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
  8-12.5.2017, No. 671  
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Foreign Policy

Beijing, US reach trade deal to boost American imports to China in wake of Xi-Trump summit (SCMP)
The United States has reached a trade agreement with Beijing that will boost shipments of American liquefied natural gas, beef and other products, as well as improve its market access of financial services to China. The accord follows pledges by US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to address a US$350 billion trade imbalance in China's favour by coming up with concrete measures within 100 days of the two leaders' summit in Florida last month. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross hailed the agreement as “a herculean accomplishment” forged in record time. “This is more than has been done in the whole history of US-China relations on trade,” Ross told reporters on Thursday evening at the White House. “Normally trade deals are denominated in multiple years, not tens of days.” US financial industry shares a large portion of this agreement on market access. US credit rating services, electronic payment services and bond underwriting business are now all allowed in Chinese market. The US would also allow American companies to ship liquefied natural gas to China. Regular LNG exports from the US would give the country a chance to supply China with a fuel that is in high demand because it burns cleaner than coal and oil and is therefore becoming the fuel of choice for electricity generation, along with renewable sources. The LNG export market is currently dominated by Australia, Qatar and Malaysia. Under this agreement, China will accept beef from the US into the Chinese market, effectively ending the 14-year ban on American beef after an outbreak of mad-cow disease in US in 2003. Reciprocally, US will allow Chinese cooked chicken to sell in the American market. The agreement also gives the green light for US biotechnological products to export into China. Chinese finance vice-minister Zhu Guangyao and commerce vice-minister Qian Keming were due to hold a press briefing in Beijing at noon on Friday on the trade deal. In the weeks since Trump's summit with Xi, the US president has dropped accusations that Beijing pursues unfair trade and currency policies that undermine US manufacturers and lead to higher unemployment, suggesting the improvement in relations since the first meeting between the two leaders was largely symbolic. Scott Kennedy, from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, told the South China Morning Post that the two nations had already started negotiations and met multiple times. The White House aims to seek reciprocal market access in China for US companies, especially in the agriculture and finance sectors, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the plan, as reported by the Post on May 9. “Trump is not interested in China going into US market, but US going into the China market,” said Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank. China's natural gas consumption growth, pegged at 5.4 per cent a year, outstrips domestic production. The share of imported gas in the nation's total consumption of the energy source may rise to nearly 40 per cent by 2035, up from 30 per cent in 2015, according to the 2017 BP Energy Outlook report. Imports of LNG to China, the world's largest energy consumer, rose to 33 per cent in 2016, according to customs data. China imported 26.1 million metric tonnes of the fuel last year, up from 19.6 million in 2015. Houston, Texas-based Cheniere Energy Partners is America's only major LNG producer, having completed a major LNG export terminal on Louisiana's Gulf Coast last year. Liquefaction and export terminals are, however, under construction in other parts of the country. The expansion of the Panama Canal last year allows the waterway to accommodate giant tankers that carry LNG between continents. It makes shipments of the chilled fuel to China feasible for LNG projects underway on the east coast of the US. Highlights of the trade deal: United States will welcome Chinese companies negotiating agreements to buy US-produced liquefied natural gas. The Energy Department has already authorised the shipment of 19.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas exports to China and other interested countries. Beijing will allow US-owned card payment services to begin the licensing process in a sector where China's UnionPay system has had a near monopoly. Foreign-owned firms in China will be able to provide credit rating services. China will allow US companies to do bond underwriting business in China. China will end restrictions on beef imports. China imposed a ban on American beef in 2003 after a case of mad-cow disease, a ban that has remained in place despite extensive efforts by the Bush and Obama administrations to get it removed. China will streamline the evaluation of pending US biotechnology product applications. US will facilitate the entrance of Chinese banks into the US banking market. US will allow the sale of cooked Chinese poultry. ^ top ^

Xi, Moon talk on phone, call for proper handling of disputes (Global Times)
In his first phone conversation with newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on both sides to respect each other's major concerns as the two leaders agreed to exchange special envoys to discuss ways to resolve the US anti-missile system issue. Congratulating Moon on his election as president, Xi said the two countries should remember their original intentions when diplomatic ties were first established 25 years ago. South Korean media reported that Xi also invited Moon to visit China. Both sides should respect each other's major concerns and legitimate interests and try their best to seek common ground and properly handle disputes, Xi said. China and South Korea established diplomatic ties on August 24, 1992. Throughout the Cold War, China had only recognized North Korea. "The two countries' original intentions to establish bilateral relations were that both sides agree it would be conducive to peace on the Korean Peninsula if South Korea could maintain a balance between China and the US without falling completely under US control," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times. By bringing up history, the Chinese president aims to remind his South Korean counterpart that losing diplomatic independence and completely aligning itself with the US would hurt South Korea's national interests, Zheng said. Sino-South Korean relations plunged after the US decided to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea. China considers the deployment an infringement on its national interests as THAAD's radar system could help the US spy on the country's military activities. For his part, Moon said South Korea is willing to work with China to achieve denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula through various means such as restarting the Six-Party Talks. Moon also said he expects China's Belt and Road initiative to bring prosperity to countries along the routes, including South Korea. South Korea's Yonghap News Agency reported that Xi and Moon, in a phone conversation lasting around 40 minutes, discussed ways to improve China-South Korea relations. Moon's press secretary, Yoon Young-chan, said that the two leaders agreed to discuss ways to resolve the THAAD issue, beginning with their special envoys. When the special envoys will be sent to each other's country has yet to be decided, but Xi has also invited Moon to visit China, Yoon noted. Analysts said how the special envoys handle the THAAD issue would determine the direction of Sino-South Korean relations in the next five years. "The phone conversation shows that China wants to put tensions between the two countries in the past and start good relations with the Moon administration," Zheng said. Zhan Debin, an associate professor at the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times that assigning a special envoy shows Moon understands China's grave concerns over THAAD. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi suggested in March that North Korea should suspend its nuclear and missile program and the US and South Korea should simultaneously stop their joint large-scale drills. "Although the US, China and South Korea all want to pull North Korea to the negotiating table, the three have divergent views on the preconditions of the talks," said Zhan. "Washington wants to see Pyongyang make concrete disarmament steps before it sits down for talks, but China and South Korea are willing to talk if North Korea says it intends to disarm. Then, the relevant parties can negotiate further," Zhan said. Before talking to Xi, Moon spoke with US President Donald Trump Wednesday. Calling Pyongyang's atomic weapons program "a difficult problem that can be solved," Trump invited Moon to visit the US "as early as possible," AFP reported. Moon backs engagement with North Korea in the quest for peace - in contrast to the Trump administration's threatening rhetoric in recent weeks - and has immediately declared his willingness to visit Pyongyang under the right circumstances. Analysts said Moon's policy is helpful to keeping the Trump administration from using extreme means to resolve the nuclear issue. It is also conducive for China to implement its "dual track solution" for the Korean Peninsula, to simultaneously push forward denuclearization and establish a peace mechanism. ^ top ^

Putin to play 'active' role in Belt and Road Forum, cites China partnership (Global Times)
Russian President Vladimir Putin will play an "active" role in the upcoming Belt and Road (B&R) Forum in Beijing, Russia's ambassador to China said. "Russia welcomes the B&R Forum," Andrey Denisov said through an interpreter. "Given the partnership between our countries … President Putin will play an active role there." The high-level international forum, with the attendance of leaders from 29 countries and regions as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and World Bank President Kim Yong, will be held from May 14 to 15. "We [Russia] applied to take part in all of the forum's events," Denisov told reporters on Thursday. "At each panel discussion, we would like to offer our views on prospects for integration cooperation." The China-proposed B&R initiative was launched in 2013 to develop infrastructure and strengthen ties among countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. China and Russia share infrastructure development plans in the Far East region, with the two countries hoping to improve rail and road connections. Xi and Putin are expected to communicate throughout the year, Denisov said. They met at high-level international forums, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in June in Astana, Kazakhstan, the BRICS summit in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province in September and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam in November. Xi and Putin may discuss the Korean Peninsula issue at the B&R Forum, Denisov said. He stressed that both China and Russia agreed to tackle the problem diplomatically instead of ways which increase tensions on the peninsula. "Large-scale military exercises are becoming increasingly intimidating, inducing North Korea and other countries to take measures to defend their national security," the ambassador said. But with newly-elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has a softer stance on the issue, tensions on the peninsula are likely to ease. ^ top ^

India's Modi attempts to woo back Sri Lanka as China pushes 'Belt and Road' initiative (SCMP)
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Sri Lanka on Thursday on a charm offensive as New Delhi seeks to reassert its influence on the island amid signs of a Chinese comeback. Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena came to power in January 2015 promising to loosen ties with China after a decade of hefty funding by Beijing under his predecessor. When Modi visited the island shortly afterwards, he promised to “script a golden chapter in the history of India-Sri Lanka relations”. Just two years later, analysts say Beijing's influence is on the rise again as Colombo struggles to find alternative sources of foreign capital. Modi clearly wants to keep Sri Lanka within India's sphere of influence. His two-day visit comes as leaders of 28 nations gather in Beijing next week for a summit showcasing China's own ambitious drive to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes and lead a new era of globalisation. That summit will promote President Xi Jinping's One Belt, One Road Initiative (OBOR), a massive Chinese-bankrolled infrastructure project to link the country with Africa, Asia and Europe through a network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks. “For Modi to visit again so soon is clearly an expression of India's concerns about China's deepening economic roots in Sri Lanka and the potential strategic, even military, advantages this might ultimately bring,” said Alan Keenan of the International Crisis Group. Sirisena halted all Chinese-funded infrastructure projects when he swept to power in 2015, ousting the island's strongman leader Mahinda Rajapakse, who had aggressively courted Beijing. Now these projects, which included new highways, railway lines and a telecommunications tower, are back on track. A $1.4 billion Chinese-funded land reclamation project outside Colombo harbour has also been relaunched. In Sri Lanka, there have been public protests against projects linked to the Belt and Road, and in Pakistan, where Islamist militants pose a security threat, the government has set up a new army division to protect the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a key part of the new Silk Road. The corridor also runs through disputed Kashmir, meaning India has rebuffed China's attempts to get it onto the Belt and Road. New Delhi has also long been nervous of a Chinese presence at the Colombo port, a key transshipment point for Indian cargo. Even more controversially, Colombo is trying to sell a controlling interest in a strategically-located deep-sea port in the south to China. Shortly after hosting Modi, Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will travel to China, where he is expected to try to finalise that sale. Experts say India simply doesn't have deep enough pockets to take over China's place as the country's main financial backer. “The new government realises that its Western allies have not delivered and only China has the deep pockets to invest,” said Sri Lankan political analyst Kusal Perera. “The new government has understood this reality and they are wooing China while keeping India on board.” The State-owned National Highways Authority of India plans to build roads abroad even as it falls short of construction targets at home and seeks to raise funds overseas to finance local projects. “There are lots of offers for us,” India's Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said in New Delhi on Wednesday. The road-building authority, or NHAI, will bid for projects in nations that are part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and has begun talks with the Sri Lankan government, he added. Last time Modi visited Sri Lanka, he made a highly symbolic trip to the war-ravaged north in a demonstration of support for Sri Lanka's mostly Hindu Tamil minority, who share close cultural and religious ties with counterparts living in southern India. This time, he will be guest of honour at a major Buddhist festival - a move seen as aimed at winning the support of the Sinhalese majority, many of whom are suspicious of India. Former leader Rajapakse's political allies among the Sinhalese community this month called for a black flag protest during Modi's visit. Manoj Joshi of the Observer Research Foundation think tank in Delhi said Modi would likely use the visit to deepen economic ties with Sri Lanka. But he cautioned against overly high expectations. “Everyone in New Delhi has realised that the new Colombo government isn't going to abandon China just like that. It has certain big infrastructure investments,” he said. “When confronted by a big neighbour like India, they can leverage China, just like other countries in the neighbourhood like Nepal and Bangladesh.” ^ top ^

Japan's Shintaro Ishihara claims CIA plot to kill him in traffic accident and make it look like Chinese did (SCMP)
Claims by erstwhile Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara that former US President Barack Obama ordered his assassination have been described as the “rantings of a doddery old reactionary” and an effort to divert attention away a growing scandal revolving around the relocation of Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. Ishihara made the claim in an interview with the Shukan Post tabloid news magazine during a discussion about how best to deal with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator. “Why doesn't America just assassinate Kim Jong-un already?” Ishihara said, according to a translation provided by the Tokyo Reporter web site. “I mean, they killed Gaddafi and Bin Laden after careful planning, didn't they?” he added. “Assassinations are their speciality. “When Tokyo was trying to purchase the Senkaku Islands, Obama told the CIA: 'Use Chinese people in Japan and kill Ishihara by making it look like a traffic accident.'” Ishihara - a notorious nationalist who called for Japan to develop and deploy nuclear weapons in order to defend itself against China and repeatedly stated that the Rape of Nanking was fiction created by the communists in China - was not pressed by the interviewer on his allegations and offered no evidence to support them. First elected governor of Tokyo in 1999, Ishihara already had a record of needling China but incurred its full wrath in 2012 by announcing a plan to purchase the archipelago that Beijing refers to as the Diaoyu Islands from the family that owned the uninhabited group. “Tokyo will protect the Senkaku Islands,” Ishihara declared in a speech in April 2012 at the Heritage Foundation in the United States. “No matter which country dislikes it, no-one should have a problem” with the purchase. Both Taiwan and China protested and diplomatic ties between Japan and its two neighbours began to degrade dramatically. In the end, the Japanese government stepped in to buy the islands for the nation, but ties between Beijing and Tokyo plummeted to new lows that have yet to fully recover. “These are the rantings of a doddery old reactionary who is using conspiracy theories to deflect attention away from his numerous failings in office,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at the Japan campus of Temple University. “He was re-elected four times as governor of Tokyo and most people thought he did an okay job, but now he is under fire for his role in the plan to move Tsukiji fish market, including what he did and did not know.” A new state-of-the-art facility was due to open on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay in November to take over the functions of the crumbling Tsukiji market. An environmental survey as far back as 2008 found high levels of a number of dangerous chemicals in the soil, with benzene levels 43,000 times the permitted legal levels. A massive clean-up operation was ordered - at a cost of Y85 billion (HK$6.44 billion) - but when new tests in 2015 found the site was still contaminated it was revealed that much of the work had not been carried out before construction work began. The site remains empty. “Ishihara has given evasive replies regarding his role in the project and attempted to shift the blame and responsibility to anyone else that he can,” Kingston said. Ishihara also used the magazine interview to propose that the US use nuclear weapons against Pyongyang, adding: “I don't think the world would complain even if the leadership of North Korea were to be annihilated by nuclear weapons.” An alternative, he suggested, would be to infiltrate a covert unit into the North to kill Kim. Asked to comment on Ishihara's claim about former President Obama's order to kill him, a spokesman for the US embassy in Tokyo told South China Morning Post, “We have nothing to say.” ^ top ^

Commentary: Is China using B&R Initiative to export unwanted capacity? (Xinhua)
Is the Belt and Road Initiative a grand vision for an intercontinental trade and infrastructure network, or a thinly-veiled, self-serving project to offload China's excess capacity? Every new initiative or proposal will face criticism. Regarding the Belt and Road, those erring on the side of pessimism, however, may soon discover their apathy was unfounded and concerns misplaced. It is no secret that China is troubled by industrial overcapacity, nor that a good number of Belt and Road projects do, and will, involve Chinese suppliers and contractors. To use such an unsophisticated link to discredit the initiative, in and of itself, says more about the inadequacy of the observer to acknowledge the wider benefits of the project. Above all, the Belt and Road is based on cooperation, and for cooperation to work, market rules must be agreed upon, not dictated. Companies must compete on a level playing field when bidding for projects and contracts. Moreover, proposals must be reviewed for their merits, and the value they will add to the local economy and community. While China may have many of the products and a lot of the experience needed for certain projects, ultimately it is, and will continue to be, the market -- not China -- that has the final say. Most countries along the Belt and Road are developing nations. Therefore, proposals offering the most advanced, up-to-date approaches may not be key deciding factors. It is more likely that they will want products and engineering processes that are economical, efficient and, most importantly, do not compromise on quality. This just happens to be where China has a competitive edge. Despite its overcapacity, China is acknowledged the world over for its prowess in the areas of manufacturing and infrastructure construction, which happen to be tools proven to spur developmental progress. In fact, many Chinese firms actively involved in Belt and Road projects are among the country's most successful and internationally recognized enterprises, including telecom giant Huawei, construction equipment producer Sany Heavy Industry and leading e-commerce firm Alibaba. The China-Belarus Industrial Park is another example. This is the largest of its kind built by China overseas, and it is still growing. China has sown the seeds for an initial cluster of high-tech, advanced manufacturing businesses and services to grow into dynamic, profitable industrial entities. The Belt and Road Initiative is about galvanizing international cooperation to unearth new growth opportunities for the frail global economy and to offer an alternative to protectionism. In short, the way forward is cooperation not isolation. Evidence of win-win cooperation is not difficult to find. Chinese and U.S. firms are building a clean-coal power plant in Dubai. In addition, an economic and trade cooperation zone in Vietnam has garnered support from businesses from China, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and other countries. The strong interest from companies of various countries has proved they are convinced that Belt and Road cooperation eventually leads to common prosperity. Despite the brouhaha stirred up by the nay sayers, criticism is not without its upside as it can be constructive. The revival of the ancient trade routes, and the world economy at large, needs not just roads and railways, but open, communicative players.  ^ top ^

President Xi meets Vietnamese leader ahead of B&R Forum (Global Times)
Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks Thursday with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, who is on a state visit to China and will attend the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Xi recalled his meeting with Quang last November on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Lima, Peru, in which they reached important consensus on deepening bilateral all-round strategic cooperation. Xi invited Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, to visit China in January this year. Xi and Trong had in-depth exchanges on major issues of common concern, and clarified the direction of future China-Vietnam ties. Xi said both sides should work closely to implement consensus reached by state leaders, cement cooperation in various areas, and boost their all-round strategic partnership to a new level. Quang congratulated China's development achievements in recent years. Speaking after the meeting in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the South China Sea had been brought up in their talks. "It was discussed but the main tone was very positive," Liu told reporters. "I think that talking about the South China Sea this time is really a positive piece of news." Both agreed to follow their consensus to continue stabilizing the situation and to keep pushing talks, as well as continue joint resource exploration in less sensitive areas, he added. This is Quang's first visit to China since he took office in April 2016. Altogether 29 heads of state and government leaders will attend the upcoming forum, scheduled for May 14 to 15 in Beijing. It marks the highest-profile international meeting on the Belt and Road Initiative since it was proposed by China in 2013. ^ top ^

Russia lifts ban on instant messaging app WeChat (Xinhua)
Russian telecommunication watchdog Roskomnadzor said Thursday that it has allowed access to Chinese instant messaging app WeChat after the service was first blocked last week. Roskomnadzor said it has received the necessary information needed to properly register the app. Last week, Roskomnadzor blocked WeChat, saying its operator failed to provide the contact information necessary for registration with authorities. As a result, some WeChat users in Russia were unable to log in or send messages, while others were not affected. WeChat is the most popular messenger app in China and is widely used by Chinese living overseas. It is developed by IT giant Tencent Holdings. ^ top ^

Italy expresses enormous interest in Belt & Road Initiative (Xinhua)
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Wednesday that Italy is "enormously interested" in China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which envisions a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa. The Italian leader made the remarks in an interview with Rome-based Chinese media prior to attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing on May 14-15. Gentiloni called the Belt and Road Initiative "perhaps the most important infrastructure modernization project underway in the world today." "Bringing the Chinese economy closer through this gigantic infrastructural operation is enormously interesting to Italy, not only for our government but also for our universities and public and private businesses," Gentiloni said. For Italy it's not just looking to become a trade and logistical destination for the contemporary Silk Road, but also about participating in large-scale infrastructure projects in the countries along the Silk Road. "As a country we've been capable of building large-scale infrastructure, roads, and public works for thousands of years -- in this aspect we are somewhat similar to China," Gentiloni said. "So we like to put these strengths together," the prime minister said. Italy used to be the destination for traders along the ancient Silk Road, and the Mediterranean country expects to become an active partner in the contemporary version of the ancient trade route that China has proposed. Gentiloni believes the Belt and Road Initiative could make Italy's ports into new terminals for international trade. "We are convinced that to this day, Italy continues to be an ideal destination for the Belt and Road Initiative, especially as far as the southern link by sea," he said. Emphasizing Italy is a country that connects Europe and Africa, Gentiloni noted that the Chinese economy is very interested in fostering relations with both Europe and Africa. Italy is also looking to "possibilities for joint investments with China and other partners in the various countries -- I'm thinking of Pakistan, for example -- along the Belt and Road route," Gentiloni added.  ^ top ^

U.S. should assess China's IPR protection efforts fairly (Xinhua)
The United States should be more objective and fair when assessing China's efforts to protect intellectual property rights (IPR), China said Thursday. Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Sun Jiwen made the remarks when commenting on the Office of the United States Trade Representative's (USTR) recently released "Special 301 Report" on IPR protection. Eleven countries, including China, India and Russia, were on the Priority Watch List, indicating that the office believes these countries have insufficient IPR protections or enforcement. "For a long time, the United States has continued to release this report unilaterally, judging and criticizing other countries' IPR situations without objective criteria and fairness, and has received widespread opposition," said the spokesperson. "China is aware of the importance of IPR protection and has made obvious progress in the area," Sun said. "The United States should give a more objective, fair and friendly evaluation of IPR protection and law enforcement efforts made by China and other countries," he added. China wants to enhance communication and cooperation with the United States and other countries to improve the legal environment for bilateral economic and trade ties. The USTR states that the "Special 301 Report" is "an annual review of the global state of IPR protection and enforcement."  ^ top ^

Attendance at B&R summit shows inclusivity (Global Times)
When the 29 heads of state and government arrive in Beijing for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which takes place on May 14 and 15, the first thing they will notice is which of their peers have decided not to attend. The most obvious absentee, of course, will be Donald Trump. But then, who would expect the US president to attend a Chinese-organized summit dealing with a Chinese-led initiative? To do so would be an admission that the US has already handed over the baton of global leadership to its rival. This is certainly not yet the case, since China has yet become a rival to the US for world hegemony, if it should even want to attain such a position. The leaders of Germany, France and Britain will not be present, either. However, all have very good excuses: The new French president will have been in office only two weeks and will be busy with affairs of the state, while Angela Merkel and Theresa May will be occupied with election campaigns. Nevertheless, all three countries will be sending high-level representatives as stand-ins. The Japanese and Indian heads of state will also be absent, but again, this is no great surprise. Both countries are Belt and Road sceptics so far, and much persuasion will be needed to make them change their minds. So, who is going to be at the meeting? The attendees can be divided into several groups, all of which signify the importance of the forum. First, there are the leaders of seven Southeast Asian nations: Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The fact that the heads of these ASEAN member states will be present is highly important. It is indicative of their intention to cooperate with China on developing the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which is a key component of the Belt and Road initiative. The presence of the leaders of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia also reveals that these nations, along with China, do not perceive the issue of the South China Sea as a serious impediment to cooperation. The second significant group of leaders is the Europeans. Although some of them are missing, there are enough of them (10 in all) to make a considerable impact on the outcome of the event. The leaders of Spain, Italy, Greece and Switzerland are attending, as well as the Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Serbian and Belarusian heads of state. All these countries are important for the Belt and Road initiative, with Russia being absolutely central to the whole enterprise. Central and Eastern Europe constitutes a key endpoint for the Silk Road Economic Belt, while the ports of Greece and Italy complete the Maritime Silk Road's winding route through the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. In addition, Spain is now connected to China by the world's longest railway line, all 13,000 kilometers of it. Switzerland, as President Xi Jinping's January visit to the Western European nation demonstrated, is seen as a crucial partner in terms of science and innovation. There is no doubt that Central Asia is at the core of the Silk Road Economic Belt. Thus, the presence of the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan is far from being merely symbolic as China seeks to increase Eurasian connectivity and improve energy security. Similarly, South Asia is vital to the Maritime Silk Road, which is why the prime ministers of Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be at the forum. China is constructing ports in both countries, which makes them key partners. Then, there is East Africa. Both Kenya and Ethiopia, in which Chinese companies are constructing roads, railways and other infrastructure projects, will be represented at the forum by their heads of state. The presidents of Chile and Argentina are also coming. The fact of Latin America's inclusion in the forum proves that no country needs to feel excluded from the initiative even if it focuses geographically on Eurasia and East Africa. This applies also to the Pacific Islands, represented at the conference by the prime minister of Fiji. The last two countries, Turkey and Mongolia, are important links on land between China and Europe, particularly in terms of transportation and energy pipelines. Aside from all these heads of state, also attending will be Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, Jim Yong-kim, the president of the World Bank Group, and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde. This leaves little doubt about the status of the forum in the eyes of the world, even if some major global figures will unfortunately, either by choice or by chance, be absent. ^ top ^

Moon's victory in South Korean presidential race could open door with China (SCMP)
A thaw seems likely between Beijing and Seoul with the election of liberal politician Moon Jae-in as South Korea's new president as both sides have on Wednesday expressed willingness to reset strained relations amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula. Despite a row over the deployment of a US defence missile shield in South Korea, diplomatic pundits say a compromise on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system is still within reach as both Beijing and Seoul are grappling with a more pressing issue: North Korea's nuclear threats. In his inauguration speech a day after his lahe would have “serious negotiations” with the United States and China to resolve tensions over THAAD, which Beijing has deemed a security threat. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Moon, saying China was committed to “properly handling differences and enhancing coordination and cooperation” with Moon. Pundits said while there was still room for Moon to manoeuvre on THAAD, it was almost impossible to withdraw the anti-missile system given fears Pyongyang may be preparing for a sixth nuclear weapons test and the fact its deployment was deliberately rushed before Moon was elected. “Moon's hands are effectively tied as he's been caught between the strategic rivalry between China and the US. Beijing certainly understands that,” said Huang Jing, of the National University of Singapore. The best Moon could do, according to Huang, was to stall the deployment of THAAD while seeking understanding with Beijing by showing flexibility and backing down from the previous administration's stance on the issue. During his campaign, Moon has said the decision on THAAD was made too quickly and the new administration should have the final say on whether to deploy the system. ^ top ^

Aung San Suu Kyi to attend Belt and Road forum in Beijing (Xinhua)
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation scheduled for Sunday and Monday in Beijing, the Myanmar Foreign Ministry announced Thursday. This will be Aung San Suu Kyi's second trip to China since her National League for Democracy took power in April 2016. Located on the routes of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Myanmar is key partner of China under the Belt and Road Initiative, which envisions trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes over land and sea. ^ top ^

Education will be main benefit from Belt and Road (Global Times)
In the past year, the "One Belt and One Road" (B&R) initiative has received intense global attention. While much of the discussion on how to make the B&R initiative successful has been based on economic, technological and geopolitical perspectives, its ultimate success must be based on a common foundation, which is the interaction among people in different countries and regions. All forms of interaction begin with people. How to make the interaction successful is the question. We shall argue that the return on investment is measured not in months, but years and maybe decades, so the most direct and significant impact of the B&R initiative will be in education, for foreign students in particular. The US became a dominant world power in the 20th century, but while most countries, large or small, depend on their own citizens' talent, the US has recruited a lot of its talent from all over the world. Welcoming students to the US offers two advantages. It allows talented foreigners to gain a profound understanding of US history and culture and it allows the people of the US to truly understand and appreciate different civilizations. It is this cross cultural pollination that made the US so successful in the 20th century. This is a universal principle that is as true for other countries, such as China, as it is for the US. By initiating the B&R, in which the country is proactively and distinctly reaching out, China is placing an unprecedented demand on itself, which is to engage in cross cultural pollination with different civilizations across Europe, Asia and Africa, and maybe even the Americas. This demand requires China and Chinese people to engage in a mindset transformation. Through the B&R initiative, whether our interactions with the outside world are economic, technological or geopolitical, we must understand people of different cultures and histories. Of course, in principle China could carry out this mindset transformation by initiating cultural research centers within the 3,000 or so universities in China. However, it seems to us that a far more efficient way to reach this lofty goal would be to actively recruit the best of the best from nations along the B&R route and beyond to pursue higher education in China. Even before the B&R initiative became a national effort, China was proactively recruiting foreign students. For example, according to the 2015 statistics, nearly 400,000 students from 202 countries and regions are studying in China. This is especially exciting because a high percentage of these students originate from nations along the B&R route. We learned that outstanding universities such as Tianjin University, Xiamen University and the University of Jinan now offer scholarships for students coming from nations along the route. However, we believe there is still significant room for improvement. There is no obvious target one could aim at for an optimum number of foreign students in one's country. However, one way is to compare the number of foreign students studying in China and the US; in 2015 the numbers were 400,000 and 1 million, respectively. If one takes into account the population difference between the two nations, this discrepancy is even more clear. While there are many up-sides to having foreign students studying in one's country, there are some perceived down-sides. For one, it is not always easily appreciated by the public as to why national resources should be given over to students whose families pay no taxes. To this end, it is important that national leaders must constantly and eloquently explain and promote this action, especially in terms of how such a national policy can allow the nation to prosper, both in the short and long term. There are supporting actions that must be considered if the effort of having foreign students is to be a success. First, the mindset of the university should be that foreign students must receive absolutely equal treatment with Chinese students. Second, Chinese students must be cognizant of the cultural differences inherent in the foreign students. For example, students of the Muslim faith should be able to pray. Currently, most foreign students in Chinese universities are studying in their own classes, which prevents them from getting to know Chinese students. With the B&R initiative, China is entering a new era. In the 21st century, by coupling the new technological and information landscapes with inter-cultural understanding and appreciation, China can and will redefine the meaning of "power." ^ top ^

Xi, Macron have friendly phone call (China Daily)
In their first telephone talk, President Xi Jinping and French president-elect Emmanuel Macron agreed on Tuesday to maintain contact and meet each other at an early date. The phone conversation, reaffirming a shared commitment to tackle a range of global issues, came a day after Xi sent a congratulatory message on Monday to Macron on his victory the day before. Macron scored a landslide victory in Sunday's runoff vote of the presidential election. In the phone call, Xi congratulated Macron and said China "has always viewed France as a cooperative partner of great significance and priority". Macron appreciated Xi's call and said he attaches great importance to ties with China, according to an official release from the Foreign Ministry. The new French government will continue friendly relations with China and uphold the one-China policy, Macron said. Xi said that by raising the relationship between China and France to the next level, as Macron takes office, both peoples and the international community will be served. Xi said he hopes the two countries will support each other on major issues and deepen cooperation in various fields. China welcomes France's participation in building the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi said, referring to the ongoing development of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which has won support from more than 100 countries and organizations. Macron echoed Xi's point, saying the new administration will deepen cooperation with China regarding diplomacy; the economy, trade and industries; and collaboration within the framework of building the Belt and Road. Cui Hongjian, director of the department for European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said the brief interval between Xi's message and the phone conversation "mirrors the strong readiness shared by both sides to establish a good working relationship between the two leaders quickly" and to manage a smooth transition of the ties. "As the two countries share a great common ground on many issues, continuity (of policies) should be ensured to promote bilateral cooperation," Cui said. He said it is possible the two sides may arrange a first meeting between Xi and Macron on the sidelines of a multilateral international meeting, such as the G20 Leaders Summit. On regional and global topics, Xi said Beijing "will continue supporting the integration process of Europe". Both Xi and Macron highlighted further communication and coordination between the two countries over regional and global issues, including the cooperation within the framework of the G20. Xi said the two countries should further promote the reform of global governance and champion the fruits of global governance, such as the agreement reached at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015. Both Xi and Macron agreed to exchange their views on the development of ties between their two nations develops and issues of common concerns are raised from both sides. ^ top ^

Macron good for China ties (Global Times)
Emmanuel Macron's victory in the French presidential election is good news for the EU, as well as for France's relations with China, experts said Monday. Macron defeated his rival, far-right politician Marine Le Pen, in Sunday's presidential runoff vote. The victory makes the 39-year-old former economy minister the eighth and the youngest president of the French Fifth Republic. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of congratulations to the president-elect on Monday, the Xinhua News Agency reported. In his message, Xi said France was the first major Western country to have established diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China, and that maintaining the steady and healthy development of the China-France relationship benefits not only the two countries, but also the stability and peaceful development of the world. Experts predict that Macron's win will see France stand closer with China due to their shared commitment to free trade, globalization, European integration and combating climate change. Macron will seek deeper cooperation with China since France cannot revive its economy on its own, said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations. He said Macron's victory means France will remain on the side of Germany, while potentially distancing itself from US President Donald Trump, who has failed to support a united Europe, globalization and the Paris climate agreement. "China supports European integration, free trade and globalization. China will also fulfill its promises on the issue of climate change," Chu said. In March, Macron told media his views on France's relations with China for the first time, saying that "Bilateral relations between France and China boast a historical meaning," and "France has maintained a strategic partnership with China in many fields, especially in energy," French media outlet RFI reported. Macron also stated that China now boasts a strong economy, foreign policy and military and has set a good and responsible example in making commitments to climate change. He said he hoped to further continue the friendly relations with China if elected president. "If I were elected president, I would work to maintain the existing political and diplomatic relationship with China, since China is an important ally to France and Europe in fighting against terrorism, preventing climate change and promoting global and regional peace," Macron said. On Europe, Macron said he would work to rebuild links between the EU and its people. Moreover, he said France is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, both on its own soil and on the international stage. "Macron's victory comes as no surprise. On the issue of the EU, France can't act like the UK, because Brexit just means the EU has one fewer member, but if France leaves the EU then it will directly lead to the collapse of the whole union," said Feng Zhongping, director of European studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. "France is a traditional land power of Europe and it cannot isolate itself from the continent … so Le Pen's far-right position which calls for France to quit the EU cannot win majority support," Wang Yiwei, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday. Macron defeated Le Pen by around 66 percent to 34 percent, final results showed, France 24 reported. But turnout was lower than in the past 40 years, and one-third of those voting chose neither candidate, with 12 million abstaining and 4.2 million spoiled ballot papers, Reuters reported. Speaking at a victory party in the courtyard of the Louvre in Paris, Macron addressed supporters of his far-right rival and said he will do everything he can in the next five years to ensure that "they have no reason to vote for extreme parties." "Macron's victory means continuity from Francois Hollande, but Le Pen's far-right supporters will not disappear and French society will be polarized," said Zheng Ruolin, an expert on French politics and social issues at Fudan University. The problems that worry the French, like the terrorist threat, immigration crisis and sectarian friction, will not disappear, Wang said. Macron's economic policy will also get closer to the right but social and security policies will go left, so is this workable for France? This will be a big question that Macron needs to answer when he formally takes office," Wang said. ^ top ^

Western partners wanted on China's Silk Road (SCMP)
Beijing is seeking to lure more multinational companies and agencies to participate in its “Belt and Road Initiative”, in an attempt to reduce risks borne by its state companies. Xiao Yaqing, head of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, told a press conference on Monday that China's building of a new Silk Road would be “open and inclusive”, and try to minimise risks by collaborating with the world's leading companies and international organisations. Officials from six of the nation's biggest state-owned enterprises sat alongside Xiao during the event, highlighting their work with overseas companies – including ones from the United States – on the massive infrastructure projects involved in the belt and road scheme. China has invested more than US$50 billion in belt and road partner countries since President Xi Jinping introduced the initiative in 2013, according to Xinhua. The press conference came ahead of a two-day summit Beijing will host from this Sunday with belt and road partners. Ren Hongbin, chairman of China National Machinery Industry, said at the event that some of the company projects were launched in collaboration with private firms from the US. The US is not a participating nation in the belt and road plan, and its government has criticised the initiative for lacking transparency. Ren's company is cooperating with General Electric on a wind-power project in Kenya, which received US government funding under its Power Africa plan. “We can connect the one belt, one road initiative with projects of European nations and the US, instead of seeing it from a zero sum mindset,” he said. The belt and road plan could funnel investments totalling up to US$500 billion into some 60 countries over the next five years, analysts with Credit Suisse wrote in a report. But critics said many projects in the initiative did not make -commercial sense, and that multinationals would not be interested. “Only state-owned enterprises dare to ignore the huge uncertainties and geopolitical risks involved in the investments, and take the chance to show their loyalty to the top leadership,” Yi Xianrong, an economist at Qingdao University, said. “Private companies and international organisations will stay out if they have no profit to make from the projects.” Lu Zhengwei, an economist with Industrial Bank in Shanghai, said multinationals would not be interested in most belt and road projects until infrastructure construction was completed. “They will be cautious and large-scale investment will only be possible after the local economy takes off, which will take a long time,” Lu said. One solution would be to seek cooperation with local companies in the destinations, pooling risks with them and financing locally, he said. Liu Qitao, the chairman of China Communications Construction Group, spoke at Monday's press conference about the hardship of building a road from Xinjiang to Pakistan's Gwadar Port. “It was very difficult. We've spent decades and 88 Chinese workers have died from natural disasters,” Liu said. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Political advisors discuss waste disposal solutions (Xinhua)
Chinese political advisors met on Thursday to discuss on how to better manage the country's waste during a biweekly consultation meeting. While acknowledging progress in waste disposal, members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee agreed that the current situation needs improvement. Some members suggested that the government should be more firm on waste sorting by the public, through both regulation and education. Some political advisors urged the government to incinerate waste with strict controls, saying that the current percentage of incineration is too low. To make sure hazardous waste is managed safely, a collection and disposal system is necessary, added some members. Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, presided over the session. ^ top ^

Two Chinese fugitives extradited from Nepal (Xinhua)
A Chinese couple suspected of illegally collecting public deposits has been extradited from Nepal, the Ministry of Public Security announced Thursday. Chinese police brought the couple back to China Tuesday as part of Operation Fox Hunt, a campaign to catch economic fugitives hiding overseas. The female suspect. surnamed Ding, and her husband, surnamed Dong, had allegedly illegally collected deposits from the public by promising high interest rates since January 2013, the ministry said, without disclosing the exact amount of money involved. The wife and husband separately fled to Nepal in April 2015 and January 2016 respectively. More than 170 economic fugitives have been arrested so far under Operation Fox Hunt 2017, according to the ministry.  ^ top ^

China's top political advisor stresses ethnic solidarity and religious harmony (Xinhua)
A top Chinese political advisor has called for ethnic solidarity and religious harmony during his visit to northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from Monday to Wednesday. Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, went to Guyuan City and Yinchuan City in Ningxia, home to many Chinese Muslims and people from the Hui ethnic minority group. During his visit to a mosque in Yongning County, Yinchuan City, Yu said that the government should educate and guide believers to conduct their religious activities in accordance with the law and build harmonious relations. Yu also visited rural areas, communities, schools and businesses, where he met families and students of both Han and Hui. Yu encouraged Han and Hui people to help each other to boost ethnic harmony and accelerate economic and social development in the ethnic minority region. He encouraged educational institutions where minority students study to provide better guidance on ethnic solidarity so that they can make better contributions to national unity. Yu presided over a symposium on ethnic and religious work during the visit. ^ top ^

Xie Yang stands trial on inciting State subversion charges (Global Times)
Chinese lawyer Xie Yang, who is charged with inciting State subversion, stood trial on Monday in Central China's Hunan Province. The trial started at 9:30 am Monday at Changsha Intermediate Court and was broadcast on the court's Sina Weibo account. Xie faces charges of inciting subversion of State power and disrupting court order. He was put under residential surveillance on July 11, 2015 and was formally arrested on January 9, 2016. Xie said in court that he had not been tortured as was claimed by some reports. He told prosecutors that his legal rights had been sufficiently protected and he had not been subjected to interrogation. Jiang Tianyong, a former lawyer in Beijing, previously admitted to fabricating claims that Xie was tortured while in custody. The fabricated news catered to the "taste of Western media," in a bid to discredit the Chinese government and judicial authorities, Jiang told the Global Times in March. ^ top ^



Beijing to ban use of government vehicles during B&R Forum (Global Times)
Beijing is taking measures to reduce traffic during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Sunday and Monday, including the use of local government vehicles and urging Party, government and State-owned enterprise (SOE) employees to avoid driving their vehicles. The use of all Beijing government vehicles, except those used for emergencies or for "extremely necessary" trips, will be suspended on Sunday and Monday. All government, Party and SOE employees are also being told to "travel green" and use public transport on those days, the Beijing Morning Post reported on Thursday. Government and Party offices have also been told not to hold meetings on Monday. Beijing transportation authorities said they will implement temporary traffic restrictions in key areas and certain periods, especially around the China National Convention Center in Chaoyang district and in suburban Huairou district, the main site of the forum. The Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport vowed that during the forum, public transportation will be enhanced to meet the greater demand, including more subway trains, public buses and taxis. Beijing also tightened security measures. A Yunda Express courier told the Global Times that the Beijing Municipal Postal Administration has enhanced package inspections, and places special pass stamps on confirmed items. Those traveling by train to Beijing are made to go through double security checks when they check in, said a traveler surnamed Shan, who took a train from Shanxi to Beijing in May. "Since the Belt and Road Forum is just around the corner, we have been conducting stricter checks on Beijing subways, including checks on passengers' ID cards from 9 am every morning," a security guard at the Xingong subway station said. "We always provide strict checks for safety purposes on the Beijing subway. This includes inspecting bags to see whether they have liquids or knives," said a security guard named Ye, who works at Beijing Jintai Xilu station. Li Xuanyi, a student at the Yanqi campus of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times that the enhanced security measures are also a little inconvenient since even intra-campus trips require strict student ID checks. ^ top ^



Pelosi, Dalai Lama stage show before their political exit (Global Times)
Just as the China-US relationship is getting back on the right track after experiencing some ups and downs, 77-year-old House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is seen very much as clinging to power way past her prime, has found a chance to highlight herself by playing the Dalai Lama card. On Tuesday, she led a US Congressional delegation to Dharamsala, India, to visit the exiled and infamous Dalai Lama. The remarks that Pelosi and her confederates made in Dharamsala were nothing but clichés. By wooing Tibetan separatists, they intended to highlight the US' high moral ground in democracy and human rights. But no matter how high-sounding she is, her dark side that fears changes could not be concealed. In the eyes of Chinese who live in the prospering Tibet Autonomous Region, this US lawmaker who unfailingly holds a hostile attitude toward China has no authority at all. Another motive of Pelosi is to enhance the voices of the Democratic Party by hyping up the Tibet question, which is nothing but an outdated move. US President Donald Trump is propelled to abandon the polices of the Democratic Party of playing the cards of human rights and democracy, as these moves are doomed to fail. The US is changing, and the world is changing. The Americans cannot solve new problems with their outdated approaches. Meanwhile, we can get a sense of why US politics is trapped in the ceaseless wrangling of the two parties. Pelosi led a delegation to visit Tibet in 2015. During her stay in Tibet and right after she returned to the US, she heaped praise on Tibetan culture and the Chinese government's efforts in protecting ecology and religious freedom and preserving traditional culture. However, she soon changed her tune, accusing the Chinese government of restricting culture and religious freedom. These words are in violation of the US' official stance of opposing Tibetan independence. Now Pelosi has yet again met with the Dalai Lama and poked her nose into the Tibet question. Such contradictory statements have rendered her moves worthless. As China's influence is increasing, the determination of the Chinese people to object to separatism and safeguard the unity of their country has won wide support. The current Dalai clique has come to a dead end and is divided into several factions from within. The Dalai Lama's influence is waning and the space for Tibet independence is being squeezed. Pelosi wants to make political gains by clinging to the Dalai Lama, but she fails to grasp where the US interests lie over this matter. Pelosi, though such a senior US politician, holds a short-sighted view. People need to re-evaluate US politics. The US political landscape is changing. Washington's China policy and diplomacy, as well as its consideration over democracy and human rights, need to be adjusted to keep with the times. Pelosi and the Dalai Lama are indulging in their own shows before they exit the political stage. ^ top ^



Syria says up to 5,000 Chinese Uygurs are fighting with rebels (SCMP)
Up to 5,000 ethnic Uygurs from China's far western region of Xinjiang are fighting in various militant groups in Syria, the Syrian ambassador to China said on Monday, adding that Beijing should be extremely concerned about the development. Beijing is worried that Uygurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for militants there, having travelled illegally via Southeast Asia and Turkey. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the killing of a Chinese hostage in 2015, highlighting Beijing's concern about Uygurs it says are fighting in the Middle East. Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years, most in unrest between Uygurs and ethnic majority Han. The government blames the unrest on Islamist militants who want a separate state called East Turkestan. Syria's ambassador in Beijing, Imad Moustapha, said on the sidelines of a business forum that while some of the Uygurs were fighting with IS, most were battling “under their own banner” to promote their separatist cause. “Our estimated numbers, because of the numbers we fight against, we kill, we capture, we wound, would be around 4-5,000 Xinjiang jihadis,” he said. “China as well as every other country should be extremely concerned.” Beijing has never given a number for how many Uygurs it believes are fighting in the Middle East, but has repeatedly warned they pose a serious threat to China. It is not possible to independently verify the number of Uygurs in Syria. China's Uygur youth urged to love motherland and learn Mandarin to avoid 'terrorist' label (Rights groups and Uygur exiles say many Uygurs have fled to Turkey simply to escape Beijing's repression at home, accusations Beijing denies. Moustapha said that unlike Western countries, China did not choose favourites among rebel groups, and that China and Syria were cooperating to fight the threat. “They don't send a mixed message,” he said, referring to China. “They understand the true nature of the ultra-Islamic jihadist doctrine of these groups. Yes, we do exchange information and a little bit more than information regarding these terrorist groups,” he said, without elaborating. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television in March, praised the “crucial cooperation” between Syria and Chinese intelligence against Uygur militants. He said ties with China were “on the rise”. Syria is trying to woo back Chinese investment, with a group of about 30 Syrian businessman meeting about 100 Chinese representatives over two days in Beijing. Moustapha said he would be attending next week's summit on China's new Silk Road plan, which aims to expand links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment. Aboud Sarrouf, chairman of the Sarrouf Group and a member of the Syria-China Business Council, said they were hoping to get Chinese investment to help repair war-damaged infrastructure. “They are preparing and waiting for the right time. They are a little bit reluctant and hesitating,” he said, referring to Chinese companies. “But we're coming here to start preparing the foundation.” Syria may have difficulty encouraging Chinese companies to return. Paul Liu, chief executive of Chinese steel firm Sino Sources, said he wanted to hear about opportunities in Syria but was concerned about security. “If the government thinks things are not dependable, then we'll first plan and then execute later,” Liu said. ^ top ^



Elite Hong Kong police units simulate London, Berlin and Nice attacks in anti-terror drill ahead of China leaders visit (SCMP)
Heavily armed terrorists ramming a van into a crowded carnival was one of the scenarios Hong Kong police were training for in Kowloon Bay yesterday as more than 300 armed officers mounted a large-scale anti-terrorism drill in preparation for visits by state leaders next month. The headquarters of the city's auxiliary police force became the scene of a fierce mock battle between armed officers and police posing as terrorists. Top squads including the Special Duties Unit – also known as the Flying Tigers – the Counter Terrorism Response Unit, Police Tactical Unit and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau were put through their paces to gauge their readiness for a terrorist attack. The force's top brass, including deputy police chief Alan Lau Yip-shing, attended the exercise, the first of its kind. “The drill was designed to test the readiness and response of different units and how they coordinate with each other,” a senior police source said. “Each unit cannot work alone if an attack really happens.” Simulating recent deadly terrorist attacks in London, Berlin and Nice, a group of heavily armed “mainland terrorists” drove a van into a crowd at a carnival, attacking people with knives, pistols and grenades. The scenario saw the terrorists take several hostages and move into a nearby building, prompting the force to send in negotiators to secure their release. The “terrorists” were eventually subdued by elite officers from the Flying Tigers, the force's main paramilitary special operations unit. Bomb disposal experts were also deployed to disarm an explosive device found under the van. “We try to simulate all the tactics used in recent deadly attacks,” the source said. “We also hope to raise public awareness of terrorist attacks as Hong Kong could be a potential target.” The source added there was no intelligence yet to suggest that Hong Kong was specifically targeted for attack, and that the terrorism threat level remained “moderate”. John Tse Chun-chung, senior superintendent of the force's public relations branch, said aside from the drill in Kowloon Bay other exercises were held at other venues simultaneously. “The main objectives of this exercise were to test the force's ability to handle several major incidents at the same time as well as coordination of our units within the force and with other government departments as well as other organisations.” On Monday the force began its largest anti-terror drill to date, a five-day exercise code-named “Hardshield”, to ensure officers were ready for any emergency. The Post reported earlier that around 10,000 officers – a third of the city's police force – would be deployed to protect President Xi Jinping who is expected to pay a three-day visit to Hong Kong for celebrations on July 1 for the 20th anniversary of the city's return to Chinese rule. On Monday police also released a list of dos and don'ts for the public on how to respond to emergency situations at major public facilities. ^ top ^

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte arrives in Hong Kong ahead of Beijing visit (SCMP)
The Philippine president has arrived in Hong Kong for the first time to pay a visit to Filipinos in the city before heading to Beijing this weekend for a high-profile development summit. Rodrigo Duterte landed in Hong Kong after concluding a visit to Cambodia for this year's World Economic Forum on Asean, held in Phnom Penh. The Philippines is chairman this year of the regional trade alliance comprising 10 countries. Duterte is the second state leader to visit the city recently, following a visit last week by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Hong Kong police declined to discuss their security plan for Duterte. Earlier media reports stated the security level for the Philippine leader would be similar to what was afforded Widodo, for whom counter terrorism officers were out in force. Security has been stepped up near the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Wan Chai, where Duterte is staying. Police said they had not received any notification from any group about staging protests against the Philippine leader. Nicknamed “Trump of the East”, Duterte has received condemnation from many quarters for failing to curtail police killings of drug users and dealers in the Philippines. In Hong Kong, he is expected to meet on Saturday with members of the Filipino community at a hotel event near the airport before leaving for Beijing, where he is to join the “Belt and Road” summit focusing on economic development. State leaders from 28 countries are slated to attend. Arguably China's most significant diplomatic event of the year, the two-day forum starts on Sunday and is expected to draw more than 1,000 delegates. The Philippine consulate in Hong Kong said there was no plan for the president to call on the city's chief executive or other officials. The city is home to some 180,000 Filipinos, most of whom work as foreign domestic workers, according to government figures. Before leaving Manila earlier this week, Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Robespierre Bolivar highlighted the significance of Duterte's stopover in Hong Kong. “The [Filipino] community [in Hong Kong] has also been instrumental in promoting enhanced trade relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong and in promoting our country's investment opportunities and tourist destinations,” he said. Among Asean member states, the Philippines was Hong Kong's fifth-largest trading partner in 2015, with trade totalling HK$82.2 billion. ^ top ^



Chinese top legislator arrives in Macao SAR for inspection (Xinhua)
China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Monday arrived in the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) to begin his three-day inspection. Zhang is a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Zhang's plane touched down around noon at the Macao International Airport where he was welcomed by Macao SAR Chief Executive Chui Sai On and the SAR's principal officials. In a speech delivered at the airport, Zhang conveyed the sincere greetings and wishes from President Xi Jinping, the central government and people of all ethnic groups across the country to Macao compatriots. Zhang said he would like to experience the glamour of Macao's success and to "walk, look around and listen" as much as possible so as to experience Macao's development, changes and achievements, and share the joy with local residents on Macao's economic growth, livelihood improvement and harmonious social progress since Macao's return to the motherland in 1999. Zhang said President Xi has proposed wishes to Macao in four aspects during his tour here in 2014, marking the 15th anniversary of the region's return to China. The central government also gave the chief executive requirement when he reported on his work in Beijing, Zhang said. Zhang will be briefed by the SAR government on its work, and have extensive exchanges with Macao's all walks of life how the region implemented the instructions of President Xi, the requirement of the central government and all preferential policies offered by the central government. Zhang said he has also come to cheer up and support Macao in its development, seek advices from Macao's all walks of life on its development and reiterate the central government's consistent determination in supporting Macao's development and maintaining its long-term prosperity and stability. ^ top ^



No word on Taiwan invite to UN health forum as deadline nears (SCMP)
Taiwan is still waiting for an invitation from the World Health Organisation to take part in the annual World Health Assembly with the final deadline to register approaching on Monday. The attendance of officials from Taipei at international gatherings, especially those under the United Nations, is viewed as an indicator of the state of ties between mainland China and Taiwan. The mainland considers Taiwan a breakaway Chinese province and if relations are strained it normally tries to block efforts by Taipei to take part in international meetings. Taiwan's foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday morning that there was still no progress over the invitation from the world health body. President Tsai Ing-wen has tried to lobby international support over the issue of Taiwan attending the assembly. Taiwan must register online before the end of office hours on Monday if it is to attend the event as an observer. It has done so since 2009 when former president Ma Ying-jeou's mainland friendly administration was in power in Taiwan. Ma managed to get Beijing to drop any opposition to Taiwan's attendance. Taiwan's health minister Chen Shih-chung said the authorities would hold a news conference on Monday to announce what steps it will take if it fails to receive an invitation before the deadline. Health Ministry sources revealed these measures include sending a delegation assembly even without a formal invitation. The event runs in Geneva from May 22 to May 31 and the assembly is the WHO's decisionmaking body. Taiwan and the mainland have been rivals since the end of the civil war in China in 1949 when Nationalist forces fled to the island after losing to the communists. Relations improved after Ma took office in 2008, resulting in Beijing's tacit approval for Taipei to attend some non-political global events, including the World Health Assembly. But since President Tsai of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May last year, cross-strait relations have soured. Tsai has refused to acknowledge “1992 consensus”, an agreement which stipulates there is only one China, but allows Taiwan and the mainland to each interpret exactly what that means. The Tsai administration last year received an invite to attend the World Health Assembly only one day before the deadline ended. The invitation specifically stated it was issued under the “one-China principle,” despite protests by Taiwan. ^ top ^



Chinese banks expand loans in Belt and Road nations (Global Times)
Chinese banks have been issuing loans and making equity investments in vast amounts in countries along the One Belt and One Road initiative, in support of the plan that aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa to bolster trade and development. The enormous investments could put Chinese banks in an advantageous position in these regions, which have tremendous development potential, but they could also pose some serious challenges, given that projects require long-term investments, have low returns and face many potential risks, experts noted. Total outstanding loans from the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China (Eximbank), two of the three policy lenders in China, to countries and regions along the Belt and Road route have reached $200 billion so far, Pan Guangwei, a vice president of the China Banking Association, told a news conference on Thursday. State-owned commercial banks have also made huge investments. Together, Bank of China, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and China Construction Bank have so far offered a total of $527.2 billion in loans and equity investments for 1,012 projects in Belt and Road countries, Pan said. Most of those loans and investments have gone to or will go to infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, ports, and telecommunication and energy projects, Pan said. The vast investments from Chinese banks aim to fill a massive funding gap in infrastructure projects in the Belt and Road countries, analysts said. In Asia alone, there is a funding gap of $26 trillion in such projects that needs to be filled by 2030, the Asian Development Bank said. "There are a lot of opportunities in infrastructure in these regions, and with the Belt and Road, Chinese banks have the policy support to pursue these opportunities," said Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology. One example of policy support is that investments in projects under the Belt and Road are not subject to measures authorities have imposed to restrict speculative outbound investment activities amid rising pressure of capital outflows. With these investments, Chinese financial institutions got off to an early start in these regions, Liu Xuezhi, a senior analyst at the Bank of Communications, said. "We are investing in the future, looking for long-term gains, not short-term returns," Liu told the Global Times. "Once the infrastructure is improved, all kinds of business will follow and Chinese companies will be the first to see it." But even with such policy support and overall growth prospects, there are challenges and risks in funding these projects, which are mostly in developing countries, officials and experts said. There is an immense demand for infrastructure funding, but so far only Chinese financial institutions, mostly non-commercial lenders, are trying to fill that gap, while the participation of foreign financial institutions is limited and domestic commercial banks still need to step up their efforts, Pan said. "For some infrastructure projects, the social benefits outweigh the commercial benefits. The commercial returns are very low, so commercial banks may not be willing to participate," Sun Ping, vice president of the Eximbank, said Thursday at the same briefing. ICBC vice president Zhang Hongli also said that not all the more than 400 projects the bank has invested in will be economically successful, "because there are so many uncertainties and risks during the whole process of the projects." Differences in political and economic situations in these countries create uncertainty, and some companies in these countries might not be able to pay back the loans, according to Pan. Still, the future prospects outweigh the current challenges and risks, banking officials said, adding they will take all necessary measures, including strict vetting of borrowers, to fend off potential risks. ^ top ^

China to toughen efforts in cutting excess capacity (SCMP)
China will carry on phasing out sub-standard production capacity, especially in fields of steel and iron, coal-mining and coal-fired power plants, to keep up with targets set for the year. The decision was made at a State Council executive meeting, which was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. Li listened to reports on the latest progress of this year's campaign to cut excess capacities of steel, iron, coal-mining and coal-fueled power generation, as well as the findings of inspections over the drive in concrete and glass sectors. Li said reforms offer the way forward in cutting overcapacity, which is a vital part of the supply-side structural reform. "China takes the initiative to reduce production capacity based on its own national conditions. The efforts are to make the growth model and economic structure shift to new economic drivers," he added. The government work report Li delivered in March set targets for this year to cut steel and iron overcapacity by 50 million tonnes and coal mining by 150 million tonnes respectively, as well as to phase out coal-fired power generation capacity of more than 50 million kilowatts. As of Wednesday, 31.7 million tonnes of steel and iron capacity and 68.97 million tonnes of coal capacity have been cut, accounting for 63.4 percent and 46 percent of their annual goals respectively. The meeting decided to adopt more methods based on market rules and related laws while phasing out outdated capacities. It also decided to eliminate illegal productions and prevent shutdown production from flaring up again. By the end of June, all facilities to produce inferior-quality steel bars will be dismantled across the country. All coal mines scheduled to close this year will stop production by the end of August and will be phased out by the end of November. Close attention will be paid to prevent overcapacity of coal-fired power generation and make room for clean and better energy mix to develop. The meeting called for support to set up platforms for startups in cities reliant on the steel and coal industries to increase employment opportunities. A new mechanism will be set up to help workers get jobs in regions with strong demand for labor. The central government will promptly allocate subsidies to guarantee welfare for relocated employees, in combination with local funds and other support. Further endeavors will also be made to tackle debts incurred to companies with excess capacity. The meeting also encouraged companies in these sectors to seek strength through mergers. Third-party assessment will be introduced to help strengthen governmental supervision.  ^ top ^



When late diplomat Qian Qichen had to give North Korea's leader some very bad news (SCMP)
Qian Qichen, China's former foreign policy guru who died on Tuesday, was arguably the most influential diplomat in the country after the Cultural Revolution, with his legacy still affecting the nation's international standing today. One of the most intriguing chapters of Qian's long diplomatic career, which spanned nearly five decades from the height of the cold war to China's ascendance to global influence, was his involvement in Beijing's decision to normalise relations with South Korea. Details remain sketchy about how top leaders in Beijing made the decision to shift to a more balanced policy on the two Koreas except for a brief account Qian gave in his 2004 memoir, Ten Episodes in China's Diplomacy. Just a month before Beijing established diplomatic ties with the South in August 1992, then foreign minister Qian had the unenviable task of breaking the news to then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung. In his book, Qian tried hard to spin his July 1992 trip to Pyongyang but outsiders could sense the tense, awkward atmosphere and the unspoken recriminations between the two sides. “That was definitely not an easy diplomatic assignment. I actually felt quite worried [before meeting Kim],” Qian said. Qian passed on to Kim then president Jiang Zemin's message, which explained Beijing's reasoning for recognising South Korea, along with assurances of socialist solidarity with the North. Kim paused and then replied that he had heard Jiang's message clearly and knew that China could decide its own foreign policy. He also reiterated that North Korea would continue to advance its friendship with China. Kim then gave a brief look at the gifts Qian's delegation had brought and made his exit. “In my memory, this meeting was the shortest of all the meetings president Kim Il-sung had had with a Chinese delegation. After the meeting, the DPRK did not give a banquet in our honour, contrary to what it had always done in the past,” Qian recalled. Observers say the decision to recognise South Korea was a turning point in Beijing's relations with Pyongyang, which saw the move as a betrayal. Huang Jing, of the National University of Singapore, said Beijing's diplomatic shift, compounded by Washington's reluctance to restore dialogue and ties with North Korea, left Pyongyang in a state of panic and insecurity, which helped explain the North's reckless pursuit of nuclear arms. ^ top ^

North Korea expected to ask China for a break at summit (SCMP)
North Korea is expected to press China to tone down its economic sanctions when its delegation attends an infrastructure and trade summit in Beijing on Sunday, observers said. Talks between North Korean and Chinese officials on the sidelines of the “Belt and Road Initiative” forum would mainly focus on economic matters, but Beijing was likely to call on Pyongyang to stop its provocations in order for the sanctions to be relaxed, the analysts added. China said on Tuesday that a North Korean delegation would attend the forum along with leaders from 28 other nations, surprising diplomatic observers. Details about the North Korean delegation were not disclosed, but South Korean media reported that it would be led by Kim Yong-jae, the North's minister of external economic relations. Tensions on the Korean peninsula have increased recently, with Pyongyang threatening more nuclear and missile tests, which would embarrass Beijing. “Now is about the time to put pressure on North Korea to force them to give up nuclear weapons,” a South Korean diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Observers said nuclear and missile tests were unlikely to be the main agenda, but that the visit could improve relations between China and North Korea, who are embroiled in a war of words over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development and China's banning of coal imports from the North. “The security situation in Northeast Asia is increasingly intense. The visit of North Korean officials brings a new opportunity to cool the tensions and pave the way for possible bilateral or multilateral talks,” Zhang Tuosheng, a director at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, said. “China would not easily provide economic assistance to Pyongyang at the request of the North Korean delegation, and Beijing is likely to take this chance to ask North Korea to give up its nuclear development and missile launch plan.” Hwang Jae-ho, a regional security specialist at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, said that as the economic relations minister was not a member of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's inner circle, he was not expected to discuss sensitive issues with Chinese officials. But the visit would allow Kim Yong-jae to appeal to China to be less strict in enforcing sanctions, Hwang said. Veerle Nouwens, an Asia analyst at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in London, said the summit invitation was a goodwill gesture to get North Korea back into the international community. “The forum could be an initiative by Beijing to encourage North Korea to rejoin the world. It has traditionally advocated economic aid in exchange for Pyongyang abandoning its nuclear and missile programmes,” he said. ^ top ^



Criminal Code amendments approved (Montsame)
The parliament approved amendments to the Criminal Code with the support of 76.9 per cent during today's plenary session, The Government submitted the bill on December 23, 2016. The new Criminal Code has reduced a number of criminal sanctions and sentencing provisions to 30, while it was over 80. The Code has new regulations, including to charge not only to officials who breached legislation with accountability, but also that entity or owners or investors, who forced to breach law by assigning duties for crimes, such as terrorism, corruption, environmental destruction or pollution, anti-economic safety, money laundering and anti-property. In other words, entity and individual both can be charged with duplicated legal responsibility. According to previous version of the Criminal Code, for example, when CEO breaches law, realizing his/her owner's or BoD's decision, the CEO used to be charged legal responsibility. The new law will come into force on July 01 of this year. ^ top ^

A project to reduce green house gas emission in construction sector (Montsame)
Yesterday, May 10, launch and inception workshop of The Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) in the construction sector in Mongolia project was held. During the workshop, the project goals, strategy and expectations were introduced and experts discussed about development and implementation of mitigation actions and creating measuring, reporting and verification system for NAMA. The objective of the project is to facilitate market transformation for energy efficiency in the construction sector through the development and implementation of NAMA in Mongolia. The project will be implemented by Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Ministry of Energy with support of Ministry of Construction and Urban Development and UNDP over three years with funding of USD8.1 million. With an increase in housing demand, the construction sector had been thriving reciprocally over the past decade. The projection of housing demand based on the population growth rate indicates approx. 140,000 apartment units will be constructed between 2020 and 2030, which translates to around 14,000 new units annually. As the building stock continues to grow, energy demand simultaneously escalates. Urban household energy use dominates energy demand in the building sector, which is projected to nearly double between 2010 and 2035, despite the combination of energy efficiency improvements and ongoing shift away from less-efficient biomass heating fuels. It is expected to achieve GHG emission reductions through the displacement of electricity heat generation from coal power plants and Combined Heat Powers. ^ top ^

National disaster risk reduction council to be established (Montsame)
Policy discussion under the theme 'Reform of Disaster Risk Management System of Mongolia' took place under the auspices of the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia in the State House on May 9. In his speech at the discussion, Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh pointed out that “In accordance with the revised law on disaster protection, today's event is aimed at renovating disaster risk management system and discussing relevant issues at a policy level”. "Our primary goal is to pay attention to ensure sustainable development of Mongolia by preventing any disasters and accidents, eliminating possible damages and loss based on the UN recommendations". Mongolia has revised the law on disaster protection in coordination with the current worldwide tendency of disaster risk reduction, UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. As such, Mongolia could become one of the first countries to make reforms in its legal environment to protect from disasters. Further, in the scope of the management reform of disaster protection, Mongolia will renovate its system and policy in various areas, such as establishing national and local councils for disaster risk reduction, determining disaster risks early, improving financing mechanisms of disaster risk reduction, ensuring voluntary participation of civil society and local residents in the actions of disaster protection and enhancing the management and coordination of humanitarian actions. ^ top ^

OSCE observers to start their mission by end of May (Montsame)
Long-term observers of Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, (ODIHR), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will come to Mongolia by the end of this month for the upcoming presidential election scheduled for June 26. They will observe election campaign, electoral process, way of solving complaints and petitions and activities of media organizations during the election. Prior to it, OSCE/ODIHR Needs Assessment Mission worked in Mongolia on February 21-24. In accordance with its mandate, the OSCE/ODIHR is deploying a Limited Election Observation Mission and plans to start the Mission's operation on May 22, selecting 24 long-term observers. ODIHR is a leading agency in Europe in the field of election observation. It co-ordinates and organizes the deployment of several observation missions with thousands of observers every year to assess the compliance of elections in OSCE participating States in line with OSCE commitments, other international standards for democratic elections and national legislation. ^ top ^

Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party names N.Enkhbayar its presidential candidate (UB Post)
On May 5, during the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party's (MPRP) conference to nominate its presidential candidate, conference delegates unanimously voted for former president N.Enkhbayar to represent the party in the presidential election. Former Deputy Prime Minister Ts.Oyunbaatar, former Minister of Health N.Udval, and representatives of civic movements held a press conference on Friday to discuss the MPRP's candidate selection. They stated that the MPRP will submit all documents required for N.Enkhbayar's candidacy to the Mongolian General Election Commission (MGEC) to register him as a qualified candidate. During the press conference, a journalist asked the MPRP representatives if the party would nomine another candidate if the MGEC denied N.Enkhbayar's registration. The party's representatives said that the MPRP and civic movements will protest if N.Enkhbayar's registration is denied, and that there is no alternative choice for the party's presidential candidate. The MPRP believes that N.Enkhbayar should be eligible to run for another term as president, but that several politicians are making attempts to push out him of the election by exerting control over state authorities because N.Enkhbayar is a very strong opponent. ^ 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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