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
  12-16.6.2017, No. 674  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese nationalists gloat over Singapore first family saga (SCMP)
Mainlanders watching with interest a bitter feud playing out among Singapore's first family have taken to social media to vent about the “anti-China” administration, while others reflected on the politics of their own country. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's two younger siblings on Wednesday issued a statement on Facebook accusing him of misusing his power and betraying the legacy of their late father and founding leader of the city-state, Lee Kuan Yew. They said they believed their brother was using state organs to harass them – and they feared for their safety. Lee Hsien Loong responded by criticising his siblings for “publicising private family matters”. Facebook is banned on mainland China, but reports of the dispute – which centres on the fate of a house where Lee Kuan Yew lived for seven decades – were carried by state media outlets including news agency Xinhua, Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily and nationalist tabloid Global Times. Many of those commenting online were keen to see how the drama would unfold, while nationalists who accused Singapore of being “anti-China” took the opportunity to gloat about Lee Hsien Loong's troubles. “The Lee family is the vanguard of anti-China [forces]. But if you want to oppose China, you should first get your family matters in order,” read one comment on Weibo, China's version of Twitter. Meanwhile a report on the open feud in Global Times on Thursday was flooded with some 5,600 comments – many of them showing more than a touch of schadenfreude. The top comment attracted 1,440 “likes”: “Lee Hsien Loong, an anti-China lackey of the United States. Even his siblings are breaking from him. Chinese people should forever remember this anti-China lackey of the West. He is more anti-China than anyone else.” Partly fanned by state media, nationalist sentiment has been on the rise in China in recent years, with a younger and more vocal generation frequently going online to defend their country against the slightest criticism – or to attack any foreign countries or leaders they see as running counter to the national interest. Lee Hsien Loong's administration angered many Chinese nationalists during a diplomatic row over the South China Sea last summer. Since then, mistrust has grown between the two nations – which have long shared deep ethnic and cultural bonds – as China continues to take a more assertive stance on foreign policy. One of the most “liked” comments on Weibo made reference to authoritarian rule in China. “[Such feuds] are more spectacular in China, but they're never made public,” it read. The siblings and children of China's top leaders have traditionally kept a low profile. Family disputes within the Communist Party's ruling elite are settled in private and airing them in public remains a taboo. “Surprising that they did not unite around the core leadership of Lee Hsien Loong,” read another comment on social media, a tongue in cheek reference to Xi's status as the “core” leader of the party. Xi was publicly endorsed as such at a key meeting last year. Since then, the pledge to “closely unite around the Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core” has echoed through all sectors of officialdom – from the party and the government to the military, and from Beijing to provinces across the country. ^ top ^

US doubts over one-China linchpin to stalk key Sino-US security talks (SCMP)
Renewed US criticism of China's activities in disputed waters and questions over the sustainability of the one-China policy will set the tone for the Trump administration's first security and diplomatic dialogue with Beijing next week, analysts said. Washington would also push for Beijing to maintain the cross-strait status quo in the wake of Panama's decision this week to switch formal diplomatic ties to Beijing, observers said. At US congressional hearings on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Beijing of assertive handling of the South China Sea dispute, saying it could tip the Asia-Pacific towards “an inflection point” for conflict. Tillerson also urged China to step up pressure on North Korea to rein in nuclear threats. His remarks coincided with US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis' pledge to continue with freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. In addition to thorny bilateral issues, North Korea's accelerated nuclear threat is expected to dominate Wednesday's bilateral meeting in Washington, which will be co-chaired by Tillerson, Mattis and State Councillor Yang Jiechi. “We have told them [Chinese officials], 'You are creating instability throughout the Pacific region that will bring us into conflict; please don't do that',” Tillerson said. Asked if Washington and Beijing could avoid the “Thucydides Trap” – rivalry and potential conflict between a rising power and a ruling one – Tillerson said: “We are at an inflection point in the US-China relationship.” “They see it; we see it. Our conversations are around how are we going to maintain stability and a relationship of no conflict between China and the United States for the next 50 years,” he said. In a separate hearing, Tillerson said US President Donald Trump was committed to the one-China policy but intended to keep all US commitments to Taiwan. “[It] is important as we engage with them [Beijing] that we are able to fulfill our commitments to Taiwan which we have every intention of doing. The question is, is the one-China policy sustainable for the next 50 years?” he said. Analysts noted that Tillerson's remarks came as Panama switched its century-long diplomatic recognition of Taipei to Beijing on Tuesday, sending cross-strait ties to a new low. Renmin University international affairs specialist Pang Zhongying said Tillerson was sending a message to Beijing and Taipei that Washington wanted to maintain the status quo of cross-strait ties for years to come, “which is basically in line with previous US administrations”. The remarks suggested the Trump administration still believed in a transactional, results-oriented approach towards China, he said. Christine Hsueh, director of North American affairs at Taiwan's foreign ministry, welcomed Tillerson's “rather positive” US stand on ties with the island. “Although [Washington and Beijing] are still discussing whether the one-China policy is sustainable for the next 50 years, the US still has high intentions of abiding by its security commitment to Taiwan,” she said. But Shen Dingli, from Shanghai's Fudan University, said Beijing would be agitated by Tillerson's remarks due to their conflicting strategic interests. “He is absolutely right that US-China relations are at a critical juncture. For Washington, stability means the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, but this kind of stability is not in Beijing's interests,” Shen said. He said that with China's growing economic and military clout, the top Chinese leadership was considering the previously unthinkable – taking Taiwan back within the next 10 or 15 years. “It's part of President Xi Jinping's Chinese dream and I don't think Beijing will allow Washington to stand in the way,” he said. In the hearings, Tillerson also expressed frustration that Chinese businesses and individuals were allowed to help North Korea evade United Nations-led sanctions. “We have made it clear to them, and we have provided them a list of entities that we believe they need to take action against,” Tillerson said. “President Trump has also been very clear with President Xi that if they either don't want to take the action or they do not take the action, we will act on our own.” Mattis also weighed in on Wednesday, calling on Beijing to help rein in North Korea. “Right now, I think we are seeing assistance from China in dealing with this growing issue,” he said. “The military options are uniformly very, very tough. They're very serious and the effort right now, led by Secretary of State Tillerson, under the president's direction, is to find a diplomatic solution, if there is anything along those lines possible.” Mattis has asserted that the US' freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea that provoked strong protests from China would not be paused. “This [exercise] is our policy. We will continue this,” he said. Zhang Liangui, a North Korea expert from the Central Party School in Beijing, said the remarks by the two US officials showed Beijing and Washington remained divided over how to deal with Pyongyang and particularly whether further economic sanctions should be imposed on North Korea. ^ top ^

China steadily moves ahead in global innovation rankings: report (Global Times)
The first-ever middle-income country to join the world's top 25 innovative economies in 2016, China this year continues moving ahead on the list by three notches, displaying a strong performance in several indicators, according to the latest Global Innovation Index (GII) released on Thursday. Ranking 22 on the GII this year, China again becomes the only exception in the top 25 of the innovation list, with the rest 24 all being high-income economies. A closer look into the general index shows that China moves up one spot to the 16th position in innovation quality, retaining its position for the fifth consecutive year as the top middle-income economy and getting closer to high-income economies. This movement can be attributed to a number of strong indicators, including domestic market scale, knowledge workers, patents by origin, high-tech exports, and industrial designs by origin, all of which top their sub-rankings. European countries take eight places out of the top 10, with Switzerland remaining its No. 1 position in the GII for the seventh consecutive year. It's followed by Sweden and Netherlands, the latter having leaped from the ninth last year to the third in 2017. The United States remains at the fourth, followed by the UK and Denmark, the rest in top 10 being Singapore, Finland, Germany and Ireland. The GII findings also reveal a large gap between high-income and middle-income economies, and without China, the difference in average scores between these two groups is expanding in many indicators. Overall, the top 10 on the GII perform better than the 11-25 group in all seven pillars of indicators: institutions, creative outputs, knowledge and technology outputs, business sophistication, market sophistication, infrastructure, and human capital and research. "Efforts to bridge the innovation divide have to start with helping emerging economies understand their innovation strengths and weaknesses and create appropriate policies and metrics," said Soumitra Dutta, Dean of SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University, a joint releaser of the GII. "This has been the GII's purpose for more than ten years now." Unusually, this year's GII, under a theme of "Innovation Feeding the World", gives a special attention to food and agriculture. It foresees innovation as the key to sustain food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management in the next decades, when agriculture and food sector will face an enormous rise in global demand and increased competition for limited natural resources. "We are already witnessing the rapid, worldwide emergence of 'digital agriculture,'" said Bruno Lanvin, INSEAD Executive Director for Global Indices. "Now there is an urgent need for'smart agriculture' to optimize supply and distribution chains and foster creative new business models that minimize pressure on land, energy and other natural resources -- while addressing the needs of the world's poorest." Jointly released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University, and INSEAD, the 2017 GII is in its 10th edition this year. The rankings are now a leading benchmarking tool for business executives, policy makers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world. ^ top ^

We want the World Cup, Xi Jinping tells Infantino in landmark meeting between China and Fifa leaders (SCMP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping told Fifa boss Gianni Infantino he hoped the Asian nation could host a World Cup “in the future”, the world soccer governing body said on Wednesday, after the two met in Beijing. Xi, an avid soccer fan, has launched an ambitious drive to improve Chinese football from the ground up and spoken of his wish for the country to qualify for another World Cup, host the tournament and eventually win it. China has invested heavily in the sport in recent years, boosting its domestic league by signing a number of high-profile, international players and coaches. In a statement released late on Wednesday, Fifa said Xi and president Infantino's meeting centred on soccer's popularity in China and the government's commitment to improving access to the game. “In addition, the Chinese President expressed his hope, and the dream of many Chinese people, that the country would have the opportunity to host a Fifa men's World Cup at some stage in the future,” it said. Chinese state media outlets, which are tightly controlled by the government and especially so when reporting the official activities of senior Communist Party leaders, did not report Xi's World Cup comment. Nevertheless, speculation has grown that China wishes to launch a bid for either the 2030 or 2034 tournaments. China's 82nd-ranked national team has qualified only once for the World Cup, losing all three matches and failing to score a goal in the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan. Their failure to return to the finals has long frustrated local soccer fans. China are all but certain to miss out on qualifying for next year's tournament in Russia after a late goal by Syria in their 2-2 draw on Tuesday. “There is still a very large disparity in the general standard of China's football today compared to major footballing nations,” state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying in his meeting with Infantino. “The true meaning of football is not just about competition, it is more about cultivating people's patriotism and collective fighting spirit.” China's growing influence within Fifa was reflected in the election of Zhang Jian to the governing body's executive Council in May, and Fifa has appointed a number of Chinese companies as sponsors for the World Cups in Russia and in Qatar in 2022. “Today marks the kick-off of a new and closer cooperation between China and Fifa for the future of football,” Infantino said in the Fifa statement. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy in Australia blasts 'cash for influence' claims (SCMP)
Reports of foreign influence in Australian politics through donations by Chinese citizens are an attempt to whip up a “China panic”, the Chinese ambassador to Australia has said. Cheng Jingye told an event in Canberra on Thursday that claims of Chinese interference were a groundless attempt to reheat old allegations, akin to “cooking up the overnight cold rice”. The Four Corners TV programme last week investigated more than A$4m (US$3 million) of donations to the major parties made by an Australian Chinese citizen, Chau Chak Wing , who was a member of a Chinese Communist Party advisory group, the People's Political Consultative Conference. Four Corners revealed that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation chief, Duncan Lewis, had become so worried about the influence of foreign donations that he organised meetings with the Coalition and Labor political parties to warn them that some donors could compromise their work. The executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, described such donations as naked influence buying. Cheng addressed the report at the Australia China Business Council Canberra Networking Day on Thursday. He said it was sensational to allege that the Chinese government was behind the donations made by Chinese or Chinese-Australian citizens and that it had the aim of influencing Australian politics or foreign policy. “What was reported in the programme was basically a kind of platitude. I've heard those allegations more than once since I was posted here,” he said. “In Chinese, we call it 'cooking up the overnight cold rice', which means repeating the same old stuff again and again. “Maybe the producers of the programme believe that those groundless allegations may turn to be truth after being repeated thousands of times.” Jingye said people who made such allegations have wild and morbid imaginations, which might one day be awarded a Nobel prize “if they were to apply their imagination to scientific research”. The Chinese ambassador claimed that people who spread the allegations were politically motivated and they risked the “friendly cooperation” between Australia and China. “Their main purpose, as I see it, is to instigate China panic.” In response to the reports, the Labor party has called for the matter to be referred to the parliamentary committee on intelligence and security to investigate foreign interference in Australian politics, including through donations. The government intends to introduce a bill in the spring parliamentary sitting to ban foreign donations, not just to political parties but also to third-party activist groups such as the left-wing activist organisation GetUp. That bill could be referred to the intelligence and security committee, but the government has not said whether it supports a separate wider ranging reference. Malcolm Turnbull asked the attorney general George Brandis and his department in May to undertake a comprehensive review of Australia's espionage and foreign interference laws. Several Labor figures including MP Anthony Byrne, the former treasurer Wayne Swan and front bench MP Ed Husic called for an inquiry on Wednesday. It followed reports in Fairfax Media and The Australian that “Simon” Shuo Zhou, a gold trader who ran for Labor as a Senate candidate in the 2016 election, quit a part-time job at the New South Wales Labor headquarters this week after the party was questioned about his alleged link to a tax scam involving gold dealers. Parliamentary questions were dominated on Wednesday by the issue of foreign donations as the treasurer, Scott Morrison, targeted the opposition's links to Zhou. He said “gold-plated fraud” – referring to tax evasion scams in precious metals he said had cost taxpayers A$860m – had “wormed its way into the Australian Labor party”. Labor targeted the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, asking if she was aware one of the Liberal Party's largest donors, the Chinese mining magnate Sally Zou, had reportedly set up a company called “Julie Bishop Glorious Foundation”. Bishop replied that all donations to the Liberal Party were declared to the Australian Electoral Commission and until the media raised it with her a week ago she was not aware of the foundation. ^ top ^

Panama's ditching of Taiwan is 'latest sign that Beijing means business' (SCMP)
Panama, a small Central American nation that tilted the balance of cross-strait relations further against Taipei by switching its official recognition to Beijing on Tuesday, actually first attempted to do so nearly a decade ago. Panama's decision leaves Taiwan with only 20 allies, in terms of countries with which it has formal ties. Diplomatic observers noted that the timing of Panama's decision was likely to have been decided by Beijing. And they said this demonstrated yet again that mainland leaders under President Xi Jinping wanted to inflict maximum political cost on the independence-leaning government in Taiwan under President Tsai Ing-wen, by suffocating the self-ruling island's international space through aggressive diplomacy. The analysts say Panama tried nearly a decade ago to dump Taipei and establish full diplomatic ties with the mainland, one of its top trading partners and the number two user of the Panama Canal. But it was Beijing that had rejected Panama's offer to switch official recognition in January 2010, over concerns that it could hurt warming ties with Taiwan's then president Ma Ying-jeou, according to leaked US diplomatic cables on Wikileaks. Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela broke the news of severing ties with Taipei that dated back to 1912 in a televised address on Tuesday. He was the official in charge of diplomatic negotiations with Beijing in 2010. According to a cable dated February 23, 2010, Varela, then foreign minister, expressed frustration over Beijing's decision not to embrace Panama diplomatically to the American ambassador to Panama, Barbara Stephenson. During a trip to Asia in January 2010, then Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi told Varela that “due to diplomatic overtures under way between Beijing and Taipei, now was not the time for Panama to recognise the [People's Republic of China]”, it said. Panama has been on the front lines of a diplomatic wrestling match between Taiwan and Beijing for decades. However, it was not until 2009 that leading Panamanian politicians, including Varela and President Ricardo Martinelli, who took power that year, appeared to agree that it was time to cut ties with Taipei. Panama's neighbour, Costa Rica, had ended its relationship with Taipei and recognised Beijing in 2007. Despite their repeated public denials, both Taipei and Beijing had relied heavily on economic incentives or “chequebook diplomacy”, according to Wikileaks and diplomatic observers. “We won't need to wait long before we see other Taiwan allies [switch recognition], like Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which have set up trade representative offices in China,” Xu Shicheng, a research fellow in Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said. Beijing views self-ruling Taiwan as a breakaway province and opposes any official ties between the island and other countries. The central government, deeply suspicious of Tsai and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, has adopted an approach of isolating Taiwan since she took office in 2016. Panama is the second country that has switched diplomatic ties under Tsai's watch. In December, the West African island of Sao Tome and Principe cut its relations with Taiwan. Tuesday's diplomatic deal was sealed when a joint communique was signed in Beijing between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Panamanian counterpart Isabel de Saint Malo. “This is a historic moment. China-Panama relations have opened a new chapter,” Wang said, describing Panama's decision as in “complete accordance” with its people's interests and “in keeping with the times”. “I'm convinced that this is the correct path for our country,” Varela said in his TV address. Tsai said at a brief press conference on Tuesday that Taiwan would not yield to Beijing's “threats and provocation”. In an effort to cement ties with Panama amid rampant speculation of diplomatic changes, Tsai had attended a ceremony to mark the opening of the expanded Panama Canal last year. However, Beijing had long ago made it clear the cross-strait truce that prevailed under Ma was over, so yesterday's diplomatic switch should come as no surprise, Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, said. “Beijing's objective is to cause political embarrassment to the Tsai administration and thus inflict a political cost by showing that her mainland policy, in contrast to that of Ma, brought this about,” he said. But although Tuesday's switch was hailed as a triumph in Beijing, observers cautioned that it could stoke negative reactions from the Taiwanese, who would see Beijing as a bully, and push the island further away from the mainland. “Beijing will need to consider the consequences, that if it continues to woo away several more allies from Taiwan, it will not only cause further resentment among the Taiwanese public, but it might also force itself into a corner,” Emilio Kung, director of the Graduate Institute of Latin America Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan, said. “It will have to take an even harsher approach in dealing with Taiwan if wooing away Taiwan's allies proves not as effective as it had thought. “If that is the case, it will not only worsen cross-strait relations but will also result in political repercussions from within Taiwan,” Kung said. The analysts said that Beijing would further intensify its efforts to alienate Taipei, and that they expected more of Taiwan's remaining diplomatic allies – which are mostly small, impoverished nations in Africa, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region, as well as the Vatican – might follow Panama's lead under Beijing's assertive diplomacy. ^ top ^

IS killing won't impact China-Pakistan 'Iron brother' ties (Global Times)
After an extremist organization announced it had killed the two Chinese citizens it kidnapped in Pakistan last week, speculation has been swirling among Indian and some Western media outlets that the China-Pakistan bilateral relationship, in particular the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the Belt and Road initiative, would be affected. They are evidently overthinking the issue. The atrocity committed by the Islamic State is appalling. But it cannot drive a wedge between China and Pakistan, nor will the construction of the CPEC be disrupted. In fact, it's doubtful whether the extremist organization targeted the CPEC this time. The two hostages killed were not staff related to the project, but had allegedly been brought to Pakistan by a South Korean Christian organization to conduct missionary work. This tragedy was more likely caused by the conflict between South Korean missionary agencies and local terrorists. The China-Pakistan bilateral relationship is regarded as a model of relations between countries with different social systems. The Chinese public considers Pakistan as China's "iron brother." Pakistan has made great efforts in protecting the CPEC. It has dispatched approximately 15,000 Pakistani military personnel to protect the Chinese engineers, the number of the former exceeding that of the latter. This is known to the Chinese public. The killings show the appalling atrocity of the terrorists. But the Chinese public is also strongly opposed to South Korean churches recruiting young Chinese people to preach in war-torn areas, exposing them to great dangers. Balochistan, where the two Chinese hostages were killed, is an area where many Belt and Road projects are located. As for the security loopholes, we believe the Chinese and Pakistani governments will put forward more detailed plans to protect Chinese nationals working in Pakistan. The progress of the CPEC won't be slowed down because of the complex security situation. Pakistan is far from having a stable domestic situation, but as the China-Pakistan friendship is deeply rooted in Pakistani society and most political and sectarian forces don't consider China as an enemy, the security dilemmas facing the country will not impact the bilateral relationship or the CPEC. So far, no political forces in Pakistan have openly boycotted the CPEC, instead, various regions compete to join the project. There is generally a favorable political and public opinion environment toward the project. The killings of the two hostages are not a signal of any change to the current situation. Some Indian and Western media intend to exaggerate the impacts of the incident. They aim at badmouthing and disrupting China-Pakistan economic cooperation by linking the terror act caused by religious conflict to the political and economic cooperation between the two countries. Political stability is still lacking in some countries along the route of the Belt and Road. The initiative will boost the development and employment of these countries, creating more economic and social resources to realize stability. The CPEC, with an investment as high as $50 billion, will provide an unprecedented driving force for the economic and social development of Pakistan. China and Pakistan will be proven to be good partners to jointly implement the Belt and Road initiative. The two sides are able to address the security concerns along the CPEC and realize win-win cooperation. The killings of the two Chinese citizens should serve as a lesson. It is necessary for China and Pakistan to understand the situation of South Korean missionaries and radical groups in Balochistan, so as to better protect the safety of Chinese nationals in Pakistan. ^ top ^

B&R satellite alliance launched (Global Times)
As part of the goal to provide basic services to regions along the route of the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, China unveiled the B&R Satellite Application Alliance to foster successful applications and proliferation of its homegrown BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) at an industry seminar in Beijing on Monday. China will launch six to eight satellites to form a global network in the second half of this year and accomplish the launch of 18 satellites by around 2018 to serve countries along the B&R initiative, according to a White Paper for the development of the BDS published in June 16, 2016. The alliance was set up under the guidance of the International Cooperation Centre of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), with about 40 founding members. The NDRC is the nation's top economic planning agency. "The setting up of the alliance will allow the industry to tap the resources of China's international capacity cooperation mechanism and gain access to the project database, so we can study these potential projects and think of ways to apply the BDS," Fan Jingsheng, deputy secretary general of the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location-based Services Association of China (GLAC), told the Global Times Monday. "The alliance will consolidate resources from related sectors, provide spatial-temporal information, and facilitate the construction and improve the operating efficiency of the projects in B&R international corridors and sea routes," Fan said. In concrete terms, the BDS will facilitate the building of transportation infrastructure, international transportation, informatization of seaborne logistics, security of oil and gas pipelines, and the construction of cross-border power transmission and fiber optic networks. China's satellite navigation industry has high hopes for the BDS, and many experts believe that it can be the third "national business card," following China's successful development of high-speed trains and homegrown nuclear technology. Initiated in 1994, the BDS project equals the US-developed Global Positioning System (GPS) in terms of precision performance, and is even slightly better in the Asia-Pacific region. However, China's late start - some 20 years after the US version - means that the user base and brand recognition is well behind that of GPS, according to experts. User base and customer demand is vital for the development of the BDS because it will push the scientists and engineers to improve the system, Fan said. Xie Yangjun, an NDRC official involved with fostering international cooperation in the B&R regions, told the Global Times Monday that many companies that have already expanded overseas and are in the NDRC database for international capacity cooperation will be the customers that use it, and this will help the system. "Yes, some countries have geopolitical concerns. But some trust China's offering. They are becoming the first customers for the BDS," Xie said. Currently, the BDS has already expanded its services to Pakistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, according to a document provided by Fan. In October 2016, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence and the NDRC jointly issued a guideline policy on speeding up the building of a B&R spatial-temporal information corridor. The policy encouraged private capital to participate in the B&R spatial-temporal information corridor and called for central and local fiscal support for eligible projects. The financial sources for it include the Silk Road Fund and a number of international funds, as well as credit from policy banks such as the China Development Bank. The policy also called for a study into setting up an application fund for such a corridor in a market-orientated fashion. "The stage has been set up, and now what matters is that we propose to do something. Once we start doing something, financial support will follow," Fan said. ^ top ^

Xi congratulates Duterte on anniversaries of China-Philippines diplomatic ties, Philippines' independence (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday sent a congratulatory message to his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte on the 42nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between their two countries and the 119th anniversary of the Philippines' independence. The Philippines has made important achievements in national construction under the leadership of Duterte, said Xi, and he expressed heartfelt congratulations to such achievements. "The Chinese and Philippine peoples have a profound traditional friendship," said the Chinese president, noting that the two countries returned to the right track of good neighborly relations last year with efforts from both sides. Their cooperation in all fields are flourishing, which has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples, said Xi. As China and the Philippines are close neighbors, the two developing countries share the same missions in safeguarding national security, realizing common development and promoting regional peace and stability, Xi stressed. "I attach great importance to China-Philippines relations, and stand ready to work with you to lead our two countries to continue our mutual assistance, support and common development in bids to bring benefits to both peoples and the peoples across the region," said Xi. ^ top ^

Xi advocates common security (China Daily)
In his latest speech on Friday, President Xi Jinping highlighted China's firm stance on fighting terrorism and safeguarding regional peace at a time when the world is facing more security challenges than ever. Recent acts of terrorism show that the fight against the "three evil forces"-terrorism, separatism and extremism-remains a long and arduous task, Xi said in a speech at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan. Xi wrapped up his four-day visit to the Central Asian country on Saturday. "Without security, there would be no development to speak of," he said. Xi's trip to Kazakhstan has added impetus to building the Belt and Road Initiative, cements the bond among countries for the community of shared future and opens up broad prospects for peace and prosperity in the region, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday. The president's strong voice against the three evil forces has led to practical results. During the summit, the member states signed the SCO Convention on Combating Extremism. The leaders of the SCO countries also issued a declaration to jointly fight international terrorism. Xi's remarks came against the destabilizing backdrop of a series of recent terrorist attacks. The world is facing many uncertainties and people are expecting a brighter future despite their frustration with the current situation, the president said in a speech at the UN's Geneva headquarters in January. How is a safer world to be built? That's the question Xi has elaborated on in many major diplomatic occasions, including the SCO summits, since he took office in 2013. At the SCO summit in Astana, Xi pointed out that "destabilizing factors and uncertainties are on the rise". China is willing to work together with all parties to "build a common home of security, stability, development and prosperity", he said. While addressing the UN's Geneva headquarters in January, Xi urged all nations to build a world of common security for all. "A country cannot have security while others are in turmoil, as threats facing other countries may haunt it also. When neighbors are in trouble, instead of tightening his own fences, one should extend a helping hand to them," he said. The notion of building a community of a shared future for all humankind, which was first put forward by Xi in late 2012, epitomizes the direction in which the Chinese government believes global governance should head. In March, the UN Security Council for the first time incorporated this concept into its resolution on promoting security and stability in Afghanistan and the region, showing the global recognition the proposal has won. Xi's firm stance on fighting terrorists and safeguarding peace has been translated into action by China in recent years, with the country making more contributions to improving global governance. China, now the largest contributor to the United Nations peacekeeping force, has deployed more than 2,600 of the 88,000 "blue berets" in 10 peacekeeping missions in countries like South Sudan, Lebanon and Liberia. China also uses multilateral platforms such as the Xiangshan Forum and the Shangri-La Dialogue to discuss security and defense cooperation with Asia-Pacific members and others. In his keynote speech at the UN Geneva headquarters in January, Xi announced that China will provide an additional 200 million yuan ($29.42 million) in humanitarian assistance to help refugees and the homeless in the Syrian crisis. In recent years, China has advocated talks between the countries directly concerned to address the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, pushed for an early resumption of the stalled six-party talks to end the Korean Peninsula nuclear conundrum, and helped achieve a landmark Iranian nuclear agreement in 2015. The Chinese president has pointed out on many diplomatic occasions that in fighting terrorists, countries should not just treat the symptoms, but remove the root causes. "We should intensify counterterrorism efforts, address both the symptoms and root causes, and strive to eradicate poverty, backwardness and social injustice," Xi said in a speech at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing last month. "Development is the master key to solving all problems," he added. During his first state visit to Egypt, President Xi made a speech at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, where he stressed "development" as the key to resolving most Middle East problems, especially growing terrorism and disorder. Jin Yong, a professor of International relations at Communication University of China, said that the growth of terrorist activities will not be stopped except through development and creation of job opportunities. "Unemployment and poverty are the main causes of terrorism worldwide," he said, adding that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative could help remedy the rising risks of terrorism. "Just as President Xi has said, we should focus on the fundamental issue of development in pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative," he said. Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said that Xi's proposal of "building a world of common security" shows that China is a responsible power in maintaining global peace and promoting cooperation. Unlike many countries that turned to protectionism when facing global challenges, China advocates inclusive growth by pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative, he said, adding that the initiative will inject impetus for global economic growth. ^ top ^

China tells Iran that given the crisis with Qatar, stability in the Gulf is for the best (SCMP)
China's foreign minister has told his Iranian counterpart that maintaining peace and stability in the Gulf is best for everyone, after several Arab states cut off ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and Iran. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed relations with the small Gulf Arab state on Monday. Qatar has denied the charges levelled at it. Meeting on the sidelines of a regional security summit in Kazakhstan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that peace and stability in the Gulf accords with the common interests of the region and the international community. “China upholds that the relevant countries should appropriately resolve the disputes between them,” the Chinese foreign ministry cited Wang as saying on Thursday. The brief statement gave no other details of their talks over what the Chinese foreign ministry described as “the present situation in the Gulf region”. China has traditionally played little role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for oil. However, it has been trying to get more involved in efforts to end civil wars in both Syria and Yemen, casting itself as an honest broker without the historical baggage of the other permanent members of the UN Security Council. In March, China played host to the Saudi king and Israeli prime minister in quick succession. China has close ties with Iran too. The coordinated move against Qatar dramatically escalates a dispute over its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest Islamist movement, and adds accusations that Doha backs the agenda of regional arch-rival Iran. ^ top ^

Tokyo trip may be in the cards for Xi Jinping, sources say (SCMP)
Tokyo is considering asking Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Japan in the latter half of next year as a state guest, government sources said on Sunday. To lay the groundwork for the trip, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was likely to visit China in the first half of next year, the sources told Kyodo News. If Xi visits Japan, he will be the first Chinese president to do so since Hu Jintao in 2008. Abe last visited China in September 2016. Japan hopes to forge closer ties with China and to cooperate on the issue of North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programmes. Tokyo also aims to improve relations that have soured over repeated intrusions by Chinese vessels into territorial waters in the East China Sea around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyu Islands. Last Monday, Abe expressed interest in participating in Beijing's belt and road trade plan. The initiative aims to build closer economic links along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes. According to the sources, Shotaro Yachi, head of the secretariat of Japan's National Security Council, told State Councillor Yang Jiechi when he visited Japan for talks in late May that Abe and Xi should visit each other's nations within the next year. Tokyo is said to be considering inviting Xi to visit after Abe attends a trilateral summit next year in Beijing involving Japan, China and South Korea. Tokyo aims to arrange a meeting of the Chinese and Japanese leaders on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany in early July. ^ top ^

China and India agree to manage differences as Xi meets Modi (SCMP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the two countries should work to appropriately manage their differences, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. Xi also congratulated India on becoming an official member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) security bloc, jointly led by Russia and China. The two leaders met in Astana, Kazakhstan, on the sidelines of a summit for the eight country bloc, which also includes nearly a dozen other states as partners or observers. “(China and India) should strengthen multilateral communication and consultation, and appropriately control and manage differences and sensitive issues,” Xi said, according to the statement. Modi thanked Xi for supporting India's full membership of the SCO, and said that the two countries should respect each other's core interests and appropriately manage differences, according to the Chinese foreign ministry post. No comment was immediately available from the Indian delegation. Xi also said that China and India should increase trade and investment cooperation to ensure that the two countries were able to enjoy more benefits from large scale projects in infrastructure and industry. India has expressed unease over China's “Belt and Road Initiative” to expand trade links between China and Eurasia, and did not send government officials from Delhi to attend a summit of leaders and ministers in Beijing in May. A visit in April by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who Beijing brands a separatist, to a region controlled by India but claimed by China stoked tensions between the two countries. The Indian government has since taken steps to cool tensions, rejecting an Australian request to take part in joint naval exercises with the United States and Japan last month to avoid agonising China. The SCO was formed by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in 2001 to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan. China has said that it supports Iran's membership of the security bloc, as requested by Russia, and that the subject is under discussion at the summit. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Eight killed and 65 injured in kindergarten explosion in eastern China (SCMP)
An explosion outside a kindergarten in Jiangsu province in eastern China killed at least eight people and injured another 65, authorities said as they searched for the cause of the blast. The explosion at the Chuangxin Kindergarten in Feng County happened at around 4.50pm on Thursday as many parents were waiting to pick up children from the school. Authorities called the blast as a criminal act, according to the state-run People's Daily, which said a suspect has been identified. The People's Daily report didn't provide any details about the suspect. A witness told the South China Morning Post the blast came just minutes before the end-of-day bell rang. The Ministry of Public Security sent a team led by a vice-minister to the scene last night, state media reported. The Xuzhou government, which administers the county, said two people died at the scene and five others at hospital. Nine people were in serious condition as of 7.45pm, it said. Many of the injured were rushed to the county hospital for treatment. The cause of the blast was still being investigated, the city government said. “At about 5pm, we heard a blast and thought it might have been a gas explosion at a nearby food vendor,” a local shop owner was quoted as saying by online news portal Sohu. “Many people might be dead.” Another shop owner near the kindergarten, who declined to be identified, told the Post the blast happened a few minutes before the kindergarten opened its doors to allow parents inside to collect their children. “The parents were all queueing up at the school gate at the time,” the shop owner said. Because the explosion happened just outside the school grounds, the pupils waiting inside classrooms would probably have been shielded from injury, he said. His daughter attended the school and was later taken home safely by her grandfather, he said. Many cooked food stalls operated outside the kindergarten and a gas cylinder might have caused the explosion, he said. In one video clip posted online and appearing to show the aftermath, a man covered in blood is seen trying to stand up only to collapse again. His clothes appeared to have been burned off. Other people lie motionless on the ground, while some victims, apparently in shock, try to use their mobile phones. In a separate clip, people are heard shouting: “Blast, blast, dial 110 quickly!” The gate of the kindergarten appeared to have been bent by the blast, with shattered glass littering the scene. Citing a witness identified only by the surname Shi, state-run Global Times reported on its website that a gas cylinder had exploded at a roadside food stall. The blast sent people flying several metres into the air, Shi was quoted as saying. Mainland kindergartens have been targeted in previous years in attacks carried out by mentally unstable people or those bearing a grudge against neighbours or society. ^ top ^

Official requires good publicity work for CPC congress (Xinhua)
A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has required increased publicity work in preparation for the 19th CPC National Congress scheduled for later this year. Liu Qibao, head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks during an inspection tour from Tuesday to Thursday in central China's Hunan Province. He said the publicity work should show the progress made by the Party and the country as well as the improvements to people's livelihoods to inspire people's love for the country, the CPC, and socialism. He called for greater efforts to promote socialist core values and make such values more tangible and accessible to the public. Liu pledged more support for creative work in literature and art to encourage more original creations in these regards, stressing that effective measures should be taken to protect intellectual property rights. Literary and artistic workers should be encouraged to pay more attention to the country's reform and opening up, scientific and technological innovations as well as urban development, new countryside construction, and national defense, he said. Also, he required high standards in the operation of radio and TV stations to better promote the voices of the Party and government, society's mainstream values, and "positive energy."  ^ top ^

State Council reshuffles officials (Xinhua)
The State Council announced the appointment and removal of several senior officials Thursday. Sun Shaocheng was removed from the post of vice minister of civil affairs and was appointed vice minister of land and resources. Wang Bingnan was named vice minister of commerce, with Fang Aiqing removed from the post. Hou Jianguo was appointed vice director of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. Du Zhaocai was appointed assistant director of General Administration of Sports. Li Xiaohong will no longer perform as vice minister of education. Dai Bohua was removed from the post of assistant minister of finance. Yang Jiacai was removed from the post of assistant chairman of China Banking Regulatory Commission. ^ top ^

China's youth aware of negative impact of social media: Report (China Daily)
Nearly 40 percent of China's young people born after 1990 have turned off notifications from social media apps due to the perceived negative impact of social media, according to the recently released Kantar China Social Media Impact Report, Beijing Evening News reported. The report shows that social media, and especially WeChat, has become more and more popular in the past year among people over the age of 40, while the WeChat use of the "post-90s" generation has slightly decreased, from 94.1 percent to 86.6 percent. Most of those surveyed for the report mentioned that positive impacts of social media include socializing with acquaintances and taking in more information. However, respondents also noted that social media has caused them to read fewer books, suffer from worse eyesight, sleep less and maintain less privacy, among other concerns. As a result, 39 percent of the post-90s generation tries to avoid the negative effects of mobile phone use through measures like turning off app notifications, intentionally limiting the frequency of social media interactions and staying away from social media entirely in certain situations.  ^ top ^

China to enhance grassroots community governance (Xinhua)
China will set up a community governance system led by grassroots Communist Party of China (CPC) organizations by 2020, according to a guideline released by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council Monday. Local governments will play a guiding role in the community governance system which also feature public participation. Governance capacity in both urban and rural communities will improve significantly by that time, as public services, management and security will be effectively ensured, the guideline said. Within another five to ten years, a more mature and comprehensive community governance system will offer strong support for the CPC at a grassroots level, while consolidating local governments, the guideline noted. Issues such as the basic role of autonomous organizations, the participation of social groups and the functions of communities are also included in the guideline. According to the guideline, on major issues relating to community public interests as well as those that matter to the residents' immediate interests, the community residents' role in the decision making and dispute resolution processes should be enhanced. Also, community services that are closely related to the residents' interests, such as employment, social security, health, education, housing, public security as well as legal and arbitration services, should be made more widely available, the guideline said. The guideline called for increased efforts to resolve disputes within communities. Party congress delegates, legislators, political advisors and CPC members and officials should maintain contact with communities and their residents via proper channels, it said. It urged more support for groups in need, such as the poor, children in difficulty, mentally-challenged people, left-behind children, senior citizens as well as people who have been convicted of crimes or released from prison. The guideline also requires infrastructure improvements and better environmental management in communities. To enhance community governance, the guideline pledged more financial investment in this regard. It also encouraged the public to contribute via channels such as charity donations and community foundation endowments. ^ top ^

CPC disciplinary watchdog adjusts its inspection methods to be more effective (China Daily)
The top disciplinary agency of the Communist Party of China published results of its latest round of inspections into government offices and State-owned enterprises on Sunday, showing the impact of its modified methods. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection began its 12th round of inspections in February with a new style featuring more improvisation and aiming for greater efficiency. In this round of inspections, examinations became more precise and problem-oriented, it said. The four teams that were sent to government offices and State-owned enterprises were downsized to five or six members, while more inspectors worked in the background in supporting roles. Each team member specialized in a certain area, such as CPC regulations, accounting or auditing. Based on the information gathered in previous inspections, the inspectors looked into specific, targeted areas, which resulted in a shorter but deeper examination process, it said. Wang Yukai, a professor of public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the new method was much more effective. "This kind of inspection detects a problem quickly, before the situation gets worse," Wang said. In this round, inspectors also showed up without advance notice. Inspectors decided where, what and when to examine, based on information obtained from the public. Wang spoke highly of this style, as it made it impossible for organizations to prepare, or to hide information. The inspections also re-examined four provincial-level regions. Some local governments and enterprises in Jilin province had faked economic data, and some local authorities in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region were criticized for weak implementation of policies and decisions of the CPC Central Committee, the watchdog's announcement said. It also said that authorities in Yunnan province had failed to thoroughly remove the negative influence of corrupt former officials, and that authorities in Shaanxi province had received complaints about problems in official selection and promotion. The re-examination process began with the ninth round of inspections in February last year. So far, 16 provincial-level regions have been re-examined. At a meeting on May 26, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee ordered the amendment of Party regulations on inspection work, to include the latest innovative practices. The 12th round of inspections was the final round during the term of the 18th CPC Central Committee. The 19th CPC National Congress will be held in Beijing later this year. Wang said that over the next five years, the anti-graft campaign will probably become more institutionalized and normalized. "I predict inspections will also be carried out on a regular basis," Wang said. ^ top ^

Grisly find exposes China's dirty trade in used blood bags and syringes (SCMP)
More than 140 tonnes of used plastic medical supplies, including syringes and blood bags, was illegally sold off through an underground network of recyclers on the mainland, state media reported on the weekend. The sale of the waste came to light with the jailing of a dozen people convicted on environmental pollution charges in Hunan province last week. Police officers handling the case said they were concerned that more of the dangerous waste might have been fed back into the manufacturing chain and reprocessed into plastic products for the food, medical and building renovation industries, Outlook magazine reported. Hunan police spent six months investigating the illegal activity, detaining dozens of suspects in a web of dealers and suppliers – including property management firms – that spread from Hunan, to Hubei, Guangdong, Hebei and Jiangsu. More suspects were still on the wanted list. Acting on a tip-off, officials from the Miluo Environmental Protection Bureau in Hunan discovered several men “recycling” about 50 tonnes of used medical supplies in a backyard workshop in Gupei township in April last year, the magazine published by state-run Xinhua reported. “The scene was dreadful to the eye and disturbing to the mind,” bureau official Xu Shuli was quoted as saying. The workshop's yard was covered in piles of used medical supplies, with liquid residue from IV bags leaking onto the ground and syringes caked in dried blood. There was also a stench in the air, the report said. Instead of destroying the waste or having it professionally processed, the men cleaned the used materials with water and then discharged the effluent directly into a gutter. “These workers did not even wear any masks,” Xu said. The men – several workers and a dealer – said they bought the waste from a rubbish dump for 2,000 yuan (HK$2,300) a tonne, manually sorted the waste into categories, washed it, and chopped and smashed it into pieces. The material was then sold to another dealer for 5,000 yuan a tonne, they were quoted as saying. Investigators said one dealer in Langfang, Hebei province, traded in tonnes of the waste, which he processed into untraceable materials. The plastic was sold on for use in manufacturing pipes, and supplies for the food and medical industries, the report said. Among the evidence collected in Miluo were IV drip bags and blood bags from hospitals in Xiangtan, Zhuzhou and Hengyang in Hunan province, and Xiangyang in Hubei province. Most of the waste was from public medical facilities, including top-tier ones. Investigators said hospital property management companies and cleaning firms and a recycling company, were implicated in the case. A police officer in Miluo said one suspect bought used plastic medical devices such as syringes from a property management company for a big hospital. Some hospitals turned a blind eye to property management staff selling the used supplies, the report said. “County-level hospitals do not pay support staff and cleaners enough, so they let them sell the waste. They would rather have them sell the waste than pay professional recycling companies to destroy the materials,” one hospital worker was quoted as saying. ^ top ^



Beijing 'can offer help' to Xiongan (China Daily)
Beijing and Xiongan New Area will need systematic cooperation to achieve coordinated development and mitigate urban ills, experts said on Sunday. Lin Jian, a researcher at Renmin University of China's National Academy of Development and Strategy, said Xiongan will take over many functions of Beijing to help the capital ease its population pressure. "How to attract people to move there will be a crucial task," he said. "The authorities need to make plans in the sectors of education, medical care and cultural development in Xiongan," Lin said. "Beijing can offer its help." He said many State-owned enterprises, colleges and government institutions will move to Xiongan. The corresponding educational and medical resources should be planned in advance for people who will move there; otherwise, problems could occur, he warned. "Xiongan cannot be a cultural desert, which means Beijing should also provide cultural facilities to the new area," Lin said. On Friday, Beijing pledged to closely cooperate and fully support the development of Xiongan and encourage people to move there as needed. Liu Bozheng, deputy director of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei development leading group, said Beijing will cooperate with Xiongan on construction and services, accelerating the relocation of industries that suit the new area. "The Beijing municipal government attaches high importance to the development of Xiongan New Area," he said. He said Beijing will assist in planning and policymaking in sectors such as infrastructure construction, transportation integration and the sharing of public services. The capital will also encourage innovative companies to establish themselves in Xiongan. China announced plans to create Xiongan New Area in April as part the integration of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. It is designed to ameliorate urban ills such as traffic congestion and air pollution. Located about 100 kilometers southwest of downtown Beijing, the new area will have a substantial footprint in three existing counties of Hebei province-Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin. Zhao Weidong, spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce, said on Friday that Beijing has established a platform to cooperate with Tianjin and Hebei and has transferred some wholesale markets and logistics facilities to Hebei. The commission promoted 26 projects with a total investment of more than 5 billion yuan ($740 million) last year involving the move of markets and logistics facilities to Hebei. According to data from the city, Beijing's population and its growth rate has been declining for the past three years. Meanwhile, the city's GDP was up 6.7 percent last year compared with 2015. ^ top ^



Shanghai vows to protect legal rights of homebuyers following protest (Global Times)
The Shanghai municipal government said it will protect the legitimate rights of homebuyers by allowing them to cancel their home purchase contract, after hundreds of demonstrators took to streets on Saturday to protest the recent changes in housing regulations. Some developers distorted the government policy, delayed rectification and set barriers to homebuyers who wanted to cancel their home purchase contracts, as the city moved to clean-up and rectify commercial office projects, the Shanghai municipal government said in a statement published on its WeChat account on Monday. The municipal housing bureau and other relevant departments reiterated that the targeted projects for rectification are illegal commercial office projects, the statement said. To protect homebuyers' legal rights, the municipal housing bureau supports homebuyers who protect their legal rights and those homebuyers who have filed home purchase contracts online but want to cancel them. The developer should cooperate, it said. For homebuyers who wish to proceed with the contract, the apartments they purchased can be put into use, it said. The statement comes after hundreds of protesters on Saturday took to streets to protest a new rule which restricts people from living in residential buildings converted from commercial premises. As part of efforts to curb property speculations and rein in soaring property prices, the Shanghai Municipal Committee of Residence and Urban-Rural Construction issued a notice on May 17 to clean-up and rectify commercial premises that have been converted into residential buildings without prior approval. The practice of changing the building configuration and facilities, as well as converting commercial premises into residential buildings violates "relevant laws and regulations, and leads to serious safety hazards," it said. The government will support the legal rights of homebuyers misled by developers, the notice also said. Protesters complained that people who have been living in commercial premises converted to residential use were forced to do so either by the city's skyrocketing residential property prices or because they were unable to buy, as they do not have a local hukou, and the sudden change in policy will make it virtually impossible for them to sell their homes. The Monday statement said developers who rectify their practices will be given a mitigated punishment or avoid penalties. However, developers who refuse to rectify or set barrier for homebuyers who are protecting their legal rights will be exposed, and in serious cases will be barred from participating in land bids and auctions. ^ top ^


Hongkong / Taiwan

Beijing loyalist lawmakers condemn Hong Kong localists for Taiwan cross-party alliance (SCMP)
A war of words erupted in Hong Kong's legislature on Thursday after the pro-establishment bloc issued a joint statement condemning their pro-democracy opponents for building an alliance with a group of pro-independence Taiwanese lawmakers. While the Beijing-loyalists claimed the act of their opponents had amounted to colluding with the pro-independence forces in Taiwan to intervene in the city's affairs, the localists dismissed the allegations as totally groundless and even “illusional”. The statement, signed by all but one of the Beijing-friendly lawmakers, came three days after three localist legislators – Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick – attended a press conference in Taiwan alongside 18 Taiwanese parliamentarians to announce the establishment of the Taiwan Congressional Hong Kong Caucus. The new platform – comprised of members from the independence-leaning New Power Party and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan – would support the democratic fight in Hong Kong and facilitate exchanges between the legislators, they said. The statement issued on Thursday accused the three lawmakers of advocating Hong Kong independence and inviting separatist forces in Taiwan to meddle in the city's affairs. “We strongly condemn [their move] ... which would jeopardise the principle of 'one country, two systems' and the country's unity,” the statement read. Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen was the only one from the camp who did not put his name on it. In 2008, the city's biggest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), had also led a delegation to Taiwan and met the Democratic Progressive Party' chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, now the island's president. When asked why would the camp took such a strong stance against the trio this time, DAB lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said the nature of their visits was “different”. Chan, of People Power, slammed the Beijing-friendly camp for making groundless claims against them. “The platform would look into issues regarding Hong Kong's democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law ... and entirely not anything like Hong Kong independence or collusion with Taiwan's separatist force as suggested by the pro-establishment camp,” he said. Chan also questioned whether his opponents meant that the city should stop all its exchanges with Taiwan as it was now under the rule of Democratic Progressive Party. “Is the Legislative Council no longer allowed to interact with the Taiwanese government and its legislature? Are these exchanges regarded as collusions with Taiwanese separatist groups? I hope the pro-establishment camp would answer these questions.” Student activist-turned-legislator Law, of Demosisto, also dismissed the allegations as “illusional” as he argued the Caucus was only a platform to facilitate legitimate parliamentary exchange. ^ top ^

Taiwan-HK 'democracy' group will harm mainland ties (Global Times)
Mainland experts said they believe an organization set up by pro-independence activists in Taiwan on Monday out of "concern for their counterparts" in Hong Kong shows collusion between pro-independence activists in the two regions, and will harm their ties with the mainland. According to a report on Beijing-based on Monday, Huang Kuo-chang, a major figure in the 2014 "Sunflower Movement" against the cross-Straits service trade agreement, and Hsu Yung-ming, a Soochow University political scientist, funded the so-called "Taiwan-Hong Kong alliance front under Taiwan's Legislative Yuan" in Taipei. They claim that the organization was meant to "show Taiwan's concern for the democratic process in Hong Kong and to promote democratic exchanges between the two regions," Hong Kong-based reported Monday. Huang and Hsu are leading members of Taiwan pro-independence group New Power Party (NPP). Eighteen Taiwan legislators joined the new organization, five from the NPP and the others from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan media reported. Hong Kong legislators, including Nathan Law Kwun-Chung and Joshua Wong Chi-fung, student leaders of the Hong Kong Occupy protest, attended a tea party to "celebrate the establishment of the organization," reported. "We must be vigilant since the new organization probably indicates a collusion of Taiwan and Hong Kong pro-independence activists," Yin Hongbiao, a professor at the School of International Studies of Peking University, told the Global Times on Monday. Yin warned that the move would damage ties between the Chinese mainland and the two regions. Yin's warning was echoed by Zhu Songling, a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies of Beijing Union University, who explained that "Taiwan-independence groups like the NPP like to use a referendum and democracy as excuses to incite social movements. The organization is their latest move to promote independence and create instability in Hong Kong." One day before the establishment of the "Taiwan-Hong Kong alliance front," a meeting attended by 500 Taiwan residents was held in Taipei to promote peaceful reunification, the Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday. The meeting was held amid strained cross-Straits ties and Taiwan's declining economy since the DPP, which refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus that endorses the one-China Principle, took office, according to the report. ^ top ^

Pro-independence Taiwanese lawmakers launch support group for Hong Kong democracy (SCMP)
Some 18 pro-independence Taiwanese lawmakers have set up a platform to support Hong Kong's democratic development and foster closer ties with pan-democratic and localist legislators. Founded by New Power Party's chief Huang Kuo-chang, who led protests against greater trade links with mainland China three years ago, it comprises his party colleagues and legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. “The Beijing government has continuously suppressed Hong Kong's fight for democracy, undermining human rights and freedom in Hong Kong,” Huang said on Monday as he announced the setting up of the Taiwan Congressional Hong Kong Caucus at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Huang hoped the platform would support Hong Kong's democratic fight and facilitate exchanges between legislators on policies such as youth and town planning as the city marked the 20th anniversary of its sovereignty changeover to Beijing. DPP legislator Wang Ting-Yu said: “Only Hong Kong people can change Hong Kong … but we can support by sharing Taiwan's experiences and history.” He said he hoped Hongkongers could freely advocate the city's independence or unity with China. Three Hong Kong lawmakers – Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, Nathan Law Kwun-chun and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick – attended a press conference to announce the move, along with former student leaders of the 2014 Occupy movement, Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Alex Chow Yong-kang. Law said the city needed international support and he was grateful to form the alliance in Taiwan. “We face the suppression of democracy and freedom from the same regime. Taiwan and Hong Kong should support each other,” Law said. Wong stressed that they were not advocating Hong Kong independence. “We just hope to work with different parties who share the same values of democracy and freedom with us,” he said. SSAn attempt made by Taiwan's independence forces to collude with Hong Kong's independence advocates How the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing reacted to the panel meeting in January In January, Law, Wong and Chu were invited by New Power Party to attend a panel discussion on how pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong and Taiwan could learn from each other. A spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, the government body in Beijing that deals with Taiwan, described that event as “an attempt made by Taiwan's independence forces to collude with Hong Kong's independence advocates”. He warned that such actions were “destined to fail” and those involved would get “their heads broken and covered with blood”. There are 117 legislators in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan. The New Power Party is the rising political force that emerged from the student-led Sunflower Movement in 2014 – a protest that put the brakes on a trade pact with mainland China. Meanwhile, Huang confirmed that human right activists in Taiwan were assisting an 18-year-old Hong Kong woman who allegedly sought asylum in Taiwan after jumping bail in Hong Kong, where she was charged over a riot in Mong Kok last year. The Taiwan National Immigration Agency confirmed on Saturday that the teenager had overstayed her visa by more than four months. The Mainland Affairs Council in Taiwan reiterated on Monday that it had not received a request for asylum. ^ top ^



Huge police crackdown not linked to Hong Kong handover events, officials claim (SCMP)
Police across the region made ¬almost 8,000 arrests in three months as part of a marathon cross-border crackdown ahead of the visit by state leaders for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty. The first phase of the joint ¬operation, codenamed Thunderbolt 17, between police authorities in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong province ran from March 5 to June 10, aiming to curb the illegal activities of triads and organised crime syndicates. In Hong Kong, a total of 3,618 people, including 1,135 mainlanders and 152 non-ethnic Chinese, were arrested for various offences such as drug trafficking, gambling and money laundering. Backed by customs and immigration officers, police raided more than 6,400 premises, including pubs, vice dens, gambling venues and massage parlours, across the city and seized imitation firearms, illegal drugs, contraband cigarettes and obscene optical discs. On the mainland, officers ¬arrested 2,270 suspects in Guangdong province, while a total of 5,097 people were brought in for questioning in Macau, resulting in 1,782 prosecutions. The second phase of the annual operation – the longest of its kind since 2000, will kick off in the second half of the year and is expected to last for three months. President Xi Jinping is expected to pay a three-day visit to Hong Kong between June 29 and July 1 for the handover celebration. He is likely to leave the city after he has sworn in the city's next chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. Chief Superintendent Man Tat-shing, who heads the city's ¬Organised Crime and Triad ¬Bureau, confirmed this year's ¬operation was the longest of its kind, but denied this was linked to the celebration or visit by state leaders. Man said the operation was a response to a growing trend of ¬triad and organised crime in the region but that Hong Kong's crime rate was not alarming and triad-related crime had remained steady over the years. But a forcer insider said it was a “clean-up” operation to prepare the arrival of state leaders later this month. He said past operations, conducted annually, were typically carried out before National Day in October and lasted one to three months. In 2014, the annual crackdown was suspended due to the pro-democracy Occupy protests. To protect the state leaders during their visit to Hong Kong, more than a third of the 29,000 strong force is understood to be deployed. “There is currently no specific intelligence to suggest Hong Kong is likely to be a target of terrorist attacks. Our terrorist threat level remains moderate,” a police spokesman said. In the wake of terror attacks in Europe, the city's force has been ramping up security precautions. Last month, it mounted a -series of anti-terror drills across the city to ensure officers are ready for any scenario. Heavily armed terrorists ramming a van into a crowded carnival was one of the scenarios more than 300 officers trained for in the Kowloon Bay headquarters of the city's auxiliary police force. ^ top ^

Protesting parents burn 'test papers' outside Hong Kong school (SCMP)
After a first day of boycotts and heavy rain, a much criticised competence assessment for Hong Kong students took a dramatic turn with parents burning what were believed to be exam papers outside a school. The Education Bureau described the act, which resulted in the arrival of five fire engines, as misconduct and a danger to safety. Primary Three students from 500 local schools on Wednesday took the written component of the Basic Competency Assessment (BCA), which covers English and mathematics. While the bureau has stressed that the test is different from the heavily criticised Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) and that it does not place any pressure on students, critics say the exam is just a simplified version of the TSA and there is still an incentive to drill pupils as the test will affect school rankings. On the second day of written tests, some opponents escalated their actions, with a man and a woman seen burning what were believed to be test papers in a metal bucket outside Holy Family Canossian School in Kowloon Tong, according to an online video. In the clip, the school's principal, Magdalen Shiu Yuen-fun, is seen tearing down posters that read ”boycott BCA” and videotaping the incident. The female protester said to the principal: “What are you doing? This is a public area.” Shiu was heard saying the protesters were “very violent”. Shiu recently attended a sharing session with around 50 schools which took part in a trial of revised TSA papers last year. They urged parents to give the new test a chance. Five fire engines were sent to the scene after the school called police. The Fire Services Department categorised the case as “a false alarm with good intent”. A police spokeswoman said there was no criminal offence, adding the protesters left after being advised by police. But an Education Bureau spokeswoman said: “Igniting paper outside the school not only destroys the tranquil campus and harasses students and teachers, it may even cause safety problems.” A total of 23 students boycotted the assessment at Grantham College of Education Past Students' Association Whampoa Primary School on Wednesday. Academics who have read the papers said both the English and maths tests were generally easier than those in 2015, though a few more challenging questions were spotted. Dr Ruth Wong Ming-har from the Education University pointed to prose using personification, a literary device not taught in most schools at this level. Dr May Pang Yin-mei, also from Education University, pointed to a writing task which featured questions guiding students to write about their school recess. Wong said unlike other writing tasks that had three pictures guiding students, this one was a little tricky as students had to think of how to start the story and needed more imagination as less context was provided. Two Primary Three students at SKH Tin Shui Wai Ling Oi Primary School, Tony Lo Wai-ho and Cherry Dia Cheuk-wing, said the BCA tests were easier than routine exercises. ^ top ^



Five countries, regions urge Taiwan to change name of representative office (Global Times)
China said it appreciates countries which adhere to the one-China principle on Taiwan-related issues, after five countries and regions reportedly demanded that the island change the names of its representative offices in their countries. "The one-China principle is widely accepted and acknowledged in the international community, and is the political basis for establishing diplomatic relations and friendly cooperation with China," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily briefing on Thursday. Lu made the remarks after Taiwan-based newspaper China Times reported Wednesday that Nigeria demanded the island to change the name of its representative office in the country from "Trade Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan)" to "Taipei Trade Office." Nigeria and four other countries and regions are seeking the change. The four others are Dubai, Jordan, Ecuador and Bahrain, the report said, citing Chen Chun-shen, an official of Taiwan's "foreign ministry." "The demand is meant to standardize the office's name and define its function in economic exchanges," Zhu Songling, a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies of Beijing Union University, told the Global Times on Thursday. "What those countries want is becoming consistent with international rules as well as their support for the one-China principle," Zhu said. "Taiwan is losing international acceptance," Zhu said, adding that, by blaming the mainland, they are inciting populism and pro-independence thinking within the island. During the term of former Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou, names of Taiwan representative offices in other countries were not a problem as both sides across the Straits recognized the 1992 Consensus that embodies the one-China principle, Zhu said. "But since current Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen has yet to recognize the 1992 Consensus and continues to push cross-Straits ties in the wrong direction, more countries with diplomatic ties with the mainland are manifesting their adherence to the one-China principle," Zhu stressed. Taiwan's "embassy" in Panama was closed on Thursday morning. The latter established diplomatic relations with the mainland and dropped Taiwan on Tuesday. ^ top ^

Angry Taiwan threatens rethink of cross-strait relations as Panama switches ties to Beijing (SCMP)
An indignant Taiwan said on Tuesday it would rethink its relations with the mainland in the wake of Panama's decision to cut diplomatic ties with the island in favour of Beijing. The Central American country became the second of Taiwan's dwindling number of allies to switch recognition to Beijing in six months, following the west African nation of Sao Tome and Principe last December. “The move by the Beijing authorities is not only wrong but also affects the current situation, turning the peaceful development of cross-strait relations into confrontation. For this, the government will reappraise the situation of the ties across the Taiwan Strait ,” said Joseph Wu, secretary general of the presidential office. The decision by Panama ends 105 years of formal relations between it and the Republic of China, the official name Taiwan uses for itself. Beijing sees the island as a renegade province that must be brought back under its control. As a responsible power in the region, Wu said that Beijing should stop taking actions that hurt cross-strait stability and the feelings of the Taiwanese people. Taiwan's foreign ministry announced separately that it would end diplomatic relations with Panama, shut down its embassy and withdraw all its financial and technical aid for the country. The island's foreign minister, David Lee, expressed grave regret over Panama's decision and hit out at Beijing's “chequebook diplomacy” in its attempts to woo away Taiwan's allies, whose number has now dwindled to just 20. “We have the ability to aid our allies, but we would not resort to money diplomacy,” Lee said in a news conference.
Nations that recognise the government in Taipei rather than Beijing:
Asia-Pacific: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu
Africa: Burkina Faso, Swaziland
Europe: Vatican City
Latin American: Belize, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines ^ top ^



China to set up pilot zones for green finance, cut red tape for industries (Xinhua)
The State Council, China's cabinet, Wednesday announced its decision to set up pilot zones for green finance to support its industrial upgrading and to further cut red tape. The pilot zones will be in Guangdong, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The zones will explore replicable ways to boost green financing, according to the State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. China will support financial institutions to set up green finance departments and welcome foreign capital to participate in green investments. The State Council will also encourage the development of "green credit," which takes the environmental credentials of companies into account. The country will roll out pilot markets for trading water and energy rights. The central government will provide support on fiscal, tax, and land policies for green industries and projects. A risk prevention mechanism must also be established for the healthy development of green finance. It was also decided at the meeting that China must further streamline administrative approval for the production of certain industrial products and delegate power to lower levels to promote innovation and upgrading of manufacturing industry. The number of categories of products that require official licensing has been reduced from 487 to the current 60 after rounds of reform over the past years. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, China's quality watchdog, will delegate the licensing authority of another eight categories of products, including chemical fertilizer, to provincial-level quality supervision departments, the meeting decided. The country will also pilot reform to streamline procedures for manufacturing license applications in some designated areas and industries. Government departments concerned should further step up compliance oversight, Li said. ^ top ^

Detention of Anbang boss a milestone in financial industry crackdown, analysts say (SCMP)
The reported detention of Anbang Insurance chairman Wu Xiaohui could be a milestone in efforts to take on vested interests – many with connections to the political elite – in China's financial sector, paving the way for reform, analysts say. Wu is the latest figure said to have been detained for investigation in a financial industry crackdown which began after a stock market rout in the summer of 2015 that wiped trillions of yuan from the portfolios of small investors – costing Beijing hundreds of billions of yuan in a bailout. It later developed into an extensive operation seeking to stem collusion among senior regulators, family members of the ruling elite and tycoons. “Senior executives in China's financial sector usually have powerful [political] backers. The anti-graft campaign in this sector is not only about corruption – it also aims to reduce interference by these backers,” said Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of Peking University's Clean Government Centre. “If these backers are still around, any attempt at financial reform will be futile. The ties with these backers need to be cut to overhaul the financial sector,” he said. Global insurer Anbang, one of China's most aggressive overseas investors, said on Wednesday that billionaire chairman Wu – who married a granddaughter of former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping – had stepped aside “for personal reasons”, after media reports that he had been taken away for investigation. “The probe into Wu indicates that this anti-corruption drive isn't just targeting those coming up from the grass roots, but also the princelings,” said Hu Xingdou, a professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology. “This is a milestone showing that the campaign, especially in the financial sector, has entered a new stage.” Hu added that the campaign would continue to target “the most corrupt area” of mainland society. Big players in the insurance industry have caused controversy with aggressive acquisitions of listed companies and overseas assets using client money and high leverage. Their investment in the stock market drew criticism from Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, at a forum last November, when Liu referred to such insurers as “barbarians” and “evil”. One of the most eye-catching examples of this was the battle for control of one of the mainland's biggest property developers, China Vanke. Anbang, Qianhai Life Insurance and Evergrande Life Insurance all joined the fray at the end of 2015, and Qianhai ultimately emerged with a 25 per cent controlling stake based on high leverage and several securities investment schemes. But earlier this year, Qianhai chairman Yao Zhenhua was removed from his post and barred from the insurance market for 10 years. Evergrande, meanwhile, sold off its stake in the property developer at a loss to state-owned Shenzhen Metro last week. Chen Zhiwu, a professor of finance at the University of Hong Kong, said the regulators had been overwhelmed by the extent of Anbang's shopping spree in recent years. “They wondered whether they should be dealing with the acquisitions under existing rules or [if they should let Anbang off] given its special background,” Chen said, referring to Wu's ties with the Deng family. With Wu at the helm, the insurer has grown by more than 100 times its size in just 10 years – it had total assets of 2.2 trillion yuan (US$323.59 billion) by the end of last year. The company has pursued acquisitions in both the domestic and overseas markets in recent years, from a stake in China Minsheng Bank and the China Vanke investment, to Delta Lloyd Bank in Belgium and the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. Communist Party anti-graft chief Wang Qishan spent the early part of his career in the financial industry and he was in charge of financial issues during his term as vice premier from 2008 to 2013. But even with that experience, the crackdown on the financial sector only came after an unprecedented anti-graft drive against senior officials and the military's top brass. “It will take time to eradicate corruption in the financial sector given all the vested interests,” Zhuang of Peking University said. “The deep-rooted interests of the princelings are not easy to tackle.” More than 40 top financial regulatory officials and executives have come under investigation in the latest crackdown. That includes several senior officials from the banking, insurance and securities regulators who have been detained for investigation. Yao Gang, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and its assistant chairman Zhang Yujun were charged with corruption in 2015. Yang Jiacai, assistant chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, was also placed under investigation for suspected corruption in May. That came just a month after Xiang Junbo, head of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, was detained in a graft probe. Meanwhile market participants have also been netted in the campaign. The executives of several top brokerages including Citic Securities have been taken away for investigation. Hedge fund guru Xu Xiang, who was sent to jail early this year for stock market manipulation after his dramatic arrest on an elevated highway in late 2015. That was followed by the high-profile disappearance of tycoon and Tomorrow Group founder Xiao Jianhua from Hong Kong's luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in February. Xiao is understood to be assisting authorities with their investigations. Beyond this far-reaching crackdown on corruption and irregularities in the financial sector, Chen said the authorities had much work to do in overhauling the mainland's regulatory regime. “There's still huge room for [improvement in] financial regulation, including the quality of listed firms and the delisting system,” Chen said. Peking University's Zhuang said the Anbang case could serve as a warning to the sector. He expected there would be an industry overhaul after the political reshuffle during the party congress in autumn. “[The authorities] need to ensure stability ahead of the 19th National Congress. Tackling the Anbang case could pave the way for this type of work after the congress,” Zhuang said. “There will be ... a power reshuffle after the congress, which will provide better conditions for the financial sector's anti-graft campaign.” ^ top ^

Chinese firms hit fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui with US$50 million lawsuit over lost assets
A group of Chinese companies launched a US$50 million lawsuit against fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui in the US in a bid to obtain compensation for assets they weren't able to recover following a legal victory in China. Represented by New York-area law firm Kevin Kerveng Tung PC, nine plaintiffs filed a complaint in New York against Guo and four of his companies, according to a statement issued by Kevin Tung, founder of the New York firm. The plantiffs include construction firms Beijing Cheng Jian Wu Jian She Group Limited and Jiang Su Province Jian Gong Group Limited. Guo's four companies involved are Beijing Zenith Holdings Co Limited, Beijing Pangu Investment Co Limited, Genever Holdings LLC and Golden Spring (New York) Limited. The plaintiffs – who previously sued two of the defendants, Zenith and Pangu, in Chinese courts – are seeking more than $40 million in direct damages and $10 million in punitive damages. “Some of the plaintiffs have obtained judgments against Zenith and Pangu, while other plaintiffs' lawsuits are still pending,” Tung said in an announcement. “However, Mr. Guo has allegedly exploited its role as the majority shareholder of Zenith and Pangu and carried out a scheme to transfer the assets of Zenith and Pangu abroad, making the aforementioned judgments practically unenforceable and collectible in China. “Having been unsuccessful in satisfying judgments in China, the plaintiffs came to New York, where Mr. Guo directly and indirectly holds significant assets, to seek remedies to address their losses in China.” Zenith and Pangu are mainland Chinese firms. Genever is a New York limited liability company and Golden Spring is a Delaware incorporated company. The lawsuit in New York is the latest escalation of legal action against Guo, who is wanted on corruption charges in China and has made a series of graft allegations against the Chinese government and company officials on the mainland. Guo, a property developer with close ties to former deputy state security minister Ma Jian, is wanted by Beijing over allegations of corruption. He has been living in self-imposed exile in his New York penthouse for more than two years and has made regular video appearances on social media. The Chinese government has launched a sustained effort through state media to discredit Guo, making a request to Interpol in April for the issue of a global “red notice” for his arrest. US courts rarely use decisions by Chinese courts to rule on a case because of concern that they are politically motivated, Tung said. But he's hoping the New York county court will recognise that the judgments against Zenith and Pangu in Beijing courts involve the offshoring of assets owed to third parties. “I believe that a US tribunal will agree with me,” Tung said. “They will not tolerate this kind of practice whereby someone takes assets out of a country, and come to the United States to enjoy a luxurious life at the expense of creditors.” The 38-page summons issued on behalf of the plaintiffs is addressed to Guo, using eight different names, including Miles Kwok, Kwok Ho Wan and Wan Gue Haoyun. The document claims Guo lives on the 18th floor of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, a residence he bought for $67.5 million through Genever Holdings. The Sherry-Netherland sits across from the southeast entrance of New York's Central Park. Forbes magazine called Guo's purchase of the unit “one of the highest prices ever paid for a New York co-op”. The unit is now on the market, represented by realtor Brown Harris Stevens, which calls the unit a “triple terraced trophy masterpiece”. Brown Harris has the unit listed for $78 million. “As one enters this palatial residence situated on the New York City power corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue, one is first struck by the unparalleled elegance of its private landing serviced by all three of the building's elevators,”according to the realtor. “The entrance gallery graciously, and sensibly, leads one to all of the major wings of the apartment.” ^ top ^

Apple imposes 30 per cent tax on China's digital content creators (SCMP)
Apple is taking a risky – not to mention controversial – step to try to reverse its ailing fortunes in China. The American technology giant has effectively levied a 30 per cent tax on 'tips' paid to content creators via social media apps by grateful fans wanting to reward them for their work. Upsetting some of the country's most influential people – internet celebrities such as live streamers and online writers – by taking such a hefty chunk of their revenues could make things a whole lot worse for Apple, whose own revenues from China have been eroded by the rise of domestic technology rivals. “Content creators are huge things in China. By taxing 30 per cent on their tipping income, Apple is expecting to see a big boost in its revenue in China in the near term,” said Kitty Fok, managing director of IDC China. “However, it may not be a wise move in the long run because these content creators, who are influential in China's virtual world, may discourage people from buying Apple's iPhones because the new policy will dampen their income.” In its recently updated App Store policy, the company has for the first time made the use of tipping functions permissible. But it wants a 30 per cent cut of any income from tips received by the providers, who are, in China's case, millions of hard-working digital content creators,who make a fortune by live streaming their singing and dancing, posting articles of their opinions or sharing their life experience and knowledge online. Apple stipulated in its latest App Store policy late last week that apps may use and can only “use in-app purchase currencies to enable customers to tip digital content creators in the app”, which means that in-app tipping now officially falls under the category of in-app purchasing, a service for which the California-based company charges 30 per cent on all transactions. Apple was not immediately available for comment. The move has already provoked a certain amount of outrage from China's technology community. Luo Yonghao, chief executive of smartphone maker Smartisan in China, in an online post on Sunday, described it as “disgusting”. Luo is also an internet celebrity with 14 million followers on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. The bad-mouthing would be the last thing Apple wants in China where it has seen a drop in shipments of its iPhone as it lost market share to local smartphone makers. The tipping function is rarely used in the West, but it is commonplace for China's more than 700 million smartphone users, who are increasingly comfortable tipping a small amount of money – normally in the range of 5 yuan up to 200 yuan – to show their support or express their gratitude when watching or reading something they like online. Nearly 100 million people paid for what they read online in 2016 and about 280 million said in the same year that they were willing to pay for the music they listen to online, according to iiMedia Research. In China's booming live streaming sector, a top streamer can make millions of yuan a year, mostly via virtual-gift tipping from fans. The in-app tipping business in China has proved lucrative. Many of the country's most popular apps, from Tencent's ubiquitous WeChat to news and information app Toutiao and Zhihu, the Chinese version of Quora, support and thrive through their tipping functions but are reluctant to give Apple a cut. WeChat, which has about 900 million monthly active users in China, has since April disabled its tipping function for iPhone users because it failed to reach an agreement on the tipping issue after lengthy negotiations with the American tech leviathan. “WeChat has been in close contact with Apple. We will inform the public as soon as we have more information,” said WeChat in a statement on Monday when asked about the likely impact of the new App store policy. However, some firms, such as the Beijing-based Zhihu, have decided to compromise. The company said in a statement that it will introduce Apple's in-app tipping feature in its latest version of the app. The new Apple policy only affects content creators' income made via the tipping of iPhone users. The tips of Android phone users are not bound by the rule. ^ top ^



Secret US contacts with North Korea secure release of student Otto Warmbier, but he's in a coma (SCMP)
Otto Warmbier, an American university student held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months and said by his family to be in a coma, has been medically evacuated from the reclusive country after a rare visit there from a high-level US official. Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, was on his way back to the United States on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. The release came after Joseph Yun, the State Department's special envoy on North Korea, traveled to Pyongyang and demanded his freedom on “humanitarian grounds,” capping a flurry of secret diplomatic contacts, a US official said. Warmbier's parents, Fred and Cindy, confirmed their son was on a medevac flight, which was due to arrive on Tuesday evening. “Sadly, he is in a coma and we have been told he has been in that condition since March of 2016,” the parents said in a statement. “We learned of this only one week ago. We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalised and terrorised by the pariah regime in North Korea.” Warmbier was detained in January 2016 and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in March last year for trying to steal an item with a propaganda slogan, according to North Korean media. A spokeswoman at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said Warmbier would be treated there. The family said it was told by North Korean officials, through contacts with American envoys, that Warmbier fell ill from botulism sometime after his March 2016 trial and lapsed into a coma after taking a sleeping pill, the Washington Post reported. The New York Times quoted a senior US official as saying that Washington recently received intelligence reports that Warmbier had been repeatedly beaten in custody. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, asked whether Warmbier's release could open the way for dialogue amid high tensions between the Trump administration and North Korea, said: “It's just too soon to say.” Warmbier's release came as former US basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, returning to the increasingly isolated nuclear-armed country where he previously met leader Kim Jong-un. The State Department denied any connection between Warmbier's release and Rodman's visit, which the Trump administration said it did not authorise. The State Department is continuing to discuss three other detained Americans with North Korea, Tillerson said. Since taking office in January, US President Donald Trump has faced a growing national security challenge from North Korea, which has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of US and international sanctions. In rare high-level contacts, Yun met senior North Korean officials in Oslo in May, where it was agreed that Swedish officials in Pyongyang, who handle US consular affairs there, would be allowed to see all four American detainees, a State Department official said. The North Koreans later urgently requested another meeting in New York, and Yun met North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations on June 6 and was told about Warmbier's “condition,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Tillerson consulted with Trump, and arrangements were made for Yun and a medical team to travel to Pyongyang, the official said. Yun arrived on Monday, visited Warmbier with two doctors and demanded his release, the official said. The North Koreans agreed and he was flown out on Tuesday, the official said. “In no uncertain terms North Korea must explain the causes of his coma,” Bill Richardson, a veteran former diplomat and politician who has played a role in past negotiations with North Korea, said in a statement after speaking to Warmbier's parents. Yun's trip was the highest-level US visit since then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper traveled to North Korea in 2014 to secure the release of two Americans, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, who had been sentenced to hard labour. ^ top ^

Trump to host S. Korean president late June for talks on DPRK (Global Times)
The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump will host South Korean President Moon Jae-in late this month for talks on the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue. During the June 29-30 talks, Trump and Moon will "coordinate on" the Democratic People's Republic of Korea-related (DPRK) issues, including countering the "growing" DPRK nuclear and missile threats, said a White House statement. The two leaders will also discuss ways to further strengthen the "ironclad US-ROK alliance," advance cooperation on economic and global issues, the statement added. Moon, who took office about a month ago, was widely forecast to inherit a so-called "Sunshine Policy" of trying to enhance relations with the DPRK through economic cooperation and civilian exchanges. Tension has remained high on the Korean Peninsula over the past months between the United States and the DPRK over the US threat to stage military attacks against Pyongyang in response to its nuclear and missile programs. The United States and South Korea also held their largest-ever joint military exercises in the past months. At the end of April, the USS Carl Vinson nuclear aircraft carrier task group arrived in the waters off the Korean Peninsula for a separate joint naval exercise with South Korea. However, a joint statement by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said in April that Trump aims to use economic sanctions and diplomatic measures to pressure the DPRK to dismantle its nuclear and missile programs. The statement also said that the United States remained "open to negotiations" toward peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while staying "prepared to defend ourselves and our allies." ^ top ^



Central bank policy rate lowered to 12 percent (Montsame)
The Bank of Mongolia's Monetary Policy Committee held a meeting today, June 15 and lowered the policy interest rate down to 12 percent. Previously, the interest rate was set at 14 percent by the committee's decision on March.
The committee considered that the inflation was lower than the expected and analysis indicates that inflation is expected to be below the target level this year. The decision was made to join IMF program in May. The strengthening foreign exchange inflow and balance of payment were the main factors in lowering the policy interest rate. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister pays official visit to US (Montsame)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Munkh-Orgil Tsend paid an official visit to the United States on June 12-14. During the visit, sides exchanged views on continuing high-level dialogues, discussed the practical ways to expand the political, commercial, trade and investment cooperation as well as developing the cooperation in other fields and strengthen bilateral ties. The Foreign Minister held talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, White House National Security Advisor Mr McMaster, Mr Peter Roskam, Chairman of the House Democracy Partnership of the US House of Representatives, heads of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Peace Corps. Within his visit, the Minister attended the Fourth US Trade Mission and the Investors' Roundtable meeting, organized by the American Chamber of Commerce Mongolia. He updated the participants on the measures and policies taken by the Government of Mongolia to improve the country's economic situation; to stabilize the legal environment for foreign investment; and to restore foreign investors' trust. The event was attended by over 50 enterprises, including American companies with investment as well as keen to invest in Mongolia; and Mongolian entities, which are willing to promote commercial relations with the U.S. ^ top ^

Central Commission for the Presidential Election reports on voter turnout for overseas voting (UB Post)
On Monday, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Central Commission for the Presidential Election held a press conference to report on voter turnout for overseas voting, which was held on June 10-11. Vice Chair of the Central Commission for the Presidential Election D.Bayanduuren underlined that 7,209 Mongolian nationals registered for overseas voting, and that 4,816 people have voted under the supervision of 45 committees in 33 countries. Voter turnout was 66.8 percent. Nineteen election observers from the Mongolian People's Party and Democratic Party worked within 11 different committees, including committees based in Seoul, Beijing, and Washington, D.C. D.Bayanduuren emphasized that overseas voting ballots will be counted on June 26. It was noted that information being spread on social media about the results of overseas voting is not true, because the results are yet unknown according to ballot counting procedure outlined in the Election Law. ^ top ^

Presidential campaigns monitored to ensure a fair election (UB Post)
The Civil Society Monitoring Network (CSMN) for Fair Elections has released a report on its monitoring of news coverage related to this year's presidential election in Mongolia. The study analyzed information and televised news stories broadcasted by Mongolian National Broadcaster, TV9, C1, UBS, and MN25 during the first four days of the presidential campaign. The following are highlights from the CSMN report.
CSMN found that MNB failed to give the same amount of coverage to the three presidential candidates, as it mentioned candidate S.Ganbaatar more often than the other two candidates. The time allocated for each candidate was similar, but discussion of Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) candidate S.Ganbaatar made up 35 percent of all presidential election-related news coverage, while Democratic Party (DP) candidate Kh.Battulga got 34 percent of the share, and Mongolian People's Party (MPP) candidate M.Enkhbold got 31 percent of the station's coverage.
Each television channel seemed to give more coverage to a particular candidate, as observed by CSMN. In particular, 74 percent of C1's election-related news and 40 percent of MN25's broadcasts mentioned candidate Kh.Battulga. CSMN concluded that two of the four commercial television channels favored the DP candidate. TV9 gave more coverage to candidate S.Ganbaatar, precisely 38 percent of its broadcasts, and UBS gave more coverage to candidate M.Enkhbold, around 43 percent of its broadcasts.
C1 aired the most negative campaigning during the first four days of the election campaign. According to the CSMN study, over one-fifth of C1's broadcasts were negative stories about the candidates. The study also showed that C1 shared the most implicit messages. While C1 aired programs with implic- it messages 45 percent of the time, UBS broadcasts had the least amount of implicit messages, taking up seven percent of its programming on the candidates. MNB's broadcasts did not contain any implicit campaigning.
CSMN underlined that hardly any television channels maintained fair and impartial coverage of the candidates, and explained that this was related to the excessive amount of paid programs they aired. According to the study, all television channels included in the study promoted candidates for 76 percent of their on-air time. Experts stressed that the television channels lacked independent journalistic standards for the information, news, and programming dedicated to educating their viewers. ^ top ^

Mongolia and Russia hold bilateral meeting at SCO (Montsame)
President Ts.Elbegdorj met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on June 9, Thursday on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit held in Astana, Kazakhstan. Sides exchanged views on bolstering of Mongolia-Russia ties during the bilateral meeting. President Ts.Elbegdorj underlined the importance of increasing Russian investment in Mongolia in strengthening bilateral relationship. “Every investment from Russia has been good investment. Mongolia and Russia have always maintained a good relationship, and there should be no hindrance”, he said. For his part, President Vladimir Putin expressed his delight at meeting the Mongolian President during the SCO Summit. He also noted that Russia and Mongolia could cooperate in a wider range of areas. ^ top ^

President Ts.Elbegdorj addresses SCO Summit attendees (UB Post)
The President of Mongolia participated in the 2017 Council of the Heads of State summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which was held on June 8-9 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. In his speech at the summit, President Ts.Elbegdorj congratulated India and Pakistan for joining the SCO as full members on June 9, and stated that he hopes the expansion of the SCO will be of significant importance for creating new political and economic opportunities, and for addressing regional issues. He noted that since becoming an SCO observer state, Mongolia has been actively participating in the summits of state and government leaders and other events, making contributions to the SCO. The President stated that Mongolia is concentrating on implementing an economic corridor program under Mongolia's Development Road Project, China's Belt and Road Initiative, and Russia's cooperation mechanisms implemented through the Eurasian Economic Union. He emphasized that there is an opportunity to establish the shortest, safest, and the most cost effective infrastructure for transit between Russia and China through Mongolia, connecting Asia and Europe. He said that if the Economic Corridor project is implemented in Mongolia, great opportunities will be opened up for investors, and called on the heads of the countries in attendance of the SCO summit to support the launch of the project. President Ts.Elbegdorj highlighted that Mongolia is collaborating with Russia and China to develop an energy infrastructure network. He called on the summit's attendees to collaborate with Mongolia in implementing mutual beneficial and environmentally friendly energy projects to help Mongolia join the Asia-Pacific Regional Energy Hub, as Mongolia has great solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy resources. He told the world leaders that Mongolia has an interest in developing its cooperation with SCO states in science, education, healthcare, the environment, natural disaster reduction, and agricultural projects, as well as in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking. During the summit, President Ts.Elbegdorj held a meeting with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to discuss bilateral cooperation. President Ts.Elbegdorj stated that Russia has invested in Mongolia in a wide range of sectors, but there have been some of issues that have not been resolved. He noted that he hopes these issues will be dealt with soon. President Putin noted that the two countries have opportunities to develop further cooperation. While in Kazakhstan, President Ts.Elbegdorj also attended the opening ceremony of Astana EXPO2017. ^ top ^


Ms. Corinne Estermann
Embassy of Switzerland

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