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
  6-10.3.2017, No. 662  
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Foreign Policy

More than 20,000 flee Myanmar conflict and cross border to China (SCMP)
More than 20,000 people from Myanmar have flooded into border camps in neighbouring China, seeking refuge from bitter fighting between ethnic groups and security forces in the country's north, China said on Thursday. Thousands of people have crossed China's border in recent months to escape the conflict, which threatens Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's top goal of reaching peace with minorities. This week, about 30 people were killed in an attack by ethnic Chinese insurgents in Laukkai, a town 800km northeast of Myanmar's commercial hub Yangon. China is providing humanitarian assistance while taking steps to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border region, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. He reiterated a call for all sides involved to “exercise restraint and immediately cease fire” to keep clashes from escalating. “China supports Myanmar's peace process and hopes all sides can use peaceful means to resolve their differences via dialogue and consultation,” Geng said. Stray shells and bullets had fallen into China territory, injuring one Chinese resident and causing other damage, he added, but did not elaborate. Suu Kyi's nearly one-year-old government is increasingly besieged by ethnic rebels, grappling with an alliance of militias in Myanmar's north and a new insurgency by Rohingyas rebelling against decades of persecution in the northwest. Suu Kyi swept to power in 2015 on promises of national reconciliation. In this week's attack, fighters of the predominantly ethnic Chinese Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) launched a predawn raid on police, military and government sites in Laukkai, the capital of the northeastern Kokang region. The MNDAA is a part of the Northern Alliance coalition of rebel groups comprising one of Myanmar's most powerful militias, the Kachin Independence Army, and two smaller groups caught in a stand-off with the military since 2015 clashes in the region. Many died and tens of thousands fled during that fighting, which also spilled into China and led to the death of five Chinese citizens, angering Beijing. ^ top ^

Increasing Chinese investment in India can help enhance mutual political trust (Global Times)
It is likely to be a golden era for Chinese private enterprises investing in India over the next few years, and it is possible that increasing commercial blending could help enhance mutual political trust between Beijing and New Delhi. The Indian government is in talks with nearly 300 companies to channel investment into the country, with around half of the capital being pursued from China, the Times of India said recently. In 2016, China's direct investment to India was reportedly six times higher than the year before, despite a call for a boycott of Chinese goods. The rising investment is expected to continue in 2017. A recent study from the US-based Brookings Institution said that "almost 90 percent of the next billion entrants into the global middle class will come from Asia," with India expected to contribute 380 million people, exceeding the 350 million expected in China. It is understandable that countless Chinese firms have shown an increasing interest in the burgeoning Indian consumer market. India has reduced investment restrictions and further opened up its market for foreign investors, which is one of the reasons behind soaring investment from China. Some well-known Chinese private enterprises such as telecom giant Huawei have shown great enthusiasm for investing in the country after the Indian government adopted a more open mind in attracting Chinese private investment. The nation could see a faster growth in investment from China over the next few years if the Indian authorities can give more trust and further reduce restrictions on China's State-owned enterprises, where the Chinese government is the biggest shareholder. As India's manufacturing sector expands, Sino-Indian ties have become more competitive than complementary in economics and trade, increasing uncertainty in the bilateral relations. However, encouraging more Chinese firms to invest in India is one of the most effective ways to enhance economic complementarity, and could help promote mutual trust. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday that China would explore the model for "BRICS Plus" to hold dialogues with other developing countries in a bid to expand BRICS' circle of friends. Indian media have read too much into Wang's words, as some of them suggested China is trying to dilute India's influence by inviting pro-Beijing countries, Pakistan included, to join the club, which is simply speculation and lacks factual basis. It is a lack of trust between China and India that sparks such speculations. Expanding BRICS' circle of friends will inevitably bring benefits to all members of the BRICS club, and enhanced cooperation will help build a community of a shared destiny so as to eliminate mistrust between China and India. ^ top ^

China says human rights situation in US worsening (Global Times)
China published a report on the human rights situation in the US on Thursday, saying that the US has once again posed itself as "the judge of human rights." The report, titled "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016," was released by the Information Office of the State Council, in response to "the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016" issued by the US State Department on March 3. "With the gunshots lingering in people's ears behind the Statue of Liberty, worsening racial discrimination and the election farce dominated by money politics, the self-proclaimed human rights defender has exposed its human rights 'myth' with its own deeds," reads the report. Concrete facts show that the US saw continued deterioration in some key aspects of its human rights issues last year, according to the report. ^ top ^

Duterte's defence chief signals Scarborough Shoal is off-limits for Chinese rigs (SCMP)
The Philippine president appears to have sent China a message that there are limits to the renewed friendship between the two countries. Philippine Defence chief Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte had drawn “a red line” on any reclamation by China of Scarborough Shoal, a disputed reef with potentially large oil and gas reserves, 230km from the main Philippine island of Luzon. “Once the Chinese start exploring, putting rigs there, we'll talk to them,” Lorenzana quoted Duterte as saying to him. It is unclear when that conversation took place. Last month, Lorenzana said he believed that China would eventually reclaim the shoal, also known as Huangyan island, which would be a strategic asset for Beijing. This would happen, he said, despite assurances from the former Philippines foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay, who said President Xi Jinping had pledged China would not occupy the shoal. Beijing has already built up a number of islets and reefs in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, installing military facilities on several of them. The United States remains concerned about China's construction of artificial islands housing military facilities, and expressed fears they could be used to restrict vessel movement in the vital trade route. It is unclear what prompted such a strong statement from the defence chief, however it comes as a high-level Chinese delegation led by Commerce Minister Zhong Shan visited Manila to discuss trade and aid grants amid renewed ties between the two nations. In December, Duterte announced he was not going to talk to China about the South China Sea, downplaying the territorial conflict while seeking financial and military aid. Instead, he would set aside last year's ruling by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration that there was no basis under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for China's so-called nine-dash line claiming sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea. It also marked a clear signal that his administration was backing away from his country's close relationship with the United States. Duterte said: “In the play of politics, now, I will set aside the arbitral ruling. I will not impose anything on China.” But Lorenzana, who spoke to journalists in Manila, denied that Duterte was setting aside that ruling. “There is a misperception among us that the president really set aside the ruling. That's not true. “Let's just manage the conflict with the Chinese, the president said. Let us not taunt the Chinese.” Lorenzana, who called China “both a threat and a friend”, said Chinese survey ships had been entering waters recognised by the United Nations as Philippine territory, in a move he described as “very concerning”. Lorenzana said the ships were seen last year near Benham Rise – a Philippine territory 250km off the east coast of Luzon – as well as Reed Bank in the South China Sea. “I have ordered the navy that if they see this service ship this year, to start to accost them and drive them away” from Benham Rise, Lorenzana said. Asked why the ships might be surveying in Benham Rise, Lorenzana said he received information the vessels were “looking for a place to put submarines”. Benham Rise is an underwater landmass believed to be potentially rich in mineral and natural gas deposits. In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved the Philippines' undisputed territorial claim to Benham Rise. Lorenzana, who was stationed for 11 years in Washington as Manila's envoy for Filipino war veterans affairs, also clarified that joint military training exercises with the US would continue despite mixed messages from Duterte. However, the defence minister said that the exercises would no longer be held in the “West Philippine Sea”, which would be seen as a calculated attempt to not provoke China. However, Lorenzana was the first Duterte official to use that name to refer to the disputed sea. ^ top ^

Xi-Trump meeting, Saudi king's visit, THAAD and the South China Sea... what China's foreign minister said (SCMP)
We sum up the key takeaways from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's press conference in Beijing on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the “two sessions” annual plenary meetings.

Sino-US relations
During the question-and-answer segment of his annual press conference, Wang was asked whether President Xi Jinping would visit the United States this year. “There will be good news this year,” Wang replied. Earlier in the morning, Wang had said China and the US were in talks to arrange a meeting between Xi and US President Donald Trump. “We (Beijing and Washington) are having fruitful communication in realising exchanges between our two presidents as well as on all other levels,” he said. The foreign minister said last month's phone call between the two heads of state had paved the way for stable ties. He urged both nations to overcome their differences and the “zero sum” mindset, and to look towards building a “mature” relationship. “Our interests are closely interwined... It is impossible to build one's success at the expense of the other,” he said. Meanwhile, Washington confirmed that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would visit Beijing for two days from 18 March. He is expected to meet Xi and discuss issues of importance between the two nations over the next four years. At his press conference in Beijing, Wang praised Tillerson, whom he met at the G20 foreign minister's meeting last month. Tillerson was a good “listener and communicator”, the foreign minister said, adding that he hoped and believed he and Tillerson could build a good working relationship. ”We hope China and the United States can truly rise above old ideas, open up new horizons [and] build a more robust and mature relationship as it (bilateral ties) turns 40, so that we can put the minds of our people and the whole world at peace,” Wang said. This year is the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and the US.

Korean Peninsula
Wang blamed both North Korea's pursuit of its missile and nuclear programme and the US-led alliance's military drills for the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula. He called on both sides to show restraint to avoid a full-fledged crisis. The Korean Peninsula situation was “like two accelerating trains coming towards each other with neither side willing to give way”. “The question is: Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” Wang told reporters. “Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains. North Korea's recent missile tests “ignored opposition from international community” and the joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea had significantly added pressure on Pyongyang, he said. Wang said Pyongyang should suspend its missile and nuclear activities while the US and South Korea must halt their large-scale drills. “Nuclear weapons will not bring security. The use of force will bring no solution,” he said, adding that the tensions could be eased by “addressing the parties' concerns in a reciprocal manner”. He also reiterated Beijing's calls to start talks between North Korea, the US and other relevant parties. Wang warned South Korea to “cease on the brink of the precipice” and stop the deployment of the US anti-missile system THAAD. The warning came after media reports on Tuesday that some equipment for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system had been delivered from the US to South Korea. Wang said the THAAD monitoring and early warning radars reached far beyond the Korean Peninsula and “undermines China's strategic security”. “It may very well make [South Korea] less secure,” Wang said. “We strongly advice the ROK (Republic of Korea) not to pursue this course of action. Otherwise they will only end up hurting themselves and others.”

South China Sea
Wang said the situation on the South China Sea had calmed “visibly” since the international court ruling on the long-standing maritime dispute in July. He said Beijing and its neighbours of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) had made headway in their talks over a long-overdue code of conduct. The draft framework had been completed recently, he added. The Chinese foreign minister also warned against Washington's repeated freedom of navigation operations amid concerns over Trump's recent announcement of a significant increase in the US defence budget. “If someone is still trying to make waves [in the South China Sea], they will have no support and will meet oppositions from all parties,” Wang said, without naming the US. Beijing would not allow disruption of the peace and stability in the South China Sea, he added.

China visit by the Saudi King
Wang said China welcomed the imminent visit of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia and wanted to play a “necessary role” in the Middle East peace process. Fighting terrorism, pursuing political resolutions and keeping the United Nations at the driver's seat were three indispensable principles that must be held on to as the Middle East situation reached a critical crossroad, he said. “There are both risks to worse turbulence but also hopes for peace,” Wang said. The foreign minister said the Iran nuclear deal was an example of political resolution to disputes that should be well implemented, and that Beijing would like to mediate for the resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel. Wang also said China hoped Saudi Arabia and Iran could solve their problems through equal and friendly consultations. “As a common friend to both sides, China is willing to play a necessary role if needed,” he said.

On Brexit, Wang said China would continue to support European integration even after Britain left the European Union. Beijing would like to see a more united, stable and prosperous EU, he said. “We believe the challenges confronting the EU could be an opportunity for the Union to become more mature,” Wang said. “We value the strategic importance and role of Europe.” ^ top ^

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to push for Beijing to get tough on North Korea in landmark summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping (SCMP)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next week in Beijing to critical issues affecting Sino-US relations in the next four years, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday. “He is going to talk about substance. He is going to talk about the issues, begin charting for a relationship between the US and China for the next four years,” Danny Russel, the top East Asia diplomat at the US State Department said in his last media briefing as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. To quickly establish a direct communication line between the leadership of the two countries would be critical, said Russel, adding Tillerson's meeting with Xi “plays a big part in that process”. Tillerson's visit to the region comes as the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system (THAAD) in South Korea has drawn fierce criticism from Beijing. Tillerson is also likely to urge Beijing, which has considerable economic leverage on Pyongyang, to strengthen pressure on North Korea. The State Department announced that Tillerson will travel to Japan, South Korea, and China from March 15 to 19, marking his first visit to the East Asia and Pacific region as the Secretary of State. According to the statement, Tillerson will arrive in Bejing on March 18, three days after the annual National People's Congress of China concludes. Tillerson will possibly be the first senior US official under Donald Trump's administration to meet the Chinese president. Other topics up for discussion would be the South China Sea and Taiwan. In the last few weeks, Tillerson has met China's top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Russel said these meetings and Trump's earlier telephone call with Xi were “manifestations of the willingness on both sides” to work on cooperation and problem solving. Russel said that in the previous meetings, the two sides discussed cross-strait issues and Trump's affirmation of the one-China policy in the phone call with Xi. Russel also said Trump's phone call to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was “an expression of America's warm affection and support for the Taiwan people”. Since President Trump took office in January 20, the meeting between the two state leaders have been highly anticipated, especially given the wide range of issues between the two powers. In the wake of a series of accusations made by Trump on China taking advantage of international trade issues, concerns over the future of the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) have been raised. “I've recommended the Trump Administration to take a serious look at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue,” says Russel, who endorses the outcomes of the meeting and says it has been acting as an “action forcer.” By saying S&ED is not the only model to enhance the Sino-China corporation, Russel suggested that the Trump administration may modify the format of the meeting to be more efficient. A few months after President Xi Jinping took office in late 2012, Obama hosted the Sunnyside summit to meet Xi in the US. “The question of when and where the two presidents might meet is something that's under consideration I'm sure in both capitals, and that's a decision that has to be made by theWhite House and the Chinese President's office,” said Russel. ^ top ^

China and Asean agree on draft code of conduct for South China Sea, says Beijing's top envoy (SCMP)
A first draft of a Sino-Asean code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea has been completed, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday. Talks between Beijing and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) were needed to decide on the final version, which was likely to cover a binding crisis management mechanism, prevention of the installation of offensive weapons and freedom of navigation, analysts said. China and Asean have been discussing a set of rules to avoid conflicts among claimants in the busy South China Sea since 2010. On the sidelines of the National People's Congress, Wang said the code's first draft had been completed, and both China and Asean countries were satisfied. Wang also delivered a warning over Washington's repeated “freedom of navigation” operations in the contested waters amid concerns over US President Donald Trump's recent announcement of a significant increase in the US defence budget. “If someone is still trying to make waves [in the South China Sea], they will have no support and will meet opposition from all parties,” Wang said, without naming the United States. Beijing would not allow peace and stability in the waters to be disrupted, he said. “We definitely will not allow this stable situation, which has been hard to come by, to be damaged or interfered with.” China claims nearly all of the waters, putting it in conflict with a number of regional neighbours, including the Philippines and Vietnam, who argue that parts belong to them. Last July, an international tribunal in The Hague rejected China's historical claims over the waters in a case filed by the Philippines. China refused to take part in the proceedings or recognise the jurisdiction of the tribunal. But tensions between Beijing and Manila have eased in recent months, with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte paying a state visit to China in October. Late last month, Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said Chinese President Xi Jinping had pledged China would not build on the Scarborough Shoal, about 250km west of the Philippines' main island of Luzon. The United States remains concerned about China's construction of artificial islands housing military facilities, and expressed fears they could be used to restrict vessel movement in the vital trade route. Other claimants also have military assets in the area. Vietnam fortified several of its islands last August with mobile rocket launchers capable of striking China's installations. A senior maritime security researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), who requested anonymity because the topic was sensitive, said the code of conduct would call for all related parties to stop militarising islands in the South China Sea. Wu Shicun, head of the government-affiliated National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said the code would require all countries to stop installing offensive weapons. But the deal would grant enough leeway for countries to maintain defensive weapons in the islands. Lin Yongxin, a senior researcher at the same institute, said: “If the draft satisfies both China and Asean, it would prevent other countries from meddling, and China and Asean will cooperate within the new framework.” But the CASS researcher warned China might be overly optimistic about a final deal as negotiations that satisfied both sides would be difficult. ^ top ^

Beijing, Manila resume bilateral trade mechanism (Global Times)
Strengthening the economic ties between China and the Philippines will be mutually beneficial and also help maintain regional stability, Chinese analysts said, after senior trade ministers resumed an official bilateral mechanism in Manila on Tuesday. Zhong Shan, China's newly appointed minister of commerce, met Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Tuesday during the 28th Philippine-Chinese Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation (JCETC), where China and the Philippines discussed ways to deepen trade and investment relations. "Both sides agreed on important initiatives geared toward improving overall levels of trade and investment between the two countries," Lopez was quoted by Xinhua as saying. The JCETC was convened after a five-year hiatus, and serves as a quick follow through of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to China last October. Zhuang Guotu, head of the Center of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that the resumption of trade and investment talks between the two countries shows the two neighboring countries have returned to a normal, friendly communication mode, which will continue as long as the Philippines does not deliberately create troubles. The two trade ministers discussed a list of priority infrastructure projects on downstream oil, aviation industry, and steel, which are to be funded by available Chinese credit facility and potential private sector investments from China. "The Philippines urgently needs investment from China to develop its backward infrastructure, such as transportation and municipal construction. The China-initiated Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, in particular, can help it with investment," said Gu Xiaosong, head of Southeast Asian Studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences. On the other hand, building a close economic relationship with the Philippines can also help China's economic transition, as China can move some of its labor intensive industries to the Philippines during its industrial upgrading, Gu said. Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the Philippines has an important geographic position in China's Belt and Road (B&R) initiative. "The Philippines is among the first overseas stops on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which is part of the B&R initiative … we can transport goods to other countries via the Philippines, or have raw materials processed in the country," Bai said. Considering that the Trump administration is advocating anti-globalization, support from the Philippines - one of the most enduring and most important US allies in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the rotating chair of ASEAN this year - is of great significance for China to promote its B&R initiative and to deepen its friendship with the ASEAN countries, said Zhuang. ^ top ^

S.Korea launches de facto THAAD deployment despite continued oppositions (China Daily)
South Korea has hurriedly launched the process of deploying a US missile shield to its soil despite continued, repeated oppositions from neighboring countries and residents. The defense ministry Tuesday said two mobile launchers and part of equipments necessary for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) installation arrived in the Osan Air Base, about 70 km south of capital Seoul, at Monday night. THAAD is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, one X-band radar and the fire and control unit. The first THAAD elements were transported from Fort Bliss, Texas through the C-17 transport aircraft, and then moved to an unidentified military base in South Korea of the US Forces Korea (USFK). The US forces are known to operate six THAAD batteries, including a battery installed in the US island of Guam. It is alleged that one of the five batteries in Texas will be moved to the golf course in southeast South Korea. Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to install one THAAD battery in southeast South Korea by the end of this year. The site was changed in September into a golf course in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province. On Feb. 28, Lotte signed a contract with the defense ministry to swap its golf course in Seongju for military land near Seoul, speeding up the process of the US missile defense system installation. The hurried push for the THAAD installation defied repeated oppositions from China and Russia, which continued to firmly oppose the US anti-missile system in South Korea as it breaks regional strategic balance and damages security interests of the two countries. The AN/TPY-2 radar can peer deep into the territories of China and Russia as it has a detection range of as far as 2,000 km. South Korea claimed the deployment of a terminal mode radar with a range of 600 km, but the US is in the process of upgrading the radar that can be altered into a forward base mode capable of detecting as far as 2,000 km. Two X-band radars, which had been already deployed to Japan, and one more in South Korea will help the United States and Japan detect and trail attacking missiles towards the two more easily and correctly. It hurts the mutual assured destruction (MAD), boosting arms race and breaking strategic balance. THAAD in South Korea will bring arms race in the region as the US missile defense (MD) strategy can be likened to a fight between spear and shield. More missile shields of one side inevitably bring more nuclear missiles of the opposing side that can break through the missile shield. Residents in Seongju county and Gimcheon city, bordering the county, have held candlelit rallies every night since the THAAD installation decision was announced in July last year. Despite the oppositions and protest rallies, South Korea and the US reportedly planned to complete the THAAD installation in April or May. The deployment date was advanced from speculations on sometime between June and August. Other equipments, troops and engineers necessary for the THAAD battery in South Korea would be transported in a gradual way. The South Korean defense ministry said the THAAD deployment would be conducted through relevant processes, which include a land provision to the US forces, a basic designing of the base, an environmental evaluation and a base construction. To accelerate the processes, the South Korean military reportedly planned to implement two or more procedures simultaneously. Meanwhile, the US Pacific Command said in a separate statement that the hurried THAAD installation was aimed at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s accelerating program of nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile launches. The US command insisted that THAAD in South Korea only targets the DPRK's nuclear missiles, but it has a very limited capability to intercept DPRK missiles as the US missile defense system is designed to shoot down missiles at an altitude of 40-150 km. DPRK missiles targeting South Korea fly at an altitude of less than 40 km. "The timely deployment of the THAAD system by US Pacific Command and the Secretary of Defense gives my command great confidence in the support we will receive when we ask for reinforcement or advanced capabilities," said Gen. Vincent Brooks, USFK commander. His comments indicated the THAAD battery in South Korea was aimed to protect the US reinforcement forces in times of emergency situations. ^ top ^

China rejects U.S. criticism on human rights (Xinhua)
China on Monday questioned the findings of a United States human rights report and cautioned against using the issue of human rights to interfere in China's internal affairs. The U.S. State Department released an annual report on global human rights Friday, which pointed a finger at China and some other countries. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang voiced firm opposition to the "2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices," which he said was full of unfounded accusations and prejudice. China has lodged solemn representations with the U.S. side, Geng said at a regular press conference. He said anyone free of political bias about China's human rights situation would not deny the remarkable improvements since the founding of the People's Republic of China. China holds that countries should have dialogue and exchanges with one another on human rights on the basis of equality and mutual respect, Geng said. He urged the United States to view China's human rights situation in an objective and fair manner and stop using the issue to interfere in China's internal affairs. Regarding the report's accusations about the human rights situation in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, Geng dismissed the false accusations and stressed that the United States has no right to intervene in the internal affairs of China. Since the return of Hong Kong and Macao, the "One Country, Two Systems" policy and the Basic Law have been implemented comprehensively, and Hong Kong and Macao residents enjoy full rights and freedom in accordance with the law, said Geng. These are well-established facts and cannot be called into question, he added. ^ top ^

China all quiet on its military spending front (SCMP)
For the first time in decades, Beijing has not revealed its defence spending total for the year despite a stated commitment to transparency in military outlays. The decision is seen as an attempt to downplay the sensitive budget figure, which has not only raised concerns in the international community but also among military personnel who want spending to rise at a faster rate. The total military budget has long been included in the Ministry of Finance's report released at the start of the National People's Congress. But the figure was omitted in the 2017 budget report released on Sunday. The social security budget for 2017 was also missing. Nevertheless, in his government work report tabled to the NPC on Sunday, Premier Li Keqiang pledged more support for the military. “Beijing will continue to deepen military reforms while upholding the Communist Party's absolute leadership over the armed forces,” Li said. The comment came a day after NPC spokeswoman Fu Ying said the defence budget would be increased by around 7 per cent this year, down from 7.6 per cent growth last year and the slowest annual rate since 2000. But that increase would push national military spending to over 1 trillion yuan (HK$1.25 trillion) for the first time, up from the 954 billion yuan set aside in 2016. Some military personnel attending the NPC said Major General Chen Zhou, a researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Science, briefed them on the budget at a closed door session on Saturday. “Chen Zhou briefed us last night... on how the defence budget would be used and how much it is,” Major General Li Fengshan, an NPC deputy from the Central Military Commission's discipline inspection commission, said. Other delegates confirmed they had been given a document on the defence budget, but it was for restricted circulation. Speaking to state media on Saturday, Chen insisted that China's defence spending was transparent. Concerns about how the country's defence budget is spent have been mounting, especially with China's growing military might and assertive territorial claims. Critics say the real outlays might be much higher than the official figure. Zhang Yunling, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the rare move to withhold the figure was to “play down the sensitivity” of the numbers. “The government apparently wants to do this because the outside world is very concerned about the growth rate of [China's] military spending,” Zhang said. Military analysts said slower growth in spending would upset domestic hawks keen on a stronger armed forces, but would put neighbours involved in bitter territorial disputes more at ease. “The central government didn't detail the defence budget because it's likely that this year's growth rate is even lower than last year's, and that will make domestic hawks and populists very unhappy,” a retired senior colonel said. “But the moderate 7 per cent will allow Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and the Philippines to relax.” In contrast, the administration of new US President Donald Trump proposed a near 10 per cent increase in its defence budget last month. During his campaign, Trump pledged to upgrade the US military's hardware and personnel, including building 80 advanced warships and at least 100 more combat aircraft. Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong said the moderate growth rate indicated that Beijing would focus on domestic economic development, rather than engage in an arms race with the US. ^ top ^

India using Dalai Lama card risks worsening bilateral ties (Global Times)
Despite objections by China, India will host the Dalai Lama in a disputed region on the China-India border in the coming weeks. On Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang warned India of the seriousness of the Dalai issue and the sensitivity of the boundary question, and urged it to refrain from actions that would further complicate the question. Responding to Geng's remarks, Indian media outlet the Daily News & Analysis quoted Indian official sources as saying that the "Tibetan spiritual leader" was on his way to India for a religious trip and New Delhi was surprised at Beijing's new-found "sensitivities" as the Dalai Lama has undertaken numerous such visits earlier. These Indian officials apparently didn't realize, or deliberately ignored, the severe consequences the Dalai Lama's trip would bring. The 14th Dalai Lama is by no means a spiritual leader but a Tibetan separatist. Allowing the Dalai Lama to visit the disputed area will inevitably trigger confrontation, undermine the stability of the region and sour Sino-Indian relations. For a long time, some Indians have considered the Dalai Lama as a strategic asset. They believe that India could gain many benefits by using the Dalai issue as leverage. For instance, making an issue of the Dalai Lama could serve as a diplomatic tool to deal with China's growing economic and political influence in South Asia. However, they overestimate the political value of the Dalai Lama and his group while miscalculating China's determination to safeguard its core interests. An increasing number of Western leaders have shut the door on the Dalai Lama in recent years after realizing the Dalai card is ineffective. In the wake of a string of countermeasures by China, Mongolia's government pledged to extend no more invitations to the Dalai Lama in late December. Against such a backdrop and at a time when a China-India strategic dialogue was just held to improve bilateral relations, the decision to receive the Dalai Lama in the disputed region is unwise. Leveraging the Dalai Lama issue to undermine Beijing's core interests risks dragging the two countries into a state of hostility. The good momentum for the bilateral relationship in recent years shouldn't be disrupted. In future, there is great potential for the two countries to tap into cooperation. As the two biggest emerging economies, they have vast common interests on establishing a new global financial order, tackling climate change and other major issues. Now China and India have come to a critical period to further upgrade bilateral ties. ^ top ^

South Korea to retaliate against China 'discrimination', says minister (SCMP)
South Korea's trade minister said on Sunday the government's responses against discriminating action by China towards South Korean companies will be strengthened and he feels “deep concern” over recent measures taken by Beijing. Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan made the statement while visiting the United States, the ministry said in a statement. South Korean media said last week Chinese government officials had given verbal guidance to tour operators in China, to stop selling trips to South Korea days after the Seoul government secured land for a U.S. missile-defence system from Lotte Group. China objects to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system deployment, saying its territory is the target of the THAAD's far-reaching radar. South Korea and the United States have said the missile system is only aimed at curbing North Korean provocations. “We will act accordingly to international law against any actions that violate policies of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or the free trade agreement between South Korea and China,” Joo said. The trade ministry said it would start examining exports to China on a daily basis and any changes to South Korean exporters who do business with China in order to respond as quickly as possible against unfair action. On Friday, it requested to the Chinese embassy in Seoul that South Korean companies investing in China be protected and be shown care. Data last week showed South Korean February exports to China, its biggest trade partner, posted the best growth since late 2010, driven by sales of intermediate goods such as semiconductors and display panels used for electronics manufacturing. Economists say the THAAD-related backlash is not expected to significantly harm exports to China in the short term as a bulk of the shipments are intermediate goods, which China uses to manufacture finished products and ships to other countries. However, government officials are warily watching if diplomatic tensions grow further between South Korea and China at a time when global protectionism is rising. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

17 trapped in NE China coal mine accident (China Daily)
A total of 17 people are trapped underground in a coal mine accident Thursday in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. The cage fell as the cable caught fire at Dongrong Second Mine of the Shuangyashan branch company of the Longmay Mining Holding Group and a total of 256 miners have been saved out of the mine, according to local authority. Casualties remain unknown. Rescuers are cleaning up the wirerope and other stuff under the cage to prepare for breaking into the cage to rescue the trapped. An investigation of the accident is underway. ^ top ^

China holds side event on new approach to global human rights governance (Global Times)
A group of Chinese human rights scholars on Wednesday elaborated the idea of a community of shared future for mankind in the context of human rights governance, saying interpretation of human rights ideas cannot be taken out of their cultural contexts. Speaking during a side event at the ongoing 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Chinese scholars highlighted that the protection and guarantee of human rights do not mean sharing burdens, but sharing responsibilities. The side event, which was jointly organized by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and China's Permanent Mission to the United Nations at Geneva, centered around the theme of "Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind: a New Approach to Global Human Rights Governance." During the event, the Chinese experts, from various universities and research centers, also discussed such topics as human rights challenges faced by the community of a shared future, diversified approaches to human rights, the protection of human rights in the process of building a community of shared future, China's contribution to global human rights governance, China's stance on and practice in religion, and the common pursuit of all members of the community of a shared future. About 50 people from over 20 countries attended the side event, including representatives from other NGOs, members of government delegations and journalists. The ongoing 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council is being held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from Feb. 27 to March 24, 2017. Earlier on March 1, Ma Zhaoxu, head of the Chinese mission to the United Nations at Geneva, delivered a joint statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of 140 countries during a high-level meeting of the session, stressing that in order to promote and protect human rights, all countries should join hands to build a community of a shared future for mankind, and to work together for the realization of peace, development and win-win cooperation for all. The senior Chinese diplomat said in the statement that politicization of the human rights agenda should be avoided, and countries should be committed to multilateralism, not unilateralism, in addressing global challenges. "All countries should work together like passengers in the same boat," he said. ^ top ^

China to reduce army reserves as part of military reform (Global Times)
China will reduce its army reserve while increasing reserves for other services, said a senior officer of the country's national defense mobilization department on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the ongoing sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC). Sheng Bin, chief of the National Defense Mobilization Department of China's Central Military Commission (CMC), said while the army reserve will be reduced, the reserves of other military services including the navy, air force and the rocket force will be increased in a bid to keep up with China's military buildup, as the military reform has made headway. The structure of the reserve forces will adapt to information warfare from traditional combat-oriented and mechanized ones, said the chief. According to the CMC guideline, a new structure will be established in which the CMC will take charge of the overall administration of the People's Liberation Army, the Chinese People's Armed Police and the militia and reserve forces. The battle zone commands will focus on combat preparedness, and various military services will pursue development. China has announced a cut of 300,000 troops by the end of 2017 to build a more elite and efficient military. Major General Chen Zhou of the PLA Academy of Military Science said on Thursday that many officers will retire and will be assigned to new positions in this round of military reform. China will step up efforts on the national level to help retired servicemen resettle to civilian life by adopting a series of laws and regulations, Chen said during a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing sessions of the NPC. China is short on detailed laws or regulations to assist servicemen and servicewomen, so when they return home, they are treated based on the level of development in their respective hometowns, Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times. Retired military personnel can return to civilian life in a more fair and balanced way, which will also encourage those still in service as well, Xu said on Thursday. ^ top ^

Chinese sex education textbooks sell like hotcakes, despite controversy over explicit content (Global Times)
"I never thought that the first book I would find sold out across the country in my life would be a textbook for primary school!" said Li Ming (pseudonym), who is in his 30s. The book in question is a part of a primary school textbook series on sex education that was compiled and published by Beijing Normal University in 2015. Titled Zhen Ai Sheng Ming, which loosely translates into Cherish Life in English, the books have been embroiled in controversy over the "explicit nature" of their content recently. The books talk about sex and teaches kids how to protect themselves from sexual predators, but some parents claim their content is inappropriate for children and "go too far." Others, like Li Ming, see things differently. Instead of deriding the texts for being "unsuitable," they have been buying up the books for their kids or young relatives. Li wanted to buy the set for his 10-year-old sister and brother, but it is a scarce commodity. Almost all the online stores that carried the books are out of stock, including, and, three of the largest online shopping platforms in China. The next batch will not be available for a week, and a lot of people have pre-ordered to secure their copy. "Now, I can only book them online and wait for replenishment. But I'm definitely buying them," said Li. Peng Xiaohui, the vice secretary-general of the World Association of Chinese Sexologists said the Cherish Life series are "excellent textbooks." "The textbooks meet the actual needs of the students, both physically and mentally, and adhere to the national standard," Peng told Metropolitan. The Cherish Life series has been in use in some schools in Beijing for nine years and has earned many positive reviews from scholars and professionals for its "honest, unbiased and unfiltered" content, said Peng. The books introduce the whole structure and function of the human body, including genitalia, and teach children how to protect their private parts from sexual predators. They also discuss ideas about gender equity, sexual orientation, and freedom to make individual lifestyle choices, such as one's freedom to remain single or marry. A recent article in China Newsweek echoes Peng's opinion, saying that the series is "possibly the best sex education textbook ever in China." The most recent public uproar began a few days ago when a primary school student's mother in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province posted some pictures of textbook pages on Sina Weibo. One picture shows genitalia, couples having sex and how a woman can get pregnant. Another shows an adult woman asking a little boy to take off his pants and let her see his penis. The second picture became the center of the firestorm around the books after some online celebrities and media retweeted the post and joked about it. Since the books have caused controversy online, the primary school in Hangzhou has taken back the textbooks from its students, and the school's sexual education classes have been temporarily suspended. "I think it is a breach of duty for the schools to take back the books," Peng said. "Some parents are 'sex-illiterate' themselves, and they should not make the next generation repeat their ignorance. There should be no excuse for preventing the younger generation from receiving scientific and reasonable education." ^ top ^

New Chinese national intelligence law 'in the works' (SCMP)
China will formulate a national intelligence law this year, the head of its largely rubber-stamp parliament said on Wednesday, its latest piece of legislation aimed at safeguarding security. Zhang Dejiang, who is also the third-ranked leader of the ruling Communist Party, gave no details about the proposed law in his address to parliament's annual meeting, and it is not clear when it may be passed. The government said in December it would propose such a law to “increase and guarantee national intelligence and protect national security and interests”, but also gave no details. The legislators will revise the law on administrative supervision to turn it into a national supervision law this year, Zhang said. China already has broad laws governing state secrets and security. Last year, it adopted a controversial cyber security law to counter what the government says are growing threats such as hacking and terrorism. Overseas critics of the law say it threatens to shut foreign technology companies out of various sectors deemed “critical”, and includes contentious requirements for security reviews and for data to be stored on servers in China. In 2015, Beijing adopted a sweeping national security law that aimed to make all key network infrastructure and information systems “secure and controllable”. China also passed a counter-espionage law in 2014 aimed at tightening state security and helping build a “comprehensive” national security system. The new laws come amid a broad crackdown by President Xi Jinping on civil society, including rights lawyers and the media, which critics say is meant to quash dissent. Xi is also head of a national security commission created three years ago meant to increase coordination among the various wings of China's security bureaucracy, split now among the police, military, intelligence and diplomatic services. Possible international flashpoints for China include Japan, North Korea and the South China Sea. China says it also faces considerable threats at home, pointing to unrest in two regions heavily populated by ethnic minorities which chafe at Chinese rule - Tibet and Xinjiang. ^ top ^

Govt notice triggers removal of religious content from online audio, video platforms (Global Times)
China's audio and video platforms have begun to remove videos with religious content, claiming they are just following government notices. Some Net users of China's most popular online video provider, Youku Tudou, told the Global Times on Wednesday that, in February, the platform blocked videos they posted a few years back about Italian children's choruses Little Choir of Antoniano and Little Choir Melograno from Florence. These videos show the children singing songs that praise Jesus, including "the Prayer" and "Hallelujah Chorus." A Youku Tudou customer service representative told the Global Times that they removed videos with religious content following a government notice. "Also, our users have different religious beliefs, so we suggested that our users avoid uploading videos with religious content," said the employee. She added that all videos containing religious content on the platform will be removed in the future, "and unlikely to be restored onto the platform." The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television issued a guideline in December 2016 strengthening the regulation of video and audio programs on social media platforms, the Xinhua News Agency reported. In February, a Ximalaya FM employee told the Global Times that they had started to delete religious content from their platform after being told by the government that they were unqualified to screen those content. Ximalaya FM's feedback came after several users of the platform claimed that the programs they had uploaded about Christianity had been removed from their accounts without prior notice. Wang Sixin, a law professor at the Communication University of China, told the Global Times that China is tightening policies for online programs, especially content related to sensitive topics, such as religion. Wang said that no law bans videos with religious content uploaded online, but these video and audio platforms are too lazy to check whether these religious videos contain negative content, so they probably simply "impose uniformity in all cases." ^ top ^

Scholars debate the pros and cons of Chinese history books written by foreigners (Global Times)
Books on Chinese history written by foreign scholars have seen a boom in sales in China's bookstores in recent years. In addition to Chinese versions of the classic British 13-volume series The Cambridge History of China, other commonly seen translations include Japanese publisher Kodansha's 10-volume series A History of China (2014) and six-volume series History of Imperial China (2016) co-written by Timothy Brook, Mark Edward Lewis, Dieter Kuhn and William T. Rowe. Walk into almost any bookstore in China and you will easily find the names of foreign historians, such as Jonathan D. Spence and Endymion Wilkinson, lying next to major Chinese historians such as Lü Simian and Qian Mu. Yet there are historians in China who take issue with the way Chinese history is presented in many foreign works. In his work latest work, Chinese History by Yao Dazhong, Taiwan scholar Yao Dazhong outlines the differences in approach taken by Chinese and foreign scholars. "Chinese history written by domestic scholars tend to be more subjective and therefore have limited observations. Foreigners distance themselves from affairs and thus tend to be more objective. However, their view of Chinese history lacks depth and sometimes contains stereotypes," Yao wrote in the introduction to his book. "Keeping this in mind, a balance between Chinese and foreign approaches needs to be achieved when writing about history." "Who will be China's interpreters?" This is the question raised by Lin Yutang (1895-1976), a Chinese writer famous for his knowledge of both Western and Chinese culture, in his book My Country and My People (1936). "He [Lin] talked about the pros and cons of foreigners writing about China," US author Michael Meyer told the Global Times. Meyer was very aware of this question while he was writing his third book about China, The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up, which will come out this fall. "In some respects, they [foreign writers] see things with a fresh perspective that Chinese writers can't - or don't want to - see," Meyer said, explaining Lin's stance. "On the other hand, foreigners don't have the depth or emotional connection to China that a native writer does," he continued. A similar stance was also put forward by Yao in his new book, in which he admits that foreign authors tend to provide more objective viewpoints but still lack depth when it comes to their research in that they "are like a person who just looked at a house but didn't go inside." Jiang Xiaoyuan, chair professor of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, is more neutral on the subject. He attributes the different sides of the argument to the different views on how histories should be written. "This [different perspective between Chinese and foreigners] is reflected not only in the way they interpret and describe historical events, but also in the trade-off between going into detail and just giving a broad outline," Jiang wrote in his book review of British sinologist Endymion Wilkinson's Chinese History: A New Manual, published by China Reading Weekly in China on February 25. For example, Jiang points out that The Xuanwu Gate Incident during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a political coup in 626 in which Prince Li Shimin forced his way into power by killing his brother the crown prince, is widely recognized as a significant event in Chinese history, but is barely mentioned in Wilkinson's history. By contrast, the author dedicates an entire chapter to the scale of the imperial harem. While such an omission may seem very "irrational" in the eyes of many Chinese, Jiang defends Wilkinson's choice, saying that it is a good thing to get a different perspective. "Histories are man-made constructs, as such are not objective. Perhaps in Wilkinson's eyes, Chinese history is seen differently than the way Chinese people see it." ^ top ^

Growth, defence and bringing back blue skies: what Li Keqiang said in his annual work report (SCMP)
China faces “far more complicated and graver situations” both at home and abroad as it steps up economic development and seeks to play a greater international role, Premier Li Keqiang said in his annual report on Sunday. In his speech delivered at the opening of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing, Li spoke about a wide range of issues including border control and defence, China's economic goals, the role of the Chinese currency, calls for Hong Kong independence, as well as Taiwan.

Li's report pledged to strengthen maritime and air defences as well as border controls amid efforts to safeguard sovereignty and security. It also highlighted the importance of innovation in defence-related science as Beijing aggressively steps up its military hardware capability. For the first time, the public version of an annual budget released by the Ministry of Finance at the same time as Li's report did not mention the defence budget, although a spokesman said on Saturday that the budget would be 7 per cent. Delegates said they were told about the military spending in a more detailed version given to them. Beijing would continue to deepen military reforms while upholding the party's absolute leadership of over the armed forces, the report said. Li did not specifically spell out China's foreign policy, but said Beijing would continue to contribute to the existing world order and oppose any sort of protectionism.The statement appeared to be a reference to the resurgence of populism and anti-trade, anti-globalisation sentiments in the United States and Europe.

Economic goals and reform
China aims to have its economy to grow about 6.5 per cent this year “or higher if possible in practice”, according to the work report. The target compares with a 6.5 to 7 per cent range in 2016.The 6.5 per cent target is in line with market expectations. Li also set the inflation target at 3 per cent, unchanged from last year.China aims to create 11 million new urban jobs this year, more than last year's 10 million.More efforts would be expended on the so-called supply-side structural reform to deleverage and cut obsolete manufacturing capacity, cutting steel by 50 million tonnes and coal by 150 million tonnes this year.

Xi Jinping as the party's core
In the first major political gathering after President Xi Jinping was elevated to the status of the Communist Party's core leader late last year, Li stressed repeatedly in his speech that his government's top priority in 2017 would be to ensure the success of the upcoming party congress and to rally around Xi's core leadership. Xi is expected to further consolidate his power in the party congress this autumn.Among the 17 major tasks Li listed for 2017, he put “follow the leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core” as the first task, together with putting into practise Xi's visions, thinking and principles, among other goals such as economic development and stable growth.

Hong Kong
On Hong Kong, Li pledged to continue to support the Hong Kong government's efforts to promote the people's well-being and ensure the “one country, two systems” principle be applied “without being bent or distorted”. Calls for Hong Kong independence will lead nowhere, warns China's premier( “The notion of Hong Kong independence will lead nowhere,” he warned. He also said China would draw a plan of a city cluster in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay area as a follow-up on the new five-year plan initiative.

On exchange rate, Li said the government would stick to the market-oriented reform of the yuan's exchange rate and maintain the Chinese currency's importance in the global market. For the first time in its annual government report, Beijing pledged to ensure the yuan's international status in the global currency market. The renminbi exchange rate will be further liberalised, and the currency's stable position in the global monetary system will be maintained,” the report said.But it dropped a sentence stipulating that it would ensure stable yuan values and increase the flexibility of the yuan's exchange rate, which appeared in previous reports.

On cross-strait relations, Li reiterated Beijing's stance on the independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.“We will resolutely oppose and contain separatist activities for Taiwan independence. We will not tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate from the motherland,” he warned, in a veiled reference to Tsai's refusal to acknowledge the 1992 consensus.
The 1992 consensus is an understanding that there is only “one China”, but each side can have its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”. Beijing has blamed Tsai's refusal to acknowledge the consensus for the suspension of cross-strait communications at all levels.

Blue skies and others
Li also vowed to tackle a slew of economic and social issues, including corruption among officials, persistent smog, widespread water and soil pollution, food safety and rampant production safety accidents. Smog forecast for 'Two Sessions' meetings( He said China would cut steel capacity by 50 million tonnes and coal output by more than 150 million tonnes this year as a means to curb overcapacity and bring back unpolluted blue skies. “Officials who do a poor job in enforcing the law, knowingly allow environmental violations, or respond inadequately to worsening air quality will be held accountable,” he said. “We will make our skies blue again.” ^ top ^

Xi calls on intellectuals to better contribute to nation (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday called on intellectuals to make greater contribution to the nation's development. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks when joining a panel discussion with political advisors from three Chinese non-Communist parties. During the discussion, nine political advisors from the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, the China Association for Promoting Democracy, and the Jiu San Society shared their insights on soil pollution prevention, basic education, poverty relief and other topics. Xi said, after hearing their reports, that China now needs its intellectuals more than ever to contribute to its prosperity, national rejuvenation and people's well-being as the country embarks on its great course. Intellectuals across the country should take on a sense of urgency and responsibility, and work hard to build China into a moderately prosperous society in all aspects and a major sci-tech power, he said. Xi said the CPC has always valued the importance of intellectuals, who are "elites of the society, pillars of the nation, pride of the people and treasure of the country." The whole society should care for and respect intellectuals and cultivate a favorable environment that honors knowledge and intellectuals, Xi said, adding that authorities must fully trust intellectuals and seek their advice on key work and policies. Xi hoped the intellectuals can consciously take the lead in practicing socialist core values and stick to the principle of putting the interests of the nation and the people before everything else. In this regard, intellectuals should keep in mind the overall situation of the nation and always pursue truth and righteousness, Xi said. They should "start with themselves, start with their daily lives and start now," taking the lead in practicing socialist core values, Xi said. 2017 is an important year for the implementation of the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) and the deepening of supply-side structural reform, Xi said. He called on them conduct thorough study and research, and raise practical and useful suggestions on how to maintain stable and healthy economic development, as well as social harmony and stability. Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, also joined the discussion. ^ top ^



Xi calls on Shanghai to lead way (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping said China will continue to open up in all respects, particularly in further liberalizing and facilitating trade and investment, while calling on Sunday for Shanghai to take a leading role in deepening reform and boosting innovation. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks during a panel discussion with Shanghai lawmakers at the National People's Congress annual plenary session. "The door of China's opening-up will not close," Xi said, mentioning that creating the pilot free trade zone in Shanghai was a strategic move by the CPC Central Committee. The zone, inaugurated in 2013, has seen about 40,000 new enterprises emerge. Shanghai also should make a difference in deepening free trade zone reforms, advancing the construction of scientific innovation centers and social governance innovation, and strengthening CPC discipline, Xi said. The president said the city should be bold in its pilot projects, expanding its role as a testing ground for further reform and opening-up. He also urged the city to push forward with free trade and facilitation of investment. Its free trade zone should become a bridgehead for the country's Belt and Road Initiative and help market entities go global, he said. That way, Shanghai can achieve innovative results that can be adopted by other regions. China faced a complex global situation and downward pressure on its domestic economy in the past year, but the nation kept "seeking progress while maintaining stability", pushed forward on supply-side structural reform, and achieved its goals of economic and social development, Xi said. The president recognized the achievements of Shanghai authorities in the past year in areas such as boosting innovation, optimizing economic structures and deepening reform. The key to the supply-side structural reform is innovation, Xi said. He urged breakthroughs in key technology areas. He also advocated educational reform to create the talent needed for the country's development. Xi said Shanghai should explore new ways of social governance that fit a super municipality. He suggested use of information technology, including the internet and big data, to enhance intelligent city management to make the city more orderly, safer and cleaner. The president also vowed to strengthen the discipline of the Communist Party of China. Party leaders must shoulder their responsibility in clean-governance supervision, he said. ^ top ^



Premier calls Tibet's stability, development a 'special' priority (China Daily)
Premier Li Keqiang called for maintaining the stability and development of the Tibet autonomous region when he joined a panel discussion with National People's Congress deputies from the plateau region on Tuesday. Tibet has a special place in the country's overall development, and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, "with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core", has further made the region a priority since the 18th Party Congress in 2012, the premier told deputies during the ongoing NPC annual session. This year will see further endeavors in promoting Tibet's stability and development, which complement each other through focusing on key ways to improve local people's livelihood, Li said. He vowed to improve public services in areas such as education, healthcare and heating. He also said this year will see more efforts to develop Tibet's special and competitive industries such as tourism, clean energy and ethnic medicines, under the premise that the ecology must be stringently protected at the world's roof. At an average altitude of about 4,000 meters, Tibet is sparsely populated-about 3.75 million people in multiple ethnic groups living on 1.2 million square kilometers of land, which accounts for one-eighth of China's landmass. Last year, Tibet's annual GDP growth hit 11.5 percent, ranking first among China's provincial-level regions. In addition, the country will strengthen support and funding for Tibet's transportation and power-grid infrastructures, he said. The premier also vowed to intensify efforts in poverty alleviation, especially for those living near the nation's borders, by creating better living conditions and industries. He said unity should be strengthened to help all ethnic groups get along with each other, promote religious harmony as well as safeguard social stability and long-term peace. On Tuesday, three other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee-Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan and Wang Qishan-also joined discussions of NPC deputies. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, met with deputies of the Taiwan delegation. He called for adhering to the policies of peaceful reunification and one country, two systems, as well as the 1992 Consensus that is characterized by the one-China policy in dealing with cross-Straits ties. Yu said that any form of separatist actions to achieve Taiwan's independence will be opposed and contained to safeguard peace and stability across the Straits. ^ top ^



Xinjiang to launch anti-extremism regulation (Global Times)
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region will launch a new anti-extremism regulation within the year as well as approve a regional Cybersecurity Law as early as this month. Dong Xinguang, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang People's Congress, told the Global Times on Thursday that the anti-extremism regulation and Xinjiang's Cybersecurity Law will be reviewed at a Xinjiang People's Congress standing committee meeting this month. "If approved, they will be released in March. Otherwise, they will be released no later than the end of this year," Dong said, adding that the autonomous region urgently needs both laws. According to Dong, Xinjiang's legislature has been mulling an anti-extremism regulation for three years. "Unlike the counterterrorism law, the anti-extremism regulation has no national law to support it, therefore, it will be only released as a regional regulation," Dong noted. Xinjiang passed its own version of the counterterrorism law in August 2016. The regional law is a supplement to the national counterterrorism law approved in December 2015 to define terrorist activities and the corresponding punishment. Xinjiang's regional counterterrorism law added new provisions, including one which states that leaders of extremist groups will be placed in solitary confinement, and that recruiting people for terrorist activities would be considered an act of terrorism. Dong said the anti-extremism regulation differs from the counterterrorism law in that it aims to prevent the spread of extremist ideas, whereas the counterterrorism law deals with terrorist acts. "Drafting the anti-extremism regulation is complicated. Lawmakers need to distinguish between ethnic habits and extremist practices, and understand that not all extremist ideas constitute a crime. This is why the regulation is taking as long as three years to launch. The local legislature needs to consult various groups, including ethnic leaders and the religious personnel," Dong noted. He declined to provide further details. As for Xinjiang's Cybersecurity Law, Dong said that the regional legislature has been considering it for some time and has been waiting for the top legislature, the National People's Congress, to first approve the national Cybersecurity Law. "Many of the terror activities are spread on the Internet. Unlike other regions in China where the Cybersecurity Law mainly involves economic entities, Xinjiang has its own cyber concerns to deal with," Dong said. ^ top ^



Premier Li Keqiang sounds warning on Hong Kong independence (SCMP)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has for the first time publicly denounced the notion of Hong Kong independence in his annual work report, warning that the movement would “lead nowhere”. While Beijing's firm rejection of such separatist sentiments is well-known, the mention of Hong Kong independence in the annual government report was unprecedented. It is likely to be read as a strong signal to candidates of the coming chief executive election that the winner would be expected to handle the issue without compromise. In keeping with the warning, Li said Beijing was committed to the principle of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, without it being “bent or distorted”. Li's comments came as he addressed the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People and announced the annual economic targets for 2017, a year when the ruling Communist Party will witness a major power reshuffle at home and wrestle with myriad uncertainties abroad. For this year, China aims to achieve GDP growth of “about 6.5 per cent, or higher if possible in practice”. A growth rate near 6.5 per cent will mean limited deceleration, if at all, from the actual 6.7 per cent growth recorded last year. Li said the government planned to keep the fiscal deficit at 3 per cent of GDP – unchanged from last year – and implement a “prudent and neutral” monetary policy, signalling Beijing's restraint in pursuing debt-fuelled growth. Instead, China would be highly alert to “accumulated risks” in areas of non-performing assets, bond default, shadow banking and internet finance. Several times in his speech, Li also referred to Xi as the “core” of the Chinese leadership. He said the party's decision to enshrine Xi as “the core” was in line with “the fundamental interests of the party and the people”. Li also said China would host a “high-quality” “One Belt, One Road” summit this year to promote the outward-oriented strategy and that it would press on with a “city cluster in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area”. While these pledges were typical of the key messages Li's annual address contained, his brief but blunt comment about calls for Hong Kong independence became a talking point. Hong Kong was rocked by controversy last October when two pro-independence lawmakers distorted their oath-taking with pro-independence slogans and insults against the nation. The National People's Congress Standing Committee interpreted the Basic Law – Hong Kong's mini constitution – to make “insincere” oath-taking punishable by instant disqualification. Li told the legislature: “We will continue to implement, both to the letter and in spirit, the principle of 'one country, two systems', under which Hong Kong people govern Hong Kong.” He added that the central government would continue to “act in strict compliance with China's constitution” and the Basic Law. “We will ensure that the principle of 'one country, two systems' is steadfastly applied in Hong Kong and Macau without being bent or distorted... The notion of independence will lead nowhere.” Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who attended the opening ceremony, said Hong Kong should guard against calls for Hong Kong independence. “It could harm the interest of Hong Kong and the nation if it's not properly handled,” Leung said. Asked if Li's warning on Hong Kong independence when the issue was dying down could unwittingly give advocates media exposure, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate Lau Siu-kai said the premier had little choice. “Li has to mention it because the mainland people see Hong Kong and Taiwan independence as important issues,” Lau said. Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said the controversial oath-taking was “the most important political event of the year”. “Therefore, it is appropriate for the premier to mention that one sentence on independence and make things clear in his report,” she said. Basic Law Committee member Rao Geping said Li Keqiang's warning on independence highlighted the need for Hong Kong to make its own law on national security and fulfil its responsibility under Article 23 of the Basic Law. Yesterday, all three chief executive candidates – Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, John Tsang Chun-wah and Woo Kwok-hing – swiftly echoed Li's rebuke and condemned Hong Kong independence. Veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the mention meant Beijing had officially acknowledged the existence of separatist sentiments which it perceived as “growing and threatening”. In his address, Li also reiterated the central government's full support to the chief executives and governments of Hong Kong and Macau in exercising “law-based governance, growing their economies, improving people's livelihood, advancing democracy and promoting social harmony”. ^ top ^

3 qualify to run for HK chief executive (China Daily)
The nomination period for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's fifth-term chief executive election ended on Wednesday, and three candidates qualified to run for the vote in late March. During the nomination period, which began on Feb 14, the Returning Officer at the Registration and Electoral Office received nomination forms from Tsang Chun-wah, former financial secretary of the SAR government, Woo Kwok-hing, a retired justice, and Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, former SAR chief secretary. Those nomination forms have been ruled valid. Ip Lau Suk-yee, a lawmaker, said she would end her campaign for chief executive as she lacked sufficient Election Committee nominations. Under Hong Kong Basic Law and other related laws, eligible nomination candidates must be Chinese citizens, age 40 or older, permanent residents of the SAR who have no residential rights in a foreign country, and have resided in Hong Kong continuously for at least 20 years. Each candidate's nomination form must be subscribed by no less than 150 members of the Election Committee. ^ top ^



Taiwan to change name of body handling ties with Japan (SCMP)
The name of Taiwan's organisation handling its relations with Tokyo in the absence of diplomatic ties is to be changed, the island's Foreign Minister David Lee said. Lee told a legislative committee that the Association of East Asian Relations, which is tied to the ministry, would change its name to what is loosely translated as the Association of Taiwan-Japan Relations. The ministry has yet to give the organisation an official English name. The step, which will likely irk Beijing, comes after a name change for the Interchange Association, Japan's de facto diplomatic office in Taiwan. The Interchange Association announced in December it would change its name to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, starting from January to make it more relevant to its mission. Taiwan's foreign ministry welcomed the move, saying the new name reflected the organisation's role in Taiwan and the positive development of the two sides' ties. However, Beijing expressed dissatisfaction, urging Japan to uphold the one-China principle, refrain from sending a wrong message to Taiwan and the international community and from creating new disturbances in China-Japan ties. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway Chinese province and tries to discourage foreign governments from establishing ties with its government. A diplomatic source said the Association of East Asian Relations' board members met last month and agreed on the name change. Lee said on Monday the Executive Yuan, or cabinet, was still deliberating the ministry's proposal of changing the name of the quasi-official body. Hsu Kuo-yung, a spokesman for the Executive Yuan, said the cabinet approved the ministry's proposal earlier in the day. The ministry has also been urged to change the name of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan, Taiwan's de facto embassy in Tokyo. Lee told the legislative committee that the ministry has been discussing the matter with Japan, but no progress had yet been made. Taiwan and Japan severed diplomatic ties in 1972, a year after the UN recognised the People's Republic of China as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations”. ^ top ^



Better management set for SOEs' assets (China Daily)
China will continue to deepen the reform of State-owned enterprises and further tighten the grip on SOEs investing overseas to ensure the safety and appreciation of State-owned assets this year. Xiao Yaqing, chairman of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said on Thursday that the government will explore the possibility of integrating assets owned by SOEs in overseas markets this year. Huang Danhua, vice-chairwoman of the SASAC, said the commission "will also strengthen the supervision of State-owned capital this year by shifting the focus from previously governing SOEs themselves to better managing their assets, to cut resource waste and improve work efficiency". To date, 9,112 SOEs operate various businesses in 185 countries and regions. Supported by more than 346,000 local and Chinese employees, they manage over 5 trillion yuan ($723.6 billion) in State assets. The government pledged to improve SOEs' revenue in global markets via a number of reform measures this year, including mixed-ownership reform, establishment of asset management companies and diversification of SOE equity. In the first two months of this year, central SOEs made 168.6 billion yuan in profits, an increase of 29.1 percent year-on-year. Their total revenue reached 3.7 trillion yuan, up by 15.2 percent. Commission Chairman Xiao stressed that there would be three priorities this year for SOE management and reform: to strengthen State-owned capital supervision, enhance risk control and deepen State-owned enterprise reform. SOE reforms in the steel, coal, heavy equipment and thermal power industries are inevitable this year, Xiao said. "The reform will be applied to different SOEs based on their actual situation. We need to make sure that both stakeholder and shareholder can benefit from the reform." Zhang Xiwu, vice-chairman of the SASAC, said the market will witness deeper and wider SOE reform on mixed-ownership in 2017. Private companies are encouraged to participate in the reform. "SOEs are involved in a wide range of industries, and it will surely take time for them to apply mixed-ownership reform from all perspectives. What they can do now is enforce the reform in the levels and areas that they can figure out a way to handle," said Zhang. Fu Chengyu, former Sinopec chairman, said China has entered a critical phase in SOE reform, and thorny issues need to be addressed now. "Supervision of SOEs and their capital will play a crucial role," Fu said. "Many SOEs are performing internal reforms but neglecting the critical role of the market in resource allocation." ^ top ^



Seeking to ease tensions, China proposes trade-off between US and North Korea (SCMP)
China called for North Korea to suspend its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for the US and South Korea halting their military drills, in order to avoid a clash on the peninsula. Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday blamed both Pyongyang's pursuit of its missile and nuclear programmes and the US-led alliance's drills for the escalation of regional tensions. He also warned Seoul that it must give up on deploying the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system. “[The situation on the peninsula] is like two accelerating trains coming towards each other with neither side willing to give way,” Wang said on the sidelines of the National People's Congress session in Beijing. “The thing with the utmost urgency for them is to pull the brake at the same time.” Later on Wednesday, the US shot down the proposal. The United States rebuffed China's appeal for talks, saying leader Kim Jong-Un was behaving irrationally and that it was reassessing its approach to dealing with Pyongyang. After a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said North Korea's actions called for a different response. “We are not dealing with a rational person,” Haley told reporters. “If this were any other country, we would be talking about that and it wouldn't be an issue.” She described Kim as a “person who has not had rational acts, who is not thinking clearly.” “We are re-evaluating how to handle North Korea going forward,” she added. North Korea on Monday test-fired four ballistic missiles that flew about 1,000km and reached an altitude of some 260km before falling into the Sea of Japan, or the East Sea. Meanwhile, South Korea and the US last week began their annual large-scale joint military drills. Pyongyang's missile launch came in the wake of Wang meeting North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Ri Kil-song last week in Beijing. Wang said on Wednesday the tests “ignored opposition from the international community”, and that the joint military exercises conducted by the US and South Korea had significantly increased the pressure on North Korea. “Nuclear weapons will not bring security. The use of force will bring no solution,” he said, adding that the tensions could be eased by “addressing the parties' concerns in a reciprocal manner”. He also repeated Beijing's calls for the start of talks between North Korea and the US and other relevant parties. Wang told South Korea to “cease on the brink of the precipice” and stop the deployment of the THAAD system, which Seoul insists is a self-defense measure against the North's missile threat. Some equipment for the THAAD system had been delivered from the US to South Korea, according to some reports on Tuesday. Wang said the system “undermines China's strategic security” because its monitoring and early warning radars reached far beyond the Korean peninsula. “It may very well make [South Korea] less secure,” Wang said. “We strongly advice the ROK [Republic of Korea] not to pursue this course of action. Otherwise they will only end up hurting themselves and others.” Lotte, the Japanese-Korean conglomerate that has provided land in South Korea for the THAAD system, has become a major target of China's anger. ^ top ^

Rift worsens as NK bans Malaysians from leaving country (Global Times)
North Korea banned Malaysians from leaving the country Tuesday, triggering a tit-for-tat response from Kuala Lumpur which said its citizens were effectively being held "hostage" in the row over the assassination of Kim Jong-nam. Pyongyang's extraordinary move came as it faced growing international condemnation for a volley of missiles it fired into the Sea of Japan, defying stringent global sanctions aimed at halting its weapons program. Tuesday's developments marked a dramatic heightening of tensions with Malaysia three weeks after the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was murdered at an airport with the banned VX nerve agent. The North decided to "temporarily ban the exit of Malaysian citizens" in North Korea, the official news agency KCNA said. The prohibition would remain in place "until the safety of the diplomats and citizens of the [North Korea] in Malaysia is fully guaranteed through the fair settlement of the case that occurred in Malaysia." The Malaysian foreign ministry said 11 of its citizens were currently in North Korea, including three embassy staff, six family members and two others who work for the UN's World Food Programme. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned the bar, and said he was ordering a similar ban on the movement of "all North Korean citizens in Malaysia." Analysts said they could number around 1,000. "This abhorrent act, effectively holding our citizens hostage, is in total disregard of all international law and diplomatic norms," Najib was quoted as saying. "As a peace-loving nation, Malaysia is committed to maintaining friendly relations with all countries. "However, protecting our citizens is my first priority, and we will not hesitate to take all measures necessary when they are threatened," Najib said. Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur had unusually strong links for years, but ties have rapidly degenerated in the weeks since two women wiped a deadly chemical on Kim Jong-nam's face. An autopsy revealed that to be VX nerve agent, a substance so dangerous it is classed as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN. South Korea has blamed Pyongyang for the assassination, and Kuala Lumpur wants to question several North Koreans, although the only one it arrested was released last week for lack of evidence. ^ top ^

North Korea fires ballistic missiles into Japanese waters, prompting 'stern protest' from PM Abe (SCMP)
North Korea Monday fired four ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. Japan lodged a “stern protest” with North Korea, Abe said. The launch of the missiles, three of which Abe said fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone, were “a grave threat to our country's national security,” according to government spokesman Yoshihide Suga. South Korean news agency Yonhap, which first reported the launch, said an “unidentified projectile” had been launched from an area near the Dongchang Ri missile site at 7.36 am and flew across North Korea before landing in the the Sea of Japan. The test was an apparent protest against ongoing military drills between South Korea and the United States, Yonhap said. North Korea said in February it had successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. It was the first such test and provocation since US President Donald Trump took office. In his New Year address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his nation was almost ready to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea test-launched a new intermediate-range missile in February and conducted two nuclear tests last year. There has also been widespread worry that the North will conduct an ICBM test that, when perfected, could in theory reach U.S. shores. Washington would consider such a capability a major threat. The United States has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against a potential aggression from the North. ^ top ^



IMF Executive Board has yet to meet regarding Mongolia's EFF (UB Post)
After the signing of a staff-level International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement to enroll Mongolian in an extended fund facility (EFF) program, there were reports that the IMF Executive Board would meet on March 6 to finalize and approve the program. The IMF team that visited Mongolia stated that the EFF was subject to the completion of prior actions by authorities and the approval of the IMF Executive Board, neither of which have taken place. Cabinet supported the budget amendments that were required as part of the EFF, but Parliament has yet to approve them and their reviews have been postponed several times. Parliament has stated that they will vote on the budget amendments when Cabinet officially presents them with drafts for review. Cabinet has explained that the date for discussion of the amendments has not been set due to parliament members not attending regular sessions, and noted that most MPs are not currently in Ulaanbaatar. According to the IMF Executive Board's calendar, the board's upcoming meetings will be on March 13 regarding Kosovo and Belgium, and on March 15 regarding Malaysia and South Sudan. According to their public calendar, on March 6, the IMF Executive Board discussed “Approaches to Macro financial Surveillance”. ^ top ^

Foreign Affairs Ministry of Mongolia denies gambling took place inside the Moscow embassy (UB Post)
In light of recent allegations that illegal gambling operations were being carried out at the Mongolian embassy in Moscow, State Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry D.Davaasuren held a press conference and explained that the Mongolian embassy was no longer a tenant of the Russian property when the alleged gambling operations took place. The building in question was built in 1965, and Russian authorities determined the building to be dangerous due to its age. As a result, Mongolian embassy workers moved to Building No. 105. The Foreign Affairs Ministry reported that after that, in 2007, a private company called Moscow Center Region Style signed a contract to rent out the building for ten years. D.Davaasuren noted that the contract was set to end in September of this year. “By order of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador to Russia B.Delgermaa contacted the tenants and was told that there was no gambling operations taking place there. When embassy workers visited the building, there was no police seal as reported and the doors were locked,” State Secretary D.Davaasuren told the media. The Foreign Affairs Ministry has stated they are investigating the matter in order to verify claims. The three-story, 1,300 cubic meter building was originally built to be a residential property. Russian law enforcement has not contacted the Foreign Affairs Ministry regarding the allegations, and the Ministry stated that if it found that illegal gambling had taken place on the property, they would terminate their contract immediately. ^ top ^

Anti-corruption actions considered insufficient (Montsame)
Transparency International NGO has reported on the results of Corruption Barometer Survey in Asia Pacific region, as part of a regional series for the Global Corruption Barometer. The public opinion survey has been conducted in 2015-2017 for three years, involving 22 thousand people from 16 countries, among which were over 1500 people from Mongolia. “- Corruption barometer survey shows citizens' estimation of corruption state of the country. Citizens were asked about their satisfaction on Government actions against corruption and corruption experiences of public services including police, clinics and courts. According to the results, 61 per cent of the surveyed from Mongolia consider government actions against corruption insufficient, leading in the region” said executive director of The Transparency International Mongolia O.Batbayar. Police and Health sectors top the list of public services most often demanding a bribe. The regional survey revealed that the poor, who has low income, paid bribe the most. ^ top ^

Women march in Ulaanbaatar for their rights (Montsame)
Women walked a peaceful demonstration named “Strong women are the bridge to peace” on the Peace Bridge of Ulaanbaatar yesterday March 8, on the occasion of the International Women's Day. The march was organized for the third year initiated by the Youth Union of Mongolia, in order to improve women's position in the society and encourage women to be more confident in their future. March 8 is celebrated throughout the country as a public holiday, when men cook and give presents to their wifes and daughters. The Youth Union has been appealing to celebrate this day as a day to fight for women's right, change and prosperity. On the side of the central square of Ulaanbaatar, three women posed half-naked holding up posters saying “We have no reason to celebrate this day”, “Those in power with offshore assets must come before justice!”, “Return what you stole!” and others, with the award ceremonies were taking place on the square at the same time for the women's day. ^ top ^

Current Parliament has highest representation of women (Montsame)
Following tradition, March 8, International Women's Day is being observed as a public holiday in Mongolia with the whole country celebrating the day on every household level. On March 7, Tuesday, Parliament Speaker M.Enkhbold received representatives of female government officials to greet them on the occasion. He said, “From time to time, Mongolian women have worked in every sector, serving the society and solidifying their glory. Included among them are women working in public organizations of all levels”. According to statistics, 59.4 percent of public servants in Mongolia are women. And out of 76 Members of Parliament, 13 or 17.1 percent are women. The percentage is the highest among the previous 6 Parliaments in the modern history of Mongolia. The Speaker said, “I extend my greetings to every Mongolian woman, and wish happiness and prosperity. Happy International Women's Day!”. Present at the meeting were Member of Parliament, Minister of Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol, Members of Parliament G.Munkhtsetseg, Z.Narantuya, D.Sarangerel and B.Undarmaa, Minister of Health A.Tsogtsetseg and others. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister addresses UN Human Rights Council session (Montsame)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Ts.Munkh-Orgil delivered remarks at the high-level segment of the 5th meeting of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. The session is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland from February 27 to March 24. In his remarks, the Foreign Minister gave a thorough introduction of the policy, actions and measures carried-out by the Government of Mongolia towards the protection and promotion of human rights on a national level and in international fora. Watch full remarks by Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil here. FM Ts.Munkh-Orgil with Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva Michael Møller During his participation in the Human Rights Council, Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil met with international high level representatives, such as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva Michael Møller, High Commissioner of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra'ad, Deputy Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Joachim Reiter, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Foreign Minister of Albania Ditmir Bushati and Minister for International Development and the Pacific of Australia Concetta Fierravanti-Wells to discuss bilateral ties and international issues of mutual concern. FM Ts.Munkh-Orgil with High Commissioner of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra'ad Also, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania Ditmir Bushati signed an agreement for between the Government of Mongolia and the Council of Ministers of Albania on mutual visa exemption for diplomatic and official passport holders. Established in 2006, the Human Rights Council, is an intergovernmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. In October 2015, Mongolia was elected as a Human Rights Council member and will be serving as a member until 2018 to contribute in the activities of the international community on human rights protection and promotion and to be involved in the decision-making process of the council. ^ top ^


Ms. Corinne Estermann
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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