a professor at Peking University who has advised the Chinese government on its climate change policy, said nobody could fill the vacuum if Trump insisted on leaving the game, in either emission cuts, climate funding or support for poor nations to tackle climate change. “The history of climate negotiations tells us a global climate scheme without the US will simply not be able to effectively operate,” he said. However, he also ruled out any possibility of either the EU or China putting pressure on Trump, which would only be “counterproductive” and push the US further away. ^ top ^

China, US must avoid eying each other with suspicion during Trump presidency, says Beijing's ambassador in Washington (SCMP)
China and the United States must avoid being too suspicious of each other's strategic intentions, China's ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday while looking ahead to the US presidency of Donald Trump. Trump lambasted China throughout the US election campaign, drumming up headlines with his pledges to slap 45 per cent tariffs on imported Chinese goods and to label the country a currency manipulator on his first day in office. He has also vowed to build up the US Navy in what advisers say will be a strategy to reassure countries in the Asia-Pacific worried about China's assertive pursuit of territorial claims. Cui Tiankai, China's Washington envoy, told a film screening to commemorate the 1979 normalisation of US-China ties that after “a most unusual political season”, it was important to build a consensus and identify common ground. He said both countries were already cooperating on many issues, but added: “We have to make greater efforts to promote better mutual understanding and we should be careful not to be overly suspicious about each other's strategic intentions. “There are people here in the United States who believe that everything that China does is aimed at challenging the United States' s global dominance, and there are people who believe that everything the US is doing is aimed at containing China. I think both views are wrong.” There would inevitably be problems and challenges in the next four years, Cui said. “But... I am quite confident that, on the whole, the relationship will move forward on a stable and right track.” Cui said the countries had a shared responsibility to cooperate on issues such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. “We both want stability in the world,” Cui said. “We both strive for a stronger global economy, and we both need a better natural environment. Common goals call for a close partnership.” Trump and China's President Xi Jinping spoke by phone on Monday and Xi told the US president-elect that cooperation was the only choice for the world's two largest economies, while Trump said they had established a “clear sense of mutual respect”. Nevertheless, Trump's election has created uncertainty when Beijing hopes for stability as it faces daunting reform challenges at home, slowing growth and a leadership reshuffle that will assemble a new party elite around Xi in late 2017. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the US National Security Adviser who promoted normalisation with China in the late 1970s, said at the same Washington event that the world was watching US political developments “with some stupefaction”. Brzezinski said: “We are now living in a political system, a worldwide system, that is experiencing a very serious crisis. It was “potentially threatening to both sides, to the well-being of global stability”, he said. “You can have serious political problems in China; there are serious problems in the United States. We don't know how we will be managing responsibilities in the foreseeable future, given some of the initial warning signals,” Brzezinski said. ^ top ^

Ambassador: 10-year visa between Israel and China will facilitate 'change and openness' (Global Times)
"I believe that this visa agreement will facilitate a greater change and openness between Israel and China," said Matan Vilnai, Israel's ambassador to China, at the official launch event in Beijing for the 10-year visa program between Israel and China. At the event on Nov. 15, Vilnai announced that starting from Nov. 11, Chinese and Israeli citizens are eligible to receive 10-year visas with multiple entries. Under the visa agreement, Chinese people will be able to enter Israel multiple times over a 10-year period, and are allowed to stay up to 90 days each time. They cannot stay more than 180 days within one year. The agreement was signed in March at a meeting of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation, in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Deputy Minister Liu Yandong. "This agreement symbolizes the beginning of a new era in the relations between Israel and China - a way for Israelis and Chinese people to create new connections between them," the ambassador emphasized. Vilnai pointed out two important things he had done during his four years as ambassador. He first cited the promotion of direct flights between the two countries (there are now four direct flights between Beijing and Tel Aviv every day), and then mentioned the simplification of visa policies. At the launch event, Vilnai presented the first batch of 10-year multiple-entry visas to Chinese citizens who have contributed to the friendship between the two countries. Liu Ye, a Chinese film star and the tourism ambassador of Israel, was the first Chinese citizen to receive the visa. Israel is the third country to grant Chinese citizens multiple-entry visas, following the U.S. and Canada. The new visa agreement is another major step forward, coming after Israel and China established mutual visa waivers for diplomatic and official passport-holders on Jan. 17. ^ top ^

China again calls for stop of THAAD deployment in ROK (Xinhua)
China on Wednesday again urged the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to stop deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in the ROK. According to media reports, the ROK Ministry of National Defense concluded a deal Wednesday to acquire the site for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system from the Lotte Group. The ministry has agreed to take over the Lotte Skyhill Country Club in the southeastern rural county of Seongju from the country's fifth-largest conglomerate. "China has repeatedly expressed concern and firm opposition to the THAAD deployment," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular press briefing. "We again urge all sides to face up to China's reasonable concerns and stop the deployment process," he said, adding that China will take necessary measures to safeguard its security interests. Planning and construction work will begin in early 2017 with a THAAD battery to be installed before the end of the year. Geng said the deployment of the system gravely undermined the regional strategic balance, as well as the security interests of countries in the region, including China. ^ top ^

Opportunities await Xi on Latin American visit (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping will leave Beijing on Wednesday for a three-stop South American tour that will deepen cooperation with Ecuador, Peru and Chile, despite global economic headwinds, analysts said. On his visit, Xi will discuss cooperation in multiple areas, including e-commerce, production capacity, industrial parks and infrastructure, according to the Foreign Ministry. Xi will also attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting in Lima, Peru, on Saturday and Sunday. Most Latin American countries are at an initial stage of industrialization, and they need capital and technology to improve manufacturing capabilities, reduce dependence on the export of raw materials and boost economic transformation, said Xu Shicheng, a senior researcher of Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The president's third Latin American trip comes at a time when opportunities abound to expand relations in the region, since China has advantages in capital and equipment as well as experience in infrastructure construction, Xu said. Xi has already visited the region twice since becoming president in March 2013. He traveled to Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico in 2013, before visiting Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba in 2014. Jorge Heine, Chilean ambassador to China, said that Chile hopes to export to China more food and agricultural products, including cherries and wine. "We have 26 Chilean companies in Qingdao. We are diversifying our exports to China," he said early this month. Heine said the Chilean government welcomes more investment from China. "We are keen to have more Chinese investment," he said. According to the ambassador, Chile's SQM, one of the world's leading producers of lithium, iodine and nitrates, is for sale. The two contenders to buy the company, which is worth $4 billion to $5 billion, are both Chinese companies, he said. Wu Baiyi, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Latin America Institute, said Latin American countries "are currently affected by a weaker global market and the falling prices of commodities, and as a result, China's investment will be of great importance". China's excellent production capacity, especially in areas including high-speed rail, hydropower and telecommunication, could be exported to Latin America to improve the infrastructure there, he added. ^ top ^

China, Iran pledge to deepen military exchange (Xinhua)
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan on Monday held talks with Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan in Tehran. Chang said the development of bilateral relations between China and Iran is not only positive for mutual interest of Chinese and Iranian peoples, but also positive for world peace and stability. Witnessing increased mutual visits and personnel training cooperation between the armed forces in recent years, Chang said he is confident that the friendly relations between the two countries as well as the armed forces will be further reinforced. Dehqan hailed Chang's remarks, voicing the hope that further military exchange and cooperation between Iran and China will continue to play a positive role in safeguarding regional peace and world stability. Chang arrived in Tehran on Sunday for a three-day visit at the invitation of Dehqan. ^ top ^

Chinese ship opens new international trade route via Pakistani port (SCMP)
Pakistani army has created a special force to guard port and new trade routes. Pakistan's top civil and military leaders travelled to the country's southwest on Sunday to open a new international trade route by seeing off a Chinese ship that's exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa from the newly built Gwadar port. The first convoy of Chinese trucks carrying goods for sale abroad arrived in Pakistan amid tight security using a road linking Gwadar to China's northwestern Xinjiang region, the government said in a statement. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan would provide the best possible security to foreign investors to enable them to use the Chinese-funded port for international trade. Amid security concerns for foreign workers, the Pakistani army has created a special force to guard the new trade routes and the port, which is located in insurgency-wracked Baluchistan province where an overnight blast at a shrine killed nearly 50 people. 52 dead in Pakistan shrine bomb blast, IS claims credit( The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group and Pakistani officials said it was aimed at harming the Chinese-funded projects in the southwest and elsewhere in the country. China is building a network of roads and power plants under a project known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is expected to absorb US$46 billion in Chinese investment in the coming decades. China and Pakistan have long maintained close political and military relations, based partly on mutual antipathy toward their neighbour India. Gwadar port is located on the Arabian Sea and occupies a strategic location between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The port is also located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Straits of Hormuz. China is seeking convenient and reliable access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Chinese ships now use the Strait of Malacca, a narrow passage between the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia. The proposed new route would give China access to the Persian Gulf region and the Middle East. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China builds a brave new online world behind the wire (SCMP)
When Baidu showed off its fleet of 18 driverless vehicles in downtown Wuzhen, Zhejiang, on Thursday there were only a few people in the heritage site to see it. The waterside town, which usually has about 18,000 tourists a day, was cordoned off to host the three-day World Internet Conference, the annual gathering of the country's biggest internet business players. Only registered attendees can go into the town centre and the 1,600 guests and reporters must pass strict security checks to get in the exhibition centre during the event, which ends on Friday. The restrictive mindset is similar to the mainland's approach to managing cyberspace, with the Communist Party's top leadership repeatedly calling for “enhanced” internet governance. Wuhan University professor Ma Feicheng said users should be allowed to play a big role in the way the internet was run. “Cyberspace management should combine government governance and users' autonomy,” Ma said. “We have seen good examples of autonomy under which cyberspace operates through user discipline and integrity. Government's role should mainly be setting rules.” The party has set many rules tightening the official grip on cyberspace, including requirements released earlier this month that online broadcasters live-streaming news or entertainment be licensed. The central government also passed a controversial cybersecurity law demanding that “operators of critical information infrastructure” store personal information and important business data in China and provide unspecified “technical support” to security agencies and pass national security reviews. But the authorities have also targeted individuals. Outspoken businessman Ren Zhiqiang was stripped of his social media ­accounts after he challenged President Xi Jinping's insistence that state media be loyal to the party. Overseas players like Google, Twitter and Facebook are also among the many websites blocked on the mainland. Political analyst Zhang Lifan said China wanted other countries to follow its lead – but not interfere – in cyberspace governance. “Eventually, such governance will suffocate innovation. Can you imagine any innovation when scientists have no access to Google?” Zhang said. Tsinghua University professor Xue Lan said: “The internet is a double-edged sword. Companies, governments and the public should be involved in consultations to help guide development.” ^ top ^

China to promote new types of agribusiness: Vice Premier (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said the government will increase policy support for new forms of agribusiness to bolster rural economy. "Large-scale agricultural operations in new forms will lead agricultural modernization," Wang said when addressing a meeting held on Wednesday and Thursday in Huzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province. The meeting discusses cultivating new types of agribusiness and increasing the scale of agricultural operations. Wang called for promoting the development of family farms, large and specialized agricultural operations, farming cooperatives and other emerging forms of agribusiness. ^ top ^

China's top justice stresses intelligent courts, cyberspace rule-of-law (Xinhua)
China's top justice on Thursday called for international cooperation on intelligent courts and rule of law in cyberspace governance. Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court was addressing the third World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province. Zhou said IT has raised the quality and efficiency of trials, reinforcing social equality and justice in general. Countries need to share their best practices in IT in courts, Zhou said. Rule of law in cyberspace will ensure the cybersphere is safe, orderly and accessible to all, Zhou added. The WIC, running from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18 this year, is an annual meeting of the world's tech firm bosses, academics, and government officials to discuss current Internet trends. ^ top ^

Premier Li urges more efforts to green China's energy system (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called for China's energy mix to be more in tune with the sustainable development of the economy. Addressing a meeting of the State Energy Commission on Thursday, Li said China should foster an energy system that is clean, low-carbon, secure and efficient. "Given the profound changes in the global energy sector and a burgeoning technological revolution, China, as a major energy producer and consumer, must seize the opportunity [...] to optimize our energy structure and fix weak areas, including restrictions of resources and the environment, low quality and efficiency, poor infrastructure, and a lack of core technology," Li said. China still relies on coal for nearly two thirds of its power supply, making the greening of the energy supply both necessary and urgent. A plan approved at the meeting on development of the energy sector until 2020 highlights clean coal and new energy technology. Li urged promoting cleaner and more efficient utilization of coal, which he said is the foremost task in transformation of the energy sector, and called for accelerating the development of hydro, wind, solar and biomass energy. Nuclear energy shall be developed in safe and efficient way, he said. Major sectors such as industrial production, construction and transportation must save energy and reduce emissions, Li said. Outdated production facilities will be upgraded or closed down, according to the premier. He said the government will actively support private companies to enter the energy sector, currently dominated by state-owned enterprises. He also called for deepening international cooperation in the energy sector. ^ top ^

China says family cut off funds to get most-wanted graft suspect back (SCMP)
Family members cut off funds and were lobbied by senior members of the Chinese community in the United States as part of efforts to get China's most-wanted graft suspect to give herself up, the Communist Party's corruption watchdog said on Thursday. Yang Xiuzhu, a former deputy director of Wenzhou's construction bureau in the booming eastern province of Zhejiang, surrendered to Chinese authorities after spending 13 years in hiding overseas. She returned to China on Wednesday in a major victory for the country's overseas hunt for fugitive officials. Giving details of how China was able to persuade Yang to surrender, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said all of her relatives at home and abroad had advised her to come back. They “even took the initiative to cut off lawyer fees and living expenses, assisting us in the job of persuading her to come back”, it said in a statement on its website. The heads of the Wenzhou and Zhejiang clan associations in New York and other “patriotic overseas Chinese leaders” fully supported and cooperated in the mission to get Yang back, the commission said. “They advised and guided Yang Xiuzhu and her relatives, and urged on the US side to repatriate her as soon as possible.” The aim was to make sure Yang had “no money to spend, nobody to rely on and no way to escape”, it added. With Chinese and US officials on her back and in the face of being abandoned by her relatives, Yang's resistance crumbled and she decided to return, the commission said. Yang fled China in April 2003 and sought political asylum in France, the Netherlands and then the United States. It has not been possible to reach Yang or a legal representative in China for comment. In April last year, China published a list of 100 of its most wanted corruption suspects who had been targeted with an Interpol red notice, many living in the United States, Canada and Australia. Yang was ranked number one on that list. China has pursued an overseas search for allegedly corrupt officials and business executives who have fled abroad with their assets, part of President Xi Jinping's war on deep-seated graft. It has been pushing for extradition treaties but Western countries have been reluctant to help, not wanting to send people back to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of suspects is a concern. Yang, accused of stealing US$39 million while deputy mayor of Wenzhou, told Reuters last year she was innocent and called the most-wanted list a political document targeting enemies of the current regime rather than a roster of criminals. ^ top ^

Chinese astronauts start return journey after nation's longest space mission (SCMP)
Two Chinese astronauts who have spent a month in orbit in China's longest manned mission have started their journey back home, state media reported Astronauts Jing Haipeng, 50, and Chen Dong, 37, left the Tiangong-2 space laboratory on Thursday afternoon and boarded a landing module, which will carry them back to earth, the Xinhua news agency reported. The module is expected to descend from its orbit on Friday before touching down in a landing area in Inner Mongolia. It would be the first time that Chinese astronauts had returned from an altitude of 393km, where the country's planned space station would be running, Xinhua said. An exercise broadcast on the state-run China Central Television showed a team of helicopters and search crew working to locate a model of the landing craft on the grasslands. The two astronauts finished their last day's work in Tiangong-2 and cleaned the space lab on Wednesday to prepare for their return, CCTV reported. “We have been living and working here for 30 days, and it is like our home in space,” Chen said during an interview with the state-run news agency Xinhua on Tuesday. “It is a bit hard for me to leave here.” The astronauts will bring back the silkworms and lettuce plants they kept in the space lab, Xinhua reported. Six silkworms were taken into space for an experiment designed by Hong Kong students to study how the larvae transform in a weightless environment. Samples of the astronauts' urine and saliva as well as bacteria they collected from the atmosphere will also be brought back for scientific analysis. The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft carried the pair into space on October 17 before docking with Tiangong-2 two days later. During the one-month stay in the space lab, the astronauts carried out dozens of experiments, including one studying human's cardiovascular functions in space. The mission's commander Jing, who is on his third space trip, celebrated his 50th birthday in space. A successful completion of the month-long mission will take the country a step closer towards the goal of building a fully functioning space station by 2022. A major task for the mission was to test the technology used to build and operate a space station orbiting 393km above the earth, according to Xinhua. China launched a powerful new type of rocket earlier this month which will be used to carry the core module of its future space station into space. The latest manned mission, the country's first since 2013, has led to an outpouring of national pride on the internet and in the media in China. A series of “space journal” videos published by Xinhua documenting the astronauts' life in space have been watched more than 100 million times, according to the news agency. ^ top ^

Top figure at pioneering Chinese financial magazine resigns from corporate roles (SCMP)
Wang Boming, the man who helped launch the mainland's stock market in the early 1990s and went on to run one of the country's most influential financial magazines for nearly two decades, has resigned from his corporate positions. The Hong Kong-listed SEEC Media Group, which owns the investigative magazine Caijing, confirmed yesterday Wang had resigned as a chairman and executive director of the company due to his “other business engagements”. He is still listed as editor-in-chief on the masthead of the magazine's most recent issue. Wang's departure, along with the silencing of several outspoken mainland media outlets recently, could be a sign of an increasingly insulated Chinese society, according to Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology. “Caijing magazine played a very important role in China by providing lots of independent reporting... Some... might have hurt vested interest groups in the past,” Hu said. The changes in the magazine's staff “may be connected to China's increasing reluctance to accept foreign things such as media independence, especially in social governance”, he said. Wang, the son of a former deputy foreign minister, was part of a pro-reform group that was instrumental in creating the Stock Exchange Executive Council in the 1980s. Many of his colleagues from that time went on to become key decision-makers, including Wang Qishan, now the Communist Party's discipline tsar. After the United States and the People's Republic of China established diplomatic ties in 1979, Wang was among a privileged few mainlanders to study in the US. He studied finance at Columbia University and was working at the New York Stock Exchange on Black Monday, the October 19 crash in 1987. One day in 1988, Wang and Gao Xiqing, a lawyer in New York who became deputy chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, were talking in front of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and decided to return to the mainland to launch its stock ­exchange, mainland reports said. Wang went on to found Capital Weekly in 1992 and Caijing in 1998. With Hu Shuli, one of the most respected journalists in the country, overseeing the newsroom, Caijing quickly won fame with a series of investigative reports about corporate fraud and misuse of power. It became a flagship publication with wide social influence. Hu Shuli continued to push media boundaries, which put her at odds with the publisher. She eventually quit Caijing, taking most of its newsroom staff with her to launch Caixin magazine in 2009. The SEEC remains influential with strong networks in business and the public sector. Frequent guests of the Caijing annual conference include top policymakers such as central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan. ^ top ^

Premier Li underlines implementation of poverty-relief measures (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed solid implementation of poverty precision-relief measures. Li, who chaired a State Council meeting on Tuesday, said that the measures should focus on old revolutionary base areas, ethnic minority and border areas and areas where lots of people still live in abject poverty to raise their own development capability. The government will push forward a series of projects to ensure poverty will be eliminated by 2020 as planned, according to a statement released after the meeting. Poor areas will be encouraged to foster businesses and develop competitive industries, such as agriculture, tourism and e-commerce. Proceeds from the exploitation of hydropower and mineral resources should benefit local residents, according to the statement. The government expects about 30 million people nationwide will throw off poverty as local industries thrive. China will channel more energy into rural infrastructure. More highways will be built; water conservation facilities will be reinforced; dilapidated buildings will be renovated; power grids and telecom networks will be expanded. People living in some impoverished regions will be relocated elsewhere in an orderly manner, and the government will help them find employment in new places and ensure other necessary public services. Basic social security in poor regions, such as care for the elderly, health care and education, will also be improved, with more policy support promised in fiscal spending, investment, financial services and land use. The meeting also approved a five-year plan on education in poor areas. Specific measures include fiscal support, teacher training, lower fees for poor students and better vocational schools. As of the end of 2015, China still had 55.75 million people living in poverty. The authorities have vowed to to lift all of them out of poverty by 2020. ^ top ^

Xi casts vote as local legislative elections begin (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping cast his ballot at a polling station in Beijing on Tuesday to elect new deputies to the local people's congress. Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee -- Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli -- also cast their votes in Beijing. Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao voted by proxy. Xi cast his vote at a polling station in Huairentang, Zhongnanhai electoral district in Xicheng District of Beijing, along with over 1,200 other voters. Around 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, Xi arrived at the polling station, gave his elector's card to staff and got a ballot. He cast his ballot after filling it. Xi said the county and township-level election is a major political event of the country, requiring adherence to the Party's leadership, democratic spirit and acting in accordance with laws, to ensure the people's right to vote and the right to be elected. He called for a zero-tolerance attitude toward electoral misconduct. It is the second election since the Electoral Law granted equal representation for rural and urban residents. Since 1995, each rural deputy had represented a population four times that of their urban counterparts. The elections of local people's congresses have commenced across the country and will continue till next year. "Elections in China are becoming more open and transparent. Participation is crucial, and the people have shown great enthusiasm," said Liu Wei of Renmin University of China. Other senior officials and retired officials of the CPC Central Committee, the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee and the Central Military Commission, also voted either in person or by proxy. About 9 million people cast their ballots at a total of 12,270 polling stations in Beijing on Tuesday, to elect 4,373 new deputies to the people's congresses of district level, and 9,946 deputies to township-level people's congresses. According to the law, candidates must be nominated by political parties, social organizations, or a minimum of 10 voters in their constituency. Before the final vote, electoral committees will, on voters' request, arrange for candidates to meet with voters to introduce themselves and answer questions. MAJOR POLITICAL EVENT Nationwide, more than 900 million voters are expected to directly elect more than 2.5 million lawmakers in county or township-level elections beginning this year. Under China's current Electoral Law, deputies to people's congresses at the level of townships and counties, who account for more than 90 percent of lawmakers at all levels nationwide, are elected directly by voters. They in turn elect deputies to people's congresses of cities who then elect deputies at the provincial level. NPC deputies are elected by people's congresses of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. It is via the NPC and local people's congresses at different levels that the Chinese people are involved in managing state affairs and exercising state power. "Our country sets great store by this year's elections, with more strict procedures to vet candidates," an expert on elections and the system of people's congress with Fudan University told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. "On the path of rule of law, the Party and government are making solid efforts to safeguard people's rights, and more and more people are becoming aware of their own rights," he said. While noting that the election systems in China and the United States have huge differences and cannot be compared to each other, he highlighted one trait in China's people's congress elections that is absent in its American counterpart -- stipulations that require an "appropriate proportion" of women deputies and those of ethnic minorities and that such ratios should increase steadily. In fact, the ratio of deputies from many minority groups exceeds the ratio of their population. For example, among nearly 3,000 NPC deputies elected last time, 20 are from the Tibet Autonomous Region, of whom 12 are from the Tibetan ethnic group, and one each from the Moinba and Lhoba ethnic groups. Deputies from Tibetan and other ethnic minorities account for more than 93 percent of all deputies elected at the levels of region, prefecture, county and village in Tibet. Women in Tibet have also seen their status raised. Female deputies make up 25.4 percent of the total in the Tibet regional people's congress. "Every country needs an election system that caters to its own cultural tradition and social environment. There's no definite answer which country has the best election system. Every system has its positive sides and is evolving through practice," Liu added. ^ top ^

China's courts tackle graft in sentences reduction (Xinhua)
China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) on Tuesday released a revisions of rules on commutation of sentences and parole. The new regulation has 42 provisions based on the 29 clauses of the previous document, issued in 2012. It clarifies eligibility for remission and details the rules of the latest amendment to the Criminal Law. "Problems have come to light in commutation, parole, or temporary release in recent years, including some that enabled a few people with money or power to serve shorter terms of imprisonment," said Xia Daohu from the SPC. China sees around 600,000 commutation and parole cases on average each year. Corruption in granting commutation and parole has caused great damage to the judical system as well as the public faith to justice, added Xia. The new rules will take effect on Jan. 1. ^ top ^

Chinese premier sure of accomplishing major 2016 development goals (Xinhua)
Chinese premier Li Keqiang said Monday that the nation is sure to accomplish its major 2016 development goals under the firm leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core. Li made the remarks at a conference on improving economic development and people's quality of life. He urged the authorities to maintain a stable job market, firmly make development the top priority and promote continued economic growth through reform, opening up and innovation. The premier noted that uncertainties in the international environment and different levels of development among regions and industries in the country pose a challenge for the government. He asked for continued efforts to pursue supply-side structural reform while appropriately expanding aggregate demand. The premier said the authorities should strengthen new economic momentum and accelerate development of new technology, new industries, new entities and new modes as well as the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries. He stressed the fundamental objective of development is to improve people's livelihood, adding that efforts to improve people's livelihood will also add to growth momentum. Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli also attended the conference. Experts from universities, research institutions, hospitals, enterprises and local housing authorities attended the conference. ^ top ^

China's polluted capital may be scaling back its smog clean-up (SCMP)
Acting mayor Cai Qi has cut city's 2020 targets for reducing toxic particulates, suggesting that 2022 goals will not be met. China's smog-laden capital may be quietly scaling back its clean-up ambitions, now that the city looks set to miss its 2017 target for lowering levels of harmful particulate pollutants known as PM2.5. Instead, the municipal government, under its newly appointed acting mayor, Cai Qi, approved a more moderate 2020 target last week for reducing the smog-inducing pollutants. Weather authorities have forecast that from Tuesday, Beijing will once again be shrouded in smog, this time until Friday. In 2013, amid mounting public concern and a widely lauded national campaign to tackle smog, the State Council – China's cabinet – set clean-up targets to be achieved by 2017 for three major urban clusters, namely the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin area, and the Yangtze and Pearl River Deltas. In particular, the cabinet document ordered Beijing to cut its annual levels of PM2.5 – airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that can lodge deep in people's lungs – to “around 60 micrograms per cubic metre”, from the level of 89.5 micrograms in 2013. Since Cai's appointment as both acting mayor and deputy mayor on October 31, Beijing has set a new 2020 target that will bring PM2.5 levels down to 56 micrograms per cubic metre – a difference of only about 4 micrograms – the municipal mouthpiece Beijing Daily reported. An official report published in July highlighted Beijing's slow progress on cleaning up the pollutants, which cause hundreds of thousands of premature deaths every year in China, even though many other mainland cities are expected to meet their reduction targets. The review conducted by Chinese Academy of Engineering said Beijing had reduced its PM2.5 levels by only 30 per cent of its target up to the end of 2015, when the city's PM2.5 levels stood at 80.6 micrograms per cubic metre. If Beijing does aim to meet its 2017 goal, then it will have to reduce its PM2.5 levels by 10 micrograms per cubic metre each year in both 2016 and 2017 – an almost impossible target at its current reduction rate. The report, compiled by more than 50 government-backed experts, said the capital's reliance on suburban residents burning coal for heating, and its imported air pollution from nearby cities, especially those in Hebei province, were the main reasons for Beijing's limited progress. Dong Liansai, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “Beijing's government needs to face up to the 2017 goal set by the State Council and design its emission reduction plans for 2018 to 2020 so that they conform to the existing goal.” Hu Xingdou, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said inconsistency over Beijing's pollution reduction targets was due to a lack of adequate accountability, since officials often made promises without worrying about whether such goals could be achieved. Promises to clean up Beijing's air, so that PM2.5 levels are reduced to 30 micrograms per cubic metre, formed the centrepiece of the nation's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Yet if Beijing sets its 2020 target at only 56 microgram, it will face even more challenges over the following two years. ^ top ^

Online, telecom fraud on the rise in Beijing (China Daily)
More than 40 million yuan ($5.87 million) worth of fraud cases involving over 1,900 victims have been dealt with by the capital's courts over the past three years, it was revealed on Friday. In that time, courts at all levels have handed down sentences ranging from eight months to 20 years in jail to 326 defendants, Beijing High People's Court said in a statement. Most were either convicted of forgery, identity theft or misuse of telecommunications equipment. "Crimes related to telecoms scams or online fraud have risen 20 to 30 percent every year since 2013, and brought great economic losses to residents," said Luo Pengfei, a judge with the criminal tribunal of the high people's court. "Those defendants who repeatedly offended or led an organization to cheat others were given the heaviest penalties, to thoroughly root out their fraud links." Luo said that residents could protect themselves by verifying the identity of any stranger who calls. "If a caller says he or she works for legal authorities or governmental departments, which we often see in telecom scams, it is better to verify what they have said with the related authority," he said. Residents were also advised to be careful when clicking links in text messages, especially ones mentioning prizes, so as to avoid economic losses. ^ top ^

Delegation pays homage at Sun Yat-sen's tomb (Xinhua)
A delegation of about 100 people on Sunday visited the tomb of Sun Yat-sen in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the forerunner of China's democratic revolution. Members of the delegation, which included Sun's relatives and delegates from all over the world, left flowers and bowed three times before Sun's statue. They also walked around the tomb to pay homage to Sun and his contribution to China's national independence, social progress and the welfare of its people. Born in 1866, Sun was the founder of the Kuomintang Party, and is a revered revolutionary leader who played a pivotal role in overthrowing imperial rule in China. A grand gathering was held in Beijing on Friday to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Sun's birth. ^ top ^



542 passengers evacuated in Xinjiang blizzard (Xinhua)
Rescuers have evacuated 542 passengers to safety after they were trapped in a blizzard in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The people were left stranded on highways in Maytas and Tiechanggou in northern Xinjiang by the blizzard on Friday and Saturday, which caused snow drifts 60 cm to one meter deep and low visibility, said a local highway official who participated in the 13-hour rescue operation. All the stranded passengers and 145 vehicles they rode were evacuated to safety late night on Saturday. Maytas is known for strong gales and blizzards, which often leave passengers stranded and force the closure of local highways.  ^ top ^



Hong Kong in the grip of a power struggle over oath-taking saga (SCMP)
In the end, a much-anticipated hearing to determine the fate of two pro-independence localists in trouble over their oath-taking lasted no more than 10 minutes. The pair, who were disqualified as lawmakers by a High Court ruling on Tuesday, earned a small reprieve yesterday when the Court of Appeal said their seats would not be declared vacant yet. This status would be pending their appeal against the disbarment. Their case for this will be heard next Thursday. Thus far, both yesterday and at the first hearing to defend their stance, a centrepiece of the argument by Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hung and Yau Wai-ching is that the courts have no right to decide their fate. The courts, they said, should not interfere in what is an internal Legislative Council matter. They argued that the judiciary had overstepped its role and breached the separation of powers principle, or, as the pair's lawyers put it, “ignored the non-intervention principle” between the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government. Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung certainly did not agree with the argument, as he explained in his 56-page ruling that he was “of the clear view that the non-intervention principle as applied in Hong Kong does not cover the matters under... these proceedings”. “Hong Kong is very different as we have a written constitution of the Basic Law and the legislature is not supreme. These are important material differences in determining the scope and extent of the non-intervention principle,” he wrote in his judgment. The judge underscored the supremacy of the Basic Law when he said the principle of non-intervention “is necessarily subject to the constitutional requirements of the Basic Law”. Several legal experts agreed that the ruling had not damaged the separation of powers. Professor Simon Young Ngai-man, associate dean at the University of Hong Kong's law faculty, said the supreme status of the Basic Law was well known among legal professionals, but less so among lay people. “This is what we teach our students,” he said. “Every country's separation of powers has to be understood in the particular legal constitutional arrangement of each country. One of the things highlighted in the judgment is the significance of having a written constitution that is the supreme law. Your constitution is the supreme law, it is the Basic Law.” Au's affirmation of the supremacy of the Basic Law appears to lend credence to the argument that Hong Kong's constitutional framework is different from those of some Western democracies which are underpinned by the concept of separation of powers. In September last year, Beijing's liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming (張曉明) declared that Hong Kong's chief executive had a special legal status that transcended the executive, legislature and judiciary. Beijing's top man in Hong Kong sparked a row when he described the position of the chief executive as being at the core of an “executive-led, judicially independent political system”. Au agreed that under Article 48 of the Basic Law, the chief executive had a constitutional role and duty to implement the mini-constitution. This was why he had a right to seek the court's ruling to disqualify the two, after they used derogatory language in their oath-taking and pledged allegiance to “the Hong Kong nation”. “The chief executive has a proper locus to bring these proceedings to implement Article 104 of the Basic Law to ensure that they are compiled with,” Au said. Article 104 sets out that when taking office, public officials must pledge allegiance to Hong Kong as a part of China. The judge was responding to the lawyers representing the two localists who argued that the chief executive should not have mounted a legal challenge against the Legco president's decision to allow them a second chance to take their oaths. Albert Chen Hung-yee, law professor at the University of Hong Kong and a member of the Basic Law Committee, said the doctrine of separation of powers did not necessarily mean a legislature would be off-limits to the courts in Hong Kong. “Judicial non-intervention is not absolute,” Chen said. He suggested the court, under certain circumstances such as when the constitutionality of a legislative process is concerned, could step in, citing a decision made by the Court of Final Appeal in 2014 concerning lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung's challenge to the Legco president's exercise of power to cut short filibustering in the legislature. In another case in 2009 relating to the exercise of Legco's investigative powers, the court was also required to interpret the functions of the legislature. The court should intervene in Legco's internal workings only when it was needed, he said. “The view that the separation of powers means they do not interfere with one another is more a layman's view,” said ex-lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a former chairman of the Bar Association. “[Tuesday's ruling] was not against the separation of the three powers, but rather, it was an example of the check and balance between the three powers.” Tong cited further examples of check and balance among the powers, including the Basic Law provision that allows lawmakers to impeach the chief executive. Whatever the label, Hong Kong's political system is characterised by checks and balances and distinct roles among the executive, legislature and judiciary. For HKU law professor Johannes Chan Man-mun, separation of powers is actually protected by the Basic Law. “Compared with the executive-led political framework in colonial Hong Kong, the Basic Law has put in place a system of checks and balances that ensures no institution in the city has absolute control over other branches,” Chan said. But Professor Song Xiaozhuang, of Shenzhen University's Centre for Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macau, argued that the long-established doctrine of the separation of powers in Western societies did not apply here at all. He cited the British political system as an example, arguing: “While the UK parliament enjoys supremacy over other government branches, Hong Kong's Basic Law takes precedence over other institutions in the city.” But Ronny Tong pointed to the right of both principles – the supremacy of the Basic Law and separation of powers – to co-exist: “The Basic Law has defined that the governing of Hong Kong is divided into three parts. If there is no Basic Law, there is no separation of powers.” Song also questioned Thomas Au's claim in his judgment that he was unaffected by the National People's Congress Standing Committee interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law. ^ top ^

Lawyer who helped draft Basic Law says Beijing interpretation has destroyed 'one country, two systems' (SCMP)
A former member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee has said Beijing's recent interpretation of Hong Kong's mini-constitution destroyed the “one country, two systems” principle because it suggested key officials had to pledge allegiance to both China “and its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”. Martin Lee Chu-ming SC, a former Democratic Party chief, was referring to the National People's Congress interpretation last week of the oath-taking provision in Article 104 of the Basic Law – an intervention prompted by the antics of two Hong Kong pro-independence lawmakers who spoiled their oaths of office last month. The localist pair, Youngspiration's Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, used insulting language to refer to China and advocated Hong Kong independence during their oaths. They were disqualified by the High Court on Tuesday and filed an appeal against the ruling on Thursday morning. Part of the interpretation reads: “The taking of the oath stipulated by Article 104 is a legal pledge (of allegiance) made by the public officers to the People's Republic of China and its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and is legally binding.” That is somewhat different however from the relevant section of the Basic Law, which states “principal officials and members of the Legislative Council... must swear to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”. Lee said the insertion of the conjunction “and” and attributive adjective “its” between “People's Republic of China” and “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” suggested principal officials and lawmakers had to pledge allegiance to mainland constitutional law as well as the Basic Law, and this would have major consequences. He believed questions could be raised about several members of the legislature's functional constituencies who hold dual nationality. “If they have a United States or British passport, how are they pledging allegiance to the country? Chinese law does not recognise dual nationality,” Lee said on a radio programme. “Would you have to bear legal consequences?” By adding the words, Lee said the NPC was effectively amending, not interpreting, the law. “If 'and its' had been added to the oath after 1997, I might not have chosen to take it [to become a lawmaker],” he said. “We are talking about one country, two systems – I pledge allegiance to this system, I can't pledge allegiance to the Communist Party.” ^ top ^

Chinese government rebukes US over comments on Hong Kong removal of legislators-elect (SCMP)
The Chinese Foreign Ministry's representative in Hong Kong has hit back at comments by the United States government on the disqualification of two pro-independence lawmakers in the city, saying foreign governments must not interfere in the country's internal affairs. The rebuke came as the ministry criticised one of the city's most recognised pro-democracy activists, Joshua Wong Chi-fung, for penning an opinion piece with a fellow activist in the Wall Street Journal just days earlier calling on Hongkongers to fight for the right to self-determination. Responding on Tuesday to the High Court's disqualification of two lawmakers-elect who used derogatory language to insult China during their oath-taking, State Department's press office director Elizabeth Trudeau said: “We believe that the Chinese and the Hong Kong governments and all elected politicians in Hong Kong should refrain from any actions that fuel concern or undermine confidence in the 'one country, two systems' principle. “The United States strongly supports and values Hong Kong's Legislative Council and independent judiciary, two institutions that play a critically important role in promoting and protecting the special administrative region's high degree of autonomy.” A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry commissioner's office in Hong Kong stressed that “Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs”. “We firmly oppose any foreign government interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any way, undermining Hong Kong's rule of law,” it said. In an article in the Wall Street Journal on November 9, Joshua Wong and Jeffrey Ngo, a master's student in history at New York University, wrote that “It's time to advance our struggle to achieving the right to self-determination rather than mere universal suffrage under Chinese rule.” “The people of Hong Kong must challenge the legitimacy of our existing constitution,” they wrote. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry commissioner's office in Hong Kong wrote to the paper on Wednesday, saying the two writers were openly advocating Hong Kong independence. The spokesman added that it was “totally absurd and ignorant” to say the city had the right to self-determination as it is Chinese territory.” “It is gravely wrong and dangerous to claim that Hong Kong is not part of China, and challenge the country's sovereignty by advocating 'self-determination' and independence,” the spokesman wrote. Wong who is visiting Washington, has called on president-elect Donald Trump to keep an eye on human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong. He also spoke at an event on Wednesday organised by a US congressional panel that monitors human rights in China, where he met the likes of Senator Marco Rubio, the commission's co-chairman. Senators Rubio and Tom Cotton sponsored legislation that would punish Hong Kong or mainland officials who suppressed basic freedoms in the city. But the legislation is unlikely to become US law before the congressional term ends. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government also urged “foreign parties” not to interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong after a section in a US congressional panel report cited an “alarming” rise in the mainland's interference in the city's affairs, raising questions about the city's role as a global financial hub. The report cited cases such as the Causeway Bay booksellers saga, in which mainland officials apparently abducted five booksellers. The Hong Kong government said on Wednesday that Hong Kong had been exercising a high degree of autonomy since the handover. ^ top ^

Hong Kong lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung's Legco folder snatch of confidential documents is reported to police (SCMP)
A senior Development Bureau official has asked police to investigate an incident during a Legislative Council panel meeting earlier this week in which his folder said to contain confidential information was snatched by protesting legislators. The incident, which took place during a joint meeting of the legislature's housing and development panels on Tuesday, saw a folder placed on a bench by the undersecretary for development, Eric Ma Siu-cheung, snatched by lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who subsequently passed it to fellow Legco member Eddie Chu Hoi-dick. In a statement on Thursday, the Development Bureau said Chu was given the folder “to read the confidential documents [inside] without the permission of Ma”. “In view of the seriousness of the incident, Ma reported the case to police,” the statement read. A bureau spokesman condemned and expressed “deep regret over the behaviour of the two Legco members”. The spokesman declined to elaborate on what exactly Ma had complained to the police about or what confidential information he thought had been leaked. Leung described Ma's move as “insane”. “If Ma is so much concerned about confidential information being leaked, I would like to ask him if he reported to police Arup using government confidential data to help its client apply to the Town Planning Board,” he said. He was referring to recent media reports that Arup – a consultancy firm commissioned by the government to carry out an infrastructure design study in Wang Chau in Yuen Long for a public housing project – had allegedly disclosed confidential data in a separate application to the Town Planning Board on behalf of New World Development to build a private housing project next to the Wang Chau site. Ma was at Tuesday's joint panel meeting to brief lawmakers on the latest developments in the Wang Chau saga. During the meeting, Leung, unhappy with Ma's replies, left his seat and went to grab a folder on Ma's bench. He later passed the folder to Chu as Leung was expelled by the panel chairman for his behaviour. Chu said: “The folder was about three inches thick. I was trying to search for information about Arup. There were some prepared replies to possible questions to be raised by lawmakers at the meeting – nothing much special. “The folder was returned shortly afterwards. I did not see any official at the meeting much angry or unhappy... No official seemed to treat it as a big deal. It was just a protest.” Both Leung and Chu said they had not been approached by police. ^ top ^

Hong Kong legal experts split over court's ruling in oath controversy (SCMP)
The disqualification of two democratically elected lawmakers over an oath-taking controversy has prompted concern from the legal community over the lack of clarification surrounding the constitutional foundation for the ruling. Legal experts are awaiting further reasoning for Tuesday's High Court ruling, which found Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching had “declined” to take the Legislative Council oath and swear allegiance Hong Kong as part of China, Former legal sector legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said it was the first time the court had directly disqualified duly elected lawmakers or overturned a decision of the Legco president. “The decisions may be or may not be right, but we need more rationale. I hope the upper courts can give us very clear reasons for their decisions in the upcoming appeal by the duo,” Ng said Wednesday. Johannes Chan Man-mun, former dean of law at the University of Hong Kong, said the court had “diminished the constitutional significance of Legco”. “The court treated Legco as if it is just a statutory body... It didn't say why it can remove a democratically elected lawmaker in the way it disqualifies a public officer,” he said. He pointed to Article 79 of the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution, which states that a two-thirds majority in Legco is required to remove a lawmaker. “If the Basic Law has made it so difficult to remove someone for breach of oath, I can't see why the court can find it so easy to kick out someone who declines or neglects to take the oath – both are serious matters.” Chan said the court was yet to clearly define what constituted “internal business” of the legislature, which the court could not interfere in. During the swearing-in ceremony on October 12, the Youngspiration pair pronounced “China” in a way that Chinese found offensive. In deciding to remove them, Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung, interpreting the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance, reasoned that the pair's manner demonstrated their intention not to faithfully recognise the importance of “one country” under “one country, two systems”. Martin Liao Cheung-kong, a local deputy to the National People's Congress, backed the court's decision, saying democratically elected lawmakers “should also be subject to the law”. “The court should stick to the law and avoid considering political factors,” Liao, also a lawmaker, said. Part of Tuesday's controversial judgment was the finding that the chief executive had the standing to bring proceedings to lawmakers in addition to the secretary for justice. Kevin Yam Kin-fung, convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group, said this part of the judgment could set a dangerous precedent. “If the court says the chief executive has the duty to implement the Basic Law and therefore he has a standing to sue, does that mean he has the power to bring proceedings on economic and land matters – basically anything – because they are all covered in the Basic Law?” ^ top ^

Six from anti-CY Leung group barred from running for Hong Kong's Election Committee (SCMP)
Six members of a group opposed to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying securing a second term have been barred from running for the Election Committee, which will pick the city's next leader. The decision came as the government announced plans to set the nomination period for the chief executive election from February 14 to March 1 next year. A poll will be held on December 11 to decide the 1,200-member committee that will elect a chief executive on March 26. Progressive Engineering, headed by Albert Lai Kwok-tak of the pan-democratic Professional Commons, fielded 26 people to run for seats in the committee's engineering subsector. Their campaign focuses on blocking Leung for another term. When nominations closed on Monday, six were ruled “not eligible to be nominated as a candidate” because they were mainly construction workers who failed to have a vote and “a substantial connection with the engineering subsector”. According to the Chief Executive Election Ordinance, one must have “a substantial connection” with the subsector concerned. Progressive Engineering spokesman Lee Chi-ming said: “The rule is too vague and allows the returning officer too much power to disqualify a candidate. “How substantial is substantial? This is very subjective. It inevitably leads people to think political consideration has been involved.” Chan Pat-kan, who is one of the six and heads the Construction Site Workers General Union. Chan said: “We work closely with engineers at sites. Without us frontier workers, engineers' plans can never be materialised. It is laughable to say we are not closely connected with the sector.” Meanwhile, pro-independence activist Chan Chak-to has been initially accepted to run in the information technology subsector. Computer engineer Chan has joined the pan-democrats' 30-member group IT Vision to challenge for seats. ^ top ^

Report urges US Congress to speak out for Hong Kong autonomy in wake of bookseller saga (SCMP)
A United States congressional commission has asked congressmen to take a tougher stance against China and speak out for Hong Kong's autonomy and rule of law in the wake of the mysterious disappearances and re-appearances of the Causeway Bay booksellers. The recommendation is contained in the latest draft of the annual report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, to be released on Thursday. In its annual report to Congress, the commission expressed doubts over the city's independent legal system, citing the Causeway Bay Books saga in which five booksellers who sold banned books on the mainland appeared to have been abducted by the Chinese authorities. It said that the bookstore saga had put in question “the state of Hong Kong's ability to maintain its independent legal system” and its autonomy under the “one country, two systems” model. “Some observers... are beginning to question [Hong Kong's] future as a global financial centre due to the deterioration of the 'one country, two systems' framework resulting in large part from the booksellers incident over the past year.” The commission recommended that Congress express to China that the apparent abduction and detention of the booksellers had violated its commitments to maintaining a high degree of autonomy in the city. It also urged congressmen to continue to show support for human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong. In another recommendation to Congress, the commission called for its support for US non-governmental organisations that operated in Hong Kong assisting local civil society and political groups and working towards achieving democratic electoral reforms, including universal suffrage, for the city. The release of the report is expected to draw criticism from both Beijing and the Hong Kong government. The commission was formed by the US Congress in 2000. It consists of 12 members, three of whom are selected by each of the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, and the Speaker and the minority leader of the House. It submits to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the US and China, and makes recommendations for legislative and administrative action. Its report last year also contained a section on Hong Kong, highlighting the restrictive electoral arrangements for the chief executive elections and the failure to pass electoral reform in the Legislative Council. It also warned of worsening press freedom in the city. ^ top ^

Thousands turn out to decry Hong Kong independence (SCMP)
Marchers take to streets day after Beijing's top man in city slams 'blasphemy' in Legco oath-taking. Opponents of Hong Kong independence staged a show of force yesterday as thousands of people took to the streets around the government headquarters in one of the largest rallies of its kind in recent years. The demonstration, which organisers said was attended by more than 40,000 people, followed a withering attack on separatism by Beijing's top man in the city, Zhang Xiaoming, who upped the ante in the controversy over the Legislative Council oath- taking saga. Zhang accused localist lawmakers of “blasphemy” against the oaths and of treating the wider Hong Kong community like “idiots”. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also warned in a rare interview with Xinhua that his government would not allow independence advocates to “appear in the city's political system”, including the Legislative Council and civil service, or to spread their ideas in schools. Leung also hinted that he would seek re-election, as he claimed that he had achieved much of his election promises four years ago, and now Hong Kong “needs to continue with the work” he started. At the rally outside the Legco complex in Admiralty yesterday, protesters also voiced their support for Beijing's ruling last week that lawmakers who failed to take the Legislative Council oath “sincerely” would face disqualification. The rally's organiser, the Anti-Hong Kong Independence Alliance, said more than 40,000 attended the rally. ' The police said the turnout peaked at 28,500. Controversy first erupted on October 12 when Younspiration duo Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching swore allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation” and mimicked a derogatory term used by the Japanese during wartime to insult China during their oath-taking. Their actions prompted China's top legislative body to issue a ruling on November 7 that stated lawmakers would face instant disqualification for failing to take their oaths when being sworn in “sincerely”. Mok Ka-kit, a student at City University, applied for a judicial review in the High Court last month over the legality of the oaths taken by the Youngspiration pair. Speaking at the rally in Admiralty yesterday, Mok vowed to revise his writ to challenge the legality of other democratic lawmakers, who chanted slogans after finishing their oaths. What identity crisis? Hongkongers confront questions of belonging after Legco oath saga( Attending the rally, Tin Shui Wai resident Mr Cheng, 72, said: “I was born during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, I was very angry about [Baggio Leung and Yau]... I think those lawmakers who shouted slogans should be disqualified too.” Another attendee, who only identified himself as Mr Cheung, said he brought along his son “to let him know that Hong Kong must be governed in accordance with law”. The alliance organiser Stanley Ng Chau-pei said the rally “showed the world that we are determined to safeguard territorial integrity”. He added that there were over 10,000 people who could not attend the rally because the venue was too crowded. The demonstration came a day after Zhang spoke at the Beijing-friendly Pui Kiu Middle School's 70th anniversary dinner in Wan Chai on Saturday. The dinner was closed to media, but according to a copy of the speech released on the central government's liaison office's website, Zhang addressed the topic of “lawmakers-elect who publicly advocated Hong Kong independence”. US official says oaths by Hong Kong localist lawmakers were 'silly', but they should be free to speak their minds anyway( “Unless they are assuming all people are idiots, they could not deny that they went against the procedure and blasphemed the oath's content,” he said. He described the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress as taking “necessary action in accordance with law and its responsibility”. On Friday, President Xi Jinping called for national unity in a strongly worded speech, vowing to oppose separatism in any form and taking aim at Taiwan and independence sentiment in Hong Kong. “We will never allow anyone, any organisation, any party to split off any tract of territory from China any time, or in any way,” Xi said. Zhang said Xi's speech was to date “the sternest warning against separatist forces in Taiwan and Hong Kong”. The senior official said the oath-taking controversy as well as some Hongkongers' opposition to the Basic Law were reminders that “we need to pay attention to the issue of patriotic education in schools”. ^ top ^

Hong Kong trade chief in US confident it will be business as usual under Trump (SCMP)
Hong Kong is “watching and monitoring” trade and foreign policy changes under Donald Trump's incoming administration, the city's top official in the United States told the Post. Clement Leung Cheuk-man, Hong Kong's commissioner for economic and trade affairs in the US, expressed confidence in Washington maintaining a good relationship with the city, despite the Republican's anti-China and anti-trade rhetoric on the campaign trail. “Of course, we are watching … It is our responsibility to monitor legislation, policy or other administrative measures [in the US], things that may have an impact on our trade relationship and our economic cooperation,” Leung said at Hong Kong's economic and trade office in Washington. “I would say that this is still [in the] very early days. The election has just been completed. So we are waiting to see, for example, the appointments to key positions of influence, like the secretary of state, his team, and the Treasury etc.” On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly claimed China had stolen jobs that would be taken back to the US. One of his manifesto promises was to “instruct the US Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the World Trade Organisation”. This would put Hong Kong in a potentially risky position, as its main and second largest trading partners are China and the US. Trump's America and Hong Kong's oath taking crisis: how they are linked( Hong Kong is the ninth largest market for products made in the US, worth US$37 billion last year, Leung said. The American Chamber of Commerce represents more than 1,200 US companies doing business in Hong Kong, of which over 800 are regional offices or headquarters. Trump would find up to 4,000 positions in his transition team, US media reported. “Of course we are looking forward to see whether there will be any change in policies,” Leung said. “But we are confident that [the] very close cooperation will continue under a Trump administration. “I'm sure that the US is very keen to preserve its very special relationship with Hong Kong.” As trade commissioner, Leung is the de facto diplomat-in-chief for Hong Kong, which does not conduct foreign affairs under the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution. After he assumed his role in 2014, he met nearly 70 members of Congress, at times in tense situations such as the Occupy protests and the disappearance of several city booksellers. “I would say that there is still a very strong degree of goodwill among officials, congressional members, within the think tank community and with respect to the business community in the US,” Leung said. “I think a lot of that goodwill stems from Hong Kong being a very free economy.” ^ top ^



Thousands opposing same-sex marriage stage rally in Taiwan (SCMP)
Thousands protested in Taipei on Thursday against draft bills that would make Taiwan the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, arguing traditional family values would be undermined. Protesters dressed in white and holding placards with the slogans including “Stand forward for the next generation's happiness” packed a street outside the parliament where a committee was debating the issue. They shook their hands in the air and gave the thumbs-down as they watched a live stream of the committee meeting on a big screen. Supporters of gay rights are more hopeful than ever that same-sex marriage will soon become a reality under the pro-gay rights Democratic Progressive Party, which is in control of parliament for the first time. But opposing voices have been building since proposed amendments to legalise same-sex marriage passed initial vetting in parliament earlier this month. While Taiwan is considered progressive on many issues, its roots in Confucianism translate into a strong sense of adherence to traditional values such as family loyalty and social hierarchy. David Tseng, spokesman of the rally's organiser, The Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, said that while the group supported equal rights for same-sex partners in certain areas, marriage should only be between a man and a woman. “Now they want to amend the law to do away with the 'father' and 'mother' altogether,” he said. “We are different from the West. In Eastern culture, we place great importance on filial piety to one's father and mother. This is a virtue we must keep,” he said. Tseng also called for a referendum on the issue, criticising the absence of public participation in drafting the bills. Taiwan is one of the region's most forward-thinking societies when it comes to gay rights, but progress on marriage equality had been stagnant, because of resistance from the Kuomintang political party, which dominated politics for decades before being unseated by the DPP in May. President Tsai Ing-wen has also openly supported marriage equality and said she would respect any decision reached by parliament. A Christian alliance came to Taipei from the south of the island on Thursday to protest. Dozens wearing black clerical clothing listened to a sermon while some blew horns used during worship. “Only a heterosexual marriage can create the possibility of bearing children and only then can we sustain the nation's next generation,” said Wang Tzu-hao, a pastor representing the group. “Marriage is a human right, but like all human rights there are limitations,” he said. A smattering of rainbow flags were also seen amid the protesters and a small group of gay marriage supporters also gathered outside parliament. Nicole Yu, who described herself as a Christian, said she hoped the bill would pass so her parents would no longer be afraid to tell friends their daughter is gay. “The Bible does not oppose same-sex love,” she said. ^ top ^

Mainland official meets with former Kuomintang chairman (Xinhua)
Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on Monday met with former Kuomintang party chairman Wu Poh-hsiung to discuss cross-Strait relations. Wu is in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, to attend the "Taiwan Week," a cross-Strait cultural communication program. ^ top ^

Taiwan reaches out to Southeast Asian students to help cut economic reliance on Beijing (SCMP)
Island hopes to attract 60,000 students from Asean countries by 2019 as part of its New Southbound Policy to diversify the economy. Taiwan plans to recruit 60,000 students from Southeast Asia in the next three years, as part of the New Southbound Policy adopted by the government to help cut the island's economic reliance on the mainland. However, opposition critics have questioned the plans, which call for working with countries that have language and cultural barriers with Taiwan, and that have close links to Beijing, which has warned other countries against forging official ties with Taipei. Taiwan looks south to find economic answer to cross-strait bind( Taiwan had active economic exchanges with the mainland when the Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou was president between 2008 and this year. But his successor, Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, said the island had relied too heavily on the mainland, and introduced the new policy to diversify the economy. Officials said the government aimed to find a new driving force for growth now that relations between the island and the mainland had turned cold. Taiwan calls on Beijing to reopen dialogue to pave way for peace deal( “We hope by launching these projects, we will be able to enhance bilateral communication and to share resources with Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” said Yang Min-ling, director general of international and cross-strait education at the Education Ministry. The southbound policy, which also calls for bilateral investment, high-level mutual visits and resource sharing, covers 16 countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia, as well as New Zealand and Australia. “The ministry has earmarked NT$1 billion (HK$240 million) to fund the projects, which we believe will not only help seek talent for Taiwan but also resolve language and cultural barriers between Taiwan and those countries,” Yang said. In addition to offering scholarships and other incentives to recruit some 60,000 students from Asean nations by 2019, the ministry would try to help them find jobs in Taiwan to better their skills, Yang said. When the students returned home, they could serve as a bridge between their countries and Taiwan, she added. Plenty of economic challenges ahead for Taiwan's new president. She said the ministry would also help more than 12,000 children of second-generation immigrants return to their parents' countries for short-term studies, training or employment, to establish links with those countries. Opposition KMT lawmakers, however, said the plans would take at least a decade to bear fruit, while Taiwan continued to suffer economically without cooperation with the mainland. Meanwhile, the number of mainland students pursuing a degree in Taiwan had dropped 6 per cent year on year to 9,000 since Tsai took office in May, compared with more than 20,000 during Ma's time as president, officials said. They said that by 2019, Southeast Asian students might greatly outnumber those from across the strait, if Beijing continued to tighten restrictions on mainland students studying in Taiwan. ^ top ^



US panel backs takeover ban for Chinese state-owned firms (SCMP)
A top US congressional panel has called on Washington to ban Chinese state-owned firms from taking over US companies, citing national security concerns. The recommendation in a report on Wednesday from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission comes amid intense speculation about US president-elect Donald Trump's likely policy on China and fears of a trade rift between the two countries. Chinese analysts said Washington was almost certain to take a tougher line on Chinese investment and Beijing had to respond by fulfilling promises on ownership reform of state firms. Zhang Yansheng, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission, said similar suggestions had been made in the US before. “The key is to go through with pledges to reform state firms, to introduce private ownership and diversify equity structure,” Zhang said. Tsinghua University economics professor Li Daokui said attitudes to Chinese investment in the US would only become more hawkish and this would affect agreements between the world's two biggest economies. “The general climate in the US will affect China's investment in the US, and it will also cast doubt on the bilateral investment treaty talks,” said Li, who is a former adviser to China's central bank. Yu Yongding, an outspoken senior government economist, said Beijing should focus more on helping Chinese companies tap onshore business. “The government should help unleash domestic investment potential for state firms, and it takes time to gain experience going overseas. There's no need to rush,” Yu said. In its report, the US commission also said Chinese investment in the US this year would be at least double the US$15 billion benchmark set last year, despite a sharp fall in the share of investment by state firms. Private Chinese investment surged, it said. American economist and 2001 Nobel laureate in economics Michael Spence said the blurred lines between the Chinese state and corporate world had made it hard for Washington to see the true driving force behind the deals. “In most of the West, there is a fairly sharp distinction between the government and private sector,” Spence said at a forum in Hong Kong yesterday. “[But] we can't tell that [a state-owned enterprise] is implementing the Chinese government's policies or as companies. That's where the problem is.” Though the report raised an alert about China's acquisition of technology assets, it said the investment coverage “has become much more diverse”, with real estate and financial services at the top of the list in 2015. It said the rapid rise of the investment was driven by the China's “going out” policy, capital flight and Chinese companies' demand to diversify investment amid an economic slowdown at home. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the report “has again revealed the commission's stereotypes and prejudices”. ^ top ^

China calls for new private bank to rejuvenate rust-belt northeast (SCMP)
China's State Council has called for a private bank to be established in the struggling northeast as part of a new plan published on Wednesday to support economic growth in the region. The government would also strengthen policy propaganda and beef up the way it monitors public opinion to prevent negative voices from undermining confidence in the three northeastern provinces of Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Jilin, the cabinet said in the policy document. It said it would work to prevent the dissemination of opinions that “talk down” the northeast and respond quickly to correct negative and false reporting about the region. Beijing's efforts to “rejuvenate” the northeast began in 2003 as the central government tried to bring stability to an old industrial region hit by layoffs, strikes and organised crime. It has since spent billions of yuan to regenerate shantytowns, build new transportation infrastructure and encourage new high-tech industries in the three provinces, but critics have said the strategy has done little to ease the region's dependency on the state. The State Council said local governments would be responsible for drawing up new policies to develop the private economy in the region, which has long been dominated by powerful state-owned firms. At least one new regional bank would be established by the end of June next year, and a “financing guarantee system” would also be set up to support small to medium-sized enterprises, it said. Beijing will also look into developing new industries in resource-depleted cities in the northeast to create jobs, and will accelerate construction of infrastructure projects. The central government would provide special financial support for northeastern cities suffering from recession and resource depletion, the plan said, naming Jixi and other struggling coal cities in Heilongjiang, where protests against unpaid wages have been common. China has issued several directives this year outlining new infrastructure projects and other investments in a bid to boost growth in the region, home to the only province whose economy is in recession. It said in August that it would launch 127 new large-scale transportation, energy, water and urban construction projects over the 2016-18 period to “cultivate new momentum” in the northeast economy. According to official data, Liaoning's economy went into recession in the first half of this year, falling 1 per cent after a 58 per cent drop in fixed-asset investment. While the province has not published economic data since August, a report published by the 21st Century Business Herald estimated that Liaoning's gross domestic product fell 2.2 per cent in the first three quarters as a whole. ^ top ^

Singles' Day sales top 120 billion yuan at Alibaba (Xinhua)
Consumers spent more than 120 billion yuan (17.6 billion U.S. dollars) Friday shopping online on leading e-commerce platform Alibaba in their annual buying spree, sources with Alibaba Group said Saturday. Online transactions totaled 120.748 billion yuan in the 24 hours that ended as the clocks struck 12 p.m. Friday, a record amount in global retail for any single day, according to data provided by Alibaba. The shopping spree hit a climactic high just nine minutes after midnight on Friday morning, with an average 120,000 transactions handled per second on Alipay, Alibaba's mobile payment platform, 1.4 times as many as last year. In addition, 54,000 payments were made every second through the wireless service for debit cards, according to Ant Financial, which runs Alipay. Alipay handled a total of 1.05 billion payments Friday, a surge of 48 percent year-on-year. Altogether 657 million delivery orders were handled by, Alibaba's delivery service platform, in the 24-hour shopping event, up 40.7 percent from last year. More than 200 countries and regions were involved in the shopping spree, and 47 million consumers ordered products by international brands, said Zhang Yong, Alibaba's CEO. The shopping spree on Singles' Day, which is named for the repeated digit 1 in the date Nov. 11, was created by Alibaba in 2009. The annual event has been a test and rehearsal of China's new retail technology, market operation and business patterns, said Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group. New retail patterns are created when online and offline sales, logistics services, technology and marketing data make a perfect match, said Ma. "This, in the meantime, upgrades the supply chain and promotes supply-side reform." According to Alibaba Group, consumers in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Guangzhou spent more on Singles' Day than those in other Chinese cities.  ^ top ^



New Mongolian Ambassadors appointed (The UB Post)
Following Cabinet and Foreign Policy Standing Committee approval, Parliament approved President Ts.Elbegdorj's nominees for new foreign ambassadors. Two former Prime Ministers were appointed, and other nominees were experienced diplomats with specialized careers in representing Mongolia in the international arena. During Parliament's review of the nominees, MPs asked about their plans for their respective diplomatic missions abroad. L.Battulga, appointed Ambassador of Mongolia to Kazakhstan, said that he will concentrate on expanding economic cooperation between Mongolia and Kazakhstan. D.Bilegdorj, Ambassador of Mongolia to Vietnam, noted that Vietnam is a long-time friend to Mongolia and a member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He said he will focus on developing the relationship between Mongolia and ASEAN. Z.Chintushig, Ambassador of Mongolia to Kuwait, told the MPs that he will carry out his mission within the framework of the implementation of the 2016-2020 government action plan. R.Bold, Ambassador of Mongolia to Turkey, highlighted that relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Turkey have been increasing in recent years, so he will work in ways that will be optimal to further developing economic cooperation. He noted that there over 400 Mongolian students now studying in Turkey, and he will study additional ways to collaborate with Turkey in education. G.Battungalag, Ambassador of Mongolia to Austria, said that she plans to focus on increasing the number of Mongolian students pursuing degrees in Austria, and improving economic cooperation. O.Och, Ambassador of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Belgium, said that he will work on developing economic cooperation with Belgium as one of Mongolia's third neighbors. N.Naranbat, Ambassador of Mongolia to the Czech Republic, stressed that he will focus on moving investment and economic cooperation forward, promoting Mongol studies in the Czech Republic, and providing the 5,600 Mongolians living there with fast and accessible services. D.Batsaikhan, Ambassador of Mongolia to Bulgaria, noted that Mongolia and Bulgaria have historically been friends, but that trade and economic cooperation between the two countries need to improve. Former Prime Minister M.Enkhsaikhan, newly appointed Ambassador of Mongolia to Sweden, said that he will work to develop relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Northern European countries. Former Prime Minister S.Bayar, newly appointed Ambassador of Mongolia to the United Kingdom, said, “Diplomats don't work for what they want, and they must work for their state's instructions, so I will work for what the Government of Mongolia instructs me to.” ^ top ^

Cabinet considers President's proposal on celebrating ASEM DAY (Montsame)
At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the cabinet discussed the draft bill on celebrating ASEM Day on every March 1, and backed in principle. However, the cabinet members deemed that month of March would have too many celebrations. Thus, the ministers decided to present a recommendation to move the ASEM Day to October 17. Mongolia hosted the 11th Summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) at home on July 15 and 16, 2016. ^ top ^

Government to budget MNT 6 billion for organizing of Int'l Children's Games 2020 (Montsame)
Ulaanbaatar is hosting the 2020 International Children's Games, which will draw more than 3,000 athletes, 500 coaches and 90 judges, wlong with some 120 official delegates from 45-50 countires. On Wednesday, the Cabinet discussed the expenditure on the international sports event. The total cost was estimated at MNT 6.0 billion, 60 percent of which will be funded from the Government and local budgets and 40 percent – to be financed by donors and international organizations. The preparations for the prestigious event was assigned to the Minister of Education, Culture, Sciences and Sports, Mr J.Batsuuri. ^ top ^

Mongolia to fully cover domestic consumptions of wheat and potatoes (Montsame)
Preliminary results of this autumn's harvest was presented Wednesday to the Cabinet by the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, Mr P.Sergelen. He said Mongolia will cover 100 percent of domestic wheat and potato consumptions. This autumn, a total of 475 thousand tons of grains, including 460 thousand tons of wheat, 153 thousand tons of potatoes, 93 thousand tons of vegetables, 20 thousand tons of oil plants and 50 thousand tons of soiling crops. Companies and individuals have prepared fallow in 389 thousand hectares. A total of 45 thousand tons of grains are stored for next year's seeding. ^ top ^

Cabinet permits signing concession agreement on Tsagaansuvarga power supply (Montsame)
The cabinet gave permission to the National Development Agency to sign the concession agreement with the Mongolyn Alt Corporation (MAK) on a project on overhead power lines and substation connecting Oyu Tolgoi and Tsagaansuvarga (White Stupa), on Wednesday's regular meeting. The Minister of Finance was assigned to reflect the repayment of the concession cost, USD 32.231 million, partially in the respective year's government budget. With the implementation of this project, the issue of power supply of Tsagaansuvarga project will be settled, and Mandakh and Khatanbulag soums of Dornogovi (East Gobi) province will be connected to the central power grid system. ^ top ^

Amendments to Marrakesh Agreement will serve for landlocked countries' interests (Montsame)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil presented a draft bill on ratifying the Protocol on the amendments to the Marrakesh Agreement on Establishing the World Trade Organization, and draft amendments to the Law on Custom Tariffs and Duty, on November 15. Mongolia joined the WTO in 1997, becoming a party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the Agreement on the Rules of Origin. The parliament passed the Custom Tariffs Law in 2008 and amended it in 2015. However, certain provisions of the law are in conflict with Mongolia's duties before the above mentioned international agreements. For instance, the Mongolian customs require certificate of origin from goods for imports, otherwise impose a doubled amount of customs duty. The regulation has been causing difficulties, having lengthened the period of custom clearance obtainment. The protocol on amending the Marrakesh Agreement – the Trade Facilitation Agreement was initiated by landlocked countries such as Mongolia, Bolivia and Paraguay in 2003, and was backed in 2013. The Agreement will be take force after ratification by 110 countries, the two thirds of all parties of the Marrakesh Agreement. The Trade Facilitation Agreement has been ratified by 96 countries, so far. With the adoption of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, landlocked countries will be able to enjoy assistance and support from the development partners, to implement foreign trade-oriented projects, to reduce costs of external trade, to increase exports, to improve road and railway systems and to alleviate commerce and transport through various projects. ^ top ^

Mongolia will accede to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (gogoMongolia)
Mongolia expressed its interest in acceding to Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) in 2009 and applied tariff concessions on 377 items. The APTA, previously named the Bangkok Agreement, signed in 1975 as an initiative of ESCAP, is a preferential tariff arrangement that aims at promoting intra-regional trade through exchange of mutually agreed concessions by member countries. APTA has five members namely Bangladesh, China, India, Republic of Korea, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Sri Lanka. ESCAP functions as the secretariat for the Agreement. APTA member countries account more than 60 percent of Mongolian foreign trade turnover, more than 90 percent of export and 30 percent of imports. By acceding the APTA, Mongolian products to be exported are able to enjoy tariff concessions with an average of 40 percent in the Chinese and South Korean markets. The draft law on accession to APTA was discussed and supported by the Government of Mongolia on Apr 20, 2015. However, the accession has delayed due to the Government of Mongolia issued a resolution on Mar 28, 2016 to increase custom duties of some imported goods, such as wooden door and window. Mongolia mainly imports wooden door and window from China and South Korea. As of 2015, total imported wooden door and window reached US$ 5.6 million and Mongolia was projected to earn US$ 1.1 million from import and custom duties. However, the custom revenue was declined by US$ 330 thousand by offering tariff concessions of 30 percent on these items. But the revenue loss can be fully recovered as tariff concessions on Mongolian products, such as coal will save US$ 9.6 million to the country, considered by the Government of Mongolia. The coal, main export commodity of Mongolia will enjoy tariff concessions of 30 percent while coking coal export expects to be offered tariff concessions of 50 percent. In addition, investment to Mongolia from APTA member countries will be increased while it will show positive impact on the economy. Moreover, Mongolia is exploring the possibility of establsihing free trade agreements with China and South Korea. The impelementation result of APTA will be significant in assessing the opportunities and risks of free trade agreements to be established with these countries. The draft law on accession to APTA will be finalized by the Government of Mongolia. ^ top ^

Ulaanbaatar Process for Dialogue in Northeast Asia kicks off (Montsame)
The “Security of Northeast Asia” roundtable meeting commenced on November 14 in the Consensus Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting is being organized by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the pro-nuclear-weapon-free-status “Tsenkher Suld” NGO. As a result of the consistent cooperation and commitments by the non-governmental pro-peace organizations of Mongolia along with the countries of the Northeast Asian region, the sides agreed on the fact that Ulaanbaatar is the most suitable venue to hold meetings on security, particularly, the nuclear safety issue of this region, said Dr D.Myagmar, Ph.D. and executive director of Tsenkher Suld. The meeting on the security of Northeast Asia is being organized in Ulaanbaatar for the third year in a row. This year, a delegation from a peace organization of North Korea is taking part. Also, the experts from South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, the USA and Mongolia are gathered to consider the nuclear safety of the region, he said. Participants of the meeting are exchanging ideas and their views on feasibilities of establishing another nuclear-weapon-free-zone within the region and Mongolia's role in it. The roundtable meeting will complete on November 16.  ^ top ^

Embassy in Pyongyang celebrates 60th anniversary of Kim Il Sung' visit (Montsame)
A film show at the Taedonggang Diplomatic Club in the joint name of the Korea-Mongolia Friendship Association and the Mongolian Embassy in Pyongyang took place on Thursday on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of President Kim Il Sung's visit to Mongolia and the 95th anniversary of the victory of the Mongolian people's revolution. Present were, Pak Kyong Il, vice-chairman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and chairman of the Korea-Mongolia Friendship Association, along with the related officials, Suren Tsoggerel, Mongolian ambassador to the DPRK, and staffers of his embassy. The participants enjoyed a Mongolian documentary film. A friendly sports game was held between members of the Korea-Mongolia Friendship Association and staff members of the Mongolian Embassy on the same day, reports the Embassy. ^ top ^

Foreign Affairs Minister meets with foreign delegations to discuss cooperation (UB Post)
Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.MunkhOrgil met with a number of foreign delegations last week to discuss cooperation in education, development, the economy, and investment. Resident Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to Mongolia Naomi Kitahara was received by Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil on Friday. Kitahara spoke with the Minister in detail about ongoing and upcoming projects and programs led by the UNFPA. Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil introduced Kitahara to the policies and programs in social development the government is working to implement, and stated that Parliament is planning to review an amended version of the Law to Combat Domestic Violence soon. He asked her to work with the government and to help support promoting youth development and education. The UNFPA will implement a 15 million USD program to improve reproductive health, youth development, and gender equality in Mongolia over the next four years. The Foreign Affairs Minister met with State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria Michael Linhart on November 11 to discuss relations and cooperation between the two countries. The sides also discussed increasing the number of Austrain scholarship grantees, training Mongolian diplomats in Austria, and dealing with the challenges Mongolians have faced when applying for an Austrian visa. Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil underlined that the Government of Mongolia is concentrating on overcoming economic difficulties, and that developing economic cooperation is of mutual interest to the two countries. He thanked the Government of Austria for including a soft loan of 40 million EUR in the financial cooperation agreement between the governments of Mongolia and Austria. Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil also received Ambassador of Qatar to Mongolia Sultan Al-Mansur, who is based out of Beijing, to exchange views on Mongolian and Qatari relations and cooperation. Ts.Munkh-Orgil noted that relations between the two countries have increased. He highlighted that carrying out high-level visits, developing economic cooperation, and pursuing Qatari investments in Mongolia are of importance to developing mutual cooperation. Ambassador Al-Mansur said that Qatar has studied investing in Mongolia, and that enhancing the legal and regulatory environment for foreign investors and entrepreneurs is important. He pointed out that launching a direct flight between Doha and Ulaanbaatar could help develop tourism and improve people-to-people relations. He also added that cultural events and exhibitions about Mongolia have been regularly held in Qatar. ^ 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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