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
  30.4-4.5.2018, No. 716  
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Regulator reviewing UBS bid for control of securities firm (Xinhua)
China's top securities watchdog is reviewing UBS's application for a majority shareholding in a joint-venture securities brokerage firm, the first for foreign investors. UBS is applying for raising its shareholding proportion in the UBS Securities from 24.99 percent to 51 percent for absolute control, according to information released Wednesday on the website of China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). UBS has been the second largest shareholder after Beijing Guoxiang Property Management Co. of the Chinese investment bank and brokerage firm. The move came after CSRC issued a regulation on foreign investment in securities firms in China on April 28, allowing a shareholding ratio of up to 51 percent. Qualified foreign investors can submit applications for the change of actual controller or establishing joint-venture securities firms, according to the regulation. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

White House threatens Beijing with 'consequences' for 'militarising South China Sea' after missiles were reportedly installed on islands (SCMP)
The White House said on Thursday it was prepared to take measures against China's stationing of military equipment on islands in the South China Sea, as Beijing evaded questions on whether it had installed new missiles on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines. "We're well aware of China's militarisation of the South China Sea. We've raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this, and there will be near-term and long-term consequences," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters. US network CNBC reported on Wednesday that the Chinese military installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on the islands over the last 30 days, citing sources close to US intelligence. If the information is verified, it could provoke renewed tensions between countries bordering the strategically vital maritime region. At a regular briefing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying neither confirmed nor denied the deployment. "China's peaceful construction in the Spratly archipelago, including the deployment of necessary national defence facilities, is aimed at protecting China's sovereignty and security," she said. "Those who don't intend to violate [this sovereignty] have no reason to worry." The South China Sea issue has been brewing for years, with China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam making competing claims in waters with vital global shipping routes and what are believed to be significant oil and natural gas deposits. In addition to land-reclamation efforts on reefs it controls and building civilian facilities there, China also has air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry in place including landing strips able to accommodate military planes. The new Chinese missiles were reportedly deployed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, according to CNBC. They are all in the Spratly archipelago located in waters south of mainland China between Vietnam and the Philippines. Beijing's territorial claims, based on its own historical records, have also pitted it against the United States. While Washington takes no position on the sovereignty claims, it has raised concerns that Beijing is "militarising" the South China Sea, leading to Thursday's warning of "consequences". The US Navy itself frequently sends warships and aircraft carriers to patrol the area. "China has to realise that they've benefited from the free navigation of the sea, and the US Navy has been the guarantor of that," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. "We will continue to do our operations." China's defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has previously stressed that the islands were "part of Chinese territory" and that it was up to China alone to decide what it does there. ^ top ^

Central Asian countries to gain from China's Belt and Road Initiative: ADB seminar (Xinhua)
Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) member countries can capitalize on new regional and international development dynamics, including China's Belt and Road Initiative, to strengthen regional infrastructure, boost trade, and reduce poverty, according to participants at a high-level Asian Development Bank (ADB) seminar held on Thursday. "CAREC and the Belt and Road Initiative uphold common visions of improving connectivity for shared prosperity," said ADB Vice-President Zhang Wencai. "The overlapping geographies of CAREC and the Belt and Road Initiative provide further impetus for close coordination to jointly build resilient and sustainable regional infrastructure, strengthen trade links, and create jobs and greater economic opportunities for all our countries," he said. Established in 1997 by the ADB, CAREC members include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Participants shared their insights on how stronger collaboration among regional and international cooperation initiatives can support this process. They agreed to continue the momentum of discussion and identify concrete regional investment projects to deepen economic cooperation in the region. The session was organized on the sidelines of ADB's 51st annual meeting in Manila. During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017, a memorandum of understanding was signed between China and six multilateral development banks (MDBs) including ADB. The agreement highlighted the MDBs' preparedness to cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative, in the context of each MDB's respective country and subregional partnership strategies and programs. Following this, at the 16th CAREC ministerial conference in October 2017, ministers from the 11 member countries signed the "Dushanbe Declaration," which commits these countries to building stronger ties between CAREC and the Belt and Road Initiative. CAREC seeks to cooperate closely with the Belt and Road Initiative to promote economic growth, prosperity, and elimination of poverty in the region. Over the past two decades, the ADB said the CAREC program has grown from six projects worth 247 million U.S. dollars in 2001 to 185 projects worth more than 31.5 billion U.S. dollars as of December 2017. ^ top ^

Could Donald Trump be heading to China to settle trade row after tweeting he wants to 'be with' Xi Jinping? (SCMP)
US President Donald Trump has tweeted that he hopes to "be with" his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the not too distant future as a high-level American delegation arrived in Beijing amid the looming threat of a trade war between the two sides. Despite Trump's unpredictability, some Chinese observers argued that the tweet may indicate that China could be the venue for Trump's planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Trump said a "great financial team" was trying to ensure a "level playing field" on trade and added: "I look forward to being with President Xi in the not too distant future. We will always have a good (great) relationship!" Although no details about his planned summit with the North Korean leader have been released yet, Trump is expected to meet the North Korean leader later this month or in June. Chinese diplomatic observers have said he could meet Xi after talking to Kim. The venue for the talks between Trump and Kim has not been decided, but several places such as Singapore and Mongolia have been tipped to host the event. Another possibility is South Korea's border truce village of Panmunjom, where Kim met his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in last week. South Korea's presidential office said on Thursday that the village would mark a new milestone of peace if it was chosen. On Monday, Trump wrote on Twitter: "Numerous countries are being considered for the MEETING, but would Peace House/Freedom House, on the Border of North & South Korea, be a more Representative, Important and Lasting site than a third party country?" Following Trump's latest tweet, Lu Xiang, an American affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, speculated: "It is possible that the talks between the US and North Korea will be held in China, for example, in a northeastern city. Trump's warm words towards Xi also raised hopes that the two sides may be able to reach a consensus in the trade talks. "If the two nations are divided over some issues, then Xi and Trump may engage in direct talks," Lu said. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is leading the trade talks for the US and arrived in Beijing on Thursday. The discussions, led by Vice-Premier Liu He for Beijing, will cover American concerns, including forced technology transfers and the US trade deficit with China. "Thrilled to be here," Mnuchin told reporters on arriving at his hotel, while making no further comment. The US embassy in Beijing said the delegation would meet Chinese officials for two days, as well as holding talks with the US Ambassador in China, Terry Branstad. The US delegation planned to leave on Friday evening, the statement added. A Chinese government official close to the talks said on Wednesday Beijing would not succumb to US pressure to change its industrial policy nor offer major concessions over the US trade deficit. A commentary by the state-run Xinhua news agency said the US should not set any preconditions for talks and show sincerity in its negotiations. The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily, said it hoped the talks were the start of a resolution to the trade disputes. "Washington and Beijing should be clear: neither side can scare the other down. Negotiations are the best way to resolve the problem." ^ top ^

Two Myanmar drug dealers sentenced to death in Southwest China (Global Times)
A court in Southwest China's Yunnan Province Wednesday sentenced two people from Myanmar to death for drug trafficking and killing a Chinese police officer. One was convicted of shooting and killing a police officer in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture on November 4, 2016, according to a local court. The other man and two accomplices escaped and fled to Myanmar, but were detained and turned over to the police. They were handed over to Chinese police on November 6, 2016 together with a handgun and 11 bullets. During the operation, police seized 17.2 kilograms of methamphetamine, also known as ice, and a handgun and bullets. The two accomplices were sentenced to life and 15 years in prison, respectively. The four have appealed. Yunnan Province, which borders the notorious "Golden Triangle" of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, is at the forefront of Chinese police' anti-drug efforts. ^ top ^

India and Japan increase military spending, 'driven by China tension' (SCMP)
Tensions with China have pushed Asian nations including India and Japan to boost military spending, according to a global arms spending report. India's defence spending rose by 5.5 per cent to US$63.9 billion in 2017, overtaking that of France as it became one of the world's top five military spenders, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report released on Wednesday. The United States, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia were the leading four last year in military spending. "The Indian government plans to expand, modernise and enhance the operational capability of its armed forces, motivated at least partially by tensions with China and Pakistan," the report read. Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher for the SIPRI, said: "Tensions between China and many of its neighbours continue to drive the growth in military spending in Asia." The list of the world's biggest military spenders has remained largely consistent in recent years, dominated by the US and China, which spent US$610 billion and US$228 billion last year respectively, according to the SIPRI. China's military spending was 3.6 times that of India, which was the region's second-largest spender. As it goes ahead with a modernisation drive for the People's Liberation Army, China has pledged to raise its military spending by 8.1 per cent this year, after its 2017 total showed an increase of 5.6 per cent compared with 2016. That increase was its slowest since 2010, but China's share of worldwide military expenditure rose to 13 per cent in 2017 from 5.8 per cent in 2008, according to the institute. China and India were engaged in a 72-day military stand-off at their shared Doklam border in the Himalayan region last year, the closest the two countries have come to military confrontation in half a century. Despite the thawing of Sino-India tensions following meetings between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September and last weekend in China, satellite images released by US geopolitical intelligence company Stratfor in January revealed that both countries have been actively bolstering their military presence near the border. Shashank Joshi, a senior research fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said India faced a big challenge in modernising its forces. "Clearly, India's relations with both Pakistan and China have deteriorated over the past decade, and particularly since 2016 or so. This has not had a dramatic impact on India's level of spending, but it has led to specific investments," he said. "One of the most important is a new mountain strike corps – India's first offensive corps directed at China rather than Pakistan – based in the east. This is being built up slowly, but surely. Other investments are being made into new aircraft carriers and combat aircraft." Adam Ni, a researcher on China's foreign and security policy at the Australian National University, said India's military spending increase was not big enough for it to catch up with China. He added that China's defence spending was a "massive underestimate" of what is actually spent on defence, especially on research and development. "India is doing what it can to improve its military to affect Beijing's strategic calculus in favour of India. That is, to be able to impose more cost on Beijing in case of competition or conflict," he said. Worldwide military spending rose marginally last year to US$1.73 trillion, or roughly 2.2 per cent of global gross domestic product, the SIPRI said. Although the report said Japan remained in eighth place for military spending, its defence outlays for the year starting April 1 were due to rise for a sixth straight year, going up by 1.3 per cent to 5.19 trillion yen (US$45.76 billion), according to a budget breakdown published by its government last month. Japan's increases in defence spending represent a change in policy since the 2012 cut to the defence budget. "Perceived threats from China and North Korea remain the most important factors in Japan's security strategy," the report said. ^ top ^

China, Dominican Republic establish diplomatic ties (Xinhua)
China and the Dominican Republic signed a joint communique in Beijing Tuesday on the establishment of diplomatic relations. The communique was signed by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas. "The Government of the Dominican Republic recognizes that there is but one China in the world, that the Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory," according to the communique. "Hence the Government of the Dominican Republic severs 'diplomatic relations' with Taiwan as of this day," the communique said. According to the communique, the People's Republic of China and the Dominican Republic, in keeping with the interests and desire of the two peoples, have decided to recognize each other and establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level effective from the date of signature of the communique. "The two governments agree to develop friendly relations between the two countries on the basis of the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence," the communique said. Adhering to the one-China principle is a universally recognized international norm and the consensus of the international community, as well as the fundamental prerequisite and political foundation for China to establish and develop relations with any country, Wang said. The Dominican Republic has resolutely decided to recognize and make a commitment to abiding by the one-China principle, and to establish diplomatic ties with China without any preconditions, according to Wang. "This important and correct decision made by the Dominican Republic is fully in line with the fundamental interests of the country and its people,with the trend of the history and times, as well as with the international law and the basic norms of international relations. We highly appreciate that," Wang said. Vargas said that it is a correct and important step forward for the Dominican Republic to forge diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China, and the Dominican Republic is now standing with the other 175 countries that support the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. The Dominican Republic has cut its so-called "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan, and it will no longer have any official relations or any official exchanges with Taiwan in any form, he pledged. The establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries opens a new chapter of bilateral ties, Wang said, noting that both sides will promote South-South cooperation and maintain the common interests of developing countries. Establishing diplomatic ties with China brings the Dominican Republic great opportunities and will benefit the people of the Dominican Republic, Wang said. As an important economic entity in the Caribbean region, the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Dominican Republic will inject new impetus into China-Latin America cooperation, Wang said. The Dominican Republic appreciates China's important role in international and regional affairs, Vargas said, noting that his country will have close multilateral coordination with China. Vargas said the Dominican Republic is willing to work with China to enhance political trust, strengthen exchanges at various levels and carry out cooperation in trade, investment, tourism and education. ^ top ^

Chinese premier to visit Indonesia, Japan, attend China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will pay official visits to Indonesia and Japan, and attend the 7th China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting in Japan from May 6 to 11, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Tuesday. Li will make the visits at the invitation of Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Hua said. ^ top ^

Leaders of South Korea, Japan and China to meet and discuss North Korea (SCMP)
Leaders of South Korea, Japan and China will meet next week for a summit meeting expected to focus on North Korea's nuclear programme and other regional issues. The three Asian countries have been holding regular trilateral summits since late 2008. Next week's session, the seventh, comes amid a flurry of high-profile diplomatic meetings aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons. Last week, the leaders of North and South Korea met at a border village and agreed on a number of steps aimed at reconciliation. Their summit, however, did not produce a breakthrough in the North Korean nuclear issue. South Korean President Moon Jae-in will attend next Wednesday's meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, South Korea's presidential office said Tuesday. The Japanese government confirmed the meeting. Moon's office said he would brief Abe and Li about the results of his meetings with Kim. It said that Moon also plans to discuss ways to boost three-way cooperation toward achieving denuclearisation and permanent peace on the Korean peninsula. Why Korean denuclearisation could hang on question of trust South Korea, Japan and China are closely linked economically. But anti-Japanese sentiment still runs deep in South Korea and China because of territorial and historical disputes dating back to Tokyo's colonisation of the Korean peninsula and invasion of China in the first half of the 20th century. Further complicating their relations, Seoul and Tokyo are key US allies, while Beijing is North Korea's last major ally. ^ top ^

Chinese dress at US prom wins support in China after internet backlash (SCMP)
An American teenager has received support from internet users in China after being criticised for wearing a traditional Chinese dress to her school prom. Keziah Daum, an 18-year-old from Utah in the United States, who has no Chinese roots, was accused of "cultural appropriation" after posting photographs on Twitter that featured her in a traditional Chinese qipao, or cheongsam. The dress symbolised a silent protest to promote gender equality after the fall of the dynasties and the beginning of the republican period in the early 1900s, and was worn during the 1919 reformist May Fourth Movement. Daum has stood by her decision to wear the dress, which was red and embroidered with gold and black, and told the South China Morning Post it projected a "wonderful message". She has not deleted her original April 22 post. She was not aware of the dress' history before buying it at a vintage shop in Salt Lake City, she said in an email, but "simply found a beautiful, modest gown and chose to wear it". "One person commented it represented female empowerment," she wrote. "If that is the case, then it is a wonderful message for any young woman my age to learn, regardless of culture and background. "I posted photos for my friends to see. I never imagined it would go so far. "I am sorry if anyone was offended. That was never my intention. I am grateful I was able to wear such a beautiful dress." One Twitter user, Jeremy Lam, had written: "My culture is not your... prom dress." The tweet generated more than 40,000 retweets, nearly 180,000 likes and thousands of comments on the social media platform. […] With the recent promotion of traditional Chinese culture, the dress now embodies the idea of being ethnically Chinese. Peng Liyuan, China's first lady and wife of President Xi Jinping, has worn a qipao several times on foreign visits. ^ top ^

New Zealand releases report on Belt and Road opportunities (China Daily)
The New Zealand China Council on Tuesday released a report here on the opportunities New Zealand could face under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. The report, intended to be a first step in helping to shape New Zealand's engagement with the initiative, shows that opportunities exist for New Zealand to engage and enhance existing linkages not only with China, but also with other countries along the Belt and Road routes. "Choosing not to engage will not only be a missed opportunity but also mean these opportunities are available for other countries to explore and realize the benefits. Other countries will take up these opportunities if New Zealand does not engage, thereby eroding our preferential position in the Chinese market," the report says. "New Zealand has a number of comparative advantages that give us the opportunity to offer a meaningful and mutually beneficial proposition to China," said Don McKinnon, chair of the government-funded New Zealand China Council, which was established in 2012. The report tries to take "a fresh, innovative and practical approach" to the prospects for cooperation under the initiative, with a focus in particular on opportunities to create greater connectivity between New Zealand, China and other Belt and Road participants, he said. ^ top ^

China, UAE vow to boost strategic partnership (Xinhua)
Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping's special representative Yang Jiechi on Monday held talks with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, vowing to boost strategic partnership. Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, extended Xi's warm greetings to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the crown prince. Yang said that China pays great attention to its ties with the UAE, and has always regarded the UAE as a diplomatic priority in the Middle East. The two countries have developed sound relations, deepened political mutual trust, and witnessed significant results through cooperation, Yang said. "China is willing to further enhance pragmatic cooperation in all fields with the UAE, increase people-to-people exchanges, and boost strategic partnership to make greater achievements in developing the bilateral ties in the new era," he said. China is also willing to integrate the Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of the UAE, said Yang. He expressed the belief that the bilateral cooperation will be reinforced in co-building the initiative to benefit both peoples, as a result of the efforts exerted by the leaders of the two countries. Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road. The crown prince asked Yang to convey warm greetings to President Xi from the UAE president and himself. The UAE admires China's achievements in development and cherishes its unique friendship with China, he said. "The UAE is willing to increase communication and coordination with China, implement the consensus reached by the leaders of both sides, and deepen cooperation in all fields to uplift the bilateral relations to a higher level," the crown prince added. Yang also met with UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. ^ top ^

People-to-people exchanges vital for strengthening U.S.-China ties (Xinhua)
Peopel-to-people exchanges are vital for strengthening U.S.-China ties, withstanding stormy weather from economic rivalry to geopolitical tensions. This is a central message echoed by hundreds of scholars and business leaders from both the United States and China, who gathered over the weekend at Yale University to explore cooperative opportunities between the two largest economies in the world. With panels on macro economy, urbanization, healthcare, fintech, art and culture, the 2018 Yale U.S.-China Forum, held at Yale School of Management (SOM) on Saturday and Yale Club of New York City on Sunday, discussed China's recent emphasis on global connectivity and "shared growth through collaboration" by probing key issues related to this year's theme, The China Accelerator for World Development. "The United States is the most powerful country in the world and China is a growing power, both countries need to find a good way to accommodate (bilateral relationship) so that no further tension would go forward," Pericles Lewis, vice president for Global Strategy of the Yale University, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the forum. "Educational exchange is positive since learning more about each other's culture will enhance friendship," he said. Yale has about 800 Chinese students studying various subjects, accounting for the largest number of international students in the university, he said, adding that the university welcomed more Chinese students. "Today there may be some disputes on trade matters, but in the long run this will lead to closer and more friendly relations," Lewis said. Yale boasts a long history of connection with China. In 1835, Peter Parker, a Yale graduate opened a hospital in China and became the first western doctor to introduce modern anesthesia to China. In 1854, Yung Wing, who graduated from Yale, was also the first Chinese student to earn a degree from an American college or university. "The relationship between the two countries has gone through ups and downs over the past 150 years or so, but the continuous exchanges between the two peoples are central," said Lewis. In the 2016-2017 academic year, more than 350,000 Chinese students studied in the United States, according to the latest figure released by Project Atlas, a global research initiative on students mobility. The number saw a 15 percent increase year on year. Meanwhile, China ranked top two among the destinations most preferred by the U.S. outbound students, the data showed. The U.S. and Chinese students and young professionals can play an important role in helping expand cultural engagement between the two countries, said Zhuo Zihan, president of the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Yale (ACSSY). As growing numbers of Chinese and American youth study in each other's countries, learn each other's languages and cultures, they will more readily find common ground and manage differences when they assume leadership positions in the future, said Zhuo. […] The two-day event also featured renowned speakers from various industries Yuqiang Xiao, Chairman of ICBC U.S. Management Committee, Victor Wang, Co-Founder of Zhen Fund, Raymond Chang, managing director of NXT venture fund, Zhang Weiwei, author of "The China Wave" and distinguished professor of international relations and Director of the China Institute at Fudan University, Victor Yuan, founder and Chairman of Dataway Horizon, China's leading organization in data intelligence and public policy polling. One of the other highlights for the forum is the art panel where several prestigious artists from China, including master painter Jiyuan Wan and Zikang Zhang, director of the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum were invited. ^ top ^

US Treasury Chief Steven Mnuchin 'cautiously optimistic' ahead of China trade talks (SCMP)
American and Chinese officials will hold highly anticipated trade talks in China on Thursday and Friday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business Network, saying he was "cautiously optimistic" about the meeting. Mnuchin said in the interview that aired on Monday that American officials planned to raise intellectual property rights, joint technology and joint ventures with Chinese officials. "We're looking to have a very frank discussion on trade, on the issues of the trade imbalance," he said. China has said it is open to trade negotiations with the US after President Donald Trump proposed imposing tariffs on US$50 billion in Chinese exports and threatened additional tariffs on US$100 billion of goods. China, in response, said it will impose its own tariffs on American products. Asked about concerns over possible retaliatory measures by China, Mnuchin said: "It's not a worry of mine," adding that Trump was focused on "free and fair and reciprocal trade." The Treasury Secretary, who told the network that Chinese vice-premier Liu He would take part in the meeting, will by joined on the high-stakes visit by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Mnuchin added that Trump has not yet made a decision on whether any countries should get extended exemptions on steel and aluminium tariffs. "The president has not made any decision yet," Mnuchin said ahead of Tuesday's tariff deadline. Trump imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium in March, but granted temporary exemptions to certain countries. Those exemptions will expire on Tuesday. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview with Bloomberg published on Sunday that the White House would continue to grant some countries relief from the metal tariffs, although he declined to name the nations. Ross also indicated that the White House had asked countries to accept import quotas in return for exemptions from the tariffs. ^ top ^

China, Kuwait pledge to deepen cooperation, seek common development (Xinhua)
Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping's special representative Yang Jiechi on Sunday held talks with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, pledging to deepen bilateral cooperation in all fields. Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, extended Xi's sincere greetings and good wishes to the Kuwaiti emir. The two countries have always supported each other and are good friends and partners, since the establishment of the diplomatic relations 47 years ago, Yang said. "China is willing to work with Kuwait to further consolidate political mutual trust, strengthen high-level communication, deepen practical cooperation, reinforce complementary advantages and boost common development to uplift the bilateral ties to a higher level," he said. Kuwait was among the first countries to sign a cooperation deal with China under the Belt and Road Initiative and China regards Kuwait as an important partner in co-building the initiative in the Gulf region, Yang said. Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road. The Belt and Road Initiative and Kuwait 2035 Vision highly correspond with each other and China is willing to cooperate with Kuwait to jointly push forward the project called "Silk City and Five Islands," Yang said. The Kuwaiti emir asked Yang to convey his warm greetings and good wishes to Xi. Kuwait regards China as a trustworthy strategic partner, said the emir, expressing his hope for building a long-term and stable partnership with China. Kuwait is willing to deepen cooperation with China in all fields, positively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, and integrate the "Silk City and Five Islands" project with the initiative, he said. The Kuwaiti leader added that Kuwait highly regards China's international status and its role in world affairs, and is willing to enhance the bilateral cooperation and coordination on major global issues to preserve regional and international peace and stability. Yang also met with Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China launches new communication satellite (Xinhua)
China launched a new communication satellite "APSTAR-6C" at 12:06 a.m. Friday at the southwestern Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The satellite was sent into orbit by the Long March-3B carrier rocket. This was the 273rd mission of the Long March rocket series. Both the satellite and the rocket were developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The user of the satellite is Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Co. Ltd. The satellite will provide TV transmission, communication, Internet and multimedia services to customers across the Asia-Pacific region. ^ top ^

China's environment watchdog talks with local officials on air pollution (Xinhua)
China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) held talks on Thursday with leading government officials in three cities in north China that failed to meet air improvement targets. Liu Changgen, deputy director of the national environmental inspection office, held talks with government officials of the cities of Jincheng and Yangquan in Shanxi Province and Handan city in Hebei Province. The inspection team found many problems of air pollution in those cities, Liu said, adding that shortcomings still exist despite tough air-cleaning measures taken by local authorities in winter. The three cities remained at the bottom of the rankings for meeting air improvement targets in 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. The ministry also suspended environment impact assessments (EIA) for new projects in those cities. ^ top ^

China to continue crackdown on rural gangsters (Xinhua)
China will continue cracking down on rural gangsters who manipulate village elections, encroach upon collective assets and terrorize the countryside, a ministry spokesperson said Wednesday. "For civil affairs departments, the focus of the anti-crime campaign remains in rural areas where villagers autonomously run village affairs," said the spokesperson for the Ministry of Civil Affairs. "The crackdown targets gangsters who manipulate village elections, enter village committees or put their proxies on the committees instead. It is forbidden for gangsters to interfere with village affairs, monopolize rural resources, encroach upon collective assets, or use family or clan influence to terrorize the countryside and bully fellow villagers," the spokesperson said. "At present, most village committees are good. Only a tiny number are related to gangs," the spokesperson said, adding that enhanced oversight and more checks would be enforced to root out rural gangsters. ^ top ^

'Historic moment': China's #MeToo activists use blockchain to skirt censors (HKFP)
Attempts to silence a student who drew attention to sexual abuse allegations at a Chinese university have inspired tech-savvy activists to use blockchain technology to dodge censors and keep the fledgling #MeToo movement alive. The uproar began when a student wrote an open letter this week accusing a staff member at Peking University of trying to intimidate her over a petition she launched urging the school to make public an investigation into a 1998 sexual abuse case. The student's missive was quickly taken down from Chinese social media after it went viral, only to resurface on the blockchain service Ethereum on Monday night, attracting hundreds of comments that are virtually unassailable. "This is how we use technology to (fight) against brutal tyranny," said one commenter, while others hailed it as a "historic moment". The #MeToo movement has been concentrated in university campuses in China, and the authorities have tolerated some social media commentary about sexual harassment allegations in recent months. But the furore over the Peking University case appears to have been too much for censors. A search for the student's name on the popular Weibo microblogging platform yields no results. Yue Xin, a foreign languages student, co-authored a petition with around 20 others demanding the university release details of the probe into allegations a student was driven to suicide after being sexually abused by a professor. The professor, who now teaches at Nanjing University in eastern China, was suspended pending the investigation after the allegations emerged earlier this month. In her open letter, Yue said a student adviser came to her dorm at about 1:00 am (1700 GMT Saturday) on Sunday, with Yue's "terrified" mother in tow, and demanded she delete all information related to the petition from her phone and laptop. ^ top ^

'There is nothing I fear now': Liu Xia, detained widow of Liu Xiaobo, tells exiled friend she is ready to 'die at home' in protest (SCMP)
Liu Xia, widow of dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, says she is ready to "die at home" in protest after being kept under house arrest for years and unable to leave China, according to her friend and exiled Chinese writer Liao Yiwu. Liao, who lives in Berlin, wrote in an open letter on Monday that Liu Xia had told him this during a phone conversation that day. The letter was published on Wednesday by US-based human rights website China Change, which also carried an audio recording of an earlier phone conversation between Liao and Liu from April 8. "There is nothing I fear now. If I can't leave, I'll just die at home. Xiaobo has already left, there is nothing in this world for me. Dying is easier than living – there is nothing simpler for me than to protest with death," Liao quoted Liu as saying during the phone call on Monday. The exiled writer said he was shocked by Liu's reaction, and the phone call prompted him to release a recording of their earlier conversation, with her consent. Last week, German ambassador to China Michael Clauss and the US renewed calls for Liu to be released from house arrest and allowed to travel overseas, as hopes fade that she will be able to leave. Liu, a 57-year-old poet, painter and photographer, has been under house arrest since 2010, but has never been charged with any offence by the Chinese authorities. Overseas appeals for her release peaked in July last year after her husband died of liver cancer in custody. In the audio clip of her phone call with Liao from April 8, Liu is emotional and can be heard crying. She tells Liao she is ready to leave China and already has her bags packed. He plays her a Jewish folk song from the second world war, Dona, Dona by Aaron Zeitlin, down the line and calls out her name when it finishes. Liao said on Wednesday that he released the audio recording because he wanted the world to hear Liu's distress. "German Chancellor [Angela] Merkel is coming [to China] soon. We want as many organisations and individuals to hear Liu Xia's own voice," Liao said. He said Liu told him on Monday that the Chinese government had repeatedly promised that "she would be allowed to leave but there has been no progress, only stalling". "We have kept quiet for too long, so this time we must achieve our goal [to secure Liu's release]," Liao said. Liu Xiaobo died aged 61 in a Liaoning hospital on July 13, becoming the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1938. He was awarded the prize in 2010 while in jail and was represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo. The human rights activist was jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges after co-authoring a petition known as Charter 08 calling for sweeping political reforms in China. Liu Xia's friends have said she has been cut off from the outside world since her husband's death, and is taking medication for depression. ^ top ^

Beijing explores energy-rich area of South China Sea where 'flammable ice' – a potential new gas source – is found (SCMP)
China has carried out deepwater exploration in an energy-rich area of the disputed South China Sea, its minerals research agency said on Wednesday. Two of the country's latest underwater vessels – which can dive to a depth of 4,500m – were used for the three-day mission last weekend, carrying out scientific research at an ocean site west of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. The area, dubbed "Seahorse Cold Seep" by Beijing, is the location of China's first find of active methane hydrates, an energy resource, in the South China Sea, discovered during exploration in 2015. Also called "flammable ice", methane hydrates have been identified as a potential new natural gas source for China, which still imports the majority of its energy. The Seahorse remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) took samples from the ocean floor area, or cold seep, with methane drillers and detectors, and also used sonars and scanning equipment during the exploration, the China Geological Survey said. Its newest manned submersible, Shenhai Yongshi, meanwhile mapped out the distribution of the cold seep and the area's geography, the government agency said. "We have found that there are a lot of methane bubbles from this South China Sea area," Chen Zongheng, an ROV expert with the China Geological Survey, was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV. China's territorial claims to most of the strategic South China Sea overlap with those of the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia. The country has been actively developing its drilling techniques to get access to some of the world's most promising oil and gas deposits in the resource-rich waterway. As well as marine scientific research, Beijing has also been building up its naval and coastguard presence in the contested waters, building artificial islands and has imposed unilateral fishing moratoriums. Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said China was trying to make use of its technology to get the advantage in resource exploration over its rivals in the South China Sea. "There are certainly commercial, economic and military benefits that can be derived from these [scientific expeditions]," Koh said, adding that they could be interpreted in various ways, "including allegations of military muscle-flexing". "More pertinently, these activities are broadly also interpreted as part of the larger schema of Beijing's quest to dominate the South China Sea," he said. Koh said that with Beijing expected to continue investing in marine scientific research, other Southeast Asian states would find it difficult to catch up because they lacked funding, assets and expertise. He added that while militarisation in the South China Sea tended to get attention, marine scientific research activities helped to "further one's claim to a disputed area". "In the absence of an officially outlined South China Sea strategy, we can piece together what China has been doing thus far... These all contribute towards the broader aims of not just enhancing China's maritime power stature, but give it the necessary strategic leverage or even bargaining chips to handle the disputes," he said.  ^ top ^

Government moves to clean up internet content (China Daily)
Social networking and streaming sites are coming under greater scrutiny and regulation. The government is working to eradicate inappropriate content on the internet to ensure that the web remains free from obscenity and violent imagery, and to promote a healthy culture online. Last month, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the national cyberspace regulator, ordered online news aggregator Toutiao and Kuaishou, a site that shares videos lasting about 60 seconds, to remove obscene and violent content and to close all accounts that uploaded such content. The administration also closed about 5,000 livestreaming accounts hosted by minors-people younger than 18-and deleted about 300,000 video clips aired by livestreaming youngsters. The move was aimed at closing loopholes in the operation of some online services, which have been criticized for attracting viewers without regard for rules or morality. Recently, Kuaishou and Huoshan, a short-video application affiliated to Toutiao, have been widely criticized for allowing minors to spread "harmful" content. Videos of pregnant teenagers or teenage mothers -usually unmarried and ages 13 to 18 -appeared on the sites, describing their pregnancies or their lives as young mothers, and were forwarded to other sites in an effort to gain traffic and followers. That's despite the fact that sexual activity with people ages 14 or younger is defined as rape in China, while the legal age for female marriage is 20. Moreover, being a single mother does not accord with traditional values. Senior executives at both companies pledged to close all livestreaming accounts hosted by minors within five days, intensify regulation of content and alter the values used to set the algorithms that decide which content should be promoted to users. ^ top ^

Latest HPV vaccine OK for import to mainland (China Daily)
People will no longer need to go to HK or elsewhere for treatment Residents of the Chinese mainland now have access to a nine-way HPV vaccine -which works against up to nine types of HPV -after the medication was given the nod by China's top drug administration on Saturday. It is the third HPV vaccine approved for the mainland market since the middle of last year. Such vaccines have proved effective against cervical cancer, the second-most common cancer among Chinese women aged 15 to 44, after breast cancer. Experts say China has around 130,000 new cases of cervical cancer each year, accounting for more than 28 percent of the world total. Although HPV vaccines were approved in foreign markets a decade ago, China did not introduce the vaccine until July, when a two-way HPV vaccine was approved for the mainland market. A more powerful four-way vaccine followed in March. HPV, or human papillomavirus, is common, but most people with the virus never develop symptoms or health problems. Most HPV infections go away by themselves within two years, according to experts. But sometimes infections last longer and can cause certain cancers and other diseases. In most cases, HPV spreads via unprotected sex while timely treatment enabled by regular HPV screening works to clear the infection and helps avoid development of cervical cancer. Before the availability of vaccines on the mainland, people had to travel to other countries or to Hong Kong to get the vaccine, which is injected in three separate doses over a span of six months. During an inspection in Shanghai in April, Premier Li Keqiang urged drug authorities to speed up approval of HPV vaccines after learning that large numbers of mainland residents travel to Hong Kong for them. The nine-way version was approved for clinical trials late last year. On Saturday, the China Drug Administration-part of the newly created State Administration for Market Regulation-approved it for market. "The move helps meet the public need for such vaccines and provides a new and effective means of preventing cervical cancer," the administration said in a statement. The latest vaccine helps females between 16 and 26 prevent HPV-related diseases, including cervical, vulval and vaginal cancers, the administration said. HPV vaccines are most effective in people who have not been exposed to the virus, whether through sexual behavior or other means. The recommended age range for vaccination in the US is 9 to 26. In China, the two-way vaccine is recommended for women between 9 and 25. Its four-way counterpart is recommended for women 20 to 45. Australia-the first country to offer free HPV vaccinations for 12-and 13-year-old girls, and catch-up programs for girls and women under 26-has seen a sharp decline in HPV infections since the introduction of a national school-based vaccination program in 2007. Within a decade, the proportion of 18-to 24-year-old women with HPV in the country has fallen from 22.7 percent to 1.5 percent. ^ top ^

Chinese crane operators protest for better pay, working conditions (Global Times)
Crane operators protested across China during Labor Day demanding better pay and an eight-hour working day, some told the Global Times on Tuesday. "The protest, involving about 20-30 operators from different private companies, has been going about a week with no result," a crane operator in the city of Anji, East China's Zhejiang Province, told the Global Times. He did not give his full name. "The drivers are 24 hours on call with a monthly salary as low as 4,000 yuan ($611), and they have nowhere to live but a large, poor container on the construction site," another operator from Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, who asked to be named "Jack Li," told the Global Times on Tuesday. The job was "high risk," Li said. "What the drivers are asking for is a monthly salary of at least 7,000 yuan and normal working hours." Phone calls to the company where Li works went unanswered. Photos of similar protests and strikes allegedly held in other regions including Shijiazhuang, the city of Zhumadian in Central China's Henan Province, Yuncheng in North China's Shanxi Province and East China's Jiangxi Province are circulating on social media. The police department of Shijiazhuang denied there was any protest, while police departments in other cities could not be reached for comment. "There are at least 10,000 crane operators in Chengdu appealing for a salary raise," Li said. Chinese labor laws have no clause stipulating whether or not a strike is legal, making it difficult for labor arbitration commissions and courts to judge, legal experts said. China since March has been encouraging more truck drivers, delivery persons, nurses and security guards, who are mostly migrant workers, to join the All-China Federation of Trade Unions and so better protect their rights and interests, news site reported in April. As of September, the federation had about 303 million members, of whom 140 million were migrant workers, China Central Television reported in January. ^ top ^

China simplifies passport application procedures for citizens (China Daily)
Chinese citizens will no longer need to make multiple trips to apply for passports and other travel documents starting May 1. They can make appointments with the immigration administration online for the application, and only need to make one trip to the administration to complete the application process, according to the policy announced by the State Immigration Administration (SIA). It will take about 20 days for citizens to apply for a passport in places where they are not registered as permanent residents, a 10-day improvement over the current process, according to the SIA document. Immigration administrations will offer speedy service to those who urgently need travel documents. They will work on Saturdays and extra hours before busy holidays and travel seasons. The policy is aimed at meeting the increasing demand for international travel among Chinese people. ^ top ^

Detained Chinese human rights lawyer: 'I will never accept' government attorney (SCMP)
A detained Chinese human rights lawyer said he would never agree to be represented by a government-appointed attorney, in a video statement recorded months before his arrest and released on Wednesday. Supporters of Yu Wensheng released the video after his wife was notified by authorities last week that Yu had dismissed the two lawyers he hired. In the video, Yu says: "I will never accept a lawyer appointed by the authorities, unless I am tortured," before adding that he would accept a lawyer chosen by his wife. But his wife, Xu Yan, said police last week handed her a written statement from Yu saying he had fired his lawyers and would not allow her to appoint a lawyer on his behalf. Xu said she feared that her husband wrote the statement under duress. Yu was transferred to a pre-trial detention centre in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province on Friday. Yu, 51, represented fellow attorney Wang Quanzhang, who was detained when more than 300 rights lawyers and activists were rounded up in July 2015. Wang is believed to be the last lawyer swept up in the "709" crackdown in custody still without trial. Yu was detained in January and disbarred. He was officially arrested on subversion charges last week. His wife said she was now worried about how he was being treated. "He has a strong mind. He didn't leave any type of statement before he was arrested and tortured the last time [in 2014] for supporting Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement," Xu said. "He told me after he was released that he would be much stronger the next time he was arrested... I'm very worried about his situation in the detention centre." It is not uncommon for Chinese human rights activists to record pre-emptive video statements when they believe they are in danger during a crackdown. After being released, some activists have said they were forced to make statements on state television before their trial, and to accept representation by lawyers arranged by the authorities. Yu's statement announcing he had dismissed his attorneys was also not unusual, according to his friend and another lawyer, Liang Xiaojun. "This was very common during the 709 crackdown," Liang said. "I don't think it's legal because bringing in these government-approved lawyers goes against the will of the defendants." Yu was granted a video call with his wife last week, and she said the time in custody appeared to be taking its toll. "He's lost a lot of weight and his hair was long and in a mess," Xu said. "We weren't allowed to talk about much, but he told me several times that he was not free and couldn't do anything." Yu has been a persistent voice for reform in China, despite the country's sweeping and increasingly severe crackdown on civil society under President Xi Jinping. He has said that the authorities imprisoned and tortured him for 99 days in 2014 for allegedly "disturbing public order". Yu was one of six lawyers who attempted to sue the Chinese government last year over the country's chronic smog. ^ top ^

Law to protect heroes' honor to take effect May 1 (Global Times)
A law to protect the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs will take effect on May 1. The law was adopted at the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Friday. The country and the people should forever respect and remember the heroes and martyrs for their sacrifice and contribution to the Chinese nation and the people, according to the law. The law, which promotes patriotism and socialist core values, bans activities that defame heroes and martyrs or distort and diminish their deeds. It stresses that those who violate their rights of name, portrait, reputation, and honor will be punished. It also outlaws acts that glorify invasions, with offenders facing administrative or criminal punishments according to the severity of their actions. With the new law, the public will have a clearer understanding of what kind of behavior is not tolerated and what the consequences will be, and the government will have clear rules to follow when exercising their duty, said Xiong Wenzhao, a law professor at Minzu University of China and expert with the China Law Society. The law includes content on the protection of memorials of heroes and martyrs, and publicity and education about them and their deeds. A few recent incidents in which young people dressed in Japanese WWII army uniforms and spread photos online to glorify the war have provoked outrage among Chinese. In another incident earlier this year, two young men were held by police after posing in front of ruins in Nanjing, dressed in the uniforms of Japanese invaders and holding "army weapons." Nanjing is the site of the Nanjing Massacre. Japanese troops captured the city on Dec 13, 1937. Over six weeks, they killed 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers. "The new law encourages patriotic publicity and sends a loud warning against wrong behavior," said Zhang Jianjun, curator of the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders. Works of art involving national heroes and martyrs should also be based on historical facts and show respect, rather than mocking or excessively romanticizing them, said Wang Xingdong, a renowned screenwriter. Besides allowing family members of heroes and martyrs to file lawsuits, the law also entrusts prosecutors to file public interest litigation cases against activities defaming heroes and martyrs. "Defaming national heroes is in fact undermining the national spirit embodied by these heroes," Xiong said. "The state has the responsibility to protect the rights and interests of these heroes and the public interest behind them." ^ top ^

More students from Belt & Road countries study in China (China Daily)
China saw an increase in the number of international students from countries covered by the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative last year, said the Ministry of Education Monday. A total of 317,200 students from B&R countries studied in China in 2017, up 11.58 percent over 2016, accounting for 64.85 percent of the total international students in China, said a ministry statement. About 490,000 foreigners from 204 countries and regions studied in China in 2017, more than any other country in Asia. Some Chinese universities have launched programs inspired by the B&R Initiative to attract students from countries covered by it. Renmin University of China, for instance, established a new college, named after the Silk Road, earlier this month on the campus in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou. The college will formally open in September, offering a two-year postgraduate program on contemporary Chinese studies. It will provide full scholarships for international students. Six other universities also signed an agreement with the Belt and Road Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission to enroll more international students from B&R countries. ^ top ^



Beijing bans collecting religious belief, genetic details in new public credit info rules (Global Times)
Beijing has released rules on the management of public credit information, saying that individuals who have a bad credit record would not get promoted, and that departments are banned from collecting an individual's religious and genetic information. The Beijing Municipal Government issued a document on the management of public credit information on Thursday, which manages the administrative departments' collection, use and publishing of credit information, Legal Mirror reported on Thursday. This includes the basic information of companies and individuals, and good and bad credit records. The records should be used as a reference in activities, including applying for national subsidies for research programs, employment and professional ranking. Organizations and individuals who provide fake information, break their written commitment to administration departments or receive administrative penalties will be considered a bad record, the document says. Organizations which have been held accountable in cases involving environmental pollution, food safety and quality problems would be tagged with bad records. The document has been implemented starting May. Individuals with bad records can not be promoted as a legal representative, senior manager or executive. And organizations with a bad record will undergo frequent checks from authorities and may face limitations in activities, including government procurement and State-owned land use transfers. "Connecting individual credit to social benefits is necessary to enhance people's appreciation of their credit ratings," Wang Zhenyu, a fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times. "And it was published in a timely manner when the internet and big data are widely used, wherein private credit information could easily be obtained by organizations and the government," Wang noted. The regulation specified individual information that can be collected, such as name, ID card number, educational background and employment information. Private information such as religious belief, genetic information, fingerprint, blood type and medical history is forbidden for credit record use, according to the regulation. "This is a step forward in private information protection. Information such as religious belief and fingerprint are very private and have nothing to do with credit ratings, and should be protected," Wang said. A previous regulation published in 2002, which set rules based solely on business credit, was abolished. The old regulation did not include provisions on private credit information or its protection, according to a release from Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-rural development. "Detailed regulations protecting private information should also be provided, such as identifying parties responsible for preventing the release of certain pieces of information," Wang suggested. Similar programs have been piloted in other provinces such as East China's Shandong Province, North China's Hebei Province and Shanxi Province. ^ top ^



China opposes US resolution on Tibet issue (China Daily)
China on Friday expressed opposition to a U.S. Senate resolution on the reincarnation of Dalai Lama, saying it has interfering in China's internal affairs. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks at a daily press briefing in response to a question regarding Tibet issue and China's human rights. The U.S. Senate on Thursday agreed to a resolution which claimed that the responsibility for identifying a future 15th Dalai Lama only rest with officials of the 14th Dalai Lama's private office and any interference from the Chinese government is invalid. "The resolution reflects that some people in the United States have always been inexplicably ignorant and arrogant," Hua said. It is known to all that the reincarnation of a living Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism is a unique inheritance system that has a history of hundreds of years, and follows an integrated religious rituals and historical conventions, said Hua, emphasizing that a living Buddha's reincarnation should follow those rituals, conventions and China's laws and regulations and should not be interfered by anybody or any foreign country. "The U.S. congressmen and officials should had focused on serving their own people, however, it's a pity that they have always selectively ignored the problems they face at home and expressed unusual enthusiasm for meddling in other country's domestic affairs," Hua said. As for the human rights issue, the U.S. State Department recently issued the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017, criticizing China's human rights condition and ethnic issues. "The United States faces many problems at home," said Hua. Citing the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2017 released by the Information Office of the State Council, she said systematic racial discrimination has intensified social split in the United States. China urges the relevant people in the United States to properly handle their own problems before irresponsibly criticizing other countries, Hua said. ^ top ^



Xinjiang cities deepen cooperation in inland port construction (Xinhua)
Eight cities in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region signed an agreement to deepen the cooperation in construction of inland ports Saturday. According to the agreement, the cities including Urumqi, Kashgar, Horgos and Alashankou established a union of international inland ports under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, aiming to deepen the cooperation in policies, logistics, industries and trade. As an important link of the Silk Road Economic Belt, Xinjiang is speeding up the development of transportation, logistics, finance, and medical services to connect east and west. Xinjiang aims to build an inland ports network that reaches a larger area with Urumqi as its core, said the city government. ^ top ^



Hong Kong's land shortage worse than predicted, officials say (SCMP)
Hong Kong's land shortage over the next three decades will be even worse than previously thought, government officials said on Thursday. The Development Bureau and Planning Department said the current predicted shortfall of 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) was the baseline estimate and did not take into account a number of factors. "Our estimate was based on the best information given at the time when we were preparing the 2030 Plus blueprint in 2015 and 2016," a Planning Department spokeswoman said, referring to the blueprint that outlines the city's planning and development strategy beyond 2030. "It does not include any of the government's newest policies or areas still under study, as well as land demands such as those in the hotel and retail sectors, which tend to fluctuate with the market. There's no way for us to accurately project those figures, but we can imagine that we will only need more land and not less," she said. According to the government's planning blueprint for the next 30 years, Hong Kong requires 4,800 hectares of land. Authorities have already identified 3,600 hectares of land, which means the city faces a shortfall of 1,200 hectares – equivalent to 342 Taikoo Shing estates. Of the 1,200-hectare shortfall, some 230 hectares were allocated for housing, 720 hectares for government, institutional and community facilities and transport infrastructure, and 256 hectares for economic needs, such as offices and commercial and industrial space. Both the Task Force on Land Supply, a government-appointed committee, and experts have criticised the government for underestimating the shortage as they do not take into account extra demand for health facilities for the city's ageing population and bigger flats to improve quality of life. A Development Bureau spokeswoman said it was revising its figures and that they would be ready by the end of the year, but did not specify how much worse the shortage would be as that was still being calculated. The bureau spokeswoman agreed with the task force, which said that the estimates fell on the conservative side. "Their conclusions are reasonable," she said. "If the demand increases, and if on the supply side new development area projects are delayed, then the shortage could be more than 1,200 hectares," she said. The Our Hong Kong Foundation, a think tank founded by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, estimated that Hong Kong would need 9,000 hectares over the next 30 years, instead of the planned 4,800, if the numbers account for increasing per-capita living space as well as the need for other facilities. However, Chan Kim-ching, founder of non-governmental group Liber Research Community, said he believed the government had instead overestimated the demand for land. Citing the government's long-term blueprint, Chan said the estimation was based on a population of 9 million with a lower-than-usual development density. But he said the Census and Statistics Department projected the city's population would peak at 8.2 million in 2043 and then drop to 7.7 million by 2066. "If they call this an underestimate, it seems to me like they want the public to think that there is not enough land and we should find more land," he said. He added that more land did not mean Hongkongers could live in bigger spaces, as long as the government still approves the construction of the city's notorious nano flats or micro flats. ^ top ^

9 found guilty of rioting in massive HK unrest (China Daily)
Nine people were convicted of rioting during Hong Kong's Mong Kok riot on Lunar New Year's Eve in 2016, in which 130 people were injured, including 90 police officers. All the guilty have been remanded into custody. Magistrate Kwok Wai-kin adjourned sentencing to May 23, in order to obtain reports from training center, detention center and community services authorities. Among the 11 defendants, whose ages ranged from 18 to 71, one absconded to Taiwan, and another defendant pleaded guilty and was released on bail till sentencing. The remaining nine defendants, who pleaded not guilty, were convicted of the offence of rioting. According to Hong Kong's laws, rioting carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment. The Mong Kok unrest saw hundreds of masked protesters hurl bricks pried from the pavement and set fires in rubbish bins on the roadside. About 70 people were arrested in relation to the disturbances. ^ top ^

China removes import tariffs on all cancer drugs (Xinhua)
China on Tuesday has exempted import tariffs on all common drugs including cancer drugs, cancer alkaloid-based drugs, and imported traditional Chinese medicine. Value-added tax on the production and import of drugs will also drop. It is estimated that the policies will lower drug prices by at least 20 percent, said Shi Luwen, director of the international research center on medicine management at Peking University. The measures will significantly enhance the availability of the drugs, reduce the burden on patients' families, and will help prevent poverty caused by illness, he said. According to the national cancer institute, the market for antineoplastic drugs, used to fight tumors, in China exceeds 120 billion yuan (about 19.1 billion U.S. dollars). The Chinese government has been trying to ease the financial burden of patients and their families in recent years. Since 2016, the government has reached agreements with pharmaceutical companies on the prices of 39 drugs -- including 17 cancer medicines -- on the medical insurance list, said Yu Jingjin, an official with the National Health Commission, at a press conference in Beijing. Prices of these drugs have been marked down by over 50 percent on average, said Yu. Statistics from the national cancer institute show that 3.5 million new cancer patients are diagnosed in the country annually, with lung caner, breast cancer, and stomach cancer ranked as the top three most common cancers. ^ top ^

Government is rewriting the history of Hong Kong, one inconvenient phrase at a time (SCMP)
The Hong Kong government is rewriting the city's history, one phrase at a time. After the proposed removal of the words "taking back" from school textbooks to describe the return of the city to China in 1997, the Post has learned that the official protocol office has changed its website to erase any mention of a "handover of sovereignty". The Protocol Division, which is responsible for receiving foreign dignitaries and consuls general, was found to have made the changes after the Post filed an inquiry about the guidelines on terms used by the government to describe the handover from Britain. Originally, the division's website read: "Since the handover of sovereignty over Hong Kong on 1 July 1997, a number of foreign state or government leaders have visited Hong Kong." The sentence now begins, simply, "Since July 1, 1997". In the Chinese version of the website, the phrase "handover of sovereignty" (主權移交) has been removed from the same paragraph. However, in a separate paragraph in the Chinese version, the phrase "since the handover of sovereignty" remains. Hong Kong officials have been using "handover" to describe the city's return to China since 1997, and the ceremony held on July 1 that year was called the "handover ceremony". However, in February 2015, the Administration Wing, which oversaw the Protocol Division, issued a circular – Correct Use of Terminology – to all civil servants, to "ensure the [use of certain expressions] are correct in both verbal and written correspondence". One of the reminders related to the description of the handover, saying officials should use "return to China/the Motherland" or "resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong". It did not, however, specifically ban the word "handover". The circular was understood to be binding on all civil servants, including press officers drafting official speeches and publications. In response to a Post inquiry, the Protocol Division said it had been "in the course of revamping the website by stages since early April 2018 with a view to making it more user-friendly". A protocol spokesman said: "The change you mentioned is part of the updates, among others, being made to the website." Asked whether other departments would take the phrase "handover" out of past publications and websites, the spokesman said bureaus and departments would follow the circular on expressions "to ensure they are correctly formulated". He added that departments would update their websites from time to time. The protocol office would not comment on whether the word "handover" had conflicted with previous guidelines. Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu called the timing of the amendment "highly suspicious" and said the office was "disrespecting Hong Kong's history". "Let's not fool ourselves [over the amendment]," Yeung said. "['Handover'] was how the two governments of China and Britain have been describing it." The change by the Protocol Division came following the Education Bureau's external textbook review group sparked a row over terminology, after it said describing China as "taking back" Hong Kong in 1997 was problematic. It has not recommended what should be used instead. Hong Kong's leader defended the review, saying there was "no harm" in history books being a "bit more accurate". Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said: "China has never handed Hong Kong's sovereignty to others." Some educators, including education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, asked if the committee's proposed changes were really necessary. And, senior officials have still used "handover" and sometimes "taking back Hong Kong" in official remarks. The term "taking back" in Chinese was engraved by the government on a monument commemorating the handover in Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai in 1999. Officials built the monument to mark the two-year anniversary of the handover. Hu Jintao, the then Chinese vice-president, officiated the unveiling ceremony, where he also used the phrase "taking back Hong Kong" in Chinese. Lam and former chief executives Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Leung Chun-ying have also used "taking back" in their Chinese speeches before. Lam, for instance, said in a Basic Law seminar in August 2016 that "in the process of taking back [Hong Kong's] sovereignty, the nation has emphasised unity of territory". Her predecessor Leung also referred to China "taking back Hong Kong" at least four times in official remarks during his time in office between 2012 and 2017. Other officials who have used similar phrases include Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, former secretary for justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie, and former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah. The phrase "taking back" to describe the return of Hong Kong to China was also documented in Legislative Council debate, and consultation committee documents, when drafts of the Basic Law were discussed in the late 1980s. A more recent reference to "handover of sovereignty" was made by Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu. Lee used the phrase three times in January when responding to a lawmaker's written inquiry on military land use. ^ top ^



Taiwan military veterans try to storm parliament in pensions protest (SCMP)
Taiwanese military veterans on Wednesday scuffled with police as they tried to storm parliament in the latest of a series of protests against planned pension cuts. Hundreds gathered outside the legislature's main entrance and some threw smoke bombs and water bottles at police guarding the building in central Taipei. They also tried in vain to hurl an empty wooden coffin into the parliament compound's courtyard, television footage showed. "How can the government unilaterally cut [our pensions] without our consent? The government is lousy, unfair and unjust!" said Wu Chih-chang, chairman of the Blue Sky Action Alliance which organised the protest. Taiwan's pension schemes vary for different occupations and former public-sector staff typically receive more generous packages than workers from other sectors. The government has warned that various pension funds could go bankrupt as early as 2020 if the system is not overhauled. About 63 protesters were taken away after they climbed parliament's gate according to police. Others tried to pull down the gate using ropes and chains. Some barricades outside the compound were torn down by protesters, while 32 officers and 11 reporters were injured, police said. "We strongly condemn the serious violent actions by anti-pension groups and reiterate our determination to investigate [the violence] … we urge the public to use peaceful and rational means to express their opinions and refrain from breaking the law," Taipei police said in a statement. The Taiwan Media Workers Union also condemned the violence. "Many journalists were injured and their equipment was damaged … protesters intentionally used violence and inflicted injuries," it said in a statement. Some protesters vowed to stay overnight as parliament was expected to review a pension reform bill for military veterans on Thursday. Proposed pension cuts for the veterans are part of wider cutbacks in Taiwan that have triggered mass street protests as well as clashes inside parliament among lawmakers. A former colonel fell while climbing a wall and later died in hospital at a rally by military retired personnel in February. Legislators brawled in parliament last week as a draft bill proposed by the cabinet was deliberated for the first time, with the opposition Kuomintang demanding President Tsai Ing-wen apologise to the veterans. The backlash over the cuts is a major challenge for Tsai, who has seen her popularity rating fall since her election two years ago. She condemned Wednesday's clashes but vowed not to change course. "The government will not bow to violence and will persist to the very end with the reforms," said a statement from her office. Legislators passed a separate pension reform bill last June that targeted civil servants as the government warned it could no longer afford their preferential deals. Tsai admitted in a television interview earlier this month that the reforms have "offended many people" but stood by the plan to make the pension system more sustainable. ^ top ^

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen willing to meet Xi Jinping 'for peace and stability' (SCMP)
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday she would be willing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping "for peace and stability" in the wake of a landmark summit between the leaders of the two Koreas. Relations between Taiwan and the mainland have deteriorated since Tsai came to power in May 2016. Beijing still sees the self-ruling island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. Beijing is deeply suspicious of Tsai's traditionally pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, and has cut off official communications with Taipei as the Taiwanese president refuses to accept that the island is part of "one China". When asked on Friday if she would consider meeting Xi given the way the inter-Korean summit unfolded, Tsai appeared to offer an olive branch to China and said her government "would be willing to do anything that is helpful for... peace and stability". A meeting with the mainland leader could take place "without any political precondition and on an equal footing", she added. Under those principles, "I believe no Taiwanese leader would refuse," she told reporters. Tsai said she hoped the summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North's leader Kim Jong-un would be a step towards greater regional stability. Commenting on the Koreas summit, the foreign ministry in Taipei said Taiwan "is willing to actively contribute to and work with the international community to promote the realisation of peace, stability and prosperity in the region". Tsai's Beijing-friendly predecessor Ma Ying-jeou oversaw an unprecedented thaw in Beijing-Taiwan relations during his 2008-16 presidency, which culminated with a historic 2015 meeting with Xi in Singapore. Ma's government acknowledged the so-called "1992 consensus" that there is only "one China" without specifying whether Beijing or Taipei is its rightful representative. The mainland has repeatedly urged Tsai to adopt the same position. Beijing has recently stepped up pressure on her government with a string of air and naval exercises around the island, including live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait last week. It has also used its clout to isolate the island, luring away its diplomatic allies and blocking it from attending major international events. Mainland officials said the drills were conducted to safeguard China's territorial sovereignty and warned that they would take further action if Taiwan's "(pro) independence forces continue to wantonly take rash actions". ^ top ^



Alliance of banking big hitters to tackle threat of unregulated fintech in Hong Kong (SCMP)
An influential new international alliance of senior bank officials, financial regulators and monetary chiefs will launch in Hong Kong next week to help address the threat they believe an unregulated fintech (financial technology) revolution poses to economic stability. A high-powered and hand-picked group of big hitters from the world of banking and finance, along with experts from the information technology sector, will gather in Central on May 9 for the inaugural forum of the Alliance for Financial Stability with Information Technology, as it will be known. Central bank governors from 10 Asian countries have accepted invitations to attend, and China is also expected to be represented by a senior regulatory official. It is understood that Anthony Neoh, chief adviser to the China Securities Regulatory Commission and a former chairman of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), will assume the role of chairman. The non-profit organisation, funded by donations from the private sector, hopes to promote discussion on how to secure systemic financial stability in the digital age. One of its focuses will be on fostering regional and international collaboration and discussion on how innovative fintech – such as know-your-customer facial recognition technology recently installed across the ATM network of casino hub Macau as part of an ongoing crackdown on money laundering and capital flight from China – can be used and adapted to benefit both service providers and regulators. The growth of mobile payment services in an unregulated environment will also be an area of its work. "It will be a collaborative platform to bring together fintech system providers, regulators and banking authorities across Asia and the wider world," a source familiar with planning for the launch said. "The idea of an informal alliance was decided because, typically, central banks and financial regulators do not regulate financial platforms." The idea first surfaced at a meeting of banking and financial regulators from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau at the casino hub and former Portuguese enclave in May last year. Registered in Hong Kong, the group will have offices here and in Macau, and will employ a small number of staff in each to begin with. The alliance also aims to find ways of putting regulators "ahead of the game" amid mounting concerns over the proliferation of unregulated finance platforms and cryptocurrency ICOs of questionable standing. Among those spearheading the launch of the new alliance is Anselmo Teng, who recently stepped down as chairman of Macau's Monetary Authority, and Clarie Lo, a former top Hong Kong financial official and currently commissioner for narcotics. In recent months, both Hong Kong and Macau monetary authorities have issued warnings about the risks associated with cryptocurrency ICOs, while Beijing has taken a hard line against unregulated financial platforms. ^ top ^

China releases rules to open securities sector to foreign investors (Xinhua)
China has released new management rules on foreign investment in the securities sector as the government takes steady steps to open its financial sector wider. The revised rules released by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) allow foreign investors to take a controlling stake in joint-venture securities firms, and promise to gradually expand the business scope of such firms. China will equalize foreign investors' equity shares in listed and unlisted securities companies, according to the rules, which also set qualification requirements for overseas shareholders. Following the release of the new rules, the CSRC said it will update related administrative approvals to help eligible foreign investors apply to set up companies. The measures are in line with plans announced by authorities at the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference earlier this month. As part of the country's broader opening-up push, China will encourage foreign investors to enter its trust, financial leasing, auto finance, money brokerage, and consumer finance sectors, a move that will take effect before the end of this year, China's central bank governor Yi Gang said at the conference. ^ top ^



Pyongyang attacks South Korea's opposition leader as 'broken piece of flesh' (SCMP)
North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun has called the leader of South Korea's main opposition party Hong Joon-pyo "a broken piece of malfunctioning flesh." Netizens discovered the comment in a March 31 opinion piece by Ri Sung-ho. The article criticised the Liberty Korea Party chairman's negative campaign against South Korean President Moon Jae-in for prosecuting former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye. Rodong Sinmun is the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea and a communication channel for the North Korea Bureau of the Communist Party of Korea. Ri's report carried a headline saying the South Korean lawmaker "must be buried immediately." "The reason behind his rambunctious parade of controversial comments is because he was on the same side as the imposters Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak," Ri said, referring to the former South Korean presidents. Park is in prison for offences committed while in office. Lee's trial on corruption charges is expected to start soon. "It is impossible for him to hide his natural-born low-ethical code and corrupt mind." Hong downplayed the inter-Korean summit on April 27. He said on Facebook on the day of the summit that the meeting was "a fake peace show conducted by Kim Jong-un and Moon's administration." "Moon agreed with North Korea's unification strategy but failed to even mention a word about the dismantlement of the North's nuclear program," Hong said. ^ top ^

Kim Jong-un tries to mend fences with China ahead of Donald Trump meeting with pledge to deepen cooperation with Beijing (SCMP)
North Korea has vowed to deepen its strategic relations with China as the two allies sought to mend fences ahead of an unprecedented meeting between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump. In a meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday, Kim reaffirmed that a strong relationship with China was "a firm strategy" for the North, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement. In turn, Beijing pledged to provide economic support to Pyongyang. "North Korea is willing to work together with China to push forward the friendly relations between North Korea and China to a new high stage," Kim told Wang during their meeting at the headquarters of the Worker's Party. The meeting was Kim's second one with high-ranking Chinese officials since his visit to Beijing in late March. It also came days after his historic summit with South Korean president Moon Jae-in last Friday, when the two leaders agreed to work to officially end the 1950-53 Korean war and work for the "complete denuclearisation" of the peninsula. "China supports and commends the successful meeting between leaders of the North and the South," Wang told Kim, adding that it presented a "positive opportunity" for a political settlement. Meanwhile, Kim heaped praise on China's efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, and said that North Korea would like to enhance strategic communications with China. The visit by Wang, the first of its kind by a Chinese foreign minister since 2007, came at a time when Beijing and Pyongyang are seeking to repair relations that were frayed by Kim's repeated nuclear tests and Beijing's support for a series of stringent UN sanctions. Tensions on the Korean peninsula have quickly eased since the beginning of the year. Days before meeting with Moon last Friday, Kim announced he would suspend North Korea's nuclear programme and focus its resources on rebuilding its economy, although many observers remain sceptical about whether he will fulfil these commitments. There has been growing speculation about whether Beijing – Pyongyang's main ally and patron for more than seven decades – would be left out of the ongoing peace negotiations involving the two Koreas and the US. But Sun Xingjie, a Korean affairs expert at Jilin University, said that Wang's visit to Pyongyang had reinforced Beijing's importance amid the fast-changing dynamics on the Korean Peninsula. "Wang's visit reaffirmed that Beijing is not being sidelined," he said. In a move to strengthen North Korea's dependence on China, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of North Korea's total trade volume, Wang also told his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho that the two sides should "push forward practical cooperation on the economy and trade." Wang added: "The traditional friendship between China and North Korea is the mutual good fortune of the two sides. It is a strategic choice to inherit and develop the tradition of friendly relations." Lu Chao, a Korean affairs expert at Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said China's support for economic development in North Korea was in response to Kim's pledge to give up nuclear weapons and shift to economic development. "This is not contradicting UN sanctions, because the support, as well as the recent improvement in the bilateral relations between China and North Korea, only came on the condition that North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear weapon programme and move to develop its economy," Lu said. "So far, the bans remain effective and China will follow the sanctions." ^ top ^

Sino-North Korean relationship increasingly positive, says Chinese observer (Global Times)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Thursday amid strengthening bilateral ties, and a Chinese expert said that bilateral ties are positive as North Korea will rely on China more than the US in its future foreign relations. Conveying Chinese President Xi Jinping's cordial greetings to Kim, Wang said that the historic meeting between Xi and Kim during Kim's visit to China in late March has opened a new chapter for the two countries' relations, according to a foreign ministry release on Thursday. Wang also noted that Kim's meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in brought a favorable opportunity for peaceful development on issues of the peninsula. Wang's visit follows a landmark inter-Korean summit and precedes a meeting between the North's leader Kim and US President Donald Trump. North Korea attaches great importance to bilateral ties between North Korea and China, which is a precious inheritance from the older generations of the two countries' leaders, Kim said during the meeting. Wang's visit to North Korea and his meeting with Kim show the strength of two countries' high-level interactions and the renovation of bilateral ties, Cui Zhiying, director of the Korean Peninsula Research Center at Tongji University, told the Global Times on Thursday. Cui said that the relationship between the two countries is positive and will not be influenced by the upcoming Kim-Trump meeting, because North Korea will rely on China more than on the US in its foreign relations. North Korea needs advice from China about what to offer to Trump, while China needs to ensure its own interests aren't adversely affected by the meeting. China's role on the Korean Peninsula would never be marginalized, experts said. Beijing will support North Korea in a cessation of hostilities on the peninsula, the country's strategic transition to economic development and its denuclearization, Wang said. ^ top ^

Rocketing prices? Chinese property speculators hope for peace premium as they move in on North Korea (SCMP)
Chinese property speculators are starting to bet on a rapid improvement in relations between North Korea and the rest of the world, pushing up prices in the border city of Dandong and even spurring buying interest in the world's most isolated country. Last week, online Chinese real estate investment platform released a guide for Chinese buyers interested in North Korean real estate, while popular accounts on the mobile messaging app WeChat have been posting articles about the country's housing market in recent weeks. "Recently we've had many inquiries about investing in North Korea's property market," said Huang Xiaodan, founder and CEO of, which specialises in helping Chinese buy property overseas. Actual cross-border investment has yet to materialise. "Venturing into a new frontier requires policy support and time to cultivate the market," said Huang. "At the moment, we're just paying close attention to what's going on." North Korea has long been largely shut to foreign investors, an isolation that deepened when the United Nations ratcheted up sanctions last year in an effort to curb its development of nuclear weapons. But a dramatic improvement in relations between Pyongyang and China, with a secretive Beijing visit by the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in late March, followed by last week's historic inter-Korean summit and an upcoming meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump, has caught the notice of some opportunistic investors. "I've had several inquiries from Chinese interested in purchasing properties in Pyongyang, Wonsan and Sinuiju," said the founder of INDPRK, a travel company in Dandong that runs tours to North Korea, who goes by the name Griffin Che. "There are a lot of speculators on the market right now but, at the moment, only locals can buy property in North Korea." There are no such restrictions in Dandong, the main gateway into North Korea in northeastern China, where listed prices of apartments in some projects seen as most likely to gain from an economic opening up of North Korea have jumped by as much as 50 per cent since Kim's Beijing visit in late March, according to five real property agents and three local residents. "Rising property prices are due to North Korea," an official in Dandong's real estate registration office, who only gave his surname Zhao, told Reuters. The Dandong New Zone – which was planned in anticipation of the opening of the New Yalu River Bridge connecting Dandong with Sinuiju in North Korea – has been attracting the most interest from prospective buyers. The dual-carriageway bridge was slated to open in November 2015 but today sits abandoned. "We're all hopeful the bridge will open soon," said Zhao Bin, a Chinese trader who does business with North Korea and considered buying property in Dandong last week. Che, who has a prominent social media presence, said Dandong New Zone transaction prices had risen from about 4,000 yuan (US$630) per square metre to 5,500 to 6,000 yuan, which he attributes to the improving situation on the Korean peninsula. He warned that Dandong prices were so frothy they may have even peaked. "I was keen to buy but I think it's too late now," he said. Around one-third of buyers over the recent Labour Day weekend holiday were from out of town, taking advantage of time off to scout properties, according an agent at Gold Key Real Estate in Dandong, surnamed Liao, whereas locals made up the vast majority of buyers in much of April. Sales of residential properties rose almost 30 per cent in Dandong's of Zhenxing District, which includes the New Zone, last month, according to data from the local housing authority. A total of 967 apartments were sold in April, it posted on the official website. Average home prices in Dandong rose nearly 1 per cent month-on-month in April, according to data from the China Real Estate Association, compared with a 0.5 per cent decline in the same period a year earlier, although citywide averages tend not to fully reflect big price fluctuations in individual projects. Dandong's real estate registration office released a statement last week saying it was unable to keep up with the sudden rise in people registering apartments so people needed to make an appointment to visit the office ahead of time, according to state-owned Securities Times newspaper. A woman answering the phone at Dandong's real estate registration office said the new system was not connected to North Korea, but because several projects had recently been completed so more people were purchasing apartments. ^ top ^

Donald Trump hints of imminent news on three American detainees moved from prison camp to hotel (SCMP)
US President Donald Trump hinted that there would be imminent news about three Americans detained in North Korea, after sources said they had been relocated ahead of their possible release. The development comes as Trump was preparing for a historic summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, following months of tense sabre-rattling over the North's nuclear and missile programmes. "The past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail. Stay tuned!" Trump wrote on Twitter. Two of the three hostages were detained in 2017, after Trump had assumed office. The United States has been demanding the North free Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Dong-chul and reports have said the two sides were close to reaching a deal on their release. "They are staying in a hotel on the outskirts of Pyongyang," Choi Sung-ryong, a South Korean activist with contacts in the North said earlier. He said the three were being kept separately but "going on tours, receiving medical treatment and eating good food." Diplomatic sources in Pyongyang have said there were rumours that the three had been relocated, but there had been no confirmation of their exact whereabouts. A State Department official could not confirm the reports, but added: "We are working to see US citizens who are detained in North Korea come home as soon as possible." The matter was discussed when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang last month, according to The Wall Street Journal. And speaking to Fox News on Sunday, National Security Advisor John Bolton said releasing the hostages would be "an opportunity" for the North to "demonstrate their authenticity". CNN had said the prisoners' release was also discussed at three-day talks in Stockholm between the North's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom in March. Sweden represents Washington's interests in the North. […] ^ top ^

China expresses support for DPRK-U.S. dialogue, improvement of inter-Korean relations (Xinhua)
China hopes that the dialogue between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States will be smooth and achieve substantial progress, said visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi here Wednesday. During the talks with DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Wang said that China fully backs the DPRK's efforts to achieve the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. He also said that China welcomes the successful summit meeting between the leaders of the DPRK and South Korea held on April 27 and its important outcomes. Wang recalled that DPRK top leader Kim Jong Un made a successful visit to China in March. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kim had a historic meeting during the visit. They achieved significant consensus on continuing and developing China-DPRK traditional friendly relations, as well as enhancing strategic communication and cooperation between the two countries, thus starting a new chapter of bilateral relations, Wang said. This will guide the two countries to consolidate and further develop bilateral relations in the new era, he said. Wang said that the traditional China-DPRK friendship is the shared and precious treasure of the two countries, adding that to continuously develop and pass on this friendship to future generations is a strategic choice of both countries. He said that China is ready to work with the DPRK to implement in substantial ways the important consensus reached by the top leaders of the two countries, by strengthening communication and coordination between their political and diplomatic organs, pushing forward pragmatic economic and trade cooperation, cultivating people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and instilling new vigor into China-DPRK relations in the new era. While speaking highly of the positive changes that have been taking place on the Korean Peninsula, Wang said that China fully backs the DPRK in its efforts to find its own development approach suitable to its national conditions, and to concentrate all of its efforts on carrying out economic construction. China also backs the settlement of the DPRK's security concerns, and gives its full support for the improvement of inter-Korean relations, he said. Wang added that China is willing to strengthen communication with the DPRK and continue to play a positive role in seeking a political solution to the Korean Peninsula issue. He also expressed gratitude to Kim, the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the DPRK government for the great attention paid to the Chinese citizens involved in a recent major traffic accident in the country, and for providing the victims with intensive treatment and relief. Ri Yong Ho said that supreme leader Kim Jong Un cherishes traditional friendship between the DPRK and China, and it is a resolute stand of the WPK and the DPRK government to maintain and develop DPRK-China friendly relations from a new starting point. The foreign minister said that the successful Beijing meeting between DPRK and Chinese top leaders has resulted in important consensus on strengthening strategic communications and cooperation, which is a milestone in the history of DPRK-China relations. He said the DPRK is ready to make joint efforts with China to carefully implement these consensus, carry out close exchanges between their respective political and diplomatic organs, enhance pragmatic cooperation, push forward people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and make early preparations for commemorative activities celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the DPRK and China next year. Ri said that the recent historic meeting between the leaders of the north and south sides of the Korean Peninsula is of great significance. The DPRK will maintain close communications with China on how to realize denuclearization and establish peace mechanisms on the Korean Peninsula, while enhancing dialogue with all parties concerned, he added. ^ top ^

Moon calls on UN to oversee shutdown (China Daily)
The Republic of Korean President Moon Jae-in has asked the United Nations to observe the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's planned shutdown of its nuclear test site, the ROK's Blue House said on Tuesday. Moon told United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that top DPRK leader Kim Jong-un promised to transparently make open the closedown of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site to the ROK and the United States as well as to the international society. The ROK president asked the UN chief to allow officials to participate in the shutdown to observe and confirm it. During the April 27 summit with Moon at the border village of Panmunjom, Kim said his country will close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in northeast of the DPRK, where all of six nuclear tests were conducted, by the end of May. After the summit, Moon and Kim signed and announced the Panmunjom Declaration in which the two sides agreed to the complete denuclearization and the change of the current armistice agreement into a peace treaty. The two leaders also agreed to stop all hostile acts, including the propaganda broadcast and the distribution of leaflets, in areas near the military demarcation line dividing the DPRK and the ROK since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War under the declaration. Local media on Tuesday reported that the DPRK was removing propaganda loudspeakers from the border area, in a bid to enforce the Panmunjom Declaration, and the ROK had also stopped its propaganda broadcasting days ahead of the Kim-Moon summit. Guterres said he was willing to cooperate in the process in response, noting that though Moon's calls require the approval from UN Security Council, he will make efforts to help settle peace on the Korean Peninsula. Guterres added that he will appoint a UN official in charge of arms reduction to cooperate with the ROK. Moon also asked Guterres to issue a statement welcoming and supporting the Panmunjom Declaration by the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council, saying UN support will be a great help to improved inter-Korean relations and the success of the upcoming DPRK-US summit. The meeting between the DPRK and the ROK reflected the beginning of the improvement of relations. However, in order to achieve true peace on the peninsula, the DPRK and the US must have direct dialogues and reach a consensus on specific plan on denuclearization, said Sun Xingjie, deputy dean of the School of International and Public Affairs at Jilin University. US President Donald Trump on Monday said he has considered the Demilitarized Zone separating the DPRK and the ROK as a possible site for his meeting with Kim, expected in either May or early June. "Numerous countries are being considered for the MEETING," Trump tweeted on Monday morning, "but would Peace House/Freedom House, on the Border of North & South Korea, be a more Representative, Important and Lasting site than a third-party country? Just asking!" Sun said the summit between Kim and Trump is expected as a step forward for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula following the historic Kim-Moon summit, adding that the implementation of denuclearization will be a long process, and the choice of meeting locations is only the beginning. As Washington and Pyongyang prepare for the summit, location has been one of the biggest logistical problems. Asked late on Monday by CBS News if the DMZ could be a possible option to host the US-DPRK talks, Trump said it was a location he thought was "intriguing" as it could hold bigger significance than having talks in a third country. Trump also said the summit might not happen. "Personally, I think it's going to be a success," he said. "If it's not a success, I will respectfully leave." ^ top ^



Agriculture sector cooperation with Ireland discussed (Montsame)
On April 30, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry B.Batzorig paid a courtesy call on Chairman of Lower House of the Irish Parliament Seán Ó Fearghaíl, who was on an official visit to Mongolia. During the meeting, they mutually introduced about agricultural sectors of the two countries and agreed to collaborate in mobilizing potentials in food and agricultural sectors thoroughly and develop mutually beneficial cooperation by combining Mongolia's resource of agricultural raw materials with Ireland's achievement, experience and financial potentiality. The dignitaries considered necessary to create a cooperation mechanism by establishing a Memorandum of Cooperation between Mongolia's Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry and Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in near future. Mr Seán Ó Fearghaíl emphasized that it is fully possible for the country's agricultural research institutes to cooperate with Mongolian government for sharing experiences. At the meeting, the parties also discussed about exchanging experience in veterinary service fields and introducing the technologies of food production, especially milk and milk products, meat and meat products and sugar beet into Mongolia. Moreover, they decided to organize activities to exchange experience in exporting food products, sending Mongolian professionals and personnel for learning experience and improving knowledge. ^ top ^

LandEX company signs agreement for logistic trade projects (Montsame)
LandEX company signed agreement for the logistic trade projects with Caofeidian Port Corp. of China during Caofeidian industrial zone's promotion conference on April 26. It was among the 37 projects settled in Caofeidian with a total investment of over 45 billion yuan, during the conference. The conference was attended by nearly 400 merchants, investors and local authorities from China, Mongolia, Japan and South Africa. A month earlier of the conference, Caofeidian a unit of Tangshan port, had launched a new rail freight link to Ulaanbaatar with 51 containers of raw materials, furniture and electrical appliances to Mongolia via the border crossing at Erenhot, said Sun Gui Shi, member of standing committee of the Tangshan municipal Communist Party of China. The new link would allow not only Caofeidian to implement its ambitious plan for becoming an international hub and but also landlocked Mongolia to turn into land-linked trade hub by 2-3 times lower cost and faster route for exporters in Europe. Value of cargo sent between China and Europe by rail quintupled in last four years, according to the Economist's report. Transit freight via Mongolia was tripled in the first quarter of this year, accounting for about 10 percent of the container shipping between China and Europe, according to the statistics. "The increasing demand of transit freight urges us Mongolia's logistic companies to open up new trade way, and currently Tianjin and Hong Kong's ports are playing a major role for the flow of the goods with long queue lines," said R.Amarbayasgalan, CEO of the Silk Road Mongolia Co., LTD. China and Mongolia had reached an agreement to enhance the cooperation of maritime ports in Northern China, during the Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit in Mongolia, in 2014. Mongolian authorities have been considering to develop the partnership with Caofeidian port, said D.Amartuvshin, a director of Administration and Management Department of Mongolia Maritime Administration. ^ top ^

Reserve requirements of banks reduced (Montsame)
Reserve requirements of banks have been reduced. In this regard, banks are obliged to place 12 percent of USD deposit and 10 percent of MNT deposit to the Bank of Mongolia in cash. The reserve requirement for MNT deposit reduced from 12 to 10 percent. The decision was made to maintain financial stabilty. Higher reserve requirement for USD deposits is also a risk-prevention approach. The relative stabilization of dollar rate has prompted citizens and enterprises to get a dollar loan. Tugrug is expected to stay strong in short-terms, however the rates could change in 4-5 years. Therefore, it is important to encourage banks to attract more MNT deposits than USD deposits. Reserve requirements are used to keep the banking system healthy and risk free. Whenever a bank becomes insolvent, payments are made from the reserve requirements. ^ top ^

National Rescue Brigade formed (Montsame)
At the Cabinet meeting on May 2, it was decided to form a National Rescue Brigade by merging the rescue special unit, procurement and service unit and mining rescue unit of the National Emergency Management Authority. In addition, the Cabinet decided to establish new firefighting and rescue units in 19th khoroo of Sukhbaatar district of Ulaanbaatar, Tsengel soum of Bayan-Ulgii aimag, Buutsagaan soum of Bayankhongor aimag, Mungunmorit soum of Tuv aimag, and Tsagaan-Uul soum of Khuvsgul aimag. The decision was made in consideration of higher emergency calls of fire and disasters in the abovementioned district and soums that have most dense population and organizations. Newly formed units will also serve the neighboring soums alongside the designated areas.  ^ top ^

Amendments passed to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism (Montsame)
Mongolia's Parliament passed a Bill to amend the Law on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, during its plenary meeting on April 26. The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) conducted the second Mutual Evaluation on Mongolia's anti-money laundering/counter terrorism financing (AML/CFT) system in 2016-2017 Mongolia, bringing the country under intensive control. It analyses the level of compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) 40 recommendations and the level of effectiveness of Mongolia's AML/CFT system, and provides recommendations on how the system could be strengthened. With the Mutual Evaluation, Mongolia was obliged to amend the related law earlier than October, 2018 within the improvement of AML/CFT system. As the Bill was approved, Mongolia is ensured to be compliant with FATF 40 recommendations. The amended law will enable to strengthen capacity and legal status of Financial Information Unit of the Bank of Mongolia, broaden a scope of the persons responsible for reporting in accordance with financial, service and technological changes, align relevant regulations and transfer control system to those responsible for reporting into risk-based forms. Moreover, it will create a possibility to enforce actual and true registration system on beneficial owner of any property in the economic relations through the registration authority, improve the accountability system for those violating the law, develop legal environment to implement sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council as well as to reflect a regulation on combating against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction alongside the financing of terrorism. The law covers very broad framework including banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, licensed security market entities, natural persons or legal persons conducting pawnbroker activities, savings and credit cooperatives and natural or legal persons conducting foreign currency exchange activities etc. The foundation of combating money laundering and terrorism financing was first founded through the approval of Parliament of Mongolia on the Law on Combating money laundering and financing of terrorism in July 8, 2006. Pursuant to this law, Financial Information Unit was established within the structure of Bank of Mongolia in November 29, 2006 whose function is to implement the laws on Combating money laundering and financing of terrorism. ^ top ^

President Kh.Battulga receives Russia's Deputy PM (Montsame)
On April 27, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mr. Yu.P. Trutnev paid a courtesy call on President Kh.Battulga at the State House. Appreciating Yu.P.Trutnev for visiting Mongolia at this very time when Russian Government is going to be formed, President Kh.Battulga highlighted the significance of the visit in bilateral relations and economic cooperation. Deputy PM Mr. Yu.P.Trutnev thanked the President for his invitation and mentioned about advancements in bilateral cooperation following the last year's Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. He also expressed his readiness to give all-round supports to Mongolia for running activities on the territory of Russia, especially in the Far East. Tax reductions and supports from local administrations will be also rendered, he noted. President Kh.Battulga expressed his opinion on realizing agreements made at government-levels and intensifying regional economic cooperation, sending a joint working group of government and presidential office, led by the Deputy Foreign Minister, to the Far East in the nearest future, and appointing a permanent representative in charge of this issue. In addition, the parties exchanged views on possibilities of effective cooperation for regional economic development. ^ top ^


Ms. Selina Morell
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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