Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  26.5-1.6.2018, No. 720  
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Foreign Policy

Manila's tough talk on South China Sea aimed at easing fears at home, analysts say (SCMP)
Ties between Beijing and Manila may be under pressure from China's growing assertiveness in the contested South China Sea, after the Philippine president's top aides warned against crossing the country's "red lines" in the resource-rich waterway. While the harsh words this week deviated from the Rodrigo Duterte administration's friendlier line, analysts say domestic political pressure has pushed Manila to be less cosy with Beijing, even if military conflict over the disputed waters remains unlikely. Philippine national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon said on Wednesday that Duterte would be willing to use force if the country's soldiers were hurt in the South China Sea, including at Pagasa, or Thitu – one of the largest islands of the Spratly chain, which both China and the Philippines claim. "Just the other night, the president said if my troops are hurt there, that could be my red line," Esperon told reporters. "We are not saying we are going to war, but if they oppress us, that may force our hand because we will not allow ourselves to be oppressed." The comments follow those by Philippine foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier this week that Duterte would "go to war" if China crossed its lines by engaging in oil and gas extraction or constructing on the disputed Scarborough Shoal. China's claims to more than 90 per cent of the South China Sea, which overlap with several of its neighbours', have long been a point of regional contention. In recent months, militarisation of its man-made islands in the waterway has expanded, along with its deployment of surface-to-air and anti-ship cruise missiles, radar jamming equipment and long-range bombers, sparking concerns across the region. For the Philippines, while relations with China have improved with a foreign policy approach that prioritises economic cooperation and downplays Beijing's territorial assertiveness – Duterte has even quipped that Beijing should make the Philippines a Chinese province – domestic pressure has ramped up on Manila to take a tougher line, observers say. Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said Duterte had been caught between pro- and anti-China political factions in the Philippines. "Even if President Duterte is very friendly to China, he faces domestic pressure to orient himself closer to the US and against China," he said. "But the two countries will not go to war over the South China Sea and will use appropriate measures to handle the issue." Richard Heydarian, a Manila-based academic and author, said the latest pushback from the Duterte administration reflected the effectiveness of growing domestic pressure, in particular from the defence establishment that "remains wary of China and close to the US", as well as the media, opposition parties and prominent statesmen. "The Duterte administration is discovering the challenge of reorienting the Philippine foreign policy too closely in China's favour, and this is the first time that we see such clear drawing of the lines in the South China Sea sand by the Philippines," he said. "Duterte will have to take the concerns of other veto players into consideration." Collin Koh, research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, also said the remarks were intended to ease domestic concerns rather than to signal a tougher stance on China. But the country's resumption of its Balikatan military exercises with the US, its defence ally, showed Manila would continue to balance its ties between the two powers, he said. "The American card is always kept close in the pocket as a form of strategic security leverage against China," Koh said. "However, whether the US will intervene militarily in the event of a South China Sea crisis that involves the Philippines remains up for debate." ^ top ^

Asian-American and Latino groups unite to sue over 'discriminatory' citizenship question on US census (SCMP)
Two dozen Asian-American and Latino organisations filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday alleging that the Trump administration's plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is racially discriminatory and violates the US Constitution. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Maryland by the Mexican-American Legal Defence and Educational Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, claims the decision to add a question asking people if they are US citizens is motivated by racial animus. The groups say the question is intended to severely undercount minorities and immigrants, and to dilute their political representation and federal funding to their communities. The lawsuit cites comments made by Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and since his election, alleging that Trump and administration officials have expressed an intent "to target Latinos, Asian Americans and non-US citizens." The examples cited include a July 2015 interview on Fox News' Media Buzz in which Trump said the Mexican government was "forcing their most unwanted people into the United States." "They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc," he said. The Justice Department has said reinstating the citizenship question "will allow the department to protect the right to vote and ensure free and fair elections for all Americans." US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced in March that the census distributed to every US household will include a citizenship question for the first time since 1950. Ross said then that the question was needed in part to help the government enforce the Voting Rights Act, the 1965 law that was intended to protect the political representation of minority groups. Ross said it will provide a more accurate tally of voting-eligible residents than is currently available from a smaller sampling survey that includes the citizenship question. But critics say the question will drive down already low census response rates among immigrants, reduce their political representation and rob their communities of federal money. Several other lawsuits have been filed challenging the citizenship question, including in New York and California, but this is the first believed to make a racial discrimination claim, said Thomas Saenz, MALDEF's president and general counsel. "We think there are good grounds for arguing and concluding that this was motivated specifically to target the Latino community and the Asian-American community and to reduce their counts," Saenz said. The US Department of Commerce, named as a defendant in the lawsuit, declined to comment. The US Census Bureau, also named as a defendant, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ^ top ^

China trade pact talks with Sri Lanka hit major hurdles (SCMP)
Talks between China and Sri Lanka for a free-trade agreement have hit major hurdles, mainly because Beijing will not agree to Colombo's demand for a review of the deal after 10 years, Sri Lanka's top negotiator said. China has invested billions of dollars building ports and roads and power stations in the Indian Ocean island nation just off the southern toe of India as part of its Belt and Road Initiative to increase its trade and other connections across Asia and beyond. But concerns have grown in recent months that such investments can drive the country of 21 million people deeper into debt and undermine its sovereignty, prompting greater scrutiny of deals with China. China's exports to Sri Lanka dwarf the trade that goes in the other direction, leaving Colombo with a big deficit with Beijing. Sri Lanka's chief trade negotiator K.J. Weerasinghe said this week that Colombo was insisting on a right to review the free trade pact after 10 years, but China was not ready to agree that. Ministerial level discussions about an agreement have not been held since March last year. Lower-level discussions between officials have made little progress, according to Weerasinghe. "The talks have come to a standstill. China wants to remove the review clause," Weerasinghe said. Beijing was opposed to such an option because it wanted longer-term stability, he said. China's commerce ministry did not respond to requests for comment. The review clause that Sri Lanka wants would allow it to change some of the deal terms if they were hurting the island nation's local businesses. Weerasinghe said another point of contention was that China wanted zero tariffs on 90 per cent of goods the two countries sold to each other as soon as an agreement was signed while Colombo would rather it started with zero tariffs on only half of the products concerned and expanded gradually over 20 years. China has been pushing for free trade pacts with countries in the region and last year sealed an agreement with the Maldives that drew criticism from opposition political groups in the tropical islands' nation. They said it had been rushed through parliament with less than an hour of debate. Sri Lanka has previously said it wanted more time to negotiate the free trade deal with China as it is concerned about the economic impact of a rushed deal on its economy. Sri Lanka imported US$4.2 billion worth of Chinese goods in 2016, mostly raw materials for garments, machines and electronics, metals, transport equipment and chemicals. Its exports to the world's second largest economy were just US$211 million the same year, which included textiles, tea and vegetables, footwear and rubber. The 2017 figures for China trade have still not been released by the Sri Lankan authorities. The trade deficit with China accounted for nearly half of the nation's total deficit in 2016, adding pressure on the country's current account deficit, central bank data showed. Sri Lanka's foreign debt rose nearly 17 per cent to 4.72 trillion rupees (US$30 billion) last year, a fifth of that coming from loans from China to finance the massive construction programme across the island. Colombo is separately negotiating a trade pact with India, but that is also moving slowly because Sri Lankan businesses fear they will face competition from a flood of cheap goods made by Indian firms. ^ top ^

Chinese FM dispels EU's worries over 16+1 cooperation between China, CEE countries (Xinhua)
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday that the cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries is conducive to European integration, and a divided, weakened EU is not in China's interests. Wang made the remarks at a joint press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas, in response to Xinhua's questions concerning EU and Germany's worries over the issue. The 16+1 cooperation, a mechanism between China and 16 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, is viewed by China as a part and a supplement of China-Europe relations, Wang added. China has always firmly supported European integration process, and China hopes the European Union will maintain unity, stability and prosperity, said Wang. Wang noted that both supporters of multilateralism, maintainers of world stability and advocates of free trade, China and the EU have become key trading partners of each other with emerging common interests, so that a weakened and divided EU is not in China's interests, or what China wants to see. The 16+1 cooperation mechanism is a voluntary cross-regional cooperation framework between China and CEE countries, which will help give full play to the complementary advantages of China and CEE countries. It will also be conducive to narrow the gap inside EU, and thus achieve the balanced development of Europe, said Wang. "Time will prove that 16+1 cooperation will facilitate European integration process," said Wang. In a bid to display the openness and inclusiveness of the mechanism, China has always cooperated with CEE countries under the framework of China-EU relations and EU's laws and rules, which can be found in the outcome documents of 16+1 meetings. China is now considering inviting representatives from EU and its members to take part in the next 16+1 summit, said Wang. As Germany and CEE countries are closely linked, China is also considering conducting the third-party cooperation with Germany in central and eastern European region, expecting that economic advantages of China and Germany can be combined with the development demands in this region, according to Wang. China also welcomes companies from other EU members to take part in 16+1 cooperation, in a bid to achieve win-win situation, the Chinese foreign minister said. ^ top ^

China, Germany should jointly help stabilize world amid unilateralism, protectionism: FM (Xinhua)
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday that China and Germany should help stabilize the world in the midst the rise of unilateralism and protectionism. Wang made the remarks at a joint press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin. Wang said the current international situation is undergoing unprecedented profound changes, with complicated and hotspot issues one after another, and unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise. As two responsible countries and comprehensive strategic partners, China and Germany should jointly influence the world positively and help stabilize the world, he said. Wang said since China and Germany established new governments respectively in March, the two sides need to exchange their ideas in all fields. Especially when facing an international situation full of uncertainties, more coordination and mutual trust are needed to face up to various global challenges. Therefore, the two sides will exert the roles of high-level exchanges and dialogue mechanisms in driving bilateral ties. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's successful China trip last week showed the high-level standard of China-Germany bilateral ties. The two sides will hold the fifth round of inter-governmental consultation in July, which will further enrich China-Germany cooperation, said Wang. The two sides will also support the healthy and stable development of two-way investment, added Wang, who noted that China's new round of market opening policies will provide German companies operating in China with broader space and more opportunities. "The Chinese side hopes that Germany views Chinese investment in Germany with an objective and positive attitude, and also builds a fair and friendly environment and a stable legal framework." The Chinese side appreciated Germany's open attitude toward the Belt and Road Initiative, and welcomed Germany to take part in the initiative with concrete joint projects, according to Wang. China will also build platforms for Chinese and German companies in the third party cooperation, in a bid to make more opportunities and make the market larger, Wang said. China has always firmly supported Europe in choosing a path of integration. He added that China hopes the European Union will maintain unity, stability, openness and prosperity, and plays a key role on the word stage, said Wang. "As major economies and maintainers of the existing world order, the two countries will also jointly safeguard multilateralism and free trade," Wang told reporters, who added that the two sides will strengthen cooperation under the G20 framework, in a bid to play a constructive role in promoting world peace and regional stability. With broad common interests, China-Germany cooperation has gone far beyond economic field, and the strategic importance of the China-Germany ties has also surpassed the bilateral scope, said Wang. "We are willing to make joint efforts with the German side, upholding the spirit of justice, mutual respect, mutual benefit and win-win deal, to further advance comprehensive strategic cooperation between China and Germany, in a bid to better benefit the two countries and also the world," said Wang. ^ top ^

US shows insular tendency with visa restrictions on Chinese students (Global Times)
US shows insular streaks with visa limits The Associated Press on Tuesday quoted a US State Department official as saying that Chinese graduate students would be limited to one-year visas if they study robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing. Chinese citizens seeking a visa would also need special clearance if they work as researchers or managers for companies on a US Commerce Department list of entities requiring higher scrutiny. AP reported that those areas are priorities in China's "Made in China 2025" plan. Reports said the US State Department has sent these instructions to US embassies and consulates in China, and will take effect on June 11. This is the first time in a very long period that Washington publicly restricts foreign students from studying in the country. As an immigrant country, exchanges with the outside world is the foundation of the nation. It became the world's largest cultural exchange center in the 20th century and has since then long benefited from it. The positive effect of open US cultural exchange has far outweighed the negative effects. It's one of the US' strengths. Restricting Chinese students from studying science and technology in popular industries proves the US' lack of self-confidence. It shows that Washington treats its scientific and technological resources as a special skill. It has also lost confidence in its ability to keep innovating and to hold a safe lead. During the 40 years of China's reform and opening-up, generations of outstanding Chinese students have gone to the US to study and most of them have entered the fields of science and technology. They have not only studied in the US, but have also strengthened the research power of the country. The White House is trying to solve a complex calculus problem using its fingers. It naively believes that a country as big as China can be blocked, intimidated, and dominated. A considerable amount of knowledge, including advanced science and technology, is destined to be the mankind's common wealth. Intellectual property rights mainly serve the application of science and technology. US intellectual property should be respected. But Washington should not monopolize knowledge. Some US elites want to block China's scientific and technological progress. This will prove ridiculous. They think that China's modernization is something that has been "stolen" from the US. They really have misread this era. China has already created momentum in achieving progress. In the areas where it must make up, the US blockade will only inspire the Chinese people to work harder. China's space science and technology has been developed almost independently. By imposing limits on some Chinese students' visas, the US will undermine the enthusiasm of many young Chinese who want to study there. Without Chinese students, the scientific and technological research atmosphere at US universities will be mixed with political vigilance. The US will no longer live up to its reputation as the center of world cultural exchanges. ^ top ^

India, China expand IT ties with Guiyang data projects (Global Times)
50 Indian firms expected to join India is moving toward expanding IT cooperation with China with the establishment of a second IT corridor in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's Guizhou Province. Deals worth about 36 million yuan ($5.598 million) from three projects were signed between Indian services providers and Chinese customers at the launch of the corridor on Sunday, organized by the Guiyang government and India's National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), Gagan Sabharwal, senior director of global trade development at NASSCOM, told the Global Times on Wednesday. One of the projects involves an Indian company called Zeta-V, which will build a platform to match Chinese companies' IT requirements and Indian IT solution providers, he said. The NASSCOM set up an IT corridor in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, on May 25, following the launch of an Indian IT hub in the city in December 2017. Sabharwal said the two economic corridors are expected to combine China's manufacturing industry and India's software services, which the country is very good at. He said the Guiyang economic corridor will focus on big data. For example, Indian companies can provide scenario-simulation software for Chinese car manufacturers, so that when the latter conducts car-crash tests, they don't need to crash a car, he told the Global Times on Wednesday. He said that 50 companies, split halfway, are expected to join the two economic corridors in the short term. One company called Fugumobile, an Indian mobile marketing agency, has agreed to set up a branch in the Guiyang corridor, Sabharwal said, adding more are expected to follow. Comparative advantage Liu Xiaoxue, an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' National Institute of International Strategy, said that many Indian IT-related companies are doing business in China. "At first, they entered China with major international clients and were providing services or financing software. But they started to conduct independent businesses with Chinese companies, like helping build India-based research centers for Chinese companies entering the Indian market," Liu noted. A Chinese national who has been engaged in engineering management in India since 2015 told the Global Times on condition of anonymity on Wednesday that India is particularly good at software outsourcing, led by Bangalore companies. They offer a relatively reasonable price for those services compared with companies from other countries. "Also, if they come to China, the financing channels, as well as China's rich business ecosystem, are there for them to explore. I guess they will also expand from IT to other sectors," he said. Liu said that developing IT ties between the two large economies can help ease the trade gap between India and China, which the Indian government has been protesting for quite some time. "Acquiring services from India is one way of easing the trade gap. And developing tourism can be a particular good solution," Liu said. In April, China imported $1.6 billion worth of goods from India while exporting $5.89 billion in goods to India, customs data shows. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China urges U.S. to stop hyping up South China Sea issue (Xinhua)
China on Thursday urged the United States to stop hyping up the South China Sea issue, after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said the United States would continue to confront China on militarization of islands in the South China Sea. "Hyping up militarization in the South China Sea by some people in the U.S. is quite preposterous, just like a thief crying 'stop thief'," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing. She said that the military forces deployed by the United States far exceed those combined by China and other coastal countries in the South China Sea. "China is not the first country or the one deploying the largest amount of weapons in the South China Sea, nor is it the most militarily active country in the region," Hua said. "So who is pushing 'militarization' in the South China Sea? The answer is quite clear." She said it is legitimate and justified for China to deploy necessary and limited national defense facilities on its own islands and reefs, as it is exercising its self-defense right as endowed by the international law. "China adopts a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, and we will not attack others unless we are attacked," Hua said. She called on the United States to abandon meaningless hype and do more things conducive to mutual trust, cooperation, and regional peace and stability. In response to the U.S. move to rename Pacific Command to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Hua called on the United States to act responsibly in the Asia Pacific region no matter how the name is changed, and to play a constructive role in regional peace and stability. ^ top ^

CPC reviews plans on rural vitalization, poverty relief (Xinhua)
The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee reviewed a plan on rural vitalization and a guideline on the battle against poverty at a meeting Thursday. The meeting was presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. Taking into account the full picture of the Party and the country's causes and in line with rural people's aspiration for better lives, the rural vitalization strategy is an important decision made by the CPC Central Committee on issues relating to agriculture, rural areas and rural people, said a statement released after the meeting. The Plan for Rural Vitalization Strategy (2018-2022) has details about future rural work focus, concrete policies and measures, and arrangements for major projects, plans and campaigns, the statement said, adding thatParty committees and governments at all levels must give priority to the implementation of the rural vitalization strategy. Local authorities and departments should step up the compilation of local-level plans for implementing the strategy and other special plans to make sure that there is regulatory basis for every aspect of the strategy, it said. China must make scientific planning, attach importance to quality and seek steady progress in implementing the strategy to raise rural people's sense of fulfillment, happiness and security, the statement said. Continued efforts in poverty alleviation were also stressed at the meeting. China has made decisive progress in the fight against poverty and made great contribution to global poverty relief efforts with Chinese wisdom and solutions, the statement said. The battle against poverty is one of the "three tough battles" that the country must win to build a moderately prosperous society by 2020. To achieve the goal, China needs to lift around 30 million poor rural residents out of poverty in the next three years. "We must be aware of the difficulties and challenges in winning the battle, and must have a stronger sense of responsibility and urgency in poverty relief," the statement said. It said that the country should continue carrying out targeted poverty alleviation, strive to meet poverty relief targets under current standards, and support areas of abject poverty, with more favorable policies and targeted measures for different households and individuals. "Party and government officials at all levels should regard poverty alleviation as an important political task, and the responsibility system on poverty relief work should be further implemented," the statement said. The supervision and evaluation mechanism for poverty relief efforts should also be improved, it said. ^ top ^

China establishes state medical insurance administration (Xinhua)
China's new state medical insurance administration was officially set up in Beijing on Thursday. Xiao Jie, state councilor and secretary-general of the State Council, said at the opening ceremony that the administration was founded to meet the people's medical needs, ease the burden of medical costs, and improve the level of health. The plan to set up a state medical insurance administration directly under the State Council, or the cabinet, was adopted by national legislature in March. The administration will be responsible for formulating policies, plans, and standards on healthcare systems in terms of medical insurance, maternity insurance, and medical assistance, and ensuring their implementation. The administration will also supervise and administer related medicare funds, improve a platform for trans-regional medical services and expense settlement, and organize related parties to fix and adjust prices for drugs and medical services, among others. ^ top ^

China no longer world's waste reprocessing plant (Global Times)
China announced a ban on imports of garbage in July 2017. Although it was a low-profile announcement, it drew wide reaction internationally. Most waste-exporting countries are unable to handle this material, which has accumulated like mountains and caused complaints. During the past 20 years, China has been the world's largest waste importer. But regardless of its carrying or processing capacity for waste, China can no longer be the world's waste processing plant. Facing severe pollution and huge waste, China can't continue to import waste and it must also acquire more advanced technology to create a unified waste processing and recycling system as soon as possible. China's capacity to deal with pollution has reached a limit. Beyond the general problems of water, air and soil pollution, there are more prominent problems like particulate matter in the air, drinking water contamination, heavy metals and chemical pollution. These are all harmful to human health. China's capacity to handle waste has also hit a limit. A large amount of rubbish is caused by rising living standards, and there is also waste brought about by China's rapid industrial development, infrastructure construction and urbanization. China's refuse treatment capacity is very basic, and waste is building up faster than it can be processed. The damage of garbage to the environment and human life is becoming increasingly unbearable. The combination of backward technology, poor management and serious secondary pollution caused by the import, accumulation and treatment of waste has imposed costs that far exceed the economic benefits brought by imported waste. Stopping such imports is the only rational choice, and it is also an important chance for China to build a waste separating and recycling system. For a huge country like China, the difficulty of establishing such a complete system is self-evident. In the process of building the specific system, we should focus on the building of new habits, learning from advanced countries' experience and following the government's overall plan. Chinese residents need to develop the habit of garbage classification and recycling. Designated bins are everywhere, but many people in China lack awareness of the recycling system, rendering many measures ineffective. We should carry out systematic training on waste classification from the earliest school years, strengthen daily media promotion and raise the importance of garbage recycling habits. We can also learn from Japan and other developed countries. For example, formulating relevant laws and regulations to improve the environmental performance of products from the source may be a good method. Government support is also needed to establish a garbage recycling industry. Now that China's industrialization has entered the late stage, the demand for waste material is not as great as it used to be, and the profits of the recycling economy have dropped a lot. Just relying on the market may not be enough. Vigorous promotion by the government can prevent the stagnation and fragmentation of the industry. For example, the government can increase investment in technological research. Western countries that have experienced environmental deterioration caused by industrialization should offer China more understanding, instead of forcing China to buy the waste that they no longer want. Waste recycling is a global problem, but that doesn't mean it should be pushed from one country to another. Whoever causes pollution should be responsible for dealing with the results. But that doesn't mean that countries can't collaborate on waste disposal issues, using technical or trade cooperation to solve this common problem. ^ top ^

Improved regulation makes more sense than just saying no to bitcoin in China (Global Times)
US news aggregation platform Reddit recently revealed plans to reinstate cryptocurrency payments after disabling bitcoin payments for its Gold membership program in late March, renewing speculation that the digital asset might regain momentum. The bitcoin resurrection, following three major corrections that the cryptocurrency has experienced so far this year, reignited debate over a broader adoption of the controversial asset, whose trading has been banned in markets including China. There's an increasing belief that just saying no to bitcoin won't be the eventual solution to the cryptocurrency issue. A more fundamental approach would be to embrace the new technology without putting the country's financial system at stake. Rumors began circulating in late February that officials from China's central bank visited the country's major crypto exchanges such as Huobi in January and sat down with their executives, a sign that crypto exchanges might be relaunched in the country. Although the rumors were subsequently dismissed by Huobi Chief Operating Officer Zhu Jiawei, talk about the revival of bitcoin trading never seems to cease in the Chinese economy, which is moving increasingly toward being innovation-driven. The decentralized asset utilizing the innovative power of blockchain technology is certainly an innovative means of payment. But the highly speculative cryptocurrency, which can make people fabulously wealthy overnight and leave them broke the next day, has bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies marked as bubblemakers. Thus it makes good sense for China to clamp down on bitcoin exchanges at a time when financial system stability is of pivotal importance to the economy, where reform continues on multiple fronts. Speaking at a press conference during this year's two sessions in March before being succeeded by Yi Gang, Zhou Xiaochuan, who was then People's Bank of China governor, noted that some of the technological applications appear to lack a focus on digital currency payments. Instead, he said, they seem to be virtual asset transactions, which are not in line with China's policy stance that requires financial products to serve the real economy. There shouldn't be a rush to use these applications, and excessively speculative products need to be avoided, according to Zhou. But fencing off bitcoin exchanges can't effectively end bitcoin trade, and fears of a bitcoin bubble could leave China behind in the digital currency revolution. Instead, the country should consider rules and regulations that can ensure the technological advance works in the economy's favor. The US Justice Department has launched a criminal probe into bitcoin price manipulation, Bloomberg reported last week, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The move, an indication of ratcheted-up US scrutiny of bitcoin trading, surely uncovered a market rife with misconduct. But it also reflects a more proactive stance the US takes in regulating the cryptocurrency market, which over time will contribute to digital currency sophistication in the world's largest economy. It's time for China to lay the regulatory groundwork for its rise as a future digital currency trendsetter. ^ top ^

China exceeds US in healthy life span for first time, says WHO (China Daily)
Chinese people can look forward to a longer healthy life than Americans for the first time since records began, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) data. Chinese newborns in 2016 can expect 68.7 years of healthy life, compared with 68.5 years for American babies, the figures show. American babies can still expect to live longer overall, dying at 78.5 years compared to China's 76.4. but during the last decade Americans are likely to suffer from ill health. "The lost years of good health that are a factor in calculating healthy life expectancy at birth are lower for China, Japan, Korea and some other high income Asian countries than for high income 'Western' countries," said WHO spokeswoman Alison Clements-Hunt. The United States was one of five nations, along with Somalia, Afghanistan, Georgia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where healthy life spans beginning at birth fell in 2016, according to the WHO data, which was published in mid-May. "Chinese life expectancy has increased substantially and is now higher than for some high-income countries," said Clements-Hunt. The US life span is decreasing, having peaked at 79 years in 2014, the first such reversal for many years, she said. The world's longest living people are the Japanese. Babies born in Japan in 2016 were forecast to live for 84.2 years.  ^ top ^



Portraits of persistence: the Hongkongers refusing to let memories die of China's 1989 Tiananmen crackdown (SCMP)
While the violence and bloodshed that rocked Beijing 29 years ago may be fading from public consciousness, for some in the capital on that fateful night, the experience remains etched in their memories, and has profoundly shaped the course of their lives. Ahead of Monday's anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on democracy protesters, the Post spoke to two of the few Hongkongers who witnessed the chaotic clearance operation. The pair shared how they narrowly escaped death amid the gunfire and tanks that ran across the city on the night of June 3 and early morning of June 4. With the help of trusted locals – who hoped their escapees would pass on the truth of what transpired – some Hongkongers managed to evade Chinese authorities and slip out of the country in the days that followed the tragedy. Kenneth Lam, then a student leader at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has since become a local human rights lawyer, fighting for the rights of grass-roots workers. He considers his work an extension of the spirit that drove the Tiananmen protest movement almost three decades ago. Taking a different path, Gloria Fung Yuk-lang left China in 1989 for Canada, from where she keeps a close eye on her hometown and works to raise awareness of the crackdown in the face of Beijing's continued attempts to muzzle any mention of the incident inside the country's borders. Both Lam and Fung see it as their responsibility to tell the world what happened, and keep up the struggle against fading memories. Their stories are often harrowing. Gloria Fung Yuk-lang, president of Canada-Hong Kong Link I was working in Beijing from 1984 until 1989, managing Danish government grant and loan projects and the World Bank's agricultural projects in China. In the early morning of June 4, the first tank came from the western side of the city to the east, where we were. We tried to stop it by placing obstacles in its path, but failed, because it just ran over them, flattening them like a piece of paper. I got on my bike and rode all the way to Tiananmen Square. As we approached there were three lines of military soldiers with guns pointing at us. They started to shoot, and someone beside me was hit as he tried to run away. The expanding bullet left a hole close to five inches wide. It had obviously exploded inside his body. People almost died instantly if they were hit. I got back on my bike and pedalled towards Beijing Hotel, very close to Tiananmen. As soon as people approached the square, they were shot dead. Some were in cars with children. We tried calling the British embassy for help but they kept asking us whether we had any Britons with us. Hongkongers were never a concern for them, so they did not send any help to get us out. So we then went to a newly established hotel in the Wangfujing area. The manager was very kind and lent us their shuttle bus. There was no driver because two had been shot dead on the way to the airport just minutes earlier. A man from Peking Union Medical College Hospital volunteered to drive us, and eventually came to pick us up just prior to noon on June 5. Before I left the bus, I asked him: "Is there anything you want us to do after we get out of Beijing?" "Tell the truth," he replied. "Share the truth with the world and preserve the truth." So that is what I have been trying to remember all these years. I consider it one of my missions to share with the world what actually happened. It was a very peaceful movement. Recognising the truth and learning from historical wrongs is the very first step to preventing a repeat in the future. Kenneth Lam, human rights lawyer and chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Students in 1989 After starting university I took part in social movements in Hong Kong out of the simple belief that our society should be better and deserved better. When we saw on television that Beijing students were demanding reforms, we felt obliged to support them. I arrived in Beijing on May 13. At about midnight on the morning of June 4, the atmosphere turned very tense as we saw the first soldiers moving across Tiananmen Square. I always thought tanks and military trucks moved slowly – I was wrong. They moved so fast, at a speed of about 60 to 70km/h. People tried to stop them but couldn't. At around 1am a long line of soldiers were seen marching from west to east. A bus almost hit a bunch of soldiers but suddenly changed direction, before stopping. We then kept hearing the sounds of gunfire. Several soldiers pulled the bus driver out onto the ground and were using the handle of the gun to hit him, despite him showing no movement. Three workers asked the soldiers to stop and threw glass bottles in their direction, but were too far away. In the meantime we heard several gunshots, and it was only later I realised those workers had been shot. At that moment I forgot to appreciate the danger and went to help the driver. He was so heavy and it was very difficult for even seven of us to carry him. You could see the blood coming down his back as if from a tap. I was shocked, as it was the first time I realised the soldiers had actually shot at citizens and students. From 2am I stayed in the square with all of the other students, perched on the top floor of a monument, listening to the gunshots. At about 4.20am, the square's lighting went off. I had been in Tiananmen so many nights by then and had not seen anything like it. But about 20 minutes later the lighting from four lamp posts was turned on again – but it was not the usual lighting we had seen in the past. It was intense and shone on the monument. Several minutes later, five or six soldiers came up to the top floor with machine guns. If they had opened fire I wouldn't be here today. However, without saying a word, a group of students surrounded me, blocking the soldiers. They pushed me down to a lower level of the monument, calling my name and saying: "What you Hong Kong people have done for us is enough. You must go back alive and tell people what happened here." My heart was very heavy. Beijingers had faced a brutal crackdown but were only asking people to tell the world. So whenever I have the opportunity, I speak the truth to everybody and anybody who will listen. We owe them. It is the least we can do. ^ top ^

Ten sentenced to up to 51 months in prison in Hong Kong riot (China Daily)
Ten violent activists were sentenced to up to 51 months in prison on Thursday for their role in the 2016 Mong Kok riot, in which 130 people were injured, including 90 police officers. Nine of the defendants received prison sentences of 28 to 51 months, and a teenager who was 17 years old at the time will be sent to a training center. The cases of dozens of others arrested in connection with the riot have been handled separately. At the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts, Magistrate Kwok Wai-kin emphasized that "unlawful violence is unacceptable in any society that exercises rule of law". Punishment sufficiently harsh to be a deterrent that will protect the public and prevent similar cases was the primary consideration in sentencing the 10, Kwok said. He said that the sentences were decided on in response not only to the individual acts but also to the serious social impact the defendants had made as a group. The magistrate said the court would not participate in political debate, meaning that the background of the riot and the political beliefs of the defendants would not be taken into consideration in determining the sentencing. Mo Jia-tao, 19, who had hurled bricks at police officers more than 11 times, got the longest sentence of 51 months in prison. Kwok said Mo's actions involved "very serious" violence and such law-defying acts would send "wrong messages" to Hong Kong's young people, who might think they could do anything without restrictions. Mo was convicted of two counts of rioting and one count of criminal damage to a police car. In the early morning of Feb 9, 2016, all the defendants participated in an unlawful assembly in Mong Kok, breaching the peace by hurling bricks pried from the pavement and setting fires in garbage bins, Kwok said. Up to 47 police officers were injured in the specific incident, in which the 10 activists participated, and a police car was also damaged, causing a loss of HK$26,000($3,300) to the special administrative region's government. All 10 defendants were remanded to Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre after being sentenced on charges that included rioting, criminal damage and assaulting police. The trial has taken almost a year. The case also involves an 11th person identified as acting along with the other 10, but whom police were unable to detain. The Mong Kok riot-the first such violent disturbance since Hong Kong's return in 1997-involved hundreds of masked participants. Among the dozens arrested, the person receiving the harshest punishment was a computer technician who was sentenced to 57 months in prison in a separate case. ^ top ^



Taiwan grants three-month stay to Chinese human rights activist seeking political asylum (HKFP)
Chinese human rights activist Huang Yan, who was granted refugee status by the United Nations, has been granted leave to stay in Taiwan for three months after entering the island seeking political asylum. Huang, 48, arrived at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei on a China Airlines flight from Jakarta, Indonesia at 8:40 pm on Tuesday. She was held at the airport until Wednesday afternoon, when she was released. Taiwan has yet to legislate a refugee law. Huang's visa was sponsored by Yang Sen-hong and Chiu Ling-yao, respectively the president and secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights NGO. On Tuesday, US-based NGO China Aid submitted written appeals to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), urging Taiwanese authorities to grant Huang temporary protection before she can be resettled in another country. "To deport an international renown[ed] human right defender with UNHCR status back to [the] country of persecution, China, will send the worst possible precedent to human rights defenders in China and the world," wrote Bob Fu, president of China Aid. Huang claimed UNHCR refugee status in 2016 owing to deteriorating health and denial of medical treatment in police custody. Fu told HKFP in a telephone interview on Wednesday that Huang cannot go back to Thailand or Indonesia, where she previously stayed, because her visas in those countries had expired. "She has no other way out [but to go to Taiwan]," he said. Huang became involved in human rights activism after meeting prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng in 2003. She then advocated for Gao's release after he was detained three years later. According to a submission to the United Nations by the NGO Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Huang was subjected to "numerous arbitrary detentions, house arrest, and disappearance." She also suffered miscarriages on three occasions due to brutality by state agents, and eventually developed ovarian cancer, according to the NGO. Huang Yan (in green shorts) protesting in Hong Kong for the release of detained Chinese lawyers and activists. File Photo: Stand News. But Huang carried on her advocacy efforts, including taking trips to Hong Kong to demand freedom for prominent activists and lawyers detained in China. HKFP has contacted Taiwan's National Immigration Agency for comment. ^ top ^



China to cut import tariffs for 1,449 taxable items of daily consumer goods(Xinhua)
China will cut most-favored-nation (MFN) tariffs for 1,449 taxable items of daily consumer goods starting July 1, from an average tariff rate of 15.7 percent to 6.9 percent, an official statement said Thursday. On average, the tariffs were cut by 55.9 percent, said the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council. An MFN tariff is one that World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries promise to impose all of their trading partners who are also WTO members, unless the country is part of a preferential trade agreement. Due to the adjustment, MFN temporary duties for 210 taxable items of imported goods will be abolished, it said. Significantly reducing the import tariffs for daily consumer goods is conducive to expanding China's opening-up and serves as a major measure and action of the country's initiative to open its market, the statement quoted an unnamed official of the commission as saying. On Wednesday, the State Council announced a decision to further cut import tariffs for daily consumer goods. The average tariff rate for clothing, shoes and hats, kitchenware, and sports and fitness supplies will be reduced from 15.9 percent to 7.1 percent, and that for home appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators from 20.5 percent to 8 percent. The average tariff rate for cultured and fished aquatic products and processed food such as mineral water will be cut from 15.2 percent to 6.9 percent, according to a statement released after the meeting. The average tariff rate for detergents, cosmetics such as skin care and hair care products, and some medicine and health products will be cut from 8.4 percent to 2.9 percent. ^ top ^

Beijing may have response to Washington (China Daily)
China will evaluate the influence of the renewed threat of restrictions the United States has placed on Chinese investment and exports and will reserve the right to take countermeasures, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday. The recently announced US restrictions do not conform to the basic principles and spirit of the World Trade Organization, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a regular news conference on Thursday. He said China does not want to see bilateral trade friction escalate and believes the two countries have a huge potential for cooperation based on extended common interests. On Tuesday, the White House said it would place investment restrictions and tougher export controls on Chinese people and entities purchasing industrially significant technology in order to ensure US national security. Even though trade tensions between China and the US had appeared to cool down following talks in Washington and the two countries issued a joint statement on May 20, the administration of US President Donald Trump said it would announce the list of imports subject to tariffs and proposed investment restrictions on China by June 15 and June 30 respectively. Gao said China is always open for talks and confirmed that a US trade delegation of more than 50 people arrived in Beijing. He hoped that the two countries' negotiating teams would meet each other halfway and facilitate the consensus reached in Washington days ago. James Gorman, chairman and chief executive of US investment bank Morgan Stanley, said it is worth noting that the US-China trade disputes are taking place within a broader global context of the US having trade discussions with the European countries, talking about redefining the North American Free Trade Agreement and having withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. "I believe in open markets and free trade around the world. I think it's constructive to the largest economy in the world to find a solution to trade disputes without them becoming a major economic crisis," Gorman said. While the Trump administration follows an "America First" agenda, China has been promoting global free trade and ramping up domestic reforms, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in the 2018 American Business in China White Paper released on Wednesday. The white paper said US companies in China are more optimistic and confident in growth, thanks to continuous efforts by the Chinese government to improve the business environment for foreign companies. As was pointed out at the State Council's executive meeting on Wednesday, China's domestic consumption will surpass that of the US this year, and visionary companies will not want to miss the prospect of the Chinese market, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing on Thursday. Trade experts suggest that China should respond in kind to the Trump administration's renewed threats of tariffs on Chinese goods. Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Commerce Ministry's International Trade and Economic Cooperation Institute, said, "China can accept measures that comply with international rules, but it will not accept those coming from another country's domestic law." "We must prepare for all possible contingencies to deal with the Trump administration's capricious acts," Mei said. "External interference by the US cannot deter China's pace of further opening and upgrading its economy," said Chen Wenling, chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. Such continual efforts are not driven by external pressure of trade conflicts, she said, but underpinned by China's firm stance to further enrich and diversify the national economy via reform and opening-up policies. ^ top ^



Mike Pompeo says Korea summit talks are 'moving in right direction' but meeting still hasn't been confirmed (SCMP)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that talks aimed at setting up a historic summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are "moving in the right direction", but that they had not yet led to a final agreement to move ahead with the meeting. "We made real progress in the last 72 hours towards setting conditions" needed to finalise plans for a Trump-Kim meeting, tentatively planned for June 12 in Singapore, Pompeo said in a briefing at the Lotte New York Palace hotel, part of the South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group. The negotiations in New York, in conjunction with earlier meetings in Singapore and at the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas, Pompeo said, were "putting President Trump and Kim Jong-un in a place where we think there could be real progress made". Pompeo said that North Korean Vice-Chairman Kim Yong-chol, with whom he had negotiated on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, would travel to Washington on Friday to deliver a letter from Kim Jong-un to Trump. Asked whether a summit meeting would be confirmed after that delivery, Pompeo said he did not know. Earlier in the day, Trump told reporters in Washington that Pompeo's meetings with Kim, North Korea's former military intelligence chief whom the State Department describes as Kim Jong-un's "point person", had been going "very well". He added, "I look forward to seeing what's in the letter." Later, aboard Air Force One, Trump told Reuters that it might take more than one meeting to seal a denuclearisation deal and that he would like North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme as quickly as possible under any agreement. "I'd like to see it done in one meeting," he said. "But oftentimes that's not the way deals work. There's a very good chance that it won't be done in one meeting or two meetings or three meetings. But it'll get done at some point." It was not clear if Trump meant he would need a second summit with Kim to reach the US goal of persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms, or if he believed more lower-level talks were needed. Kim Yong-chol arrived in New York on Wednesday on a flight from Beijing for meetings with Pompeo to discuss how the two sides would address Washington's demand that Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear weapons programme. On his Twitter account, Pompeo posted a series of photographs from meetings with Kim on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. North Korea conducted a series of missile tests and nuclear detonations last year, which led to the imposition of additional United Nations Security Council resolutions meant to isolate the country economically. On December 22, the UN body unanimously imposed the most recent set of sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang's November 29 test launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15, which military analysts have said can reach cities in the US. The real threat to [North Korea's] security is continuing to hold on to their nuclear weapons programme Mike Pompeo Pompeo said it may take "days and weeks" for Pyongyang to agree to the US demand of complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation, commonly referred to now as "CVID". "There's a long history where North Korea has viewed its nuclear programme as providing security," he said. "The real threat to their security is continuing to hold on to their nuclear weapons programme. "I believe they are contemplating a path forward to make a decision that the country has not been prepared to make before. They'll have to choose a path that is fundamentally different." Pyongyang, which declared in November that it completed its mission of becoming a nuclear force, has a different view of denuclearisation and remains deeply concerned that abandoning its deterrent would leave it vulnerable, especially while the US maintains a military presence in South Korea. Sue Mi Terry, a Korean expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that Pompeo and Kim are "obviously trying to figure out if the US and North Korea can bridge the gap on the two sides' very different definitions of denuclearisation". North Korea, Terry said, has always meant the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, which would include a security guarantee for the region and the end of hostile policies by the US, including its alliance with South Korea and the deployment of US troops on the peninsula. Terry, a former Korea analyst for the CIA, warned that it would be a "disaster" if Trump and Kim Jong-un were surprised by their differences at a summit meeting and could not come to "even a remotest agreement" on what denuclearisation means. That meeting looked uncertain last week, after a turbulent few days of diplomatic brinkmanship that culminated in a letter by Trump to Kim, saying he would abandon the summit because of Pyongyang's "open hostility" towards US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump then said on Friday that his administration remained in contact with North Korea and that the June 12 summit meeting with Kim Jong-un might still take place. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Tuesday that the White House was preparing for the meeting to take place as originally planned. ^ top ^

Pompeo says senior DPRK official to deliver letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump (Xinhua)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that a senior official of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was planning to travel to the White House to deliver a letter from the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un to President Donald Trump. Pompeo made the remarks at a press briefing in New York after wrapping up his two-day meeting with a visiting DPRK delegation, led by Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the DPRK's ruling Workers' Party of Korea Central Committee. Earlier in the day, Trump told reporters that he is expecting the delegation led by Kim Yong Chol to come to Washington on Friday to deliver a personal letter from Kim Jong Un. In the briefing, Pompeo noted that his talks with the high-level DPRK official, whom he had met twice during his trips to the DPRK, went on well and he was confident that the two sides were "moving at the right direction" after a string of talks over the past week. Pompeo said progress had been made in New York as well as at other venues where conversations were taking place. However, the U.S. top diplomat responded with "don't know" when asked if the summit will take place as originally scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. "There remains a great deal of work to do," Pompeo said. On Thursday morning, the U.S. president also downplayed the opportunity for any big breakthrough in one meeting. "Hopefully we'll have a meeting on the 12th ... It doesn't mean it gets all done at one meeting; maybe you have to have a second or a third. And maybe we'll have none," Trump told reporters before leaving for Houston. The latest positive progress for the summit followed recent twists and turns and the whirlwind of diplomacy over the weekend. Trump announced cancellation of the meeting in a letter to Kim Jong Un last week, citing "tremendous anger and open hostility" displayed by Pyongyang recently. In response to Trump's letter, the DPRK's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said Friday that the country is ready to sit down with the United States any time in any manner for talks to solve the problems existing between them. Trump then reversed course, saying both sides wanted the meeting to happen and it could still go ahead after productive talks. He also confirmed on Sunday that a U.S. official team had arrived in the DPRK to talk about preparation for the talks. ^ top ^

ROK, DPRK start high-level talks at Panmunjom (China Daily)
High-level officials of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) started talks at the border village of Panmunjom on Friday, Seoul's unification ministry said. The senior-level dialogue kicked off at about 10 am local time (0100 GMT) at the Peace House, an ROK building in Panmunjom. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon headed the five-member ROK delegation, comprised of officials in charge of railway, sports and inter-Korean cooperation. The DPRK delegation was led by Ri Son-gwon, a chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland. ^ top ^

Moon voices need to support inter-Korean cooperation following denuclearization (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in on Thursday called for measures to support economic cooperation with North Korea, stressing a need to readjust government spending to support cross-border exchanges in case Pyongyang abandons its nuclear ambition. "Our economy will face a great change if South and North Korean relations improve and peace is established on the Korean Peninsula. We will also need to review in advance the role of our fiscal spending to support a new economic map on the Korean Peninsula in preparation for a resumption of economic cooperation between the South and the North," the president said in a meeting with top government officials. The meeting held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae was aimed at discussing the government's fiscal policy over the next five years. It was attended by 80 heads of government ministries and committees, along with ruling party leaders. President Moon Jae-in (2nd from R) speaks in a national fiscal policy meeting held at his office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on May 31, 2018. (Yonhap) Moon's remarks came amid a thaw in inter-Korean relations following his two historic summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this year. Kim is also set to hold a bilateral summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore. The unprecedented U.S.-North Korea summit, if held, is widely expected to put an end to the North's nuclear ambition, which in turn could remove international sanctions currently imposed on the communist state. Seoul has yet to remove its own sanctions against the North but it is widely expected to do so if the U.S.-North Korea summit, slated to be held June 12, is successful. President Moon also stressed the need for government spending to spearhead growth, as well as positive changes in the local market. "Fiscal spending is a way to realize national policies. Right now, our society faces many structural difficulties, such as low-growth, polarization, low birth rate and fast aging of the population. I have repeatedly stressed the need for active government efforts to overcome such structural problems," he told the meeting, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports. The president insisted his administration's economic and fiscal policies must be moving in the right direction, noting the average income of all households grew 3.7 percent on-year in the first quarter while the local economy expanded 1.1 percent over the same period. Still, he called for efforts to further develop his three main economic strategies -- fair competition, income-led growth and innovation-led growth. "While income-led growth and fair competition are ways to ensure more inclusive and fair growth, the foundation for economic growth comes from innovation-led growth. Therefore, income-led growth and innovation-led growth are things that must move together, not things we have to choose between," he said. "However, there are many views that there still exists no clear outcome of or vision for innovation-led growth a year after our government launched," the president added. He especially called for efforts to make sure the benefits of growth are broadly shared. "Still, there are many areas where we came too short to say the people's lives are improving," Moon said, noting the average income of households in the lower 20 percent bracket has in fact decreased despite the 3.7 percent increase in the average income of all households in the first quarter. The president said there may be many reasons for the growing polarization but the recent hike in the minimum wage could have been one of the reasons, and he speculated that the increase in the minimum wage could have reduced job opportunities for low-income earners. "If there is a possibility that the increase could have reduced the income of low-income earners by reducing their employment or working hours, that could be an adverse effect of the wage increase, and the government will have to come up with measures to counter such effects," he said. "I ask you to thoroughly review such a possibility and come up with more active measures to address the reduction in the income of low-income earners, especially aged workers," he added. ^ top ^



Cabinet approves list of projects to be financed by Chinese soft loan (Montsame)
At its regular meeting on May 30, the Cabinet approved a list of projects to be implemented with the financing of the Chinese government's soft loan of USD 1.0 billion. Following projects will be realized with the soft loan :
Project on constructing electric power transmission lines and sub-station between Ulaanbaatar and Mandalgobi'
Project on reconstruction of Erdenet thermal power plant
Construction of new wastewater treatment plant
Construction of 20.9km road from Gachuurt intersection to Nalaikh-Choir intersection
Construction of meat-processing plant and quarantine facility
Project on developing area of Tuul and Selbe rivers
Project on setting surveillance cameras in streets of Ulaanbaatar city and aimag centers
Project on building tunnel
Project on improving access, quality and control of communication sector
Moreover, the Government decided to put proposal to Chinese side on implementing 'Hydro Power Plant in Erdeneburen soum' project. The Mongolian Parliament approved the general agreement on utilization of USD1 billion loan from the Chinese Government in November 2015. ^ top ^

Fluorspar export reaches 78.3 thousand tons in three months (Montsame)
A discussion of fluorspar miners was held yesterday organized by the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry and the Mineral Resource and Petroleum Authority (MRPA) and gathered some 100 delegates from the Ministry, the MRPA, relevant agencies and authorities as well as fluorspar mining companies. Fluorspar export makes up 1.4 percent of mineral export of Mongolia. In the first quarter of 2018, fluorspar export increased two times, reaching 78.3 thousand tons and earning USD 25 million compared with the same period of the previous year. 42 percent of it was exported to China, 55 percent to Russia and 3 percent to other countries. Regarding the price, 97 percent fluorspar concentrate is purchased at USD 308 per ton and 85 percent fluorspar concentrate is at USD 278 per ton. As of May 28, there are 175 fluorspar mining licenses out of total 1643 mining licenses registered in the MRPA. Currently, 20 fluorspar processing plants are operating in Mongolia. Fluorspar mining companies asked to resolve issues related to illegal miners and to improve legal environment. ^ top ^

UNDP Resident Representative meets heads of Standing Committees (Montsame)
Delegates led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Ms. Beate Trankmann met with the heads of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget and Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science. At the meeting with the Head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget B.Choijilsuren, Ms. Beate Trankmann noted that the UN and Asian Development Bank (ADB) joint working group worked in Mongolia on policy advice to intensify the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in November 2017 and made three key recommendations in the preliminary conclusions. Specifically, ensuring the coherence of policy-making and implementation processes, and establishment of monitoring system on Cabinet Secretariat level to monitor implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and programs financed by the state budget. In addition, it was noted that the policies and budget expenditure must be in compliance with the Concepts of Mongolian Sustainable Development-2030. MP B.Choijilsuren noted that the world is watching the increasing economic indicators due to successful implementation of Extended Fund Facility with support of international donor organizations. However, if we do not adhere to budget discipline there will be no improvement when the program completes. Later, Ms. Beate Trankmann met the head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science, MP Yo.Baatarbileg and head of the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Sustainable Development Goals, MP A.Undraa. Head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee Yo.Baatarbileg said that the country has experienced a decline in the socioeconomic sectors and the number of targeted groups in need of welfare has increased, but the Government of Mongolia is focusing more on increasing employment, stabilizing the economy, GDP growth and maintaining inflation at a certain level rather than giving direct welfare allowance. The United Nations Population Fund Representative in Mongolia Naomi Kitahara emphasized "Certain laws are being adopted in your country, but the budget for the implementation of these laws is not enough to achieve the goals and objectives." At the end of the meeting MP Yo.Baatarbileg said that the 'Sustainable Development Forum' could be held during the parliamentary spring session and stated that the standing committee is ready to fully cooperate. ^ top ^

Parliament endorses to increase the coverage of child allowance (Montsame)
During its plenary meeting on May 30, Mongolia's Parliament approved a resolution on increasing the coverage of child allowance, with 68 percent votes of turnouts. By doing so, the number of children who receive monthly allowance of MNT20.000 will be increased by 222 thousand, reaching 80 percent of total children of the country. The increase of the coverage of child monetary benefit will require an annual budget of MNT205 billion. The Ministry of Finance is now ready to issue the required funding starting from April until the end of this year. Current distribution of the benefit to 60 percent or 684 thousand children used to take some MNT164 billion per year. ^ top ^

Video-conference held on implementation of Mongolia-Russia-China Economic Corridor (Montsame)
On May 30, a trilateral video-conference of experts of Mongolia, Russia and China, the parties to implement the establishment of 'Mongolia-Russia-China Economic Corridor' was held. V.Enkhbold, Director-General of the Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led the Mongolian representatives in the conference. Russian and Chinese sides were led by E.N.Popov, Director of the Department for Asia, Africa and Latin America, the Ministry of Economic Development, and by Xiao Weiming, deputy Director of the Department for Western Region Development, National Development and Reform Commission respectively. During the conference, the sides discussed about contents of 'Memorandum of Understanding on establishing a joint mechanism to advance the implementation of Mongolia-Russia-China Economic Corridor'. ^ top ^

Minister D.Tsogtbaatar invited to attend ARF Ministerial Meeting (Montsame)
Foreign Affairs Minister D.Tsogtbaatar met with Yip Weit Kiat, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Singapore to Mongolia on May 30, discussing bilateral relations. Expressing his satisfaction with current level of relations between Mongolia and Singapore, Minister D.Tsogtbaatar stated the importance of expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation as well as augmenting investment made by Singaporean businesses to Mongolia. Ambassador Yip Wei Kyat also highlighted significance of reciprocally sharing development experience of the two countries and affirmed to continueon going and mutually agreed cooperation projects. Furthermore, the Ambassador invited Minister D.Tsogtbaatar to attend the Ministers' Meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) which will be held in July in Singapore. ^ top ^

Deputy Foreign Minister works in Poland (Montsame)
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister B.Battsetseg worked in Warsaw, the Republic of Poland on May 25-26. During her visit she discussed the bilateral cooperation between Mongolia and Poland and attended events organized by Mongolian NGOs operating in European countries. Deputy Minister B.Battsetseg met with her Polish counterpart Piotr Wawrzyk. The parties emphasized the active development of bilateral relations in recent years and expressed their interest in deepening the bilateral cooperation in economy, trade, culture, education and defence sectors. On May 25, Deputy Minister B.Battsetseg delivered a lecture on Mongolia's trade, economy and investment environment at the University of Warsaw and exchanged views with the Mongolian Studies Department teachers and researchers. She also expressed her gratitude to Polish scholars and professors who successfully organized the 'Mongolia and Mongolians: Past and the Present' second International Scientific Conference on May 6-9 in Warsaw and wished luck in their further researches on Mongolian cultural and historical heritage. Moreover, Deputy Minister was invited to the 'Intellectual Existence in Poland' online interview co-hosted by the Embassy of Mongolia in Poland, 'Mongolian language and cultural center in Poland and Electronic Station NGO, and held open interview with Mongolians living in Poland. During her working visit Deputy Minister B.Battsetseg also attended the 'Women-Health' forum hosted by the Association for the Development of Mongolian Women in Europe, delivered a speech on Mongolia's soft power policy and introduced the initiatives and measures aimed at strengthening and promoting the social status of Mongolian women working and living overseas. Over 100 women from 14 European countries and Mongolia gathered at the forum. ^ top ^


Yang Xinhui
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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