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
  26-30.6.2017, No. 676  
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Foreign Policy

SCO member countries vow to strengthen border cooperation (Xinhua)
Member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) pledged here Thursday to strengthen border security cooperation to fight terrorism, secessionism and extremism. Plans for joint border defense action this year and the work of a team of experts in 2018 were approved by the fifth meeting of the leaders of border administration authorities of SCO member states, held in northeast China's costal city of Dalian. The meeting, chaired by China, was attended by more than 30 representatives of India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and the SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorism Agency. The meeting decided to include the joint border defense action into a three-year cooperation program of SCO member countries to fight terrorism, secessionism and extremism. Border departments of SCO member countries will deepen border law enforcement cooperation, organize regular meetings and carry out personnel training, according to the meeting. Chen Dingwu, head of the border administration of China's Ministry of Public Security, said border law enforcement has become one of the important cooperation mechanisms among SCO member countries. Joint law enforcement actions and practical cooperation have been carried out in border administration, anti-terrorism and crackdown on cross-border crimes, which maintained the security and stability of border areas of SCO member countries, he said. ^ top ^

India urged to correct mistake immediately: spokesperson (Xinhua)
China has urged India to immediately correct its mistake and withdraw border troops that illegally entered Chinese territory, Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday. Indian border troops recently crossed the China-India boundary at the Sikkim section and entered the Chinese territory, and obstructed the normal activities of Chinese border troops in Doklam, Wu said at a regular news briefing. The spokesperson said Chinese border troops have taken corresponding measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. ^ top ^

World Intelligence Congress focuses on AI (China Daily)
A new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) was discussed at the World Intelligence Congress which opened Thursday in North China's Tianjin municipality. The inaugural congress includes 16 forums and a 6,000-square-meter exhibition area displaying high-tech achievements in AI technology. A series of cooperation agreements will be inked at the expo, including one between the Tianjin municipal government and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, which will map out a development strategy for a new generation of AI technology. Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang said that the new generation of AI technology will have a "significant effect" on society, and will become a driving force behind a new industrial revolution. The municipal government will also sign an agreement with Alibaba's financial affiliate Ant Financial to push forward the building of a "cash-free city" in Tianjin, where electronic payments will be used in areas such as transportation, medical care, education, and social security. ^ top ^

China, Japan, South Korea agree to promote cultural industry cooperation (Xinhua)
Officials of China, Japan and South Korea have discussed ways of promoting cultural industry cooperation between the three countries. Chinese Vice Culture Minister Xiang Zhaolun, Japanese Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masaki Ogushi, and South Korean First Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Na Jong-min attended the 10th Trilateral Cultural Content Industry Forum that kicked off here Wednesday. The three sides viewed the forum as a positive step to implement the consensus reached at the sixth Japan-China-South Korea trilateral summit in 2015 and to address the practical needs for the development of trilateral cooperation in the new period. They stressed the forum, as a mechanism for coordination and negotiation between the governments and platform for trilateral cultural industry cooperation, shall listen more to the voices of enterprises, discuss how to create a policy environment favorable for cultural industry cooperation, and provide support and service for trilateral cooperation. Representatives from the three countries also had candid and in-depth discussions on cooperation between the cultural industries, and signed the Joint Statement of the 10th Trilateral Cultural Content Industry Forum. The Trilateral Cultural Industry Forum, alternately held in China, South Korea and Japan, aims to establish a cooperation mechanism between cultural industries of the three countries, deepen practical cooperation, and promote regional stability and prosperity. The forum, first hosted by China in 2002, was suspended for almost six years after the eighth event in September 2009. The ninth forum was held in June 2016 in Seoul. ^ top ^

China and the EU could issue a formal climate change statement by next week, ex-UN official says (SCMP)
China and the European Union may deliver a joint climate statement around the time of next week's G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, part of an effort to formalise their alliance on tackling climate change in wake of the US' withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate deal, a former United Nations official and climate observer said. Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a press teleconference on Wednesday that the EU and China “might be able to deliver that [the joint climate statement] around the G20”. “I do expect that, and I do know now, negotiators from both sides have continued to work to solve that issue,” Figueres said. The parties were blocked from making such a statement due to their spat over trade disputes during a bilateral summit in Brussels nearly a month ago. As world leaders of the G20 group, including China's President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, prepare to meet on July 7-8, the two sides are still working on to restore the global climate leadership. “There is actually no disagreement between the EU and China on climate change,” Figueres said. “The fact is that the statement failed to be released because of a very specific issue on trade, but not because of climate change.” Li Shuo, senior global policy adviser for Greenpeace in East Asia, echoed Figueres in saying that “efforts are still ongoing and there is some hope that the statement might still be published, possibly on the fringes of the G20 summit in July”. Despite lacking a formal statement, the EU and China both warned US President Donald Trump at the Brussels summit in early June that it was “a big mistake” to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said during the summit that “the fight against climate change, and all the research, innovation and technological progress it will bring, will continue, with or without the US”. During Wednesday's teleconference, Gail Whiteman, director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Britain's Lancaster University, called on the heads of G20 to “stand up for climate science, in terms of funding and embracing the results of evidence”. Whiteman said French President Emmanuel Macron has been encouraging climate scientists to continue their work. She contrasted Macron, who, she said, considers France as a base for climate science, with US President Trump who has labelled global warming in Twitter posts as a “hoax” created by and for the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive. ^ top ^

Think tank urges EU to embrace free-trade talks with China (China Daily)
The European Union should reconsider its China policy and reset its priority portfolio by starting bilateral free-trade talks urgently, allowing both sides to make a strong commitment to globalization, experts from a leading Chinese thinktank urged on Tuesday. Following Premier Li Keqiang's recent call for a feasibility study on bilateral free-trade talks, the experts said such actions are essential in cushioning the rising negative impacts of a string of global challenges. "Against the fast-changing global environment, the European Union must accelerate its steps to reconsider its priorities in dealing with China," said Chi Fulin, president of the China Institute of Reform and Development, who was speaking at the two-day Europe-China Forum, which ended on Tuesday. "I believe one pressing priority should be EU-China free-trade negotiations, which the EU has already started or concluded with several Asian partners," said Chi, who led a group of Chinese experts to the forum that was organized by the Mission of China to the European Union, the Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe, and his organization. Chi said the wide global recognition of the Belt and Road Initiative, which is mainly aimed at better connecting Asia, Europe, and Africa, should work as a "new trigger" for the EU to reset its economic and trade policy portfolio as it relates to China. Chi said China had proposed a wide "free-trade network" that would connect all countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, which should also be in the interest of the EU, which isa global forerunner and champion of free trade and globalization. "So, logically, the EU, of which many member states have been passionate about participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, should engage with China in launching free-trade feasibility studies as soon as possible," said Chi. But the EU has not responded to China's proposal. At the EU-China summit earlier this month, Premier Li said he would be "fully supporting" free-trade talks, should the EU agree to start them. The major impediment from the European side seems to be that both sides have already listed their 2020 cooperation plans, in which talks about a bilateral investment pact were high on the agenda. The Europeans believe trade talks can only be started after the investment pact negotiations have been concluded. Chi has urged the EU to combine the ongoing investment talks with free-trade negotiations, something that would indicate the "deepened ambitions" of both sides to strengthen economic relations. In responding to Chi's proposal, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom said the EU would take a "realistic approach" in reviewing the proposal, and noted that it also takes time for the European Commission to "obtain a mandate" from member states to kick off such talks. Yang Yanyi, head of the mission of the People's Republic of China to the European Union, has also requested both sides deepen trust and cooperation to cope with global uncertainties. She confirmed that launching a feasibility study into free-trade talks is high on China's agenda. Representatives of businesses at the forum responded actively toward the China-EU free-trade proposal. "This arrangement, in my opinion, will be reducing the cost and tariffs hugely and removing barriers for both sides," said Liu Miao, chairman of LuzhouLaojiao Group, a leading Chinese liquor producer from Sichuan province. At the forum, Liao said Switzerland and Iceland have already set excellent examples to the EU of harnessing such trade deals with China. "We believe this can also be turned into a reality between China and the EU, the world's influential economies," Liao said. Zhao Jinping, a senior researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council, a think tank for the central government, has also urged the EU to accelerate the speed at which it engages with China, economically and strategically. "Against rising elements related to globalization, we must recognize what are negative and what are positive," said Zhao."In my view, the Belt and Road Initiative is a positive contribution of global public good from the Chinese side." Zhao said investment and trade activities between China and countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative are robust, which have laid a solid foundation to deepen free-trade talks and form free-trade networks. "Facing rising uncertainties and challenges, China and the EU should work together to inject more confidence and certainty into this multilateral world," said Zhao. Zhao noted that United States President Donald Trump has softened his tone with regard to China and shown interest in the Belt and Road Initiative. Zhao also said the risk of a trade war between the US and China have already greatly reduced following intensive contacts between the two nations in recent months. "This is a nice reminder to the EU and we hope that the EU can replace its China policies that were created in old circumstances," said Zhao."It must make its policies applicable to the new situation of the changing world." ^ top ^

Duterte thanks 'good friend' China as it donates weapons for Philippine Islamist fight (SCMP)
China has donated thousands of guns to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to help Manila in its battle against Islamist gunmen who are holed up in a southern city. The small shipment of assault and sniper rifles and ammunition is the first example of Chinese military aid since Duterte threatened to move away from Manila's traditional ally America and seek Beijing's support. The weapons shipment, worth some 50 million yuan (US$7.35 million) “highlights the dawn of a new era in Philippine-Chinese relations”, Duterte said. China has also donated 15 million pesos (US $300,000) in relief assistance to help Marawi recover. Hours earlier Wednesday, the military said they had found the bodies of 17 civilians killed by the Islamists, self-styled followers of the Islamic State movement (IS) who have besieged the city of Marawi since May 23. Philippine troops, backed by airstrikes and artillery, have battled for over a month to drive the extremists out of Marawi but the militants have fought back. Nearly 400 people have been killed, including 290 militants and 70 troops, according to official figures. Most of Marawi's 200,000 residents have fled and much of the city is in ruins. “We are almost on bended knees sometimes because of lack of equipment. It is a good thing we have a good friend like China who is very understanding,” Duterte said. Duterte has been reluctant to acknowledge American help, saying recently that he had no knowledge about US technical assistance to the troops fighting in Marawi. The Philippines, which has a mutual defence treaty with the United States, has long relied on US-supplied arms. But in a swipe at America - which has criticised his flagship war on drugs - Duterte has said he will seek more weapons from China and Russia. Still, earlier this month the US gave the Philippines new weapons after Duterte complained of receiving “second hand” military equipment. Chinese ambassador Zhao Jianhua, who formally handed over the weapons, said a “second batch” of weapons would soon be delivered. “The donation is not big but it is big in the sense that it marks a new era in relations between our two militaries,” the ambassador said. “The Chinese side would like to explore the possibility of joint training, intelligence sharing and joint military exercises in the area of fighting terrorism,” he added. Duterte, who had declared martial law in the southern Philippines due to the Marawi siege, said he would not lift it until the military and police said conditions were safe. The president assured troops on Wednesday that he would protect them from any legal action if they accidently killed civilians while battling militants. Duterte said in a televised speech that troops don't intend to kill civilians, but they should “not hesitate to engage just because there are civilians. It is the duty of the civilians to flee or seek cover.” He assured the troops that he would fight to keep them out of prison for accidental deaths. “We will face charges, sometimes massacre, you know a bullet hits through and through, one squeeze of the Armalite (rifle), it bursts out about three, four. Keep on pressing it,” Duterte said. “And my orders to you, if he carries a gun, he is not a soldier, he is not a policeman, just kill him. That is my order, because they will kill us.” The unprecedented militant siege in Marawi has sparked fears that the Islamic State group is tapping into Muslim unrest in the southern Philippines to carve out a foothold in Southeast Asia. The U.S. military deployed a P3 Orion surveillance aircraft to Marawi at the request of the Philippine military. Australia also plans to deploy two military surveillance planes. ^ top ^

Xi's trip to inject positive energy into global economy (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping's upcoming trip to Russia and Germany, starting on Monday, is expected to inject positive energy into the global economy amid China's efforts to boost free trade and open economies, analysts said. Xi will make the state visits through July 6 at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, who confirmed the trip on Tuesday. The president will also attend the 12th Group of 20 summit on July 7 and 8 in Hamburg, Germany. It will be Xi's fifth time participating in the G20 summit since he was elected China's president in 2013. Chen Fengying, a senior researcher on the world economy at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that at the G20 Hamburg summit, China is likely to offer its solutions to such issues as globalization, the revolution in intelligent industries and how to make development sustainable. During the G20 Hangzhou summit in Zhejiang province last year, China contributed to improving global governance by proposing innovation, structural reform and free trade, crucial elements for the recovery of the global economy, she said. The success of the G20 Hangzhou summit will help leaders reach consensus at Hamburg, she added. Chen Yurong, a senior researcher in Eurasian studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said that the countries should work together to keep the multilateral discussions going to achieve win-win cooperation at a time when the global economy is facing more challenges. China and Russia are facing more opportunities to boost pragmatic cooperation, especially in infrastructure and energy, amid the two countries' ongoing efforts to align the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union, Chen Yurong said. Cooperation projects in infrastructure construction and energy between China and Russia include the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, the Moscow-Kazan high speed railway, Arctic sea route exploration and energy pipelines. The two countries will be able to deepen cooperation in areas including education, energy, manufacturing, sports, tourism and trade under the framework of the Belt and Road as well as the EEU, she added. Jin Yong, a professor of international relations at the Communication University of China, said that Germany plays a key role in China's economic cooperation with Europe, and Xi's visit will bring more opportunities for the two countries to boost pragmatic cooperation. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the China-Germany diplomatic relationship, and Premier Li Keqiang's official visit to Germany four weeks ago has also brought positive progress in bilateral ties, he added. ^ top ^

China, Japan to hold talks on maritime affairs (Xinhua)
China and Japan will hold the seventh round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs this week in Japan, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday. The meeting will be held in Fukuoka from Thursday to Friday, spokesman Lu Kang told a routine news briefing. Officials representing foreign ministries, defense ministries, marine law enforcement and management departments of both sides will attend the talks, according to the spokesman. China is ready to exchange opinions on maritime-related issues with the Japanese side and strengthen understanding and mutual trust, he added. The China-Japan high-level consultations on maritime affairs was set up in 2012. The sixth round of consultations was in December 2016 in Haikou, capital of Hainan Province, where the two sides agreed to work on an air and maritime contact system between their defense ministries as early as possible.  ^ top ^

Nationalists link warship launch to opium war humiliation, hailing 'new era' for navy (SCMP)
When Beijing launched what it describes as the most advanced and biggest warship in Asia on Wednesday it set off a nationalist frenzy, with many online and in the media noting that the date coincided with the 177th anniversary of the start of the first opium war, which saw Hong Kong ceded to Britain.  The link was not made by officials, but the significance of the date was not lost on military observers, mainland media and online commenters. Retired rear admiral Zhang Zhaozhong, a popular television commentator on military matters, recalled China's old Type 051 destroyer being dwarfed by a US cruiser using the Aegis system decades ago, which he said felt like “a slap in the face”. “[The launch of the new warship] is the first time the Chinese navy has felt proud and elevated in more than 100 years,” Zhang wrote on Weibo. Others on internet forums such as Tiexue hailed the symbolism of launching the Chinese-made Type 055 guided-missile destroyer – which has a displacement of more than 12,000 tonnes – on the anniversary of China's epic defeat by a foreign fleet. When dozens of British gunboats arrived at the mouth of the Pearl River on June 28, 1840, the Qing dynasty had only rowboats at their disposal – versus the Royal Navy's battleships with their powerful cannons. It was a loss that is still firmly lodged in the national psyche. “Dare you try and invade the Chinese people again?” read an editorial on news website ArmyStar. On the Military Library blog, the launch was seen as a milestone: “Please don't forget the humiliation on June 28,1840. Also please don't forget June 28, 2017 – a new era for the Chinese navy.” Meanwhile, a day after the warship was launched, President Xi Jinping landed in Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover. China's first aircraft carrier is expected to make a port call in the city next week. Nationalist mouthpiece Global Times said in an editorial that although the country was strong enough to defend itself against foreign invaders, the push to develop its navy reflected a deep-seated insecurity stemming from the traumatic history. “It will take a long time to get over that,” it said. The destroyer was built at the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai and is equipped with air defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, PLA Daily reported. It was an important step towards China's dream of having a strong naval force, General Zhang Youxia, a member of the Central Military Commission, said. ^ top ^

China, Finland pledge further cooperation in Arctic affairs, sustainable development (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday held talks with Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila, pledging to enhance cooperation in Arctic affairs and sustainable development. Sipila attended the opening ceremony of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2017, also known as Summer Davos, in the northeastern coastal city of Dalian, on Tuesday morning. Finland is an important cooperative partner of China in Northern Europe, said Li. China is ready to work with Finland to carry forward the traditional friendship, expand innovation cooperation and push for an in-depth development of bilateral cooperation, he said. Finland has advantages in environmental protection, technology and winter sports, and the two countries enjoy great potential for cooperation, he said. He called on the two sides to deepen cooperation in above areas as well as in information communication, intelligent manufacturing, energy conservation and urbanization. He also suggested the two nations jointly explore third-party markets and strengthen cooperation in tourism, civil aviation and people-to-people exchanges. Li extended his welcome to Finland on assuming the rotating presidency of the Arctic Council for 2017 to 2019, saying China is willing to take this opportunity to improve exchanges and cooperation with Finland under the framework of the Arctic Council. China also wants to enhance communication with Finland on international and regional affairs, and deepen cooperation within the framework of China-EU cooperation and China-Nordic countries cooperation, he added. Sipila applauded the development of bilateral relations and cooperation, saying Finland hopes to cooperate with China in the areas of smart cities, environmental protection, clean energy, food, digital information and winter sports. Finland supports China's hosting a successful Winter Olympic Games in 2022 and welcomes tourists and investments from China, he said. Finland is ready to conduct exchanges and cooperation with China on Arctic affairs, he added. After the talks, the two leaders witnessed the signing ceremony of three cooperative documents in energy, sports and sustainable development.  ^ top ^

China, South Korea likely to hold talks at G20 amid strained ties over missile shield, says diplomat (SCMP)
Top leaders from China and South Korea are likely to hold talks during the G20 summit early next month in a bid to soothe tense relations between the Asian neighbours amid a prolonged row over the deployment of a US-developed anti-missile system, a senior South Korean diplomat said. But Enna Park, South Korea's ambassador for public diplomacy, said Beijing first needs to show flexibility over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system to avoid the strained ties between the two nations getting further damaged. South Korea says the missile shield is needed to defend itself against Pyongyang's accelerated nuclear weapons programme. Beijing says the system, especially its powerful radar which could be used to track China's missile systems, poses a threat to its own security. “We understand some security concerns that China has and we are willing to make further explanation to alleviate Beijing's concern that THAAD will be used against Chinese interests, but China simply doesn't want to listen to us,” Park said in an interview with the South China Morning Post. Park said breaking the diplomatic impasse with China over the US anti-missile system, which has plunged relations to a historical low since the establishment of formal ties 25 years ago, is the biggest challenge for President Moon Jae-in, who took office last month. “We've made it very clear that THAAD will not be part of a US missile defence system [targeting China], but regrettably we haven't had many chances to explain our stance and China is not yet ready to have in-depth consultations on the issue,” she said. Her remarks came days ahead of President Moon's meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington later this week. Park said their discussions would focus on strengthening their security alliance in the face of growing nuclear threats from North Korea. Although Moon has said he has no intention to put THAAD on hold or even reverse the deployment as Beijing has repeatedly requested, the new South Korean leader has launched an environmental impact assessment of the anti-missile system, which effectively delays its deployment. “I don't think President Moon can easily change the decision and I can hardly imagine there will be any big, sudden change of our policy over THAAD [following the summit between Trump and Moon],” said Park. It was “very likely” Moon would meet President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg in early July, she added. The US missile shield and North Korea's nuclear threats are expected to be high on the agenda for the first summit between Moon and Xi, according to Zhang Liangui, a Chinese expert on Korean affairs at the Central Party School in Beijing. “The ball is in China's court and it'll be hard to see any breakthroughs if China refuses to heed South Korea's concerns over Pyongyang's repeated provocations by demanding the abolishment of THAAD as the prerequisite for improving bilateral ties,” Zhang said. According to the South Korean diplomat, Moon would also be interested in making a trip to China to patch things up over THAAD because “the potential benefit they may get from deeper partnership is much bigger than the single issue of THAAD”. “Our alliance with the US is the cornerstone of our security and our relationship with China is also indispensable in order to secure peace in the peninsula and to solve North Korea's nuclear problems. “It is very regrettable that one single issue of THAAD has overshadowed all the other cooperation. We are suffering from the loss and China's cutting off normal business relations with South Korean companies does not help the Chinese economy,” she said. Beijing's economic retaliation against South Korean companies, such as the Lotte conglomerate's Lotte Mart retail stores across China, has stoked anti-Chinese sentiments among Koreans. According to an opinion poll by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in March, China has for the first time overtaken former coloniser Japan in the ranking of South Koreans' least favoured countries. “Our people see Chinese retaliation as a way to twist our arms, which reminded us of the past coercive behaviour of the Chinese empire,” Park said. “I hope the Chinese position on THAAD is not a form of trend for Beijing to be more assertive in pushing its agenda, which does not help China's foreign policy goals,” she said. Lee Seong-hyon, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, also expressed concerns about China's aggressive response to THAAD, which he said has created a negative impact on China's image and stoked resentment among China's neighbours, many of whom were traditionally close to Beijing. “When you alienate your immediate friends and they fear your behaviour, China should think more strategically about how its projection of power is generating negative influence around its neighbourhood. Some people in the West are even suggesting South Korea should get closer to Japan while strengthening its alliance with the US. I am sure China would not like that scenario. “China used to be a good example for countries like South Korea to imitate, but now our people fear China, how can we follow China's leadership like before?” he asked. North Korea appears to have emerged as a winner as Pyongyang has taken advantage of disagreements and tensions between China, South Korea and Japan, Park noted. Zhang agreed. “The THAAD issue was actually created by North Korea's reckless nuclear brinkmanship, which has successfully sown discord between Beijing and Seoul,” he said. Although there was no clear sign of an imminent solution to the row over THAAD, Park said she remained optimistic about improving relations with China and restoring the two countries' traditional friendship “because it serves our common interests”. ^ top ^

Chinese premier to visit Singapore in sign of improving ties (SCMP)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has accepted an invitation to make his first official visit to Singapore in a sign of easing tensions between the two over the South China Sea. The invitation was conveyed by Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Tuesday during his meeting with Li on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning province, Channel News Asia reported, citing a statement from Singapore's Prime Minister's Office. Li said he looked forward to the visit, according to the report. The Singaporean government statement did not say when Li would make the trip, and Beijing has yet to confirm the visit. It will be Li's first as premier. Relations between China and Singapore have been strained over Singapore's stance on recent maritime disputes in the South China Sea. In November, the situation worsened when Hong Kong seized nine Singaporean infantry carrier vehicles en route from Taiwan on a container ship that had been used in military exercises. Although the city state is not directly involved in the long-standing territorial dispute, Singapore has irritated Beijing for siding with the United States and China's rival claimants on the contentious issue. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's conspicuous absence from last month's belt and road summit in Beijing was widely seen as further evidence of a tense relationship. “We have seen signs of improving ties between the two nations, especially following proactive steps on the part of Singapore ... in the past weeks,” said Du Jifeng, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Li's visit would be an important step in restoring friendly ties, he said. “Both sides have realised that deteriorating ties are not in their interests and that they need to put aside their differences and move forward,” Du said. But Singapore was unlikely to change its policy of seeking a security alliance with the US while pursuing close economic and business ties with China, he said. During his meeting with Li, Tharman said Singapore took a long-term view of Singapore-China relations, the report said. Both sides also agreed to strengthen economic cooperation, especially on the belt and road trade plan, and to speed up talks on the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement upgrade. On a visit to Beijing early this month, Singaporean Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan voiced support for Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious trade initiative and said bilateral ties were “in good working order”. ^ top ^

Catholic Church in China launches patriotic drive as Sino-Vatican talks proceed on and off (Global Times)
The Catholic Church has to establish a "Chinese Catholic Church with Chinese Characteristics" and accept Chinese culture, including Communist ideology, if it hopes to reach a larger Chinese audience, an article published last month with the approval of the Vatican's Secretariat of State said. "As long as the Chinese Communist Party is the only leading party in the government, Marxism will continue to be the ideological guideline for society. Thus, the Chinese Catholic Church will have to redefine its role and relationship with the Party and its ideological theories," Father Joseph You Guo Jiang, S.J. wrote in La Civilta Cattolica, a Rome-based periodical whose articles are directly revised by the Secretariat of State of the Holy See before being published. "This does not necessarily mean that the Church has to agree completely with Party politics and values, but it must find a flexible and effective way to continue its mission and ministry in China," he wrote. The article is echoed by a training session for the Catholic clergy and laity held by China's State Bureau of Religious Affairs last week. Officials called upon 150 Catholic representatives to continue the mission of signification, be patriotic and hold up the principle of Church independency. Apart from ideology, the article also encouraged the Church to use digital technology and social media, such as WeChat and Weibo, to evangelize in China and share gospel values in a more efficient and effective way. Father Jiang's article has been seen by many as representing an important voice in the Vatican regarding its strategy in China. It's also a signal of goodwill amid the ongoing China-Vatican dialogue on forging diplomatic relations, the progress of which seems to have slowed down in recent months. "I think it is a very important article because it signals another step forward after Pope Benedict's 2007 letter to the Chinese," Francesco Sisci, a senior researcher at the Center of European Studies at the Renmin University of China and a Vatican affairs expert, told the Global Times, referring to the letter that attempted to bring a new chapter to the relationship between the Vatican and China. "While the 2007 letter opened up collaboration with the Chinese government, the article signals a new thinking in the Catholic doctrine. It opens up the possibility of collaboration with the Communist Party of China, but says also that the Church can't be an instrument of any government," he said. Last October, it was reported that dialogue between China and the Vatican on forging diplomatic relations was approaching the final stage. In November, two Chinese bishops recognized by the Holy See were ordained in China, an example of the improving ties between China and the Vatican. But the next few months saw no progress reported in the Rome-Beijing dialogue, leading to guesses and speculations about what had slowed it down. Sources familiar with the Vatican and the Chinese Church said negotiations are still going on, and there has been progress. "However, there are many details that need to be sorted out that are very important for both sides. These details are about religious issues, for the Vatican, and State prerogatives, for Beijing. There is no issue of principle, but these details are many and delicate," Professor Sisci said. […]. The legal status of bishops continues to be a thorny issue in China-Vatican relations. "From what I heard, the two sides seem to have reached a near consensus on the appointment of future bishops. But they disagree on the treatment of existing bishops," Wang Meixiu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. Currently there are around 40 bishops who are part of the underground church and have received papal, but not government, support. Although China recognized the two bishops ordained by the Holy See last year, its distrust of some underground bishops - those who are recognized by the Vatican but not by the Chinese authorities - is obvious, and its treatment of some bishops often results in Catholic opposition. According to some foreign media, underground bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province disappeared in May. On Monday, the Vatican issued a statement on the situation, saying the Holy See was "profoundly saddened for this and other similar episodes that unfortunately do not facilitate ways of understanding." Taiwan is also a factor that is believed to be part of the dialogue, especially after Panama announced that it had cut its diplomatic ties with Taipei and switched them to Beijing on June 12. This makes the Vatican one of the remaining 20 countries, and the only one in Europe, that still maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Recognizing the closing Chinese mainland-Vatican ties, some Taiwan residents have hoped for "dual recognition," which would allow the Vatican to recognize both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. "Such dual diplomatic recognition of both Taipei and Beijing would entail embracing Chinese and not abandoning the 23 million Taiwanese," said an open letter published in the Taipei Times. But Chinese experts say this is impossible, and if diplomatic relations are to be established, the Vatican will have to cut its ties with Taiwan. "Generally, the Taiwan question isn't at the center of negotiations," Wang said. The La Civilta Cattolica article also provides one answer to a hot debate among Catholics regarding the Church's China strategy nowadays: does it want to Christianize China or sinicize the Catholic Church in China? China has been tightening its management of religions since 2014, and Chinese religious authorities have said the country should sinicize religions so as to help prevent hostile foreign forces from altering China's ideology and political system through the use of religion. […]. Professor Wang said Christianity has always embraced "localization" so as to better approach the local community, but the idea of sinification, which sounds more political, has set alarm bells ringing among some Catholics. Many Catholics fear that this will result in a loss of independence of the Church and undermine its relationship with the Holy See. "That calls for flexibility but at the same time the Church wants to be faithful to the gospel of Christ and that calls for firmness in matters of faith. Combining the two is a challenge for the Church at all time in all countries, also in China today," Father Heyndrickx said. "Missionaries went to China to Christianize China. In the process they often did not sufficiently respect Chinese culture. History rightly blames them for it. Today China proclaims that it wants to sinicize foreign religions, including Christian faith. The question on the table now is whether China is ready to respect Christian faith. If not history will also blame China," he said. Professor Sisci takes a milder attitude. "I think perhaps the Catholic Church should divide the issue. In principle the Pope said the Chinese Church should breathe with two lungs, or walk with two legs: a Chinese leg and a leg of the unity with the Universal Church … Certainly this position will find a lot of problems in its application, but with reasonable attitude on both sides, once the principle is accepted, solutions to the many concrete problems can be found more easily."  ^ top ^

China, Afghanistan to strengthen anti-terror cooperation (Xinhua)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani on Saturday pledged to enhance cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Wang Yi, on a visit here, expressed the hope that both countries will continue to support each other on issues of core interest and deepen cooperation in anti-terror fight. He also said China welcomes Afghanistan to actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. Wang reaffirmed China's steadfast support for the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process. He reiterated that China supports the revival of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States and supports the activation of the work of the liaison group between the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Afghanistan, which will help create favorable atmosphere for the peace process. Rabbani pledged that Afghanistan will actively take part in the Belt and Road Initiative, strengthen cooperation with China in fight against terrorism and take firm actions to crack down on the "East Turkistan Islamic Movement" terrorist group. He appreciated China's constructive role in helping push forward his country's peace and reconciliation process and vowed continuous efforts in this regard in whatever circumstances. He also expressed gratitude for the active role China has played in the efforts of Afghanistan and Pakistan in improving ties. ^ top ^

Pakistan deploys force of 15,000 to protect Chinese nationals (SCMP)
Pakistan has deployed a 15,000-strong military force to protect Chinese nationals working on energy and infrastructure projects in the country, the president said on Sunday, after the abduction of a Chinese couple raised safety concerns. President Mamnoon Hussain told visiting Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Islamabad that the protection of Chinese citizens working in Pakistan was the “top priority” of the government, according to a statement issued by the presidency. Beijing is investing about US$50 billion in its South Asian neighbour as part of a plan unveiled in 2015 to link its far-western Xinjiang region to Gwadar port in Balochistan with a series of infrastructure, power and transport upgrades. But fears over safety arose last month when two Chinese workers were abducted in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Balochistan province, which is at the heart of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project but racked by separatist and Islamist insurgencies. Authorities were going to all possible efforts to arrest those responsible for the kidnapping, Hussain said. China has said it would cooperate with Pakistani authorities to investigate whether the couple – who were allegedly killed by the Islamic State group in the country – had been illegally preaching. So far there has been no official confirmation of the pair's fate. Pakistan has been battling Islamist and nationalist insurgencies in mineral-rich Balochistan since 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed in the fighting. Islamic State has been making inroads in the country through alliances with local militant outfits, although its presence is generally downplayed by the government. ^ top ^

China's lawyers association signs MOU with Belt, Road nations (Xinhua)
The All China Lawyers Association (ACLA) on Saturday signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with five nations along the Belt and Road to strengthen legal cooperation. The five countries are India, Laos, Mongolia, Poland and Thailand. According to the agreement, lawyers associations of these countries will expand legal cooperation with China in fields such as infrastructure building, enterprise investment and financing, manufacturing and information technologies, so as to guarantee the smooth development of major cooperation projects. Law firms of the five countries and China will establish affiliated agencies at each other's side, and offer convenience to facilitate high-level exchanges and the implementation of major plans. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China Focus: CPC sets anti-corruption records over past five years (Xinhua)
China has finished political and disciplinary inspections of 31 major universities, including Peking and Tsinghua universities. A meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Wednesday reviewed a report on the inspections. Some of the universities were found to have problems such as private use of public vehicles, banquets at public expense and overseas business trips against regulations, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in June. High risks of graft were found in operation of university-affiliated businesses, construction projects, and management of research funds. Over the last five years, inspections have covered local governments, public institutions, state-owned enterprises, financial institutions and universities for the first time since the Party was founded in 1921. More than 200 vice-ministerial or higher levels of officials and managers have been investigated since the 18th CPC National Congress, according to Zhang Hao, a professor from Party School of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of CPC. "The number has tripled that of the 2007 to 2012 period," he said. Apart from "tigers", or high-level officials engaged in major graft cases, "flies," or grass-root officials, have also been addressed. A report released by the Supreme People's Procuratorate of China in March said graft cases of over 17,000 low-level officials had been handled over the past year, mainly in land grabs, demolitions and fund management related to agriculture, rural area and farmers. Chen Guoqin, a township-level land resources cadre in Qijiang District of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, was removed from duty in 2015 after receiving chickens, meat and 20,000 yuan (3,000 U.S. dollars). "I slept at a bus station for a night, as Chen took all my cash from me for an application for a property certificate," the farmer who reported Chen for graft recalled. As the anti-corruption storm intensifies across China, efforts are spread abroad to chase back the corrupt suspects on the run around the world. The office in charge of fugitive repatriation and asset recovery under the central anti-corruption coordination group said since it was established three years ago, more than 3,000 people who had escaped overseas had returned or been repatriated from 90 countries and regions, including 541 CPC and government workers. Over 9 billion yuan has been recovered, according to figures released earlier this week. The CPC also introduced rules and regulations, such as the norms of the political life within the Party under the new situation and a regulation on intra-Party supervision. These rules are a tool for supervision that ask CPC members to police themselves, assist inspections within the Party and encourage the public to take part in the anti-graft drive. A survey by the National Bureau of Statistics in late 2016 showed 92.9 percent of the people satisfied with the ethical conduct and anti-corruption campaigns of the CPC, 17.9 percentage points higher than in 2012. Wang Yukai with the Chinese Academy of Governance said the anti-graft battle since the 18th CPC National Congress had mainly targeted existing cases, and more systematic efforts were expected to prevent new cases from happening. ^ top ^

Ten bodies found, 93 missing at southwest China landslide site (SCMP)
Rescue workers in Sichuan province on the mainland have recovered more bodies, but 93 people remain missing following a massive landslide that engulfed a mountain village. Ten bodies had been discovered at the disaster site by yesterday afternoon, and 15 people were taken off the missing list after being located elsewhere by their families or local governments, the emergency management office in Maoxian county said on Sunday. China News Service reported that nine survivors had returned to Xinmo, a village located among steep mountains that was virtually wiped out when more than 60 homes were swept away by an avalanche of mud and boulders early on Saturday. The local government in the region has announced the names of the 93 missing villagers and their ID numbers. Signs of life had been detected in the rubble in the first hours after the landslide on Saturday, but faded away before they could be dug to, local media reported. The local government said 142 tourists were recently in the area, which has some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in China, but had left before the disaster occurred. Another 154 tourists, including 37 students and teachers from Chengdu, had been escorted out by soldiers after being stranded for a day in Songping village, another tourist attraction only 4km from Xinmo, local news portal reported. More than 3,200 rescue workers, as well as 36 large excavators, 10 power generators and 10 sets of heartbeat detectors had been deployed for the rescue operation by Sunday afternoon. Photos posted by the local government on its Weibo microblog showed equipment and search-and-rescue dogs being moved by a makeshift rope pulley across a fast-moving river near the disaster site. An official from the fire department in Chengdu, the provincial capital, said the impromptu operation cut more an hour from the time it took to deliver the equipment and animals. One person involved in the rescue work told the Caixin news service that relief efforts after large landslides in mountain regions were dangerous, because large-scale digging could cause fresh rock falls. Some former village residents who had moved away to find work had returned to Xinmo by Sunday. A few of them held simple memorial ceremonies for the dead. Yang Youhua, a former villager with four relatives missing, told news portal he had given up hope that his loved ones would return. “I will feel worse if I see [their bodies],” Yang, who now works in Jiangsu province with his wife, was quoted as saying. Officials commanding the rescue operation said the first 72 hours after a landslide were critical, and they vowed to spare no effort in searching for survivors. They said each team of rescuers had been paired with two locals who were familiar with the region, to help make the search under the debris as efficient as possible. The China National Commission for Disaster Reduction has ordered local governments across the country to step up monitoring for signs of potential natural disasters – especially torrential rains and flooding or mudslides. A directive on the commission's website said inspections should be carried out at schools, kindergartens, nursing homes and tourist attractions during the flood season, and that timely alerts should be sent via radio, television and mobile phones. Maoxian county is home to about 110,000 people, many of them Tibetans and ethnic Qiangs, according to the government's website. ^ top ^

Torrential rain wreaks havoc in south China (Xinhua)
Days of torrential rain triggered floods and landslides in many parts of south China, forcing the evacuation of more than 450,000 people. Over 3,000 rescuers are searching for 93 persons still buried under rocks and mud by a landslide in southwest China's Sichuan Province. The landslide engulfed 62 homes in Xinmo village in Maoxian County in the Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba Saturday morning, blocking a 2-km section of river and burying 1,600 meters of road. Ten people have been confirmed dead and 15 people had been taken off the list of missing as they were not in Xinmo village when the disaster struck, said Xu Zhiwen, deputy chief of Aba prefecture. Only three people from one family were rescued hours after the landslide. The chance of survival for the missing ones is slim, rescuers said. Rain-triggered disasters have also left at least 22 people dead and six missing in provinces of Jiangxi, Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan and Anhui. In Jianxi, heavy rain that started to lash on Thursday has affected 1.8 million people and forced 270,000 people to be relocated to safe places in 47 counties and districts, the provincial flood control authorities said. Flash floods and landslides have left six people dead and three others missing in Jiangxi. The rain is forecast to weaken on Monday and Tuesday but to get heavier again on Wednesday and Thursday. In Guizhou, nine people were killed and two remained missing after torrential rain pounded the region over the past few days. Heavy rain also damaged 35,418 hectares of crops and inflicted a direct economic loss of 610 million yuan (89 million U.S. dollars). In Hunan, 151,900 people were evacuated and 642 small and medium-sized reservoirs overflowed in wake of the largest rainfall this year. Three people of a family in Luxi County of Hunan were found dead in a landslide that occurred on Saturday. The water in 14 rivers along the Yangtze River valley has risen above warning levels and heavy rains in the coming few days could further raise the water level in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the Changjiang Water Resources Commission said Sunday. ^ top ^

Heavy fines included in draft law to protect nation's soil (China Daily)
A draft law announced on Thursday promises funds and a basket of comprehensive measures to reduce soil pollution, including heavy punishments to farmland polluters. China faces a grim situation in terms of soil conditions, said Luo Qingquan, deputy head of the National People's Congress' Environment and Resources Protection Committee. A 2014 survey released by the ministries of environmental protection and land and resources showed 16.1 percent of surveyed spots were found to be polluted. Luo said the prevention and control of soil pollution is closely related to public health, grain product safety and economic growth. There currently is no specific law to lead the systematic and scientific prevention and control of soil pollution. Mitigation is generally a difficult, lengthy and costly process. The draft law on soil pollution prevention and control was submitted at the bimonthly session of China's top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, for the first reading on Thursday. The draft, with 94 articles in nine chapters, has stipulations on prevention and controls from start to finish, such as setting up technical standards, monitoring, risk assessment, restoration of polluted land and punishment for violations. According to the draft, China would conduct a national soil condition census every 10 years and build a monitoring network to get updated data on the condition. The environmental authority would release the data. The Ministry of Environmental Protection has begun to establish a monitoring network, using 20,000 devices covering 99 percent of counties and 88 percent of major grain-growing areas. The number of devices will expand to 40,000 by the end of 2020. Among the stipulations in the draft law are chapters targeting pollution on farmland and construction lands. Farmland polluters would receive heavy fines, under the draft. They would face fines of up to 2 million yuan ($293,000) for discharging any sewage or other waste containing heavy metals or other pollutants on farmland or if caught applying manure or other materials containing toxic elements and this severely damaged the soil quality. The draft also promises funds at the national and provincial levels to support projects cleaning up polluted land. Qiu Qiwen, head of soil quality management at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said the draft would provide solid legal support to facilitate the national campaign against soil pollution, launched in May 2016. ^ top ^



Cai Qi elected Beijing CPC chief (Xinhua)
Cai Qi was elected the secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Friday. He was elected at the first plenary session of 12th Beijing committee of the CPC. Chen Jining and Jing Junhai were elected as deputy CPC secretaries of Beijing. ^ top ^



Xi vows support to HK (Global Times)
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday that the central government will always support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in growing its economy and improving people's well-being as he kicked off his first visit to the city as president, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission. Xi arrived in Hong Kong at midday Thursday and met with outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, saying that the central government fully acknowledged his work during his five-year term of office. During the meeting, Xi said the practice of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong had been very successful. Xi will attend celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, and the inauguration of the fifth-term government of the HKSAR. More than 500 activities have been held in Hong Kong to celebrate the anniversary since January. Crowds at a Thursday performance at the bustling Central Plaza, told the Global Times that they have high expectations for the president's trip, and look forward to more "gifts" from the central government. Speaking to reporters at the airport, Xi said his Hong Kong tour would serve to express best wishes for the HKSAR, showcase the central government's support for Hong Kong, and help the region plan its future. The 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover is of great importance to Hong Kong, and the visit by the president shows that the central government attaches great importance to the region and its appreciation of the region's development during the period, said Hong Kong politicians. The past 20 years have proven that "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong is a successful experience and that message needs to be delivered to all Hongkongers and to the world, Wilson Or Chong Shing, a member of Hong Kong's Legislative Council, told the Global Times. "After the handover, Hongkongers were no longer bullied and insulted by colonialists. The central government has shown unconditional support for the development of the SAR, which is the blessing of the region and should be appreciated," Or said. Echoing Or, Victor Chan, vice president of the Hong Kong Association of Young Commentators, said that he expects more beneficial policies to develop the local economy, such as more involvement in the China-led Belt and Road initiative, and more measures to encourage the interaction of the younger generations. Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, another Hong Kong lawmaker, told the Global Times that he looks forward to better understanding the central government's expectations for Hong Kong during Xi's trip, as well as the position of Hong Kong in future development. The first decade after Hong Kong's return saw many challenges, such as the financial crisis and the SARS outbreak, while in the second decade, many young Hongkongers missed the opportunity for development due to a lack of understanding of the country's development, Or noted. During Xi's visit, he is expected to preside over a military parade by the local garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Friday, and will attend a banquet in the evening, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported. The Chinese military's first aircraft carrier the Liaoning will also visit Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the PLA troops stationed there. The visit will be part of the carrier's trans-regional training, Wu Qian, a military spokesperson said Thursday, adding that specific arrangements will be released as appropriate. Accompanied by Leung, Xi also met with senior figures of Hong Kong's executive, legislative and judicial bodies Thursday afternoon. Xi said the central government highly appreciates the administration's work and it has made huge progress in different sectors, especially in its fight against pro-independence forces and in safeguarding social stability, RTHK reported. Opposing "Hong Kong independence" is not only an issue of political correctness, more importantly, the seclusion mentality behind the pro-independence movement will jeopardize the younger generation's future development, said Tang Fei, a member of the Beijing-based Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies. Meanwhile, it is sending a wrong message that the organizers of the illegal Occupy Central movement are still not properly convicted, and it totally goes against the core values of Hong Kong law, said Or, adding that he hopes the central government will support the new administration of Hong Kong in defending core values and severely punish those involved. ^ top ^

Hong Kong activists call for rally after arrests at handover statue protest hours before Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives (SCMP)
Pro-democracy activists called on their supporters to rally outside the North Point police station on Thursday morning after 26 of them were arrested for besieging a symbolic statute in protest at the Chinese Communist Party's regime hours ahead of President Xi Jinping's arrival in Hong Kong. For the second time in three days, some 20 protesters from Demosisto, People Power and the League of Social Democrats climbed up and inside the Golden Bauhinia statue – a gift from Beijing to mark the handover – in Wan Chai. At 8am on Thursday, the League of Social Democrats used its Facebook page to call for supporters to gather outside the North Point station at 10am. It accused the police of delaying procedures as officers had yet to take statements from some of the league's 13 arrested members at that time, about 10 hours after they were arrested. Writing on Facebook at 8.49am, the league's chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen, who was arrested, also said he was told that officers from the regional crime unit would only take statements from them at 10am. “It seems that the police is delaying deliberately, so that Xi Jinping can smoothly arrive at the airport. They are preventing us from continuing to protest,” Ng accused. The police's spokesman could not be reached for comment on Thursday. On Wednesday, senior police superintendent Tse Kwok-wai denied there had been a security breach during the statue incident. “The area [at the time ] was still open to the public,” he said. “Members of the public as well as tourists could get there.” Tse said police had arrested 26 protesters, including 20 men and six women, aged 19 to 61. He added that the force respected the public's right to express their views. But he criticised the protesters for threatening public order and obstructing others. A police spokesman said the area had been gradually sealed off from 10pm Wednesday as planned. At 9pm, six protesters were still holding out and refused to give up. Officers then called in firefighters, who used a ladder to bring the protesters down. By 9.30pm, the last activist, Wong Ho-ming of the League of Social Democrats, had surrendered. The unexpected action came as 20 pan-democratic lawmakers signed a petition urging Xi to uphold “one country, two systems” – the framework that safeguards Hong Kong's rights and freedoms – and to relaunch the city's stalled political reform. Derek Lam Shun-hin, Demosisto's spokesperson, said in the early hours of Thursday that those arrested during the “peaceful” protest included lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung and secretary-general Joshua Wong Chi-fung. He added there was no information about the time of release at the moment. Lam also called on Hongkongers to take to the streets on Saturday to demonstrate the right to democracy. The police force issued a statement late on Wednesday condemning the “irresponsible behaviour of the protesters, which endangered their own safety and public safety, disregarded public order and interrupted Police's anti-terrorist security operation”. The statement went on to state that police “respect the public's freedoms of expression, speech and assembly'. News of Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo being released from prison on medical parole for late-stage liver cancer on Monday had intensified pro-democracy sentiments ahead of the visit by Xi, who arrives on Thursday morning to mark the 20th anniversary of the city's return to Chinese sovereignty. The protesters draped a black banner from the top of the statue demanding the unconditional release of Liu and universal suffrage for Hong Kong. “We are here to convey our demands and I am sure Xi will see it,” Raphael Wong Ho-ming, of the League, said. Police quickly sealed off the entire area around the square and began removing the protesters by 8.25pm, arresting them for causing a public nuisance. The pan-democratic lawmakers said they hoped to hand the petition to Xi at a banquet on Friday. “We agree that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China,” they wrote. “However ... the central government and its liaison office have increasingly emphasised 'one country' but derogated 'two systems', and even interfered with Hong Kong's internal affairs in multiple sectors.” They urged Xi to restart the political reform process and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, which Beijing had promised. In addition to the joint petition, the Democratic Party and Civic Party will hand in their own statements, calling for Xi to release Liu and all other political prisoners. In Beijing, Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University, said the “one country, two systems” model had been proven to be “very unsuccessful”. “Before [the introduction of the framework], there was no pro-independence movement in Hong Kong and Hongkongers clearly identified themselves as Chinese,” Yan said. “But now some young Hongkongers no longer identify themselves as Chinese. I don't think this indicates a success [but] a failure.” ^ top ^

Security lockdown as Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Hong Kong begins (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping begins his three-day visit to Hong Kong on Thursday under an unprecedented security blanket and on a tight schedule that includes reaching out to youth and other groups, as well as inaugurating a new government on the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. According to state television, he will make a speech on arrival at the airport, ahead of his keynote address at the main ceremony on Saturday. Roads are closed and parts of Wan Chai and Admiralty are no-go zones, while police are taking no chances against the global threat of terrorism with a massive air-land-sea security operation. According to force insiders, Xi's bodyguards will not be allowed to carry weapons, under Hong Kong laws. One source said they could seek an exemption from local authorities, but had not done so yet. On the first day of his packed itinerary, Xi is scheduled to visit the construction site of the West Kowloon Cultural District in the afternoon, where he will oversee the signing of a deal between Beijing and the city on setting up the Hong Kong Palace Museum. “The signing ceremony is likely to involve just a small group, with Xi overseeing along with both [Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying and [incoming leader] Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor,” a source said. Xi will then return to his hotel, before heading to Government House to attend a banquet hosted by the chief executive. In a reflection of the importance Beijing places on Hong Kong's youth development, the president will meet members of the Junior Police Call at its activity centre in Pat Heung on Friday. The group is tasked with fostering communication and links between police and young people. Xi will meet the youngsters after inspecting troops at the local garrison of the People' Liberation Army at Shek Kong Barracks in Yuen Long. He will also attend a function at the convention centre in Wan Chai in the afternoon, before a variety show at the same venue. On Saturday, Xi will oversee the swearing-in of Lam and her cabinet at the convention centre and hold a meeting with them afterwards. Before leaving the city by plane that day, he will visit the site of another major infrastructure project, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. Protests are also in the pipeline. On Wednesday, a handful of pro-democracy activists held a protest at the Golden Bauhinia statue in Wan Chai – a gift from Beijing to mark the 1997 handover – demanding the immediate release of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who is now out on medical parole with terminal liver cancer. The Civil Human Rights Front, which holds the annual prodemocracy march on July 1, announced it would hold a rally at Wan Chai on Friday evening. Some 11,000 police will protect Xi and first lady Peng Liyuan. They will be deployed at different observation posts along the official motorcade route to stop protesters from embarrassing Xi, security sources said. Police bulletproof cars will ferry the president and his wife to the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel in Wan Chai, where security equipment was set up on Wednesday. His delegation will be in the adjacent, more exclusive, Grand Hyatt. Both hotels will be closed to other guests. ^ top ^

HK can play bigger role in Belt & Road (Global Times)
As a "super-connector" for the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong can provide significant support in financial and legal services to boost China's cooperation with other countries under the Belt and Road initiative, experts said. As the city kicks off celebrations for the 20th anniversary of its return to China, President Xi Jinping will visit the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) from Thursday to Saturday. Although some mainland cities have become increasingly developed and internationalized and their economies have quantitatively surpassed Hong Kong in certain fields, "Hong Kong still has solid advantages at the international level and is playing an important role to serve the country's grand strategy," Tian Feilong, a legal expert and associate professor at Beihang University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "Hong Kong's most observed and solid advantage is its status as an international financial center. No mainland city can completely replace it right now, so Hong Kong's support for internationalization of the yuan and other services for investment and raising capital is essential," Tian said. Hong Kong is the biggest offshore yuan center in the world, and it can boost the yuan's exchange and financing among Belt and Road countries, and it can also use its capability in financial risk management to cushion against risks for infrastructure investment in the Belt and Road, Bank of China (Hong Kong)'s economic and policy research director Xie Guoliang told the China News Service. On March 23, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) announced that Hong Kong will become a new member upon deposit of its first capital contribution. SAR Financial Secretary Chan Mo-po said "Hong Kong's professional services and financial services sectors can contribute to the success of the AIIB. Hong Kong's participation in the AIIB can also create new opportunities for the relevant sectors, and can further reinforce our position as a premier international financial center," according to the HKSAR government website. According to a fact sheet issued by the Legislative Council, Hong Kong will subscribe to 7,651 capital shares in the AIIB (about 0.765 percent of total AIIB capital shares), of which 20 percent are paid-in shares and 80 percent are callable shares. The total capital subscription is $765.1 million. Of this amount, $153 million is the paid-in portion requiring actual payment and the remaining as contingent liability of Hong Kong. However, "there is a challenge for Chinese firms to raise capital in Hong Kong and invest in Belt and Road countries, because Hong Kong has established a sophisticated and strict financial mechanism that aims to reduce risks while seeking profits, and some Belt and Road countries' political and security situations are not stable," said Liang Haiming, chief economist with Guangzhou-based China iValley Research Institute. Apart from financing, Hong Kong is more internationalized than Chinese mainland cities in many areas, such as in legal systems and education, Tian said. China's massive investments in Belt and Road countries may bring issues in contract law or over commercial disputes, and Hong Kong's legal system is more recognized and accepted in the international community than the mainland's, so it can offer legal services, like arbitration and dispute mediation, for China and all other Belt and Road participants, Tian added. Together with the Belt and Road initiative, construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is a significant development opportunity for Hong Kong, as well as the whole Pearl River Delta, because this grand regional integration strategy will connect these cities by high-speed rail, and their port infrastructure will see them become an important part of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Tian noted. At the Fifth Session of the 12th National People's Congress of China in March, Premier Li Keqiang said the central government will draw up plans for the development of a city cluster in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to capitalize on the distinctive strengths of Hong Kong and Macao, elevating their roles in the development and opening-up of China's economy. "Hong Kong has many distinctive strengths to build the Greater Bay Area, like higher education, tech innovation, and also port management. Although many ports in the mainland have bigger capacities, Hong Kong is still much more developed in management experience and internationalization," Tian said. ^ top ^



Summer Davos forum closes, highlights inclusive growth (Xinhua)
2017 Summer Davos closed its annual meeting on Thursday in northeast China's coastal city of Dalian, highlighting technological innovation and inclusive growth for sustainable development. During the three-day Meeting of the New Champions 2017, more than 2,000 participants including officials and entrepreneurs from over 90 countries and regions shared their insights on economic globalization challenges, the sharing economy and new technology. The meeting was themed "Achieving Inclusive Growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution." Attendees tried to find ways to achieve a more inclusive style of growth that prioritizes meaningful job creation and sustainable development. China will increase access to the service and manufacturing sectors, relax restrictions on foreign ownership, and treat Chinese and foreign companies on an equal basis, said Premier Li Keqiang at the opening ceremony of the forum on Tuesday. "We will further ease market access in service and manufacturing sectors, relax foreign equity caps in some areas of interest, advance and improve the negative-list regulation model. Domestic and foreign companies are treated equally in the application of supportive policies," he said. The meeting highlighted China's economy. "China's growth is an incredible contribution to the global economy," said Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum (WEF) founder and executive chairman. China has been a major stabilizer and driving force for the world economy, contributing more than 30 percent of recent growth. Its GDP in Q1 grew 6.9 percent year on year from the same period in 2016. Li Daokui, an economist with Beijing-based Tsinghua University, is optimistic, predicting growth will accelerate next year with rising private investment and improved government efficiency. "It is forecast the growth speed (of China's economy) this year will be the same as last year. In 2018, the economy will begin to go upward, largely due to rising private investment," said Li. According to Sun Pishu, chairman of China's cloud computing and big data provider Inspur Group, the country's supply-side structural reform has delivered success. "Profound changes have taken place in China's economic structure, with growth engines shifting to innovation and investment becoming steadier," said Sun. Established by the World Economic Forum in 2007, the Summer Davos forum is held annually in China, and alternate between the port cities of Dalian and Tianjin. ^ top ^

HNA's founder calls patronage claim a pack of lies (SCMP)
Chen Feng, the founder of one of China's most aggressive global asset acquirers, said his HNA Group is a bystander in a smear campaign by people under the pressure of the Chinese government's crackdown on corruption and financial malfeasance. The conglomerate on June 15 filed a defamation lawsuit in New York County's court against Guo Wengui, a fugitive wanted by Interpol, over allegations in an interview and on Twitter that HNA had benefited from patronage by Chinese politicians. “If you choose to listen to a pack of lies by an internationally wanted fugitive,” whose credibility had already been damaged by the prosecution of his cohorts, “then there is a problem,” Chen said in an interview with the South China Morning Post. “If you look at the business of HNA and understand its true nature, then you'll see these claims are nothing but lies.” The company, based in the Hainan provincial capital of Haikou, has expanded from its 1993 establishment with four aircraft to almost 2,000 planes under operation and management. In the process, it also went on a global buying spree, owning 1 trillion yuan (US$146 billion) of assets, including stakes in Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Deutsche Bank. In an April interview with the Voice of America's mandarin service, Guo alleged that HNA owed its success to patronage by the Communist Party, with senior cadres and their relatives remaining as undisclosed shareholders. A claim was specifically directed at Wang Qishan, who heads the party's anti-graft campaign, saying that his nephew Yao Qing was a shareholder. Guan Jun, mentioned in a June 2 Financial Times article as among the company's mysterious shareholders, “holds a tiny stake in the company” but is not a significant shareholder, Chen said. Wang “was my superior when we worked together three decades ago” at China Agricultural Development Trust & Investment Corp, Chen said. “He attracted many young people to join him. I joined from the Civil Aviation Administration of China and worked under him, leading one of the teams. I learned a lot from him.” The two parted ways when Wang was transferred to head China Construction Bank, while Chen left to establish Hainan Airlines in what was to become the seed of the HNA Group. From banking, Wang went on to help former premier Zhu Rongji liquidate Guangdong International Trust & Investment Corp, the biggest bankruptcy of a Chinese state borrower. He would go on to lead Beijing's fight against the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) as mayor, earning himself the reputation as a problem-solver. He was promoted to vice-premier until President Xi Jinping picked him to head the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and manage the party's dragnet on corruption. That dragnet snared Guo, with several of his accomplices facing court charges on June 16 for their roles in aiding and abetting corruption. Guo's claims had also been rebutted by Soho China's founder, resulting in a separate defamation suit in New York against the fugitive. Chen said he rarely meets Wang now since his former superior was promoted to senior political leadership. Wang believes that “friendship between gentlemen” should be at arms length, Chen said. “I still send him a card every now and then during major festivals, but we rarely meet,” said the 65-year-old, who displays a prominent photograph of him shaking hands with Xi in a study adjoining his sprawling penthouse office. “We are just not on the same level – he's a senior government leader while I'm just a businessman.” During the company's 20th anniversary in 2013, Chen and his five co-founders pledged to pass all their HNA stakes to the Cihang Foundation, established under the Hainan provincial government. Chen and HNA co-founder Wang Jian are directors of the foundation. “The idea is that we bring nothing with us when we die and we pass nothing to our families,” Chen said. “While we're alive, we can enjoy the benefits of being part of the company, but all that goes when we expire.”^ top ^

Measures to curb overseas M&As are overdue (Global Times)
China's aggressive overseas mergers and acquisitions (M&As) will very likely slow down significantly in the near future. Chinese companies were a major force in global cross-border M&As in 2016. According to statistics from Thomson Reuters, China's cross-border M&A transactions totaled $221 billion in 2016, more than double the figure of $109 billion seen in 2015, marking a historic high and accounting for about 6.14 percent of global M&As in terms of value. In particular, the value of Chinese M&As in the US surged 841 percent from the previous year. There are many reasons contributing to the surge in overseas M&As by Chinese companies, such as rising labor costs, the heavy tax burden, high deleveraging pressure and excess savings in the domestic market. But it is mainly the capital surplus brought by the country's rapid urbanization that has propelled Chinese companies to make so many cross-border M&As. HNA Group, Fosun International and Anbang Insurance used to spend a lot of time looking for potential acquisition targets around the world, and became three of the most active Chinese buyers in overseas M&As. However, they may now have to slow their M&A pace. According to media reports, with Chinese regulators tightening controls over capital outflows, deals worth $5 million or more will require approval from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. While large strategic acquisitions are likely to get the green light, acquisitions of non-core assets like properties may not get passed. Moreover, although the Chinese yuan's depreciation motivates companies to seek asset diversification overseas, it also makes deals more expensive. Another important reason for an M&A slowdown is that the Chinese government is quite concerned that the aggressive, sometimes highly leveraged M&A deals may trigger financial risks. Take a close look at Chinese companies' overseas M&As, and there are a few noteworthy features that stand out. First, overseas M&As are usually accompanied with the cross-border transfer of financial resources. Some companies directly or indirectly make use of special power or policy to add to heir credit line, increasing the likelihood of success for their merger deals overseas. Second, some Chinese companies apply for collateralized loans after acquiring overseas assets so as to avoid the trouble of withdrawing capital from their home country. Third, expanding overseas assets also allow Chinese companies to borrow more and get more credit support both from home and abroad. Fourth, in some M&A cases, overseas firms are just cover and platforms for asset operations, which serve as collateral for financing. Their actual business performance in terms of revenue and profits as well as financial security is not the top priority. It should be noted that over the past few years, some Chinese companies made overseas M&As based on "scale expansion and high debt ratio," and they expanded their overseas assets so much they became "too big to fail" so as to signal their economic importance. However, such acquisitions backed by capital and rapid expansion may encounter various problems and risks. For instance, changes in financial regulatory policies, tightening of foreign exchange control measures and a clampdown on financial corruption may all affect M&As due to financing problems or policy constraints. Fundamentally, when the extraordinary speed of expansion runs contrary to common sense and lacks basic business foundations, problems are bound to ensue. Above all, under the current circumstances of domestic financial supervision, highly leveraged cross-border M&As by Chinese companies will be curbed, probably resulting in a notable shrinkage in such transactions this year.^ top ^



US blacklists Chinese bank, company and two nationals to pressure Beijing to rein in Pyongyang (SCMP)
The US will impose unilateral sanctions on one Chinese bank, two individuals and one shipping company over their alleged “illicit financing” and “continued support” of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Thursday at the White House.  The US Treasury has identified the Bank of Dandong “to be a foreign financial institution of primary money-laundering concern”, serving as “a gateway for North Korea to access the US and international financial systems – facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes”, Mnuchin said. The Treasury's move will “require US banks to ensure that the Bank of Dandong does not access the US financial system directly or indirectly through other foreign banks,” Mnuchin said. The two Chinese nationals are Wei Sun, who is being sanctioned for links to the Foreign Trade Bank of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Hong Ri Li, for his links to North Korean banking executive Song-hyok Ri. The sanctions also target the Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co Limited of Dalian, China, according to a statement released by the Treasury. The move came on the same day as US President Trump's meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House, with the agenda including a “new approach” to rein in North Korea, according to Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster. McMaster said yesterday at a conference in Washington that “the President has directed us…to prepare a range of options, including a military option, which nobody wants to take.” The sanctions also come one week after the US and China failed to announce a joint action plan to freeze North Korea's nuclear programme after their first Diplomacy and Security Dialogue in Washington, but reached a consensus on not doing business with any UN-designated North Korean entities. The Trump administration is coming under pressure from lawmakers to find ways to rein in North Korea. Washington's UN Ambassador Nikki Haley recently fielded questions from members of the US House foreign relations committee on the effectiveness of US efforts to influence Haley's UN counterparts on a North Korea strategy. Some lawmakers accused China of channelling hard currency to Pyongyang. The US House foreign affairs committee chairman Ed Royce hailed the sanctions on Thursday as “a big step”. “The administration is right to target any around the world who act as financial lifelines to Kim Jong-un, and to give them a clear choice: You can do business with North Korea or with the US, but not both,” said Royce in a statement. ^ top ^

Moscow and Beijing mull path to peace (China Daily)
Beijing and Moscow are in close communication on Russia's road map for settling the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Wednesday.  Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said Russia has drafted, and is ready to discuss with its partners, a road map on denuclearization and overall peace on the Korean Peninsula that includes a phased plan to bring the parties toward dialogue without preconditions, Russia's Sputnik News Agency and Radio reported on Tuesday.  Morgulov said Russia supports China's proposals to solve the issue and opposes unilateral sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea that aim to put an "economic chokehold" on Pyongyang.  "China welcomes and is open-minded about any constructive efforts that will help to push forward the denuclearization of the peninsula and maintain peace and stability in the region," Lu said at a daily news conference in Beijing.  China and Russia are "in close communication" through their comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and the two sides are "coordinating on international and regional issues", Lu said.  China has a "dual track" approach to denuclearizing the peninsula and ensuring peace. It includes a suspension of Pyongyang's nuclear and missile activities, as well as a cessation of large-scale military drills by the United States and the Republic of Korea.  "The proposals - which aim to solve the most urgent concerns of all parties and find a breakthrough for resuming talks - have won increasing understanding and support from other countries," Lu said. "They also coincide with Russia's proposal, and the two sides are currently staying in close communication on the road map for settlement of the peninsula nuclear issue."  Lu added that the US and DPRK are direct parties to the issue and hold the keys to solving it.  "China would be glad to see the two sides improve ties through direct talks and create conditions for settlement," he said.  Li Yonghui, a senior researcher of Russian foreign policy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the peninsula nuclear issue has affected the security and stability of Northeast Asia and that denuclearization serves the common interests of China and Russia.  "The two countries' coordination and cooperation on this issue will help to solve the crisis and maintain regional peace and stability, as well as set up a new security mechanism in Northeast Asia," she said. ^ top ^

China 'willing to work with US' to ease tensions over North Korea, top diplomat tells Trump (SCMP)
China's top diplomat told Donald Trump that Beijing was willing to keep working with Washington to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula, days after the US leader implied that Chinese efforts had failed. The meeting between State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Trump at the White House on Thursday also came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China to step up diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons. The meeting was reported by China's foreign ministry. There was no White House statement on the get-together, which had not been mentioned in the president's daily schedule. “China is willing to maintain communication and coordination with relevant parties including the United States to ease tensions on the peninsula,” Yang said, according to the Chinese foreign ministry. Trump told Yang he looked forward to “enhancing cooperation” with China on the denuclearisation of North Korea, the ministry said in a statement. On Wednesday, Yang and top General Fang Fenghui met with Tillerson and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis at the State Department to discuss North Korea and other regional issues. Hours before the talks began, Trump sent a tweet that appeared to suggest China's President Xi Jinping had come up short on reining in its neighbour. “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” the tweet said. Trump did not elaborate on what might happen next if China, by far North Korea's most important trading and diplomatic partner, is out of ideas. The US president, who frequently denounced China on the campaign trail, has turned to Beijing to help pressure its ally North Korea, prompting concern among Asian partners that America might go easy on Beijing over its expansive claims in the disputed South China Sea. Trump, who met with Xi at his luxury resort in Florida in April, also confirmed he would visit China later this year, the Chinese foreign ministry said. Tillerson said on Wednesday that China had a “diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region”. For their part, the Chinese envoys pressed for negotiations, proposing again a “dual-track approach” in which North Korea would suspend its nuclear and missile activities while the United States and South Korea would halt large-scale military exercises. The meetings between the two sides followed the death of Otto Warmbier on Monday, the American student who returned to the US last week in a coma after being detained in North Korea for 18 months. ^ top ^



Presidential Election: second ballot day changed to July 7 (Montsame)
The General Election Commission today announced that the second round of presidential election will take place on July 7, Friday. “We've been receiving requests and official letters regarding the timing of the second ballot from parties and associations”, said Mr Ch.Sodnomtseren, Chairman of the commission at a press conference held on Wednesday. The General Election Commission has sought possibilities of putting the second ballot day forth, and thus resolved to conduct the second ballot on July 7, Friday. Mongolian nationals living abroad will vote on July 4-5. In the July 7 polling, DP candidate Kh.Battulga and MPP candidate M.Enkhbold will run for president. ^ top ^

Cabinet to discuss ADB program with Parliament (Montsame)
During its regular meeting on June 28, Wednesday, the Cabinet resolved to discuss with corresponding Parliamentary standing committees a draft 'General Financing Program' to be established between Asian Development Bank and the Mongolian Government. As a result of discussion of cooperation strategy in 2017-2020, sides identified finance, agriculture, education, health, employment, environmental preservation and social spheres for cooperation. In this regard, Asian Development Bank allocated USD 468 million fund for Mongolia in 2017-2018, which allows USD 404 million loan from its Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) and USD 64 million Concessional OCR lending. The Concessional OCR lending has 2 percent interest, 25-year term, 5-year moratorium whereas the OCR loan has an average 20-year term. The ADB loans will be spent on supporting access to quality education; enhancing services for the disabled and increasing their participation; developing regional road; increasing renewable energy; improving transparency and efficiency of budget administration; and improving air quality in the capital city.  ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
During its regular meeting on June 28, Wednesday, the Cabinet made following decisions:
• The Cabinet authorized purchase of a 20-ton cistern in order to provide government organizations and civil servants at Gashuunsukhait border crossing. It was also decided that required amount to finance the 2016-2017 overtime wages of specialized inspection employees at the border crossing from government reserve fund.
• The Cabinet resolved on realizing a 'Strengthening Fiscal and Financial Stability Project' with a USD 12 million soft loan from the World Bank. The project aims to strengthen fiscal and financial stability and improve the quality of expenditure management.
• The Cabinet discussed a draft amendment to Law on the Exoneration and Compensation of Politically Repressed People, initiated by Member of Parliaments led by Ya.Sanjmyatav, and agreed to propose a few suggestions.  ^ top ^

MPRP says it won't accept election results (Montsame)
The party's leadership including candidate S.Ganbaatar who took the third place in the poll with 409,899 votes held a press conference on Tuesday, June 27. The MPRP accuses the General Election Commission of twisting the election results. Ts. Sharavdorj, Human rights and political policy advisor to the party's chairman stated, “We believe that the GEC's picking of July 9 for the second ballot is a measure to fix its deceit quickly”, saying that a second ballot shouldn't be conducted. Candidate S.Ganbaatar expressed that he doesn't acknowledge the election results disclosed by the GEC. Member of the party Ts.Oyunbaatar said that MPRP had won majority in 10 aimags.  ^ top ^

Second round run-off voting for the presidential election to take place on July 9 (The UB Post)
Despite voter turnout exceeding 50 percent of all registered voters, none of the presidential election's three candidates was able to win more than 50 percent of all votes from the electorate on Monday, so a second round of voting will take place between the two leading candidates on July 9 to determine a clear winner. The General Election Commission (GEC) held a press conference about preliminary election results. Head of the GEC Ch.Sodnomtseren noted that 1,357,788 of 1,988,868 registered voters submitted ballots at 1,983 polling stations across Mongolia, putting nationwide voter turnout at 68.27 percent. According to preliminary ballot counting, Democratic Party (DP) candidate Kh.Battulg a won the majority of votes, and M.Enkhbold of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) and S.Ganbaatar of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party were in a very narrow race for the remaining votes, but M.Enkhbold won by over 1,000 votes. With 411,748 votes, M.Enkhbold earned 30.32 percent of the nationwide vote, 577,478 voters gave Kh.Battulga 38.11 percent, and S.Ganbaatar won 30.19 percent with 409,899 votes. The General Election Committee has announced that the run-off election for overseas voters will be held on July 4, and the second round of voting in Mongolia will take place on July 9. The second round of voting will be between Kh.Battulga and M.Enkhbold, representing Mongolia's two dominant political parties. Ch.Sodnomtseren said that the GEC designated a budget of 7.2 billion MNT for a run-off election, and that the government will support the budget. The Head of the GEC also reported on the results of overseas voting. Kh.Battulga won more than 60% of overseas votes, gaining 2,979 votes from 4,816 registered overseas voters. M.Enkhbold received 955 votes and 740 people voted for S.Ganbaatar. In Ulaanbaatar, out of the city's nine districts, M.Enkhbold won in only Bagakhangai and S.Ganbaatar won only in Nalaikh. Kh.Battulga won the majority of votes in the other seven districts. M.Enkhbold won in the western provinces, including Khovd, Bayan-Ulgii, Uvs, Zavkhan, Govi-Altai, and Khuvsgul, and in his father's hometown of Tuv, as well as in Uvurkhangai, Sukhbaatar, and Selenge provinces. S.Ganbaatar won in Arkhangai, Bulgan, Govisumber, Darkhan-Uul, Dornogovi, Dornod, Dundgovi, Orkhon, Khentii, and Umnugovi provinces. Kh.Battulga only won in Bayankhongor, where his father was born. A total of 112 election observers from 34 countries watched over the presidential elections across Mongolia. Bayanzurkh District resident K.Hongorzul was interviewed at her polling place, and said that she was happy to vote because she wasn't able to vote in the last presidential election as she was a student studying abroad. She said that it is mostly seniors who go to polling stations to vote, and that the results of Mongolia's elections are decided through senior votes. K.Khongorzul said that young people need to vote in elections, especially in this election, because the office of the president is an important position that represents the country abroad. B.Sergelen, a worker at Polling Station 1665, said that voter participation was similar to the turnout for the previous presidential election. He worked at the same polling station for the last presidential election, and noted that people were lined up to vote at around 10:00 p.m., when the polls were about to close. He said that people need to go to their polling places earlier to avoid delays. The MPP and DP held a briefing on the preliminary results of the June 26 presidential election and the upcoming second round run-off voting. The MPP agreed with the GEC's position to organize a second round of voting on July 9, but the DP disagreed with the GEC's decision. During the DP's briefing, General Secretary of the DP Ts.Tuvaan highlighted that July 9 would be an inappropriate date for holding the second round of voting, as it would be impacted by low voter turnout for a Sunday, and that province Naadam festivals will be starting around July 9. The DP has presented the GEC with a written request to change the proposed date for the second round of voting. The DP demanded that the GEC should clarify why votes for Kh.Battulga and S.Ganbaatar went up very slowly, while M.Enkhbold's votes rapidly increased during MNB's broadcast of the ballot counting process, which was aired live until 2:00 a.m.. ^ top ^

International observers present preliminary conclusions on election (Montsame)
The June 26 June presidential election was competitive and well-organized, featuring a short yet fierce campaign; the election administration largely enjoyed public confidence and the freedoms of complaints, as well as pending court cases, led to uncertainty regarding candidacies. The media coverage was extensive, but largely devoid of analytical reporting, the international observers concluded in a statement. Representatives of the International Election Observation Mission of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) / Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and European Parliament released the joint statement today at a press conference. “These were well-run elections, and are overall promising for the future of Mongolia's democracy”, said Guglielmo Picchi, Special Coordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission. He expressed hope that the mission's overall positive experience is confirmed by the second round which is fixed on July 9. The General Election Commission enjoyed stakeholders' trust, met key deadlines and operated in a transparent manner, the statement says. It also suggests that current candidacy requirements are overly restrictive and limit voters' choice. The election campaign was dynamic, however, the political discourse wasn't exempt from xenophobic rhetoric, the observers stated, citing several leaked recordings alleging candidates' involvement in corruption and other illegal activities which shaped the campaign narrative. “We regret that campaign finance regulations on transparency and accountability didn't address, in a timely manner, concerns of corruption in political life”, said Laima Andrikiene, Chair of the European Parliament delegation, noting how candidates' mutual accusations discouraged voters, especially the youth, from voting. The European Parliament observation mission was divided into three teams, deployed in Ulaanbaatar, Zuunmod and Darkhan, and visited both urban and rural areas. The international observers visited limited number of polling stations on election day to find that voting and counting were orderly, but transparency was somewhat limited by the GEC releasing only aggregated results. They observed that female workers outnumbered men. “I think that the Mongolian people had, in the first round of the presidential election, the possibility to express their choice in a genuinely democratic election, although there were a number of shortcomings”, remarked Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR limited election observation mission. The mission will stay in Mongolia until after the second round. The OSCE/ODIHR mission comprises 12 core team experts from 12 participating stated based in Ulaanbaatar and 20 long-term observers deployed throughout the country. ^ top ^

Case of presidential candidate S. Ganbaatar to be re-investigated (gogo Mongolia)
A voice recording of S.Ganbaatar, a presidential candidate of Mongolian People`s Revolutionary Party spread among social media. In the voice recording, S.Ganbaatar was receiving KRW 50 (100 million Tugrik) million donation from a Korean citizen Yu Van Su. On Jun 22, Police Department reported that the voice recording of S.Ganbaatar is not a fake and confirmed as a real. Then the case was transferred officially to the court of Bayanzurkh district. Today the court of Bayanzurkh district concluded that the investigation was incomplete and decided to conduct an additional investigation on the case due to the candidate did not give an explanation. Meanwhile, Police Department requested S.Ganbaatar and Leader of MPRP to give an explanation on the case. However, the candidate delivered any response to the request.
According to the Law on Election, it is prohibited to receive a donation from;
•a foreign country, a foreign company, international organization,
•state and local self-governing bodies, a foreign citizen,
•a stateless person, a person under 18 years old, 
•a legal person wholly or partially owned by the State or local government,
•a legal person that has tax debts, has gone bankrupt, or has overdue bank loan debts as determined by a court decision,
•a labor union or religious and other non-governmental organizations
•a legal person that has been in operation for less than one year since its establishment.
If a presidential candidate receives donations, he/she shall be exempted from the candidate list and the donation will be transferred to the state fund. ^ 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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