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
  10-13.4.2017, No. 667  
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Foreign Policy

China's nuclear get-out clause over defence of North Korea (SCMP)
China is not obliged to help defend North Korea from military attack if the reclusive state developed nuclear weapons, according to Chinese diplomatic and military observers. The assessment comes as senior officials in Washington warn of a strike against the Pyongyang regime. China and North Korea signed a mutual aid and cooperation treaty in 1961 as they sought to mount a united front against Western powers. It specifies that if one of the parties comes under armed attack, the other should render immediate assistance, including military support. But the treaty also says both nations should safeguard peace and security. For China, North Korea's development of nuclear weapons in violation of the United Nations treaty on non-proliferation could amount to a breach of their pact, leaving Beijing with no obligation to lend a hand, observers said. China could also have a get-out clause if any US military intervention was not deemed an armed attack. “It's hard to say how China would assist North Korea militarily in case of war, since North Korea is developing nuclear weapons, an act that might have already breached the treaty between the two nations,” said Li Jie, a retired Chinese naval colonel. Shanghai-based military analyst Ni Lexiong said China would need to provide military assistance to North Korea if US land forces invaded, but Pyongyang's violation of the UN non-proliferation treaty was a “strong reason” for Beijing to choose not to help. Threats of military action against North Korea have grown, with US President Donald Trump saying Washington was prepared to act alone against Pyongyang. A strike group headed by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson has also been deployed to waters off the Korean peninsula. Nevertheless, Beijing, North Korea's economic lifeline, does have some interest in backing up its old ally. China fears the collapse of the regime in Pyongyang could lead to an influx of refugees into China and eliminate the buffer zone keeping US troops from the Chinese border. But Ni said the possibility of a full-scale war was slim because the US was unlikely to send land forces into North Korea, preferring air strikes or missiles launches instead. “The situation would be much easier for China in this case. China would not have to mobilise its land forces to help North Korea,” he said. “China then only needs to send the North Sea Fleet or military aircraft to step up patrols of the Korean peninsula.” Zhou Chenming, from the Knowfar Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies think tank, said war over North Korea was unlikely because all the parties involved were looking for ways to defuse tensions. But if military conflict did erupt, China could help Pyongyang with supplies such as food and weaponry, such as old tanks. ^ top ^

Russia vetoes Security Council resolution on alleged chemical attack in Syria (Global Times)
Russia Wednesday vetoed a Western draft resolution on an alleged chemical attack in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib. Among 15 council members, ten voted in favor; Bolivia and the council's veto-wielding power Russia voted against; China, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan abstained. The document drafted by the United Kingdom, France and the United States demanded the Syrian military to provide UN investigators with unfettered access to details of their operations on the day of the alleged attack. The text also condemned the reported use of chemical weapons and demanded a speedy investigation. On April 4, a reported toxic gas attack hit the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib, killing over 80 people and wounding scores of others. Two days later, the United States launched 59 cruise missiles against the Shairat military base in central Syria, where the United States believes airplanes carrying chemical weapons took off. Ahead of the vote, Russia's Deputy Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov told the council that putting the draft resolution into a vote did not serve a useful purpose. Safronkov said Russia has proposed an independent international mission sent by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to visit Khan Sheikhoun and the Shairat airbase for investigations. He said that Russia hopes the United States can give a constructive response to this suggestion. China's Ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi said China supports the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in conducting a comprehensive, objective and impartial investigation into relevant cases. Liu said China supports the language in the text that condemns the use of chemical weapons and demands an investigation into the alleged chemical attack. However, he said some elements of the text need to be amended to secure consensus among council members and therefore China abstained. "We deeply regret the failure to reach such consensus on the draft resolution," he noted. Liu also called upon relevant parties to stay on the course for the political settlement to the Syrian issues, uphold the Syrian-owned and Syrian-led principle and support the United Nations as the main mediator. Western powers, including the United States, blamed the government of Bashar al-Assad of the attack. The Syrian government denied possession of chemical weapons, while the Russian Defense Ministry accused Syrian rebels of producing toxic agents in a depot which exploded under a strike by Syrian warplanes and caused the contamination. After the vote, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said with its veto, Russia said no to cooperation with UN's investigation and Russia said no to a resolution that would have helped to promote peace in Syria. ^ top ^

China not currency manipulator, US dollar too strong, says Trump in major flip-flop on campaign vow (SCMP)
President Donald Trump said he will not brand China a currency manipulator, abandoning a core promise of his election platform that tapped into voter anger about trade-driven job losses. Trump, speaking in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, said China hasn't manipulated its currency for months, and added that the US dollar is getting too strong. While Trump vowed on the campaign trail to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office, he didn't do it, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the official assessment will come in a semi-annual foreign-currency report due this month. “They're not currency manipulators,“ Trump said, according to the Wall Street Journal. Failure to officially name China a currency manipulator would be the latest indication Trump may tone down trade-related campaign threats, often directly aimed at China. The Treasury report is the government's formal channel to impose the manipulator designation, leading to negotiations for a solution and penalties if the practise continues. US 10-year bond yields slumped and the dollar fell after Trump indicated in the interview that the US currency is getting so strong that it's harmful to the economy. “I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that's my fault because people have confidence in me. But that's hurting -- that will hurt ultimately,” he told the newspaper. “It's very, very hard to compete when you have a strong dollar and other countries are devaluing their currency.” The dollar fell broadly on Wednesday after Trump said the dollar was “getting too strong” and that he would prefer that the Federal Reserve keep interest rates low. Trump also left open the possibility of renominating Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen when her term expires next year. The dollar index, which tracks the US currency against six major rivals, fell to its lowest since March 30 after the news. “The market had a big reaction, but I think it was an overreaction,” said Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management in New York. “He may just be hedging his bets by making sure that the American public realises he's not backing down on trade.” Lien also said she expected Trump's comments could weigh on the dollar in the long term. It has fallen every day this week as worries over geopolitical tensions have prompted investors into safe havens like the yen, US Treasuries and gold. “The dollar's already under pressure, so I think any excuse for further pressure is likely to bring the greenback even lower,” Lien said. ^ top ^

Trump leaning on Xi Jinping to put the clamps on North Korea (SCMP)
President Donald Trump said he's leaning on China's President Xi Jinping to put enough pressure on North Korea for the regime to back off its nuclear weapons and missile development, which has raised tension throughout Asia. “President Xi wants to do the right thing,” Trump said during a White House press conference Wednesday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “I think he wants to help us with North Korea.” Trump and Xi had their first face-to-face meeting last week in Florida, and North Korea was a central topic of discussion. The two leaders also had a telephone conversation on Tuesday night. “We had a very good bonding,” Trump said. China is North Korea's most important trading partner, giving Xi's government leverage over its isolated neighbour. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published just before the news conference, Trump said he offered to ease friction over US-China trade in exchange for help dealing with North Korea. In the interview, Trump said he told Xi that the US is concerned about the trade deficit with China, “but you want to make a great deal? Solve the problem in North Korea. That's worth having deficits.” But Trump declined to answer a question at the news conference about whether he struck a deal with Xi on North Korea in exchange for not labelling China a currency manipulator. During the call with Trump, Xi said that China wants to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula but insists on doing so peacefully, according to a brief summary by the Chinese government. But China also is signalling to North Korea that its running out of patience. The Global Times, a nationalist newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party, warned that a nuclear test now would represent a “slap in the face” to the US government and could prompt China to restrict oil sales to North Korea. Xi again urges restraint over North Korea crisis in phone call from Trump having signed off on unilateral US airstrikes on Syria as he met with Xi last Thursday, Trump sent a message that he's willing to taking military action on his own. American warships including the USS Carl Vinson were redirected toward the Korean Peninsula over the weekend, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that last week's unilateral airstrikes on Syria were a message to Pyongyang that “if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken.” Still, he said during an appearance Sunday on ABC's “This Week,” the Trump administration has “no objective to change the regime in North Korea.” ^ top ^

100,000 signatures goal reached on petition calling for investigation into airline's removal of passenger (SCMP)
An online petition demanding the United States government launch an investigation into the forcible removal of an Asian-American man from a United Airlines flight exceeded the threshold needed for White House review in one day. A wave of outrage on social media prompted United CEO Oscar Munoz to issue a second statement, apologising for the incident. “No one should ever be mistreated this way,” Munoz said. He had issued a statement a day earlier that many social media influencers said didn't go far enough to address the problem. The 69-year-old doctor was pulled from his window seat by police on Sunday night after the airline overbooked the Chicago to Kentucky flight and decided to remove randomly selected passengers before take-off. The man resisted and was injured during the altercation, according to witnesses. In videos passengers took of the incident and posted online, the man can be heard begging “just kill me”. The petition was launched as initial reports suggested that the passenger – identified as David Dao by US media – was a Chinese-American. But the BBC on Tuesday quoted a passenger as saying that the man was Vietnamese and had lived in Kentucky for 20 years. “You can apologise today to one guy, but what happens tomorrow?” said Edmund Gor, National President of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance. “We need to go beyond that apology and see what steps the airline is taking to rectify their policies so that this kind of action isn't taken again and to know what kind of algorithm they're using [to decide who gets removed from a flight]. “On any flight that's not Pacific-bound or Asia-bound, you'd be hard-pressed to find Asian flyers making up more than two per cent of the passengers. How did this guy get so lucky?” Jo-Ann Yoo, Asian American Federation Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation, said her organisation was “horrified” and has more questions than comments for United airlines. “Our outrage is not that the customer was Asian American, but the fact that this has happened at all,” said Yoo. “As a corporate practise, what's the percentage of seats being overbooked? Moreover, what is the process of selecting passengers to reclaim the seats? How many times does this 're-assignment' happen on a yearly basis? What's the most United has offered to have customers volunteer to give up their seat?” She added that if United was offering compensation, they should have increased the price until they had actual volunteers and paying customers' refusal to give up their seat should not be considered disruptive. “The passenger already boarded and was in a seat that he paid for,” Brian Kelly – also known as The Points Guy – said in a post published today on his website. “United's Contract of Carriage dictates when a passenger can be refused transport, and nowhere does it state that United can de-board you because it wants to fly its own employees.” Kelly, who publishes travel advice, has 261,000 Twitter followers. The story, which has gone viral and sparked outrage on Chinese social media platforms, has prompted an online petition on the official White House petition site We the People. Created on Tuesday, the #ChineseLivesMatters petition reached the required 100,000 signature count, which puts the document in a queue intended for review by the White House, in about a day. These petitions, launched on a section of the website, have 30 days to reach their goal in order to get an official response. “We are calling [sic] the federal government to launch an investigation into this incident. #ChineseLivesMatters,” the petition states. The hashtag mimics the Black Lives Matter movement, which began after a number of black Americans died at the hands of police. A number of Chinese social media users have condemned Sunday night's incident as “racial discrimination”. ^ top ^

Why is China-Russia-India strategic triangle not viable now? (Global Times)
According to Indian media, China has turned down a Russian proposal to bring defense ministers of India, Russia and China together on one platform which was scheduled to take place later this month. Source media reports claimed that Beijing took this decision keeping the sensitivities of Pakistan in mind. China has also voiced strong opposition to the recent visit by exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama to Tawang, a disputed region on the China-India border. China has not conveyed any direct messages to India on this subject. But the question of whether it is a suitable time to form an architecture of a security cooperation among the three regional powers remains to be addressed. The notion of a trilateral strategic triangle was mooted by former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov in 1998. It triggered heated discussion in the West, especially the US which later formed other strategic trilateral forums in the Asia-Pacific region such as US-India-Japan and US-India-Australia. With the absence of a trilateral security pattern involving Russia, China and India which are located in a single geopolitical space, the development of a strategic triangle would be however unrealistic now, given the mutual distrust between China and India. India has long regarded China as a threat as it feels both are contesting for supremacy in regions such as South Asia and Southeast Asia and are vying for the same markets worldwide. Meanwhile, apart from India's concerns over China's relations with Pakistan, the border dispute remains another thorny issue. In spite of regular joint working group meetings and ministerial meetings between the two sides, there has been no substantial progress on the border issue. The latest Dalai Lama episode has further intensified the tensions between the two. During his visit to Tawang, the Dalai Lama and "Arunachal Pradesh" (South Tibet of China) Chief Minister Pema Khandu made provocative political statements, which exceeded the scope of religious activities. India has not only disregarded China's territorial sovereignty, but also violated the political basis of Sino-Indian ties. Objectively speaking, among the relations among China, Russia and India, the relations between China and India are relatively weak. The India-Russia relationship in the past couple of decades had seen ups and downs, but it was able to stabilize and go back to normal thereafter. The ties between China and Russia have also been on a fast track given the bonhomie of the recent years. The idea of the China-Russia-India strategic triangle need not be viewed as futile since an active and positive global role of the three countries could contribute to a more just and balanced world order that China has been promoting. But the basis of such a triangle is that the parties concerned respect the national interests of the others, which India should particularly take note of. ^ top ^

Japan's joint show of force with US carrier strike group headed to Korean peninsula (Xinhua)
Japan's navy plans joint drills with the US Navy's Carl Vinson carrier strike group as it steams towards the Korean peninsula in a display of military power aimed at deterring the North Korean regime from further missile tests, two sources said. The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (MSDF) may conduct helicopter landings on each other's ships, as well as communication drills, as the USS Carl Vinson and its escort ships pass through waters close to Japanese territory, the sources said. “Japan wants to dispatch several destroyers as the Carl Vinson enters the East China Sea,” said one of the sources. One the people who spoke to Reuters has direct knowledge of the plan, while the other has been briefed on the exercises. MSDF officials did not respond immediately when asked to comment. The display of US-Japan naval power close to China could upset Beijing, which is locked in a territorial dispute with Tokyo in the region over uninhabited islets close to Taiwan. The show of naval force by Tokyo comes as concern grows in Japan over the rapid pace of North Korea's ballistic missile development and US President Donald Trump's threat of unilateral action to solve the North Korean problem. North Korean state media warned on Tuesday of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression. Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its impoverished ally and neighbour, said on Twitter that North Korea was “looking for trouble” and the United States would “solve the problem” with or without Beijing's help. South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, has warned of “greater provocations” by North Korea and ordered the military to intensify monitoring and ensure close communication with Washington. Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula amid concerns that reclusive North Korea may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test. North Korea fired a liquid-fueled Scud missile this month, the latest in a series of tests that have displayed the Pyongyang regime's ability to launch attacks and use hard-to-detect solid-fuel rockets and tracked launch vehicles. North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong-un, have indicated an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar could be coming, possibly as soon as Saturday, the 105th birthday of North Korea's founding president. North Korea remains technically at war with the United States and its ally South Korea after the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. It regularly threatens to destroy both countries. The Carl Vinson strike group, which cancelled a planned visit to Australia, is sailing from Singapore. The 100,000 tonne Nimitz-class vessel is powered by two nuclear reactors and carriers almost 100 aircraft. Under Third Fleet command, it has been patrolling Asia for several months as the Seventh Fleet's forward-deployed carrier in Yokosuka, Japan, undergoes scheduled maintenance. Japan's navy, the second largest in Asia after China, is made up mostly of escort destroyers, but includes four large helicopter carriers. ^ top ^

China's Belt and Road Initiative can contribute to global development agenda: UN official (Xinhua)
China's Belt and Road Initiative can contribute to the implementation of a United Nations (UN) facilitated sustainable development agenda, which aims to end poverty and promote prosperity, said UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo on Tuesday. The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes and promote common development among all countries involved. The initiative offers "great potential" for advancing the agenda through economic growth, trade opportunities, job and income generation, infrastructure building and capacity building, said Wu at a high-level discussion held here. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by UN member states in 2015 and officially came into force in 2016, outlines 17 goals relating to poverty, energy, industrialization, infrastructure and global partnership. At the discussion, Jeffrey Sachs, an American economist and professor at Columbia University, said the sustainable development means smart economies with technology deployment, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. Sachs said smart and fair investment, sustainable energy system, social inclusion and technology development are key factors that can make China's Belt and Road Initiative a success. Addressing the meeting, China's permanent representative to the UN Liu Jieyi said Tuesday that both the Belt and Road Initiative and the 2030 Agenda strengthen global partnership and embrace common development. "The Belt and Road Initiative is proposed by China but owned by all participating countries," said Liu, adding that the initiative is to share China's development opportunities and to achieve common prosperity. "Openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefit are the hallmarks of the initiative and the source of its strong support," said Liu. "Extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits are the guiding principles that the initiative follows," he added. ^ top ^

Multiple activities to be launched in Japan marking 45th anniversary of normalization of ties with China: organizer (Xinhua)
Japan will hold a series of activities marking the 45th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations this year and the 40th anniversary of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty next year, said Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of Japan Business Federation, here on Wednesday. Sakakibara, head of an executive committee for holding the activities, said at the first conference of the committee here that Japan hopes to further enhance friendly exchanges with China through these activities. Yasuo Fukuda, former Japanese Prime Minister and senior advisor to the committee, said China's economy is growing steadily and with a strong drive in general and Japan needs to strengthen economic cooperation with China for its own sake and for regional development. Cheng Yonghua, the chinese ambassador to Japan, said he was glad to see the establishment of the executive committee here in Japan as it showed that the commemorative work here was making steady headway. He also said leaders of China and Japan had reached consensus last year that the two sides shall make the most of the two anniversaries and build on the positive elements of bilateral ties while putting a lid on negative ones in order to ensure stable improvement of relations. He urged the two sides to implement the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries and to properly address sensitive issues, so as to create a more positive atmosphere for holding the commemorative activities this year and next year. Some 200 people from Japanese political and economic circles attended the first conference of the committee which had been set up to mark the anniversaries. China and Japan normalized diplomatic relations in 1972 after reaching important consensus on properly handling history, Taiwan, Diaoyu Islands and other issues. The two countries further concluded a bilateral peace and friendship treaty in 1978. ^ top ^

China, Vietnam to hold meeting on cooperation (Xinhua)
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh will visit China from April 16 to 18, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Wednesday. Lu Kang said the visit will be made at the invitation of Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and they will co-chair the 10th meeting of the China-Vietnam steering committee on cooperation. ^ top ^

Feature: Chinese engagement helps propel development in Ethiopia (Xinhua)
For a first time visitor to Ethiopia, it is hard not to miss the construction boom all across the country. Indeed many expatriates compare it with China's own construction boom of the 1980s and 1990s which eventually saw the Asian country become the world's second largest economy and the largest trading partner to many nations. One such sector witnessing construction boom are industrial parks being built mostly by Chinese companies with a view to boost Ethiopia's exports in fields such as textile, leather and agro-industry. Frehiwot Sisay, Office Manager at China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) is a first hand witness to the symbiotic relationship between Ethiopia and China. Sisay, a graduate with civil engineering from South China University of Technology, says her decision to join CCCC partly was as a result of the modern buildings and infrastructure she saw as a student back in China. […]. With the ever growing presence of Chinese expatriates, restaurants, projects and even educational institutions in Ethiopia, critics mainly westerners are accusing it of "creeping colonization" or "neo-colonialism". With Ethiopia being the seat of the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa and dozens of other diplomatic missions, the accusations carry particular weight for Africa. However, this is an accusation Aynete doesn't buy pointing out Ethiopia doesn't fit the natural resource country being exploited by powerful foreign countries. "Ethiopia is an independent country that has its own historical development and external engagement which has refused even to liberalize to foreign market its banking and telecom sector," he explains. "Furthermore as an agricultural economy transitioning to an industrial one, it needs Chinese investment in infrastructure which western countries are until recently absent from," Aynete says, adding that that Beijing's consensus of no attachment of political strings has also attracted Ethiopia. He further believes that China can help in one area where Ethiopia has been deficient until present times. "Ethiopia is dependent on rain-fed agriculture vulnerable to climate change shocks. China with its experience of feeding its vast population can help meet that gap," says Aynete. Sisay also dismisses the colonization claim pointing out cooperation with China brings advantages to both sides. "China has the money and technological expertise. Ethiopia has material and labor resource. The more Chinese firms invest, the more Ethiopia develops hard work and matching experience," Sisay says. There's also another reason why Sisay rubbishes the "colonization" claim. "Despite I being the only foreigner in the class back in China some years ago, I had supportive friends who used to play games, eat together and invite each other for holidays," she says, adding that as a mark of love, her Chinese friends even gave her a Chinese name, Xisai. "Both the Chinese and western governments can pursue good relation with Ethiopian government as long as the country is peaceful and stable which is helpful for their national interest," says Aynete. ^ top ^

G7 fails to reach deal on Syria sanctions (Global Times)
Foreign ministers from Group of Seven (G7) major industrialized nations reached no agreement on a British suggestion that sanctions be tightened against Syria and Russia, Italy's foreign minister said on Tuesday. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had said ahead of the two-day G7 meeting that he wanted to discuss imposing fresh sanctions over last week's alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held area by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's air force. Western countries blame Assad for the attack, which killed 87 people. He has denied involvement and Russia, which is backing the Damascus government in its six-year-old war with rebels, has stood firmly by its ally. Italy, which hosted the G7 gathering in Tuscany, said the idea did not win broad support. "There is no consensus at this time for new sanctions as an efficient method to reach our goal," Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano told reporters. "There are obviously different opinions, and I am referring to my colleague Boris Johnson, who raised the issue," he said, adding that "the position of the G7 is very clear. We support the sanctions that have already been introduced." Italian officials estimate that sanctions imposed on Russia after its 2014 annexation of Crimea have cost Italy some four billion euros in lost business, and Rome has pushed back on previous attempts to impose fresh penalties on Moscow. Alfano said the G7 did not want to put Russia in a corner, but rather sought a constructive relationship with Moscow. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault suggested the question was given little attention by Johnson's counterparts from the US, Germany, Canada, Italy, France and Japan. "The question wasn't mentioned by anyone, except Boris Johnson, but we didn't talk about it any further," Ayrault said. However, speaking later to British television, Johnson said there had been an agreement on support for further sanctions if evidence can be gathered against those involved in last week's poison gas attack on a rebel Syrian town that killed 87 people. Johnson said Britain and its European partners would await the outcome of an investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). "There was a very wide measure of agreement last night that... if we can show complicity by those Russian officers who are helping the Syrian military operation, then they should also be sanctionable as well," he told the BBC. Johnson also said there was no evidence that Russia knew of plans for a gas attack. "Did they know that Assad was going to unleash chemical weapons? We have no evidence for that, we don't know whether the Russians were involved at all," Johnson told Sky News. "It may very well be that they [Russia] have simply been betrayed by their client, by the guy they have been backing."  ^ top ^

China Focus: BASIC countries make "important contribution" to Paris Agreement (Xinhua)
The BASIC countries, including Brazil, South Africa, India and China, have made "important contributions" to the Paris Agreement, China's chief climate negotiator said Tuesday. The cooperative mechanism of BASIC countries, established in 2009, has made "important contributions to the successful signing of the Paris Agreement and its early implementation," said Xie Zhenhua, Special Representative for Climate Change of China, at a press conference at the close of the two-day 24th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change held in Beijing. The meeting was hosted by Xie and attended by relevant officials from India, Brazil and South Africa. Representatives from Ecuador, Fiji and Egypt were also invited to attend the meeting. Xie commended the role of BASIC in strengthening "internal communications" within the Group of 77, and in gaining support from developing countries. A joint statement was issued at the close of the meeting, focusing on follow-up negotiations following the signing of the Paris Agreement, pragmatic cooperation and ways to intensify action before 2020, according to Xie. The attendees reiterated the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" in mitigation actions of developed and developing countries. They agreed that the Paris Agreement was a hard-earned achievement in the global campaign in climate-governance, which has ushered in a new stage of global endeavors in seeking green and low-carbon development. Xie said that China, as a responsible developing country, will continue to take efforts to deal with climate change and be resolute in fulfilling its responsibilities. The BASIC countries are helping developing countries in improving global climate change responses through channels including South-South cooperation, Xie said. They also urged developed countries to scale up their level of financial support to meet their goal of jointly providing 100 billion U.S. dollars per year by 2020. It is estimated that the world should invest 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars per year on renewable energy and new energy in order to meet respective goals on climate change by 2030, Xie said. By then, infrastructure investment alone shall reach 90 trillion dollars, bringing huge opportunities to world green and low-carbon industries, Xie added. The attendees also agreed to further strengthen the cooperation and solidarity among the BASIC countries and also emphasized international cooperation in enhancing global actions. ^ top ^

B&R offers China chance to lead global energy reform (Global Times)
As China's economic development has transitioned into its new normal, the force from which China's energy sector has drawn momentum has changed. In the past, China's breakneck growth drove a huge demand for energy. Starting from 2015, China's energy demand significantly slowed with the cooling of its economy. Technology, environment, pricing and efficiency have also slowed energy demand. This March, China's two sessions offered an opportunity for the country's most experienced energy experts to discuss the ongoing energy transition. Along with China's ongoing supply-side structural reform, energy supply-side structural reform is seen as a solution to fulfill the country's mission of shifting to a clean, low-carbon, and efficient energy system. According to Nur Bekri, head of China's National Energy Administration, energy supply-side structural reforms are not just an expedient, but rather a cure to the outdated energy structure and development pattern, which include structural adjustment, institutional reform, model innovation. The core of China's structural energy adjustment involves the shift from coal to clean energy. China's energy structure is congenitally deficient due to the high endowment of coal and lack of oil and gas. It's for this reason that the government work report elaborated so much on work arrangements on energy structural adjustment. The targeted increase of clean energy in the country's overall mix is 1.7 percentage points for 2017 (in 2016, hydro, wind, nuclear and natural gas accounted for 19.7 percent in total), while the target decrease of coal is 2 percentage points (in 2016, coal accounted for 62 percent). The shift from coal to clean energy is reflected in the vast difference between their respective industrial policies. In 2017, as much as 50 gigawatts of coal power capacity will be eliminated, suspended, or postponed, and approximately 150 million tons of coal capacity will be cut. In contrast, Premier Li Keqiang emphasized that clean energy should be a top priority in terms of grid-connection. Furthermore, more than 3 million households' coal-fired boilers will be replaced by electric or natural gas boilers, a huge market for clean energy. The essence of institutional energy reform is to share the State-owned enterprise (SOE) reform dividend and market competition dividend. Fossil energy tends to foster natural monopolies. In order to improve the efficiency of resource allocation, it is necessary for the government to deepen SOE reform. The deepening of mixed-ownership reform will have a large impact on SOEs that dominate China's energy industries. Both electric power reform and oil and gas reform will follow the path of "hold the middle, and loosen two ends" and as a result will spur competition between SOEs and private firms. A new round of electric reform marked by the publication of the central government's No.9 document in March 2015 has brought changes in transmission line pricing and power exchange. Oil and gas reform has not yet been published, but Nur Bekri has confirmed that the scheme has been approved by the State Council and will be disclosed soon. The essence of promoting innovation in the energy sector is to seek new momentum. The development of China's energy sector has been severely restricted by factors like technology, environment, prices, efficiency and other areas. Innovation is the key to breaking these bottlenecks. The government work report reaffirmed the promotion of Internet Plus, a national strategy on big data and the implementation of Made in China 2025. It is through innovation that China's solar cell, wind, new energy vehicle and other industries have gained strong international competencies and huge market shares. Li Xiaolin, member of the CPPCC National Committee, proposed that "energy Internet" based upon distributed energy and storage systems could be the answer to severe curtailment on wind and solar power. Other innovations such as green finance and the national carbon market to be established in 2017 will also help raise more capital and bring momentum for clean energy development. The going global strategy is also the optimal choice for China's energy sector to achieve healthy development amid the background of the increasing tendency of economic globalization and cutting overcapacity. In recent years, global energy and political patterns have sharply changed. In the context of global energy structural contradictions and a lack of energy governance coordination, China is being encouraged to take the lead on global energy. In this year's government work report, the One Belt and One Road initiative was mentioned five times, with an emphasis on opportunities for deepening global capacity cooperation and driving a better going out strategy for China's energy equipment, technologies, standards and services. Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that the first One Belt One Road summit will be held in May in Beijing. Guests from around the globe will discuss the long-term cooperation mechanism for the development of the initiative. Further, regions along the routes will have the greatest growth in energy demand and the need of energy equipment and infrastructure. It could be a good opportunity for China to take a further step to push forward interconnection of energy infrastructure, capacity cooperation on technology and equipment, and actively participate in global energy governance. ^ top ^

Myanmar denies ethnic cleansing (Global Times)
A senior Myanmar government official on Tuesday denied there was ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in the troubled northwestern state of Rakhine, where a military operation aimed at the minority has forced 75,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. Attacks on Myanmar border guard posts in October last year by a Rohingya insurgent group ignited the biggest crisis of country leader Aung San Suu Kyi's year in power. A UN report in February said Myanmar's security forces had committed mass killings and gang rapes against Rohingya during their campaign against the insurgents, which may amount to crimes against humanity. The military has denied the accusations. Thaung Tun, a recently appointed National Security Adviser, reiterated the claim made by Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi during a recent interview when she said "ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening." "There is no ethnic cleansing of Muslim minority in Rakhine," Thaung Tun told a group of diplomats in Myanmar's largest city, Yangon. "It is a matter of people on different sides of the divide and the government is striving to overcome the situation and to close the gap." His comments come amid several ongoing investigations into the allegations, including one mandated by Suu Kyi's government and chaired by the vice-president and former head of military intelligence, Myint Swe. Last month, the top UN human rights body agreed to send an international fact-finding mission to investigate the allegations - a move that Myanmar has opposed. While the UN February report stopped short of explicitly labeling the actions of the security forces as ethnic cleansing, it said the violence committed against the Rohingya "has been described in other contexts" as ethnic cleansing. It also expressed "serious concerns" that the attacks were a result of a "purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas." ^ top ^

President Xi meets Norwegian PM to enhance mutual trust (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping met visiting Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Beijing Monday, voicing the hope that the two countries could cement political mutual trust. "I appreciate the positive efforts made by the prime minister and Norwegian government in the normalization of bilateral ties," said Xi. Noting that Norway was one of the first Western countries to recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the first European country to acknowledge China's market economy status, Xi said that friendship and cooperation have featured throughout the 63-year diplomatic relations. "We believe the China-Norway relationship and practical cooperation will embrace broad prospects, as long as the two sides follow the principle of mutual respect and equal treatment, while accommodating and respecting each other's core interests and major concerns," said Xi. Xi stressed that China and Norway should manage bilateral relations from a long-term and strategic perspective, calling on the two sides to enhance political mutual trust, high-level contact, people-to-people exchanges and coordinate on major global and regional issues. Xi said China and Norway can cooperate within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, to contribute to Asia-Europe connectivity and common development. Xi expects Norway to play a more positive role in promoting cooperation between China and the Nordic region, saying China will deepen cooperation with Norway in arctic research, resource exploration and environmental protection. Noting that the two economies are highly complementary, Xi called on the two sides to advance cooperation in areas that they have advantages. "As the host of 2022 Winter Olympic Games, China is ready to strengthen exchanges with Norway in winter sports and share experience in holding winter sports events," Xi said, adding the two sides should create more favorable conditions to facilitate people's visits to the other country. Solberg noted she was "impressed by China's rapid development." She said the joint statement inked last December on the normalization of bilateral ties served as an important guarantee for restoring and developing China-Norway ties. Norway will adhere to the statement, uphold the one-China policy, and highly value China's core interests and major concerns. Norway will promote high-level contacts with China and push forward bilateral relations from the new starting point, Solberg said. She said the Norwegian side supports the Belt and Road Initiative, and is ready to expand cooperation of mutual benefit in areas including Arctic issues and cement communication and coordination on global issues. The visit marks the normalization of bilateral ties, and shows that the relationship is back on the correct track, said Tian Dewen, an analyst with the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Tian said the two countries will cooperate in the traditional areas of fishery and finance, and new areas such as innovation and environmental protection. Solberg arrived in China on April 7. During her stay in Beijing, she also met with Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang. Earlier Monday, State Councilor Yang Jiechi met with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende on bilateral ties. ^ top ^

Belt & Road must overcome water disputes in Central Asia (Global Times)
Central Asia is strategically important in the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt. The five countries in this area speak highly of and responded actively to the initiative, but their delicate relations may exert negative impact on the initiative. These nations have been mired in age-old rifts and, particularly, around water resources. The region has been fraught with conflicts, such as those between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which take the development of hydropower as a national strategy and Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which relies on irrigation farming. The downstream countries strongly object to the large-scale hydroelectricity projects. The Central Asian countries have adopted a wide spectrum of measures to control more water resources in order to satisfy the surging need of an expanding population and a growing economy. This has, inevitably, aggravated the prolonged contention over transboundary water resources. Most of the conflicts were caused by scramble for water resources. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan witnessed a border conflict last March and a shooting incident occurred along the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in August 2015. Later, in October, then Uzbek president Islam Karimov warned of a water war if Kyrgyzstan continued building hydropower stations on the transboundary river with the support of Russia. It was not the first time that Karimov gave such a warning. The reason why the water dispute is difficult to resolve is that the differences among the Central Asian nations are hard to reconcile. Loopholes in management are still waiting to be patched. There is also a lack of legal foundation to deal with the strife over water resources. In addition, geopolitical discrepancies and intervention from major powers have further complicated the intractable issue. It is projected that the water row will likely continue to impact state-to-state relations for a long time in the future. There is a risk that the frictions may further ferment though the possibility of a war is slim. China's cooperation with Central Asia, which boasts a special geographical position, is essential for the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt. The coordination among Central Asian nations is also very important. For instance, the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway could not be built without the cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Nonetheless, the wrangle over water resources alongside frequent ethnic conflicts has dampened the enthusiasm of Kyrgyzstan to participate in the construction of the railway. Therefore, promoting a peaceful solution to the conflict will help develop the Silk Road Economic Belt. But China must remain prudent as it also has water disputes with some Central Asian nations. It should be noted that some Chinese enterprises have already taken part in large-scale hydropower development projects in Central Asia and some others are still in the works. In the past, investment from Chinese enterprises in projects of this kind was once halted due to frictions among Central Asian nations, which led to huge losses. Russia also terminated some projects in Tajikistan under the pressure of protest from Uzbekistan but elicited discontent from Tajikistan afterwards, making its relations with Central Asian nations increasingly intricate. Therefore, China should play it safe when investing in the hydropower industry in Central Asia and conduct full risk assessment if it decides to make investment. Nowadays, more and more people in Central Asia have begun to realize that the water crisis is not of quantity but of allocation. The point does not lie in shortage of the water resources but in how to manage them. Central Asia boasts plenty of water but lacks proper use of it. China has accumulated abundant experience and mature technology in water resources management and multipurpose utilization. Some of the techniques and ideas, including water-conserving agriculture, small hydropower plants, photovoltaic power generation, can be transferred to Central Asian nations to help alleviate their contention. Compared with investing in large hydropower development projects, participating in these fields are of more significant value and has less risk. ^ top ^

Trump defends massive missile assault as bombed Syrian air base operates again and 'sarin attack' village reports new air strikes (SCMP)
US President Donald Trump has praised the US military for carrying out the missile attack on a Syrian airfield and struck back at mounting questions over whether it would help achieve a momentum shift in Syria's bloody civil war. In a tweet, Trump defended the operation against criticism from some members of US Congress and military analysts that the nighttime volley of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles two days earlier did not target the runways at the Shayrat air base in eastern Syria. Administration officials have said the attack successfully destroyed refuelling stations, hangars and some planes, effectively making the base inoperable. “The reason you don't generally hit runways is that they are easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill in and top)!” Trump wrote on Twitter from Mar-a-Lago after playing a round at the nearby Trump International Golf Club. The president was spending the weekend here after completing a two-day summit at his winter estate with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In an earlier message, Trump offered: “Congratulations to our great military men and women for representing the United States, and the world, so well in the Syria attack.” The White House has sought to cast the mission - which came in response to evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime had carried out an attack on civilians with the nerve agent sarin - as a major success in putting Assad on notice that he can no longer use such weapons without consequences. Officials announced Saturday that Trump had spoken with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who offered support for his decision. But Saturday brought fresh reminders that a single US attack would hardly dissuade Assad from his brutal campaign to crush a six-year rebellion that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Residents in the northwestern town of Khan Sheikhoun, where at least 86 people had been killed in the sarin attack, reported that Syrian warplanes had returned and dropped new conventional bombs. The governor of Syria's Homs province confirmed the Syrian air base targeted in the US cruise missile attack is operating again. The Syrian army said on Friday the attack had caused extensive damage to the base, which the United States says it targeted with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. “The airport is operating as a first phase,” Homs governor Talal Barazi said. “Planes have taken off from it,” he added, without saying when. Asked if it was true that Syrian planes were now taking off from Shayrat or that the air base is operating, a Pentagon spokesman referred questions to the Syrian government. Since a US Navy destroyer launched the missiles early Friday in Syria, the Trump administration has struggled to explain how the attack - which came four years after President Barack Obama chose not to strike Assad unilaterally after a similar use of chemical weapons - fits into its broader policy on Syria and the Middle East. Trump aides said that they could not unequivocally rule out future strikes against Assad's forces, but they cautioned that the president's decision did not signal a broader ramping up of US military engagement on the ground. In a letter to Congress on Saturday, Trump said his aim was to “degrade the Syrian military's ability to conduct further chemical weapons attacks and to dissuade the Syrian regime from using or proliferating chemical weapons, thereby promoting the stability of the region and averting a worsening of the region's current humanitarian catastrophe.” Senior administration officials have acknowledged that the targeted operation did not eliminate Assad's ability to carry out chemical attacks. And Trump, who has attempted to enact a ban on Syrians and those in five other majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States, has not indicated that he is willing to accept more Syrians who are fleeing violence. Meanwhile, the administration is nearing completion of a review of long-term strategy to combat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, which remains the priority over removing Assad from power. A fully developed proposal is expected to be delivered to Trump's desk in the near future, a senior administration official said. Among the questions being considered is what level of military support to give Syrian rebel forces, potential military cooperation with Russia against the Islamic State, how to deal with meddling in the region by Iran and what to do about fighting between Turkish government forces and autonomous Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. Of the US missile strike on Assad, the senior official said: “We don't yet know if this is a one-time effort or not. We can't predict what may or may not happen.” The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, added: “Certainly, it's the hope of the administration that this action will influence [Assad's] behaviour in a positive direction, and we will not see further chemical attacks.” Foreign-policy analysts cautioned that ordering a military strike before developing a strategic policy carried significant risks for the White House. The US assault on the airfield drew sharp condemnation from Assad as well as his patrons in Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin has offered him political backing and military support. In a sign of the continuing diplomatic fallout from the chemical attack and the US response, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced Saturday that he had cancelled a planned visit to Moscow. ' Johnson was to fly to Moscow on Monday to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in what would have been the first such meeting since 2012. But Johnson said in a statement that “developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally.” “We deplore Russia's continued defence of the Assad regime even after the chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians,” Johnson said. Britain has been supportive of the US air strike against a Syrian air base but has said it has no plans to join the United States in any future attacks. Meanwhile, Russia and Iran, Assad's most influential supporters, have rallied around him. Russia condemned the US missile strike and suspended an agreement that would minimise the risk of in-flight incidents between Russian and US military aircraft over Syria. And on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a statement carried by state television, called for the formation of an international fact-finding committee that “must not be headed by Americans.” The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a global watchdog, said Thursday that it had initiated contact with the Syrian government and was investigating the attack on Khan Sheikhun. US analysts said that despite his show of force, Trump has offered no broader strategy to achieve a cease fire between the Assad regime and rebel groups to help broker a diplomatic solution. In recent days, the administration has offered conflicting statements on key questions, including whether Assad can remain in power under any sort of negotiated peace settlement. “They seem to be celebrating the strike almost as accomplishment in itself rather than as a tool to achieve any particular strategy,” said Jeffrey Prescott, who served as director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf States at the National Security Council under Obama from 2015 to 2017. “Even days later, they are basking in the glow, but we do not have a clear sense of why this strike and to what particular end.” In an interview on CBS News's Face the Nation set to air Sunday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration's top priority is defeating the Islamic State. “Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilising the situation in Syria,” he said, using an acronym for the militant group. “We're hopeful that we can prevent a continuation of the civil war and that we can bring the parties to the table to begin the process of political discussions.” Tillerson added that he does not expect the Russians to retaliate for what he characterised as a targeted and proportional US attack on Syrian targets. White House aides said that Trump, who had campaigned generally on a non-interventionist platform, was moved to act after aides on Tuesday delivered a detailed assessment of the chemical attack and the president viewed television images of dead and suffering children. Over more than two days of intensive deliberations with aides, including at the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council, Trump authorised the strikes. But the White House did not ask Congress for permission and it offered no public explanation until after the mission had been completed, when administration officials, including Vice-President Mike Pence and Cabinet officials, placed calls to US lawmakers and foreign capitals, and briefed reporters. After considering a unilateral strike in 2013, Obama ultimately asked Congress for permission to strike after evidence was found that the Assad regime had crossed Obama's “red line” against using chemical weapons. Obama aides said at the time that the president wanted broad political and public support before acting after years of US military conflicts in the Middle East and Central Asia. But lawmakers voted against the authorisation. On Capitol Hill, reaction to Trump's action has been mixed, with Republican leaders endorsing the president's belief he did not need congressional approval to act. But some rank-and-file GOP members, along with many Democrats, have criticised Trump for acting impulsively and betraying his own past opposition to US intervention in Syria. Analysts questioned whether the Trump administration, in its rapid deliberations over less than three days, had fully considered how to deal with the unknown consequences of the missile attack. “I do not see any grounds for optimism and worry that expectations will be disappointed,” said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a former deputy assistant secretary for Near East affairs at the State Department under Obama. “I worry that Assad could escalate. One possibility is that Assad could hasten his use of conventional weapons to end the war on his terms. “In this lightning process,” Wittes said, “the idea that [the White House] worked through the second- and third-order effects - I find that questionable.” ^ top ^

Spotlight: China, Sri Lanka vow to deepen cooperation to further develop strategic cooperative partnership (Xinhua)
China and Sri Lanka have pledged here to deepen pragmatic cooperation in all fields to further develop the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries. The pledge was made when visiting Chinese top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng held talks with Sri Lankan leaders. Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), visited the island country from Thursday to Saturday at the invitation of Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. While meeting with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday, Yu said China and Sri Lanka are traditional good neighbors and their peoples have enjoyed long history of exchanges. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries 60 years ago, China and Sri Lanka have supported each other on the issues concerning their core and significant interests, with mutual beneficial cooperation bringing substantial benefits to the peoples of the two sides, the Chinese top political advisor said. The leaders of the two countries have jointly mapped out the strategic plans for developing the China-Sri Lanka ties, and the two countries should take the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two sides as an opportunity to further implement the consensus reached by the leaders, maintain high-level exchanges, deepen political trust, connect development strategies of the two countries, jointly construct the "Belt and Road", boost people to people exchanges, consolidate the friendly public opinions in the two countries so as to further push forward the strategic cooperative partnership between the two sides, Yu said. For his part, Sirisena said Sri Lanka and China have enjoyed long history of friendship and friendly people to people exchanges. China has given strong support to Sri Lanka in peace realization and economic recovery, and Sri Lankan people love and respect China, the president said. As the development of bilateral ties has entered a new stage, Sri Lanka will continue to uphold the one China policy and is looking forward to maintaining frequent high-level exchanges, deepen and broaden economic and trade cooperation and strengthen coordination and cooperation with China in international affairs, he added. During his meeting with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday, Yu said the China-Sri Lanka relations have witnessed comprehensive development in recent years with deepening pragmatic cooperation, and positive achievements have been scored in major cooperation projects. Both sides should give play to their own advantages, exploit cooperation potential and jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Yu said, adding that they should also push for the steady development of key cooperation projects including the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota harbor. Meanwhile, China and Sri Lanka should speed up negotiations on the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), and expand their cooperation to new areas such as ocean, tourism and industry capacity so as to achieve mutual benefits and common development, he said. For his part, Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka is in the process of industrialization, modernization and urbanization, and that his country looks forward to boosting cooperation with China in the fields of trade, finance, ports and transportation infrastructure. Sri Lanka is willing to join hands with China to build the Belt and Road so as to speed up the island country's economic development and boost regional economic integration, the prime minister said. Also on Friday, the Chinese top political advisor met with Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, saying that China is very happy to see social stability, economic development and continuous improvement of the people's living standard in Sri Lanka. The CPPCC stands ready to enhance exchanges and cooperation with the Sri Lankan Parliament to make contribution to the development of bilateral relations, Yu said. For his part, Karu said China and Sri Lanka have witnessed close contacts in all sectors and bilateral cooperation has a bright prospect. The Sri Lankan Parliament supports the Belt and Road Initiative, backs the FTA negotiations with China, and expects more friendly exchanges between the two countries, he said. Yu and Karu on Friday also attended the reception marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The two hailed the traditional friendship between the two countries. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China to develop medical partnerships to offer better service (Xinhua)
China will arrange closer partnerships between top-tier hospitals and grassroots medical services to provide health management and health care services for urban and rural residents alike in a more inclusive and coherent manner. A set of new measures were approved during the State Council's executive meeting on Wednesday, presided over by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. "The goal for medical partnerships is to make quality medical care more accessible to the wider public, especially in less-developed areas," Li said. "We've managed to achieve nation-wide medical insurance coverage and improved medical competence in grassroots medical institutions. The coverage is among the highest in the world. What we mostly need now are medical professionals," Li pointed out. While people are demanding more and better health care with higher personal incomes, the country's current allocation in medical resources faces a tough balancing act. The idea of building partnerships across medical institutions covering different levels aims to bridge the gap of resources. Figures from the National Health and Family Planning Commission showed that by 2016, medical institutions partnerships have been established in 205 cities across the country. "Currently, high quality medical resources are mostly in big cities. These should further trickle down to lower tiers so that wider demand will be met," Li said, adding that the governments must encourage joint partnerships of city-level public hospitals and grassroots institutions while imposing expenses reimbursement. The Wednesday meeting also came up with some new measures based on current progress. First, administrative fragmentation between administrative regions, fiscal expenses, insurance payouts and human resources will be healed, while more diversified forms of medical partnerships will be encouraged, with city or country-level hospitals playing leading roles. The new guideline called for an Internet-based medical information platform to enable better diagnose and treatment for remote regions. Meanwhile, further steps will be taken in allocating high quality medical resources to wider regions by dispatching teams of medical professional to less developed areas with enhanced sharing and inter-operating of health and medical services. China will also accelerate building cascaded medical system and introduce demand-oriented and contract-based family doctors. The government plans to cover all impoverished population with such service within this year, while inviting private health care institutions to join in the effort. The guideline also stresses on better coordination mechanisms and policies within newly established medical partnerships to ensure more balanced allocation of medical resources across medical centers of different levels. The government encourages diverse ways of payments, and professional performances at grassroots levels will be included in the evaluation for medical practitioners, who can, in most cases, work at any organization within the partnership. "The government needs to have well-designed, concrete guideline in building medical partnerships, taking local conditions in different regions into consideration, and local governments are encouraged to innovate in exploring systematic innovation," Li said. He went on to stress that the reform fundamentally provides long-term benefit for the people as the country has great demand for health care, and the establishment of medical partnerships will also drive economic and social development. ^ top ^



Shanghai cements leading role in global trade and investment (Xinhua)
Shanghai, home to regional headquarters of 580 multinational corporations, has seen more local companies expand overseas since its pilot free trade zone (FTZ) was launched in 2013. Shanghai enterprises have expanded to 178 countries and regions, with 70 percent of investment overseas coming from the Shanghai FTZ, according to Shang Yuying, head of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce, at a press conference Wednesday. The Belt and Road Initiative and Shanghai FTZ have encouraged local entrepreneurs to do business overseas and are becoming more competitive, said Shang. Enterprises from Shanghai signed contracts with partners in the Belt and Road region worth 8.9 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 66.5 percent over the previous year. Some have built partnerships with economic and trade departments and leading cities in 14 Belt and Road countries including Singapore, the Czech Republic and Turkey. ^ top ^



China, India file bids for Tibetan medicine in UNESCO heritage list (Global Times)
China and India filed competing bids for Tibetan medicine to be included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, with Chinese experts saying "Tibetan-in-exile" communities in India will not give India an edge. A senior official from the Indian Union Ministry of Culture was quoted by Indian Express as saying that "India had been preparing the nomination dossier for the Tibetan medicine system of Sowa-Rigpa for many years, and we have submitted it to UNESCO for consideration." India submitted the application in March, said the report. China considers Tibet an inseparable part and a "core interest." It also repeatedly criticized India for inviting the 14th Dalai Lama, who China considers a separatist, to "Arunachal Pradesh," which China calls South Tibet. "The Tibetan medicine system originated in Tibet and has developed on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in northwest and southwest China," Qin Yongzhang, an ethnologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday. Qin said that the "Tibetan-in-exile" communities in India may help practice and spread the Sowa-Rigpa in India and may say that the medicine system has been inherited and developed well in India to help it win the bid. India nominated Sowa-Rigpa to enhance its soft power, gain confidence and benefit financially, said Qin, adding, "the truth is that Tibetan medicine not only originated but has developed in China." Qin noted that thousands of types of Tibetan medicine are from China's Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and Tibetan medicine hospitals are spread across China, with considerable medicine literature published in recent years. China has accelerated the development of Tibetan medicine and pharmacology. The State Council listed Tibetan medicine system in the first batch of China Intangible Cultural Heritage in May 2006. UNESCO will consider both countries' bids at the organization's session in 2018. "In 2007, the output value of Tibetan medicines reached 660 million yuan ($96 million), with sales of 450 million yuan," read an official publication from the Information Office of the State Council in September 2008. Some Tibetan medicine is sold in other Chinese regions and even abroad," it added. ^ top ^

China warns India over Dalai's visit to disputed area (Xinhua)
China on Wednesday warned India it would take further measures to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and national security following offensive remarks made by the Dalai Lama while he was visiting a disputed zone in the east part of the China-India border area. According to media reports, an Indian official also repeatedly made inappropriate comments regarding China and the border dispute. These recent actions indicate that the Dalai Lama's trip has gone beyond the so-called "religious activities" as claimed by India, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a routine press conference. India has violated its solemn commitment on Tibet-related issues, which will have a detrimental impact on the proper resolution of territorial disputes through negotiation, Lu added. Noting that the Dalai Lama group has totally positioned itself on the foreign side, Lu said his "disgraceful show" would not affect China's stance on border- and Tibet-related issues, or change the fact that China's Tibet government has been effectively exercising jurisdiction over the east part of the border area for a long time. Border- and Tibet-related issues concern the political foundation of China-India ties, Lu said, stressing that the Indian side has made commitments on Tibet-related issues and reached consensus with China on resolving border disputes via negotiation. China has lodged solemn representations to India, Lu said, urging India to refrain further provocations that could jeopardize border negotiations and bilateral ties. ^ top ^



Fellow Uygurs should beware of 'two-faced' people in separatism fight, Xinjiang official says (SCMP)
A senior Uygur Communist Party official in China's western Xinjiang has urged Uygur cadres to reveal “two-faced people” and “clean them out”, the latest in a string of senior figures to single out their own ethnic group in the restive region. It had been unusual for Chinese government statements to specifically target an ethnic minority, but a recent series of statements has come as authorities step up security measures to combat what they see as a rising threat from Islamist extremism. Rights groups say that party restrictions on the religion and culture of Muslim Uygurs create simmering resentment against the state and its policies that encourage many ethnic majority Han Chinese people to move to the region. In a commentary published by the official Xinjiang Daily on Monday, Yasin Sidik, a senior official from Kashgar in Xinjiang, urged fellow ethnic Uygur cadres to “bravely stand at the forefront against separatism”. A historic Silk Road trading post, Kashgar is central to Beijing's belt and road initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature foreign and economic policy that aims to bolster trade and infrastructure links with Central Asia, the Middle East and beyond. However, the city and nearby towns in southern Xinjiang are also among the most unstable in the region, creating a threat to plans that the party is combating with paramilitary and police “anti-terror” rallies and a raft of new security measures. Hundreds have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years, mostly in unrest between the Uygurs, who call the region home, and Han Chinese. The government has blamed much of the unrest on Islamist militants. The party encourages ethnic minorities to become cadres, but Uygurs still number far fewer than Han officials in the region. All party employees are expected to be atheist, so those Uygurs who do become party officials are seen by fellow Uygurs as having abandoned their culture. ^ top ^



President Xi meets incoming HKSAR chief executive (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping met Tuesday with Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the newly appointed chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in central Beijing. Congratulating Lam on her victory in the election as the HKSAR's fifth-term chief executive and ensuing appointment by the State Council, Xi said Lam's victory is well deserved and she meets all the central authority's standards for the role. With 36 years of government work experience, especially the multiple important posts she held after Hong Kong's return to the motherland, Lam has shown "a firm stance in loving the country and Hong Kong, a diligent, pragmatic and responsible work style, as well as rich administrative experience and ability to handle complicated situations," Xi said. Lam also enjoys high recognition in Hong Kong society and has the mind, capability and sense of responsibility to serve the country and Hong Kong, Xi said. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong. "Hong Kong has experienced its share of ups and downs during the past 20 years, and faces challenges and risks as well as opportunities and hopes in this stage," Xi said. "Over the past two decades, great success has been achieved in the implementation of the 'one country, two systems' principle in Hong Kong," said Xi. "The special administrative region system, stipulated in the Constitution as well as the Basic Law, operates effectively, and Hong Kong continues to enjoy prosperity and stability, winning high praise from the international community," Xi noted. Xi also stressed that the practice of the "one country, two systems" principle in Hong Kong is an unprecedented cause and needs to be advanced through fresh explorations. "As the newly appointed chief executive, you have a heavy responsibility and a glorious mission," said Xi. The central government is determined to stick to the principles of "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy, Xi noted. That determination would not change or waver, said Xi, adding that full support would be given to Lam and the HKSAR government to carry out their duties in accordance with the law. Xi expressed the hope that Lam could live up to the great trust, rely on the people of Hong Kong, comprehensively and precisely implement the principle of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law, and contribute to the development of Hong Kong. Senior leaders including Zhang Dejiang, Li Yuanchao, Li Zhanshu and Yang Jiechi attended the meeting. Lam won the chief executive election with 777 of 1,163 valid votes on March 26. She is expected to assume office on July 1, 2017. ^ top ^



Macao starts application for UNESCO "City of Gastronomy" (Xinhua)
Macao officially started its application for a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, a City of Gastronomy, the special administrative region's local media quoted Macao social and cultural chief in its report on Friday. Macao Daily reported that Macao's Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Tam Chon Weng as saying that the government has officially apply to become one of the most popular choice for food and restaurants, which will add another reputation to the city trying to become a global tourism destination. Macao's Tourism Office listed the UNESCO "City of Gastronomy" application as one of four major goals in 2017. The SAR government even set up a special committee in charge of this issue. Tam also said earlier this year that it is one of the SAR government's major endeavors in 2017, when attending a meeting convened by this committee on Jan. 19. If Macao is successfully designated as a UNESCO gastronomy city, it will add a significant international brand for Macao with far-reaching significance and a powerful impetus to Macao's transformation into a world tourism and leisure center, as well as adequate diversification and sustainable development of Macao's economy, Tan commented in that meeting. Macao also organized the "International Gastronomy Forum" in November 2016 as a warm-up before it officially applies for the brand. ^ top ^



Pets, not food: Taiwan to ban eating, selling of dog and cat meat (SCMP)
Taiwan has moved to explicitly ban people from eating dogs and cats, after its parliament approved a bill to punish those who consume and sell the meat of the animals. The island's Legislative Yuan approved an amendment to the Animal Protection Act on Tuesday, imposing a fine of up to NT$250,000 (HK$63,400, US$8,180) for eating or selling dog and cat meat, the Central News Agency reported. The fine also covers food products that contain parts of the animals, and offenders' names and photos may also be publicised, according to the report. Under the amendment, those found to have deliberately harmed cats and dogs, resulting in their limbs being mangled or causing organ failure and death will also face a jail term of up to two years and a NT$2 million fine. Presently, the maximum penalty is one year in jail and a fine of NT$1 million. The bill still has to be signed into law by the cabinet and presidential office before it will take effect. Eating and selling dog and cat meat is already banned by local governments in some parts of Taiwan, but the law change will make it illegal throughout the island. Opposition Kuomintang legislator Wang Yu-min had pushed for the change. She said the amendment showed Taiwan was a progressive society on animal rights and could act as a reference for other Asian cities, Taiwanese news outlet Storm Media reported. Last October, Chan Ho-yeung, a former National Taiwan University student from Macau, was sentenced to 10 months' jail for killing stray cats, the Central News Agency reported. In Hong Kong, killing dogs or cats for food is illegal and can be punished by imprisonment of six months and a HK$5,000 fine, though the consumption of the animals is not banned. But in mainland China, there is no law explicitly banning the eating or sale of dog and cat meat. An annual dog-eating festival in Yulin, southern China, draws international condemnation every year, with animal rights groups calling for an end to the event. Last year, American celebrities including Matt Damon and Pamela Anderson called for the festival to be banned. A petition opposing the mass slaughter of dogs received 11 million signatures. Following the pressure, the Yulin government said it would no longer officially host the festival and that people would not be allowed to slaughter dogs for the festival in public. The annual event would instead it would be run by commercial businesses and individuals, the government said. Although the consumption of dog and cat meat is rare in Taiwan, the move is symbolically significant, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Hong Kong. “I wouldn't be surprised if other countries [in Asia] followed suit,” said SPCA Hong Kong welfare programme manager Teresa Lee, a Taiwanese-American veterinarian. While it might have been acceptable in Asia to consume the animals a century ago, Lee said it was becoming less morally acceptable to do so as values had changed and the animals – popular choices for pets – were now considered part of the family. “It is a step in the right direction. We are optimistic that this [law change in mainland China] will eventually happen.” ^ top ^



Myanmar pipeline gives China faster supply of oil from Middle East (SCMP)
A crude oil pipeline to southwestern China through its neighbour Myanmar began operations after years of delays, allowing the world's second-biggest oil user to receive supplies faster from the Middle East and Africa. A Suezmax-sized tanker, which can hold 140,000 tonnes (about 1 million barrels) of crude, began offloading oil for the pipeline on Monday at Myanmar's Made Island, according to Xinhua. Operations on the line, which was completed in 2014 and originally scheduled to start the same year, were beginning after the government of Myanmar agreed to lower transit fees, Wang Dongjin, the president of PetroChina, said last month. The link, which allows China to import crude from the Middle East and Africa without having to ship through the Strait of Malacca and into the South China Sea, is part of President Xi Jinping's “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure and trade development plan stretching across Asia to Africa and Europe. “It may send a message to those countries that are still hesitating about whether to participate that the initiative is China's top national strategy and can bring economic benefits to participants,” said Fan Hongwei, an international relations professor at Xiamen University. Trial operations began in 2015 on the 771km pipeline, which is designed to carry 22 million tonnes of crude a year. Myanmar could take 2 million tonnes annually from it, Xinhua said. For Myanmar, the initial benefits were probably minimal, said Suresh Sivanandam, a senior research manager at Wood Mackenzie. It might get a small amount of oil and some revenue from oil storage and pipeline tariff fees, while experience from China in building energy infrastructure would be a boon later, he said. “Myanmar is growing very fast, and sooner rather than later they might need more oil refineries,” Sivanandam said. “The process of building energy infrastructure should help them in the long run to meet growing domestic demand.” The Suezmax tanker United Dynamic arrived at Myanmar around Sunday after loading oil from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan terminal in Turkey on March 5, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. The pipeline ends in China's Yunnan province, where PetroChina has built an oil refinery with the capacity to process 13 million tonnes a year of crude. China's biggest oil and gas company was in talks with Saudi Arabian Oil Company about investing in the plant, which would begin operations in June, Wang said last month. PetroChina finished building the refinery in the provincial capital Kunming about six months ago and has been waiting for pipeline deliveries to start, according to Sivanandam. It would take about 12 million barrels of crude to fill the pipeline before deliveries could start, he said. Once the refinery started up, it would sell products in the southwest mainland, displacing petrol and diesel from refineries in central and southern parts of the nation, he said. That will likely increase the country's net exports of refined products, which rose to a monthly record of 2.85 million tonnes in November. China and Myanmar on Monday signed an agreement on the pipeline, as well as eight other cooperation documents, after talks between Xi and Myanmese President Htin Kyaw, who was visiting China from Thursday to yesterday, China Daily reported. China's crude imports rose almost 14 per cent last year, the fastest annual pace since 2010, and touched a record in December of 8.6 million barrels a day. “It opens another channel for China to diversify oil imports,” said Tian Miao, an analyst at North Square Blue Oak in Beijing. China is also fed by a parallel natural gas pipeline that runs through Myanmar to Yunnan province, designed to carry 12 billion cubic metres annually. PetroChina's parent company, China National Petroleum Corporation began to import gas from Myanmar in 2013, according to a statement on its website. Shipments totalled 2.86 million tonnes last year, customs data showed, accounting for about 5 per cent of the country's total imports. Companies including Total and Woodside Petroleum are exploring for resources off shore of Myanmar. The country had about 3.4 per cent of the Asia-Pacific region's total proven gas reserves as of 2015, according to BP data. ^ top ^



China denies sending 150,000 more soldiers to North Korea border (Global Times)
China on Wednesday denied reports that it is sending 150,000 more soldiers to its border with North Korea over the situation on the Korean Peninsula. The People's Liberation Army has been placed on alert over the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, and have sent 150,000 more soldiers to the North Korean border near the Yalu and Tumen rivers since Friday, the Huffington Post reported on Monday. The troop build-up, together with medical supplies to China's North Korean border were made for fear of a refugee crisis in the event of a US airstrike, UK-based The Mirror reported. However, a Ministry of National Defense spokesperson said on Wednesday that those reports are fabricated, without elaborating, according to the website of the ministry. On Wednesday, China reiterated its stance that all parties should work together to return to negotiations on Korean Peninsula nuclear issues at an early date. At a daily briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China's stance is consistent that denuclearization and peace on the peninsula should be achieved through talks and by peaceful means. "China expects relevant parties to seriously consider the 'dual-track' approach and 'suspension for suspension' proposal put forward by China," said Lu, expressing the hope that relevant parties would increase mutual trust and understanding through contact and talks. ^ top ^



President recommends Cultural Campaign II (Montsame)
President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj attended a meeting on soil, water and air pollution in Ulaanbaatar with representatives of the capital city residents and public organizations on April 12, Wednesday. Government officials including Environment Minister D.Oyunkhoroal, Ulaanbaatar Mayor S.Batbold and Members of Parliament Kh.Nyambaatar and G.Batzorig were present at the meeting during which 18 presentations were given in 4 main areas – Urban planning and infrastructure, Engineering solution to reduce air and environmental pollution, Citizen participation and solutions and Bank and financing. Mayor S.Batbold said that the presentations featured several ideas worth putting into work. “I invite you all to send these presentations and projects to the capital city administration. We will review them and cooperate on those we choose to finance”, he said. In his closing speech, President Ts.Elbegdorj noted that the important issues discussed and forwarded at the meeting must be implemented. “We must see improvement in these areas”, he reiterated. He also expressed intentions to visit some of the factories introduced at the meeting. Moreover, the President suggested that Cultural Campaign II be forged to make the capital city a clean city, and gained support from the participants of the meeting. ^ top ^

Prominent bankers emphasize the importance of transparency and international standard governance and reporting (Montsame)
The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Mongolia hosted its April Monthly Meeting with prominent international and domestic bankers, as well as representatives from the Bank of Mongolia on April 12, 2017, at Shangri-La Ulaanbaatar Hotel. The panelists included Chief Economist of Bank of Mongolia J. Ganbaatar, CEO of Xac Bank M. Bold, CEO of Khan Bank John Bell, Executive Vice Chairman of Trade & Development Bank Randolph Koppa, Deputy CEO of Golomt Bank Tomas Bravenec, and AmCham Mongolia Board Member and Country Representative for ING Bank Erik Versavel. The meeting was attended by over 90 participants, including AmCham members in the financial industry and representatives from Mongolia's leading businesses. The panelists took part in a discussion entitled “Mongolian Banking System – Challenges, Opportunities and Ways Forward” and discussed key topics of interest, including the upcoming Asset Quality Review (AQR) for the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) extended fund facility program, the proposed tax on deposits and savings, the entry of the international banks in to the Mongolian market, and a bill on investment banking. Mr. M. Bold, CEO of Xac Bank, opened the discussion and said, “When the banks are growing, weaknesses are hidden, and when the banks are experiencing difficulties, their weaknesses are shown. The banking system audit with the IMF program will help us build a stronger and healthier banking system, and help us to identify if there are some potential weaknesses that should be addressed.” Mr. J. Ganbaatar, Chief Economist at the Bank of Mongolia, also commented on the upcoming AQR and noted, “Bank of Mongolia recently issued a tender for an international auditing firm to conduct the AQR.” He complimented the growing competence and standards of local commercial banks, saying, “The banks are acquiring an increasing number of more professional independent directors, which is helping them to raise their governance standards and transparency.” Mr. Randolph Koppa, Executive Vice Chairman of Trade & Development Bank, commented on the entry of international banks in to Mongolia and said, “Due to the current Mongolian banking system, compliance issues, and political uncertainties, there isn't strong interest from international banks to enter the Mongolian market and to be operational.” “We are facing a number of challenges in the banking industry today. However, usually, the challenges can become opportunities if we come together and find the right way to tackle the issues and move forward. AmCham will work with our members, our newly launched Financial Services Committee, and all stakeholders to bring about real policy change and international standards to the financial sector through our collaborative efforts,” Mr. Erik Versavel, AmCham Mongolia Board Member and Country Representative for ING Bank, said during his closing remarks. ^ top ^

New company to be established for Eg River Hydro Power Plant project (Montsame)
During its regular meeting held on April 12, the Cabinet decided to establish state-owned Eg River Hydro Power Plant LLC, which is responsible for ensuring the preparation of a project to build Eg River Hydro Power Plant and for construction and utilization of the plant. The decision is aimed to provide dispatcher configuration and adjustment for central energy supply system and to reduce energy imports. In this connection, the Cabinet resolved to dissolve the project unit of Eg River Hydro Power Plant. The project is of great strategic significance for the energy system security, ensuring reliable operations and creating a resource for fresh water. The soon-to-be-established company holds rights to own permissions required to implement the project, certificates regarding the land ownership and to establish sales and purchase agreements of energy and contracts on engineering, purchase, construction and others regarding the project to build the hydro power plant. The company will also be in charge of the operations of the plant once the construction is completed. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister meets Ambassador of Republic of Korea (Montsame)
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Ts.Munkh-Orgil received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to Mongolia U Sung on April 10 and discussed issues of conditions to grant multiple entry visas for nationals of Mongolia and ROK, the previous visa-free-entrants. Due to the 'I-prechecking' system, which was brought into effect on April 1, 2017, the entrants who were formerly traveling between the countries using the visa exemption rule approved by an agreement between Mongolia and ROK in 2004, now need a visa. The meeting, which was held yesterday touched on this matter of granting multiple entry visas /with a 30-day period and valid for 5 years/ to the entrants who visited South Korea 4 times in the last 2 years or 10 times in total. Also, ensuring the full implementation of an 2012 intergovernmental agreement to facilitate travel of both nationals, the sides at the meeting agreed to cooperate on renewing the conditions of multiple entry visas and making requirements for the applicants easier. ^ top ^

Memorandum of cooperation between Mongolia and Italy signed (Gogo Mongolia)
Mongolia-Italy Intergovernmental Commission's second joint meeting was held on April 6 in Ulaanbaatar. The meeting was attended by the Mongolian officials led by Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P.Sergelen and Italian delegates led by Ivan Scalfarotto, Undersecretary for International Trade and Investment Attraction in the Ministry of Economic Development of Italy. Among the delegation was Dorina Bianchi, State Secretary at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism of Italy. During the meeting, both sides made statements on the current state of socio-economy, foreign and development policies of their respective country and exchanged views on further cooperation of trade and economy. Under this framework, they agreed to cooperate in food, agriculture, light industry, health, energy, environment, education, culture, science, road transport, construction and urban development sectors, creating mutually beneficial relations in terms of exporting final products manufactured with Mongolian raw materials under Italian advanced technology. Furthermore, certain topics concerning collaboration of small and mid-sized enterprise development, practice exhange, and special conditions on Italian technologies were discussed. Two sides concluded the meeting by signing a memorandum of cooperation between Mongolian Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry and Ministry of Economic Development of Italy. On the occasion of the Intergovernmental Commission meeting, business forum among the private entities of both countries in food, agriculture and light industrial sectors was held on April 5. ^ top ^


Mr. Giordano Felli
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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