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SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

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
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  17-21.9.18, No. 734  
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Foreign Policy

Symposium on post-2020 APEC vision held in Sanya (China Daily)
2018-09-21
The International Symposium on APEC Post 2020 Vision and Asia Pacific Regional Integration concluded yesterday in Sanya, a tropical resort city in China's southernmost Hainan province, with a special focus on regional economic integration. Jointly sponsored by the China National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation, Hainan China Golden Eagle Peace Development Foundation and Nankai University APEC Study Center, the two-day event attracted more than 60 officials, businessmen and scholars from the Asia-Pacific region, including Su Ge, chair of CNCPEC and co-chair of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, Donald Campbell, co-chair of PECC and chair of Canada's PECC, Lu Mei, a senior Chinese APEC official with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Eduardo Pedrosa, secretary-general of PECC. Su said in his welcome speech at the opening ceremony APEC has now come to a new historical crossroad, not only because the Bogor Goals are due by 2020, but also because drastic changes are taking place in global and regional economic landscapes which call for a new agenda to keep the momentum for growth and cooperation. APEC leaders adopted the Bogor Goals in Indonesia in 1994, which stipulate developed economies will liberalize and facilitate trade and investment by 2010, and developing economies by 2020. How APEC should develop after 2020 and what kind of vision plan it should have are related to the direction of economic cooperation in the whole Asia-Pacific region, and are the focus of attention and discussion among member economies, according to participants at the meeting. ^ top ^

Chinese peacekeepers leave for DR Congo (People's Daily)
2018-09-20
A team of 100 Chinese engineering and medical troops left for a one-year peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday. Their plane left the Diwopu airport in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, at 3 a.m. They are the first group of the 22nd batch of peacekeepers that China has dispatched to the central African nation. The rest of the 218-member batch will leave on Sept. 28. After arriving in mission areas, the engineering detachment will take on tasks such as maintaining roads, bridges, blindages and airports, while the medical team will focus on treating the wounded, epidemic prevention and humanitarian aid. While preparing for the mission, they completed special training. ^ top ^

China's running out of US goods to tax, so what other ways can it hit back in the trade war? (SCMP)
2018-09-20
Fresh ideas about how to fight the trade war with the US have begun to fly in China after Beijing was unable to respond in full to the latest escalation in the dispute because it is rapidly running out of room to use tariffs as a weapon. US President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he would impose 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports on September 24, with the tariff rate rising to 25 per cent on January 1 if Beijing does not make concessions. Combined with the previous US$50 billion tariffs on Chinese imports, about half of all Chinese exports will be effected by the measures. Trump has further threatened to target to all Chinese imports unless China agrees to settle the dispute. The Chinese response to Trump's latest move was on a far smaller scale – tariffs of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent on US$60 billion of American goods and it is now running out of leeway to target US imports further. When the latest levy goes into force on Monday, US$110 billion of the total US$150 billion in American imports to China will be affected. Tariffs on the remaining US$40 billion – including key manufacturing components such as semiconductors – would hamstring Chinese manufacturers. It is becoming increasingly clear to Chinese officials that the chances of a swift end to the trade war are diminishing rapidly, forcing them to explore new ways to respond. Arthur Kroeber, research head and co-founder of the financial services company Gavekal, said Chinese leaders' previous tactics – including "a few buying missions" to Washington, a red-carpet welcome for Trump in Beijing and an attempt to cut a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – had all failed. "China will respond with its own tariffs, start squeezing US companies where it can, and dig in for a war of attrition," Kroeber said. The focus of debate in China is shifting to finding new ways of hurting the US. Government officials and state media are proposing, among other things, embargoing exports of certain important components to the US and levying "asymmetrical" tariffs on US products – putting different tariff rates on different products. An opinion piece published on the official social media account of People's Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's official mouthpiece, argued on Wednesday that China must go beyond the dollar-for-dollar tariff tactics, since China cannot match Washington in a tit-for-tat battle. But the opinion piece, published under a pen name, said China could not "seek revenge" in terms of quantity, but could "pick its own battles" and fight on in its own way. The piece argued that China could impose relatively low tariffs on imported US materials for which it is "hard to find alternatives" and charge much higher tariffs on products such as "raw materials with easy alternatives, luxury items and discretionary consumer product and manufactured products that are in direct competition with China's own manufacturers". Lou Jiwei, China's former finance minister and now chairman of the National Council for Social Security Fund, told the China Development Forum on Sunday that the country could move beyond tariffs and impose export embargoes on certain materials and components that are sold to the US. He said it was not hard to spot the Chinese products that matter most to the US. "We can pick some of those products being excluded from the US list [of new tariffs] or those items being dropped after loud complaints from US businesses," he said. Nearly 300 Chinese products were fully or partially removed from the original tariffs list after lobbying by US businesses. One of the items dropped was rare earth metals – a vital mineral for hi-tech manufacturers of which China is the world's biggest exporter. Smart watches and Bluetooth gadgets were also exempted, partly at the urging of tech giant Apple, along with health and safety products like bicycle helmets and high chairs for children. "There will be no winner in the trade war, but regarding these [exported] products, China's marginal loss will be small but US's marginal loss will be big," Lou said. The People's Daily article also said that China could take advantage of the trade war by replacing imported products with home-made ones. Much of China's retaliatory tariffs have been aimed at US agriculture and energy products, many of which come from states that strongly supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election. The US president has expressed fury that China is targeting his supporters, tweeting on Monday: "China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me." He threatened that "there will be great and fast economic retaliation" if they continued to be targeted. ^ top ^

European Union has a plan for Asian infrastructure but will it collide with China's belt and road? (SCMP)
2018-09-20
The European Union has put forward its own infrastructure and investment plan for Asia with emphasis on sustainability and rules-based investment – aspects which China's "Belt and Road Initiative" has been accused of lacking. The EU's investment in Asia could increase up to fourfold in its next budget, strengthening its presence in the region, which is in need of 1.3 trillion euros (US$1.5 trillion) for infrastructure investment a year, according to EU officials. The bloc did not say if it was competing with China, but said the plan was urgently needed because other players were setting their own strategies. Observers said it would rival the belt and road plan – President Xi Jinping's flagship project to boost infrastructure and trade links which was launched in 2013 with plans to invest more than US$80 billion for infrastructure linkages for more than 60 nations from Asia to Africa. Under its plan, the EU will seek to extend the current Trans-European Network for Transport which stretches across Eastern Europe and the Caucasus region to Asia through a combination of rail, sea and inland waterways. The EU will also pursue air transport agreement negotiations with Southeast Asian nations, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Qatar. Energy infrastructure projects, as well as interpersonal exchanges and scholarships to increase flows between Europe and Asia are also suggested. The plan will build off the billions of dollars the EU has previously committed to Asia. The EU external action budget will be increased to 123 billion euros for 2021-27. The EU has already mobilised 4.2 billion euros between 2010 and mid-2018 for its Asia Investment Facility and the Investment Facility for Central Asia. The bloc said its investment would be driven by a sustainable and rule-based model, which it said would adhere to high standards of transparency and environmental protection, and ensure a level playing field for enterprises. The plan was put forward as other major players have also introduced connectivity programmes for the region. In July, the US announced US$113 million in new investment for the Indo-Pacific region. Both the US and Europe have said China's belt and road programmes are not transparent and benefit Chinese enterprises which hire Chinese workers instead of local people, while causing damage to the environment. EU Vice-President Federica Mogherini highlighted the potential differences with the belt and road plan in a press conference in Brussels on Thursday, saying a "European approach" would be based on international rules, and aim to create jobs and sustainable development in Asian partner countries. Mogherini said European Union investments could increase three to four times as a result of the new policy. But she said the EU would not officially decide its position on the relationship between its plan and the belt and road strategy until the policy was adopted next month, adding that it was in the best interests of both parties to increase connectivity between Asia and Europe. Frans-Paul van der Putten, senior research fellow of the Clingendael Institute, a Dutch policy research organisation, said the EU's implicit message was that its own approach was actually more attractive than China's. Ding Chun, an economics professor at the Centre for European Studies at Fudan University, said the plan had competitive and cooperative elements in relation to China's initiative, but that the two could work together to open new markets that would benefit all parties. "The 'Belt and Road Initiative' has its fans and critics within Europe, but ultimately the EU does not want to miss out on the opportunities," Ding said. Cui Hongjian, a senior fellow with the China Institute of International Studies, said the belt and road strategy had helped spur Europe to create its own plan. "Whether you see the relationship as competition or cooperation, it's clear Europe accelerated the preparation of its initiative in response to the belt and road," he said. But he believes Europe's plan may encounter difficulties when it brings its rules and norms to Asia. "The EU's rules may work well within its own borders, but they should prepare themselves for the possibility that Asian countries may not accept them," he said. ^ top ^

No one should underestimate China's determination to uphold peace in South China Sea: Chinese ambassador (Global Times)
2018-09-20
Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming on Wednesday said that the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been a problem, warning that no one should underestimate China's determination to uphold peace and stability in the region. Liu made the remarks at the annual Commonwealth Diplomats Induction Program. His remarks came weeks after Britain's HMS Albion-class landing platform dock entered China's territorial sea of the Xisha Qundao (the Xisha Islands) without the Chinese government's approval. The Chinese navy identified and verified the British warship in accordance with law and warned and expelled it. The ambassador said that thanks to the concerted efforts of China and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the situation in the South China Sea has been improving. "Relevant parties have returned to the right track of addressing disputes through negotiation and consultation," he said. "Relations between China and relevant countries have been sound and stable." Liu stressed that countries in the region have the confidence, capability and wisdom to deal with the South China Sea issue properly and achieve enduring stability, development and prosperity. "Yet to everyone's confusion, some big countries outside the region did not seem to appreciate the peace and tranquility in the South China Sea," he said. "They sent warships and aircraft all the way to the South China Sea to create trouble." The senior diplomat said that under the excuse of so-called "freedom of navigation," these countries ignored the vast sea lane and chose to sail into the adjacent waters of China's islands and reefs to show off their military might. "This was a serious infringement" of China's sovereignty, he said. "It threatened China's security and put regional peace and stability in jeopardy." Liu stressed that China has all along respected and upheld the freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. "Freedom of navigation is not a license to do whatever one wishes," he said, noting that freedom of navigation is not freedom to invade other countries' territorial waters and infringe upon other countries' sovereignty. "Such 'freedom' must be stopped," Liu noted. "Otherwise the South China Sea will never be tranquil." He said that no one should underestimate China's will to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests and no one should underestimate China's determination to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea. ^ top ^

Palace Museum to help restore ancient Syrian relics (Global Times)
2018-09-20
The Palace Museum signed an agreement with the Syrian Ministry of Culture to restore Syrian relics, a move hailed by Chinese historians as a significant step to preserve cultural heritage for the world. The Palace Museum will provide archaeological support to Syria, and will also help train more of the country's professionals in the field of cultural relic conservation and museum management through programs in China, according to a statement the Palace Museum sent to the Global Times on Thursday. The agreement was signed at the closing ceremony of the three-day Taihe Forum to Protect the World's Ancient Civilizations, which was held at the museum and had attracted delegates from 13 countries, including Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Greece. According to a memorandum of understanding signed by Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, and Mahmoud Hamoud, general director of the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria, on Tuesday, the two sides will cooperate to host exhibits and share information on education, research, publicity, visitor services and security. Hamoud told the Xinhua News Agency during the forum that "the Palace Museum will also provide us with materials and equipment to rebuild historical heritage sites damaged by the Syrian civil war. The memorandum marks a new beginning." "Syria is an important station along the ancient Silk Road, and we feel familiar with and close to China," he said. "We look forward to choosing some of our most representative archeological findings for exhibiting at the Palace Museum," Hamoud noted. For countries engaged in war, the protection of cultural relics means a lot because their people believe that their countries still exist because these treasures are intact, said Shan. China is willing to help countries with a long history in preserving cultural heritage for generations to come, he said. Helping Syria repair cultural relics is a challenging task because restoring cultural relics requires the use of original material and techniques, Li Mingde, a former vice president of the Beijing Tourism Society, told the Global Times on Thursday. But most of Syria's relics were completely destroyed, and Chinese experts may not be familiar with Syria's ancient technology, Li said. According to a report filed by UNESCO in 2017, some 60 percent of the old city of Aleppo has been severely damaged, with 30 percent totally destroyed. The Palace Museum is the ideal partner for Syria because it has more experience and talent than other Chinese museums, Liu Zheng, a member of the China Cultural Relics Academy, told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that the museum also possesses the most advanced technology to restore relics. Some of Syria's cultural relics are made of stone, fur, cotton and ceramic, and the Palace Museum has strong expertise in repairing relics of such materials, he noted. The Palace Museum developed a three-dimensional scanner capable of restoring the original look, materials and color of damaged cultural relics, Liu said. Ahmed al Gharib, curator of Syria's Aleppo Castle Museum, said in an interview with Russian media Sputnik on September 11 that China is a true friend of Syria and that Syria hopes Chinese companies will take part in the restoration of the city of Aleppo and the historic sites of Syria as a whole. Chinese Ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjin said during his visit to a hospital in Syria in February that China will play a bigger role in the reconstruction and development process in war-torn Syria by increasing its aid, Xinhua reported. ^ top ^

China silent on possible Vatican delegation to Beijing (SCMP)
2018-09-19
China's foreign ministry has refused to elaborate on a newspaper report that the Vatican could send a delegation to Beijing before the end of this month to clinch a deal on the appointment of bishops. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he had no information to provide on any visit by a Vatican delegation. "China and the Vatican have all along been maintaining effective contacts," he told a daily news briefing, without elaborating. The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper, said there were no "disputes on issues of principle" between the two and an agreement could be reached. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the tabloid said the Vatican may soon send a delegation to China before both sides reach the agreement. It added that a Vatican source last week also confirmed that a prominent figure from the Holy See would probably come to China in late September, without further elaborating. China and the Vatican are in advanced talks to resolve a dispute over the appointment of bishops, one of the biggest obstacles to the resumption of diplomatic ties cut almost 70 years ago. An estimated 12 million Catholics in China are split between an underground church that swears loyalty to the Vatican and the state-supervised Catholic Patriotic Association. China keeps a tight grip on religious groups, despite the government professing to guarantee freedom of belief. Last month, Beijing's most senior official for religion wrote that religious matters in China cannot be controlled by foreigners. Another issue to be resolved is self-ruled Taiwan, with which the Vatican maintains formal diplomatic ties. While restoring diplomatic ties was not part of the talks, full relations would give the church a legal framework to look after all China's Catholics and focus on the community's growth in a country where Protestant churches are already growing fast. ^ top ^

Technological innovation will boost Belt and Road initiative: experts (Global Times)
2018-09-19
Big data showed that the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative (BRI) has made solid progress in increasing connectivity among member countries and regions, and officials and experts noted that technological innovation will take the initiative to the next stage. According to the 2018 Big Data Report under the BRI, the initiative's influence has further increased, its cooperation range has been expanded and connectivity levels among B&R members have improved significantly. Compiled by the national big data center of the BRI under the State Information Center, and covering 71 economies along the routes, the report was officially released on Wednesday at the 2018 Summer Davos Forum. In 2017, China's trade with countries and regions along the routes of the BRI increased 13.4 percent year-on-year, the report showed, indicating that trade connectivity between China and countries along the BRI has been increasing in a stable manner. With the initiative entering a new stage, officials and experts noted that innovation will play an even more significant role in the future. The BRI has innovative ideas, including policy communication mechanisms among countries and regions along the BRI routes, which have created a good foundation for enterprises in different countries and regions to conduct economic and trade activities, He Lifeng, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at the forum. He noted that the infrastructure connectivity initiatives in the BRI is also a new idea in global cooperation. Apart from government activities and policies, innovation along the BRI routes is also being driven by Chinese businesses. For example, with a presence in many of the economies involved, including Thailand and Vietnam, China-based Trina Solar has been among the most active in pushing for the BRI. In addition to selling products, the company bets on localizing its smart energy solutions and investing in research and development of local technological innovations, Chairman Gao Jifan told the Global Times during the forum, speaking of efforts to rev up local innovation and accelerate the energy revolution on the local level. Li Xiaojia, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, which runs the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, told the forum that financing for the BRI is also an important area where people should have innovative ideas. Li said it will be hard to make BRI projects sustainable without financial returns. "Money from (State-owned enterprises) alone won't be enough. That has to be coupled with other financial sources... the stock market, the financial market, the government," Li said. "If developing countries invest their money in the Hong Kong market, values will rise, and this will offset their debt and they can build more infrastructure," Li noted. The report also showed that financing connectivity is where China and other member countries and regions should do more. Industry watchers said it's noteworthy that private companies still need more support to reduce business risks associated with BRI market investment. For example, there's the energy sector. Gao said some countries along the routes that are hoping to tap into Chinese products and solutions to improve power supply and energy efficiency require additional financial support. This reality, added to concerns over local political stability, local legal frameworks for investor protection and other issues, calls for coordinated action to assure businesses that their investments could be genuinely financial viable, said Gao. ^ top ^

Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro doubles down on Chinese money to rescue a crashing economy (SCMP)
2018-09-19
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that new investments from China will help his country dramatically boost its oil production, doubling down on financing from the mainland to turn around its crashing economy. Already a major economic partner, China has agreed to invest US$5 billion more in Venezuela, Maduro said following a recent trip to Beijing, adding that the money would help it nearly double its oil exports to China. "We are taking the first steps into a new economic era," he said. "We are on track to have a new economy, and the agreements with China will strengthen it." A once-wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is gripped by a historic crisis deeper than the Great Depression in the United States. Venezuelans struggle to afford scarce food and medicine, many going abroad in search of a better life. Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference in Caracas on Tuesday. Venezuela's inflation this year could top 1 million per cent, economists predict. After two decades of socialist rule and mismanagement, Venezuela's oil production of 1.2 million barrels a day is a third of what it was two decades ago before the late President Hugo Chavez launched the socialist revolution. Maduro says under the deal, Venezuela will increase production and the daily export of oil to China to 1 million barrels a day. However, China is taking a strong role in its new agreements. Over the last decade China has given Venezuela US$65 billion in loans, cash and investment. Venezuela owes more than US$20 billion. The head of the National Petroleum Corporation of China will soon travel to Venezuela to finalise plans on increasing oil exports. Russ Dallen, a Miami-based partner at brokerage Caracas Capital Markets, said the influx of money appears to be investments China will control. "The Chinese are reluctant to throw good money after bad," Dallen said. "They do want to get paid back. The only way they can get paid back is to get Venezuela's production back up." Venezuela also agreed to sell 9.9 per cent of shares of the joint venture Sinovensa, giving a Chinese oil company a 49 per cent stake. The sale will expand exploitation of gas in Venezuela, the president said. Maduro also recently launched sweeping economic reforms aimed at rescuing the economy that include a creating new currency, boosting the minimum wage more than 3,000 per cent and raising taxes. Economist Asdrubal Oliveros of Caracas-based firm Econalitica said he doubts that Venezuela can reach the aggressive goal to boost oil exports to China to one million barrels a day given problems faced by the state corporation PDVSA. "Increased production I see as quite limited," Oliveros said. "The Chinese companies alone have neither the muscle nor the size to prop up production." ^ top ^

China willing to cooperate with world in human rights: official (Xinhua)
2018-09-18
China has achieved unprecedented historic progress in the human rights cause and is willing to cooperate closely with all parties in the world human rights field, a senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official has said. Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks in a speech at this year's Beijing Forum on Human Rights, which opened Tuesday. Noting that "to respect and protect human rights has been a consistent stance and proposition of the CPC and Chinese government," Huang said that over the last 40 years, China had combined common principles in human rights protection with the country's reality. "The understanding of human rights has been deepened, and practices in this regard expanded," Huang said. "Also, as the world's biggest developing country, China has always been a vigorous proponent and strong promoter in the global poverty reduction cause." First held in 2008, this year's forum is the eighth of its kind. More than 200 officials, scholars and personages from about 50 countries, regions and international organizations attended. ^ top ^

Forum spurs Sino-Russian cooperation, regional benefit (China Daily)
2018-09-17
Experts from China and Russia spoke highly of the Eastern Economic Forum held last week in Vladivostok, Russia, as it could further promote the cooperation and understanding between China and Russia and will benefit all of Northeast Asia. Sergey Glazyev, a regional economic integration adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said President Xi Jinping's speech at the forum delivered practical messages. "As President Xi said, China-Russia cooperation in the Far East will bear fruit," he said. The speech showed Xi's broad vision about the future development of the Far East in Russia and the Northeast in China, Glazyev said. The proposals made by Xi about the development of Northeast Asia have gained agreement from world leaders at the forum. Dmitry Mezentsev, chairman of the Russia-China Friendship Association, said Xi's participation in the forum showed the two countries' bilateral relations have reached a higher level. Mezentsev said Xi's proposal of enhancing cooperation in Northeast Asia was tremendously important. "The friendship between China and Russia not only benefits the people of the two countries, but also plays an important role in the security and development of the region and worldwide," he said. Xi said in his speech that a united and stable Northeast Asia could meet the interests of all countries in the region, noting that the population of Northeast Asia countries makes up 23 percent of the global population, and that the region's GDP accounts for 19 percent of the global economy. Sun Zhuangzhi, head of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the forum has contributed to the development of the China-Russia relationship and regional cooperation. China-Russia cooperation has entered a new stage of development, Sun said, as the forum discussed and resolved the problem of how to carry out bilateral cooperation between the two countries. "The forum provided chances for Chinese and Russian governors to talk and negotiate. It implemented many projects and started a lot of mechanisms for financing and trade to ensure that the cooperation and communication will go smoothly," he said. China hopes to unite the Northeast Asian countries in cooperation, he said, solve problems left unresolved by history and promote further cooperation through this forum. "Xi made proposals at the forum on how to promote cooperation among the countries of Northeast Asia, which reflects China's attention to and determination for regional cooperation," he said. Fan Mingtai, a senior research fellow on finance at CASS, said the forum was a system for deeper cooperation and global governance. "Numbers of agreements have been signed during the forum, which are related to the working mechanism of World Trade Organization," he said. "The forum also opens up a path to better serve the Belt and Road Initiative, where Russia occupies a very important position." ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Xi calls for focusing reforms on solving practical problems (Xinhua)
2018-09-21
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), called for focusing reforms on solving practical problems on Thursday. Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks while presiding over the fourth meeting of the central committee for deepening overall reform, which he heads. Both the importance and difficulty of reform lie in implementation, Xi said. Saying that there are more and more favorable conditions for carrying out reforms and focusing on implementation, he called for putting more energy and efforts into implementation and focusing reforms on solving real problems. Li Keqiang and Wang Huning, both members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and deputy heads of the reform committee, attended the meeting. The meeting approved a number of documents: -- a document on promoting high-quality development; -- a document on establishing more effective mechanisms for coordinated regional development; -- measures on supporting pilot free trade zones' efforts to deepen reform and innovation; -- a guideline on improving regulation of systematically important financial institutions; -- a document on reforming and improving the national vaccine regulation system; -- a document on integrating systems of planning to make national development plans play a better role of strategic guidance; -- a document on promoting the alignment of small farmers with the development of modern agriculture. More efforts should be made to formulate policies that promote high-quality development in important areas including manufacturing, high-tech industries, service and infrastructure, and public services, and to put protecting the people's interests at a more prominent position, said a statement released after the meeting. More effective mechanisms for coordinated regional development should be set up by sticking to the new development philosophy, giving play to comparative advantages of each area, and narrowing regional development gap, said the statement, Pilot free trade zones should be granted more power to reform and further open up, as well as policy support to create a good environment for investment, boost trade facilitation, and make financial innovation serve the real economy, said the statement. Policies should be clarified to put in place institutional arrangements for identifying, regulating and dealing with systematically important financial institutions, it said. On vaccine regulation, strong measures should be adopted to enforce strict market access, strengthen market supervision, improve logistics and delivery, standardize vaccination management, eradicate regulation loopholes, and crack down on acts violating laws and regulations, it said. More efforts should also be made to set up a policy system supporting small farmers' development, boost their level of organization, and improve their production and operation capabilities, to transform them from traditional small farmers into modern ones, according to the statement. ^ top ^

Greater support pledged for Ningxia (China Daily)
2018-09-21
The central government will better support the development of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and make sure that relatively less-developed ethnic areas achieve a moderately prosperous society in all respects together with other regions by 2020, a senior official said on Thursday. However, people who deliberately instigate ethnic tensions or division will be punished in accordance with the law, regardless of their religion or ethnic group, said Wang Yang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. "We firmly oppose the attempts to divide and contain China by using the excuses of ethnic, religious and human rights issues," he said. Wang made the remarks while delivering a speech at a ceremony celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region in the regional capital of Yinchuan. He led a 62-member central delegation attending a series of events marking the anniversary, which began on Wednesday. Ningxia was founded on Oct 25, 1958, and has a population of 6.82 million. More than 36 percent of its people are from the Hui ethnic group and a majority of them are Muslim. The CPC Central Committee, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the State Council, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee and the Central Military Commission jointly sent a congratulatory letter to Ningxia to mark its 60th anniversary. Performers engage in ethnic dances at the ceremony. The letter said the founding of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region was a milestone in the history of China's ethnic relations, and the region has achieved historic changes in the past six decades. The region's GDP reached 345 billion yuan ($50.2 billion) in 2017, more than 1,000 times what it was in 1958, according to official data. Achieving faster economic growth and maintaining ethnic unity are in line with the fundamental interests of people in Ningxia, and is also the common wish of the CPC Central Committee and people all across the country, the letter said. Wang said that people from all ethnic groups are equal, and relatively less-developed ethnic areas should not be viewed as burdensome. Although lifting people out of poverty in ethnic areas is indeed one of the key challenges in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the challenge can be overcome by letting people enjoy more fruits of reforms so people from ethnic groups or ethnic areas won't fall behind others in stepping into a moderately prosperous society, he said. Wang also made it clear that treating Han culture as the sole Chinese culture and excluding the culture of any ethnic group from Chinese culture are both wrong. People need to respect differences and embrace diversity, he said. "People need to deal with different problems in accordance with their nature instead of randomly labeling them as ethnic issues," he said. ^ top ^

The decline and fall of Chinese Buddhism: how modern politics and fast money corrupted an ancient religion (SCMP)
2018-09-21
When filmmakers descended on China's ancient Shaolin Monastery to make the 1986 box office hit Martial Arts of Shaolin starring Jet Li, they were shocked to find no monks. The 1,500-year-old monastery, in the Song Mountains in Henan province, is renowned as the cradle of Chan Buddhism but decades of neglect and oppression had taken their toll. The monastery's reputation as a centre for kung fu had remained intact but the Buddhist practice behind the martial art had vanished, according to former Hong Kong actress Mary Jean Reimer. "It was occupied by peasant-style security guards. Even the incense burners were sealed with boards," said Reimer, a Buddhist devotee who was at Shaolin with her director husband Lau Kar-leung. Reimer said the monks in the film were all played by martial arts practitioners. Many of them continued performing for temple visitors after the film became a hit, even though few, if any, of them followed any Buddhist discipline, she said. The hollow core at the monastery reflected the appalling state of Buddhist institutions throughout the country, a decline that continues today as the centuries-old tradition is dogged by corruption scandals and a dearth of internationally recognised spiritual leaders. But while the religion is ancient, observers say, the roots of the rot are more recent – religious oppression and political interference under communist rule. One of the most startling alleged cases of corruption emerged just last month and centred on 52-year-old Shi Xuecheng, the head of the Buddhist Association of China and abbot of the well-known Longquan Temple in Beijing. He stepped down amid public uproar after accusations surfaced as part of the #MeToo movement that he had sexually harassed female disciples via text messages. A 95-page document posted online also alleged that he built temples without official permits and mishandled temple funds. The response from the authorities was swift – Shi Xuecheng faces disciplinary action from the association, the state-sanctioned religious organisation, for "violating Buddhist principles". Professor Zhe Ji, of the Paris-based Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, said he welcomed the prompt investigation of the abbot's case but regretted the lack of transparent and rational discussion in getting to the causes of the chaos in Buddhism in China today. "It involves questions about the fundamental power structure of religious authority," Ji said. "Officially endorsed Buddhist leaders basically control how Buddhism is organised. They are powerful politically but lack religious legitimacy among believers. "Like Xuecheng [for example], he was the head of the Buddhist Association of China but has not been regarded as a respectable religious figure since his early days in Shanghai. It is hard for genuinely influential religious figures to rise up when the positions of religious leaders are decided by politics." According to official data, there are more than 240,000 Buddhist clerics in China, with more than half of them Tibetan Buddhists. About 100,000 Han Buddhist monks live in 28,000 monasteries while the rest are monks from the Theravada school, mostly living in Yunnan and Guangxi provinces in the country's southwest. According to official data, there are more than 240,000 Buddhist clerics in China, more than half of which are Tibetan Buddhists. Photo: Xinhua But in recent years, mainland China has not produced Buddhist spiritual leaders of global stature known for their wisdom, benevolence and compassion. In contrast, Taiwan has many eminent monks such as Master Hsing-Yun and Master Sheng-Yen whose teachings are influential around the world. According to Dr Tsui Chung-hui from University of Hong Kong's Centre of Buddhist Studies, the "transitional" problems associated with contemporary Chinese Buddhism are partly due to the legacy of oppression during the Cultural Revolution. "Taiwan was lucky to be able to preserve the virtuous values of Confucius, Taoism and Buddhism [when the island broke away from the mainland after the civil war], giving Buddhism room to grow," Tsui said. That break occurred in 1949, when Buddhism and other faiths were demonised as counter-revolutionary ideologies under communist rule on the mainland. "After 1949, Buddhism experienced a tremendous crisis on all fronts, from religious doctrine, organisation, to funding. Many of the problems today are rooted in the socialist reforms of the 1950s," Ji said. The oppression reached a peak during the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, when there was widespread persecution of Buddhists and destruction of temples. But while it has since eased, Chinese Buddhism has not flourished, continuously criticised for a series of problems such as commercialisation and corruption. Observers say political interference still plays a big part in that downfall by undermining spiritual authority and stifling religious freedom. Under President Xi Jinping, local religions such as Chinese Buddhism receive state support to promote traditional culture and faith as well as China's soft power. The mainland's official religious leaders are endorsed by the party state with a mission to unite believers to be patriotic and disseminate religious teachings along core patriotic values. All faith-based religious groups in China, including 41 Buddhism studies institutes across the nation, are also monitored by the State Administration of Religious Affairs. In March the Communist Party further strengthened its control over religion by folding the administrative body into the United Front Work Department. One of the centres accused of commercialisation is Shaolin, which in the past two decades has become a business empire stretching from martial arts schools and performances, to medicine, cultural programmes, tourism and food, according to a report by Prism, an online news site by tech giant Tencent. The monastery's abbot, Shi Yongxin, is known as the "CEO monk" and attracted national headlines when he was accused of "cashing in" on the Shaolin brand name. But Ji said the main beneficiary of this business activity was the local government. "In 2015 alone, the Shaolin Monastery reportedly charged more than 50 million yuan (US$7.3 million) in entrance fees plus incense offerings that cost 100 yuan each, but less than a third of that income went to the temple. The rest went to Dengfeng city," he said. Like other major monasteries, Shaolin is managed by a committee made up largely of government officials. "Even the treasurer of Shaolin is appointed by the government so spending must be approved. Temple abbots have no say over the institution's own finances," Ji said. Last year mainland authorities addressed the problem by prohibiting the listing of local Buddhist and Taoist temples on the stock market and in February, amendments to the Religious Affairs Regulation also banned their commercialisation. While the so-called commercialisation is often led by local governments, with most of the profits going to them, "the monks are always taking the blame", Ji said. He said many of the temples lost their land during the socialist reforms of the 1950s and should not be completely banned from seeking legal income now. A businessman and close friend of Shi Yongxin and other senior mainland monks said the Shaolin abbot was a good example of how Buddhist leaders were compromised. "Years ago, Shi Yongxin told me he objected to charging entrance fees at Shaolin, but was voted down by the local government. He has no say in this," the businessman said. Just last month, the Shaolin Temple raised eyebrows once again when its monks raised the national flag there for the first time in its 1,500-year history as part of a patriotism drive at religious establishments, including churches and mosques. "How can this be Shi Yongxin's own idea? To promote flag-raising in temples? Shaolin must take the lead … I know Shi Yongxin is ambitious but his limited education background often sees him easily manipulated and the joke is always on him," the businessman said. Further north, a monk from Shanxi province said the ongoing political interference and resulting lack of religious freedom had created a culture of silence within Chinese Buddhism, hindering the tradition's development. "There are many things we are not allowed to discuss. It's too complicated and they cannot be investigated. The deeper you dig, the more unwanted details you will find and nobody likes to see that," the monk said, refusing to reveal further details for fear of persecution. Beijing-based writer Li Hai witnessed this first-hand. In 2004, Li spent a month studying at a remote temple in central Hunan province only to see the monks and abbot of the temple forced to quit and replaced by those hired by local religious affairs officials. "The problem is not about Buddhism but about how it is organised … People's demand for faith-based religion has never been stronger but the way Buddhism is organised has failed to meet their spiritual needs," Li said. He said religious affairs should not be dominated by atheist party members "who do not care whether Buddha's teachings are muddled". "All they are concerned about is how much they can control every aspect." The corruption among contemporary Chinese Buddhist masters merely mirrors the problems of the contemporary Chinese Communist Party, according to East Asian studies expert Albert Welter of University of Arizona. "Buddhist clergy are not immune from the impulses and characteristics of human nature," Welter said, pointing out that monks in imperial China were regularly criticised for moral laxity in sexual behaviour, corruption and economic extravagances. Welter said also that the influence of Chinese Buddhism on the mainland should be regarded as starting all over again, after the major persecutions suffered during the Cultural Revolution. It would take time to see whether its influence could once again reach across East and Central Asia, he said. "Much will depend on how well the Chinese Communist Party is able to manage its internationalisation, how it is conducted and what role Buddhism may be allowed to play," Welter said. HKU's Tsui is optimistic. She said esteemed Buddhist masters might still be found on the mainland. "I believe there could be many excellent hidden Buddhist talents who are quietly working without asking for fame and reputation in return that we just don't know about yet," she said. ^ top ^

China's high-speed rail network boosts tourism business (People's Daily)
2018-09-20
China's online travel giant Ctrip plans to tap into a tourism market worth billions, by launching a tailored service channel for tours along the country's high-speed railway, Economic Daily reported on Sept. 19. The Nasdaq-listed company recently started a sub-platform on its mobile application, providing a one-stop service for those who travel using China's high-speed rail, including hotel booking, car rental, ticketing services and shopping guides. Sun Bo, senior vice president of Ctrip, said that the company takes the lead in regards to providing services that satisfy the diverse travel needs of tourists. Experts also believe that the new channel, which combines tour guides and tourism products, can meet tourists' needs of consumption during their stay in destinations that have access to high-speed rail. China has been expanding its high-speed railway network in recent years. By the end of 2017, China's high-speed rail has travelled 25,000 kilometers, ranking first globally, and high-speed rail is expected to reach 80 percent of major cities by 2020. It's predicted that the high-speed rail travel industry in China will bring in 100 billion yuan (about $14.6 billion), and by 2025, more than half of the expected three billion passenger trips using high-speed rail will be made for travelling purposes, said Liang Jianzhang, co-founder of the largest online travel service provider in China. ^ top ^

Xi sends congratulatory letter to 17th Western China International Fair (Xinhua)
2018-09-20
Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a congratulatory letter to the 17th Western China International Fair, which opened in the city of Chengdu Thursday. As a major window for China's opening-up, the fair has created an important platform for China's western regions to jointly develop the Belt and Road as well as enhance communication and cooperation with countries around the world, Xi said. Xi said the western regions, with vast landmass, rich resources, great opportunities and advantageous locations, have achieved significant development over the past years as China pushes forward the strategy to develop and open up western regions. By actively participating in the development of the Belt and Road, more vitality will be unleashed in the western regions, making them an important part of the efforts to make new ground in opening China further through links running eastward and westward, across the land and over the sea, he said. Xi emphasized that the fair, with the theme "New Era in China, New Advances in Western China" and a focus on jointly developing the Belt and Road, bears positive significance for the western regions to enhance external communication and cooperation. He expressed the hope that participants at the fair can gain insight into western China, strengthen friendships, enhance cooperation and communication and share new development opportunities brought by opening-up. ^ top ^

China ready to fire up world's first AP1000 nuclear reactor (SCMP)
2018-09-20
China will soon be ready to start commercial operations of the world's first next-generation AP1000 nuclear reactor, possibly setting off a renewed push by the country into atomic power after years of delays and billion-dollar cost blowouts. The No 1 reactor at the Sanmen power plant, designed by Westinghouse Electric Company, is expected to be ready for commercial operations on Friday after completing a 168-hour test run, Shanghai-listed China National Nuclear Power Company said in a statement to the stock exchange Thursday. It did not say when the unit, in east China's Zhejiang province, will officially enter commercial power production. China's drive for cleaner energy has been a bright spot for a nuclear industry beset by cost overruns and stricter regulations in the wake of Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster. The Sanmen start-up may help advance the country's ambitions to almost double nuclear capacity by 2020 as the approval of new reactors is seen as being dependent on the successful start of so-called third-generation reactors. "It's a landmark event for China's nuclear power industry," said Snowy Yao, a Hong Kong-based analyst at China Securities International Finance Holding Company. "It's safe to say China is now one of the leaders in the world's civil nuclear power industry." These types of new units, including the AP1000, were designed to be easier and less expensive to install and operate, as well as safer. But they ended up being more expensive and difficult to build than expected, especially in the US, where cost overruns ultimately forced the bankruptcy last year of Westinghouse, the nuclear technology pioneer that has since been bought by Brookfield Business Partners. The first Sanmen AP1000 missed its original 2013 start-up target due to design problems and supply chain bottlenecks. It is also 10 billion yuan (US$1.46 billion) over its original 40 billion yuan budget, as is a similar reactor being built in Haiyang, China Energy News reported in August, citing a State Nuclear Power Technology Corp official. China is also developing reactors designed by Electricite de France SA in Taishan in Guangdong province, where commercial operations are expected after it was connected to the grid in June. Power generation from 38 operating units in the mainland rose 13 per cent to 130 billion kilowatt-hours in the first half of the year, about 4 per cent of the nation's total electricity output, according to China Nuclear Energy Association. Policymakers have targeted to boost nuclear capacity to 58 gigawatts by the end of the decade, compared with about 38GW currently. ^ top ^

Central officials arrive in Ningxia for 60th anniversary celebrations (Xinhua)
2018-09-20
A central delegation led by China's top political advisor Wang Yang on Wednesday arrived in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, to attend festivities marking the 60th anniversary of the region's founding. The central delegation presented the region with souvenirs, including a plaque with an inscription by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. It reads "building beautiful and new Ningxia, jointly realizing the great Chinese Dream." Wang, 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, unveiled the plaque, alongside with Party chief of Ningxia Shi Taifeng. Xi's inscription showed his care about people from all ethnic groups in Ningxia, said Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chinese vice premier. The inscription indicated the hopeful prospect of Ningxia and will inspire the Ningxia people to further advance and join the national drive of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, Sun said. On Wednesday afternoon, the delegation visited an exhibition showcasing the region's achievements made in the past 60 years, including progress in economic development, reform and opening-up, ecological construction and ethnic unity. Wang met with representatives of military forces stationed in the region, armed police forces, and officials of political and legal affairs there. He also met with retired officials and people of various ethnic groups and from all walks of life, and extended greetings to them on behalf of the central delegation. In the evening, Wang and other delegation members joined about 1,400 local residents at a grand gala, which presented a feast of dancing and singing. ^ top ^

Poverty key challenge for human rights (China Daily)
2018-09-20
Forum seeks to turn 'empty talk' into constructive global action China highlighted the importance of poverty reduction in promoting human rights worldwide, as hundreds of officials and scholars from around the globe gathered in Beijing for the 2018 Beijing Forum on Human Rights, which concluded on Wednesday. Despite progress over the last few decades, 700 million people worldwide are still living in dire poverty, with many developing countries grappling with hunger, disease and conflict, according to Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee. "Poverty is still the biggest challenge to the promotion of human rights across the world," he said on Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the two-day forum. More than 200 participants were in attendance, including senior human rights officials, scholars and diplomats from nearly 50 countries or regions. The forum, the ninth of its kind since 2008, was organized by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the China Foundation for Human Rights Development. The theme for this year was "Poverty Elimination: Seeking Common Development to Build a Community with a Shared Future for Human Beings". Huang said that China has lifted almost 800 million people out of poverty since its reform and opening-up began in 1978, accounting for more than 70 percent of the world's total reduction of poverty. China has combined the common principles of human rights and national reality, while seeking development during the period, and as a result Chinese people now enjoy better human rights development than in any other period in the county's history, he said. Huang encouraged countries to seek their own development path for human rights in accordance with their country's specific conditions and the people's will, and expressed willingness to cooperate in poverty relief. Huang Mengfu, chairman of the China Foundation for Human Rights Development, said poverty relief should be the priority when promoting human rights in developing countries. "Human rights is empty talk in households that suffer from hunger and disease, and for those with no shelter or who are unable to send their kids to school," he said. Sima Samar, chairwoman of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said poverty is at the root of many human rights violations and suggested that all countries make the eradication of poverty a primary objective while working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. "This can be achieved only if we join hands, stand together and do not leave anyone behind," she said. The forum followed the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, during which China pledged to help the continent with development and poverty alleviation. ^ top ^

China eyes safer Internet of Things with stronger cyber security laws and self-developed OS (People's Daily)
2018-09-18
Hundreds of thousands of Apple lovers across the world all suffered a narrow escape from having their iconic iPhones shipment delayed – a nightmare for Apple fans waiting to get their hands on the latest phone. As all Apple manufacturers were working full-on for the dramatic debut of the latest iPhone this September, one of Apple's chipmakers, TSMC in China's Taiwan, was the target of a ransomware cyber attack just one month before Apple's event. The attack put a halt to production at several factories and the company incurred a direct loss of about 3% of its Q3 revenue. Though just a one-time incident, it could one day be a nightmare for many people, as more and more countries including China usher in the era of Internet of Things (IoT), which connects almost everything, from assembly lines to smartphones, together. China issued its first IoT guideline in 2013 and three years later the concept became part of the 13th Five-Year Plan as the nation eyes active promotion of IoT development, which has indeed flourished over the past years. By 2020, the IoT industry's market value is expected to exceed over 2,000 billion yuan, revealed Mao Zuokui, an official with the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, at the High-level Forum on Information Security held on Sunday in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu province, a key hub of China's IoT businesses. In Wuxi city alone, the IoT industry in 2017 saw total revenue of 240 billion yuan and projects constructed in Wuxi connect over 700 cities, Yuan Fei, the city's publicity head, introduced at the forum. "The rising number of devices beyond smartphones and laptops means that the target pool is getting bigger for cyber attacks, which has implications for financial crimes and even terrorism. Information security vulnerability and risk assessments are crucial for China's information security," said Zhu Shengtao, director of China Information Technology Security Evaluation Center (CNITSEC). China is always quick to take action. According to Ni Guangnan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, China's information security has great potential to become top-notch in the world, as the nation boasts a top-down focus on security with a large talent pool and a gigantic market that is both open and inclusive. Cyber and information security companies have joined hands with industries that are new to IoT to guarantee safety: to stop a fast-moving car from being hijacked in the Internet of Vehicles, or to prevent smart home appliances from turning your life into a Truman Show, noted Zhang Cong, a vice president of 360 Enterprise Security Group. Meanwhile, the nation is mulling to set up a risk report mechanism to boost the nation's emergency response capability, revealed Xie Shaofeng, an official on informatization and software services with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), at the forum. He also stressed that annual information security checkups and risk prevention evaluations will be carried out to further beef up security systems. Starting on the first of June last year, China's Cybersecurity Law and a security review system on network products and services began to take effect, both of which set eyes on information technology at home and abroad to guarantee their provided services and products would not leave a backdoor open to hackers or deliberately break users' systems. On the other hand, China has never given up its attempts to break new grounds under the call on innovation, especially with regard to core technologies. Ni pointed out that China's Linux operating system (OS) will be able to replace "Windows + Intel," or "Wintel," one day, with three types of CPUs, including Loongson. Meanwhile, another competitor for the "Wintel" digital office system that was designed by China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp (CASIC) has been set up on 28,000 devices, serving 40,000 users. On real-time operating system (RTOS), China has been developing domestic RTOS SylixOS since 2006, and the OS boasting full intellectual property rights is ready ripe to challenge American RTOS VxWorks, while CASIC's super-server boasts better performance at lower cost for server and database services. For the same performance, the Chinese newcomer costs only 70 percent of its "Intel + Oracle" counterpart. Up and running for two years now without a glitch, the super-server now claims a user pool of 97,000, data from Casicloud showed. While at the initial stage of the self-developed products and services, it is understandable to see a relatively lower market share, Wang Jun, chief engineer with CNITSEC, told People's Daily. "No one OS can secure all tasks. We need to cultivate a full ecology where people and companies along with their applications and external devices can adapt to the OS," he said. "But China is not shunning away from international players through the review mechanism or self-development. In fact, we hope to welcome more of them from both cutting-edge companies and those who are playing at the same level as us," Wang added. ^ top ^

Onus on Didi to ensure safety of passengers (China Daily)
2018-09-18
Weeks after a female passenger was raped and killed by the driver of a car registered with Didi Kuaidi, the domestic ride-hailing giant suspended its night service for one week to "plug the loopholes" in its security mechanism. Didi resumed the night service on Friday. Guangming Daily comments: Didi said it has implemented a new set of rules for its night ride-hailing service. According to the new rules, only drivers who have been registered with Didi for more than six months and have clocked over 1,000 trips safely will be part of its night service -between 11 pm and 5 am. Providing some data to support its claim of having implemented the new rules, Didi said 6.98 million passengers have added an "emergency contact person" to their information. Earlier, Didi had promised that a passenger in danger could call the police and share his/her location by simply clicking on a Didi app button. But this time it said passengers cannot do so because of "certain limits". That, to some extent, is understandable because the arrangement requires the cooperation of the police, and different provinces and regions have different rules on the collection and use of personal information. So the relevant departments such as the public security bureau and telecom companies need to work together to ensure passengers' safety. Yet that should not be an excuse for Didi to not fulfill its responsibilities. In the week when Didi suspended its night service, many commuters had difficulty returning home after 11 pm. Some had to hire non-registered taxis that charged exorbitant amounts. Didi is the leading ride-hailing service provider in China. In 2017 alone, it processed 7.43 billion ride-haling orders. And the bigger Didi gets the more responsibilities it has to shoulder to ensure the safety of passengers. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Updated plan released for southern Beijing (China Daily)
2018-09-20
An updated action plan was unveiled by the Beijing government on Wednesday detailing development of the city's southern area over the next two years. The Southern Beijing Development Action Plan focuses on an area surrounding the Beijing Daxing International Airport and spreading to nearby districts, including Fengtai, Fangshan, Daxing and the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, according to the Beijing Development and Reform Commission, the city's economic planner. The plan shrinks the amount of land for construction of buildings - currently 59 square kilometers - and increases green areas, including the forest coverage rate. A green belt will be built near the airport. In May 2019, a new airport subway line to the airport will be finished, with an integrated traffic network. Daxing district, a key part of the southern Beijing area, has focused on the infrastructure question. It has reduced the size of building footprints, freeing up 6,467 hectares of land, Li Qiang, deputy director of Beijing Daxing district, said on Wednesday. Beyond infrastructure construction, the action plan covers other aspects of the area's development. For example, by the end of 2020, the afforestation area of southern Beijing will increase to 8,333 hectares, and clean energy sources will supply more than 95 percent of the electricity, the plan said. City planners also strengthened preschool education by expanding superior schools in Fangshan, Fengtai and Daxing districts. At least one of Beijing's top three hospitals will be assigned to each district in southern Beijing, the plan said. High-quality hospitals will also establish branches in different areas. A southern branch of Peking University No 1 Hospital is expected to be completed in Daxing in December 2019. Government investment in the southern Beijing area will account for a substantial share of spending, said Wang Yingjie, deputy director of Beijing Development and Reform Commission. "It's also a way to encourage the flow of more social capital" - spending by people on transportation, environment and medical treatment - in southern Beijing, she said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Manhunt on for gang who robbed Hong Kong jewellery store staff of US$740,000 at knifepoint (SCMP)
2018-09-21
A citywide police search was underway on Friday for a gang that robbed two Hong Kong jewellery company employees at knifepoint and escaped with US$740,000. Heavily armed police officers set up road blocks on major motorways in the Kowloon West region in an effort to track down the white getaway car used by the robbers. So far, no arrests have been made. The incident took place on Hok Yuen Street East near the junction with Hung Hom Road in Hung Hom soon before 10.30am. "Initial investigations indicated two rucksacks were stolen from the two victims," a police source said, adding that knives were produced during the robbery. The robbers escaped in a white car driven by another suspect. Photo: Facebook He said initial information showed the rucksacks carried US$740,000 in total. The source added that the gang of three or four robbers fled in a white car driven by another suspect before officers arrived. A police spokeswoman said the two male victims sustained leg injuries and were taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei for treatment. According to official statistics, police handled 82 reports of robbery across the city in the first six months of this year, a nearly 9 per cent drop compared with the figure in the same period last year. ^ top ^

Typhoon Mangkhut: long road to recovery on Hong Kong's outlying islands after storm devastates homes and businesses (SCMP)
2018-09-20
Kan Shiu-ki looks at the wreckage that was his restaurant and home on Lamma Island before Typhoon Mangkhut struck last weekend, and shakes his head. There is no way he will be able to get his seaside restaurant repaired and cleaned up in time for the Mid-Autumn Festival on Monday. "It will take 10 to 15 days to reopen, but maybe two or three months to get back fully to what it was before the storm," Kan said on Wednesday. Water supply has been unstable, and he has no working refrigerators to speak of – about seven are broken and two or three were washed away by the huge waves which overwhelmed the place. "I think my losses are between HK$300,000 and HK$400,000," he said. Signs of monster storm Mangkhut are everywhere on Lamma and other outlying islands that bore the full force of the storm. Kan's restaurant and home, next to Sok Kwu Wan ferry pier in east Lamma, suffered a head-on strike when Mangkhut arrived from the southeast on Sunday. "It was like a tsunami," recalled Kan, who had remained to look after his 46-year-old restaurant. "The waves were as high as three storeys. My house was shaking. Sand washed into the ground floor." Barrier boards he had erected on the short front wall were gone. A plastic shade over the outdoor dining area was broken. Walls on the ground floor were stained with water marks a metre high. A two-minute walk from the restaurant, Sok Kwu Wan Playground was disembowelled, with broken power lines and water pipes exposed. Across the island, fallen trees and branches, bricks and other debris were strewn everywhere. The islanders have been trying to clean up, shipping out 21 trucks of garbage and debris each day. The waste transfer station at Sok Kwu Wan is able to handle only 10 tonnes per day. Kan asked: "How many days will it take to complete the clean-up?" Christian Bullen hazards a guess: "Six months. It will take us six months to clean up the beach." The 54-year-old Canadian has been living for six years in Lo Tik Wan, in east Lamma. Mangkhut brought half of a nearshore fish farm onto the beach in front of his village house, burying his two boats. Bullen stayed on the second floor of his home and watched his boats – worth more than HK$180,000 – being smashed to pieces. It was heartbreaking, he said. A metre-tall front wall in his yard was broken by strong waves, the main door was smashed open by flying bricks, and his ground floor was flooded. Kat O, or Crooked Island, off Tai Po's Plover Cove Country Park, is also in distress. Its mostly elderly residents were left without power and fresh water supply after the storm. Videos and photos posted to a Facebook group showed that some seaside houses were reduced to rubble. Salvaged furniture and personal belongings were piled up outdoors as homes were either flooded or covered with sand and mud. Some former Kat O residents have formed a volunteer group that is planning to go there on Saturday to help the clean-up. Some 48km southwest of Kat O, popular holiday destination Cheung Chau was dealing with a large number of fallen trees. "Though the public hygiene workers have been working very hard since the typhoon was over, the workload was simply too much," said Leung Kwok-ho, a resident who ran as an independent candidate in the 2015 district council election. As of Tuesday afternoon, some 90 per cent of the 500-metre road connecting Kwok Man School and a helipad on the seaside at Tung Wan was completely destroyed. Water and power supplies were not stable. "I think we will need at least one week just to clear obstacles on the roads and lanes," Leung said. "We can't just rely on the government. Residents have started to join the effort and we need more local hands." ^ top ^

'Love wins': Hong Kong changes same-sex spouse visa policy after historic ruling (HKFP)
2018-09-18
Hong Kong's government has changed its visa policy for same-sex spouses following a historic legal ruling this year. The new policy means same-sex spouses will be able to apply for dependent visas to stay with their partners in Hong Kong starting from Wednesday. As same-sex unions are not recognised under Hong Kong laws, same-sex spouses were not previously eligible to hold visas as dependents. This changed in July, when the Court of Final Appeal upheld a lower court's judgment in favour of lesbian expat QT, affirming what legal experts deemed a "landmark decision" for Hong Kong's LGBTQ community. The top court said that the government's differential treatment towards QT – denying her a spousal visa on the basis of marital status – amounted to unlawful discrimination. The government was required to revise its policy after the case. The new policy applies to those who entered legal and officially recognised same-sex civil partnerships, civil unions or marriages overseas, whose partners are eligible local sponsors. Under the revised policy, the Director of Immigration will permit same-sex spouses to live as dependants in Hong Kong if the person meets the normal immigration requirements, in addition to three criteria. The criteria include reasonable proof of a genuine relationship between the applicant and the sponsor; no known records to the detriment of the applicant; and the sponsor's ability to support the dependant's living at a standard well above the subsistence level and provide him/her with suitable accommodation in Hong Kong. After the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of QT in September last year, the Immigration Department granted "interim arrangements" to same-sex couples applying for dependant visas. The department said the arrangements will remain valid. Those permitted to stay under the arrangement can apply to the department for an extension to remain in Hong Kong as dependants before their permitted limit of stay expires. The department will then process the applications according to the revised policy. The government added that the new policy ensures that Hong Kong will "continue to attract and retain people with the right talent and skills" by giving them the choice of bringing their non-local dependants to live with them in Hong Kong. Ray Chan, Hong Kong's first openly gay lawmaker, welcomed the new policy: "Welcome to #HongKong! Congratulations! #LoveWins," he tweeted. The government maintained that the new policy does not affect the meaning of "spouse" under the policy. It also does not affect any other government policies or any other rights under Hong Kong's existing laws. "As the CFA recognised in its judgment in the QT case, a valid marriage under Hong Kong law is heterosexual and monogamous and is not a status open to couples of the same sex," a government spokesman said. "The revision has nothing to do with legal recognition of same-sex civil partnership, same-sex civil union, 'same-sex marriage', opposite-sex civil partnership or opposite-sex civil union in Hong Kong. Nor should there be any expectation of such plan by the Government. The revision does not compromise the Government's position in any legal proceedings." LGBTQ rights group Big Love Alliance welcomed the policy change. "But do not forget that the change was only made after the government lost the QT judicial review and was forced to comply with the court judgment. There is still a long way to go for marriage equality in Hong Kong," it said in a social media post. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Trade war: Taiwanese firms to flee mainland China over Donald Trump's tariffs, claims Taipei (SCMP)
2018-09-19
Taiwanese businesses based in mainland China are being persuaded to move home by the escalating US-China trade war, according to the island's government, which is promising "the most effective" aid to help them do so. At least 20 Taiwanese enterprises were likely to relocate from the mainland to Taiwan, wary of the imminent impact of fresh US tariffs on imports from mainland China, Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin said on Tuesday. The stand-off between the world's two biggest economies has expanded dramatically this week, with US President Donald Trump announcing on Monday that he will impose 10 per cent tariffs from next week – climbing to 25 per cent on January 1 – on US$200 billion of Chinese goods. Trump threatened to place tariffs on another US$267 billion of imports if China took retaliatory action – which Beijing did, saying it will put tariffs on US$60 billion of US goods – in a further worry for Taiwanese firms with mainland production bases. The United States does not apply its tariffs to Taiwan, which is self-ruled but regarded as a renegade province by Beijing. "Some 20 Taiwanese businesses have already expressed their desire to relocate here," Shen said. Those wanting to move their production bases to the island included internet, communications, electronic components and bicycle manufacturing companies, ministry officials said. There are close to 100,000 Taiwanese firms on the mainland, including small companies, according to government statistics released by Taipei and Beijing. Former economics minister Deng Chen-chung, now a minister without portfolio, said on Tuesday the Taiwan government would provide all necessary help for Taiwanese enterprises, as the trade war offered the island a golden chance to persuade businesses to move their operations home. "We welcome mainland-based Taiwanese businesses to move their bases back," he said. "The government has already installed various mechanisms to assist the relocated businesses and will provide them with the most effective aid during their relocation." Deng argued that the 10 per cent tariffs "will not have a strong direct impact on Taiwan", but Liang Kuo-yuan, president of Taipei-based think tank Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute, said the US-China trade war could eventually hurt Taiwan, especially in the electronic components and machine tools sectors. "Being a small and open economy, Taiwan is unlikely to escape unscathed from the trade war," Liang said. "After all, the US and China are two of Taiwan's major export markets." ^ top ^

 

Economy

Chinese firms start to cut jobs and move overseas as US trade war and rising costs start to bite (SCMP)
2018-09-21
Yang Xiaoying feels conflicted and overwhelmed by the uncertain future of the factory she and her husband founded 15 years ago in Dongguan, a manufacturing hub in southern China. To offset the impact of shrinking orders and soaring operational costs for the factory, which produces shoes and leather accessories for overseas buyers, she has been forced to downsize her workforce from over 200 last year to about 150. Xie Xusheng, who owns a garment making and embroidery processing factory in the city, also laid off about 160 workers soon after he opened a new factory in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City early this year to supply big-name American brands with shoes, bags and accessories. He only kept on about 40 senior skilled workers at his plant in Guangdong province for complicated sample development. The decisions by Yang and Xie to cut workers are part of a subtle but growing trend of smaller Chinese firms cutting their employment levels in an effort to allow their businesses to survive. Small businesses are increasingly struggling with shrinking foreign orders due to US tariffs, a depreciating yuan that raises the cost of imported materials and soaring domestic costs for energy, taxes, rent and labour. This year, the number of lay-offs at small and medium-sized manufacturing firms, tech start-ups and financial organisations has grown at a double-digit rate in percentage terms, according to industry analysts. The situation threatens to get worse, given the escalating trade war with the US. Washington has slapped 10 per cent duties on US$200 billion of Chinese imports effective from Monday, with the tariff rate set to rise to 25 per cent on January if Beijing does not make concessions. US President Donald Trump has also threatened to levy tariffs on the remaining US$267 billion in Chinese imports not already sanctioned. China's official unemployment rate has hovered between 4 and 5 per cent for decades, though many domestic and international analysts believe the government data does not accurately reflect the worsening unemployment situation because official statistics do not take into account unregistered jobless and surplus workers in rural areas. According to the CIER index, designed to monitor changes in China's labour market, employment at small and middle-sized firms has fallen far this year, with the decline accelerating in the second quarter. The quarterly index is jointly produced by Renmin University's China Institute for Employment Research and Zhaopin.com, the country's leading career platform. A CIER index score of greater than one indicates that the labour market is improving, with more jobseekers than available vacancies, while an index below one indicates the labour market is deteriorating. The CIER index for small (20 to 499 employees) companies fell from 0.85 in the first quarter to 0.79 in the second, indicating accelerating lay-offs. The index for medium-sized companies (500 to 9,999 employees) fell from 1.01 to 0.97, indicating that they too were beginning to cut workers. Yang said the lay-offs would help to lower her labour costs from about 700,000 yuan (US$102,000) per month to about 500,000 yuan, which would help offset the firm's soaring expenses for raw materials, rent and employee social security. She also hinted that there were likely more lay-offs to come, saying: "Actually, there aren't enough orders [now] to sustain 200 workers." Yang and her husband moved to Dongguan from the eastern province of Jiangxi to start their small workshop in 2003 when labour and raw materials were dirt cheap. With a steady stream of orders from America, Europe and Hong Kong, the workshop expanded to become a factory of 800 full-time and part-time workers at its peak in 2008. "But then we had to downsize, first because of a labour shortage in the early 2000s, now because of weaker demand for Chinese goods from overseas buyers," Yang said. "So far, shoes accessories are not on the list of [of products subject to] extra tariffs. But we all believe they will be included sooner or later." Xie said: "We are seeing more and more small and medium-sized [contract manufacturing] factories that cannot withstand the double hits resulting from US tariffs and higher payments for employees' social security, forcing them to downsize. "Many export-oriented factories here have seen orders cut in half." Xie said he made his decision to move most of his production to Vietnam after his biggest customer moved his supply chain to Southeast Asia. "A growing number of Chinese textile and garment suppliers are setting up factories in Vietnam and Cambodia because overseas customers are increasingly placing orders only from factories in these countries, instead of China," he said. "That's why I had to follow and set up a plant there. " The foreign brands that are Xie's main customers "used to source from 25 Chinese suppliers on the mainland, but now are partnered with just two because of worries about [US] tariffs". Employment downsizing is also occurring at tech start-ups and private financial services companies. "Our Guangzhou branch just downsized from 600 to 200 employees, with all [employees in the] logistics and administrative departments cut, because of the weak performance of financial funds and the stock market this year," said a senior sales manager at a private financial capital company who refused to disclose his company's name. "Senior executives were required to take a basic salary pay cut of 30 to 70 per cent," he said. The job situation at small and medium-sized financial firms was gradually worsening due to the steady deterioration of country's informal shadow banking system, on which many smaller firms relied for capital, and the continued decline in the stock market, the manager said. "Investor confidence is lower than ever before because of the economic slowdown that the trade war is causing." Jonathan Yu, the founder of a new app company in Guangzhou, said tech start-ups were also facing a hard time. "The whole venture capital sector is becoming very cautious about investing," he said. In August, China's national tax authority told local governments to stop offering tax incentives to venture capital firms as the country revamps its tax policy in response to slowing economic growth. Venture capital firms now should pay a progressive tax rate of 5 to 35 per cent, rather than the 20 per cent flat rate they have paid previously in many areas. "If implementation of tax polices gets stricter, it would a big blow to the tech sector," Yu said. All the people the South China Morning Post spoke to agreed US tariffs would put increasing pressure on their sectors, resulting in many more people losing their jobs at once-booming businesses. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

How Moon Jae-in's 'dangerous gamble' on North Korea and denuclearisation could backfire (SCMP)
2018-09-21
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has embarked on a "dangerous gamble", analysts said, after he secured only minimal concessions from Kim Jong-un to reboot the North's nuclear negotiations with Washington. Moon flew to Pyongyang this week for his third summit with Kim seeking a concrete gesture to rekindle the stalled denuclearisation talks between the United States and the North. But he returned Thursday with agreements that fell far short of US demands for a "final, fully verified denuclearisation" of North Korea. The South Korean leader prioritised Seoul's trust-building process with Pyongyang over denuclearisation, said Shin Beom-cheol, an analyst at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies. "It's a dangerous gamble," Shin said, adding that Seoul's emollient approach could facilitate efforts by the North to hold on to its nuclear weapons. South Korea will be blamed if Pyongyang does not denuclearise, he said, adding: "It will put cracks in its alliance with Washington and Seoul will lose credibility." Moon, who also met the North Korean leader in April and May this year, was instrumental in brokering the historic Singapore summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim in June. It's a dangerous gamble … It will put cracks in its alliance with Washington and Seoul will lose credibility Shin Beom-cheol, Asan Institute of Policy Studies Kim backed the denuclearisation of the "Korean peninsula" after meeting Trump, but no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have since sparred over what that means and how it will be achieved. At the Pyongyang summit, Kim agreed to permanently close the North's Tongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch pad under the eyes of foreign observers. Analysts quickly dismissed the promise, saying the facility was outdated and no longer needed as the already existing missiles were produced elsewhere. The North Korean leader also offered to take further steps such dismantling the country's best known nuclear facility in Yongbyon, if the US carried out "corresponding measures". Pyongyang is believed to have produced its plutonium at Yongbyon, which is also known to house a uranium enrichment plant. But Sung-yoon Lee of the Fletcher School at Tufts University noted that Yongbyon has been mothballed before, only to be reactivated when negotiations with the US fell through. "The closure of Yongbyon, even were it actually to take place, does not mean a major concession for Kim has alternate means to building more bombs by enriching uranium," Lee added. Kim had already declared the North's nuclear development complete and the moves were "a sleight of hand for ensnaring the US … which will enable Kim to buy more time and money with which to perfect his own nuclear posture", Lee said. Rather than shuttering outdated testing facilities, North Korea needed to provide a comprehensive list of its nuclear assets, said Cha Du-hyeogn of the Asan Institute. "Right now it's just offering to showcase known facilities and that's unacceptable," he added. The US welcomed Kim's latest promise, saying it was ready for immediate talks aimed at denuclearising the North with Trump quickly tweeting: "Very exciting!" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – whose visit to Pyongyang last month was abruptly cancelled by Trump – also praised Kim's "important commitments" and offered to meet his North Korean counterpart in New York, but analysts noted that Washington was acting with caution. "The issue is whether Pompeo will return to North Korea but that's not immediately happening," Cha said. But maintaining the momentum for denuclearisation talks was vital, said Kim Heung-kyu, a professor at Ajou University, calling the Pyongyang statement "a very significant achievement". The new impetus will be a relief for Trump who is embroiled in multiple scandals ahead of the US midterm elections in November, he noted, saying developments with North Korea will help "divert attention". Moon probably convinced Kim by telling him that there was not a lot of time left until Trump's political interest drifted elsewhere, he added. "If it wasn't for this, both Kim and Trump would not have budged." The biggest challenge may come soon, if the two mercurial leaders reunite for a second headline-grabbing meeting. Moon said after his Pyongyang trip that Kim was hoping for another summit with Trump "at an early date". "The real problem is Trump himself is eager for a follow-up meeting with Kim," said Lee of Tufts University. That "will entail more concessions", he added, such as "further relaxation of sanctions enforcement and normalisation of Kim's image and stature". ^ top ^

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says North Korea denuclearisation to be completed by early 2021 (SCMP)
2018-09-20
North Korea has committed to dismantling its nuclear weapons programme by the time US President Donald Trump's term ends in January 2021, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday. Building on what Trump called "tremendous progress", Pompeo said he has invited his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho, to meet next week in New York, "where we are both already scheduled to be in attendance at the United Nations General Assembly meeting". Pompeo is also scheduled to lead a UN ministerial meeting on North Korea on September 27. He said in a congratulatory statement on the "successful outcome" of a third inter-Korean summit concluded in Pyongyang overnight that "the United State is prepared to engage immediately in negotiations to transform US-DPRK relations". "We have invited North Korean representatives to meet our special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, in Vienna, Austria, at the earliest opportunity," Pompeo said in a written statement. "This will mark the beginning of negotiations to transform U.S.-DPRK relations through the process of rapid denuclearization of North Korea, to be completed by January 2021, as committed by Chairman Kim," Pompeo continued, "and to construct a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula". Before leaving Washington for flood-stricken North Carolina on Wednesday morning, Trump told reporters: "We had very good news from North Korea, South Korea. They met, and we had some great responses." Trump also confirmed that he received "a tremendous letter" from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, delivered "three days ago". In it, Kim requested a second meeting with Trump, which the US is trying to coordinate, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. "We're making tremendous progress with respect to North Korea," Trump said, adding that the relationship has been "very much calmed down". "Prior to my coming into office, a lot of people thought we were going – it was inevitable – we were going to war in North Korea," he said. It was widely reported last year that the Trump administration was considering a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. Of the just-concluded summit meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Pompeo said the US welcomed the leaders' "reaffirmation of the Singapore joint statement of complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, including the permanent dismantlement of all facilities at Yongbyon in the presence of US and [international] inspectors". He also welcomed Kim's decision to complete the previously announced dismantlement of the Tongchang-ri site in the presence of US and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, agreed to by Kim and Trump at their meeting in June in Singapore, "as a step toward the final fully verified denuclearization of North Korea". Stephan Haggard, a professor of Korea-Pacific studies at the University of California, San Diego, said Pompeo's statement showed that "the US did want to get back to the negotiations" after Trump called off Pompeo's planned trip to Pyongyang last month. "What we don't know is what, if anything, the US is willing to concede to get forward momentum," Haggard said. "The US has a pretty good idea of the nature of the steps it seeks, but it has been less clear what it is willing to offer in return." He added, "Defining the negotiations as aimed at 'transforming US-DPRK relations' suggests a much wider negotiating agenda." ^ top ^

Moon gets 'standing ovation' after first ever speech by South Korean leader to North Koreans (SCMP)
2018-09-20
In a historic moment, South Korean President Moon Jae-in was given a standing ovation by tens of thousands of North Koreans on Wednesday night following the first-ever speech by a South Korean president in the country. The applause capped a second day of talks with Kim Jong-un, during which the two leaders agreed to rid their peninsula of nuclear weapons. Speaking after the mass games in a packed May Day Stadium – which holds 150,000 – Moon announced their dramatic deal. "We have confirmed our people's principle of sovereignty, to determine our fate on our own and to significantly improve inter-Korean relations to hasten prosperity on the Korean peninsula" he declared. "We have pledged to give a nuclear weapon-free and nuclear threat-free peaceful land to the next generation." Moon said the agreement also included measures to "completely eliminate military collisions". "Kim and I will firmly hold the hands of the 80 million Korean people and will make a new fatherland," he added, sending the stadium crowd into frenzied cheering. It was the first time ever that a South Korean leader made a speech in public to North Koreans. Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun only ever met late leader Kim Jong-il and other officials and never spoke to any of its citizens in public. The speech came hours after the third summit between Moon and Kim, during which they finally made progress, analysts said, compared with the vague results from two previous meetings. Moon told reporters their joint declaration called for the closing North Korea's missile and nuclear test sites: "Kim has agreed that additional measures, such as closing Yongbyon nuclear test site, can be taken if the US takes corresponding measures." He did not explain what the "corresponding measures" would be. "We agreed to make efforts to turn the Korean peninsula into the land of peace without nuclear weapons or nuclear threats," Kim said. The two leaders said they would have try to have another summit in the South before the end of the year. At the same time, the militaries from both countries signed an agreement to reduce tensions. This included the creation of buffer zones around land and sea borders where military and maritime exercises are banned, starting from November. Moon's three-day visit ends on Thursday, after a trip with Kim to Mount Baekdu, North Korea's most northerly peak. With the two Koreas reinforcing their commitment to denuclearisation and peace on the peninsula, the US and China may focus on helping them achieve the goals, rather than using the region as leverage against one another, analysts suggested. "If North Korea comes to the negotiation table, US President Donald Trump will make fewer claims that China is behind North Korea's slow denuclearisation," said Jeong Seong-jang, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute in Seoul. "It may positively affect the bilateral relations between US and China." Park Byeong-seug, a South Korean lawmaker with Moon's Democratic Party of Korea, said his government has tried very hard not to make talks with the North reliant on the US or China. "We would like to avoid the Korean peninsula becoming a factor in US and China relations," he said. "When the two Koreas improve relations, such concerns are somewhat eased … If the second US-North Korea summit goes well, I think it is even possible to establish a liaison office between the two countries." US President Donald Trump hailed the summit, telling reporters outside the White House there had been "tremendous progress" and "very good news". Moon's trip to Pyongyang was seen as a mission to revive stalled talks between the US and North Korea, and Wednesday's deal has injected some optimism into the possibility of second summit between Trump and Kim. However, the US president wasn't giving anything away. "He's calm and I'm calm, so we'll see what happens," he said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Joint statement on the expanded comprehensive partnership between Mongolia and the United States (Montsame)
2018-09-21
The United States and Mongolia, recognizing that persistent efforts by both sides across thirty-one years of diplomatic relations have deepened political, economic, educational, cultural and people-to-people ties between the two countries, declared that their bilateral relationship had reached a new level of expanded comprehensive partnership. The two sides recognized that the basic principles set forth in the 2007 Declaration of Principles for Closer Cooperation, and supported by the 2004 and 2005 U.S-Mongolia Joint Statements, have provided a solid foundation for the development of a relationship based on shared values and common strategic interests. Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to these principles as they pursue avenues to further broaden and deepen their bilateral relationship. The United States hailed Mongolia's transformation into a free and democratic society, reaffirming both the friendship between the two countries and Mongolia's role as an important Indo-Pacific partner. Mongolia expressed appreciation both for the unwavering support of the United States during Mongolia's transition to democracy and for continued U.S. partnership as Mongolia works to strengthen its market economy, build strong governance institutions, and foster sustainable economic development. Mongolia reaffirmed the role of the United States as a significant third neighbor, a close friend, and an important partner. The United States commended Mongolia for the long and distinguished service of Mongolian forces serving in Afghanistan and expressed anticipation for its contribution to the Resolute Support Mission beyond 2018. The United States also expressed appreciation for Mongolia's contributions to global peacekeeping, including its efforts to enhance the peacekeeping ability of other nations through the Khaan Quest exercises. Mongolia thanked the United States for its support of the exercises and of capacity building within the Mongolian armed forces. Both sides pledged to continue to provide mutual support in their shared pursuit of a secure, stable, prosperous world of independent and sovereign countries. Both sides also reaffirmed the essential importance to regional and global security of the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK, and pledged to continue cooperation and information sharing to ensure the full implementation of all UN Security Council resolutions. The United States thanked Mongolia for its assistance in this regard and urged continued support for the efforts of the international community. Under the new expanded comprehensive Partnership, Mongolia and the United States expressed their intent to strengthen their shared economic, trade, and investment relationship for the benefit of both peoples. To that end, both sides noted with approval the completion of the "Roadmap for Expanded Economic Partnership between the United States of America and Mongolia" and expressed their desire to take positive and effective measures to expand economic relations. Both sides welcomed the signing of Mongolia's second Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, which will support vital improvements to infrastructure supplying water to Ulaanbaatar, and will secure the long-term sustainability of that infrastructure through policy reforms. The United States observed that the Compact is representative of the U.S. desire to protect and promote the principles of freedom, openness, sovereignty, and transparency in Mongolia and across the region. Mongolia highlighted that the Compact is a symbol of the lasting friendship between the Mongolian and American peoples; and it has an important contribution to the economic development of Mongolia. Recognizing that a stable investment and financial environment is an essential component of deepened U.S.-Mongolia economic relations, both sides acknowledged the importance of strengthening Mongolia's defenses against financial crimes, improving transparency, and securing macroeconomic stability. Mongolia expressed support for further cooperation on developing its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism regimes, and reiterated the country's commitment to fulfilling its commitments as part of its IMF program. The United States and Mongolia affirmed that the two countries' shared commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights represented a cornerstone of their bilateral relationship. Mongolia thanked the United States for hosting the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, and expressed Mongolia's desire to promote religious freedom in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world. The United States welcomed Mongolia's announcement at July's Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom of its appointment of an Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom. Both sides committed to explore avenues through which to deepen cooperation in securing and expanding religious freedom, with Mongolia as a leader on this issue in the region. Underscoring the importance of cultural and educational cooperation, the two countries reaffirmed their commitment to broadening educational programs through public-private partnerships, increasing direct exchanges, promoting both commercial and non-commercial cultural exchanges, and enhancing collaboration through an increase of Peace Corps volunteers and their activities in Mongolia, including, but not limited to, expanded English language teaching programs. With the view of deepening these ties, Mongolia and the United States agreed to announce 2019 as the "U.S.-Mongolia Youth Year." The two sides also noted the importance of maintaining the frequency of high-level dialogues and bilateral mechanisms, including the Annual Bilateral Consultations, defense talks, the Economic Policy Dialogue, TIFA talks, and the Energy Cooperation Dialogue to discuss and collaborate on efforts to advance bilateral priorities and international peace and prosperity. Mongolia and the United States reaffirmed their shared commitment to the principles of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights, and promotion of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond in the spirit of true partnership. ^ top ^

PM U.Khurelsukh paying an official visit to the United States (Montsame)
2018-09-19
From today, Prime Minister of Mongolia U.Khurelsukh is paying an official visit to the United States of America at the invitation of the White House. Within the visit, PM U.Khurelsukh is to hold meeting with top officials of the United States to exchange views on current state of Mongolia-U.S. relations and cooperation. Moreover, the PM will sign a declaration of the Second Compact Agreement with the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation. During the visit, the sides will issue a joint statement on Comprehensive and Extended Partnership, agreeing road map of expanding bilateral economic cooperation. The PM also plans to meet representatives of Mongolians in Washington, D.C who are living in the USA, and address at the general debate of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly. During his attendance in the 73rd Session of UNGA, PM U.Khurelsukh will hold talks with Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme and other high-level officials. Furthermore, he will give remarks at annual meeting of the Socialist International Organization to be held in New York between political and economic leaders. ^ top ^

 

LEW Mei Yi
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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