Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  8-12.1.2018, No. 704  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents


^ top ^



Zurich Insurance keen to re-enter China with a joint venture as rules relaxed for foreign financial firms (SCMP)
Zurich Insurance, Switzerland's largest insurer, is seeking a joint venture partner in China, as the country's recent easing of financial sector rules, tempts it to return to the mainland's life insurance market which it quit five years ago. We have ambitions to grow in mainland China, which is a very big market with huge business opportunities," Jack Howell, chief executive for Asia-Pacific at Zurich Insurance, told the South China Morning Post in an exclusive interview. The insurer previously had a 20 per cent stake in New China Life Insurance, which it sold in 2013. It currently operates a wholly owned general insurance company, Zurich General Insurance Company (China), which offers property, corporate and other commercial risk insurance. In November, China announced that it would relax the 50 per cent cap on foreign ownership in life insurance joint ventures so that overseas investors could own a majority 51 per cent stake in three years' time, with the cap completely removed two years later. "We are very encouraged by the development in China. It is a great signal by the Chinese government in terms of their willingness to have foreign players take on a more active role in the market," Howell said. Even though the relaxation would allow foreign insurers to have a wholly owned life insurance company in China, Howell said he would still prefer to have a local partner. "As a foreign insurer, we have the global insurance expertise, we understand technically how products work. But as a foreign insurer, we need a partner in China who can really help us understand the China market and the Chinese consumers. "The partner can also help us with distribution in China, so we believe that the best way to have a long-lasting presence in China is to have a strong partner and to work together and complement each other." He did not give a timeline on when Zurich would set up such a joint venture, but said that finding the right strategic partner would be the key to go ahead with such an expansion plan. In Hong Kong, the company had dismissed its direct sales channel of 700 sales agents in 2013 and shifted to selling products through independent financial advisers and online channels. Zurich Insurance is the fourth largest general insurer in the city selling life insurance products as well as cover for motor, property, medical, domestic helpers and travel. Besides Hong Kong and China, the company's Asia-Pacific operations include Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Howell said the region was a major engine of growth in distribution and service capabilities, and has acquired a number of companies in the region. In December, Zurich Insurance announced the acquisition of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group's life insurance arm for US$2.14 billion. In April, it acquired Australia's largest travel insurer, Cover-More, for US$565 million. ^ top ^

2017 in consular review: last year's diplomatic achievements and their hopes, plans for 2018 (Global Times)
Alexander Hoffet, Consul General of Switzerland: As Shanghai reinvents itself permanently, I always have numerous memorable impressions in this lively city every year. To name just a few, I am impressed how the policies to combat air pollution had already a visible effect last year, the number of days with blue sky slowly increasing. I was astonished by the accelerated spread of shared bicycles taking over Shanghai. However, from a Western perspective, one of the most impressive current developments in Chinese cities is the fast rise of mobile payment systems such as Alipay and WeChat. Shanghai attracted a lot of attention in Switzerland when our Finance Minister, Federal Councilor Ueli Maurer visited the city with a high-level finance delegation in April 2017. The delegation members expressed great interest in the development of innovative FinTech in China and announced intentions to deepen the links between the financial centers of Shanghai and Switzerland. In 2018, we will mainly focus on reinforcing the Sino-Swiss Innovative Strategic Partnership, focusing on collaboration in higher education, research and innovation. However, we will also offer a rich program of cultural events in 2018. Since most of them are still in course of preparation, I recommend interested readers to subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed. Looking into the future, I see major challenges in the field of access to affordable healthcare, which is especially important for the growing middle class and the aging population. In the field of public health management, Switzerland has a lot of know-how to share. Actually there is already an ongoing cooperation program between Shanghai and the city of Basel in the health sector. […] ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Liberty vs optimism: an East-West tussle over China's future (SCMP)
A clash of civilisations played out on a conference stage in Hong Kong as an academic extolling individual freedom and a venture capitalist citing data on Chinese optimism traded barbs. "As China grows and develops and rises to become a world power, commensurate with that they have to start giving a little bit more openness to their own people," said Keith Richburg, an American journalist, author and academic. "They have to start letting people read a little bit more what they want. They have to start letting people be what they want and move around the way they want. There's a reason why you get so much innovation coming out of the US and why so many people go to Silicon Valley." But Eric Li, managing partner of Shanghai-based Chengwei Capital and founder of news and commentary network, said the data showed otherwise. "You can't find one credible public survey that says the Chinese are not happy or optimistic about the future. They're the most optimistic people on Earth," Li said. The two panellists provided the liveliest exchange – and most pointedly divergent viewpoints – on a panel called "discussing commonalities between Chinese and Western cultures and values", part of the South China Morning Post's annual China Conference on Thursday. The conference ranged over the relative strength of China and the United States, as well as the importance of the two countries reconciling their differences. Li's contention about Chinese optimism is supported by a recent survey by Paris-based market research group Ipsos. In the company's annual "What Worries the World" report, China topped the list in terms of domestic perceptions of a country's overall prospects. Some 87 per cent of respondents in China said their country was going in the "right direction", while 13 per cent saw their country on the "wrong track". Meanwhile, the optimists accounted for only 43 per cent of respondents in the US, compared with 57 per cent for the pessimists. Richburg, a former Washington Post correspondent who wrote Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa and is now director of journalism and media studies at the University of Hong Kong, countered frequently that China outperformed in most metrics because the country had been making up in recent decades for the economic growth it lost during a long period of political turmoil and mismanagement. "China has managed to grow by 10 per cent a year for many years, but they were starting at a low base because of the wars and then the Cultural Revolution and the travesty of Mao Zedong's era," Richburg said. "There's nothing miraculous about how China is growing. China was just catching up to where they should have been." Li shot back, saying China managed to improve basic public health and wellness standards between 1949 and the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. China's life expectancy rose from 41 years to 68 years in that time, Li said, without citing a data source. Literacy also rose from 15 per cent to 80 per cent in the same period. "Westerners, especially Americans, need to worry about their own problems. I think Americans have let their country stagnate because it cares too much about the individual, too much about liberty and less about the collective." ^ top ^

'Big questions remain' for China taking leadership role on the world stage (SCMP)
Despite its material capacity to rise as a world power, Beijing still has a long way to go to meet international expectations of how it should apply its military and economic weight and adhere to global governance norms, a former senior US official has said. Speaking at the annual China Conference hosted by the South China Morning Post on Thursday, Daniel Russel, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, also conceded that the global governance system needed a major overhaul to accommodate China's rise. Russel, who is diplomat in residence and senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, noted there was a big gap between Beijing's ambitions and international confidence in it taking a leadership role on the world stage, especially among China's neighbours. "I don't think anybody doubts that China has the material capacity to achieve President Xi Jinping's ambitious [global] agenda, but there are some big questions that are outstanding," he said. A recent Pew Research Centre poll in Asia showed some major countries in the region had very little confidence in an expanded and sustained Chinese leadership role in global governance despite Beijing's attempts to portray itself as a benevolent power. "That's a problem. It is important to get those numbers up. And it's my belief that it's really the decisions and behaviours of the Chinese government and companies that are going to do that, not speeches or white papers," he said. Russel noted that nations in the region often raised questions about Beijing's readiness to show restraint and to abide by international standards even at the expense of its own short-term advantages. "What will be the impact on prospects for regional and global leadership from Beijing's use of technology and big data for repressive political and social controls at home?" he asked. Russel also said the global governance system was approaching a crossroads due to the changing dynamic in US-China relations and shifting attitudes from both sides towards each other. "One of the criticisms of the current global system is that it's slow to grant China a voice or a status commensurate with its growing stature," he said. "As much as China has benefited from global rules and institutions, as [US diplomacy guru Henry] Kissinger has pointed out, China is adjusting to an international system that was developed in its absence through a process that it did not participate in. So reform is needed for all sorts of reasons." While Americans show growing scepticism over the benefits of Washington's global leadership and even participation in the international system, China's new capabilities along with new nationalism are feeding a more ambitious and a more self-interested global engagement, according to the US diplomat. "We see perhaps a little less humility and a little more entitlement and an understandable sense that China's increasing strength entitles it to a greater say or a leading role in international institutions," he said. This shift in Chinese attitudes has spurred Beijing to push forward with alternative regional institutions in recent years, such as its belt and road trade plan and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Russel also warned that complementarities between the Chinese and American economies, which have benefited both countries and the world, were decreasing amid growing structural competition. "To put it simply, we urgently need to develop models of global governance that allow the US and China to engage in healthy competition while continuing to cooperate on big global challenges, like climate change, global health, terrorism, non-proliferation, cyberspace, in space and in regional hotspots," he said. But given the deep-rooted mistrust and suspicion between Beijing and Washington, he admitted it remained a tough task for the two powers to adjust to a changing geopolitical landscape. ^ top ^

Chinese premier vows to build community of shared future with Cambodia (Global Times)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged in Phnom Penh Thursday to build a community of shared future with Cambodia that is of strategic significance. Li made the pledge in his talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Li attended the second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' meeting in Phnom Penh and paid an official visit to Cambodia from Jan. 10-11. Calling the two countries close neighbors with profound friendship, Li said China always respects Cambodia's sovereignty and independence, and supports the country to stick to a development path with Cambodian characteristics. China hopes to take the opportunity of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic ties this year to cement high-level contacts, substantial cooperation in various areas and cultural exchanges, he said. The Chinese premier vowed to offer assistance for Cambodia's economic development as well as improvement of people's livelihood and to jointly build a community of shared future that is of strategic significance. China expects to align its development strategy with Cambodia, and take the opportunity of the Belt and Road Initiative to facilitate bilateral capacity and investment cooperation, he said. Li said China is willing to work with Cambodia to make good arrangement for celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic ties and strengthen the bilateral cooperation in the areas of economic zones, infrastructure building, tourism, agriculture and deep processing of agricultural products. Hailing the second LMC leaders' meeting as fruitful, Li said China expects to maintain close coordination with Cambodia within the frameworks of LMC as well as China-ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) cooperation and to contribute to regional development and prosperity. For his part, Hun Sen said Premier Li's visit would consolidate the bilateral friendship and boost the two countries' comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to a new stage. Calling China a friendly cooperation partner of Cambodia, Hun Sen hailed the high-level political trust, vigorous cooperation and people's friendship between the two countries. Cambodia appreciates China's firm support and help over the years, and wishes Chinese people to realize their Two Centenary Goals at an early date, he said. Hun Sen expressed satisfaction over the progress in major bilateral projects in such areas as highway, port and economic zones, vowing to boost stronger cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and people's livelihood. It is a consensus of the Cambodian government and people to consolidate and develop friendship with China, he said, vowing firm support for China on issues regarding its core interest. After their talks, Li and Hun Sen witnessed the signing of 19 bilateral cooperative documents regarding the areas of politics, economy, trade, public health, forestry, agriculture and culture. During his stay in Phnom Penh, Li also met with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni. The two countries issued a joint communique on deepening bilateral comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership in a new era. ^ top ^

China, France will "make our planet great again" (Global Times)
Upon concluding his successful visit to China, a short video showing French President Emmanuel Macron learning Mandarin endeared him to the Chinese people and demonstrated in full detail of what said he would bring to China in building a new relationship. Determination and humility, the words he said in an interview ahead of the visit, were widely perceived by the Chinese people, not least in the video of his grappling with the Mandarin pronunciation of "make the planet great again" -- a tongue-in-cheek jab at US President Donald Trump's "Make America Great" campaign slogan. Macron was humble to try the guest's language and determined to properly execute Mandarin's difficult tones. And he succeeded. During a tour of the Forbidden City in Beijing, he also made clear his open-mindedness: "We are here too with a lot of humility and curiosity. Humility, because you can't pretend to have it figured out in such a short amount of time. This visit allows us to pick up a little bit of the place and the depth of Chinese civilization." The attitude, a stark contrast with the arrogance and condescendence that are sometimes seen in Western power's diplomacy, was one of the crucial factors to nurturing trust and friendship in China. Being the first European Union member state leader to visit China since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which ushered in a new era for the Chinese people, and against a background of uncertainties in Germany and Brexit, Macron's diplomacy set a fine example for his European colleagues, not only in style but also in content. He said France would like to take an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative, echoing China's key proposal to seek common prosperity in the international community. Macron also pledged to work with China to address common challenges of the international community, championing globalization and multilateralism -- when it's most needed. Populism and nationalism with a strong protectionist flavor is not a solution to the problems that the world -- including Europe -- is facing. An open global economy with a level playing field and an economic globalization process that is more transparent, inclusive and balanced brings benefits to all. The liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment should be, as China and France did, reaffirmed. France, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is seen by China as a country of importance; one with which it is able to coordinate with on major international issues in the hope of promoting world stability and prosperity. Neither a global policeman nor a global leadership vacuum is desired when there are so many global challenges. And of course there is the issue of climate change, where China and France vow to stay the course. Macron, who is a well-known advocate for the environment, will find a stable partner in China, which has been cleaning up its own environment at an unprecedented scale. Together, the two countries can help "make our planet great again." ^ top ^

China contract for 184 Airbus A320s in the wings, Macron says (SCMP)
French President Emmanuel Macron said a contract with China for 184 Airbus A320s would be finalised soon and that his country also had ambitions to sell A350 and A380 planes to China in coming weeks or months. "On the order for 184 A320s, it's something that will be finalised soon," Macron said on Wednesday during his state visit to China, adding it was confirmed to him by Chinese President Xi Jinping. "And we also have ambitions on A350 and A380 mid-range and large carriers in the weeks or months to come." The French president also said China had assured him it would respect market-share parity between Airbus and Boeing. China regularly splits large orders between Europe and the United States to cope with its fast-expanding airline traffic, but the momentum has recently been with rival Boeing, which sold 300 jets during a visit by US President Donald Trump last year. But China placed a large order for 140 Airbus jets during a visit to Germany by Xi last July. New orders for Airbus jetliners have historically featured during such visits by French leaders. However, none was announced during Macron's visit, although sources familiar with the negotiations said there were talks about an order of 100 more or jets. Airbus signed a provisional deal on Tuesday to boost the number of A320 family jets assembled in Tianjin to six a month by 2020 from four at present. Airbus declined to comment on Wednesday. ^ top ^

Five things to know about the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit (SCMP)
When China and the leaders of nations along the Mekong River meet on Wednesday at the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit in Cambodia, a top item is to be mapping out a five-year development plan that would include building hydropower dams and other projects for the region – pointing to its importance in China's ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure plan. But while the cooperation mechanism was created to help ease tension over development projects, environmentalists remain unsatisfied. Concern is growing that the potential for causing ecological damage will make the Mekong a flashpoint for China and Southeast Asia's territorial disputes – effectively creating a new South China Sea. Amid the backdrop of the river's importance in connecting Europe through Southeast Asia and beyond in the grand infrastructure programme launched by President Xi Jinping, Chinese delegation leader Premier Li Keqiang will be looking to bolster China's influence over the Mekong region – as he faces his counterparts from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Here are five key things to know about the summit and the significance of the Mekong River.
1. The river's significance for China and Southeast Asia: The Mekong River, known as the Lancang in China, is the heart of mainland Southeast Asia. More than 60 million people depend on the river and its tributaries for food, water, transport and many other things in their daily lives. The Mekong is the world's 12th-longest river, running an estimated 4,880 kilometres. The basin is home to 1,200-1,700 fish species, making it the most diverse basin after the Amazon and Congo. China is increasing its investment along the river through building dams and a navigation channel. So far seven megadams have been built and more than 20 are under construction or planned in Yunnan, Tibet and Qinghai, according to International Rivers, a US-based non-profit environmental and human rights organisation.
2. How China enhances its stake in the region: Foreign ministers from the six countries through which the Mekong flows met in southwestern China last month to approve a draft of a five-year development plan for the river. The draft is expected to be approved at the Cambodia summit. Led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Prak Sokhonn, Cambodia signed a new cooperation agreement with China in December, receiving more than US$7 million to fund various projects, including monitoring water quality, restoring forests and combating land degradation. Last year, China pledged US$400 million to support small and medium-sized enterprise projects along the river.
3. The purpose of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism: The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation was established by Beijing in 2015. The body was seen as a rival to the long-standing Mekong River Commission, which has been around for more than 60 years but whose membership does not include China and Myanmar. In the two years since the LMC's creation, China has hosted three foreign ministers' meetings and set aside billions of dollars to support 45 projects under the mechanism, including water resource research centres and cooperation on connectivity projects, industrial capacity, border trade, agriculture and poverty alleviation.
4. How cooperation along the river can potentially create conflict: Environmentalists and government officials have expressed concern over damage caused by China's dam construction. When Vietnam experienced its worst drought in 90 years in 2016, experts said China was partially responsible as its reservoir dams had increased evaporation rates upstream. China plans to blast open the sections of the Mekong between Thailand and Laos to allow bigger cargo ships of up to 500 tonnes to pass through. The plan has triggered opposition from local residents and conservation group in Thailand, who have complained that the plan would destroy the Mekong, killing fish breeding grounds and disrupting migrating birds. Protests against the plan have been staged since December.
5. How the summit can give China an opportunity to cement ties with Cambodia: Li is officially visiting Cambodia after the summit. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, facing Western donor pressure over a crackdown on critics ahead of 2018 elections, is seeking more aid and investment from China. Cambodian Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said the Southeast Asian nation needs around US$500 million a year for transport infrastructure development. Concern is growing over Beijing's increasing influence over Cambodia, which may affect the unity of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on issues such as South China Sea disputes. ^ top ^

Macron's visit to lead ties into new phase (China Daily)
French President Emmanuel Macron's first visit to China is expected to boost commercial ties and deepen economic cooperation between the two sides. During his state visit from Monday to Wednesday, Macron will also seek to expand and strike a balance in bilateral trade. Despite being important trade partners, Beijing and Paris have found it relatively difficult to expand their commercial and economic ties because of the long-existing bilateral trade structure, which mainly relies on nuclear energy, high-speed railway and the aerospace sector, particularly after the European Union debt crisis broke out and, as a result, the French economy slowed down. China-France cooperation has made some remarkable achievements, although within the EU, Germany is China's largest trade partner and biggest investment destination. For France, on the other hand, China is the seventh-largest source of foreign investment. Yet this trade imbalance enhances the potential for expanding Sino-France trade and cooperation. In fact, France needs wider and deeper cooperation with non-EU economies to expedite and enjoy the fruits of its economic reform. France's economic growth rate in 2017 is expected to reach 1.9 percent, its highest since 2011, partly due to Macron's labor and tax reforms. Still, France's trade deficit (€48.1 billion or $57.8 billion in 2016) continues to impede its economic revival. Apart from bilateral trade, Beijing and Paris are also likely to discuss ways to promote Sino-EU relations-deepening Sino-French cooperation could be one. Within the EU, however, while France is trying to regain its say and leadership, Germany is trying to put its house in order as Chancellor Angela Merkel struggles to stitch together a ruling coalition after failing to win the required number of seats in the September election to form a government. Macron's sincere efforts to enhance European integration have made headways, though. Macron is also viewing China's development more objectively, in order to facilitate the EU's development. Indeed, deeper cooperation with China will help revive the economy of not only France but also the EU as a whole. Macron has also shown interest in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. As for the EU's competition with China, it could become a strong external stimulation for the EU member states to further strengthen European integration. France could also form a "new type of major-country relationship" with China and Russia. Since US President Donald Trump attaches less importance to Europe, the US' traditional partner, and seeks greater benefits from Washington's partnership with other global players, Paris and Brussels have been forced to seek international cooperation beyond the Atlantic alliance. Also, compared with other European countries, France has always had relatively independent diplomacy when it comes to the US and maintained flexible relations with Russia. In fact, after Macron was elected president in May, French-Russian relations have, to certain extent, improved following a long period of deadlock caused by the Ukraine crisis. Macron's proposal to promote trilateral trade cooperation among China, Russia and the EU is aimed at establishing a new international cooperation and mutual development mechanism. As long as Macron makes sincere efforts to promote mutual trust and cooperation-and doesn't confuse "protect the EU" with trade protectionism-China will gladly contribute to international relations and work with France to build a more peaceful and prosperous Eurasia. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Armed Police must obey Party (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping urged the People's Armed Police Force on Wednesday to maintain absolute loyalty to the Communist Party of China and continue to improve its operational capability. Xi, also chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the Armed Police Force plays a key role in safeguarding national and political security, social stability and people's well-being, so it must be under the complete control of the Party. He said the Armed Police must be flexible, multifunctional and capable and should speed up its integration with the People's Liberation Army's joint operation system. He told the force to concentrate on combat-ready training and to be well prepared for emergency-response and counterterrorism operations. He also ordered the force to regulate its officers with the strictest discipline, to leave no room for corruption. Xi made the remarks after he conferred an Armed Police flag on General Wang Ning, commander of the Armed Police, and General Zhu Shengling, political commissar of the force, at a ceremony on Wednesday morning at the Central Military Commission headquarters in Beijing. Starting this month, the Armed Police Force has been placed under the unified control of the CPC Central Committee and Central Military Commission. Previously, it was jointly administered by the military commission and the State Council. Under the new command chain, Armed Police units take orders directly from the force's headquarters, which, likewise, will follow directives from the Central Military Commission. The Armed Police Force has been included in the Central Military Commission system and no longer takes orders from the State Council. At Wednesday's ceremony, Xi said the transfer was an important decision made by the CPC Central Committee to make sure it has absolute control over all of the nation's armed forces, adding the move will extensively boost the Party's efforts to build a strong military and ensure long-term stability and prosperity. The history of the Armed Police Force can be traced to 1949, the year the People's Republic of China was founded, when its predecessor — the Chinese People's Public Security Central Column — was set up to take charge of internal security. In the following decades, the force's name and affiliation was changed, but most of the time it was administered by the Central Military Commission. In 1982, some PLA units responsible for domestic security were merged with police forces in charge of border defense and firefighting to form a new Armed Police Force. At that time, the Central Military Commission and State Council began to share its administration. ^ top ^

China ready for action over US unilateral, protectionist trade practices: commerce official (Global Times)
China will take necessary measures to protect Chinese enterprises' interests if the United States sticks to unilateral protectionist trade practices, the Ministry of Commerce said Thursday. The US trade investigation targeting China is based on its own laws and regulations and will compromise the international trade framework, Gao Feng, a spokesperson of the ministry, said at a press conference in response to a US Section 301 investigation into Chinese intellectual property and technology transfer launched late last year. Gao pointed out that the trade imbalance between the two countries is mainly a result of different economic structures, industrial competitiveness and international division of labor, and China has never sought a trade surplus as the flow of trade is determined by the market. China saw a trade surplus of over 251 billion US dollars with the United States in the first 11 months of last year, up 9.7 percent year on year, but the growth of imports from the United States outpaced that of exports, according to Gao. China will release trade data for December and the whole year of 2017 on Friday. ^ top ^

Chinese delegation briefs Philippine president on CPC party congress (Global Times)
A Chinese delegation wrapped up its three-day visit to the Philippines Thursday, briefing President Rodrigo Duterte on the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The delegation, headed by Meng Xiangfeng, deputy director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee, met with Duterte, who is also chairman of the Philippines' ruling PDP-Laban (Democratic Party -- Power of the Nation) party, other political leaders and people from various communities. The briefings were conducted in capital Manila and Davao city. The attendees hailed the achievements and significance of the congress, especially the global significance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, which was a highlight of the congress. They also lauded the actions taken by the CPC to comprehensively strengthen discipline in the party. They said they are willing to learn from China's experience of governing the country and deepen the bilateral relationship to benefit the two peoples. The 19th CPC National Congress, held in Beijing in October, drew the blueprint for China's development in the next 30-plus years. At the first plenum of the 19th CPC Central Committee, Chinese President Xi Jinping was re-elected as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. ^ top ^

China supports DPRK, S.Korea in promoting inter-Korean dialogue, exchanges – Xi (Global Times)
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday that China has always supported the improvement of relations between South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), as well as their reconciliation and cooperation. In a telephone conversation with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in, Xi said China supports the two sides in promoting inter-Korean dialogue and exchanges to gradually advance the settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue. Currently, challenges and opportunities co-exist on the Korean Peninsula, Xi said, expressing the hope that the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will not only bring about opportunities for inter-Korean dialogue, but also help improve the situation on the peninsula. Xi said China is willing to enhance communication and cooperation with all sides concerned, including South Korea, to pursue a positive outcome of the situation. For his part, Moon said his country attaches great importance to China's important role in solving the dilemma on the Korean Peninsula, and appreciates China's support for inter-Korean dialogue and efforts to push for settlement through dialogue and safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula. In their conversation, Xi recalled that Moon has paid a successful state visit to China not long ago, during which both sides reached important consensus on developing the China-South Korea strategic cooperative partnership and enhancing coordination on major regional and international issues. Noting that the two countries have also strengthened mutual trust and cooperation during Moon's visit, Xi said China is pleased with the improvement of bilateral ties. For the new year, China is willing to work with South Korea to boost strategic communication, promote practical cooperation, properly address sensitive issues, strive for greater achievements in bilateral relations, and jointly promote regional peace and stability, Xi said. The Chinese president said his country supports South Korea in holding the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and wished the games success. Moon thanked Xi again for the hospitality during his visit to China and for China's support to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, saying he expects their strategic cooperative partnership to maintain development momentum and achieve greater progress in the new year. ^ top ^

Xi sees strong British relations (China Daily)
China is ready to strengthen communication, exchanges and cooperation with Britain, including their mutually beneficial collaboration in greater depth and at a greater level within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday. Xi made the remark when meeting with former British prime minister David Camer-on on Thursday at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. Cameron said the Belt and Road Initiative will bring new opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Xi hailed Cameron's vision and efforts in promoting China-UK relations during his tenure as prime minister. In 2015, then-prime minister Cameron hosted Xi in London on a state visit. The visit was an indication that the two countries' bilateral ties had entered a "Golden Age", Xi said. Since taking office as prime minister, Theresa May has remained committed to upholding the ties' "Golden Age"-and lasting development has been maintained, Xi said on Thursday. Xi voiced hope for greater progress in translating the blueprint of the "Golden Age" into "Golden Outcomes" that will promote the long-term, stable development of the relations between the two nations. Cameron said Xi's state visit to Britain in 2015 remains unforgettable, and he is glad to see the deepening of cooperation as the two nations shape the "Golden Age". Currently, the two countries are having greater high-level exchanges, mutually beneficial cooperation and cultural exchanges, which have brought tangible benefits to the two peoples, Xi said. Cameron said he is confident in the prospects for successful relations between Britain and China and he is ready to continue playing a proactive role in enhancing bilateral mutual understanding, exchanges and cooperation. After leaving office in 2016, Cameron has continued to work toward boosting bilateral cooperation. A list of policy outcomes issued after the Ninth China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue last month noted Cameron's "involvement" in a proposed bilateral China-UK investment fund. Both Beijing and London welcome the proposal for the fund with an initial round of $1 billion. The Fund will be led by a number of institutions in the UK and China, and will be established and operated on a commercial and market-orientated basis, according to the outcomes list. The fund will invest in innovative, sustainable and consumption-driven growth opportunities in the UK, China and third markets to create employment and boost trade links supporting the Belt and Road Initiative. ^ top ^

New start of strict Party governance (China Daily)
1. Oct 25, the Party's new central leadership meets the press "We must continue to rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the Party's fabric, make great efforts to foster a healthy political environment of integrity, and generate waves of positive energy throughout our Party," Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said. "Exercising full and rigorous governance over the Party is a journey to which there is no end. We should never entertain the idea of taking a breather or halting our steps," he said. 2. Oct 27, the new Political Bureau's first meeting The 25-member Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee reviewed two documents. One was about strengthening the Party's unified leadership, while the other was about revisions to details of rules on implementing the Party's eight-point frugality code. The statement after the meeting pointed out that the Party's 19th National Congress made new arrangements for maintaining strict discipline, and the eight-point code made five years ago must strictly be followed to ensure that the Party has close links with the people. 3. Oct 31, visit to the memorial hall of the first CPC National Congress Xi led the other six members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau in reciting the admission oath in front of the Party flag, during their visit to the memorial hall of the first CPC National Congress in Shanghai. No matter how far the Party has marched, the original road should not be forgotten, Xi said. 4. Early Dec, Xi's instructions on four forms of decadence Xi instructed Party organizations of various levels not to ease their tough stance in the fight against four forms of decadence - formalism, hedonism, bureaucracy and extravagance. Xi's latest instructions drive home a strong message that the Party will unswervingly strengthen its self-governance, and continuously improve its work style. 5. Dec 25-26, 'democratic life' meeting of the Political Bureau The "democratic life" meeting, a long-time CPC tradition, saw members of the Political Bureau reflect on their own performance and chastise themselves and each other. They should "highly identify with, firmly safeguard, willingly obey and closely follow the leadership of CPC Central Committee in terms of political stance, direction, principle and path," Xi said. 6. Jan 5, a workshop attended by senior Party officials Xi called for "consistently" promoting the "great new project of Party building" and emphasized the Party needs to rid itself of unhealthy tendencies to maintain its vitality. He asked that all the ranking officials must not just be politically confident in socialism with Chinese characteristics but also be professional in doing their work. ^ top ^

China urges US to handle Taiwan issues carefully (Global Times)
China on Thursday urged the United States to carefully handle the Taiwan issue, as the US House of Representatives passed two Taiwan-related bills Tuesday. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks at a daily press briefing. The Taiwan Travel Act aims to encourage diplomatic visits between US and Taiwan officials, while the bill H.R. 3320 directs the US Secretary of States to develop a strategy to restore observer status for Taiwan in the Geneva-based World Health Organization. "The passage of the two bills seriously violates the principles of the one-China policy and three Sino-US joint communiques," Lu said, reiterating that China firmly opposed the action, which interfered in its internal affairs. Lu urged the US side to adhere to the principles of the one-China policy and the three Sino-US joint communiques and not to make any official visits or contacts with Taiwan, nor send any wrong messages to "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces. Lu said China hoped the United Sates would make efforts to preserve the overall Sino-US relations and cooperation between the two sides in international affairs. ^ top ^

Xi vows "fighting spirit" to safeguard Party's purity (Global Times)
President Xi Jinping on Thursday called for heroism and resolution to cope with the complexity the Party faces in governing the nation. Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks at the second plenary session of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the CPC. He said that "the Party itself and its members have gone through essential and profound changes," which required higher quality of Party management and enhanced political and organizational functions of Party organs. "We should push forward the campaign with heroism that takes the bull by the horns and a fighting spirit that never steps aside in face of an enemy," he said. Safeguarding the authority of CPC Central Committee and under its centralized and unified leadership, the CPC should develop itself into a vigorous Marxist ruling party that is always riding with the trend of times, supported by the people, brave in self-reform and survives all challenges and hardship, he said. The CPC will not only foster faith among its members but also introduce institutional measures, not only address specific problems but also make top-down designs, Xi said. Senior Party members should be subject to higher and more rigorous standards and placed under tighter scrutiny, though all Party members should follow the rules, he said. Nothing that senior officials should fulfill their duties fully and responsibly, Xi stressed that they should show strong commitment in bearing their political responsibilities and will be held accountable if failing them. While exercising strict governance, the Party will try its best to discover problems as early as possible, to prevent officials from making mistakes and encourage them to actively perform their duties, he said. Party's internal supervision will function well with assistance from the public, Xi said, promising smooth channels for ordinary people to advise on Party management and inform against misbehaved officials. ^ top ^

Xi meets visiting Nordic, Baltic legislative officials (China Daily)
China and countries of the Nordic and Baltic regions should respect each other's core interests and major concerns following a principle of mutual benefit, equal treatment and inclusiveness, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday. Xi made the remark while meeting with a delegation of speakers from seven Nordic and Baltic countries, who are visiting China from Sunday to Saturday at the invitation of China's top legislator, Zhang Dejiang. It is the first time for the speakers from Nordic and Baltic countries to jointly visit China. "By choosing to visit China, you show that you attach great importance to developing relations with my country, and we, too, share the same readiness to develop relations," Xi said. Calling it a new form of communication, Xi said the joint visit of speakers from Nordic and Baltic countries marks a new era of political mutual trust and exchanges. The president called for joint efforts to integrate each other's development strategy, expand practical cooperation and enhance Belt and Road Initiative cooperation to share the development opportunities brought by the interconnectivity of Eurasia. China and the Nordic and Baltic countries should keep a strong momentum on the high-level exchanges, enhance communication, boost understanding, set aside disagreements and seek common ground, Xi said. Noting that the relations between China and the Nordic and Baltic countries have gained momentum in recent years, Xi said that China and the countries are beginning to work in new areas of cooperation based on traditional areas of practical cooperation. "I do hope that high-level interactions like this one will help deepen mutual understanding and trust between the two sides, leading to stronger cooperation and a flourishing of ties between our countries," Xi said. During the meeting, Xi introduced the economic and social development situation and China's diplomatic policies. China proposed building a community of shared future for mankind at the CPC's 19th National Congress, which is the goal of China's diplomacy in the new era, Xi said. The delegates congratulated Xi on the success of the CPC's 19th National Congress and expressed admiration for the CPC's people-centered goals. They spoke highly of China's achievements in economic development, improvement of people's livelihoods and poverty reduction. On behalf of the delegation, Maria Lohela, Finland's speaker of Parliament, expressed their gratitude for the reception, saying that the delegates "have had an excellent program" in Beijing. In a group interview after she met Xi, Lohela said, "One thing that particularly amazes me is the way Chinese people and the Chinese leadership plan ahead and look into the future. This is something we could learn from China." Beside Lohela, the main delegates include Olemic Thommessen, Norway's president of the Storting, or Parliament; Steingrimur J. Sigfusson, Iceland's speaker of the Althingi; Eiki Nestor, Estonia's speaker of the Riigikogu; Inara Murniece, Latvia's speaker of the Saeima; Viktoras Pranckietis, Lithuania's speaker of the Seimas; and Ewa Thalen Finne, Sweden's deputy speaker of the Riksdag, a news release said. Cao Yin contributed to this story. ^ top ^

China shut 128,000 'harmful' websites in 2017, says state media (SCMP)
China shut as many as 128,000 websites that contained obscene and other "harmful" information in 2017, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported late on Monday, citing government data. Xinhua said 30.9 million illegal publications were confiscated over the course of the year, while 1,900 people were subject to criminal penalties, according to figures from the national office in charge of combating pornography and illegal publications. China has been tightening controls over internet content as part of efforts to maintain "social stability", taking on "vulgar" and pornographic content as well as the unauthorised dissemination of news. Major websites run by Tencent, Baidu and Weibo were reprimanded and fined last year by China's internet regulator for failing to properly censor content ahead of a major conference of the Chinese Communist Party. China has also forced overseas journals to remove access to sensitive papers and book reviews on topics such as Tibet, Taiwan and the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square as part of its efforts to strengthen controls over academia. ^ top ^

3, 2, 1... lift-off for a barrage of Chinese military missile tests (SCMP)
The Chinese military has offered high-resolution glimpses of tests of what are believed to be short to medium-range cruise missiles. The PLA Daily released images and footage of the tests on Tuesday but did not specify when or where they were carried out, saying only that they were conducted at various sites. The missiles appeared to be either Type DF-11 or DF-16 mobile-launched missiles with ranges of between 600km and 1,000km, according to a Chinese military observer. The DF-16 is a more advanced version of the DF-11 land-to-air missile and is capable of precision strikes on Taiwan, analysts say. It has been deployed to the Eastern Theatre Command, which covers the East China Sea and the self-ruled island. The DF-16, along with the YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missile, made its public debut at a military parade in Beijing in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war. The military mouthpiece reported earlier that troops had conducted regular drills to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping's call for them to be combat-ready. ^ top ^

China welcomes EU gesture on Belt and Road Initiative (Global Times)
China welcomed Thursday the European Union's plan to connect China's Belt and Road Initiative with its own interconnection plan for the Eurasian continent. "The European side is welcome to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and we are ready to work with them for win-win cooperation in interconnection and other fields," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu kang said at a regular news briefing. EU ambassador to China Hans Dietmar Schweisgut said Wednesday that EU is drawing its own interconnection blueprint for the Eurasian continent, which will dovetail with the Belt and Road Initiative. Based on the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, China will join EU in promoting prosperity and stability of the Eurasian continent and building a community of shared future for mankind, Lu said. Emmanuel Macron, president of France, concluded his visit to China Wednesday. During his three-day visit, the president said France would like to take an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative. ^ top ^

Study for New Era-Thought inspires a nation (China Daily)
One of the most frequently asked questions Qu Qingshan hears from foreign audiences is: With 89 million members, how does the Communist Party of China stay united? Qu's response: "We keep learning." As head of the CPC's Party history research arm, one of Qu's duties is to share CPC philosophy and experiences in governance with overseas political parties. Qu says it's his belief that through learning and study, Party members reach consensus, increase cohesion and become more effective. To that end, the CPC leadership, the entire Party and the Chinese public have settled in for some studying. Top class Study and implementation of the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress is now the "primary political task" for the Party and country, according to Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. Xi gave this directive while presiding over the first group study of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee in October, just three days after the conclusion of the congress. Such group study sessions are a regular feature in the lives of senior CPC officials. Forty-five such study sessions have been held since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. Topics covered included issues from Marxist ideology and state governance to green development and information technology. "They keep very quiet while listening, taking notes or underlining key points," said Bu Xianqun, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences history research institute, recalling his two lectures at the sessions. "A lecture lasts more than an hour, and they stay very focused throughout," he said. "It is really impressive." In addition to the top leaders, the CPC Central Committee Party School is launching training programs for provincial and ministerial officials to help them internalize and implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the philosophy at the heart of the 19th congress. For other CPC members and the public, study is a must. Teams have been sent to communities, rural areas, universities and enterprises equipped with the spirit of the congress and tasked with spreading the word. In Shanghai, birthplace of the CPC, Party members can attend lectures or access information through social networking. Entrepreneurs also recognize the need for study. "I have read the congress report many times," said Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group. "It charts out clear goals and direction for the country's future. Understanding policy, not waiting for favorable policy, helps an enterprise develop." Tradition of learning For Qu, study is part of the tradition of the CPC. "Lifelong learning is a key factor in the Party's transition from small to large and from weak to strong." In the Party's early years, the focus of study was to improve members' literacy. Study did not come to a halt even during the hardships of the Long March. Over 70 years ago, Mao Zedong warned Party members that they should always be wary of their own incompetence. Xi's opinion today is little different. "We will foster a strong atmosphere of learning and practicing in the Party, and build our Party into a Marxist learning party. We will nurture a love of learning in our people," read the report Xi delivered to the 19th congress. Over the past five years, the CPC has carried out a series of study and education campaigns including the Three Stricts and Three Earnests and one that has ensured Party members have a good command of the Party Constitution, Party regulations, major policy initiatives and Party discipline standards. Xi's report requires Party members to be good at learning, at exercising political leadership, at promoting sound development, at exercising law-based governance, at engaging with the people, at implementing policy and at managing risks, as well as being good reformers and pioneers. "The standard for CPC officials and members in the new era has been set very high," said Mei Liming, vice-president of the China Executive Leadership Academy of Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province. Jinggangshan, the cradle of the revolution, is now home to one of three executive leadership academies in China. The other two are in another stronghold of the revolution, Yan'an, Shaanxi province, and in Pudong, Shanghai's ultramodern business center. These three academies, together with the CPC Central Committee Party School and the Chinese Academy of Governance, form a comprehensive education and training system for Party and governmental officials. According to the vice-president of the Pudong leadership academy Zheng Jinzhou, courses on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era will soon be in the curriculum. Lessons for a new era "Through study, we have determined those issues closest to the hearts of both businesses and the people," said Weng Zuliang, Party chief of Pudong district. Pudong is expecting to celebrate the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up to continue to spearhead the country's reform and development. "We must always stay hungry for knowledge," said Liu Hong, local Party chief in Jinggangshan. "That requires officials closest to the ground to understand the real demands and needs of the people." Zhai Lixin, director of the management committee of Zhongguancun, a center of scientific and technological research in Beijing, said it is clear that the major theme of their study is reform. "Reform is the spark that ignites innovation, and we, the managing officials, have a duty to keep pace with the times and never stop learning." "The 96-year history of the CPC reveals study to be an intrinsic faculty of the Party," said Xie Chuntao, head of academic affairs at the CPC Central Committee Party School. "It is one of the sources of the Party's victories and long-term governance." The ultimate goal of study is to remind CPC members of their roots and mission-to seek happiness for the people and the rejuvenation of the nation-and to ensure they succeed. In his New Year speech for 2018, Xi noted that "the wellbeing of our people is the Party and government's greatest political achievement". To lead a country of more than 1.3 billion people, the Party must be both politically strong and highly competent. This year, the first full year under the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress, will see the start of implementation of the blueprint for the next three decades. Socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. The evolution of the principal contradiction facing society is a historic shift that affects the whole landscape, creating many new demands for Party and people. A four-day workshop on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress for newly elected members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee, as well as provincial and ministerial-level officials, concluded Monday. "Study has taken Chinese Communists to where they are today," Xi once said. "And study will lead us into the future." ^ top ^

Marriott apologizes for labeling China's territories as independent countries (Xinhua)
U.S. hotel chain Marriott's chief executive officer (CEO) apologized Thursday for listing Tibet, among other parts of China, as an independent country in a mail questionnaire, and promised to take measures to prevent such incidents. "Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite," the company's President and CEO Arne Sorenson said in the statement. "We don't support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and we do not intend in any way to encourage or incite any such people or groups. We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize," the message said, in a more solemn tone than previous ones offered on Chinese media that were slammed as insincere. The statement said the company has corrected the improper actions and checked its websites and mobile apps for other possible errors and will fully cooperate with investigations launched by the Chinese authorities. "Upon completion of a full investigation into how both incidents happened, we will be taking the necessary disciplinary action with respect to the individuals involved," the statement said. During a recent promotion program, Marriott listed Chinese territories, including Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as "countries" in a drop-down menu, and one of its Twitter accounts was found to have "liked" a Tibetan separatist group, drawing fire from Chinese netizens and prompting a probe from China's Internet and market supervisors to determine whether Marriott's actions violated Chinese laws. According to market observers, Marriott is operating 270 hotels with nearly 100,000 rooms in China. ^ top ^



Beijing calls mission in Diaoyu Islands valid (China Daily)
China said a naval mission in its own territorial waters is beyond reproach and justifiable after Japan lodged a protest about a Chinese frigate entering waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands on Thursday. Japan's behavior will not change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands and affiliated islands belong to China, and it can hardly shake the firmness and determination of China in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular news conference on Thursday. The Defense Ministry issued a statement saying two Japan Coast Guard vessels entered the northeast contiguous zone of Chiwei Islet, which is a part of the Diaoyu Islands. Chinese guided-missile frigate Yiyang immediately entered the area to conduct thorough tracking and surveillance of the activities of Japanese forces, and the Japanese vessels have left the area, the statement said. Japan is well aware of the situation but reversed the truth and hyped the Chinese military's legitimate rights, the statement said, expressing strong dissatisfaction and opposition. The Chinese military will take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard the territorial sovereignty and security interests of the country, according to the statement. Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama summoned Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua on Thursday to voice Tokyo's concerns and strongly requested China not to interfere with the flow of improving Japan-China relations, according to AFP. China urges Japan to stop using the issue to make trouble and take practical actions to improve bilateral relations, Lu said. China considers its relations with Japan to be important, he said. "We noticed the positive signals from Japan and their high-level officials to improve the relations between the two countries," Lu said. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week that he wanted 2018 to be the year in which people in Japan and China recognize "great improvement" in the nations' ties, according to Xinhua. China hopes Japan will match its words with deeds, work for the same goal with China on the basis of the consensus and spirit of the four-point principled agreement and take practical actions to improve relations, Lu said. ^ top ^



Improved transport drives winter tourism boom in Xinjiang (China Daily)
Visitors flock to Altay prefecture to view dramatic scenery and diverse cultural events. The winter snow in Kanas national park, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has turned into white treasure for the local population. Kanas, a Mongolian word that means "a beautiful and mysterious place", is known for its picturesque landscapes, where tourists are captivated by the primitive beauty of its soaring mountains, intersecting ravines and gullies, luxuriant forests and grasslands, clear waters and fresh air. Bordering Mongolia and Russia, it has long been popular as a summer getaway. But it is becoming increasingly attractive as a winter wonderland. Improved transportation and accommodation in the area have attracted growing numbers of tourists to Altay prefecture in winter to see snow-covered scenery and diverse cultural attractions. "Kanas is not only beautiful in summer, but attractive year-round," said Sawurqik, a herdsman in Hemu who has turned her home into a homestay where she provides meals, rooms and activities-visitors can enjoy authentic Kazakh specialties such as horse meat noodles and milk tea. Sawurqik used to have visitors only in summer and fall. But now she is busy in the cold season too as hundreds of tourists come to spend their winter holidays. "In recent years, our family has earned more than 20,000 yuan ($3,065) per year due to the development of tourism, accounting for half our total income," she said. As the allure of the cold season has grown, more local households have seized the opportunity to offer accommodations and meals to tourists and provide a variety of activities, such as horse rides, fishing, skiing and other local sports. With winter lasting five months or more, the area is coated with snow for up to 180 days a year and its skiing conditions could well be on a par with the Swiss Alps, according to Li Bin, Altay's deputy Party chief. At the first snow festival in Hemu on Jan 1, visitors saw a string of exciting shows involving ski jumping, snowmobiling, Alpine skiing and ancient hunting practices. Some archaeologists believe the area was one of the first places where humans used skis. Paleolithic rock paintings of people using skis were discovered in 2005. Visitors can also take part in a search for wolves, which will be held for the second time this year, according to the park's administrative committee. During the adventure, visitors travel in a horse-drawn sleigh, which remains the primary means of winter transportation in Kanas. Celebrations for Spring Festival and a winter scenery photography competition have also been arranged, the committee said. ^ top ^

700 China-Europe trains pass through Xinjiang in 2017 (Xinhua)
Urumqi Railway Bureau said 700 China-Europe trains ran through the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in 2017. Westbound freight trains from other parts of China stopped in Urumqi for goods adjustment before exiting the country through Horgos or Alataw Pass for destinations in Central Asia or Europe. Thanks to streamlined procedures and better communication with railway authorities in other countries, the transportation time for China-Europe trains has been shortened and departure frequency has increased, according to the bureau. Last year, 70 percent of China-Europe trains exited China from Xinjiang. "Urumqi plans to send 1,400 China-Europe trains in 2018, further improving connectivity with Central Asian and European cities," said Nan Jun, vice general manager of Xinjiang Xintie International Logistics Company. ^ top ^



Hong Kong stocks look set to extend record winning streak (SCMP)
Hong Kong stocks looked set to extend a record 13-day winning streak, with early gains on Friday after optimism in the global economy pushed Wall Street to fresh highs overnight. The Hang Seng Index opened 0.64 per cent, or 199.30 points, higher at 31,319.69, and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index climbed 0.88 per cent, or 108.62 per cent, to 12,404.14. Financial firms got off to a positive start. HSBC Holdings rose 0.18 per cent to HK$84.20, having contributed the most to the benchmark index on Thursday, adding 75 points. Citigroup earlier said the banking industry in Hong Kong had the highest profitability among developed markets in the world, boosted by strong loan growth and net interest margin expansion. China Construction Bank was up 1.57 per cent to HK$7.79 at start of trade, and ICBC gained 1.84 per cent to HK$6.65. Tencent, the most heavily traded stock on Thursday, rebounded from a 2.5 per cent slide, gaining 1.26 per cent to HK$434.80. Insurers were mainly up, with China Life and AIA rising 0.82 per cent to HK$24.70 and 0.30 per cent to HK$66.90 respectively. Ping An, however, was down 0.12 per cent to HK$83.45. Oil climbed above US$70 a barrel in London overnight for the first time in three years, as production cuts by OPEC and rising global demand eat away at supply. Sinopec advanced 1.57 per cent to HK$6.49, Petrochina moved up 1.87 per cent to HK$5.99 and China Oilfield jumped 3.88 per cent to HK$9.90. In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.04 per cent, or 1.21 points, to 3,424.14 while the CSI 300 - which tracks the large caps listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen - was down 0.02 per cent, or 0.73 points, to 4,204.86. The Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.09 per cent, or 1.78 points, to 1,951.34, while the Nasdaq-style ChiNext dipped 0.19 per cent, or 3.34 points, to 1,800.89. US stocks extended their record start to 2018, boosted by the technology sector, with all three major indices closing higher on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.81 per cent, or 205.60 points, to 25,574.73, and the S&P 500 tacked on 0.70, or 19.33 points, to 2,767.56. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.81 per cent, or 58.20 points, to 7,211.78. In Asian trading early on Friday morning, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was down 0.28 per cent, or 65.83 points, to 23,644.60 by 9:30am. South Korea's Kospi made gains of 0.18 per cent, or 4.55 points, to 2,492.46, while the Sydney All Ordinaries rose 0.14 per cent, or 8.50 points, to 6,184.70. ^ top ^



China urges US to handle Taiwan issues carefully (SCMP)
China on Thursday urged the United States to carefully handle the Taiwan issue, as the US House of Representatives passed two Taiwan-related bills Tuesday. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks at a daily press briefing. The Taiwan Travel Act aims to encourage diplomatic visits between US and Taiwan officials, while the bill H.R. 3320 directs the US Secretary of States to develop a strategy to restore observer status for Taiwan in the Geneva-based World Health Organization. "The passage of the two bills seriously violates the principles of the one-China policy and three Sino-US joint communiques," Lu said, reiterating that China firmly opposed the action, which interfered in its internal affairs. Lu urged the US side to adhere to the principles of the one-China policy and the three Sino-US joint communiques and not to make any official visits or contacts with Taiwan, nor send any wrong messages to "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces. Lu said China hoped the United Sates would make efforts to preserve the overall Sino-US relations and cooperation between the two sides in international affairs. ^ top ^

Taipei's rail service suspended due to protests (Xinhua)
A rail service in Taipei was suspended Monday evening as protesters against an amendment to the labor rule laid on the tracks, with more than 10,000 travelers affected. Braving rain and low temperature, hundreds of people led by the "May 1 Action Coalition" -- an alliance of trade unions and labor-rights advocacy groups -- gathered outside the legislative body building in Taipei Monday to protest against the amendment. The Democratic Progressive Party administration's amendment to the labor rule has triggered huge controversy in Taiwan. The protesters said the amendment would leave workers more vulnerable to overtime abuse, and none of the proposed revisions would benefit workers. The amendment will allow employers to force their employees to work longer, and reduce the rest time between shifts from 11 hours to eight, the protesters said. Sporadic clashes broke out between protesters and the police. A total of 19 trains were affected in the evening, as more than 10 protesters laid on the tracks in Taipei Main Station at around 6:30 p.m. The protesters were carried away by police at 8 p.m. ^ top ^



Chinese vice premier stresses green development in Yangtze River Economic Belt (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli highlighted environmental conservation and green development in promoting high-quality growth of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. "It is overwhelmingly important to protect and restore the environment in the Yangtze River area. We must comprehensively advance water pollution control, ecological restoration and water resource protection," Zhang told a meeting on Wednesday in Hefei, east China's Anhui Province, after a two-day tour there. Zhang called for more efforts to strengthen water transportation, supply-side structural reform and coordinated development of large, medium and small cities in the region. The Yangtze River Economic Belt shall actively integrate with the Belt and Road Initiative, a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa. Zhang also encouraged the region to make systemic innovations on coordinated development, enhance joint efforts on environmental protection, deepen market integration and sharing of public services for a win-win result. "We will facilitate the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt by promoting well-coordinated environmental conservation and avoiding excessive development," Zhang said. ^ top ^



President tells Moon he backs DPRK talks (SCMP)
China supports the efforts of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea to push for dialogue and communication for the resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue, President Xi Jinping said on Thursday. China has always supported moves by the DPRK and ROK to improve relations, Xi told his ROK counterpart, Moon Jae-in, in a phone call. The Korean Peninsula situation is facing both challenges and opportunities, Xi said, adding that it is hoped the ROK-hosted Pyeongchang Winter Olympics brings opportunities for DPRK-ROK dialogue and will become a starting place for improvement on the Korean Peninsula issue. China would like to enhance communication and cooperation with all sides, including the ROK, to push for improvement of the situation, Xi said. In the phone call, Moon spoke of the outcomes of the ROK's high-level dialogue with the DPRK, saying that Seoul considers the key role that China plays in the Korean Peninsula issue to be very important. Moon expressed gratitude for China's support of the north-south dialogue and China's efforts to push forward the resolution through dialogue and maintain the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. The ROK is willing to make joint efforts with China to resolve the problems through dialogue and negotiation, and maintain the region's peace and stability, Moon said. On Tuesday, the ROK and the DPRK held their first senior-level dialogue in about two years, agreeing to hold military talks to ease tensions. The DPRK agreed to send its athletes and cheering squads to the ROK-hosted Winter Olympics in February. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular news conference on Wednesday that it is encouraging that the two sides "show each other goodwill and shake hands at a time when the situation of the Korean Peninsula is quite tense". In the phone call, Xi mentioned Moon's recent state visit to China, saying that the two sides have reached important consensus on developing their strategic cooperative partnership. China would like to make joint efforts with the Republic of Korea to enhance strategic communication, push forward substantial cooperation, properly handle sensitive issues and jointly maintain regional peace and stability. China supports the ROK's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games and wishes it a successful sports event, Xi said. ^ top ^

Is China to blame for the North Korea crisis? The answer depends on who you ask (SCMP)
In the final week of 2017, US President Donald Trump made crystal clear what his approach to China would be in the new year. First, he tweeted that China was caught "red handed" allowing ships to sell oil to North Korea in the Yellow Sea – in violation of Beijing's own approval of UN resolution banning such activities. Then, in a television interview, he said he would honour his campaign promise to punish China on trade, indicating that he believed a quid pro quo was in place over North Korea with President Xi Jinping when the two met in Mar-a-Lago a year prior. According to Trump's one-sided account, China had agreed to rein in Pyongyang in exchange for amicable American policies on trade. Based on this, Trump implied, Washington entered the new year with the moral high ground in its interactions with Beijing. China gave a stout response to Trump's accusatory tweets – although it was largely ignored by the international media. The Foreign Ministry's account stated that the ship in question operated outside of China's jurisdiction after August 2017 and uploaded oil in another country before heading to waters close to North Korea. The UN resolution that banned unauthorised oil shipments was passed on December 22 – hence, China should not be held responsible. The Chinese reply was met by silence – a possible sign that the tweet-happy US president was conceding the point. As a reliable ally of the US, the South Korean government should have mounted a tremendous effort to help clear the air. But, at least in the mainstream English-language media, Seoul has chosen to remain silent over the Beijing-Washington feud. The dispute over the alleged oil sales – and how North Korea should be handled in general – is an indication of the struggles between Washington and Beijing to communicate on an even level. The recent escalation of the dispute over North Korea can be traced back to the Mar-a-Lago meeting. Did the Chinese team explicitly reject the conditions related to North Korea that Trump is now publically placing on how he handles trade and other issues with China? Public information about the trip leaves little in the way of answers. Here lies the first layer of asymmetry between Beijing and Washington: what is viewed as an agreement by one side can turn out to be a source of profound disagreement by the other – despite each side claiming to approach the other in good faith. A second asymmetrical layer to relations stems from the narrative of what one nation has meant for the other's fortunes post-second world war. Many Americans insist that China's wealth is based on two essentials: access to American import market and raw materials from abroad. The US thirst for made-in-China products is, by its own nature, a transfer of wealth. The US, and its allies, pays with cash and blood to keep trade routes open for ships carrying goods in and out of Chinese ports. As some believe, the pillars of China's recent success are made in America. Flowing from this line of thinking, China owes the US a level of gratitude but has fallen short in failing to honour its commitment on North Korea. But to many Chinese – and this has little to do with ideology, Communist or not – China's economic rise was in spite of the US, not because of it. Their reasons would include the US, and its allies, using diplomatic and military ends to keep Taiwan separated from the mainland. Even in bilateral trade, the US, along with the European Union, has made attempts to block its market economy status, which was promised when Beijing joined the World Trade Organisation and would treat it on par with other members when it comes to accounting for the costs of exported products. As such, it is China that is bending over backwards to accommodate the US and it's the US that keeps moving the posts of cooperation. There is nothing "wrong" with either side having such vastly divergent views about themselves and each other – after all, we see the world through our own prism. Nation building is above all a continuous process, and that is true for the world's largest economies as well. In the year ahead – and in years to come – the real challenge for both Beijing and Washington is whether they can use introspection to find ways to broaden, rather than weaken, the bilateral ties and shape diplomacy in responsible ways. The recent incident in the Yellow Sea is just another reminder about how close miscalculation is lurking, regardless of vast reservoirs of good faith and goodwill. ^ top ^

Is North Korea's Kim Jong-un serious about peace or just playing everybody (again)? (SCMP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un began the new year with a speech in which he threatened "all of the mainland United States" with nuclear war while at the time offering South Korea an olive branch, suggesting to send a delegation to the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which begin on February 9. South Korean President Moon Jae-in immediately responded by proposing high-level inter-Korean talks to discuss its participation on January 9, to which the North has since agreed, marking the first time such talks will have taken place since December 2015, and signaling a personal triumph for Moon, who has made getting the North to the negotiation table his presidential raison d'être. North Korea's head of inter-Korean affairs, Ri Son-gwon, then announced on state television that Kim had ordered the reopening of the Seoul-Pyongyang hotline, which North Korea severed two years ago, to discuss the participation of its athletes. Ri added that Kim welcomed Moon's support in the matter. By midafternoon on Wednesday, half of South Korea was waiting for a call that came at precisely 3.30pm, when a government official in the border village of Panmunjom picked up a plastic green handset and spoke to a North Korean counterpart on the other end. The two sides spent 20 minutes on technical issues involving the long-closed line, then a few hours later, North Korea called back and said, "Let's call it a day." These words signified not only the end to a hard day's work, but hopefully the end to a conflict that has raged for months. But while Kim struck a conciliatory tone in his New Year's address, he also made time to level threats at the United States, saying he has the nuclear button sitting on his desk. US President Donald Trump took the bait, tweeting on Tuesday, "Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my button works!" But Moon staunchly avoided the saber-rattling in which Kim and Trump have so freely indulged over the past months. Since taking office on May 10, he has seen the regime snub any effort at rapprochement, repeatedly threaten to start a nuclear holocaust and rapidly develop its weapons programs by testing four anti-ship missiles, nine ballistic missiles and a thermonuclear bomb. Tensions are subsequently the highest they've been since the end of the Korean War. On Sunday, Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States is "closer to a nuclear war with North Korea than ever". Yet Moon has remained calm and ready, and now at the eleventh hour, his composure has apparently paid off. On Thursday, the United States and South Korea agreed to postpone military exercises – involving hundreds of thousands of troops – although US officials insisted the move was to focus on security during the Winter Olympics and not a sign of a softened stance on Pyongyang. As the work of untying this geopolitical knot begins – some analysts say the North's about-face may have nothing to do with Moon's strategic patience, and the true cause may suggest that the regime in fact only responds to more stick and less carrot. "It seems to me that sanctions played a role in compelling the North Korean leader to act," said Choi Jin-woo, a political science and international studies professor at Hanyang University, who added that the subsequently severe economic impact has had a far greater effect than Moon's kindness. "After the September nuclear test, sanctions were strengthened and I think now it's working. The sanctions bite." North Korea recently felt the sting of that bite when two ships were seized by South Korean officials for violating UN Security Council Resolution 2375, passed in September, which prohibits states from any ship-to-ship cargo transfers with the North. One, the Hong Kong-registered Lighthouse Winmore, was seized on November 24, accused of transferring 600 tonnes of oil to a North Korean vessel in international waters. "We just rent the ship out," Zeng Haibo, a deputy general manager of Lighthouse Shipping Development, told This Week in Asia. "We are not aware of what goods the ship carried or whether it was used to trade with North Korea." In late December, a second ship, the Panama-flagged KOTI, was also seized on suspicion of transferring oil to North Korean vessels. That same week, Reuters reported that Russian tankers have recently made ship-to-ship fuel transfers with North Korean vessels on at least three occasions. That report followed one by Chosun Ilbo the week before, which said American spy satellites caught Chinese ships doing the same thing 30 times since October. After the seizure of the KOTI, whose crew was mostly Chinese and Burmese, Trump tweeted, "Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!" Another reason to believe that the North hasn't had a change of heart is this year's address is not markedly different from the previous two that Kim has given. In 2017, he talked about the need for all Koreans to "join forces" and "open a great pathway to autonomous unification". The year before that, he delivered his first New Year's address on the heels of former president Park Geun-hye's election, proclaiming that the two sides must cease confrontations to bring about reunification. Both times, he followed these warm overtures in the months that came with bomb and missile tests, refusals to negotiate, periods of silence and copious death threats. This is why the United States is focused on cutting off North Korea's oil supply. As H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, said on December 9, "You cannot shoot a missile without fuel." But the strategic gains come with a moral cost. "A full oil cut-off would certainly dramatically reduce the amount of domestically grown food available to the civilian population," David von Hippel, a senior associate at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, told NBC News last week. He added that unless other countries compensated by giving the regime food, "this would likely lead to famine". Besides which, there's no guarantee an oil embargo would even work. Even if China and Russia signed off on one, which seems unlikely, that wouldn't ensure supply lines to Pyongyang would stop flowing. According to Koo Kab-woo, professor of international politics and economy at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, "An oil embargo won't work because nowadays there are suppliers to North Korea from Russia and China, private actors who will try to supply oil to North Korea because of the profit." And supposing China and Russia did sign off on an embargo, and these private actors could be thwarted, Pyongyang might just hunker down in response. In any case, the recent political climate change seems more tied to crushing international sanctions than kindness. These shadows darken the path to progress Moon is intent on taking. Lines of communication may have reopened, but the escape velocity needed to slip the pull of war is still beyond reach, and many analysts remain deeply sceptical as to whether Pyongyang's recent play is anything more than subterfuge, intended to bide time to continue building its arsenal. "I don't think President Moon has come to terms with the fact that North Korean policy is and always has been to conquer South Korea," said Bradley K. Martin, author of Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty. "I see no reason to think that's about to change. When the North plays nice with the South it's always temporary and tactical." ^ top ^



Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and France to hold meeting (Montsame)
A consultative meeting between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and France will be held in Ulaanbaatar city on January 12. Today, G.Zandanshatar, Head of the Cabinet Secretariat, received Elizabeth Barsacq, Ambassador of France to Mongolia regarding the meeting. Ambassador informed that preparation of the meeting fully completed, emphasizing that France, particularly entities that willing to run regular activities in Mongolia, are attaching big importance to the meeting. In return, G.Zandanshatar expressed hopes that the sides will reach significant outcomes during the meeting, which will be focused on commerce, economy and other sectors Additionally, they exchanged views on cooperation in fields including agriculture, animal husbandry, archeology, education and tourism, renovation of central waste treatment plant, uranium and satellite. ^ top ^

Parliament adopts resolution instead of state of emergency (Montsame)
On January 5, Parliament Speaker M.Enkhbold said that a state of emergency will not be declared in Ulaanbaatar to fight air pollution, a measure proposed by President Kh.Battulga. Following the proposal on December 28, Speaker M.Enkhbold issued an ordinance to form a working group to study the possibility of declaring a state of emergency, propose measures to be taken against air pollution in the capital city and supervise the Cabinet on the issue. "After looking into the legal environment on state of emergency, the working group resolved that it wasn't fit to declare state of emergency at the moment," the Speaker said, while adding that the Parliament, the Cabinet and all levels of government organizations still consider air pollution as an emergency issue. On the other hand, the working group, led by MP Yo.Baatarbileg, came up with a draft resolution titled 'Air Pollution Reduction Measures', which was adopted by the Parliament with 80.4 percent support on January 5. Parliament Speaker M.Enkhbold noted the importance of urgent implementation of the actions and plans reflected in the resolution. In accordance with the resolution, a report on the implementation of the National Security Council recommendation on air pollution reduction will be made before February 1. Moreover, draft revisions to corresponding laws relating to air pollution will be proposed to the Parliament by February 10. Speaker M.Enkhbold also urged the Cabinet to pay attention to the production of liquid and compressed fuels from coal. ^ top ^


Jacqueline Bähler
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.
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage