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
  23-27.10.2017, No. 693  
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Switzerland introduces its architecture to Chinese tourists through online app (Xinhua)
The Switzerland launched on Thursday the Chinese version of an online application to introduce the history and architecture of 600 buildings in the country to Chinese smartphone users. The Society for the history of Swiss art, developer of the online application, said in a press release that the free application called "Swiss Art To Go light",presents both Swiss historical highlights and contemporary buildings in words and pictures in Chinese. The application facilitates not only the discovery and exploration of the Swiss buildings, but also the preparation of an architectural trip, for the Chinese tourists, added the non-profit organization, working on the long-term preservation of Swiss architectural heritage. Launched in Switzerland in 2013, the premium app contains information on thousands of buildings in Switzerland in German, French, Italian and English. The additional Chinese version of the application responds to the great interest in Switzerland shown by Chinese tourists by providing an easy way to discover the country, explained the organization. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

China will not change determination to deepen relations with Russia – Xi (Xinhua)
Russia is China's comprehensive strategic partner of coordination, and whatever volatile changes may take place in the international arena, China will not change its determination to deepen relations with Russia, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday. Xi made the remarks during a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. China cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world, Xi said. And China is willing to work with Russia to advance bilateral relations to achieve more tangible fruits so as to benefit the two peoples as well as people from all other countries. During the conversation, Putin congratulated Xi on his reelection as the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Putin also extended congratulations on the successful conclusion of the 19th CPC National Congress. Expressing appreciation for Putin's congratulations, Xi said that the just-concluded congress formulated an overall principle and an action guideline for the future development of the CPC and China, which reflected the strong consensus reached by all the 89 million party members. "We have the confidence and the capability to lead the Chinese people toward the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, which is the CPC's historic responsibility and mission," Xi said. Putin said it is very important that Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was established during the congress. And the achievements of the congress have fully demonstrated the Chinese people's trust in and support for the CPC led by Xi, he said. Putin expressed his sincere wishes that Xi will lead the CPC, the largest party in the world, to continuously score new achievements. The Russia-China relationship is a exemplar of harmonious coexistence of major countries in contemporary world, Putin said. "I am willing to maintain close contact with President Xi to advance bilateral cooperation in various fields and conduct close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues," he said. ^ top ^

Trump's Asian visit suggests US will remain engaged with region: Singaporean prime minister (SCMP)
US President Donald Trump's upcoming Asia visit sends a reassuring message that the US is not detaching itself from Asia as it rethinks its policy for the region, Singapore's prime minister said on Wednesday. "The Trump administration is still developing its Asia strategy," Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a Council on Foreign Relations event in Washington during a US visit. He met Trump on Monday at the White House. Lee said he has been reassured by the US side that the Trump administration is "not disengaging" from Asia when "rethinking its approach" in the region. "[The US] want to do more in the region and looking for ways to do that," Lee said. "We are looking for getting the same message when the [US] President comes out in a few weeks' time." Lee's comment came amid a report that Trump will shorten his upcoming 12-day Asia trip by skipping an East Asian leaders' summit in Angeles, Philippine and returning to the US a day early. The trip originally was to take place from November 3-14. A White House spokesman cautioned critics not to "read anything into" Trump's skipping the summit. The decision is "entirely schedule-driven", The Washington Post quoted the spokesman. Lee also said the US and China should establish a "stable gradually evolving relationship which would give them [China] the space to grow their influence". Trump will meet his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping in Beijing during the Asian trip. The two presidents talked on Wednesday by phone, vowing to jointly blueprint the future development of the two countries, China's state television channel CGTN reported. "If you have a tension relationship, one or both of the parties say you are either with me or you are against me. Then we are in a difficult spot," Lee warned. "It could happen." ^ top ^

Beijing and Manila agree to boost military ties as China tries to mend fences (SCMP)
China and the Philippines agreed on Thursday to broaden defence and military engagement, as Beijing tries to mend fences and extend its presence in Southeast Asia. The pledge by China's defence minister Chang Wanquan and his Philippine counterpart Delfin Lorenzana on the sidelines of a regional meeting at Camp Aguinaldo came after China provided guns and ammunition to the Philippines to fight terrorism and for its anti-drug operations. "China seeks to enhance strategic mutual trust with the Philippines, properly handle differences and push for sustained and healthy relationships between our two countries, as we are neighbours," state-run Xinhua quoted Chang as saying. China is poised to boost defence ties with Southeast Asian nations in the coming months. At the same Asean security meeting this week, Chang and his Singaporean counterpart, Ng Eng Hen, agreed to push for the first maritime exercise between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Details of the exercise are not finalised, but Ren Guoqiang, a spokesman for China's defence ministry, said discussions were under way for its preparations. "By the end of the year, we will conduct technical consultations to hold this joint exercise, and hold the joint maritime exercises at the appropriate time," he said. "The next step is for China's navy to continue deepening its friendly exchanges and cooperation with the other naval forces in the Asia-Pacific region, enhancing mutual understanding and trust, promoting regional multilateral security dialogue and mechanisms, and jointly safeguarding regional peace and stability." Philippine defence spokesman Arsenio Andolong was quoted by The Philippine Star as saying that both Beijing and Manila welcomed an easing of tensions through "careful management" of the South China Sea dispute. The two sides had discussed further cooperation to fight terrorism and extremism, he said. China has been at odds with Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines over the South China Sea, where Beijing lays claim to 90 per cent of the energy-rich waters. China recently set up a maritime rescue squadron for the South Sea Fleet, which oversees the disputed waters – a move seen as an attempt to improve combat readiness of the Chinese military. But Beijing and Manila have seen improved relations in recent months, with China throwing its support behind the Philippines' controversial anti-drug initiatives and assisting in its counterterrorism efforts. "The relationship between China and the Philippines has gradually taken a positive turn under [Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte's administration," said Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow with the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. "Duterte has also publicly said that the South China Sea won't present an obstacle in Sino-Philippine relations." China and Asean approved a framework for a code of conduct in the waters in August to pre-empt conflicts, following an agreement to launch a regional hotline last year. On a bilateral basis, China has also deepened its security engagement with Southeast Asian nations, including through maritime exercises and arms agreements. ^ top ^

China's naval hospital ship assists 6,000 people in Angolan (Xinhua)
The Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark said it had consulted and treated at least 6,000 people during its eight-day stay in Angola. The mission's commander, Guan Bailin, on Thursday in Luanda said during its stay which ended on Thursday, 14 surgeries were carried out on the ship. He said the most sought specialities were ophthalmology, cardiology and orthopedics. Prior to Angola, the ship had visited Djibouti, Gabon, Sierra Leone and the Republic of Congo. It will later travel to Mozambique and Tanzania. Guan stressed that it is the objective of the ship to reinforce the existing cooperation between the Angolan and Chinese navies. The Peace Ark is equipped with a ship-based medical helicopter, and its medical crew comprises more than 110 medical staff from 21 institutions including the Naval Medical University and the Navy General Hospital. ^ top ^

China stresses lawful, justified island building in S.China Sea (Global Times)
China reiterated on Thursday that island construction in the South China Sea is "lawful and justified" and not a military expansion. "China's construction in the South China Sea is lawful and justified … the construction of islands and reefs is not so-called military expansion," Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defense, told a press briefing on Thursday. The situation in the South China Sea has improved and all parties should continue to help maintain stability in the area, Ren said. Some media accuse China of beefing up its military presence in the South China Sea, but China has sovereignty over the islands, and therefore has the right to engage in island and reef construction in the area, Wang Xiaopeng, a maritime border expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. China's current construction of islands and reefs does not violate any international law, Wang added. "China's construction in the area is also aimed at maintaining regional peace and navigation safety. Most of the infrastructure projects are for civil purposes, including airports and facilities to monitor the environment, part of which are needed for national defense," Wang said. Of the seven inhabited islets in the Nansha Islands, Meiji, Zhubi and Yongshu are the largest. Over 100,000 ships from countries around the world sail safely and freely through the patch of water every year, the Xinhua News Agency reported. China tested two new airports on Meiji and Zhubi reefs in 2016, about 1,000 kilometers from Hainan Province. ^ top ^

It's a good day for China's diplomats as foreign policy chief lands seat on Politburo (SCMP)
The elevation of China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi to the Communist Party's top echelon of power is an unequivocal sign of President Xi Jinping's ambitions for the country as a rising global power, diplomatic pundits said. The State councillor and head of China's foreign policy establishment was promoted to the 25-member Politburo on Wednesday, making him the most powerful foreign affairs official since Qian Qichen, a vice-premier and foreign policy guru under Jiang Zemin, who retired in 2003. The move not only recognises Yang's ability and personal contribution to implementing Xi's assertive foreign policy, but also provides a boost to China's diplomatic establishment as the country seeks to expand its interests and influence in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, pundits said. Ma Zhengang, a former Chinese ambassador to Britain, said it was good for China's diplomats to see the official directly responsible for diplomatic affairs being promoted as it highlighted the importance the top leadership placed on foreign affairs. "It's recognition of Yang personally and the entire foreign policy establishment in the cause of China's rise to global importance," he said. "We are seeing an unprecedented transition of China's role, which will not be confined to domestic interests but demonstrate more interest in having a greater say on global issues." Despite having reached retirement age, 67-year-old Yang, a former foreign minister and renowned expert on the United States, stands a good chance of becoming a vice-premier with responsibility for foreign policy issues at the cabinet reshuffle in March. His two predecessors Tang Jiaxuan and Dai Bingguo, both former state councillors, failed to land seats on the Politburo, which was widely seen in diplomatic circles as proof of the foreign ministry's diminishing influence in shaping foreign policy. Although he has spent the past 10 years as a member of the Central Committee, Yang has not had access to the highest ranks of power. And while he is not generally viewed as part of Xi's inner circle, having a seat on the Politburo will undoubtedly give him more influence and better access to the president's ear. Bonnie Glaser, of the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said: "The move may signal a recognition that foreign affairs are of growing importance to advancing Chinese interests and should no longer be assigned a lower position." Evan Medeiros, managing director of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group and the top Asia adviser to former US President Barack Obama, called Yang's promotion "a historic development for China's foreign policy". "[It] shows Xi's elevation of foreign affairs work and his desire for China to play a leading role in Asia and globally," he said. Known for his personal connections to the Bush family, Yang has played a pivotal role in helping steady often bumpy Sino-US relations, especially during sensitive periods over the past decade. He was active in the lead-up to the party congress, and took credit for establishing a personal rapport between Xi and US President Donald Trump, and bringing an end to China's 10-week border stand-off with India. Yang Jiechi is also believed, with the help of his younger brother Yang Jiemian, a respected strategic affairs scholar and former president of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, to have coined one of Xi's favourite catchphrases – the "new type of major power relations". He was also one of the first senior Chinese government officials to publicly pledge allegiance to Xi when he lavished praise on the "core leader's" thoughts on diplomacy in an article in January. Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said Yang's promotion to the Politburo should not come as a surprise. "It's a sign that foreign policy requires more attention from the top leadership, and needs a curator on the Politburo era," he said. "In the age of global turbulence, relationships with key powers, such as the US, EU, Russia, India, Japan and others, as well as the ability to navigate increasing numbers of regional crisis situations, like North Korea and the South China Sea, are vital to the growth of the Chinese economy and domestic stability. "China's participation in globalisation has led to increased dependence on the external environment, and since many issues, like trade, are intertwined with geopolitics, China needs a skilled diplomat with full trust from Xi Jinping to help navigate this complicated landscape," he said. Both Medeiros and Gal Luft, a co-director of the Washington based think tank Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, said Yang's promotion was also evidence that earlier rumours that Xi had doubts about Yang were overstated or even mistaken. "He must be someone who is fully trusted and fully backed by Xi," Luft said. Other observers said that elevating Yang was a sign that the top leadership in Beijing wanted to ensure continuity on foreign policy, which has seen a landmark shift in the past decade towards increased assertiveness amid soaring international scepticism and concerns about the intentions behind China's rise. Shi Yinhong, of Beijing's Renmin University, said: "China is expected to markedly step up its role in global political and economic governance, which is aimed at increasing [its] strategic influence in the region to counter the US and Japan." Dibyesh Anand, a China expert at Westminster University in London, said Yang had extensive hands-on diplomatic experience with the US, Japan and India, and if he maintained that approach it would augur well for smooth relations between China and other major powers. "However, Xi's personality ensures it is he who will be paramount when it comes to not only domestic politics but international relations, so Yang's role will be to facilitate Xi's vision of China as a great power diplomatically," he said. Chinese diplomats said that with Yang's promotion and the unveiling of China's new leadership line-up at the end of the party conclave on Wednesday, a generational reshuffle of the country's top diplomats was expected to begin soon. ^ top ^

Highlights of foreign congratulatory messages on Xi's re-election as CPC chief (Xinhua)
Congratulations are pouring from around the world on Chinese President Xi Jinping's re-election on Wednesday as general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). In their congratulatory messages, leaders of foreign countries, political parties and organizations also expressed full confidence that the CPC will guide China toward even greater prosperity and a larger role internationally under Xi's leadership. The following is an edited summary of some of the messages. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, chairman of the Nur Otan People's Democratic Party: Under Xi's leadership, China has scored glorious achievements in national, social and economic development as well as in improving the people's welfare. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, chairman of the United Russia party: I strongly believe that the implementation of the resolutions of the 19th CPC National Congress will further boost China's prosperity and development. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, president of the Cambodian People's Party: I am firmly confident that under the right and wise leadership of the Communist Party of China and Your Excellency as the core leader, the Communist Party of China and Chinese people will certainly achieve the goals of the resolution adopted by the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, chairman of Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan: I believe that China will continue to play a crucial role in promoting a robust and sustainable growth of the world economy and make greater contributions to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region as well as the whole world. Italian President Sergio Mattarella: Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi as its general secretary, China has set a series of development goals. Cameroonian President Paul Biya, leader of the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement party: Warmest congratulations, and I wish Xi greater governance success in the new term. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, president of the Serbian Progressive Party: Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China, under Xi's leadership, has achieved extraordinary results in every crucial field. The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi, has become an important factor in the recovery of the world economy and regional cooperation. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization: Xi's re-election fully reflects the deep trust of the Chinese people and the CPC of Xi's wise leadership, which will help boost the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and bring benefits to all of humanity. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev: Under Xi's wise leadership, China has carried out deliberate social, political and economic reform strategies, and achieved remarkable results in a short period. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, leader of Armenia's Republican Party: I firmly believe that the CPC, in Xi's new term, will continue to play a leading role in advancing China's political, economic and social development and raising its international influence. ^ top ^

China, South Korea defence ministers hold first meeting in two years (SCMP)
China and South Korea's defence ministers have held their first talks in nearly two years, amid the two countries dispute over the deployment of a controversial US missile defence shield. China's Chang Wanquan and South Korean Defence Minister Song Young-moo met for about 30 minutes in Clark in the Philippines on the sidelines of a regional security forum on Tuesday, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. "Such a bilateral meeting between the defence ministers is meaningful in itself as it represents both sides' desire to improve ties despite the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence issue," the report quoted an unnamed South Korean official as saying. The official would not give details on what was discussed in the talks, citing a deal with China not to release the information, the report said. The meeting, initiated by South Korea, came within weeks of South Korea's new ambassador to China, Noh Young-min, stressing the importance of ties between the two countries, saying they were inseparable. Zhang Tuosheng, director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, said the talks were to be welcomed given the growing threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons programme. "Facing the increasingly belligerent Pyongyang, Beijing gradually understands the security concerns of Seoul. The bilateral defence meeting, although it can hardly address the differences between two countries, is a very positive signal pointing to the security cooperation ahead between the two nations," Zhang said. "Beijing's attitude towards regional security matters is changing, especially after the tit-for-tat economic sanctions against South Korea hurt bilateral economic ties. Now China needs more a partner than a foe." North Korea claimed in September that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. It was the reclusive nation's sixth nuclear test. South Korea says the missile shield is needed to counter the threat posed by North Korea. China says the system poses a threat to its own security as its tracking systems will pry into Chinese territory. The first two missile shield batteries were put into operation in South Korea in May. In the wake of escalating North Korean missile tests, South Korea is also deploying four more. China has strongly criticised the deployment, sparking a boycott by Chinese consumers of some South Korean firms operating on the mainland. Analysts said the meeting between the two defence ministers was largely symbolic and the core differences over THAAD would not easily be set aside. "What's important is not how the THAAD issue will be resolved, but the two sides finally meeting each other and beginning to discuss it after relations dipped to a historical low," said Lee Kyu-tae, an expert on geopolitics at South Korea's Catholic Kwandong University. ^ top ^

China to boost friendly military exchanges, cooperation with other countries (Xinhua)
Chinese military will continue to enhance its friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation with other countries' military forces across the world, including those in the Asia-Pacific region, a senior Chinese official said here on Tuesday. Chang Wanquan, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister, who is attending the 11th ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) and the 4th ADMM-Plus meeting held in the Philippines, said the peaceful development of China is closely linked to the future of the Asia-Pacific region, as it is the largest developing country in the world. "We will enhance exchanges and cooperation with other countries, in the hope of building better mutual understanding and mutual trust, safeguarding peace and stability in the region and the world, and achieving a common prosperity," Chang told a meeting with 10 ASEAN defense ministers and other seven from the ADMM-Plus. ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ADMM-Plus includes ASEAN's eight dialogue partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States. "China will stick to the principles of peace, development, cooperation and win-win, unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, and is committed to building a community with shared future with other countries," Chang said. Chang also noted that China is in favor of security cooperation featuring co-building, mutual sharing and win-win, adding all parties should abandon the zero-sum mentality and manage risks by dialogue and consultation. He also held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Russia, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea, respectively. ^ top ^

US Defence Secretary James Mattis meets Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte amid warming ties with Russia and China (SCMP)
The timing of US Defence Secretary James Mattis's trip to the Philippines this week couldn't have been better, coming just as it celebrated a victory against Islamist militants in Marawi City – with a critical dose of help from the US military. But as Mattis met President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, five Russian warships were parked off the Philippines and Moscow was preparing to formally hand over thousands of assault rifles, 1 million rounds of ammunition and 20 army trucks at a public ceremony on Wednesday. Duterte, known for his strident anti-American rhetoric, has made no secret of his plans to cultivate ties with America's rivals, Russia and China. Those efforts appear to be starting to bear fruit. Just before he met Mattis, Duterte sat down with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday, who, like Mattis, was attending a gathering of Asian defence ministers north of Manila. Shoigu signed two military deals, including the procurement of unspecified equipment. On Wednesday, Duterte was scheduled to visit a Russian anti-submarine ship, the Admiral Pantaleyev, docked in Manila. US Ambassador Sung Kim played down any US concerns about Duterte's outreach to China and Russia and noted that the US, a former colonial power, was the country's only treaty ally, with far deeper ties in the Philippines. "I'm not really threatened by this notion that China or Russia are providing some military equipment to the Philippines," Kim told a small group of reporters travelling with Mattis. "We have been providing very important equipment to the Philippines for many, many years. The fact that the Chinese and the Russians have provided some rifles, I'm not sure is really such a cause for concern for the United States." Duterte's often profanity-laden tirades against the United States have become his trademark during his year-old presidency, and he has chided Washington for treating his country "like a dog" despite the long-standing US assistance. Still, Duterte's rhetoric has been inconsistent, and he warmly greeted visiting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in August, calling himself a "humble friend" of the United States at the time. On Tuesday, he cautiously kept to scripted dialogue at the start of his meeting with Mattis, as he welcomed him to the Philippines and spoke warmly of ties. "I want to be [as] politically correct as possible and I want to be understood. So reading this speech will be good," he said before reporters were escorted out of the room. Ahead of a visit by US President Donald Trump to the Philippines, the US envoy cited an improvement in "tone and substance" in bilateral ties over the 10 months since he's been in his post. ^ top ^

Russian PM to visit China (Xinhua)
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will pay an official visit to China from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced Tuesday. Premier Li and Medvedev will hold the 22nd China-Russia Prime Ministers' Regular Meeting, said spokesperson Geng Shuang at a daily news briefing. ^ top ^

China provides educational supplies to 86,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon (Global Times)
Chinese-funded educational supplies were distributed on Monday to around 86,000 Syrian refugee students in Lebanon, said the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in a statement. The aid was delivered by Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian, who was joined by Lebanese Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh and UNICEF representative in Jordan Tanya Chapuisat. The donation was made through Lebanon's Reach all Children with Education campaign (RACE), an ongoing collaborative effort between the Lebanese Ministry of Education and the United Nations. Through RACE, the Lebanese government is striving to enable all children in Lebanon to attend school regardless of nationality. Chapuisat hailed China's "generous donation" that reached 86,000 Syrian refugee students in Lebanon this year, according to the statement. For his part, Hamadeh thanked China for its continuous support to Lebanon. "We thank China for its ongoing support to Lebanon in many fields since the refugee crisis. It is coming from a brotherly country that loves Syria and Lebanon as well," he said. Wang said that the Chinese donation, which expressed China's sympathy and support to the Syrian refugees, aimed at helping Lebanon to deal with the refugee crisis. "We truly wish for the return of the Syrian refugees to their homeland with acceleration of the political solution process in Syria so these refugees can live in a secure, peaceful and prosperous atmosphere," the Chinese enovy said. ^ top ^

China to keep wary watch on Abe's push to change pacifist constitution (SCMP)
The big electoral win on the weekend for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party will give a short-term boost to ties with China but Beijing will keep a wary eye on any moves in Tokyo to alter the pacifist constitution. Before the election, Abe made friendly overtures to China including a rare appearance at a Chinese embassy event last month to celebrate China's national day. But a day after the LDP and a small coalition partner secured at least 312 of the 465 seats in Japan's lower house, Abe signalled a push to revise the US-drafted constitution. Diplomatic observers said that despite warming ties, tensions remained between the two countries. Huang Dahui, director of Renmin University's Centre of East Asia Studies, said there was a difference in national interests between the two countries. "Japan's national interests are totally different from China's. To [Japan] improving relations means restoring high-level communication. [But] Japan will not make any concessions regarding the Diaoyu Islands and its leaders will not stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. These are Beijing's major concerns," Huang said. "So, the stumbling blocks for relations will still exist and last a long time." The weekend win means Abe is certain to stay on as the LDP's leader for another three years when it goes to a party vote in September. Zhou Yongsheng, a Japanese affairs expert at China Foreign Affairs University, said Abe had taken a friendlier tack towards China in the last year and the momentum would continue. But the big question was whether the next three years would give Abe enough time to achieve his long-term goal to revise the Japanese pacifist constitution to legitimise Japan's Self-Defence Force. Article 9 of the document outlaws war as a means for Japan to settle international disputes involving the state. Armed forces with war potential are also prohibited. But calls for changes to the constitution have gained ground in Japan, with parties in favour of amendment winning nearly 80 per cent of the seats in the election, according to Reuters. "Beijing would be most concerned with Abe's moves to amend the constitution, although it wouldn't be a direct threat to China in the short-run," Zhou said. In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that China hoped Japan would take practical action to promote stability and improve bilateral relations. Also in Beijing, Guo Yezhou, vice-minister of the International Department of the Communist Party's Central Committee, said over the weekend that a visit by Abe to China would depend on "public opinion", suggesting the Japanese leader should avoid inflaming nationalist sentiment in China. "High-level exchanges are important to boost the development of bilateral relations, but such exchanges should first have public support and understanding," Guo said. ^ top ^

Beijing says foreign interference is not the answer to Rohingya crisis (SCMP)
Beijing expressed its support for Myanmar's government on Saturday over the ongoing Rohingya crisis, saying foreign interference in the situation will not work. The remarks by Guo Yezhou, a deputy head of the Communist Party's international department, came as Beijing refused to condemn Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims – described by United Nations officials as a "textbook example" of ethnic cleansing. More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled across the border to Bangladesh following a counter-insurgency offensive by Myanmar's army in the wake of militant attacks on security forces. During a meeting last month with UN Secretary General António Guterres, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated China's support for the Myanmar government's efforts to protect its national security and said it opposed recent violent attacks in the country's Rakhine state. Asked why China had remained silent on the humanitarian crisis, Guo said: "Based on experience, you can see recently the consequences when one country interferes in another. We won't do it." Guo, who was speaking on the sidelines of the party congress in Beijing, did not elaborate. He also pointed to China's "friendship" with Myanmar's government, headed by de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to explain its refusal to publicly condemn the treatment of Rohingya Muslims. China does not want instability in Myanmar as it inevitably will be affected because the two countries share a long land border, Guo said. "We condemn violent and terrorist acts," he added. China has extensive investments in Myanmar. A recently opened pipeline running through the country carries oil from the Middle East and the Caucuses to China's landlocked Yunnan province. The 771km pipeline starts from the Bay of Bengal in Rakhine. Guo's department has been at the forefront of building relations with Suu Kyi, who visited China in 2015 at the party's invitation, rather than the Chinese government's. International department head Song Tao also visited Myanmar in August and met Suu Kyi. In contrast to China's stance, the European Union and the United States have been considering targeted sanctions against Myanmar's military leadership. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday that the United States held Myanmar's military leadership responsible for its harsh crackdown. Punitive measures aimed specifically at top generals are among a range of options that have been discussed, but they are wary of action that could hurt the wider economy or destabilise already tense ties between Suu Kyi and the army. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Three disgraced Chinese Communist Party officials accused of trying to rig elections (SCMP)
Three disgraced senior officials from China's Communist Party, including a man once considered a possible successor to President Xi Jinping, have been accused of rigging internal elections, as the party revealed on Thursday it abandoned a vote-based promotion system at its latest leadership reshuffle. The accused cadres are the former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, former chief of staff to President Hu Jintao Ling Jihua, and former Chongqing party boss Sun Zhengcai, according to a Xinhua report. Sun, who became the subject of an official investigation in July, was the youngest member of the Politburo and considered a front runner to succeed Xi. The party has yet to announce what charges he is facing. Xinhua published a lengthy article revealing some of details of how candidates for top party roles were selected. It also accused the three leaders of bribing voters in internal elections. It said that vote rigging occurred at both the 17th and 18th party congresses in 2007 and 2012, but did not specify which elections the trio are accused of trying to manipulate. At the congress that ended on Tuesday, the party revoked a vote-based recommendation system to choose its top leadership, opting instead for a "consultation" mechanism. "The 17th and 18th party congresses adopted recommendations during meetings, but the weight of those votes was overemphasised," according to the Xinhua article, which detailed how members of the innermost Politburo Standing Committee and the broader Politburo were selected. "Some comrades did nothing beyond putting a tick on the ballot, leading to arbitrary voting and a distortion of public opinion," it said. Such elections were susceptible to the influence of guanxi, or personal networks, which often led to cronyism, it said. The statement was a rare criticism of the vote-based recommendation system, which the party adopted at the 17th and 18th congresses, and which it claimed was "underlining the party's determination [to achieve] internal democracy". Under that system, full and alternative members of the Central Committee at the 17th congress voted to select their favourite 25 cadres – for the Politburo – from a list of 200 candidates. Five years later, the system was used to select both the members of the Politburo and its elite Standing Committee. Those methods were largely overhauled this year. Although cadres were still allowed to vote, recommendations were mainly based on face-to-face consultations, the article said. President Xi had consultations with 57 cadres, while other top party leaders met 201 cadres to hear their recommendations. The report did not say who was approached or how they were chosen. The cadres also agreed to a more flexible appointment system that could oust incumbent Politburo members even before the unofficial retirement age of 68, the article said. The clarification came after three Politburo members – all younger than the unofficial retirement age – lost their Politburo places at the latest congress, though there have been no reports thus far of them being placed under investigation. Chinese state firm executives frozen out of Central Committee as Xi Jinping's anti-corruption plan bites( Another piece by Xinhua earlier this week explained how the 204 full members and 172 alternative members of the Central Committee were selected. Whoever did not toe the party line or commit to the central leadership, was immediately deemed out of the running, it said. The alleged rigging of internal elections was a result of the lack of transparency and fair competition, Shanghai-based political scientist Chen Daoyin said. "These attempts at in-party democracy are secretive and non-competitive, so candidates can't campaign openly," he said. "So these elections, stopping short of learning from the bright side of Western democracy, have picked up everything from the dark side." Chen pointed to the large-scale vote-buying scandals in the provincial parliaments of Hunan and Liaoning, which combined saw the disqualification of more than 1,000 lawmakers and dozens of members of the National People's Congress. "That's like giving up eating for fear of choking," he said. "There are flaws in such voting but it constrains the arbitrary rule of those in power … now personnel appointments will be increasingly dependent on the wills of those in power." ^ top ^

Out with the technocrats, in with China's new breed of politicians (SCMP)
Once run by peasants-turned-revolutionaries and then engineers, China is now in the hands of a group of political experts, economists and theorists. Only a decade ago, eight of the nine top Communist Party leaders studied engineering or natural sciences – the most sought-after majors when the country was struggling to industrialise. But no one in the newly appointed Politburo Standing Committee, unveiled on Wednesday, belongs to the so-called technocrats, who worked as engineers or natural science researchers before entering the political arena. President Xi Jinping, who studied chemical engineering at Tsinghua University, was the only one with such experience, but he went straight to the government after graduation and pursued a higher degree in Marxist theories and political education. Among his peers, two studied political education for their first degree and the rest majored in management, philosophy, politics or law. Their education history varies. Wang Yang, who started as a food factory worker, got his first degree in management at a party school in 1992, when he was a mayor in Anhui province. But in the same year, then 37-year-old Wang Huning was already the head of the international politics department at the prestigious Fudan University. Communist leaders in the Mao era had largely been peasants and soldiers, but the development in higher education contributed to a rise in technocrat politicians. To support China's industrialisation, the party under Mao overhauled mainland universities in the 1950s, mirroring the Soviet Union model by setting up a large number of engineering schools while cutting down on humanities departments. That meant that from 1997 to 2007, all of the top leaders sitting on the innermost Standing Committee shared an engineering background. Former president Hu Jintao is a hydraulic engineer while his premier, Wen Jiabao, specialised in geological engineering. Hu's predecessor Jiang Zemin was trained as an electrical engineer – and did an internship at a Moscow car factory. But among the fifth-generation leaders – those who were born in the 1950s and went to university after the Cultural Revolution – the engineers no longer dominate. With a law degree and a PhD in economics from Peking University, when Li Keqiang joined the Standing Committee he was the only member to have studied humanities as an undergraduate. In fact, during Xi's first term, the only engineer in the top echelon of power was Yu Zhengsheng, who studied missile guidance but ended up overseeing ethnic minorities and religious affairs. Tao Yu, a political sociologist at the University of Western Australia, said that for Chinese officials – who spend decades ascending the political ladder – governing experience mattered more than academic background. "But higher education does have an impact on their rule," Tao said. "Leaders who went to universities tend to do a better job in reading data and analysing problems. They are very different from the revolutionaries who used to run China." The growing prevalence of university education would see more officials with solid professional knowledge and international experience enter Chinese leadership, Tao said. The younger generation are already working in lower-level governments and state-owned enterprises, where they assist in areas including economic planning and diplomacy. "They are not yet decision makers, but they're participating in specific policymaking," Tao said. "They are playing a bridging role in Xi's drive to expand China's global influence." ^ top ^

Xi makes meeting with PLA leaders first mission after congress (SCMP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping called on leaders of the People's Liberation Army to improve its capabilities and strive to become one of the world's greatest armies, a day after he unveiled the new Communist Party leadership. Xi was addressing the high-profile meeting on Thursday as he began his second term as chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC). During the meeting, Xi reiterated his call for the PLA to become one of the world's greatest armies by 2050, along with other interim goals such as building a modernised army by 2035. The president also repeated a more pressing task for the PLA – a major upgrade of capabilities, information technology and achieving the goal of military mechanisation by 2020, state broadcaster CCTV reported. At the meeting were the CMC's two new vice-chairmen, General Xu Qiliang and General Zhang Youxia, along with outgoing vice-chairman General Fan Changlong. But it appeared from the CCTV report that two top generals were absent – former chief of general staff General Fang Fenghui and director of the political work department, General Zhang Yang. Both Fang and Zhang were CMC members in Xi's first term, but they were left off the list of PLA delegates to this month's party congress. Sources close to the military told the South China Morning Post earlier that the pair were taken away on the same day last month as part of a corruption investigation. Defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said on Monday that Xi's plan to strengthen the military would be fully implemented and his authority would be upheld. The new CMC line-up to oversee the nation's armed forces was unveiled on Wednesday. It will be led by a group of seven, down from the 11 members who headed its operations before. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping rolls out leaner top line-up for China's military machine (SCMP)
The top echelon of the body overseeing the running of the world's biggest military has shrunk by a third to make it the smallest leadership line-up in the history of the People's Liberation Army. The Communist Party announced on Wednesday that the Central Military Commission would be led by a seven-member group, down from the 11 members who headed its operations before. Military analysts said the streamlined group indicated President Xi Jinping, the CMC's chairman, was further consolidating his hold over the organisation. A Beijing-based retired senior colonel said the six others were "either military heavyweights who had pledged loyalty to Xi when he took over as chief of the PLA in late 2012, or younger generals promoted by him". The new line-up will comprise Xi, two vice-chairmen and four other members. The CMC's former second vice-chairman, PLA Air Force General Xu Qiliang, moves up one spot to replace General Fan Changlong, who is retiring. Xi ally General Zhang Youxia takes over from Xu. At 67, Xu and Zhang are the oldest of the seven, suggesting that Xi followed the party's unwritten "seven up, eight down" rule, which means leaders aged up to 67 can stay on for another term while those 68 or older must retire. The four other CMC members are General Wei Fenghe, General Li Zuocheng, Admiral Miao Hua and Lieutenant General Zhang Shengmin. Zhang Shengmin is the chief of the CMC's Discipline Inspection Commission, and his elevation suggested that the anti-graft campaign, which has already brought down at least 100 generals, would continue in full swing, military observers said. "The move further indicates that Xi wants to make the anti-graft campaign a regular job in the PLA," Hong Kong-based military observer Liang Guoliang said. During Xi's first term, the CMC followed the precedent set by former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, by having a chairman, two vice-chairmen, and eight regular members. The CMC reached a peak membership of about 50 during the Cultural Revolution when Mao Zedong was the military's chairman. China's constitution says only that the CMC must have "several" vice-chairmen and "several" members, giving Xi the scope to make changes. There is still a big question mark over the roles and functions of the two vice-chairmen and the four members in the new structure. The military is in the midst of an unprecedented military overhaul Xi launched in 2015. As part of the changes the PLA has scrapped its four former general staff, general political, general logistics and general armaments headquarters, and distributed their powers among 15 new departments. Two military insiders said that heads of the 15 new units were jockeying for power because many of their roles and functions overlapped. Meanwhile, another source said new CMC member Wei, 63, is tipped to become the country's defence minister next year, taking over from General Chang Wanquan. Chang is 68. A Beijing-based military source said Li Zuocheng, 64, a decorated hero of the Sino-Vietnamese war and a veteran leader of disaster relief campaigns, would assume responsibility for combat and strategic support forces, as his predecessor General Fang Fenghui had. Miao, 61, who once was the PLA Navy's political commissar, will oversee the CMC's political work, filling the shoes of his predecessor Zhang Yang. Both Fang and Zhang Yang were CMC members in Xi's first term, but they were left off the list of PLA delegates to this month's national party congress. Sources close to the military said the pair were taken away on the same day last month as part of a corruption investigation. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping shakes up China's military leadership … what changes at the top mean for world's biggest armed forces (SCMP)
China's Communist Party has appointed a new slimmed down Central Military Commission to oversee the nation's armed forces. Analysts said the appointments further strengthened Xi's control over the commission, which he heads. The body will be led by a seven member group, down from the 11 who oversaw its operations previously. The changes come as Xi has initiated a massive modernisation programme for the country's military to make it a leaner and more efficient fighting force. Here are the details of the changes and what it means for the world's biggest armed forces. Who has been appointed to the commission? The new line-up will comprise Xi, two vice-chairmen and four other members. The generals are all experienced officers who have strongly pledged their loyalty to Xi. The inclusion in the body of Lieutenant General Zhang Shengmin, the chief of the military discipline inspection commission, suggests the sweeping anti-graft campaign within the military will maintain its momentum, analysts said. PLA Air Force General Xu Qiliang and General Zhang Youxia – both Xi loyalists – have been appointed commission vice-chairmen. How powerful is the commission and what is its role? The commission administers China's military and paramilitary forces, including the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police. The commission's chairman is the de facto commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces. The head of the Communist Party is not automatically made commission chairman, but Xi has taken on both roles over the past five years. The Communist Party has absolute control over the military, hence the commission functions as a state institution and a party organ. Commission members have a rank in the military and a party position. When and how was the commission set up? The Communist Party set up its first military commission in 1925, four years after the party was formally created in China. The body's name has changed over the years as the party and military's role has evolved, but the commission has continued to wield absolute power over China's armed forces. The commission's size has varied over time. Most members have been high-ranking uniformed generals in charge of every facet of the PLA's command and operations. How did Xi tackle corruption during his first term in office? Xi kicked off a massive anti-graft campaign soon after taking power in 2012. His drive has brought down many senior military officials, including Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, who both served as commission vice-chairmen under former president Hu Jintao. Xu was investigated for alleged graft in 2014, but died from cancer a year later. Guo was investigated in 2015 and jailed for life last year. The two generals were charged with bribery, but state media later accused them of political misconduct "severely damaging the CMC chair responsibility system". Liu Shiyu, the chief of China's securities watchdog, went even further, claiming at an event at this month's party congress that Guo, Xu and other ousted officials such as Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, Ling Jihua and Sun Zhengcai had tried to take over the party. "They had high positions and great power in the party, but they were hugely corrupt and plotted to usurp the party's leadership and seize state power," Liu said. How has Xi tried to reform the commission? The commission previously had four departments overseeing the general staff, politics and ideology, plus logistics and armaments, known as the "General Four". Xi has centralised the commission's leadership while delegating responsibility for military operations to theatre commands. A key aim was freeing each force to develop its own capabilities. The General Four were scrapped last year and restructured into 15 smaller "administrative departments". While the new entities were more specific in their functions than their predecessors, they had no final decision-making authority. They included departments for the general office, joint staff, political work, logistical support, equipment development, training and administration, plus national defence mobilisation. Three commissions dealt with discipline inspection, politics and law and science and technology. Five directly affiliated offices handled strategic planning, reform and organisational structure, international military cooperation, audits and the agency for offices administration. Meanwhile, the previous seven military districts were replaced by five regional theatre commands. A Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force were also created. What is the "commission chairman responsibility system"? A theme of Xi's military reforms since heading the commission has been re-establishing this system, which stresses the chairman's dominant role. Xi convened a military political work meeting in 2014 and the following year an editorial in the PLA Daily, the official mouthpiece of China's military, explained the system in full. "The armed forces of China shall be under the unified leadership and command of the CMC chairman," it read. "All significant issues regarding national defence and military development shall be decided and finalised by the CMC chairman and the overall work of the CMC shall be presided [over] and taken charge of by the CMC chairman." ^ top ^

Higher profile for anti-corruption watchdogs as China's graft-busters rise up the rungs of power (SCMP)
China's anti-graft tsar may be on the way out but the Communist Party's discipline watchdog is expected to have a bigger role, with its new chief gaining a seat in the innermost circle of power. The changes in the party's leadership line-up will also pave the way for institutionalisation of President Xi Jinping's anti-graft drive, further blurring the line between the party and the state. Among the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee introduced to the public on Wednesday was Zhao Leji, the man set to take over from Wang as head of the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). Supervision Minister Yang Xiaodu, one of Zhao's eight deputies at the CCDI, was also elevated to the 25-member Politburo, a position neither of his two immediate predecessors attained in the position. Three other Zhao deputies are one rung lower, becoming full members of the Central Committee. Those three are: Lieutenant General Zhang Shengmin, the top graft-buster with the People's Liberation Army and a member of the Central Military Commission; Liu Jinguo, the man tipped to be the next supervision minister; and Justice Minister Zhang Jun. Yang, 64, is tipped to be the vice-director of the new National Supervision Commission, a watchdog that will have expanded powers to root out corruption not just among party cadres but among all public servants, including judges, police officers and public school managers. The party plans to set up an NSC-led network of supervisory commissions across the country once the National People's Congress, the top legislature, endorses a new anti-graft law next year. Bo Zhiyue, a New Zealand-based political analyst, said Yang would likely be the second-ranked person in the new body in charge of day-to-day operations. His Politburo membership would allow him to better carry out decisions from the top, Bo said. "The promotion shows the party is stepping up discipline enforcement," he said. "No matter if the person is a party member or not, the supervisory commission can take action." Pilot schemes of the new system are under way in Zhejiang, Shanxi and Beijing, and when asked about them on Tuesday, Yang said: "[Everything goes] very well and very smoothly." Shanxi anti-corruption chief Ren Jianhua also said the system was more effective because it pooled the resources of the party and prosecutors. Ren said that between April and September the number of people disciplined in Shanxi rose by 21.9 per cent year on year. "The system has basically covered all public servants," Ren said. "It has greatly strengthened the party's leadership over anti-corruption work." In other appointments, two close Xi aides, Xu Lingyi and Li Shulei, were named CCDI deputy secretaries on Wednesday. Xu worked under Xi when Xi was the party boss of Zhejiang province between 2002 and 2007. Xu made headlines as a party inspector in February when he delivered the report accusing the Chongqing party committee headed by its then boss Sun Zhengcai of failing to eradicate the bad influence of the city's disgraced former chief Bo Xilai and his right-hand man and police chief Wang Lijun. Sun was put under investigation in July and was expelled from the party last month. Li Shulei, 53, is the youngest top leader in the CCDI and has long been regarded one of Xi's top advisers. He was promoted to vice-president of the Central Party School in late 2009, around two years after Xi became its head. But while Wang is leaving the CCDI, two subordinates during his time as Beijing's mayor between 2003 and 2007 – Yang Xiaochao and Xiao Pei – were named deputies to Zhao at the powerful agency. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping Thought – the Communist Party's tighter grip on China in 16 characters (SCMP)
The Communist Party is set to strengthen its hold on all aspects of Chinese society with the inclusion of President Xi Jinping's tongue-twisting, 16-character political philosophy in the party's canon. Xi foreshadowed the tighter grip last week when he detailed his approach to governance at the start of the party's national congress. "Government, the military, society and schools, north, south, east and west – the party leads them all," he said. The president's theory – "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" – will be written into the party's constitution, making him the third leader after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping to have his name attached to a philosophy in the charter. Comprising 14 parts and cloaked in dense terminology, Xi's thought is a nationalist appeal to restore the country to greatness – a "China dream" of rejuvenation that Xi advanced soon after taking office. Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, said the result would be tighter and more centralised leadership. "Everything from north to south and under heaven will be ruled by the party. The loosened party rule before Xi's leadership was the reason for him to reiterate and reinforce the thought to the country," Tsang said. "If you oppose Xi Jinping, then you oppose the party." A key element of Xi's philosophy is the rigid enforcement of one-party rule, with further blurring of the line between the party and the state. That integration is exemplified by the plans to set up a National Supervision Commission – an overarching state anti-graft body that will share the same office and personnel as the party's anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. The approach is a sharp contrast to Deng's drive for greater separation between the party and the government. Another of Xi's priorities has been to instil discipline and loyalty in the party ranks while cracking down on graft with harsh measures meant to revive an organisation riddled with corruption, infighting and fiefdoms. In addition, Xi has sought to renew the party's links with the grass-roots by setting up more party cells in companies, schools and villages, and through poverty relief efforts. On the economy, Xi's has sent mixed messages. While insisting the market should play a "decisive role" in the economy, he also expects the government to play a greater role in managing it. He is a firm believer in strong state-owned companies, but has sought to assure private and foreign companies that China will open up its services sector and further lower barriers for foreign businesses. Xi's theory is heavy on the need for innovation and a more balanced tack on economic development. China's "unbalanced and inadequate development" has become the main limitation on people building better lives for themselves, Xi has said. He claims unbridled growth and urbanisation have created many problems, such as massive wealth inequality and severe pollution, which in turn have fuelled social discontent, making the "war on poverty" and "war on pollution" policy priorities. Central to Xi's thought is the focus on the "Four Self-confidences", a need for China to have faith in its system, path, theory and culture. In the aftermath of the international political and financial upheaval of the last decade, Xi maintains that China needs to have confidence in its one-party political system and its traditional culture, as opposed to Western political ideas and values. He tries to promote nationalism and what has been increasingly called by observers as "China exceptionalism". 'Into the brains' of China's children: Xi Jinping's 'thought' to become compulsory school topic( Such confidence comes with a lower tolerance for different views. In his first term, he sought to crush dissent, or what he calls "erroneous viewpoints", with a sweeping crackdown on activists, rights lawyers and civil society as well as stringent censorship of the media and the internet. On diplomacy, Xi has abandoned Deng's policy of keeping a low profile and biding time. Instead, he is pushing for a more assertive, proactive approach in which China will not flinch from upholding its national interests, security and sovereignty. And all of this is backed by the party's absolute control over the military, the world's largest, which Xi has overhauled and vows to transform into one of the best in the world. ^ top ^

Xi presents new CPC central leadership, roadmap for next 5 years (Xinhua)
Soon after being re-elected general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi Jinping on Wednesday presented the new CPC central leadership to the press and laid down a roadmap for the next five years. Amid applause, Xi led the other six newly elected members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee into a brightly-lit room inside the grandiose Great Hall of the People, facing rows of eager journalists. Xi, 64, was flanked by Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng. He smiled, waved to the journalists and took the podium. "I was re-elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee," said a confident Xi against the backdrop of a giant Chinese landscape painting featuring the Great Wall. "I see this as not just approval of my work, but also encouragement that will spur me on," he said. Xi thanked all other members of the Party for the trust they have placed in the new leadership and vowed to work diligently to "meet our duty, fulfill our mission and be worthy of their trust." The coming five years, Xi said, will see several important junctures and signposts. "Not only must we deliver the first centenary goal, we must also embark on the journey toward the second centenary goal," he said. The year of 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of reform and opening-up. Xi said China will make determined efforts to comprehensively deepen reform and open still wider to the world. The year of 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The CPC will continue efforts to accomplish all the tasks laid down in the 13th Five-Year Plan, develop new blueprints for China's future, and see the flourishing of all the endeavors, he said. Xi reiterated the resolve to establish a moderately prosperous society across all metrics in 2020. He said the Party must remain committed to a people-centered philosophy of development and make steady progress toward enhancing the people's sense of fulfillment and realizing common prosperity for everyone. The CPC will mark its centenary in 2021. Xi said the Party will generate waves of positive energy which can build into a mighty and nationwide force driving China's development and progress. "For a party which fights for the eternal wellbeing of the Chinese nation, the centenary only ushers in the prime of life," Xi said. "As the world's largest political party, the CPC must behave in a way commensurate with this status." Xi said China will work with other nations to build a global community with a shared future, and make new and greater contributions to the noble cause of peace and development for all humanity. He said the 19th Party Congress has received extensive and detailed reporting and the media coverage has captured the attention of the world. A total of 452 major political parties in 165 countries have sent 855 messages of congratulation to the CPC on the congress. Xi encouraged the press to continue to follow China's development and progress, and learn about and report on more dimensions of China. "We do not need lavish praise from others, however, we do welcome objective reporting and constructive suggestions, for this is our motto: 'Not angling for compliments, I would be content that my integrity fills the universe,'" Xi said. ^ top ^

A bold blueprint for China's future (SCMP)
The Chinese Communist Party's twice-a-decade national congress has agreed on the new top tiers of leaders charged with carrying forward Xi Jinping's vision for the country. They will be guided by his political ideology, "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era", adopted yesterday into the charter of the Communist Party. The inclusion of his name in his political theory may put Xi on a par with late leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping but, arguably, the defining achievement of this congress is to provide a springboard for China into the "new era" mapped out in Xi Jinping thought. This envisions a two-stage ascension, to leader in innovation by 2035 to a "great modern socialist nation" by 2050 – a global leader in economic and military strength and influence. The world will join in watching to see if the nation can achieve this goal while upholding the 14 fundamental principles spelt out in Xi Jinping thought. The years from now to the 20th party congress, the second five years of Xi's term in office, are seen as decisive for laying the foundations. The principles range over social, economic and security issues, from reaffirming party leadership over every aspect to deepening reform, adopting a new vision for development that puts quality ahead of quantity, law-based governance and harmonisation with nature to upholding "one country, two systems". The latter puts Hong Kong firmly in the frame of national development, while endorsing the constitutional and governance formula as the "best institutional guarantee for the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau". Reaffirming commitment to the policy of Hong Kong people governing the city, Xi emphasised the principal role of patriots, pledging to develop and strengthen their ranks and foster a stronger sense of national identity and shared responsibility for national rejuvenation. Xi Jinping thought also envisages the concept of a Chinese approach to development for other nations, which offers a "new option" for countries that want to accelerate their development while maintaining their independence. While Xi projects confidence in China's future, he still has to reassure the world China's rise poses no threat to world peace, and promote his idea of a shared future of mankind – one of the 14 principles – so it is more widely accepted. Xi reflects this confidence in linking attainment of national goals such as creating a better education system to serve the socialist cause and military modernisation to China's brand of socialism. But, in a cautionary reminder to cadres, he also rightly acknowledges that the brand itself must keep up with the times. ^ top ^

Xi says China welcomes constructive suggestions (Xinhua)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), told reporters worldwide on Wednesday that China welcomes objective reporting and constructive suggestions. Xi made the remarks as he led other members of the Standing Committee of the 19th CPC Central Committee Political Bureau to meet the press at the Great Hall of the People. "We do not need lavish praise from others, however, we do welcome objective reporting and constructive suggestions, for this is our motto: 'Not angling for compliments, I would be content that my integrity fills the universe,'" Xi said. He encouraged members of the press to visit and see more of China, citing a Chinese saying that "it is better to see once than to hear a hundred times." "We hope that after the Party Congress, you will continue to follow China's development and progress, and learn about and report on more dimensions of China," he said. ^ top ^

Chinese propulsion system advances submarine capability (Global Times)
China has conducted a trial run on the country's first permanent magnet propulsion motor for naval vessels, with experts saying that it marks a significant breakthrough in the country's naval vessel building industry, especially for the nuclear submarines. The State-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), which is known for its aircraft carriers and the Jiaolong submersible vessel, made a statement on its official WeChat public account on Monday that the permanent magnet motor with a Chinese patent has been used on naval vessels docked at Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, the base of China's conventional and nuclear submarine fleet. The statement said the vessel's propeller began to turn at 11 am on October 18, then reached the designated speed, which signified the success of the permanent magnet propulsion. Although the statement did not disclose the type of vessels the motor was tested on, Chinese military experts say they believe the motor is specially designed for China's submarines and can substantially improve their performance in many aspects, especially by significantly reducing their running sound to the lowest possible level. The new high-performance permanent magnet motors made from rare-earth materials avoid the flaws of traditional motors that work under the excitation principle, and can provide much greater power density, and can significantly reduce its working noise," Song Zhongping, a military analyst who previously served with the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Back in May, Rear Admiral Ma Weiming, China's top naval engineer, in an interview with China Central Television, said that the navy was supplying its newest nuclear attack submarines with a "shaftless," rim-driven pump-jet, which was considered a revolutionary, low-noise propulsion system. Ma said that the technology was ahead of the US and more efficient and suitable for high-speed nuclear submarines. ^ top ^

Meet the Xi Jinping allies in line to become Chinese leader's new chief of staff (SCMP)
The top decision-making bodies of China's Communist Party are expected to be dominated by allies of party chief Xi Jinping for the next five years, with the line-up to be revealed on Wednesday. But beneath those leadership roles, Xi allies and proteges are also poised to control the party's General Office, which serves as its nerve centre, and the Central Secretariat, which deals with the day-to-day running of the party Politburo and its Standing Committee. Ding Xuexiang, a trusted Xi aide, is widely tipped to become head of the party Central Committee's General Office, which would make him Xi's new chief of staff. Ding, now the General Office's top-ranked deputy head, has extensive experience in assisting Xi. The 55-year-old was Xi's secretary during the half year he spent as Shanghai party boss in 2007 and was promoted to a deputy head of the General Office six months after Xi came to power in November 2012. In July 2013, two months after that promotion, Ding got a new title as director of Xi's personal office and he has since accompanied Xi on many of his foreign and domestic trips. Another possible candidate is Li Qiang, the party boss of Jiangsu province, who served as Xi's aide during his years in Zhejiang province in the mid-2000s. The General Office handles paperwork, logistics, health care and security for top leaders, but its importance extends far beyond its seemingly administrative role. The office is the "nerve centre of the party where all information – from the leadership above and the massive bureaucracy below – converges", said Professor Wang Zhengxu, a political scientist at Fudan University in Shanghai. For a piece of information to reach the top leaders, it has to first pass through the General Office. And once the leadership has reached a decision on a particular case or policy, the General Office is then responsible for disseminating it to the departments charged with implementing it. Even more importantly, the General Office commands several thousand elite troops in a force known as the Central Security Bureau who are dedicated to protecting the top leaders and their families. "If somethings goes wrong within the General Office, than the safety of the whole Zhongnanhai compound is at risk," said Shanghai-based political commentator Chen Daoyin, referring to the closely guarded leadership headquarters next to the Forbidden City in Beijing. At the General Office, Ding was deputy to Li Zhanshu, a close ally and old friend of Xi. Li is tipped to become a member of the party's supreme Politburo Standing Committee on Wednesday and become head of the National People's Congress, China's legislature, in March. Li has given the General Office a complete shake-up since becoming its head five years ago. The General Office used to be the power base of the disgraced Ling Jihua, the former top aide to previous party chief Hu Jintao. Ling is now serving a life sentence for corruption and illegally obtaining state secrets. Ling worked in the General Office for 17 years, the last five of those as its chief. In a speech last year, Li said Ling had left behind a power centre that had attempted to resist the party's anti-corruption investigation into the office. At least eight senior cadres from the office have been removed from their posts in the past five years. Chen said Ding was a suitable choice. "Ding must have taken an important part in Li's overhaul of the office and is familiar with how things work there," he said. "Plus he has Xi's full trust." As the head of the General Office, Ding would also have a seat on the Central Secretariat. "The Central Secretariat is important because it acts as a coordinator among the hierarchies of the party, the State Council (China's cabinet) and the military," Wang said. The Central Secretariat ranks a rung below the Politburo, but some of its secretaries can wield more real power than a Politburo member who holds a mainly ceremonial role such as the vice-presidency. It is likely to be headed by communist ideologist Wang Huning, who has been tipped to succeed propaganda and ideology tsar Liu Yunshan in the Politburo Standing Committee. Its other members include the chiefs of the party's central propaganda and personnel arms. Both positions are likely to be filled by Xi allies who are now their executive vice-ministers. Huang Kunming, the deputy propaganda tsar, worked with Xi in both Fujian and Zhejiang provinces; while the party Organisation Department's Chen Xi was Xi's roommate at Tsinghua University in Beijing. ^ top ^

Anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan steps down from top Chinese leadership as Xi Jinping's name is enshrined in Communist Party charter (SCMP)
China's top graft-buster Wang Qishan is not on the list of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and is therefore confirmed to be retiring from the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of the Chinese leadership. The announcement by state media confirms a South China Morning Post report that said Wang, 69, would step down and give up his role as head of the anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). The unit has been behind a years-long dragnet that has caught and sent thousands of corrupt officials to prison. Meanwhile, Zhao Leji has been named as a CCDI member, a move which an earlier Post exclusive report said could lead to his heading the unit. Zhao is the Party Organisation Department Chief. And Li Zhanshu, chief of staff to President Xi Jinping, has not been named as a member of the CCDI, contrary to other foreign media speculation. Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao, who is 66 and has not reached retirement age, is also absent from the Central Committee list. This means he will be stepping down from the Politburo. The release of the list came after the twice-in-a-decade national congress adopted the political ideology of President Xi Jinping into the charter of the Communist Party as it concluded its meeting on Tuesday. The congress said "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" – which Xi revealed in his political report when the congress began last week – would be a guide to action for the party. The move puts Xi on par with late leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. A total of 2,336 delegates filed into the congress' closing session in Beijing, which began at 9am. They were to approve the new Central Committee and their alternate members. On Wednesday, the party's new leaders in the all powerful Politburo Standing Committee will meet the press. The line-up of the new 25-member Politburo and the top leaders serving on its top body, the Standing Committee, will finally be endorsed on Wednesday morning by the party's newly appointed Central Committee, state media reported. Seventeen candidates for places on the powerful Central Committee will leave the national congress disappointed on Tuesday, after they were eliminated during a vote, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Almost 2,300 delegates to the congress cast their ballots in a preliminary vote to appoint 205 members from a list of 222 names. The system works by delegates voting off the candidates they like least until there is parity between the numbers of seats and candidates. The election process will conclude on Tuesday morning when a largely ceremonial second vote will be held to decide the final ranking of the 205 candidates – all of whom will have been approved by the congress presidium – although by that stage each is guaranteed a seat on the committee. "Altogether 17 candidates had to be voted out and the number of seats at the Central Committee remained at 205," a person who had access to the initial candidate list told the South China Morning Post on Monday. A second source confirmed the numbers. Before this year's congress, the number of "extra" candidates for Central Committee seats had been growing. In 2002, just 10 people missed out after 208 candidates competed for 198 seats. Five years later, there were 17 losers (221 candidates, 204 positions), and in 2012, 19 people were disappointed (224 candidates, 205 seats). The idea of staging a preliminary vote was introduced at the 15th congress in 1997, a veteran party source told the Post earlier. Before then, there was still the chance that the poll could throw up a major surprise, as the rank-and-file delegates effectively had the final say on the matter. Also on Tuesday, the congress delegates will vote to elect 200 alternate members of the Central Committee, as well as the members of the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection. ^ top ^

CPC congress establishes historical position of Xi's thought: resolution (Xinhua)
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) establishes the historical position of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, according to a resolution approved by the congress Tuesday. "This Thought must be adhered to and steadily developed on a long-term basis," the resolution said. The resolution called the Thought "an important component of the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and a guide to action for all our members and all the Chinese people as we strive to achieve national rejuvenation." The congress forms the major political judgments that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era and the principal contradiction in Chinese society has evolved into one between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life, said the resolution. The 19th CPC National Congress approved the report delivered by Xi on behalf of the Party's 18th Central Committee, said the resolution. An "impressive blueprint" has been sketched out by the report for "securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and striving for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, thus charting the course for continued progress in the cause of the Party and the country," said the resolution. The resolution called the report "a political declaration and a program of action for the Party to unite the Chinese people and lead them in upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era," and "a guiding Marxist document." ^ top ^

Xi's military thinking, Party's "absolute" leadership over army written into CPC Constitution (Xinhua)
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has included Xi Jinping's military thinking and the Party's "absolute" leadership over the armed forces into its Constitution, according to a resolution approved by the 19th CPC National Congress on Tuesday. According to the resolution, the CPC shall uphold its absolute leadership over the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and other people's armed forces and implement Xi Jinping's thinking on strengthening the military, as part of the amendments to the CPC's fundamental document for its over 89 million members. The development of the PLA shall be strengthened by enhancing its political loyalty, strengthening it through reform and technology, and running it in accordance with the law, the resolution read. The CPC shall build people's forces that obey the Party's command, can fight and win, and maintain excellent conduct to ensure that the PLA accomplishes its missions and tasks in the new era, it said. The inclusion of these statements into the Party Constitution will "help ensure the Party's absolute leadership over the people's armed forces, [and] modernize national defense and the military," it said. In addition, the amendment to the CPC Constitution also clarified that Chairperson of the Central Military Commission (CMC) assumes overall responsibility over the work of the Commission and that the CMC is responsible for Party work and political work in the armed forces. This complies with the realistic requirement to ensure the CMC fulfills its responsibility for Party self-supervision and self-governance after the military reform, the resolution said. ^ top ^

"Belt and Road" incorporated into CPC Constitution (Xinhua)
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has incorporated pushing for Belt and Road development into its Constitution, according to a resolution approved by the 19th CPC National Congress on Tuesday. The congress agreed to write into the Constitution "following the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative," according to the resolution. Proposed by Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. ^ top ^

CPC commitment in new era: a better life (Global Times)
In his report at the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping redefined the principal contradiction facing Chinese society in the new era, namely between unbalanced, inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life. Providing this better life has become a new pursuit of the CPC. The concept of "better life" is more extensive and advanced than previous "ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people." A better life is not only based on increasingly abundant material and cultural products, but also includes people's value judgments. People of different social groups and ranks have divergent understandings of "better life" and it's a brave expedition for the ruling party to embark upon in its efforts to satisfy people's ever-growing thirst for a better life. Xi's report depicted a "great modern socialist country" in 2050 as "prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful," incorporating "Beautiful China" into the development plan. This immediately reminds people of environmental and ecological construction. Environmental governance, including pollution alleviation, is now one of the most prominent demands of the people. Making construction of a better life the general direction of China's modernization drive complies with the aspirations of the people. It is a real challenge but also a realistic mission. The ruling party's work and the whole country's cause are indeed people-centered, and the fundamental purpose of China's socialist system is enacting the blueprint of the country's development. Socialism with Chinese characteristics is increasingly abundant and mature, and the goals of the country benefit all society. It has been almost a century since the Communist Party of China was established. The Party dedicated itself to the founding of the People's Republic of China from the outset and has explored socialist construction ever since. China had made tremendous achievements in construction, and meanwhile accumulated experiences and lessons from political setbacks. When reform and opening-up started, the Party correctly defined the then-principal social contradiction and promoted mass production capacity to meet the public's material and cultural needs. The Party's efforts realized fruition during decades of construction as China's per capita income rose from a few hundred dollars to more than $8,000, reaching the level of a middle-income country. As the country continues to progress, the public now has a new request. The 19th Party Congress is responding to that with new statements on the principal social contradiction and guiding society's understanding of a new era. To build a better life, we need to build the country into a great modern socialist country and get support and recognition of the people. It won't be just a short-term lofty slogan, but a comprehensive and high-standard construction the likes of which have not been seen in human history. It will be tested by the people, the country and history. Since reform and opening-up, the grand strategic planning of the Party has been well implemented across generations. The aim of building a moderately prosperous society has been carried out for three decades. Building a great modern socialist country will guide all Chinese people through future decades, writing a new epic of socialist China. In many other countries, serving the people is an empty promise, but in China people are precisely the focus of politics. It is their needs that form the entire focus of all policy. This is socialism. To build a better life is the Party's commitment to the people in a new era. ^ top ^

Chinese internet users positive on online security, many unaware of cyber attacks (Global Times)
Nearly 90 percent of Chinese internet users are positive about China's cybersecurity, though 19 percent have no knowledge of recent cyber attacks, according to a survey by a Chinese internet security platform. About 56 percent of Chinese internet users said the country's internet environment were "very" or "pretty" secure, while about 32.8 percent of users said the internet security was "generally good," according to the survey by China's 360 Security Center. Some 40 percent of internet users said they would "pay close attention" to major cyber attacks such as the recent WannaCry attack, while more than 26 percent of the respondents thought such attacks would not affect their lives. About 19 percent of the internet users had no knowledge of recent cyber attacks, and these people are more vulnerable to cyber attacks, according to the 360 Security Center. To safeguard cybersecurity, the platform said nearly 90 percent of internet users have installed antivirus software on their cellphones and computers. China's online population reached 751 million this June, up 2.7 percent from the end of 2016, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. A total of 724 million Chinese now use mobile phones to go online, accounting for 96.3 percent of the online population. ^ top ^

UN human rights panel urges China to free three dissidents and compensate them for detention (SCMP)
China has wrongly held three activists and should release and compensate them, according to independent experts appointed by the UN's main human rights body. In an opinion reached in August but not yet made public, the five-member Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said the detentions of Hu Shigen, Xie Yang and Zhou Shifeng violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Guardian newspaper in Britain first reported the information, having obtained a copy of the opinion, which has been presented to China's government and concerned parties but is still undergoing fine-tuning. The UN human rights office confirmed the group's opinion to The Associated Press on Friday. It called on China to indicate whether the five had been released and compensated, or say what steps it has taken. The working group is made up of five independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council, a UN-backed body that counts China among its 47 members. Over the years, it has found that the Chinese government has arbitrarily detained scores of its own citizens. Ultimately, the group's opinion – which is not a legal ruling – could increase the pressure and hold an international spotlight on detentions by Beijing, which has repeatedly ignored calls to free its jailed dissidents. Hu, a legal rights activist, was sentenced on subversion charges last year to seven and a half years in prison. A lawyer for Xie, a prominent human rights lawyer, announced in May that Xie had been released after a two-year ordeal that his family said had included torture. Zhou, director of a law firm that used to be one of China's best-known advocates for human rights, was sentenced to seven years in prison last year for attempting to manipulate public opinion and harm national security. The rights office said countries that have ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights are bound to apply the opinions of the working group. But Britain and Sweden, which both have ratified it, ignored a panel opinion last year that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be allowed to walk free from his hideaway in Ecuador's embassy in London rather than face sexual assault charges in Sweden. China has signed but not ratified the convention. ^ top ^



Tibetan Buddhist monastery has most of renovations completed (Global Times)
A prominent Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the northwestern province of Gansu has completed the restoration of 12 Buddha halls, local authorities announced Monday. It is part of a wider 300-million-yuan (45 million US dollars) preservation project to renovate Labrang Monastery, one of the largest temples of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The project, which began in 2012, focused on reinforcing structural elements, restoring paintings and frescos, as well as improving safety in Labrang Monastery. According to Sonam Gya, who is in charge of protecting the monastery's artifacts, the renovated halls will soon be open to the public, with repair work on paintings and frescos ongoing. Located in Xiahe county in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Gannan, Labrang Monastery was built in 1709 and has been a national cultural protection site since 1982. Over more than 300 years, the monastery has suffered several fires, and its mud and wood structure is in urgent need of reinforcement. "The renovated Labrang Monastery will better serve as a religious venue and a place to preserve Tibetan Buddhist culture," Sonam Gya said. He said that around 80 percent of work had been completed. The renovation work will be suspended in winter due to cold weather, resuming in May. ^ top ^



Missing Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai 'released', but family cannot find him (SCMP)
Confusion erupted over the fate of missing Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhai following his "release" from custody in mainland China last week, two years after he disappeared while on holiday in Thailand. Gui's daughter, Angela, said he was not necessarily free, as he had neither been seen nor heard from since his release last Tuesday and might have "disappeared again". The foreign ministry in Beijing confirmed on Tuesday that Gui, co-founder of Mighty Current publishing house, which specialised in political gossip about the Chinese leadership, was released a day before the Communist Party party began its twice-a-decade congress. "From our understanding, Gui Minhai has already completely served the sentence imposed for a traffic offence, and was released on October 17," the foreign ministry said in a statement. That traffic offence refers to Gui's earlier confession on state television that he had surrendered to mainland Chinese authorities for a drink-driving death he caused in 2003. The statement made no mention of the earlier accusation that Gui had run an "illegal business" since October 2014 to deliver across the border about 4,000 books banned on the mainland to 380 customers. The controversy began in October 2015 with Gui, a mainland-born, naturalised Swedish citizen, vanishing first from Pattaya, Thailand. He was said to have been kidnapped by Chinese agents. His publishing associates, Lam Wing-kee, Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Por, went missing while on the mainland. Another associate, Lee Po, disappeared under similar circumstances from Hong Kong. All five eventually surfaced on the mainland, appearing on state media to claim they had gone there voluntarily. "According to reports we have received from the Chinese authorities, Gui Minhai has been released in China. We are working to get more information about this. We are in close contact with Gui Minhai's family,"Sweden's foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. But Gui's daughter said: "I still do not know where my father is. Upon receiving the news of his release being imminent, the embassy sent senior officials to the place my father is said to have been held and where consular officers visited him on three occasions." According to her, a mainland official told the Swedish officials who went over to meet Gui that the bookseller had already been released at midnight. "They were also told that he was 'free to travel' and that they had no idea where he was," she said. On Monday, she said, the Swedish consulate in Shanghai received a "strange" phone call from someone claiming to be her father. The person on the phone said he wanted to apply for a Swedish passport one or two months later but, for now, he wanted to spend some time with his mother. "To my knowledge, my grandmother is not ill. My father is not, in fact, with her. It is still very unclear where he is. I am deeply concerned for his well being," she said. Woo Chih-wai, who worked at the Causeway Bay bookstore under Mighty Current until five of his associates disappeared in 2015, said he believed Gui was released due to international pressure. But Woo doubted if Gui could leave mainland China just yet. If authorities had charged Gui for running an "illegal business", he would not be allowed to leave the mainland for now, Woo said. One of the previously missing booksellers, Lam, claimed in dramatic detail upon returning to Hong Kong in June last year that he was kidnapped at the border and put through eight months of mental torture. Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who helped Lam at the time, said:"If, according to what the Chinese government says, Mr Gui should have been released on Oct 17, the Chinese government would be pleased to ensure that Mr Gui is seen by the whole world, that he is free. "My feeling is the Chinese government or some of the leaders do not want Mr Gui to actually be free. That is why the fiasco happened." ^ top ^



Taiwan president calls for thaw in ties with mainland China (SCMP)
Taiwan and mainland China need to drop historical baggage to seek a breakthrough in cross-straits relations, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said in her first public comments since the Communist Party unveiled a new leadership line-up. Relations nosedived after Tsai, who leads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, took office last year, with Beijing suspecting that she wants to push for the island's formal independence, a red line for Beijing. Beijing has suspended a regular dialogue mechanism with Taipei established under Taiwan's previous, mainland-friendly government and there has been a dramatic fall in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan under Tsai's administration. "Right now is a turning point for change. I once again call on leaders of both sides to … seek a breakthrough in cross-straits relations and to benefit the long-term welfare of people on both sides and to forever eliminate hostilities and conflict," Tsai told a cross-straits forum. While acknowledging the changes in mainland's leadership announced on Wednesday, Tsai did not comment specifically on the composition of Xi's core team. But she reiterated that while the island's goodwill towards China would not change, Taipei would not submit to pressure. Chinese President Xi Jinping drew strong applause at the start of the Communist Party Congress last week when he said that any attempt to separate Taiwan from the mainland would be thwarted. Taipei's Mainland Affairs Council delivered a swift response, saying it was "absolutely" the right of Taiwan's 23 million people to decide their future. China regards self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as a breakaway Chinese territory, to be brought under Beijing's rule by force if necessary. ^ top ^

Taiwan risks Beijing's anger after setting date for arms sales meeting with US (SCMP)
Taiwanese and US military officials will meet next month to discuss Taiwan's shopping list of arms that it hopes to acquire from the United States, in a move sure to anger Beijing. Defence Minister Feng Shih-kuan revealed the timing of the defence review meeting at a legislative committee session on Wednesday, but he did not specify when and where it will take place. The meeting, which has been held since 2003, is the official channel for the Taiwan government to submit its list of arms it intends to procure from the United States. It will be first time for the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, to submit such a list since she took office in May last year. Under the Taiwan Relations Act enacted by the US Congress after Washington broke diplomatic ties with Taipei and established them with Beijing in 1979, the US government is legally obliged to provide Taiwan with weapons to enable it to maintain sufficient self-defence capabilities. Beijing has long sought to end the practice. In June, the US government notified Congress of its decision to supply Taiwan with arms worth some US$1.4 billion, including missiles, torpedoes and electronic warfare systems. Earlier this year, Tsai revealed her government's intention to also procure fifth generation Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighter aircraft from the United States. Due to the expensive price tag and upkeep costs of the aircraft, however, critics have questioned the necessity. In addition to buying weapons from the United States, Tsai's government has vowed to build indigenous weapon systems with minimum foreign assistance. The air force plans to build 66 indigenous advanced attack trainers to replace its ageing AT-3 Tzu Chung attacker trainers and F-5E/F Tigers. It hopes to see the completion of the prototypes of the aircraft in 2019, the start of mass production in 2023 and reception of the last batch in 2026. The air force also hopes that the experience it gains from building the advanced trainers will help it to develop and produce the prototype of the third generation of fighter jet, which officials estimated will take at least 15 more years. ^ top ^

Xi calls on CPC, KMT to contribute to cross-Strait ties (Xinhua)
Xi Jinping, re-elected general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Wednesday, said the CPC and Kuomintang (KMT) Party should contribute to the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait and "the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation." Xi's comment was in response to KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih congratulating him on his election for a second term. In his congratulatory message, Wu said that with joint efforts from the two parties, cross-Strait relations have changed from tense opposition to peaceful development. Wu said he hoped the KMT and the CPC can further adhere to the 1992 Consensus, deepen mutual trust and enhance cooperation in order to make new progress of peaceful development across the Strait. In reply, Xi expressed hopes that the two parties would keep in mind the well-being of compatriots across the Strait and the interests of the Chinese nation. He said the two parties should consolidate the existing political foundations, increase mutual trust and strengthen cooperation, to make contributions to the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait and "the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation." Xi said that since 2005, the two parties have brought about the peaceful development of relations across the Strait on a common political basis of both adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence," which has benefited people on both sides of the Strait. People First Party Chairman James Soong and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming, among others in Taiwan, also sent congratulatory messages to Xi. ^ top ^



Xi Jinping deliberately skipped GDP target during epic congress speech, aide admits (SCMP)
The omission of a GDP target by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his 3½-hour speech at the opening of the Communist Party congress last week was a deliberate move to tell the country that quality of growth rather than speed now matters most for the world's second largest economy, an economic aide to Xi said on Thursday. "China's growth has shifted from a high-speed growth phase to a high-quality growth phase," Yang Weimin, a deputy director at the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, said a press conference in Beijing. "What is the most pressing problem? It is the issue of quality of growth," he said. China's government has stressed the need for more sustainable growth, ensuring that a wider section of society benefits from economic expansion and that development does not come at the cost of higher pollution and other environmental degradation. Yang added that Xi's silence on GDP targets for 2021, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party, or 2035 when China targets the nation's "basic modernisation", was intended to urge the party apparatus to better implement new ideas about growth and to focus on issues of "imbalance and inadequate development". The press conference, a day after China's new leadership line-up was named, was held to explain the policy implications of the 19th Party Congress, which enshrined Xi's name in the party constitution and cemented his grip on power. Yang did not specify whether China would drop its practice of setting annual growth targets. The country's premier usually announces growth targets during their work report at the annual National People's Congress in Beijing. Premier Li Keqiang set a growth target of "about 6.5 per cent, or higher if possible" at this year's event. China's headline growth rate in the first three quarters of 2017 was 6.9 per cent, making it one of the fastest growing major economies in the world. Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Group, wrote in a research note that while the Chinese leadership had "spent lots of time in the past five years stimulating the economy", Xi's consolidation of power "should make them more tolerant about growth volatility". The fact that Xi did not mention any growth target meant "China's economic growth could have another leg down to around six per cent in the next year or two", Hu wrote. Yang told the press conference that China was 15 years ahead of its strategic development schedule. "In the past, the Chinese Communist Party thought China would realise basic modernisation by the middle of this century, but now we can achieve that target by 2035. In other words, we are 15 years ahead of our original plan," he said. Xi said in his speech last week that China should become a modernised and powerful socialist country by 2050. ^ top ^

Petroyuan may supplant petrodollars as Russia's oil and gas replace US influence in Asia (SCMP)
The "Great Game" over oil and energy dominance is being played out in Asia's energy markets. While US President Donald Trump plays a reactive, tactical game to "Make America Great Again" through unilateralism, China, Russia and Japan have their eyes on the long game. They are reshaping the global balance of power with bold, multilateral energy infrastructure plans and near-completed projects. The Chinese President Xi Jinping's recreation of the New Silk Road has attracted enormous attention as a high profile concept, whose public relations campaign has almost obscured any other regional infrastructure developments. But the Belt and Road Initiative, as it's called, actually carries less near-term, economic and geopolitical impact than the vast gas pipeline infrastructure projects that are under way. After years of high level meetings between political leaders and then engineers, a gas network from Russia to its Far East is coming together in a way that points towards evolving relationships. Whether it is a Kissinger-like, realpolitik goal of Russian strategic planning or sheer opportunism, these projects are reshaping and reducing China's dependence on US oil and gas, shifting that dependence to Russia. Through exports and investment deals, Russia has expanded its influence on Asia. CEFC China Energy last month bought 14.16 per cent of the Russian state crude oil producer Rosneft for about US$9 billion. The deal shows that the growing oil and gas relationship between Russia and China is more vital and real today - and in the near future - than building the New Silk Road. According to data by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, China's total crude oil demand rose 6 per cent in July to 11.67 million barrels per day (BPD), from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the US$55 billion "Power of Siberia", a 3,000-kilometre gas pipeline built by Russian state gas producer Gazprom, will soon reach Russia's border with China. The line is the realisation of a 30-year, US$400 billion deal that will deliver more than 1.16 trillion cubic metres of gas, starting in December 2019. It's one of Russia's most important energy investments and a commitment with China to forge a long term supply link. For Russia, utilising its Siberian oil and gas fields to serve northeast China gives it an opportunity to expand into a major market outside of Europe. Gazprom supplies about a third of Europe's gas. "Power of Siberia" could open up to 12 per cent of the Chinese gas market. China benefits from the gas pipeline's long term, reliable and cheap gas supplies. But, as the world's biggest oil and gas importer, China is also making moves towards pricing its buys in its own currency, the yuan, instead of the US dollar. A shift away from petrodollar dominance is a critical step to assert the yuan as a global reserve currency. Russia's energy ambitions don't end there. After many years of delay, engineers are finally starting to build a US$6 billion, 1,500km undersea gas pipeline to transport gas from the southern tip of Sakhalin island to the region around Tokyo, via Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. Japan, a land bereft of energy resources or mineral commodities, is entirely dependent on gas and oil imports, which are expensive to ship from the US or the Middle East. A Russia-Japan pipeline would reduce this dependence and expand Russia's influence in Asia. Russia also began talking with India in 2016 about the feasibility of building a US$25 billion gas pipeline, which aims to transport Russian gas from Siberia over 6,000 kilometres through Chinese territory. A project of such scope requires China's permission and long-term cooperation, which would force the three one-time historical rivals to settle their difference for their own mutual benefit. All of these projects will require immense funding from Asian capital markets, considering that the Russian economy and all the state energy companies are still choking for funds from global financial sanctions. United Company Rusal, the world's second-largest aluminium producer, was the first of the Russian resource giants to raise capital in Hong Kong, with its equity offering in 2010. It won't be the last. Expect more Russian energy and resource companies to tap the city's bourse. Perhaps the profile of these fundraising activities will match the technology companies that the Hong Kong exchange is actively courting. Russia's ambitious gas and oil pipelines are not merely engineering marvels that must traverse some of the world's most hostile and challenging terrain, but are also plans that cut through cold war legacies and distrust. Few projects will advance the yuan's internationalisation as effectively as dominance in oil and gas. Call it the rise of the petroyuan, and the demise of the petrodollar. ^ top ^

Xi eyes sustained, healthy growth of Chinese economy in 2019 (Xinhua)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said China will strive for sustained and healthy economic growth in 2019 which marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Xi made the remarks when meeting the press after the first plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee closed on Wednesday. "We will act on the new vision for development, and strive for sustained and healthy economic growth that benefits people in China and around the world," Xi said. "We will continue our efforts to accomplish all the tasks laid down in the 13th Five-Year Plan, develop new blueprints for China's future, and see the flourishing of all our endeavors," he said. These efforts will contribute toward a more prosperous and strong People's Republic, he added. ^ top ^



North Korea leader sends congratulations to China's Xi after congress (SCMP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a rare congratulatory message to China's President Xi Jinping on Wednesday wishing the Chinese leader "great success" in his future tasks as head of the nation, the North's state media said. The friendly gesture by the North Korean leader, who rarely issues personal messages, was sent at the end of China's all important Communist Party Congress at which Xi became China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. The message comes as China is being urged by the international community to do more to rein in the North's missile and nuclear tests that have raised tensions globally. "It expressed the conviction that the relations between the two parties and the two countries would develop in the interests of the peoples of the two countries," the North's state-run central news agency said in a statement on Thursday, citing the message sent by Kim to Xi. "The Chinese people have entered the road of building socialism with the Chinese characteristics in the new era" under the guidance of Xi, the message also said. The two countries often exchange routine diplomatic correspondence and ceremonial letters to each other on political anniversaries or political promotions, although personal messages to and from their leaders tend to be few. Analysts said it was yet too early to tell whether ties between the two countries were warming up. "Congratulatory messages between North Korea and China is an old story and reading too much into the message exchanged would be a one-sided analysis," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. "It's what they usually do and not surprising at all." China is the North's sole major ally and accounts for more than 90 per cent of trade with the isolated country. Beijing has been called upon by several countries, especially the United States, to step up its efforts to curb North Korea's ambitions towards building a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile that can reach the United States. It has shown it is irritated with Pyongyang following the isolated state's numerous missile launches and nuclear tests, repeatedly calling for restraint and urging all sides to speak and act carefully. China has said it will strictly enforce UN Security Council sanctions banning imports of coal, textiles and seafood, while cutting off oil shipments to the North. Meanwhile, North Korea has not engaged in any missile or nuclear provocations for over a month since mid-September, although the isolated state tends to test fewer missiles late in the year for unexplained reasons. "North Korea has been walking a diplomatic tightrope by taking advantage of strategic mistrust between China and Russia, but it has not been easy as Beijing has sternly responded to its nuclear and missile provocations," said Kim Han-kwon, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul. "China's party congress is over, but Kim Jong-un's concerns will only continue to deepen. The most significant event at hand is the upcoming summit between Xi and Trump," said Kim. ^ top ^

North Korea may be using algae to work around international sanctions (SCMP)
One of the world's most secretive states is going green — for national security reasons. Pyongyang may be interested in developing algae as "a strategic resource," according to a recent note on 38 North, a website focused on North Korea that's part of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Algae, plant-like organisms that includes kelp and spirulina, is a multi-purpose resource that can produce food, fertiliser, feedstock and fuel from the same biomass. And it makes sense for Pyongyang to be interested: Over time, an algae industry could gradually "mitigate the negative effects of sanctions both on the country's energy supply and food security," the note said. Research facilities dedicated to open ponds and aquaculture systems — key infrastructure for algae growth — have existed in the rogue state since the early 2000s but they have recently become more complex, 38 North said, pointing to satellite evidence of large plants in two different areas as examples. "It is not surprising that the North Korean government is developing thousands of rural open ponds producing algae and bigger and more sophisticated sites, whose purpose increasingly looks like algae production," the note said. Benefits of green gold The isolated nation lacks domestic petroleum reserves as well as fertiliser. To make up for that, its agricultural deficiencies and chronic food shortages, Pyongyang has long attempted to become resource independent. Self-reliance is even part of its official state ideology known as Juche. But the rogue state still remains dependent on foreign imports of fuel and food for survival. Historical ally China has long been Pyongyang's primary trading partner and economic lifeline, but Beijing banned certain energy exports last month to comply with United Nations resolutions. As international sanctions take their toll, the North Korean economy is under pressure. Ordinary households face insufficient food supplies and a lack of electricity, former senior North Korean economic official Ri Jong Ho told the Asia Society in New York last week. That's where algae can help. When processed, algae boasts high protein content, making it an excellent food supplement and fertiliser, 38 North said. The photosynthetic organisms, sometimes referred to as green gold, are often used to combat malnutrition in developing countries and also marketed as superfoods. "The same algae can also contain approximately 20 per cent lipids, which can be processed into biofuels," the note continued. Using data from nine North Korean facilities, the note estimated that 2,851 tonnes of algae biomass could be produced each year. That contains approximately 1,425.5 tonnes of nutritional mass and could be converted to the equivalent of 4,075.6 barrels of oil. "If there were just 100 times more acreage in production and being utilised, the oil yield could be 6.5 per cent of North Korea's 2014 estimated requirements for their entire economy," the note said. "Given the potential for algae-based oil production, a more thorough investigation is warranted of whether these facilities could in the future fulfil a national security requirement." ^ top ^

China-North Korea fuel trade falls ahead of Trump visit (SCMP)
China's fuel imports and exports to North Korea dropped significantly in September from a year earlier, the latest data shows. Figures from Chinese customs show China imported 511,619 tonnes of coal from North Korea during the month, down 71.6 per cent from the year before. Meanwhile, it exported 90 tonnes of petrol to the country, down 99.6 per cent, and 16 tonnes of diesel, a drop of 91.8 per cent. The release of the figures on Tuesday comes at a sensitive time in Sino-US relations, with US President Donald Trump expected to visit China next month. US officials said Trump would use the trip to pressure Beijing to exert greater influence on North Korea, however, any such efforts could backfire. Some observers said Beijing would resist pressure and respond by telling Trump to stop threatening Pyongyang with military force. The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea last month, banning Pyongyang from selling coal, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood abroad, and restricting North Korea's energy supply. Trump has vowed to take tough action against Pyongyang following its repeated nuclear and missile tests. Trump will visit China from November 8 to 10, the third stop on his longest foreign trip to date. A senior White House official who briefed reporters ahead of Trump's trip said China needed to do more to comply with two UN Security Council resolutions that were approved unanimously, including with China's support. "We would like to see China follow through on those commitments. We would like to see China do things bilaterally as well that might even go beyond things that are mandated by those UN Security Council resolutions," the official said. But Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at the Renmin University in Beijing, said China had almost exhausted what it could do regarding sanctions on North Korea and had limited choices if Trump were still unsatisfied. "Compared to the past, China now cannot recede a lot regarding the North Korea issue. Beijing might [move a bit on trade] to please Washington, aiming to ease China-US frictions," Shi said. Sun Xingjie, a North Korean affairs expert from Jilin University, said Beijing had no other options to sanction North Korea, barring a full oil embargo – a move that would risk angering the regime of Kim Jong-un and might even bring the whole region to war. "Beijing and Washington have completely different solutions to the North Korea issue, but what Washington has called for might not be suitable for Beijing, especially the military options," Sun said. "Beijing has almost run out of economic sanction tactics and the only option left – the oil embargo – is not a feasible choice, at least for now." Shi said Beijing was expected to ask Trump to tone down the military threats. "Cooperation on the North Korea issue might not be the central theme during the talks, rather, it's the differences that will be heatedly discussed. Beijing will ask Trump not to threaten the Kim regime with military options and try to persuade Trump back to the negotiating table," Shi said. Trump will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines on his trip, which lasts from November 3 to 14. Trump would also be tough on trade during talks with Xi as he wanted to reduce the US trade deficit with China, the White House official said. While China has shown signs of tightening its enforcement of sanctions on North Korea, it has stopped short of agreeing to US demands for a fuel embargo and has urged the United States to negotiate with Pyongyang. ^ top ^

US, Japan and South Korea vow to step up joint air drills over Korean Peninsula (SCMP)
The US, Japanese and South Korean governments pledged to conduct more joint air drills over the Korean Peninsula to improve their ability to launch coordinated responses to military threats by Pyongyang. US Secretary of Defence James Mattis, Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera and South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo pledged "enhanced defence cooperation" in a meeting held during an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) defence ministers conference in the Philippines. "The three ministers lauded collective efforts to expand information sharing on North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and enhance response capabilities, including the execution of multiple combined flight training missions with US bomber aircraft," according to the joint announcement. "They reaffirmed that the three nations are committed to enhancing defence cooperation and to maintaining a rules-based order. Accordingly, the ministers pledged to take necessary steps to bolster their ability to improve information sharing and strengthen responses to North Korean threats." The tripartite meeting, held as part of the Asean "Defence Ministerial Meeting Plus", highlighted the resolve of the US and its main East Asian allies to deter North Korea from conducting more nuclear detonations or missile launches. Those tests, carried out more regularly over the past year, were part of efforts by the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, to develop nuclear weapons capable of reaching the US mainland. Earlier this month, the US military flew two Air Force B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force. After entering South Korean airspace, the bombers carried out air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea, then flew over the South to waters between it and China to repeat the drill, according to South Korea's military. The two B-1B Lancer bombers were accompanied by two South Korean F-15K fighters after leaving their base in Guam, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a news release soon after the drill. The US military said in a separate statement at the time that Japanese fighters had joined the exercise, making it the first nighttime combined exercise for US bombers with fighters from Japan and South Korea. The joint statement from the meeting in the Philippines made no mention of China or Russia, which are also part of the Asean Defence Ministerial Meeting Plus grouping. Although China and Russia have supported the most recent sanctions against North Korea, brought forward by the US at the UN Security Council, the two countries have also called on the US and South Korea to scale back their joint military exercises in the region. Following passage last month of new UN Security Council sanctions, which drastically cut exports of oil and fuel products to North Korea, China reiterated its call for the dismantling of a US missile defence system deployed in South Korea and a return to six-party negotiations with Pyongyang. "The peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully," China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement issued after the unanimous UN Security Council vote. "The military solution has no way out. China will not allow war or chaos on the Korean peninsula." China has consistently opposed the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system in South Korea, saying it would do little to deter the missile threat from North Korea while allowing the US military to use its radar to look deep into China's territory and at its missile systems. The UN Security Council has issued a series of resolutions since 2006, after six-nation talks involving North Korea, China, the US, Japan, South Korea and Russia broke down. ^ top ^

CPC maintains exchange, dialogue with DPRK's ruling party (Xinhua)
The Communist Party of China (CPC) maintains communication and dialogue with the ruling party of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a CPC official said Saturday. Exchange between the CPC and the Workers' Party of Korea plays an important role in relations between the two countries, Guo Yezhou, vice head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, told a press conference on the sidelines of the 19th CPC National Congress. To protect, develop and consolidate the friendly cooperation between China and the DPRK not only accords with bilateral interests, but also is important for regional peace and stability, Guo said. As to when the two parties carry out what level of communication, Guo said it depends on the need and convenience of the two sides, he said. ^ top ^



Mongolia-Russia Intergovt'l Meeting to be held next month (Montsame)
During its regular meeting on October 25, the Cabinet approved a direction to be followed by Mongolian delegates to attend the 21st Meeting of Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission. The 21st Meeting of Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation will take place in Russia next month. The meeting will discuss the realization of decisions adopted at the previous meeting and bilateral cooperation in trade, economy, finance, infrastructure, transport, mining, energy and construction sectors. In particular, the Mongolian delegation intends to discuss certain issues including RUB 100 billion soft loan from Russia, enhancing the carrying capacity of Mongolia-Russia Joint Venture Ulaanbaatar Railway and increasing the volume of transit freight, construction of Eg River Hydro Power Plant, preventing contagious diseases of domestic animals, establishment of a Free Trade Agreement between Mongolia and the Eurasian Economic Union and transferring a report of geological research conducted in Mongolia and kept in Russia. The Mongolian delegation to the 21st Intergovernmental Meeting will be led by Deputy Prime Minister U.Enkhtuvshin, who will also head the Mongolian part at the Mongolia-China Intergovernmental Commission and Mongolia-China Cooperative Council on Minerals, Energy and Infrastructure. ^ top ^

First meeting of new Government discusses winter preparation (Montsame)
The newly formed Government held its first meeting in an extended form today, just after new Ministers were handed over their stamps. Besides the cabinet members, the meeting was attended by Deputy Ministers, State Secretaries and chairmen of agencies and they discussed winter preparation progress and necessary measures to be taken in nearest future. "First of all, our Government will pay attention to improve discipline and responsibility in state service" underlined PM U.Khurelsukh. According to winter weather forecast, performed by meteorology institutes of Mongolia as well as Russia, the coming winter will be severe. Therefore aimags, soums, ministries and agencies should coordinate their works and collaborate all together, noted PM U.Khurelsukh and ordered all state servants to work responsibly. During the Cabinet meeting, a Government guideline to a negotiation on making amendment to the 2017-2018 Trilateral Agreement on Labor and Society was supported and a composition of the Government representatives to take part in the negotiation was approved. ^ top ^


Julia Tran, Valentin Jeanneret and Aurèle Aquillon
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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