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
  16-20.7.2018, No. 726  
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China, Switzerland to strengthen military cooperation (China Daily)
State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe met with Swiss Chief of Armed Forces Philippe Rebord in Beijing on Thursday. Wei said Switzerland is China's key cooperation partner in Europe and China stands ready to work with the Swiss side to advance military cooperation in all areas and make contributions to the China-Switzerland innovative strategic partnership. Rebord said Switzerland is willing to work with the Chinese side to deepen cooperation in high-level military exchanges, personnel training, international peace-keeping, among others, to boost the military-to-military relations. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Britain says Huawei "shortcomings" expose new telecom networks risks (SCMP)
Technical and supply-chain issues with equipment made by Chinese firm Huawei have exposed Britain's telecom networks to new security risks, a government report said on Thursday. The assessment, made in a report signed off by Britain's GCHQ spy agency, will intensify the espionage debate around Huawei Technologies, which has come under increasing fire in the United States and Australia over concerns it could facilitate Chinese government spying. The report was released after sources told Reuters that senior British security officials say they can now give only limited assurances that Huawei's UK operations pose no threat to national security, downgrading their previous position. "Identification of shortcomings in Huawei's engineering processes have exposed new risks in the UK telecommunication networks and long-term challenges in mitigation and management," officials said in the report. Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecoms equipment, said that it welcomed the thrust of the report by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) oversight board, which it said showed supervision by British authorities was working well. "The report concludes that HCSEC's operational independence is both robust and effective. The Oversight Board has identified some areas for improvement in our engineering processes," a Huawei spokesman said. "We are grateful for this feedback and are committed to addressing these issues. Cyber security remains Huawei's top priority, and we will continue to actively improve our engineering processes and risk management systems." Huawei says no inspection has ever found any backdoor vulnerabilities in its equipment. It says it is a private company not under Chinese government control and not subject to Chinese security laws overseas. Huawei is a major supplier of broadband gear and mobile networks in Britain, meaning its products are used in critical national infrastructure which could be targeted by foreign adversaries. London says it effectively addresses security issues by having all Huawei products reviewed by staff at a special company laboratory overseen by British government and intelligence officials. The laboratory, known as HCSEC, was set up by Huawei in 2010 in response to British government concerns about possible security threats to national infrastructure. British security officials, including from GCHQ, sit on its oversight board and report annually on its work. But for the first time, Thursday's report by the oversight board reduced the level of security assurance it said was provided by HCSEC. Officials said HCSEC provided "unique, world-class cyber security expertise and technical assurance," but also that they had identified technical issues which limited security researchers' ability to check internal product code. There were also concerns about the security of components from outside suppliers which are used in Huawei products, the report said. A spokesman for Britain's National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), said a programme to resolve the code issue was underway and should be completed by mid-2020. HCSEC is discussing questions about the use of third-party software with Huawei, he added, with the aim of finding a "strategic fix" for the problem." "This government and British telecoms operators work with Huawei at home and abroad to ensure the UK can continue to benefit from new technology while managing cyber security risks," he said. Previous oversight board reports published in each of the last three years concluded that HCSEC provided "assurance that any risks to UK national security from Huawei's involvement in the UK's critical networks have been sufficiently mitigated." A person with direct knowledge of Huawei's work with the British government said the new assessment that HCSEC could now only provide limited assurance was a "big change, though understated." Huawei has been deepening ties in Britain over the last decade and now supplies broadband equipment to the country's largest telecoms provider, BT Group, and mobile networks for wireless giant Vodafone Group. It is also a major supplier to other European telecom carriers including Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica. BT, its operating subsidiaries, and Vodafone were not immediately available to comment on Thursday's report. Huawei employs 1,500 people in Britain and in February pledged to spend a further 3 billion pounds ($4.01 billion) in Britain following a high-profile meeting between chairwoman Sun Yafang and British Prime Minister Theresa May. That is in stark contrast to the United States, where lawmakers have stepped up efforts to bar Huawei equipment from the country's networks. Huawei has also been thwarted in its efforts to establish its U.S. mobile handset business. The largest U.S. consumer electronics retailer, Best Buy, has stopped stocking Huawei products, and a potential breakthrough deal with U.S. carrier AT&T Inc collapsed in January. Australia is also preparing to ban Huawei from supplying equipment for its planned 5G broadband network, two sources told Reuters last week, after its intelligence agencies raised concerns that Beijing could force the company to hand over sensitive data. ^ top ^

China never steals other countries' technology through military-civilian integration (Xinhua)
The Foreign Ministry on Thursday strongly refuted allegations that China stole other countries' technology through military-civilian integration. "The accusations of the U.S. official against China are totally unfounded and irresponsible, the Chinese side firmly opposes them," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a daily press briefing. Hua made the remarks when asked to comment on a recent speech given by Christopher Ford, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation. Ford reportedly openly claimed in the speech that China intended to evade U.S. export control policies, legally or illegally acquire advanced U.S. technology through civil nuclear cooperation, and was dedicated to using military-civil fusion approach for military purposes and great-power competition. "China firmly opposes the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. It has been strictly fulfilling international obligations for nuclear nonproliferation and related international commitments, comprehensively and fully implementing relevant resolutions of UN Security Council, and actively participating in the international nonproliferation process," stressed Hua. China has for years kept a high sense of responsibility and gradually built a perfect system for nonproliferation and export controls, under which, strict measures have been adopted to ensure that relevant regulations are implemented effectively. China has in this way made active efforts and great contribution to safeguarding the international system on nonproliferation and advancing international and regional peace and security. "Promoting military-civilian integration is a common practice of the international community, including the United States," said Hua. "China's military-civilian integration development strategy aims to effectively integrate military and local resources and promote a coordinated development of national defense and economy and society." There is no such thing as stealing or transferring foreign technology through military-civilian integration, Hua pointed out. For many years, China and United States have been carrying out cooperation on the basis of mutual benefits and win-win results, which are also in line with industry and national interests of both sides, said the spokesperson. "China's active efforts and important contributions in the field of nonproliferation export controls are there for all to see," she said. "The U.S. move of disregarding facts and making arbitrary fabrications does not help to carry out and promote nonproliferation export control between the two countries, nor does it help normal economic, trade, scientific and technological cooperation, based on the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit," Hua said. "This will not serve the common interests of the two sides." "We hope that the United States could discard its outdated Cold War mentality and view relevant issues in a correct way and contribute more to mutual trust and cooperation rather than unwarranted accusations and suspicion," said the spokesperson. ^ top ^

Xi's visit a milestone in UAE ties (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping arrived in the capital of the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, kicking off a two-day state visit. This is the first visit to the Arab nation by a Chinese head of state in 29 years. During the visit, Xi is scheduled to meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. A series of important agreements in such cooperation areas as the Belt and Road Initiative, production capacity, energy, agriculture and finance are expected to be reached during the visit. It will be a new milestone in the China-UAE relationship, said UAE Ambassador to China Ali Al Dhaheri. "The visit is an important step as the UAE seeks to build long-term economic, cultural, trade and investment ties with China," he said. Huang Yongzhang, president of the Chinese Business Council in the UAE, said Xi's visit will boost political and economic ties between the two countries. The economic ties between the two countries reflect their keenness to promote investments and development projects, Huang told UAE state news agency WAM. "The coming period will witness the establishment of new partnerships between Emirati and Chinese companies in many key sectors, such as industry, manufacturing, finance, culture, education, energy and agriculture," Huang said. The UAE ambassador also spoke highly of the strategic partnership between the two countries, which was established in 2012. The UAE is the first Arab country that entered into such a partnership with China. He noted that the high-level exchanges between the two countries have played a vital role in promoting the China-UAE relationship to achieve new progress. The China-UAE relationship is at the best period in history. The UAE is one of the Middle East countries that have the most in-depth cooperation with China in the broadest areas with most concrete achievements, Ni Jian, Chinese ambassador to the UAE, told Xinhua News Agency. "It is an example of the pragmatic and win-win cooperation based on mutual respect between China and the Arab and Islamic countries," Ni said. China has been the UAE's largest trading partner for several years while the UAE has become China's second-largest trading partner and largest destination of exports in the West Asia and North Africa region. In 2017, two-way trade volume reached $40.98 billion, a year-on-year increase of 2.3 percent, the Foreign Ministry said. Xi's first overseas trip of the year will also bring him to Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa. He will attend the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg and visit Mauritius during a stopover. Xi is making the state visits at the invitation of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. On Wednesday, Xi published a signed article titled Working Hand in Hand for a Better Future in two leading newspapers in the UAE. He noted that in the past year the number of Chinese tourists traveling to the UAE exceeded 1 million for the first time. ^ top ^

Chinese premier meets Malaysian PM's special envoy to advance relations (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday met with Daim Zainuddin, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's special envoy in Beijing, expressing a willingness to maintain the sound momentum of bilateral ties. Zainuddin, who is also a member of a high-level advisory council set up by Mahathir, first gave Li a letter written by Mahathir. In the letter, Mahathir, sworn in for his second term as prime minister on May 10, said the new government would continue to develop friendly ties with China and further enhance their bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, adding that it welcomes Chinese enterprises' investment in Malaysia and is optimistic about the prospects of bilateral relations. Hailing the traditional friendship between the two countries, Li said the visit by the special envoy testified that the new government of Malaysia attaches great importance to relations with China and hopes to see a stable bilateral relationship. "China is willing to work with Malaysia to maintain a sound momentum of bilateral ties based on mutual respect and equal treatment, and better synergize the Belt and Road Initiative and development strategies of Malaysia," said Li. He called for efforts to promote cooperation on major projects including industrial parks, coastal industrial areas, and transportation infrastructure, expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges and better benefit both peoples. Li said a positive China-Malaysia relationship is conducive to both the people and the peace, stability, and development in the region. Relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have improved steadily, and both sides expect to expand mutually beneficial cooperation, said Li, adding that Malaysia has made important contributions to China-ASEAN ties in the past. China hopes that Malaysia will continue to play a constructive role in further advancing China-ASEAN cooperation, he said. Calling China a good friend of Malaysia, Zainuddin said Prime Minister Mahathir pays high attention to relations with China and is willing to work closely with China to promote bilateral ties. No matter what problems occurred in the process of developing bilateral ties, the two countries can always find a solution, he said, adding that Malaysia would like to work with China to forge ahead development of both countries, other Asian countries, and the China-ASEAN cooperation. ^ top ^

Chinese neuroscientist cries foul after 'arrogant' US embassy refuses him a visa … again (SCMP)
A Chinese neuroscientist who once held US citizenship has accused the US embassy in Beijing of arrogance after he was turned down for a visa – the latest in a series of denials he has experienced from the embassy. Rao Yi, the dean of Peking University's School of Life Sciences, said he had been invited by the National Science Foundation (NSF), a government agency based in Alexandria, Virginia, to attend a science workshop on July 23 and 24 in Washington. But his plans were scuppered when his visa application was rejected, possibly as a result of the tighter screening process introduced last month for Chinese academics and students in the fields of science and hi-tech manufacturing. "Most embassies try to make more friends for their countries, [but] the US embassy is arrogant," Rao told the South China Morning Post. "I am invited by the NSF, a government agency, but the State Department is taking the opposite path," he said. "This will have a negative impact for the US." In a report by Science magazine, Rao said he had attended an interview at the embassy on Monday, during which he was asked to provide an updated copy of his résumé and travel schedule. A spokesman for the mission in Beijing told the Post he could not discuss the details of individual visa cases. Under the new rules, Washington reduced the maximum length, from five years to one, of the visas that can be granted to Chinese graduate students who want to continue their studies or research in America in the fields of aviation, robotics or advanced manufacturing. The restrictions do not apply, however, to those working in neuroscience. Rao, 56, earned his doctorate in neuroscience in 1991 at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), before going on to complete a postdoctoral programme at Harvard University. He later joined the faculty at Washington University in Missouri, where he worked for 10 years, and successfully applied for US citizenship. In 2007, Rao returned to China and took up the dean's job in Beijing he holds to this day. He also surrendered his US citizenship, but continued to travel to his former home for business and pleasure. Those trips came to halt in 2016, however, when he was denied a visa to enter the US to attend a reunion at his alma mater in San Francisco, the Science report said. It was the same story when he applied for a visa so he could attend a conference at the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and also visit his daughter, a US citizen. Despite his latest disappointment, Rao said that being turned down for a US visa would not have an impact on his research work. With Chinese President Xi Jinping setting his sights on making the country a major player in the field of hi-tech manufacturing, Washington has increased its scrutiny of a competitor it has described as a threat to national security. ^ top ^

Cuban president, CPC senior official vow to deepen China-Cuba relations (Xinhua)
China and Cuba vowed to further strengthen ties and deepen their friendship during a meeting between Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Chinese senior official Li Qiang on Tuesday. Li, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee, conveyed to Diaz-Canel Chinese President Xi Jinping's greetings and expressed congratulations on Cuba's new leadership elected in April. Li said the two countries are bound by the common ideal. In the new era, China will continue to steadfastly deepen its sincere, loyal friendship with Cuba, promote mutually-beneficial and win-win cooperation, be partners in reforms and development, so as to lift the Sino-Cuban relations to a higher level. Diaz-Canel, president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers, sent his best wishes to Xi and said that the current Cuba-China relations are at the best period in history. Cuba is striving to upgrade its economic and social patterns, he said, adding that the Communist Party of Cuba is willing to strengthen multi-level communication with the CPC and exchange experience in socialism construction. At the invitation of the Communist Party of Cuba, a CPC delegation led by Li is visiting Cuba on July 14-17. ^ top ^

China, EU agree to promote multilateralism, support free trade (Global Times)
China and the European Union (EU) on Monday agreed to jointly work to safeguard the rules-based international order, promote multilateralism and support free trade. The agreement was reached during the 20th China-EU leaders' meeting, co-chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Both sides agreed that faced with the current complicated international situation, especially the rise of unilateralism and protectionism, China and the EU, as two major forces and economies of the world, have the joint responsibility to safeguard the rules-based international order, advocate multilateralism, and support free trade so as to promote world peace, stability and development. Both sides also agreed to jointly safeguard the UN charter and international law, and enhance dialogues on diplomacy and security policy to address common challenges. The two sides are firmly committed to fostering an open world economy, promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and resisting protectionism and unilateralism. Both sides strongly support the rule-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) as its core and were committed to complying with existing WTO rules. The two sides agreed to set up a joint working group to discuss the WTO reform. China and the EU exchanged market access offers of the ongoing investment agreement negotiations during the leaders' meeting and agreed to make the negotiations a top priority and strive to build an open, transparent, fair and predictable business environment for investors. The two sides also called on efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation in areas including environment, energy, circular economy, scientific innovation, intellectual property rights (IPR), industry, digital economy, and urbanization. Both sides agreed to set up dialogues on drugs and humanitarian assistance and launch a joint feasibility study on deepening cooperation in the wines and spirits sector. Both sides pledged to deepen China-EU Dialogue on IPR and strengthen their collaboration in IPR protection. The two sides stressed their commitment to expanding two-way opening up and improving market access and investment environment, promoting synergies between China's Belt and Road Initiative and EU's initiatives, and accelerating the negotiations of the agreement on the cooperation and protection of geographical indications. Both sides agreed to further advance the activities within the framework of the 2018 China-EU Tourism Year and facilitate tourism cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. The two sides committed to supporting the G20, as the premier forum of international economic cooperation, continuing to play its active role in global economic and financial governance. Both sides agreed the common interests between China and the EU are far more than the differences, and they will continue to adequately solve the differences in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Noting China-EU ties are at a crucial period, Li said that China firmly supports the European integration and hopes to see the EU maintain unity, stability and development. China is willing to enhance strategic communication and pragmatic cooperation with the EU to forge ahead the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, Li said. Stressing that China's door will only open wider to the world, Li said the Chinese government issued a negative list for foreign investment not long ago and will further ease market access. He encouraged the EU to grasp the opportunity to expand investment in and trade with China, ease the limitations on high-tech exports to China and create a fair and transparent environment for Chinese investment in Europe. Li also briefed Tusk and Juncker on the seventh China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) leaders' meeting held in Bulgaria, saying the China-CEEC cooperation (also dubbed 16+1 cooperation) is an open, transparent and inclusive trans-regional platform and a helpful supplement to China-EU ties. The China-CEEC leaders' meeting agreed to set up a 16+1 Global Partnership Center of CEEC and China in Sofia, Bulgaria to help enterprises from 17 countries better understand EU laws and regulations, he said. Li welcomed European countries and EU institutions to conduct third-party cooperation with China in the CEEC to reach a win-win situation. This year marks the 15th anniversary of forging a comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the EU. Both Tusk and Juncker said the two sides had scored achievements in areas of trade, investment, diplomacy, connectivity and climate change in the past 15 years. The current international structure is undergoing major changes which will affect world peace and development, they said. They called on both sides to shoulder common responsibilities and resist protectionism and unilateralism, respect world-acknowledged international rules, draw lessons from history and avoid conflicts and upheavals. They agreed that the 16+1 cooperation is conducive and the EU is glad to see China and the CEEC have face-to-face communication and cooperate with respect to the EU and within its functions and powers. The two sides also had an in-depth exchange of views on regional and international issues of common concerns. After the meeting, Li, Tusk, and Juncker witnessed the signing of a series of documents in the areas of investment, environment protection, circular economy, a blue partnership for the oceans and customs. Both sides agreed to issue a joint statement of the 20th China-EU summit and China-EU leaders' statement on climate change and clean energy. Also on Monday, Li and Juncker attended the opening ceremony of the China-EU entrepreneurs' roundtable. Both Li and Juncker believed that China and the EU enjoy broad prospects of economic, trade and investment cooperation, calling on both sides to expand two-way opening up, ease market access, and improve the business environment to better realize win-win cooperation. They also met the press on Monday morning. Li said both sides exchanged market access offers, which would bring the investment agreement negotiations to a new stage, stressing it accords with the common interests of China and EU to reach the agreement as soon as possible. "At present, the progress of the negotiations shows that China and EU are committed to promoting liberalization and facilitation in trade and investment, opposing protectionism and unilateralism, and supporting the rule-based multilateral trade system, Li said. Li expressed his hope that both sides would have a positive and flexible attitude to achieve further progress in the negotiations, and put FTA issues on the agenda. Tusk and Juncker spoke highly of exchanging market access offers, saying they hoped the negotiations would make more progress. ^ top ^

China welcomes improvement in Russia-U.S. ties (Xinhua)
China welcomes the improvement in Russia-U.S. relations, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Tuesday. Hua made the remarks at a press conference, commenting on the first official face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. She said China welcomed the meeting between the heads of state of Russia and the United States. "Both Russia and the United States are permanent members of the UN Security Council and major countries with important international influence, and they shoulder important responsibilities for international peace and security," Hua said. "China is happy to see Russia and the United States improve relations." "China hopes that the two sides will strengthen communication and expand cooperation, which is conducive to the cause of world peace and development and will help the international community to jointly meet common challenges." Asked whether the meeting would affect China-Russia or China-U.S. ties, Hua said China was "full of confidence in the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination and the Sino-Russian relations will not be affected by any external factors." "Our position on developing Sino-U.S. relations has also been clear and consistent." Trump and Putin started their first bilateral meeting on Monday in Helsinki, where they agreed to cooperate on conflict in Syria, terrorism and nuclear disarmament. ^ top ^

Chinese president meets World Bank president in Beijing (People's Daily)
President Xi Jinping on Monday met with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in Beijing. Hailing the sound long-term cooperation between China and the World Bank, Xi said China appreciated the World Bank for supporting the Belt and Road Initiative, promoting capital increase and shareholding reforms in recent years, and improving the representation and voting power of emerging markets and developing countries, including China. "The World Bank is an important force in safeguarding multilateralism and economic globalization," Xi said. "China is willing to deepen global development partnership with the World Bank, strengthen trade liberalization and facilitation, jointly promote global poverty alleviation and sustainable development, safeguard an open world economy and build a community of a shared future for humanity." The world today is a global village. Despite the constant appearance of unilateralism and protectionism, the blended interests and shared destiny of different countries and economic globalization are irresistable, and win-win cooperation represents the general trend, Xi stressed. "China's development has benefited from economic globalization and trade liberalization, and contributed greatly to global economic growth as well, " said Xi. "We oppose the false accusations against China and will firmly safeguard its legitimate interests." As a responsible major country, the builder and contributor to the current international system, China will unswervingly support the improvement of the multilateral trade system and the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, striving to work together with different partners for making the cake of cooperation bigger and achieve mutually beneficial, win-win results, he said. "We put forward the Belt and Road Initiative to facilitate international development and cooperation by achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration on the basis of international rules," said Xi, stressing that China is willing to further cooperate with the World Bank under the framework of Belt and Road. Kim expressed gratitude to China for its long-term great support to the World Bank. Noting that all countries should avoid shutting themselves in, and abide by the rules in the era of globalization, Kim said the World Bank appreciated China's support for multilateralism and economic globalization, as well as for capital increase and shareholding reforms at World Bank. "The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi reflects farsightedness and greatly contributes to international development and cooperation and cause of poverty reduction," Kim said. "The World Bank is willing to deepen cooperation under the initiative." ^ top ^

Chinese president meets UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay (Global Times)
President Xi Jinping on Monday met with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Audrey Azoulay in Beijing. While welcoming UNESCO Director-General Azoulay for her first visit to China, Xi said the future and destiny of people all over the world were increasingly linked closely. "In the new era, China adheres to cultural self-confidence, vigorously develops educational, scientific, technological and cultural undertakings, and improves the quality of civility," Xi said. "China also upholds the concept of 'a world of great harmony' and harmonious coexistence, and advocates mutual respect, greater exchange and stronger mutual understanding for different cultures." China is willing to make greater contributions to advancing dialogue between civilizations, human development and progress, said Xi. "As the world's largest intellectual cooperation organization, UNESCO can play an important role in building a community with a shared future for humanity," Xi said. Stressing that the sustained and stable development of China's relations with UNESCO was conducive to global peace and prosperity, Xi said China attached great importance to UNESCO and firmly supported the important role UNESCO had played in advancing global development. "China is willing to deepen cooperation with UNESCO, work together for the benefits of the people of all countries, especially for helping developing countries progress in education, science and technology, and culture," Xi said. Azoulay thanked China for its firm support for UNESCO and spoke highly of cooperation between the two sides, saying she appreciated China's commitment to multilateralism. There is a resurgence of isolationism and unilateralism in the world today, said the UNESCO chief, suggesting that the international community should embrace openness and inclusiveness, uphold multilateralism, and advocate dialogue and exchange, which are the importance part of global governance. Noting UNESCO was highly compatible with Chinese concepts, Azoulay said UNESCO agreed with Xi's proposition to "build a community with a shared future for humanity." "UNESCO is willing to actively participate in cooperation associated with Belt and Road Initiative and contribute to global peace, security and cooperation," Azoulay said. ^ top ^

Liu Xia misses memorial service for husband Liu Xiaobo in Berlin (SCMP)
The public memorial service in Berlin to mark the first anniversary of the death of Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner who died in custody, was not attended by his widow Liu Xia. Friends said she was unable to attend owing to fears for her health and concerns about her younger brother Liu Hui, who remains in China. She was said to have remembered her husband alone yesterday. For hours on Friday evening, the quiet Gethsemane Church in Berlin became the focal point for an massive international media corps waiting for a sighting of Liu Xia, who was allowed to leave China earlier this year after eight years under de facto house arrest. Hundreds of influential German figures including Nobel Literature laureate Herta Müller and former German president Joachim Gauck, members of the exiled Chinese dissident community and supporters of Liu Xia and her late husband packed the church – which once provided a refuge for East German dissidents – as the memorial service began at 6pm local time. The service had been organised by German pastor Roland Kühne, long associated with human rights causes, and Tienchi Martin-Liao, president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. […] Other members of the public who attended the service included the 25-year-old Hong Kong student Kung Wai, who studies art in Berlin. She said she was very excited to learn of Liu Xia's arrival in Berlin but her mainland Chinese classmates were simply unmoved. "I invited my mainland classmates to come along, but they have been warned back home not to get involved with overseas political events for fear of affecting their future careers," she said. In 2008, Liu Xiaobo was detained and the following year he was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment for state subversion after drafting Charter 08, a manifesto calling for sweeping political reforms in China. His wife was placed under effective house arrest at the end of 2010 when Liu Xiaobo was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo. Liu Xia, a poet, photographer and painter, was kept there for eight years, but was never charged with any offence. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Ocean expedition heads into Arctic for studies (China Daily)
The Chinese icebreaker Xuelong will set out for northern seas on Friday to continue its research of the Arctic Ocean's environment, ocean circulation patterns and natural resources. For the first time, it will search for new environmental pollutants. Measuring ocean acidification and the spread of microplastics will continue to be major parts of the expedition this year-a planned 22,800-km voyage-after they were studied for the first time last year, scientists said during a media briefing on Thursday. Ocean acidification is internationally acknowledged as worsening in the Arctic, mainly as a result of rising carbon dioxide emissions. Also, microplastics may trigger environmental disasters, such as the bleaching of coral reefs, and affect marine biodiversity, the scientists said. "We achieved world-class research results last year in those two aspects and will continue to make efforts this time to address regional and global environmental issues," said Xia Limin, deputy head of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration. The situation in the Arctic Ocean is undoubtedly better than that of the oceans adjacent to continents with dense populations, but it will deteriorate with global warming and the decrease of sea ice, the researchers said. Marine microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic often used in such things as facial cleansers that pass through wastewater treatment plants and reach the ocean. Environmental experts said microplastics have been discovered in zooplankton and can eventually find their way to human stomachs if consumed by fish and other creatures higher up the food chain. Environmental research, including the distribution of zooplankton in the Arctic, sedimentation of organic carbon and marine microorganisms and their gene resources, will be another key issue for the 131-member expedition team before it returns in September. "The Arctic Ocean is an important marine channel for the Belt and Road Initiative, and the country has put forward green Belt and Road construction. Such observations and research will help provide higher-level scientific support for collective ecological protection," said Wei Zexun, chief scientist of the expedition team. Studies on the interaction of sea, ice, air and ocean circulation-which all play a role in affecting the global climate system and its variations-will continue to be undertaken by the expedition with the ultimate goal of responding to climate change, Wei said. "The ecosystem in the Arctic region is closely related to disastrous blizzards and sleet in China. So such studies will also be meaningful for the country's marine disaster prevention," he said. ^ top ^

Xi stresses people-centered approach in flood control, disaster relief (Global Times)
President Xi Jinping has stressed a people-centered approach to flood control and disaster relief work and urged all-out efforts to ensure the safety of people's lives and property. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark in an instruction on flood control and disaster relief work as rainstorms have hit many regions across the country, triggering landslides and flooding of rivers since July. Noting that China has entered flood and typhoon season, Xi urged Party committees and governments of related regions to firmly adhere to a people-centered approach, carry out rescue and relief work at full strength, minimize casualties, properly arrange people's lives in disaster areas and reduce disaster losses to the minimum. Since July this year, rainstorms have hit many regions, triggering flooding of rivers, including the Yangtze, Yellow, Jialing, Tuojiang, and Fujiang rivers. As of July 18, a total of 20.53 million people in 27 provincial-level regions had been affected by flooding with 54 dead and eight missing. Flood disasters also affected 1.759 million hectares of crops and flattened 23,000 houses, inflicting direct economic losses of 51.6 billion yuan (7.6 billion U.S. dollars). Xi ordered local authorities of relevant regions to strengthen emergency duties, fulfill responsibilities, and refine planned measures to ensure disasters can be addressed quickly. Monitoring and early warnings of meteorological, flooding, and geological disasters should be enhanced and inspections of major areas should be strengthened to prevent disasters and secondary disasters, Xi said. The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ministry of Emergency Management should coordinate all social forces and resources, and guide local governments to carry out relief work and make all-out efforts to ensure the safety of people's lives and property and social stability, Xi said. Flood-hit regions have launched emergency responses and taken all efforts to relocate people and repair facilities. The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ministry of Emergency Management have dispatched work teams to flood-hit areas to lead relief work. ^ top ^

China's food security threatened by drastic drop in crop varieties (Global Times)
Over 70 percent of food crop varieties has disappeared in six regions in China, including Central China's Hubei and Hunan provinces, which agricultural experts fear may threaten China's food security. The native food crop varieties in 375 counties of six provinces and cities have shrunk from 11,590 in 1956 to 3,271 in 2014, according to a national food crops meeting on Wednesday in Changsha, capital city of Hunan Province, the Science and Technology Daily reported Thursday. A survey of 830 counties in 12 provinces found that disease-resistant varieties have rapidly disappeared. For example, about 94 percent of local rice varieties in Hunan has disappeared. China conducted its third national food crops survey in 2015 to support the development of unique agricultural products. The survey looked into food crops in 2,228 counties in China in five to six years and saved food crop resources in 665 counties, according to the Science and Technology Daily report. "The loss of local food crop varieties resulted from of the country's inadequate preservation methods, and some places only focused on yield," Li Xiaoyun, a professor at the Beijing-based China Agricultural University, told the Global Times on Thursday. Some native varieties of rice, soybeans and wheat, while low in yield, could adapt to the local environment and resist drought or waterlogging, Li said. "Their loss has lessened the diversity of food crops in China, which may ultimately affect the total yield of the country's food crops and threaten food security," Li said. Li Xinqi, a research fellow at the China National Hybrid Rice R&D Center, told the Global Times on Thursday that some native varieties with a relatively long history in China have lost their ability to resist disease and pests. But local agricultural authorities should preserve their genes for future study, according to Li Xinqi. Chinese agricultural experts have collected 29,763 ancient native varieties and endangered wild plants, and will conduct surveys in provinces including Sichuan, Shaanxi, Jiangsu and Guangdong later this year. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping awards merit citations (Xinhua)
Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi Jinping has signed orders to award merit citations to three individuals. Professor Xiao Fei, head of a research institution at the Naval University of Engineering, was awarded a first-class merit citation. Third-class citations were awarded to Pan Weiqing, a professor at the former Second Military Medical University; and Xiao Longxu, chief engineer and researcher of the former equipment research institute of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Rocket Force. ^ top ^

Xi stresses winning poverty relief battle by 2020 (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping has called for greater efforts to win the battle against poverty on time, and build a demonstration area for implementing new development concepts. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, recently made important instructions on the work of Bijie Trial Zone in southwest China's Guizhou Province. "Over the past 30 years, under strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee and with support across all walks of life, significant changes have taken place in Bijie Trial Zone, as it has become a model of the country's poverty alleviation drive," Xi said. With less than three years left on the nation's timetable to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, Xi called for prime resources be allocated and precise efforts to ensure the region wins the battle against poverty in a timely fashion. "After 2020, the regional development should dovetail with the strategy of rural revitalization with a far-sighted and preemptive approach," Xi said. He also stressed the importance of advancing green development, human resource development and institutional innovations, and making the trial zone into a demonstration plot for implementing new development concepts. Xi asked the united front to continue to support the region's reform and development under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee. Wang Yang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, addressed a symposium on the united front's role in Bijie Trial Zone construction, held in Bijie city on Thursday. ^ top ^

China hands out rewards to encourage more births (Global Times)
Regions across China have introduced family-friendly policies, including extending maternity leaves and rewarding couples for having a second child this year, to improve the country's low fertility rate. However, demographers expressed doubts about these policies, saying that the country should first cancel fines and penalties to couples who violate family planning policies. Shihezi in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region recently adopted five new policies for families who have two children, the director of the maternity insurance department of the Shihezi Human Resource and Social Security Bureau surnamed Zhou, told the Global Times on Wednesday. Maternity leaves for women who have a second child have been extended from 98 days to 128 days, and prenatal examinations during working hours are also counted in work hours, Zhou said. "These policies ensure that women need not worry about paying during pregnancy and maternity leave even if the company they are working for are not profitable, as the social insurance will cover it," Zhou said. "But encouraging more births requires comprehensive policies from other government agencies, such as education policies," Zhou added. Thirty regions in China have extended paid maternity leaves to up to a year since 2017, one year after the country amended its family planning policy to allow all families to have a second child. Some cities also granted subsidies to families of four. Yichang in Central China's Hubei Province offers free child delivery services to women having a second child, and Xiantao in Hubei even gives couples 1,200 yuan ($179) for giving birth to a second child, news site reported Wednesday. Northeast China's Liaoning Province said it vows to improve tax, education, social welfare and housing policies to a family of four. However, He Yafu, a demographer, told the Global Times on Wednesday that these supportive policies would have a very limited effect on encouraging births, as China still penalizes families which have three or more children. Such penalties have created the misconception that more births would harm the country's development, according to He. "The government should immediately abandon 'social maintenance fees,' which are used to fine people for violating the family planning policy," He said. Penalties against civil servants or employees from public institutions should also be removed, he said. China has not yet released the 2017 fertility rate. But in 2016 it was 1.7, a rate that experts previously said is on the red line, going by the Low Fertility Trap Hypothesis. ^ top ^

Businessman jailed for privacy violations after helping expose Chinese judges' illicit activities (SCMP)
A businessman from central China has reportedly been sentenced to four years in prison for violating the privacy of judges after he hired detectives to photograph them indulging in activities like gambling and extramarital affairs. Wu Zhengge, a property developer from Yiyang city in Hunan province, hired private detectives to follow and take undercover photos of several judges from January 2015 to May 2016, whom he then reported to the police for breaking the law. The case, which ignited local debate, highlights the difficulties faced by so-called citizen journalists seeking to expose corruption by local officials in the spirit of the nationwide anti-corruption drive spearheaded by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Wu was sentenced to four years in prison and fined 30,000 yuan (US$4,465) by the People's Court of Anxiang County for "illegally obtaining a citizen's personal information", including travel and accommodation details, China Youth Daily reported on Tuesday. The private investigator he hired, Zhang Lili, was also fined 30,000 yuan and sentenced to three years in prison. An additional detective, Zhou Liang, was given "lighter treatment" by the law since the court ruled that he served as an accomplice, according to the report. The detectives used undercover cameras and GPS trackers to follow the movements of a number of Yiyang and Heshan District Court judges. Wu paid each investigator more than 10,000 yuan for their services. His exact motives for hiring the investigators were not known but his trial subsequently heard that in 2014 he had sent allegations of corruption at the Yiyang court to the local authorities. His lawyer told court that these complaints had either been dismissed or passed to lower-level departments and Wu had decided to investigate further after being told to provide more detail about the claims, reported. As a result of his investigation, Wang Maohua, deputy judge of the People's Court of Heshan District, was photographed holidaying in Guangzhou and Hainan Island with an unidentified woman, presumed to be his mistress. The leak of the photographs online prompted a public outcry, according to China Youth Daily, and the local district's disciplinary commission began an investigation. Soon afterwards, online rumours flew about Xie Deqing and Xia Xiaoying, judges from Heshan District and Yiyang City municipal courts, gambling in a clubhouse, as well as another Heshan District judge, Cao Deqin, sharing a hotel room with a married woman. These reports were picked up by local media, igniting further public outrage over the state of the local judiciary system and sparking intense speculation over the real identity of the source, "Wu Zheng". Wang Maohua and Cao Deqin were both suspended as the result of a joint investigation by Yiyang city disciplinary committee and Yiyang City Intermediate People's Court. Xia Xiaoying has also been placed under investigation but further details of the case are not known. In July 2016, Xie Deqing and Wang Maohua were officially charged with judicial corruption as part of the same investigation. Earlier this year People's Daily reported that the pair had been convicted of helping to falsify evidence in a bribery case involving a corrupt party boss, with Xie being jailed for two years and Wang for 18 months. Despite this, Wu was arrested by local police in June 2016 on suspicion of being the whistle-blower quoted in local media reports. He was charged with illegally obtaining the personal information of individuals and loan fraud. His defence lawyer, Wu Danhong from the China University of Political Science and Law, argued that the men had not used the information they obtained for criminal purposes and legally reported the judges' activities. However, the court held that since Wu and his co-defendants obtained the information illegally, that already constituted a crime. Wu Danhong told China Youth Daily that Wu Zhengge had travelled long distances to report corruption in public or semi-public spaces, and immediately provided the incriminating material to the local disciplinary commission and the media, resulting in the prosecution and suspension of the judges involved. He further argued that Wu was heeding the state's call for citizens to report corruption as part of President Xi's widespread anti-corruption drive. Wu Danhong added that there was no clear legal distinctions on the means of obtaining conclusive evidence of corruption. The newspaper likened the case to a 2013 case involving five Shanghai judges who were suspended by the party disciplinary committee after being caught on camera visiting prostitutes and having extramarital affairs at a high-end hotel. The citizen who secretly filmed the judges participating in these activities was not charged with a criminal offence. Reactions to the whistle-blower's sentence were mixed on the Chinese internet. "Public officials should be supervised by the public," said one commenter on news portal "Who told him to report people indiscriminately? The judges were not standing on the wrong side. Which public officials should step down should be determined by the authorities, it's not up to you," said another user on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. ^ top ^

US academic and critic of Beijing censorship loses job at top Chinese university (SCMP)
An American professor and vocal critic of Beijing's censorship has said he has lost his job at the prestigious Peking University and is leaving China. Christopher Balding, who had taught for the past nine years at Peking University's HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, said in a blog post on Tuesday that the school had not renewed his contract. Balding wrote in his post that he was given an "official" reason for his contract not being renewed, but added: "I know the unspoken reason for my dismissal." He said he was notified in early November that his contract would not be renewed. "You do not work under the Communist Party without knowing the risks," he wrote. Balding, an associate professor at the HSBC School of Business, did not respond to an emailed request for comment, and his Chinese mobile phone number was disconnected. Officials at Peking University in Beijing and at the business school campus in Shenzhen could not immediately be reached for comment. Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has stepped up censorship and tightened controls over the internet and various aspects of civil society, as well as reasserting Communist Party authority over academia and other institutions. Last August, Balding launched an online petition calling for Cambridge University Press to refuse all censorship requests from the Chinese government after the publisher had bowed to pressure from Beijing to block online access to hundreds of scholarly articles in China. Cambridge University Press reversed the decision and restored access to the articles within a few days. Balding is a high-profile voice on the Chinese economy, with an active Twitter account with more than 17,000 followers, as well as regular Bloomberg columns. He is widely quoted in media. Balding has been a critic of China's economic and trade policies, as well as of what he perceived as increasing surveillance and censorship in the country. "The restrictions and how much they monitor you have increased significantly over the past couple of years," he told Reuters last year during the controversy over Cambridge University Press. "As a foreign professor, as long as I don't talk about 'four T's' – Taiwan, Tibet, Tiananmen and The Party – I'm pretty much OK," he said at the time. Balding, a self-described libertarian, adopted a variety of Twitter handles referencing targets of Chinese censorship, including "Subversive Peppa Pig Balding" and "Censored John Oliver". His current handle is "Capitalist Roader Balding", from the Mao Zedong-era slur for someone with capitalist tendencies. Balding said in his post that he had hoped to find a new position that allowed him to stay in China, but that it became clear he could not stay. "China has reached a point where I do not feel safe being a professor and discussing even the economy, business and financial markets," he wrote. ^ top ^

Seminar on China's human rights progress held in Wuhan (Xinhua)
A seminar on China's human rights progress in the course of reform and opening up was held in central China's Wuhan on Wednesday. Over 100 representatives from the national human rights education and training base, human rights research institutes, and related government departments attended the seminar. Jointly held by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the publicity department of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, the seminar discussed topics including the human rights development path, theoretical innovation, practice, and achievements. Participants agreed that China has built a relatively complete human rights protection system, made remarkable achievements, and embarked on a path of human rights development that suits Chinese characteristics over the past four decades of reform and opening up. ^ top ^

Former Gansu vice governor sentenced to 15 years in prison for bribery (Xinhua)
Yu Haiyan, former vice governor of China's Gansu Province, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 6 million yuan for taking bribes by a court in Chongqing on Wednesday. Yu's illicit gains will be turned over to the state treasury, according to the verdict announced by the First Intermediate People's Court of Chongqing Municipality. The court found that between 1998 and 2016, Yu took advantage of his positions to seek benefit on product sales, project contracting, real estate development and personnel arrangements and promotions for others. He was convicted of accepting money and gifts worth over 65.63 million yuan (9.8 million U.S. dollars) personally or through his wife, Li Yanhua, said the court. Yu confessed his crimes, provided leads on his case, and returned all the bribes, which constituted mitigation of sentence, the court said. Yu decided not to appeal. ^ top ^

In Hangzhou, good credit brings people deposit-free services (China Daily)
Residents with good credit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, will be able to avoid paying deposits for a number of services, including bicycle rentals, and hospital or hotel reservations. The city launched its Credit Hangzhou app last month, making it easier for people to check their own credit records and search for services they can use deposit-free-if the credit score is high enough. It also vowed to promote more daily use of the app to make credit ratings a "gold pass" in the city. An official with the Hangzhou development and reform commission said the city will work with the travel, transportation and lodging sectors to enable those who study, work and travel in the city to avoid paying deposits. The call also received a warm response from e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is headquartered in Hangzhou. Zhima Credit, its online credit scoring platform, has 7.28 million registered users in the city, with 3.69 million reaching the bench mark for deposit-free services. That means one-third of Hangzhou residents can now enjoy deposit-free services in such things as bicycle-sharing and hotel accommodations, with 14.3 billion yuan ($2.21 billion) in deposits waived. "We will continue to work toward popularizing more deposit-free services and applications," said Min Rui, deputy general manager of Zhima Credit. She added that the company aims to help users waive 100 billion yuan in deposits over the next year through business stimulation and product upgrades. Chen Jun, a professor at Zhejiang University's School of Management, told China Daily that Hangzhou, with its booming internet sector and role as a hub of internet financing and third-party payment firms such as Ant Financial, has unique advantages in fostering such deposit-free services. To further facilitate the sound development of startup enterprises, the city also vowed to boost business innovation by allowing small and medium-size startups with good credit to rent office space and equipment without paying deposits. "This is of great significance, since in China difficulties in financing have long been a bottleneck that hinders the healthy development of SMEs. It will be good news for those entrepreneurs with good credit records who have really creative business plans and innovative ideas," Chen said. ^ top ^

First Chinese student sues university over professor's alleged sex assault (Global Times)
A female graduate who was allegedly assaulted by a professor at a university in Nanchang, East China's Jiangxi Province has sued the school for failing to protect her from sexual assault, the first such case in China involving a college. Sun Rou (pseudonym), a graduate of Nanchang University, filed a lawsuit on July 11 against the university and Zhou Bin, a professor who allegedly sexually assaulted her in 2016 for about seven months. She said that as an institution of higher learning, Nanchang University should offer morally upright teachers. The university has failed to offer adequate security and protection as the Ministry of Education requires, which led to Zhou's behavior. It should be held liable as well, China Women's News reported. Sun is also demanding that Zhou pay her 140,000 yuan ($20,969) in damages, including 10,000 yuan for psychological consultations, 80,000 yuan for therapy and 50,000 yuan for mental distress. Sun said she suffers from Stockholm syndrome, wherein victims sympathize with their predator. "My psychological condition is bad, often immersed in fear and confusion. I often have nightmares. The university can pay my psychological consulting fee first and then seek money from Zhou," Sun wrote on her Sina Weibo on Monday. The lawsuit was filed in the people's court in Nanchang's Donghu district on July 11. It takes seven days for the court to review it, Wan Miaoyan, Sun's attorney, told the Global Times on Tuesday. The Global Times contacted Sun but she declined an interview request, saying only that she is "waiting for the court's decision." Nanchang University removed Zhou in 2017 as the deputy head of Nanchang University's Academy of Chinese Classics and suspended him. Cheng Shuijin, the institute's head, who was contacted by Sun but declined to speak up for her, was also removed from his post, the university announced on its Weibo in December 2017. Sun was allegedly assaulted for the first time on December 15, 2016 when she brought Zhou a package. "I said no, and then he hit me hard. He told me to stop moving. I freaked out," she told The Beijing News in 2017. "I decided to speak up in order to protect other people like me," Sun said. Lü Xiaoquan, a lawyer at the Beijing Zhongze Women's Legal Counseling and Service Center, a Beijing-based NGO, told the Global Times that the university will likely pay from 10 to 30 percent of the damages. If Sun wins, it would encourage other victims of sexual assault, Lü said. Chinese media has reported 14 sexual assault cases at China's universities since 2014, news site reported in January. ^ top ^

Is China's atheist Communist Party trying to eradicate Islam? (SCMP)
Green-domed mosques still dominate the skyline of China's "Little Mecca", but they have undergone a profound change – no longer do boys flit through their stone courtyards en route to classes and prayers. In what locals said they fear is a deliberate move to eradicate Islam, the atheist ruling Communist Party has banned children under 16 from religious activity or study in Linxia, a deeply Islamic region in western China's Gansu province that had offered a haven of comparative religious freedom for the ethnic Hui Muslims there. China governs Xinjiang, another majority Muslim region in its far west, with an iron fist to weed out what it calls "religious extremism" and "separatism" in the wake of deadly unrest, throwing ethnic Uygurs into shadowy re-education camps without due process for minor infractions such as owning a Koran or even growing a beard. Now, Hui Muslims fear similar surveillance and repression. "The winds have shifted" in the past year, said a senior imam who requested anonymity. "Frankly, I'm very afraid they're going to implement the Xinjiang model here." Local authorities have severely curtailed the number of people over 16 officially allowed to study in each mosque and limited certification processes for new imams. They have also instructed mosques to display national flags and stop sounding the call to prayer to reduce "noise pollution" – with loudspeakers removed entirely from all 355 mosques in a neighbouring county. "They want to secularise Muslims, to cut off Islam at the roots," the imam said, shaking with barely restrained emotion. "These days, children are not allowed to believe in religion: only in communism and the party." More than 1,000 boys used to attend his mid-sized mosque to study Koranic basics during summer and winter school holidays but now they are banned from even entering the premises. His classrooms are still full of huge Arabic books from Saudi Arabia, browned with age and bound in heavy leather. But only 20 officially registered pupils over the age of 16 are now allowed to use them. Parents were told the ban on extracurricular Koranic study was for their children's own good, so they could rest and focus on secular coursework. But most are utterly panicked. "We're scared, very scared. If it goes on like this, after a generation or two, our traditions will be gone," said Ma Lan, a 45-year-old caretaker, tears dripping quietly into her uneaten bowl of beef noodle soup. Inspectors checked her local mosque every few days during the last school holiday to ensure none of the 70 or so village boys were present. Their imam initially tried holding lessons in secret before sunrise but soon gave up, fearing repercussions. Instead of studying five hours a day at the mosque, her 10-year-old son stayed home watching television. She said he dreamed of being an imam, but his schoolteachers had encouraged him to make money and become a communist cadre. The Hui number nearly 10 million, half the country's Muslim population, according to 2012 government statistics. In Linxia, they have historically been well integrated with the ethnic Han majority, able to openly express their devotion and centre their lives around their faith. Women in headscarves dish out boiled lamb in mirror-panelled halal eateries while streams of white-hatted men meander into mosques for afternoon prayers, passing shops hawking rugs, incense and "eight treasure tea", a local speciality including dates and dried chrysanthemum buds. But in January, local officials signed a decree pledging to ensure that no individual or organisation would "support, permit, organise or guide minors towards entering mosques for Koranic study or religious activities", or push them towards religious beliefs. "I cannot act contrary to my beliefs. Islam requires education from cradle to grave. As soon as children are able to speak we should begin to teach them our truths," he said. "It feels like we are slowly moving back towards the repression of the Cultural Revolution," he said, referring to a nationwide purge from 1966 until 1976 when local mosques were dismantled or turned into donkey sheds. Other imams complained authorities were issuing fewer certificates required to practise or teach and now only to graduates of state-sanctioned institutions. "For now, there are enough of us, but I fear for the future. Even if there are still students, there won't be anyone of quality to teach them," one imam said. Local authorities failed to answer repeated calls seeking comment but Linxia's youth ban comes as China rolls out its newly revised Religious Affairs Regulations. The rules have intensified punishments for unsanctioned religious activities across all faiths and regions. Beijing was targeting minors "as a way to ensure that faith traditions die out while also maintaining the government's control over ideological affairs", said William Nee, a China researcher at Amnesty International. Another imam said the tense situation in Xinjiang was at the root of changes in Linxia. The government believed that "religious piety fosters fanaticism, which spawns extremism, which leads to terrorist acts – so they want to secularise us", he said. But many Hui are quick to distinguish themselves from Uygurs. "They believe in Islam too, but they're violent and bloodthirsty. We're nothing like that," said Muslim hairdresser Ma Jiancai, 40, drawing on common stereotypes. Sitting under the elegant eaves of a Sufi shrine complex, a young scholar from Xinjiang said his family had sent him alone aged five to Linxia to study the Koran with a freedom not possible in his hometown. "Things are very different here," he said with knitted brows. "I hope to stay." ^ top ^

Scholars question why China fails to cultivate top talent (Global Times)
Nobel laureate Yang Zhenning's remarks questioning the country's lack of top scientists have sparked wide discussions about China's ability on scientific innovation amid the ongoing trade friction between China and the US. Yang's comment echoed a question raised by Qian Xuesen, the "father of Chinese rocketry and space technology," in 2005, "Why do China's schools always fail to develop outstanding talent?" It is worth discussing "whether China is unsuccessful in cultivating top talent, whether there is anything that can improve the situation and whether it is important to work on the issue," Yang said at the 20th anniversary of the Fundamental Science Class of Tsinghua University, the Beijing News reported. The answer to all these questions is "Yes," Jin Xianmin, a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University's School of Physics and Astronomy, told the Global Times on Monday. Jin said the younger generation of Chinese scientists should be given more resources and chance to deepen their studies. Programs like "The Thousand Talents Plan" was good but more efforts are needed, Jin stressed. The discussion comes amid trade friction between China and the US, which prompted China's academic sector to discuss ways to train more students to help make the country more independent and innovative in core technologies. China has been reflecting on its core scientific research capabilities, especially on domestic chips, after Chinese smartphone maker ZTE was caught in the crossfire of the trade frictions and was banned from buying US processors. Gu Binglin, dean of Tsinghua University's Institute for Advanced Study, noted that talent development should be mission-driven rather than assignment-driven. China's research environment has brought unnecessary pressure to younger researchers to achieve immediate results, Jin said. He called for a more diverse and inclusive attitude. ^ top ^

Rare study from top advisory body shows population issue a 'national crisis' (Global Times)
China's labor supply is estimated to drop by 100 million every 15 years after 2020, while more incentives are urged to better implement the second-child policy to address a shrinking labor force and aging society, according to a study from China's top political advisory body. The labor supply of China will continue to decrease. It is estimated that the working population of the country will be 631 million in 2020, and the number will drop to 523 million in 2035, and 424 million in 2050, said a survey from the population commission of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The survey, which lasted one month and ended in June, said that the fast developing AI technology of China can help solve the problems brought by the shrinking labor force. The survey, which was rare in its kind, showed that more government agencies have realized the sustained low fertility rate in the country, demographic expert Huang Wenzheng told the Global Times. The survey, published in a report of a newspaper affiliated with the CPPCC, found that the total number of births in East China's Shandong Province, where residents "have the greatest wish to have a second child," actually dropped in 2017 compared to that in 2016. The report attributed the main reason to people's worries that they financially "couldn't afford a second child" although they are willing to have one. However, Huang argued that the explanation was "ducking the question and confusing the public, saying that simply attributing the fewer births of a second child to the high cost of raising children is not correct. The issue of China's aging population is becoming more prominent in major cities such as Beijing. In 2017, the population over age 60 reached more than 3.3 million in the capital, accounting for 24.5 percent of the total population, according to the report. China's population issue has become a national crisis that deeply affects its sustainable development, said Huang. A decreasing Chinese population "would mean a decreasing number of talents, which will ultimately affect the innovation of Chinese technology," he said. ^ top ^

Chinese students refuse to leave 'best' residence and allow foreigners to move in (SCMP)
A college in eastern China has denied giving overseas students preferential treatment after its Chinese students staged a protest, claiming they had been forced to give up their rooms to foreigners and move to inferior accommodation. The dispute erupted between education authorities and students of Wuxi Institute of Technology, a vocational school in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, over what the undergraduates said was an order to evict them from the best residence building to make way for overseas students, reported. Teachers tried in vain to persuade them to move on Monday morning before returning on Tuesday afternoon to try again as tempers flared in a row witnessed by about 40 other students, Yangtse Evening Post reported. A video posted on Weibo, China's Twitter, on Tuesday shows a teacher urging students to move out of the building on Monday evening, and quarrelling with them as they refuse to leave. "This is the school's property," yells the teacher in the video. "Who are you?" The student who posted the video refused to be named for fear of retaliation but told the South China Morning Post those who would be in their third year in the autumn were upset about moving to older buildings. "Students [in the replacement building] can only use public showers nearby, and these have restricted hours," the student said. "We were forced into this for overseas students. This is so unfair." The video went viral online, with many viewers sympathising with the protesters. The institute issued a statement on Weibo on Wednesday morning, saying that the room changes were to allow it to accommodate 320 new overseas students in buildings that were close together. The building that the students were told to move into lacked 24-hour access to showers with hot water, but the public baths could meet their needs and their new building would be renovated, it said. "Dormitory adjustment is a regular practice," the statement said. "Many meetings had been held and students had been informed before moving." The statement said the move into the older building had been completed, but the student who posted the video said students were threatened with not being able to graduate if they refused to comply. The Yangtse Evening Post report said the institute denied making the threat or punishing any students for the incident, but admitted it had spoken to and "educated" the two teachers seen in the video, who it said had shown "improper" attitude. An unidentified official from the institute was quoted by as saying that the claim overseas students had been given the best building was a matter of opinion. The institute has attracted a growing number of overseas students, according to the news portal, which said the first intake of 40 in 2014 was followed by 50 in 2015, 150 in 2017, and 320 this year. ^ top ^



Yangtze River Delta Integration Plan signed (Global Times)
The three-year Yangtze River Delta Integration Plan has been officially signed, according to domestic website the Shanghai Observer. The plan, which will be implemented until 2020, will deepen economic integration between the eastern Chinese provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and the municipality of Shanghai, all located along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, which stretches across some of the most productive regions in China. The plan was first formulated in June during a formal conference in Shanghai, which was attended by top leaders from the central government and all involved regions. The final plan includes measures to increase cooperation in 12 economic sectors, including energy, IT, finance and environment. Regional integration is expected to enhance economic activity through improved innovation, higher efficiency and attracting talented workers to the Yangtze Delta, which is expected to consolidate its position as the "door to the Asia-Pacific." ^ top ^



Panchen Lama visits Jokhang Temple (Xinhua)
The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, Thursday visited Jokhang Temple, the most revered monastery in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. He arrived at Jokhang Temple at 5:26 a.m., greeted by lamas lining up at the temple gates holding Tibetan incense and Buddhist prayer flags. The Panchen Lama visited the major halls of the temple, bowed in salute three times and presented a hada, a long, scarf-like white silk used by Tibetans for blessings, to a statue of Buddha Sakyamuni. According to historical records, the statue of Buddha Sakyamuni was brought to the temple by Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty in the seventh century. The Panchen Lama then led sutra chanting at the temple, praying for peace, prosperity, and stability, with over 100 monks from the Jokhang Temple and Tashilhunpo Monastery. At about 6 a.m., the Panchen Lama performed a head-touching ritual to bless the lamas. The Panchen Lama serves as vice president of the Buddhist Association of China and is a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body. ^ top ^

Tibet compensates residents for damage caused by wild animals (Xinhua)
Tibet Autonomous Region, a natural habitat for many species of wildlife in southwest China, has spent 730 million yuan (109 million U.S. dollars) to compensate residents for damage caused by wild animals, local forestry authorities said. Thanks to the improved environment, the populations of wild animals on the plateau have grown, resulting in increased interactions with herders and farmers, according to Zongga, deputy director of the regional forestry department. The regional government started piloting the compensation scheme in 2006 and expanded it to all areas in 2010. Most of the compensation was funded by the government, while the rest was provided by insurance companies. The measure protects the interests of residents with an aim to prevent them from hurting the animals causing the damage such as bears, yaks, leopards, and sheep, Zongga said. The populations of Tibetan antelopes and yaks, both protected species, have increased to some 200,000 and 10,000 respectively in the region. ^ top ^



Ex-Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang to be jailed again after losing misconduct appeal (SCMP)
Hong Kong's disgraced former leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was put behind bars again on Friday after losing his appeal against a misconduct conviction, although he successfully challenged the length of his jail sentence. The original 20-month jail term was reduced to 12 months. The prosecution had previously asked Tsang to pay a third of its legal costs, amounting to HK$4.6 million (US$586,000). The appeal court decided that he had to pay only HK$1 million. Tsang appeared solemn, in contrast to the relaxed smile he had worn when he entered the court. Upon hearing the result, defence counsel Selwyn Yu SC immediately stood up to apply for bail and indicated that Tsang would take the case to the Court of Final Appeal. Mr Justice Andrew Macrae, one of the three judges who ruled on the current appeal, urged Yu to read the judgment first and did not promise he would entertain the bail application within the day. The 73-year-old Tsang, who was the city's chief executive from 2005 to 2012, was handcuffed and taken away from the dock by correctional services officers. The former chief executive had been granted bail last April after spending two months in Stanley Prison. On Friday, Tsang, in his trademark bowtie, had arrived with his wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, at the court building at 9.20am, 40 minutes prior to the court session, surrounded by his bodyguards. His younger sister Katherine Tsang King-suen and brother Tsang Yam-pui, a former police chief, were also present. Other supporters included some of Tsang's strongest critics, former democratic lawmakers Albert Ho Chun-yan and Lee Wing-tat, who gave him a hug before Tsang headed into the courtroom. "As friends, we came here to give him our support," Ho said. Lee said Tsang was doing well and was thankful for his friends' support. They had joked about Lee's recent trip to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, he said. When sentencing Tsang for his misconduct conviction last February at the High Court, Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai remarked: "Never in my judicial career have I seen a man fallen from so high." The charge hinged on Tsang's failure to disclose, while serving as the city's leader, his interest in a luxury three-storey penthouse situated in the fashionable district of Futian in mainland China. The case was the result of an investigation by the city's anti-graft watchdog following sensational media reports surfacing at the end of Tsang's term that he had accepted jet and yacht trips from friends. The court heard that between 2010 and 2012, Tsang began negotiations on renting the penthouse as his temporary retirement home. The flat belonged to a company chaired by mainland businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau. At the time, Tsang was also in charge of approving licence applications from radio station Wave Media, of which Wong was a majority shareholder. The non-disclosure amounted to what prosecutors called a "classic case of conflict of interest". That led to Tsang being found guilty of misconduct by an 8-1 verdict in February last year, although he was acquitted of a second count of misconduct. The jury failed to reach a verdict on a third count of accepting an advantage as the chief executive, whereby Tsang was accused of pocketing HK$3.8 million worth of renovations for the penthouse. A second trial took place later last year, but the new jury also failed to reach a verdict, forcing prosecutors to abandon the bribery charge. In appealing against the misconduct verdict in April, Tsang's legal team, led by top British barrister Clare Montgomery QC, argued that the trial judge had failed to properly instruct the jury, giving rise to an unsafe conviction. But prosecutor David Perry QC backed Mr Justice Chan, saying that what he had done was "fair, well-balanced and generous to the applicant". After the failed second trial, prosecutors decided to stop pursuing the bribery charge but sought HK$4.6 million legal costs from Tsang. They claimed he had engaged in delaying tactics throughout the investigation and the trial. ^ top ^

Police monitored pro-independence Hong Kong National Party for 18 months before attempt to ban it (SCMP)
Hong Kong police seeking to ban a pro-independence party began keeping a close eye on it soon after it was set up in 2016, the Post has learned, as more groups on Thursday voiced their objections to the crackdown. A liberal lawyers' advocacy group said it was "deeply concerned" about the action being considered against the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) on national security grounds, when it had not resorted to force or violence. In a statement, the Progressive Lawyers Group urged the city's security minister to respect the principle of freedom of association as a fundamental right when deciding the party's fate. The HKNP has until August 7 to make its case as to why it should not be banned. Under the Johannesburg Principles, considered an international standard, no restriction of rights would be legitimate unless it was to "protect a country's existence or its territorial integrity against the use or threat of force", the group argued. Police have said the party's propaganda, street booths and founder Andy Chan Ho-tin's pledge to achieve independence from China by "whatever effective means" amounted to "concrete steps" and posed an "imminent threat" to national security, even without violence. The lawyers' group questioned banning a political party based on its agenda. Previous rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, the group said, had affirmed that calls for secession do not constitute sufficient grounds to dissolve a party. An exception was a political party in Spain that was previously linked to a terrorist group. Amid the debate, the Post found that police began monitoring the HKNP, established in March 2016, more than 1½ years ago, before deciding to seek the ban. They screen-captured at least 11 images or text messages posted on the party's social media platforms in 2016, as catalogued in an 800-page document sent to Chan on Tuesday. The images included pictures of the party's street booths across the city, and of Chan attending forums in Japan and Taiwan from April to December 2016. One of the images was captured just 14 hours after an HKNP post on Facebook marking its six-month anniversary on the night of October 17, 2016. The lawyers' group speaking out in Chan's support was among some 50 civil organisations and political parties that issued a joint statement on Thursday condemning the proposed ban, which they said threatened freedom of association. People Power's Tam Tak-chi, one of signatories, argued that Chan had merely spoken about independence and could carry on holding his views even if his party was shut down. "How can the government deal with him then? How can it restrict the freedom of speech of an individual?" Tam said. The groups, together with other pro-democracy parties, planned to join a protest march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front on Saturday, followed by a rally outside police headquarters in Wan Chai. Ronny Tong Ka-wah, an adviser to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, rejected the argument that only the use of force would merit action against the HKNP, noting that the Societies Ordinance was designed to prevent groups from mobilising for violence. "Common sense tells us if we wait and see if they do take [violent] action that would already be too late," Tong wrote on Facebook. "So the law is always against what a group will do, not what it has done." Defending the crackdown, a government source earlier argued that freedom of speech was not an absolute right. "[Verbal] sexual harassment and claiming to be a triad member are both considered criminal offences, even though they are just speech," the source said. "We would have to leave it to the court to judge whether the police have indeed adopted a 'loose threshold', as suggested by some." On Thursday, the police declined to comment further. ^ top ^

HKSAR govt considers banning operation of so-called 'Hong Kong National Party' (China Daily)
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government is considering whether to ban the so-called "Hong Kong National Party" from continuing operation in accordance with the Societies Ordinance. Lee Ka-chiu, secretary for security of the HKSAR government, made the announcement on Tuesday. A letter has been sent to the so-called "Hong Kong National Party," Lee said, adding that a decision will be made in 21 days or after receiving a written explanation. An assistant societies officer had given Lee a recommendation to issue an order to ban the operation of the so-called "Hong Kong National Party" in accordance with the Societies Ordinance. Lee told the press on Tuesday that the recommendation was made in line with relevant provisions of the ordinance and based on national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. ^ top ^



US planning to let Taiwan leader use American airports en route to Paraguay, despite Beijing concerns (SCMP)
Washington plans to allow Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to pass through airports in southern US cities when she travels to South America next month for Mario Benitez's inauguration as president of Paraguay in what would be a show of support for the self-ruled island, sources have said. People with close ties to both US and Taiwan authorities said that Tsai could pass through airports in Houston, Texas, or Miami, Florida, en route to Paraguay, the only South American country among 18 nations with full diplomatic relations with Taipei. To avoid antagonising China, with which the administration of US President Donald Trump is locked in a trade war, the US is "very unlikely" to let Tsai enter high-profile cities such as Washington or New York, one of the sources said. Another source said that Washington was "not a viable option", but that New York could be a choice, since it has some history of hosting visits by Taiwanese leadership. Taipei confirmed on Tuesday that Tsai would accept Paraguay's invitation to Benitez's August 15 presidential inauguration, but Tsai's itinerary remain fluid at this point. The sources said that Washington and Taipei may not have decided yet on which city to ask to serve as a transit point for Tsai. It is also possible that Tsai could stop in "a previously unvisited spot", one source said. If made, Tsai's stops in the US would potentially push the island further into the middle of the rising geopolitical tensions over Beijing's activities in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait and the tit-for-tat US-China trade war. Beijing's objection to the US allowing the Taiwan president to use American territory for travel stems from the "one China" policy under which Beijing views Taiwan as a wayward province that could be brought to its rule by force if necessary. Since taking office in May 2016, Tsai has traveled through US territory three times during overseas trips. In an e-mail on Thursday, a US State Department spokesman said that "the United States facilitates, from time to time, representatives of the Taiwan authorities to transit the United States". "Such transits are undertaken out of consideration for the safety, comfort, convenience and dignity of the passenger and are in keeping with our one-China policy," the spokesman said. China's top Taiwan affairs official last week decried Washington's Taiwan-related actions after two US Navy warships passed through the Taiwan Strait on what the US Defence Department called a "legally permissible transit". Liu Jieyi, director of the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office and China's former ambassador to the United Nations, denounced the US willingness to play the "Taiwan card" to show its support for the island's desire for independence. "We staunchly oppose any move that harms China's national interest. We won't accept that," Liu was quoted as saying during a forum on cross-strait ties in Hangzhou. Such military activities – along with allowing Taiwanese leaders to make stops on American soil – symbolise the US government's coninued support of Taipei despite the absence of formal diplomatic ties. Washington severed diplomatic relations with the island when it fully recognised the People's Republic of China in 1979. Still, under the Taiwan Relations Act approved that year, Washington must treat the island as an ally and support its defence through arms sales and military help to maintain a status quo of non-confrontation across the Taiwan Strait. At the same time, the US maintains what observers sometimes call a "dual deterrence" policy, which puts constraints on both the mainland and the island. The goal for the US has been to "try to deter China from using force [to unify Taiwan] and Taiwan from creating tension by independence", said Michael Fonte, an envoy to the US from Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party. Thus, the US government has manoeuvred carefully in hosting Taiwanese leaders while trying not to provoke Beijing. In May 1995, Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan's president from 1988 to 2000, became the first sitting Taiwan leader since 1979 to be permitted to enter the US when he spoke at his alma mater, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Lee's appearance triggered a cross-strait crisis. Beijing cut off semi-official contact with the US and began conducting military exercises that culminated with the firing of Chinese missiles into the sea near Taiwan. Lee's successor, Chen Shui-bian, also stopped in New York for two nights in late May 2001 while en route to Latin America. He also returned to Taiwan through Houston, in early June of that year. However, five years later, then-US president George W. Bush denied Chen transit in the US as Washington grew increasingly irritated with Chen's confrontational drive for Taiwan independence. Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai's predecessor from the former ruling Kuomintang Party, also passed through Boston and Los Angeles on his way to and from Latin American nations that were allies during his presidential terms. Tsai, soon after her inauguration as Taiwan's leader, made her first 24-hour US transit stop in Miami while travelling to Paraguay and Panama. Panama switched its diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing last year. In January and October of 2017, Tsai also passed through US territory, making stops at the island of Guam; Houston, Texas; and San Francisco, California. Speculation has grown that the US could grant Tsai transit through Washington after the US Congress this year unanimously approved and Trump signed into law the Taiwan Travel Act, encouraging Taiwan high-level officials to enter the US. Shirley Kan, a former Taiwan specialist at the US Congressional Research Service, said that since 1994, the US response to requests from the island's presidents for passage into the US has evolved. From initially denying Lee Teng-hui's entry, it advanced to allowing restricted transit for Chen Shui-bian. Washington then relaxed its restrictions in favour of visit-like "transits" for the safety, comfort, convenience and dignity of former president Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai, Kan wrote in the Taipei Times after Tsai's last transit in October. Since the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act, China has repeatedly warned the US to refrain from official contacts with Taiwan or improving relations with the island in substantive ways. In May, China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, repeated that the one-China principle "touches upon the political foundation of China-US relations" during a joint Washington news conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "We would urge the US to honour the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three Joint Communiques and prudently and properly manage Taiwan-related issues to uphold the overall interests of China-US relations and peace and stability across the straits," Wang said. Beijing also urged the US to "avoid having official contacts with Taiwan or trying to improve their relations in substantive ways, and stop military contacts and arms sales with Taiwan", according to Geng Shuang, a spokesman at the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Ruan Zongze, a former minister-counselor for political affairs at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said that China would do "whatever it can" to defend the one-China principle. "China has no interest in backing off," he said. ^ top ^

China 'forces airline out of business' as Palau maintains links with Taiwan (SCMP)
Taiwan has stepped in to help its ally Palau attract more tourists after an airline from the Micronesian nation said it was forced to shut under pressure from mainland China. The island's battle to protect its few remaining official allies has intensified as its relations with Beijing have deteriorated. Four former allies of Taiwan have switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing since 2016, with the mainland offering economic incentives to jump ship. Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the island views itself as a sovereign nation and is a self-ruling democracy. Tensions have escalated under Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen since she came to power two years ago, because she has refused to accept both sides are part of "one China". Palau has maintained ties with Taiwan but now one of its airlines, Palau Pacific Airways, says it has been forced to suspend operations because of a plunge in mainland Chinese tourists. A letter from the airline's Taiwanese owner, Sea Passion Group, to Palau's national congress accused Beijing of branding Palau "an illegal tour destination", denting its business. The airline said it believed it had been targeted "most likely due to lack of diplomatic status". A Palau-based member of staff from the airline told Agence France-Presse the shutdown would happen after August and would halt flights to and from Hong Kong and Macau, the only two routes it operates. Taipei's foreign ministry said on Thursday that Taiwan's main airline, China Airlines, has added two more weekly flights to Palau between June and August "to assist in attracting more overseas visitors". "Helping our diplomatic allies with economic development is one of the important tasks in promoting bilateral cooperation," it said in a statement. In 2016, tourists from mainland China made up 47 per cent of all visitors to Palau, a Pacific island group with a population of 22,000. Taiwan tourists accounted for 10 per cent of visitors. But in its letter to Palau's congress, Sea Passion Group said the number of air travellers using its flights fell 16 per cent from January to June this year against the same period in 2017, and ticket prices dropped 45 per cent to US$300. Taiwan's local media reported that the mainland had imposed a ban last November on tours to Palau and the Vatican – also one of Taiwan's allies – and that agencies could face a steep fine if they run trips to those destinations. The number of group tourists from the mainland to Taiwan has also plunged in recent years as relations have soured. In addition, Beijing has used its growing clout to demand that multinational firms list Taiwan as a province of China, including Australian airline Qantas, clothing supplier Gap and hotel chain Marriott. ^ top ^

PLA learns ground combat techniques in Tibet (Global Times)
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has conducted drills for special forces in Tibet including ground training for helicopter pilots in a move that prepares for potential military confrontation, experts said on Thursday. The training simulated a behind-enemy-lines infiltration mission at an elevation of 4,000 meters in the Southwest China autonomous region. Pilots and special forces rappelled down to the ground from helicopters and conducted the mission together, PLA Daily reported on Thursday. The training prepared participants for potential military confrontation with India, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday. "It's normal for any military training to have an imaginary opposing force," Song said. "In this case, it's obvious who the target is, given the fact that training was conducted on the plateau in Tibet." Infiltrating behind enemy lines was "an effective special operation that could be key to winning a battle," Song said. "It's valuable for all forces to practice this kind of training," he said. Chinese pilots have been practicing joint operations with special forces this year so as to understand each other's needs and thus enhance battle cooperation. The pilots can also master more combat techniques and improve their overall combat capacity, PLA Daily reported. Having helicopter pilots train with special forces on the ground empowers them to learn how to eliminate enemies without their familiar equipment, according to Song. Training with special forces will also improve pilots' ability to survive out in the wild, Song noted. Military operations in Tibet are difficult because of its high elevation, low atmospheric pressure, thin air and relatively low temperature, according to Song. Before this drill, pilots were trained solely in aviation, such as guiding helicopters, judging weather and environments, the Beijing-based military newspaper said. In June, China set up an unmanned automatic weather observation station in Tibet near China's border with India to provide meteorological support for national defense. The station's data can assist with aircraft take-off and landing and the launch of missiles, experts say. ^ top ^

Beijing slammed for using 'carrot and stick' coercion to change Taiwanese 'status quo' by top island official (SCMP)
Taiwan's mainland affairs chief has denounced China's "carrot and stick strategies" as an attempt to coerce the self-ruled island into changing the "status quo", but has said Taipei is willing to settle its differences with Beijing in "good faith" via dialogue. Chen Ming-tong, Taiwan's minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, told a Heritage Foundation event in Washington on Wednesday that China has repeatedly sought to pressure Taiwan – either by military and diplomatic means, or through adopting policies aimed at integrating Taiwan with the mainland. "By these carrot-and-stick strategies, Beijing has been undermining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait with ever greater speed in an attempt to lead to an irreversible outcome," Chen said, adding: "We will not degrade ourselves because of belittlement by others," Chen's remarks came as Beijing began testing its military muscle in a six-day live-fire drill over an area "roughly the size of Taiwan" in the East China Sea. The Chinese nationalist state tabloid Global Times said the area would be a major battlefield if hostilities broke out between Beijing and Taipei. But Chen, Taiwan's top mainland affairs official, said he believed that dialogue was "the best option to resolve differences" with Beijing since it would allow both sides to make "the choice between conflict and peace". Speaking with reporters after the event, Chen toned down his rhetoric, saying Beijing would appreciate Taipei's show of "good faith" in a dialogue that could prevent cross-strait relations from returning to the "old confrontation mode". On Friday, President Xi Jinping pledged to work for "peaceful" cross-strait development during a meeting with Lien Chan, the ex-chairman of Taiwan's former ruling Kuomintang Party. "We have the confidence and ability to keep a firm hold on the correct direction, work for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, and advance the process toward the peaceful reunification of China," Xi was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency. Xi called on the two sides to work together to uphold the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle, and to resolutely oppose and deter "Taiwan independence". Chen arrived in Washington on Tuesday in his first US visit as Taiwan's mainland affairs chief. The official is believed to be conducting a review of mainland policy with US officials and think tanks, one source with knowledge of the matter said. The US State Department and the office of Taiwan's representative in Washington declined to provide details of Chen's visit. ^ top ^

Chinese President Xi Jinping takes pacifying line on Taiwan as hawks call for force (SCMP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping has struck a more conciliatory note in his latest meeting with a former senior Taiwanese politician in a bid to pacify the island's public, as voices grow on the mainland to reunify the two sides of the strait by force, analysts said. In a meeting in Beijing on Friday with Lien Chan, former chairman of Taiwan's mainland-friendly Kuomintang, Xi said: "We have the confidence and ability to keep a firm hold on the correct direction, work for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, and advance the process toward the peaceful reunification of China." The tone was a contrast to more hawkish mainland voices that have grown louder as the United States has stepped up intervention on Taiwan over the past few months and tensions have simmered between Taipei's pro-independence administration and Beijing. Observers in Beijing and Taipei said Xi was trying to tone down the rhetoric and stop it from having a real impact on cross-strait relations. On Monday, Taiwan's top official on cross-strait ties, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong, set off for the United States on a nine-day visit to improve communication between Taipei and Washington, Central News Agency reported. MAC officials added that Chen would also lobby the US for more support for Taipei's cross-strait policy. The trip comes after two US destroyers made a rare patrol in the Taiwan Strait early this month, drawing criticism from Beijing's top Taiwan affairs official Liu Jieyi, who said Washington had been playing the "Taiwan card" amid a heightened trade dispute with the mainland. But on Friday while he repeated Beijing's adherence to the "one China" policy and the cross-strait "1992 consensus" as the foundation of mainland and Taiwan ties, Xi also said disagreement between people of the two sides on some issues should not hold back regular exchange and cooperation nor become an excuse to stand in the way, according to state-run Xinhua news agency. "Compatriots across the strait should show empathy, stand in each other's shoes and understand each other better so as to forge closer bonds," he said, adding that the welfare of people across the strait should be promoted. Xi also sought to reassure the island that Beijing stood by a raft of measures introduced in March which the mainland says are designed to give Taiwanese companies and individuals freer access to opportunities and benefits on the mainland. The package, drawn up by dozens of central government agencies and announced by the Taiwan Affairs Office, comprises 31 items, of which 12 relate to business matters and 19 to social and employment issues. Analysts said Xi was sending a message to the Taiwanese public that Beijing was singling out the island's pro-independence advocates, not the population of the self-ruled island. The mainland and Taiwan have been separated since 1949, when the Chiang Kai-shek-led KMT fled to the island after losing the civil war, but Beijing has never wavered in its belief that Taiwan remains an integral part of China and has refused to rule out the use of force to bring this about. Relations between Beijing and Taipei have worsened since Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, was elected Taiwan's president in 2016, refusing to acknowledge the 1992 consensus on which cross-strait relations had long been based. Professor Li Zhenguang, deputy head of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at Beijing Union University, said Xi used his meeting with Lien and other Taiwanese delegates to mitigate public concerns on the island about whether Beijing was planning to use force to take over Taiwan. "Cross-strait relations have been facing both external and internal challenges since earlier this year, especially when Washington sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait [on July 7], prompting mainland hawks to amplify their demands to use force taking back Taiwan," Li said. "However, such a trend will harm the long-term development and stability of cross-strait relations. As a leader working just across the strait from Taiwan for 17 years, Xi wanted to play his 'emotional card' to convince the Taiwanese public that Beijing will not use force to take back the island." Andrew Yang Nien-dzu, a former Taiwanese defence minister, said Xi was also sending a message to both Taipei and Washington that Beijing would "remain calm" despite the movements of the US destroyers, as well as other provocation, including US President Donald Trump's endorsement of the Taiwan Travel Act in March. "Mainland authorities have become more subtle in dealing with Taipei and Washington, because they are keen to win public support in Taiwan, even though they still reiterated strong dissatisfaction against the independence-leaning forces," Yang said. Joyce Huang, a Taiwanese political commentator who also attended Friday's meeting, said Xi also used the opportunity to issue "an ultimatum" to those force led by Tsai. "Xi is not just wanting to talk to Lien Chan... the meeting also aimed at sending a strong message, which is an ultimatum to Taiwan's independence-leaning forces," Huang wrote in a commentary on the island's China Times newspaper on Sunday. She said Xi had expressed his "profound emotions" about Taiwan after spending more than 17 years working on Fujian province, just across the Taiwan Strait. "During the meeting, Xi deliberately put aside the draft of his speech, saying he was so proud of Fujian's achievements over the past decades, but he also felt pity that Taiwan was at an [economic] standstill," Huang wrote. Liu Jieyi, who headed the mainland's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said Tsai's DPP administration "is walking farther and farther along a dangerous road", Xinhua reported on the weekend. "Moving against the historical trend, the vain separatist attempts for 'Taiwan independence' will only lead to a dead end," Liu said. ^ top ^



WTO review of China's trade policies successful (Xinhua)
The seventh World Trade Organization (WTO) review of China's trade policies, held in Geneva, was a complete success, a Chinese commerce official said Thursday. "The routine policy review has received high attention as 70 WTO members spoke at the meeting, which set a new record," Gao Feng, Ministry of Commerce spokesperson, said at a press conference. The overwhelming majority of WTO members praised China's policy direction and development, and the contribution to the multilateral trading system, Gao said, citing mutual growth opportunities due to China's steady economy, the Belt and Road Initiative, and upcoming Shanghai international import expo. China has earnestly fulfilled its member obligations and continuously pushed forward high-level opening-up measures, setting an example for promoting free trade, Gao said. "As the chairman of the conference and permanent envoy of Benin to the WTO said in the summary, members appreciate China's active role in the WTO and its contributions to discussions and initiatives in multilateral issues," the spokesperson said. At the press conference, Gao also said the unilateralism and protectionism of a certain member are the root causes of the perils in front of the world economy and the multilateral trade system. ^ top ^

China's central bank continues to inject liquidity into market (Xinhua)
China's central bank continued to inject liquidity into the financial system through open market operations on Thursday. The People's Bank of China pumped 100 billion yuan (about 14.9 billion U.S. dollars) into the market through reverse repos after injecting 80 billion yuan on Wednesday. A reverse repo is a process by which the central bank bids and buys securities from commercial banks, with an agreement to sell them back in the future. The central bank conducted 70 billion yuan of seven-day reverse repos at an interest rate of 2.55 percent and 30 billion yuan of 14-day reverse repos at 2.7 percent. The central bank increasingly relies on open-market operations, rather than changes in interest rates or reserve requirement ratios, to manage liquidity in a more flexible and targeted manner. China will maintain a prudent and neutral monetary policy in 2018 as it strives to balance growth and risk prevention. ^ top ^

China files additional complaint with WTO against U.S. planned tariffs (Xinhua)
China on Monday filed an additional complaint with the World Trade Organization against the U.S. plan to impose tariffs on 200 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese goods under the Section 301 investigation, according to the Ministry of Commerce website. ^ top ^

More areas to open for investors (People's Daily)
China may remove more items from its recently announced negative list amid efforts to further open up its market to foreign investors, a stance that will help consolidate the global multilateral governance system, senior experts and officials said. "China has a firm stance to promote globalization amid protectionism threats," said Yuan Feng, head of the foreign investment department of the National Development and Reform Commission. "Recent efforts to ease or cancel existing restrictions on foreign investment in many fields demonstrate our determined willingness to continue promotion of opening-up." Last month, the central government announced a shortened negative list for foreign investment at the national level and free-trade zones. At the national level, the number of restrictive measures in the negative list was reduced from 63 in the previous version to 48, while restrictive measures in free-trade zones was reduced from 95 to 45. A negative list bars foreign investors from some sectors of economy. Cui Fan, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said he expected sectors with a specific timetable to phase out shareholder limits for foreign investors, and those with restrictions removed only in free-trade zones, might become the next batch of fields to be taken off the national negative list as part of the country's sustained efforts to promote opening-up. "Removing investment barriers for foreign investors comes at the right moment — more foreign investment would improve the playing field and hasten China's efforts to promote reforms at home," said Yu Yongding, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Yu, a former member of the central bank's monetary policy committee, said that the country's recent moves to further open up its economy are part of its preset agenda instead of any expedited, pressure-alleviating measures. "We have already fixed the agenda before." "In terms of our own interest in continued promotion of reforms, our opening-up efforts have little to do with things like, say, response to the US' (recent trade) pressure (on China)," he said. He said more opening-up efforts would promote China's improvement of regulatory procedures to create a market that is more fair and to have a positive effect on the broader economy, as it will attract foreign investment into high-skilled industries. But he warned that China must improve its foreign exchange management to avoid massive capital outflow and control financial risks. Zhu Guangyao, former vice-minister of finance, said that such opening-up will help consolidate the multilateral global economic and trade governance system, especially under the framework of the Group of 20, to promote inclusive growth, innovation and cross-border infrastructure investment. "China's opening-up makes it an important participator in G20," Zhu said at a seminar hosted on Saturday by the National Association of American Studies. Zhu Min, head of the National Institute of Financial Research at Tsinghua University, warned at the same seminar that uncertainties could arise when the US Federal Reserve accelerates interest rate increases and monetary policy normalization in the coming quarters, because the higher tariffs resulting from the US-initiated trade friction with China and other countries could boost product prices and fuel inflation expectations in the US. ^ top ^



Mongolian and Chinese joint venture established (Montsame)
A cooperation agreement on international auto transportation between Gantsmod and Gashuunsukhait border points was signed in Bayannuur city of Inner Mongolia, the People's Republic of China on July 18. Therefore, GBM LLC of Mongolia and the auto transportation company of Bayannuur city will establish Mongolian Chinese joint venture to introduce the international roadline from Gantsmod to Gashuunsukhait border point. The joint venture will be in charge of the cross-border passenger transportation, international freight forwarding, cross-border tourism, import and export trade of coal, food, mineral, agricultural and livestock products, construction materials, electrical equipment, household appliances and other permitted goods in China and Mongolia. ^ top ^

UK Foreign Office Minister Mark Field on visit to Mongolia (Montsame)
Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific of the Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom Mark Field is paying an official visit to Mongolia. Minister Mark Field will meet Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Environment and Tourism, Finance and Mining to hold discussions on a range of issues, including trade and investment, environment, illegal Wildlife Trade, education, sports and issues of global concern. Moreover, Mr Field will visit the Mongolian Stock Exchange, attend the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the British global addressing company What3Words and meet the beneficiaries of a green finance initiative supported by the UK. He will also spend a full day visiting the Oyu Tolgoi mine operation. ^ top ^

Deputy Prime Minister meets with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Montsame)
Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia U.Enkhtuvshin, who is attending the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, met with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on July 17 and exchanged views on cooperation between Mongolia and the United Nations. Mr. Enkhtuvshin expressed his gratitude to the UN for supporting Mongolia in all aspects and for implementing a number of effective projects and programs. He also noted that the outcomes of the second Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Ulaanbaatar at the beginning of July were introduced at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. In addition, Deputy Prime Minister mentioned that Mongolia started involving military personnel in UN peacekeeping operations since 2002 and expressed the Government's willingness to increase the number of officials involved in peacekeeping operations. UN Secretary-General Mr.Guterres highly appreciated the implementation of the commitments to the international community, specifically contribution of Mongolia to the process of stabilizing the situation on Korean peninsula. Moreover, the UN confirmed the expansion of its cooperation with the Government of Mongolia. During the meeting Deputy Prime Minister U.Enkhtuvshin reaffirmed Mr.Guterres' invitation to visit Mongolia. ^ top ^

President sends letter on summoning irregular parliamentary session (Montsame)
Today, President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga sent an official letter to Chairman of the State Great Khural M.Enkhbold about calling an irregular Parliamentary session. The letter said, "26 Members of the State Great Khural sent an official letter about "summoning the Parliament for an irregular session regarding the nullification of the Parliament's 7th Resolution, issued on July 8th, 2016, in consideration of the incompetence of Kh.Enkhjargal, General Director of the Independent Authority Against Corruption, in carrying out the legally bound duties of the government body, which is designated to combat corruption, given that major corruption cases such as 'the MNT 60 billion' subside after reaching the Independent Authority Against Corruption" on July 10th, 2018. Based on Section 3 of Article 25 of the Constitution of Mongolia, Section 1 of Article 12 of the Law of Mongolia on President and Section 3 of Article 16 of the Law of Mongolia on the State Great Khural, I hereby forward my proposal, in belief that there is an imperative need to summon the Parliament for an irregular session regarding the aforementioned matter demanded by the Members of the Parliament." ^ top ^

Tavan Tolgoi Railway to be established (Gogo)
During its session on July 9, Cabinet issued an order to establish Tavan Tolgoi Railway with at least 51 percent of the company's shares owned by the government. Mongolian Railway Company's licenses and assets regarding the Tavan Tolgoi-Gashuunsukhait railway project will be transferred to the newly-formed entity, under the condition that Mongolian Railway will own shares of Tavan Tolgoi Railway. The company will be granted a five-year special license to construct the Tavan Tolgoi-Gashuunsukhait railway. During the session, government ministers were assigned with finding potential foreign investors to purchase the remaining shares, conduct negotiations with them, and report back to Cabinet on their outcomes by the end of this year. Cabinet also voted to establish the Shiveekhuren Railway Company, in collaboration with Nariinsukhait Railway Company. ^ top ^


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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