Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  8-12.10.2018, No. 737  
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Foreign Policy

US curbs China nuclear exports as Trump warns that Americans are not 'stupid' (SCMP)
The United States said Thursday that it will increasingly restrict civilian nuclear exports to China as President Donald Trump vowed a hard line on trade, bluntly warning not to think Americans are "stupid". The US Energy Department said it would make it more difficult to ship nuclear technology to China, one of the few growing markets for new plants as the Asian economy tries to meet rising electricity demand through low-carbon sources. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that there were "national security implications" to continuing the trade, but an insider said that the government is concerned by Beijing's strategy "to acquire nuclear technology to gain economic advantage". "The United States cannot ignore the national security implications of China's efforts to obtain nuclear technology outside established processes of US-China civil nuclear cooperation," Perry said in a statement. The measures are the latest salvo in a widening US drive to pressure China, with the Trump administration recently slapping $250 billion in tariffs. The Energy Department said it would not end exports to China but would show greater scrutiny and that there "will be a presumption of denial" for new licences related to the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp. The company was indicted last year along with a naturalised US citizen on charges of conspiring to develop sensitive nuclear material with US know-how without going through the required approval process. The US already carefully reviews nuclear exports through the Energy Department's so-called Part 810 authorisations, which verify if the technology goes to peaceful use and will not be sent to a third country. "For decades China has maintained a concerted, central government-run strategy to acquire nuclear technology to gain economic advantage," a US official said on condition of anonymity. The United States last year shipped US$170 million in nuclear exports to China, according to official figures. A 2017 Commerce Department report ranked China as the second largest market for US nuclear exporters, second only to Britain. "We understand that the US industry may suffer in the short term from this decision," the official said. "However, China's concerted effort to emulate and displace US nuclear products could cause the permanent loss of global markets and domestic jobs in the long run," he said. Former president Barack Obama in 2015 signed off on an extension of nuclear cooperation between the United States and China, with his administration arguing that Beijing had moved to tighten controls as part of renewal negotiations. Relations between the world's two largest economies have soured sharply, however, with Trump earlier Thursday vowing to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink in a trade war. "They lived too well for too long and, frankly, I guess they think that the Americans are stupid people. Americans are not stupid people," Trump said in an interview on Fox and Friends. The mogul-turned-president boasted that his tariffs had already "had a big impact." "Their economy has gone down very substantially," he said. "I have a lot more to do if I want to do it. I don't want to do it but they have to come to the table." Trump is pressing China to improve trading conditions for US products and to end what US businesses say is widespread theft of their intellectual property. China has responded by imposing counter tariffs, which the Trump administration alleges show political interference by targeting products from key states in next month's congressional elections. The International Monetary Fund this week cited the trade war as it lowered its 2019 growth forecast for China, which is set to see its slowest expansion since 1990. The IMF also lowered estimates for the United States and the global economy as a whole. Trump renewed his charge that past presidents Obama and George W. Bush "let China get out of control" through the massive US imports of manufactured goods. "We have helped rebuild China more than any other factor. We have helped rebuild it. I said it's over." ^ top ^

Japanese PM meets with senior Chinese official on bilateral ties (Global Times)
Japanese Prime Minister and President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Shinzo Abe met with Song Tao, head of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Thursday. Song said that the leaders of the two countries have confirmed the principles and direction of the development of bilateral relations during their recent meeting. He said that the eighth meeting of the China-Japan ruling parties exchange mechanism held here was aimed at implementing the consensus reached between the leaders of the two countries, further bringing into play the political leading role of the party-to-party exchange mechanism in bilateral relations, safeguarding the political foundation of bilateral ties, managing and controlling differences in a constructive way and jointly promoting practical cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. Abe, for his part, said that the exchanges between the ruling parties of the two countries are important to the development of bilateral relations, and Japan is willing to make joint efforts with the Chinese side to enhance party-to-party exchanges, boost political mutual trust and promote continued improvement and development of bilateral relations. ^ top ^

Chinese first lady congratulates UN award ceremony for women, girls' education (Global Times)
Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping and a UNESCO Special Envoy for the Advancement of Girls' and Women's Education, sent a congratulatory message to the award ceremony for the 3rd UNESCO Prize for Girls' and Women's Education, held in Paris on Thursday. Peng paid respect and sent her best wishes to the laureates of this year's prize, the Misr El Kheir Foundation of Egypt and the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation. Peng said in the message that girls' and women's education is a great cause that empowers girls and women with the same opportunities to achieve their potentials as boys and men. It is an essential part of, and an important means to, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The UNESCO Prize for Girls' and Women's Education has played a unique and important role in encouraging more people to devote themselves to this great cause, Peng said. She praised the laureates for their commitment to promoting equality in education and helping girls and women fulfill their dreams. Peng said that, as the UNESCO Special Envoy for the Advancement of Girls' and Women's Education, she would like to work together with everyone else to support the UNESCO's gender equality global priorities and enable every girl and woman by giving them a chance to succeed and fulfill their dreams. Proposed and sponsored by the Chinese government, the UNESCO Prize for Girls' and Women's Education is the first UNESCO prize in girls' and women's education. ^ top ^

China 'unaware' of alleged threats against ex-Interpol president Meng Hongwei's wife (SCMP)
Beijing said it is "not aware of the situation" surrounding reports that the wife of the detained Chinese former president of Interpol has been threatened. However, it would be "natural" for Chinese consular officials to contact the wife of Meng Hongwei, who vanished after travelling to China late last month from France, where Interpol is headquartered, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Wednesday. Days after his disappearance, Beijing said Meng was under investigation for corruption and possibly other crimes. His wife, Grace Meng, said she received a phone call from a man speaking Chinese who told her that a pair of "work teams" had been dispatched "just for you". Grace Meng was placed under French police protection in the city of Lyon while they investigate whether Chinese agents had indeed been sent to possibly do her harm. Responding to a question about Meng Hongwei at a daily briefing, Lu said "relevant people should not attempt to make excuses for their corrupted and criminal acts" by "slandering" the government of President Xi Jinping, who has waged a wide-ranging and politically charged campaign against corruption. While saying he had no information about contact between Grace Meng and Chinese officials, Lu said that, "if Meng Hongwei's wife is a Chinese citizen, it's natural for Chinese diplomatic missions to contact her. Every government does so". Asked specifically about the alleged threats, Lu said: "I'm not aware of the situation." Meng Hongwei was China's vice-minister of public security while also leading Interpol, with decades of experience in China's sprawling security apparatus. His wife said she had put their two boys to bed when she got the threatening call – a week after her last contact with her husband. On September 25, he sent her from China an emoji of a knife – suggesting to her he was in danger. The man who called her on her cellphone spoke in Chinese, she said. She said the only clue he gave about his identity was saying that he used to work for Meng, suggesting that the man was part of China's security apparatus. He also said he knew where she was. Beijing said on Monday that Meng was being lawfully investigated for taking bribes and other crimes that were a result of his "wilfulness". Hours earlier, Interpol said Meng had resigned as the international police agency's president. It was not clear whether he did so freely. China's move to go after the Interpol president, an official with international standing, was unusually audacious even for an administration that under Xi's leadership has sought to assert its interests more aggressively on the global stage. ^ top ^

Commentary: Greater SCO cooperation along Belt and Road (Xinhua)
Paired up with China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) under the guidance of the Shanghai Spirit is in the doorway to greater cooperation opportunities and expected to foster regional peace and development. The five-year-old BRI comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road. As the Belt and Road construction and the SCO cooperation enjoy highly overlapping geography and doctrinal similarities, the Silk Road Spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit has facilitated cooperation within the SCO framework and led to remarkable achievements. Tajikistan, the country that welcomes Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday for an official visit as well as his attendance at the 17th SCO Council of Heads of Government, stands as a fine example of how SCO regional cooperation gets multiplied by the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt. The Central Asian country benefits from cooperation with China in agriculture, energy, security and people-to-people exchanges. Major projects like thermal power plants, cotton processing mills and textile industrial park are improving the Tajik people's livelihood. Besides trade, security and humanitarian cooperation, SCO countries including Tajikistan are also exploring new growth potentials such as scientific and technological innovation to find a fresh dynamic of sustainable development. From resources development in Uzbekistan to cultural tourism industry and agriculture innovation park in Kazakhstan, numerous projects blossomed along the Silk Road and witnessed the Shanghai Spirit in the new era of SCO development toning in with the essence of the BRI construction. Featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development, the Shanghai Spirit was replenished at the Qingdao summit when Chinese President Xi Jinping offered China's insights on security, development, cooperation, civilization and global governance. At the summit, the SCO countries agreed to make "building a community with a shared future for humanity" a common concept in the organization. With an eye to political consensus and common interests, it is time that SCO countries shoulder the task to turn geopolitical virtues in the center of the Eurasian continent, as well as coordinated structure within the SCO framework, into a booster for cooperation, openness and inter-connectivity. ^ top ^

Malaysia looks to Chinese leadership, but not on South China Sea (SCMP)
Spurred on by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's "Look East" policy, Malaysia is looking to China to provide global leadership – but is concerned about Beijing's actions in the South China Sea. That was the message from economic affairs minister Azmin Ali as he delivered the closing address at the South China Morning Post's China Conference in Kuala Lumpur. "Today we expect China to provide global leadership not just in the economic sphere but in soft power by advancing universal values such as freedom of conscience, mutual respect, and justice," Azmin said. "Being close to China, geopolitical developments in Southeast Asia are viewed as a bellwether of the effects on trade, diplomacy, and security that China's rise is likely to have on the rest of the world," he said. And while Southeast Asia views Beijing's rapid economic growth with "genuine admiration", there are concerns about China's military moves in the disputed South China Sea. Azmin said: "We maintain that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea must remain unencumbered. The region must remain a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality, and must not be allowed to be militarised." Malaysia is among the claimants of the disputed waterway through which some US$5 trillion of goods transit each year. Malaysia occupies at least five features in the disputed Spratly Islands, including the oceanic atoll known as Swallow Reef, where it has a small naval presence. These islands are well within the U-shaped "nine-dash line" that marks China's claims in the sea. Observers say the waters have become a flashpoint because of heavy militarisation there by China and other claimant states, while the US sends warships to the area as part of "freedom of navigation" exercises. ^ top ^

US Secretary Pompeo's China visit marked by frosty talks and 'fundamental disagreement' (SCMP)
Top diplomats from China and the US engaged in a frosty exchange on Monday as US Secretary Mike Pompeo declared the two powers were stuck in "fundamental disagreement" over a range of issues from trade to China's domestic and foreign policies. The exchange, between Pompeo and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing, displayed an unusually stern tone from both sides, amid rising tension between the world's two largest economies. Wang, also a state councillor, accused Washington of escalating the trade conflict, interfering with Taiwan, and levelling false accusations about China's domestic and foreign policies, according to a readout posted on China's foreign ministry website. "These actions have damaged our mutual trust, cast a shadow over the future of China-US relations, and go against the interests of the people of the two countries," Wang told Pompeo. "We demand that the US side immediately stop its wrong actions and words." Pompeo retorted that "the issues that you characterised, we have a fundamental disagreement". "We have great concerns about actions that China has taken and I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss each of those today because this is an incredibly important relationship," Pompeo said, according to a Bloomberg report. Last week, US Vice-President Mike Pence made a series of allegations on every aspect of China-US relations. He accused Chinese Student and Scholar Associations of being part of the Communist Party effort to foster a culture of censorship, and accused China of – among other things – military aggression in the South China Sea and interference in the US midterm elections. Wang said cooperation should be the only choice for China and the US, but denied Beijing was interfering in US domestic affairs. "China is committed to developing a good relationship with the US. At the same time, China also resolutely protects its sovereignty, security and development interest," he said. Pompeo's meeting in Beijing was the last stop of his Asia trip, intended to revitalise the stalled denuclearisation negotiations with Pyongyang, in particular, amid concerns that worsening Sino-US relations could undermine their cooperation on North Korea. While in Seoul, Pompeo said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had agreed to allow inspectors into the country's Punggye-ri nuclear test site, one of the main sticking points over Pyongyang's denuclearisation pledge. During the meeting in Beijing, Wang said China and the US should strengthen cooperation on North Korea. Pompeo also met with Politburo member Yang Jiechi. However, there were no plans for him to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was seen as a sign of worsening relations between the two powers. During the last three days of his Asia trip, Pompeo met with top leaders from all three nations in Japan, South and North Korea. The US diplomat also met with Xi during a similar trip to the region in June. On a more positive note, Wang said China was still willing to solve the trade dispute with the US through negotiations, "but they must be conducted on an equal, sincere and serious basis". Ties between the world's two biggest powers have experienced a sharp downturn in recent months, raising concerns that their trade war could spill over into other areas. High-level exchanges between the two countries have been frozen, including a planned diplomatic and security meeting between US Secretary of Defence James Mattis and Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe originally scheduled for mid-October in Beijing. ^ top ^

China-US relations at an 'impasse' after Pence's wholesale criticism of Beijing's policies (SCMP)
Any residual hope Beijing might have had that the United States was not out to contain its rise was quashed by Vice-President Mike Pence's blistering attack on Thursday, according to analysts, who warned the speech marked a new low point in deteriorating bilateral relations. In his address on Thursday Pence attacked almost every aspect of China's activities in trade, the economy, military, religion and people-to-people exchanges. He accused Beijing of "meddling in America's democracy" and called on China's leadership to change course. In his speech, Pence cited unnamed sources in the US intelligence community claiming that Beijing planned to target state and local governments in the US and exploit "wedge issues" to advance China's interests. He referred to a four-page advertisement bought by Chinese state media in a newspaper in Iowa, a key state in US electoral politics, as an example of Beijing's plans to influence voters in the 2018 congressional and 2020 presidential elections. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called Pence's accusations of meddling "absurd" on Friday morning, and said China had no interest in interfering in US internal affairs. Hua turned Pence's claims back on the US, saying "the international community has already seen very clearly in the end who is invading the sovereignty of other countries, interfering in other countries' internal affairs, and damaging the interests of other countries". Zhang Baohui, a professor of political science at Lingnan University, said Beijing was beginning to realise the resolute intentions of the US to contain China's rise. "Many Chinese strategic thinkers believe Trump is only a businessman who just cares about economic interests," he said. Zhang said a "spiral of escalation" may occur, citing the near collision of a Chinese naval vessel with the USS Decatur on Sunday, and subsequent reports that Washington was planning to conduct new freedom of navigation operations through the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. "I think a new mindset has settled in Beijing which is that it has to start to prepare for the worst," he said. More official US criticism of China is due to be released in a Pentagon-led report on risks to the supply of materials vital to the US military, Reuters reported on Thursday. The report deems China's control of rare earth metals and strategically important technologies like printed circuit boards to be a growing risk to the US defence industry, and calls for the US to step up investment in particular industries to mitigate China's influence over the supply of strategic products. Pence lashed out at China's human rights abuses in his remarks, including the shuttering of underground Christian churches last month, and reports of more than 1 million imprisoned Muslim Uygurs in the western province of Xinjiang. The arbitrary detention of Uygers was also condemned on Thursday by the European Union, which called on Beijing to respect freedom of religion. The US vice-president called out China's "culture of censorship" to enforce party dogma at home and abroad, and named the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, which has organisations at 150 American campuses, as an attempt to enforce the Communist Party's political line over Chinese students abroad. The allegations of meddling caught Beijing off guard and left them confused by Washington's escalation, according to Dr Hoo Tiang Boon, expert on US-China relations at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. "The issue of interference in US domestic politics is not a traditional source of conflict between US and China," said Hoo, adding that China was worried that the new problem may become a "permanent thorn" in the relationship. Hoo said Beijing may bide its time and play defensively until after US elections in November before determining its next move. Tim Summers, a senior fellow at Chatham House Asia-Pacific, called Pence's allegations of election meddling "very bizarre", and said he was confusing public diplomacy with interference. Summers said Beijing's key concern "is trying to work out how to deal with an unpredictable and increasingly hostile policy from Washington", rather than extend its influence across the US. Professor Pang Zhongying, director for the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at Renmin University, said Pence's remarks were a systematic "wrap up" of all Trump's prior criticisms of China. The negative image of China was magnified in the run-up to the US congressional elections in November, he said, with both sides now trapped in a vicious cycle of tit-for-tat politics. "China is facing strong domestic pressure to appear strong and tough," Pang said, adding that Beijing was unlikely to back down in the face of US pressure. Li Hak-yin, a researcher on China's foreign policy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the speech marked an "impasse" in China-US relations, "but neither side will willingly walk into a new cold war". The lines of communication remained open between Beijing and Washington, decreasing the risk of hot conflicts erupting, he said. "Both sides are flexing their muscles, hoping the other will make a compromise." ^ top ^

'Underground churches' unconditionally support China-Vatican agreement: pastor (Global Times)
Over 20 years ago, when Luo Wen, then a seminarian in the diocese of Mindong in East China's Fujian Province, was training for the priesthood, he sometimes discussed the future of the church with his teacher Guo Xijin, who was then a priest. "Father Guo told us that if the day comes when China and the Vatican normalize their relations, we, the underground church, would be marginalized," Guo told the Global Times. "After all, we don't have the opportunity to receive formal education in theology, and our theologi-cal knowledge and insights cannot compare with priests who graduated from formal seminaries." Luo is a member of China's "underground church," which for decades has been split from the State-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), swearing allegiance to the Pope but considered illegal by the Chinese government. But with the signing of a landmark provisional deal between China and the Vatican in September 22, what underground bishop Guo Xijin anticipated 20 years ago - the normalization of relations between China and the Vatican - may soon become reality, though the underground church is not necessarily "marginalized." Joseph Zhang (pseudonym), a priest in a church in northern China which is under the State-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said the outside world should not polarize the above-ground and underground churches. He asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. "For me, the State-sanctioned and the underground churches have always belonged to one church," he told the Global Times. Luo, now a priest, cited the anecdote at the beginning of the article to show that the underground church had always been mentally prepared for such an agreement. Luo said even if one day the details of the full agreement are revealed and are not the same as what he had hoped for, he will follow the decision in the agreement unconditionally. "Our obedience has nothing to do with our personal gains or losses, but is what our faith requires of us, and requires of every clergy member," he said. "This agreement, at the very least, will prevent illegal appointment of bishops and allow the Chinese Catholic Church to be in full communion with the Pope," he added. In a letter addressed to the Catholics of China and to the Universal Church on September 26, Pope Francis called for the Catholic community in China to be "united, so as to overcome the divisions of the past that have caused, and continue to cause great suffering in the hearts of many pastors and faithful." He said all Christians must now offer gestures of reconciliation and communion. The Pope's request was well received by Chinese Catholics. China's State-sanctioned Catholic organizations have said they will "wholeheartedly support" the provisional agreement, according to a statement published on the website of the Catholic Church in China on September 23. Although the provisional agreement marks the first step toward the thawing of ties between China and the Vatican, many questions remain unresolved. While the Vatican has recognized seven bish-ops who were appointed without previous papal approval, the future of the underground bishops who were not recognized by the Chinese government, reportedly over 30 in number, is still unre-vealed. Zhang said he hopes they can be recognized soon. Professor Wang Meixiu, an expert on Catholic studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that while it is still too early to tell what will happen to the underground bishops, she is optimistic that the two sides will make an effort to resolve it. "The issue of underground bishops is a complicated one that will require much consideration and discus-sions from both sides and a long time to resolve. But with the signing of the provisional agreement, the two sides will work on it step by step," she told the Global Times. "Whether they are bishops originally from the State-sanctioned church or the underground church, we hope that those highly esteemed ones with integrity and ability will become leaders of the dio-ceses," Luo said. The talks between China and the Vatican have also received opposition from long-term critics, such as Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun. On October 3, for the first time in decades, two Catholic bishops from the Chinese mainland attended the Synod, a major Vatican meeting of bishops worldwide, according to the website of the Vatican press office. One of them is Bishop Guo Jincai, one of the seven bishops newly recognized by the Vatican. However, Cardinal Zen wrote on his personal blog that their attendance is "an insult to the good Bishops in China and to the Synod of Catholic Bishops." Luo said it is probably best for Cardinal Zen to change his view. "The agreement is set in stone. What we need to do is to face reality, and steer the future to a better course," he told the Global Times. Responding to Cardinal Zen's claim that the Catholic Church was "selling out" Chinese under-ground Catholics in January, the Vatican said in a statement that it was surprising and regrettable that some people in the Church were "fostering confusion and controversy," Reuters reported in January. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

'Dying to Survive' gets real: China cuts price of life-saving cancer drugs (SCMP)
China has included 17 life-saving cancer drugs in its national public insurance after negotiations drastically cut their prices, in response to their cost fuelling the smuggling of cheap drugs from abroad in an echo of the popular Chinese film Dying to Survive. All of the drugs – 12 for treating solid tumours and the others for blood tumours – are considered clinically necessary, effective and urgently needed for patients suffering from non-small-cell lung carcinoma, renal cell carcinoma, colorectal cancer, melanoma, lymphoma and other types of cancer, according to a statement by the State Medical Security Administration. Most of the drugs are produced by international pharmaceutical giants such as Novartis, Pfizer and Merck and are far from patent expiration. The prices have been brought down 56.7 per cent on average, with imported drugs 36 per cent lower than in neighbouring markets, the administration said. "We have more power in price negotiations and achieve the target of more quantity for lower price," Hu Jingling, head of the administration, said in an interview with China Central Television. The administration was set up in March and oversees insurance for both rural and urban residents, instead of two agencies previously. "Covering these cancer drugs in public medical insurance will make them affordable for more patients and improve their treatment," Hu said. The price of Erbitux, manufactured by Merck, was brought down from more than 4,200 yuan (US$607) to 1,295 yuan (US$187), the lowest globally, Yuan Zezhi, a senior executive from Merck, told CCTV. "It's quite remarkable to drop the price of foreign patented drugs to such an extent," said Shi Lichen, director of Dingchen Pharmaceutical Management Consulting. "This will benefit local residents." More than 10,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in China each day in 2014, according to the latest statistics from the National Cancer Centre. The highest incidence is lung cancer, followed by gastric cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer, and more likely in people aged 60 to 64. A large population of smokers, unhealthy diets and longer life expectancy have contributed to cancer rates in China. Although China established a public medical insurance system for almost every resident, the coverage has been limited and included very few patented anti-cancer drugs, which in turn was beyond affordability for many. Some tried to smuggle in drugs from abroad, considered counterfeit by drug regulator since they are not approved in China, or buy cheaper but effective generic drugs from India. The popularity this year of the film Dying to Survive, which depicted a man who was jailed for smuggling in generic drugs from India for myelocytic leukaemia patients who could not afford a patented drug, touched a chord with many. Shi said that those who could not afford the drugs even after they are covered by national public insurance, which covers up to 80 per cent of the price, would still use smuggled generic medicine and that a global purchase of generic drugs by national health authorities would make cancer treatment more affordable. Striving to make the life-saving medicine more accessible, Beijing began the price negotiations in 2016 with only three drugs successfully included in the first round. More pharmaceutical companies were invited in the second round last year to introduce competition and eventually 36 more drugs were covered in the national health insurance scheme. Ten of the 17 drugs are new drugs that hit the market after 2017. "These cancer drugs are all new drugs that started sales only in recent years," Hu said. "The strategic purchase of these high-quality innovative drugs will play a role in promoting pharmaceutical companies to increase investment in research and develop more and better innovative drugs." China is also preparing to provide more affordable foreign drugs in other ways. Beijing removed tariffs on all imported cancer drugs starting on May 1, after Premier Li Keqiang toured Roche Shanghai and said he hoped companies could sell drugs at lower prices and profit from increased sales. The State Drug Administration announced in July that foreign drugs could use their clinical trial dates overseas for approval on the mainland, greatly reducing the application period. Previously, foreign drugs already approved abroad were required to be trialled again in China. ^ top ^

Former senior legislator pleads guilty to bribery (China Daily)
Wang Sanyun, former vice-chairman of the Education, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee of the 12th National People's Congress, pleaded guilty to taking bribes of 66.8 million yuan ($9.6 million), a court in Henan province said on Thursday. Between 1993 and 2017, Wang made use of his work positions as secretary of the Communist Party of China committee of Guizhou province's Liupanshui city, deputy secretary of Guizhou's CPC committee, governor of Anhui province and secretary of the CPC committee of Gansu province to illegally provide aid to other departments and individuals in construction projects and promotions in return for bribes, according to the Zhengzhou Intermediate People's Court. "The defendant committed the crime of taking bribes under the Criminal Law, and should be criminally blamed," the prosecutor told the court. More than 70 people, including NPC deputies and media representatives, attended the public hearing of the case on Thursday. The judgment will be announced at a later date. Wang was charged with taking bribes by the Supreme People's Procuratorate in August. He was expelled by the Party and dismissed from public office in September last year. Wang, 65, began his career as a teacher in Guizhou province in December 1968. In April 2017, he was named vice-chairman of the 12th NPC's Education, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee. ^ top ^

Housing policy to be fine-tuned (China Daily)
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development rejected a report on Thursday that said monetary compensation for shantytown renovation led to rising property prices. Instead, it said the policy has helped promote healthy development of the real estate market and will be fine-tuned in accordance with each city's conditions. The policy will be improved, and soon will be adjusted for cities and counties with inadequate inventories and huge upward pressure on property prices, said Ni Hong, vice-minister of housing and urban-rural development, at a policy briefing hosted by the State Council Information Office on Thursday. However, monetary compensation is not necessarily connected with housing prices, and it has played a positive role in stabilizing land prices and market expectations in third- and fourth-tier cities, Ni said. In 2015, some cities carried out favorable measures in monetary compensation when they had large housing inventories, he said, adding that such compensation contributed to inventory reduction and achieving a balance between supply and demand in the real estate market. Now some cities don't have enough inventory and need supportive policies, so targeted policies should be carried out for each city to promote shantytown renovation and a healthy development for the real estate market, Ni said. "We will adjust favorable policies in monetary compensation in line with local conditions, instead of canceling such compensation," the vice-minister added. The briefing came after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Monday, which decided to boost shantytown renovation across the country and complete this year's target. More than 100 million residents have moved from shabby houses to newly built buildings. The Government Work Report, delivered by Li in March, set this year's target to start construction of 5.8 million apartments for shantytown renovation. From January to September, construction began on 5.34 million apartments, 92 percent of the year's target. Local governments were urged to start such renovation projects, according to the three-year plan set by the Government Work Report. Meanwhile, infrastructure should be completed along with the projects, and quality and safety must be ensured. Shantytown renovation has played a vital role in improving living conditions for the disadvantaged population and expanding demand, Ni said. This year focuses on shantytowns in older city areas, State-owned mining areas, and forestry and farming areas, he said. ^ top ^

Fears for young Marxist activist missing after police raid in China (SCMP)
A young rights activist who called for China's top university to be transparent about its investigation of a rape case and joined a labour dispute in Shenzhen has not been seen for more than six weeks after she was detained by police. Yue Xin, 22, was taken into custody on August 24 along with about 50 other activists, many of them young Marxists, who were involved in a labour rights protest in Shenzhen. She had earlier accused Peking University of trying to silence her for demanding information about the handling of a sexual misconduct case that led to a student's suicide 20 years ago – one of China's most discussed #MeToo incidents. The detentions were part of an intensifying clampdown by the authorities on a growing number of young Chinese activists who have found inspiration in Marxism in recent years, hoping to bring change on issues ranging from feminism and income equality to workers' rights. But in sharp contrast to the official Marxist line, this new generation of Marxists emphasises individual freedoms, with some even showing interest in a Western constitutional democracy – a stand the country's mainstream Marxists and Maoists usually dismiss as the wrong path for China. Most of the protesters detained in August have since been released, but four have been placed under "residential surveillance at a designated location" – a form of secret detention – while four others are still in custody and could face prosecution, according to their friends and other activists. But the whereabouts of Yue, as well as her mother, who has been out of contact since early September, remain unknown. "Yue might not reappear for a long time," said a student activist speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that she wanted to raise awareness of Yue's plight. The young activist graduated from Peking University's School of Foreign Languages this summer. In April, as the #MeToo movement gained traction on Chinese campuses and in workplaces, she filed a formal request to the college demanding that it disclose information about its handling of a sexual misconduct case involving a professor that resulted in the suicide of a student two decades ago. Yue then wrote an open letter accusing the college of trying to muzzle her by pressuring her family and suggesting she might not be allowed to graduate, leading to a public backlash against the university on social media. In July, Yue turned her focus to a labour dispute at Shenzhen-based Jasic Technology. Leftist university student activists, including Yue, travelled from other parts of the country to back the workers in Guangdong in their campaign for union rights at the factory, which makes electronic welding machines and robotic arms. But on August 24, police in riot gear raided the flat where they were staying in Huizhou, near Shenzhen, and detained the group, according to activists. Earlier that month, Yue had told the South China Morning Post she wanted to support the workers in Shenzhen, even if it meant being arrested. "More than 30 innocent workers have been locked up already and treated inhumanely. I cannot just sit back and be OK with just voicing my support online – I have to go to the front line," Yue said. "I'm prepared to be arrested … but it's not about being arrested or not … it's about believing that what you are doing is about justice, then you will have no fear." There are also concerns for Yue's mother. NGOCN, a social development non-profit based in Guangzhou which Yue had applied to join after graduation, said Yue's mother had contacted them a week after the Huizhou raid, trying to find out what had happened to her daughter. Executive director Wu Lilan said they told Yue's mother they had not been in touch with Yue since June, but they would try to help. "Yue Xin kept in contact with her mother after she came to Guangdong, but her mother was anxious when she hadn't heard from her for four or five days," Wu said. But Wu said the NGO had been unable to contact Yue's mother, who lives in Beijing, since September 2. The Post has also tried to contact Yue's mother but her phone remains switched off. An officer at Yanziling police station in Shenzhen said they were not handling Yue's case and directed inquiries to the Pingshan district government office, which could not be reached for comment. Apart from Yue, four editors of Epoch Pioneer, a leftist website focusing on labour activism, have been placed under "residential surveillance at a designated location" in Guangzhou, according to activists from the Jasic worker support group. They said four workers were also being held in the Shenzhen Second Detention Centre, accused of "gathering a crowd to disturb social order", with limited access to lawyers. Other young activists from the group have been released, but are being closely watched by their universities and parents, according to the activists. While classes on Marxism are routinely part of the curriculum at universities in China, the growing number of young leftist activists on campuses has apparently got college authorities worried. Since the new academic year began in September, young Marxists have come up against tighter controls at their universities. One of them, a student at the School of Economics at Renmin University of China in Beijing, detailed how he was "blacklisted for caring about the grass roots" in an article posted online that was later removed by censors. Xiang Junwei accused faculty administrators had put him and his family under pressure, with a lecturer telling his parents he needed to correct his "dangerous thoughts" and was in a "politically problematic" position. He said he had been excluded from a university online chat group and claimed the faculty had targeted 12 other young Marxists for similar treatment. In a separate article, he outlined the case of another female student at the school, who he said had been treated in hospital after she went on hunger strike to protest against her family and a lecturer trying to stop her from getting involved in the labour rights campaign in Shenzhen. He called on the university to allow her to return to her studies without having to sign a statement saying she would abandon her activism – a statement he said it insisted she sign if she wanted to go back to class. Renmin University's School of Economics could not be reached for comment. Marxist student societies have also said they had trouble renewing their registrations at top colleges including Renmin University, Nanjing University and the University of Science and Technology Beijing. At Peking University, where Yue studied, the Marxism society had to find a faculty adviser from the School of Marxism to support its application to re-register after the campus Communist Youth League chapter withdrew its backing. Speaking in early August, Yue said students were following a tradition at the university of getting involved in grass-roots activism and labour rights. "Student activists have been fighting on a wide range of issues – including against sexual harassment and in support of democracy on campus … not everyone in this movement would identify as Marxist, Leninist or Maoist but they are certainly all influenced by Marxism," she said. ^ top ^

Xi demands efforts to improve disaster prevention, build Sichuan-Tibet railway (Xinhua)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Wednesday called for efforts to improve the country's ability to safeguard against natural disasters, and fully launch the planning and construction of the Sichuan-Tibet railway. Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at the third meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs. He is also head of the committee. "As a stronger capability of safeguarding against natural disasters concerns the economy and people's livelihood, China will set up an efficient and scientific system and improve the capability of the whole society in a bid to protect people's lives and property and national security," Xi said when addressing the meeting. Xi also highlighted the Sichuan-Tibet railway, saying it was of profound significance for the country's long-term stability and the development of Tibet. Premier Li Keqiang, Wang Huning, a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, and Vice Premier Han Zheng attended the meeting. As one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, China has attached great importance to the matter and made remarkable progress, the meeting said. But its overall capability to respond to such extreme conditions is still relatively weak, and more should be done. To fix the short link, China will work to build a coordinated disaster-responding system, adopt a people-centered approach, give priority to the environment, try its best to minimize the aftermath, propel reforms and innovation to modernize its capability, and continue international cooperation, according to the meeting. A raft of major projects will be advanced, including ecological restoration of forest, grassland and rivers, coastal protection such as building ecological seawalls, housing reinforcement projects in earthquake-prone areas, flood control and drought relief, relocation of residents in disaster-hit places, construction of emergency centers, natural disaster monitoring and early warning, and the modernization of rescue technology and equipment. The meeting also emphasized the planning and construction of the Sichuan-Tibet railway, as it will promote ethnic solidarity, safeguard national unity and consolidate the stability of the frontier, as well as bolster Tibet's economic and social development. China will push forward the project at a high starting point, and pursue high standards and quality, the meeting said, stressing scientific planning, technical support, ecological protection, safety and reliability.  ^ top ^

Chinese police get power to inspect internet service providers (SCMP)
China has issued a new regulation setting out wide-ranging police powers to inspect internet service providers and users, as the government tightens its grip on the country's heavily restricted cyberspace. Under the new rule, effective from November 1, central and local public security authorities can enter the premises of all companies and entities that provide internet services and look up and copy information considered relevant to cybersecurity. The regulation was issued by the Ministry of Public Security last month and released on its website on Sunday. It comes more than a year after a controversial cybersecurity law was introduced that has caused widespread concern among foreign companies operating in China. Despite its broad scope, the legislation gives few details about implementation, making it all the more difficult for companies trying to avoid its repercussions. Analysts said the new regulation sheds some light on how the law will be implemented. "That's obviously how Chinese laws go. First there is a big concept, then there is a sweeping law, and then implementing regulations will come in to flesh out the details," said William Nee, a China expert with Amnesty International. "What this regulation does is in one way … ensure that users aren't going to become victims of hacking due to company negligence, but it's also designed to more effectively implement China's censorship directives and its surveillance state." Under the new regulation, police can enter the business sites, machine rooms and offices of internet service providers ranging from internet information providers and internet cafes to data centres. Police can then require the managers to explain all items they inspect, to look up and copy all relevant information, and they can check how technical measures to safeguard network and information security are running. Apart from on-site inspections, the police can now also conduct remote detection of any network security vulnerabilities in the companies, but they are required to give them advance notice and make sure it will not disrupt or damage the operations of their networks. The regulation details what the police will be checking for, a list that includes: whether companies have kept a record of all user register information and their internet logs; if they have taken measures to prevent viruses and hacking; if they have taken precautionary measures against information that is banned from publication or transmission; and if they have provided technical support and assistance to the police in safeguarding national security, investigating terrorist activities or other crimes. Police can also carry out special inspections during times of "major cybersecurity safeguard tasks". Wu Han, a partner at law firm King and Wood Mallesons in Beijing, said the regulation would add to concerns among foreign internet service businesses in China. "For a business that has just entered a new country, knowing that the country's police can carry out on-site inspections or remote surveillance on its cyber information – of course it is going to be concerned," he said. But Wu added there was not much new in the regulation. "The public security authorities have long conducted similar inspections on cybersecurity, and they have long had the authority to do so," he said, citing a clause in the police law that says police have the duty to "supervise and manage security and protection work on computer information systems". He gave the example of China's internet police commonly using remote detection to scan for security flaws during major international events. This week, Nikkei Asian Review reported that the cybersecurity law had been a big challenge for Japanese companies since it came in. "There have been a number of cases where Japanese companies' bases in Shanghai or Guangzhou have been raided by authorities," Li Tianyi, vice-president of a Chinese unit of Internet Initiative Japan, told the newspaper. Public security authorities are listed as one of the agencies responsible for safeguarding and supervising cybersecurity under the law. It also requires "network operators" to provide public security and state security authorities with technical support and assistance to protect national security, and for criminal investigations. "But the cybersecurity law is ambiguous on whether such 'support' includes passing on user data to the authorities. So under the new regulation, there will be concerns regarding user data privacy," Wu said. He added that although police can copy information related to cybersecurity during inspections, that does not mean they can take user data from a business site without a legitimate reason. The regulation states that police officers and police internet security contractors cannot release any private or commercial data they collect to a third party. ^ top ^



Shanghai gears up for country's first import expo (Xinhua)
As China International Import Expo (CIIE) is only a month away, Shanghai, host of the event, has reached the final stage of its preparations, while products from all over the world have been arriving in the city. The CIIE is China's first expo event that is expected to give firm support to trade liberalization and economic globalization, and actively open the Chinese market to the world, according to its official website. A total of 2,800 companies from all the G20 member states, as well as 50 countries and regions along the Belt and Road will participate in the expo. Of the world's 44 least developed countries, more than 30 will be present at the event. Shanghai has been holding rehearsals, improving city infrastructure and training volunteers to meet needs of the approaching event. At the National Exhibition and Convention Center, where CIIE will be held, the event organizer held a comprehensive rehearsal on Thursday covering various scenarios. Shanghai municipal government has been renovating the roads around the convention center, and developed cellphone applications to better guide traffic around the area. The city has also added eight bus routes and prepared 100 spare buses. Light decorations have been added to the 20km-long banks of the city's signature Huangpu River, as well as four bridges that span across it. Hundreds of thousands of pots of flowers are dotted across Shanghai. The city has trained 5,000 volunteers who will offer various services including language translations. As the event is drawing near, goods from foreign exhibitors have arrived at local customs. Shanghai has opened green channels for the products, significantly cutting the time needed for them to be unloaded and stored in local warehouses. So far, it is estimated that products from more than 1,500 exhibitors have arrived in the Chinese mainland, while that from another 1,000 have been or are being shipped. Chinese companies are eyeing great potential in boosting imports through the event. "During the CIIE, we expect to import at least 1,000 kinds of products and services that have not been sold in the domestic market," said Wang Zhe, Party head of China's commercial giant Suning Holdings Group, "In the next three years, we plan to import goods worth 10 billion Euros (around 11.5 billion U.S. dollars). Liang Feng, president of state-owned China National Machine Tool Sales and Technical Service Corporation, said CIIE will witness eight leading companies in the machine tool industry launch a dozen of new products in China for the first time. More than 100 new products and technologies are expected to make debut at the expo, according to statistics from the organizers. Forty-three African countries have confirmed to participate in the expo. About 190 enterprises from Africa will promote local products such as Egyptian data palm, ethiopian coffee, and Amarula from South Africa, at the event, according to the organizers. "The CIIE shows China's changing trade strategy and its resolve to fulfill its responsibility as a major country and achieve mutual benefits and win-win cooperation with all nations," said Zhao Beiwen, deputy head of the World Economy Institute under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. ^ top ^



Big data system keeps real-time track of visitors in Tibet (Global Times)
As China enters the era of big data, a key university in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region is using this technical method to monitor the flow of tourists. Analysts said the move will not only boost the tourism industry, but also help safeguard regional stability and promote national unity. Tibet University, the largest university in the region with an internationally renowned department of Tibetan studies, has established a big data center based on tourism information. The center was jointly built by the university's information and technology school and Beijing-based Wiseweb Technology Company, one of China's leading companies that provide big data smart software and services. It was officially launched in early September. Nyima Tashi, dean of the school, told the Global Times on Friday that the center aims to provide data support for the regional government to boost the local tourism industry and further accelerate the region's openness to the world. Nyima said the school installed a real-time monitoring electronic screen which could display the number of tourists in a given period and the specific number at any tourist attraction. Moreover, it can show the background information of local tourist attractions and exhibit any trends of changing tourist preferences. "In near future, the screen could also show more information about tourists, such as the origin of domestic and overseas tourists and their preferences of scenic spots, as long as the information does not invade personal privacy," Nyima noted. The big data screen made its debut at this year's tourism and culture expo that kicked off in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, in early September. Wang Sheng, deputy manager of Wiseweb, told the Global Times on Thursday that the data aims to provide a reference for the regional government to monitor tourism market dynamics. For example, the screen could display important events held in Tibet, ticket information, and the number of tourists in different scenic spots, he said. "The real time monitoring could give a warning to the government on negative social events," Wang noted. According to Wang, some data is captured from open sources on the internet while other data is purchased from tourist companies. For the next step, the company will obtain more data from different levels of government. "Possibly, the screen will show more information about overseas tourists," said Wang. The big data center impressed foreign visitors. Han Woo-duck, director of South Korea Central Daily China Institute, said in an article published on its website on September 18 that what marveled him most during his four-day visit to Tibet was not the Potala Palace or the Jokhang Monastery, but the big data center at Tibet University. Han said the university's staff led him to the center, and the changing data on the screen, shown as pie charts and bar graphs, could demonstrate the changes of tourists in real time. "It means that the Tibet University, located in the deep heart of China, is building up a big data center. It marks a clear comparison with South Korea, where there is not any real time information about the number of tourists in scenic spots, or the major gathering spots of overseas tourists," Han said in the article. Tibet received a record 25.6 million domestic and foreign tourists in 2017, up 10.6 percent compared with the previous year, the Xinhua News Agency reported in January, citing regional authorities. Tourism has become one of the pillar industries in the region. Tourism revenue during 2017 reached 37.9 billion yuan ($5.9 billion), with a year-on-year increase of 14.7 percent. Statistics showed that for the past five years, total tourism revenue in the region topped 130 billion yuan, said Xinhua. Due to special ethnic traditions and environmental protection concerns, overseas tourists must get a permit from the regional tourist bureau before entering into Tibet. From January to April, Tibet received nearly 40,000 foreign tourists, up 50.5 percent compared with the previous year. "A big data system incorporating tourism information will help local governments manage the industry in more orderly way and avoid accidents," Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at Minzu University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday. In addition to sharing the beautiful scenery and cultural heritage with the outside world, developing tourism in Tibet is also an important move to safeguard regional stability, promote national unity, and guard against separatist forces, said Xiong.  ^ top ^



Malaysia defies China by freeing Uygur Muslim detainees (SCMP)
Malaysia has freed from detention 11 ethnic Uygur Muslims who fled to the southeast Asian nation after a Thai jailbreak last year, and sent them to Turkey, their lawyer said on Thursday, in disregard of China's request to hand them to Beijing. The move is likely to strain ties with China, already tested since Mahathir Mohamad became prime minister after a stunning election victory in May and cancelled more than US$20 billion worth of projects awarded to Chinese companies. Prosecutors in Muslim-majority Malaysia dropped charges against the Uygurs, aged between 24 and 48, on humanitarian grounds and they arrived in Turkey after flying out of Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, their lawyer, Fahmi Moin, said. "The charges were withdrawn because the attorney general's chambers agreed to the [appeal] from our side," he said. Malaysia's immigration department, home ministry and the attorney general's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Reuters. China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The men were detained and charged with illegally entering Malaysia after last November's daring prison break, by punching holes in a prison wall and using blankets as ladders. In February, Reuters reported that Malaysia was under great pressure from China to deport the men there, citing sources. Some Western missions sought to dissuade it from sending them to China, which has been accused of persecuting Uygurs. Beijing accuses separatist extremists among the Uygur minority of plotting attacks on China's Han majority in the restive far western region of Xinjiang and elsewhere. China has been accused of rights abuses in Xinjiang, torture of Uygur detainees and tight controls on their religion and culture. It denies wrongdoing. Over the years, hundreds, possibly thousands, of Uygurs have escaped the unrest by travelling clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey. The Uygurs in Malaysia were part of a group of more than 200 detained in Thailand in 2014. Although they identified themselves as Turkish citizens and asked to be sent to Turkey, more than 100 were forcibly returned to China in July 2015, sparking international condemnation. In February, Malaysia said it was considering China's request to extradite the 11 men. In the past, it has sent some detained Uygurs to China. Their detention came as Malaysia drew closer to China under former prime minister Najib Razak, but 93-year-old Mahathir, in his second stint as premier, has been vocal in backing Muslim communities against persecution. He recently criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of neighbouring Myanmar, over the Nobel laureate's handling of the Rohingya crisis, saying, "We don't really support her any more." ^ top ^

China gives legal basis for 're-education camps' in Xinjiang (SCMP)
China's far-western Xinjiang region has revised its legislation to allow local governments to "educate and transform" people influenced by extremism at "vocational training centres" – a term used by the government to describe a network of internment facilities known as "re-education camps". The change to the law, which took effect on Tuesday, comes amid an international outcry about the secretive camps in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. But observers said writing the facilities into law did not address global criticism of China's systematic detention and enforced political education of up to 1 million ethnic Uygurs and other Muslims in the area. Chinese officials had earlier denied the existence of such arbitrary detention and enforced political re-education bases, but said some citizens had been sent to vocational centres for minor criminal misdemeanours. The revision, issued by the regional legislature, recognises the use of such centres as part of the government's efforts to eliminate "religious extremism", which in recent years have also included a massive security crackdown in Xinjinag and sweeping restrictions on Islamic practices. "Governments at the county level and above can set up education and transformation organisations and supervising departments such as vocational training centres, to educate and transform people who have been influenced by extremism," says a new clause in the "Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Regulation on Anti-Extremism". Apart from teaching vocational skills, the centres are required to provide education on spoken and written Chinese, and aspects of the law and other regulations. They must also organise "ideological education to eliminate extremism", carry out psychological treatment and behaviour correction, to "help trainees to transform their thoughts and return to society and their families". Dolkun Isa, executive chairman of the Munich-based World Uygur Congress, said Chinese authorities had been implementing the measures detailed in the revision without any legal justification for over a year. Rolling out the law "is only a formality trying to legalise the crackdown against Muslims in Xinjiang," he said. The old version of the law was passed in March 2017. It bans a wide range of acts deemed manifestations of extremism, including wearing veils or having "abnormal" beards, refusing to watch television or listen to radio, and preventing children from receiving national education. The inclusion of the camps in local legislation comes as Beijing is under growing pressure from the United States and the European Union for its ruthless crackdown in Xinjiang, after a United Nations panel confronted Chinese officials in August over reports of extralegal mass detentions of Muslim minorities. James Leibold, an expert in China's ethnic policies at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, said the global criticism of the use of the detention centres had led to the Communist Party "scrambling to justify them legally and politically". "[The] original 2017 deradicalisation regulation was vague and imprecise on its provision for 'education and transformation'," he said. "Thus this represents a retrospective fix and attempt to justify 'legally' the mass detention of Uygurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and elsewhere, for the purpose of political and cultural remoulding without due process." That view is echoed by Li Lifan, a central Asian expert at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. "I think it … targets foreign criticism of how Xinjiang re-educates extremists and their family members," he said, adding that the regulation provided legal support for the authorities' efforts to "maintain social stability and national security". However, rights advocates said writing the internment camps into law did not give it legitimacy. "International human rights law is clear, no matter how much China tries to 'legalise' the impermissible," said Michael Caster, a human rights advocate with Safeguard Defenders who studies China's legal system. "This is just another case of [Beijing] attempting to mask the violation of human rights behind the veneer of the rule of law. What is taking place in Xinjiang is at least a gross violation of human rights if not a crime against humanity." Beijing blames Islamic extremists and separatists for the unrest between Uygurs and the ethnic Han majority that has led to the deaths of hundreds of people over the past decade. Human rights groups say the conflict is caused by the government's repression of religious freedoms and unfair ethnic policies. Kristin Shi-Kupfer, director of research on public policy and society at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin, said that China had reasons to take legal and rational measures to combat extremist attacks but that the current measures "clearly blur the boundary between the realm of religion, culture and crime". "The ongoing, systematic repression of mostly Uygurs in Xinjiang is likely to create more discrimination and alienation between ethnic groups in Xinjiang, especially Han and Uygurs, and potentially radicalise those who are not already silenced out of fear and desperation," she said. ^ top ^

US lawmakers want China's Muslim detention centres closed immediately (SCMP)
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has responded to China's sweeping crackdown on its minority Muslim population with a call to President Donald Trump to press for the immediate closure of "political re-education camps". The group proposed legislation on Wednesday that would urge Trump to condemn "gross violations" of human rights in the northwest Xinjiang region, where the UN estimates as many as 1 million Uygurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities are being held in arbitrary detention. It would call on Trump to press his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, to close the "political re-education camps" immediately. The legislation, proposed by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, would also support an existing push for sanctions against Xinjiang Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo and other officials under the Magnitsky Act, which would prevent Chen from entering the US and freeze any assets he has in US banks. Other sanctions raised for consideration by the proposed act include a ban on sales or provision of US-made goods or services to Xinjiang state agents and the barring of certain Chinese entities – including the Xinjiang police bureau – from purchasing US-made equipment that could be used for surveillance. The bipartisan congressional commission monitors human rights and the rule of law in China. Chinese authorities have denied that the internment camps exist but say petty criminals are sent to "vocational training centres." On Tuesday, the Xinjiang government revised legislation to officially permit the use of "education and training centres" to reform "people influenced by extremism". A new clause directs the centres to teach the Mandarin language, occupational and legal education, as well as "ideological education, psychological rehabilitation and behaviour correction". Australian scholar James Leibold called the move a "retrospective justification" for mass detentions. "It's a new form of re-education that's unprecedented and doesn't really have a legal basis, and I see them scrambling to try to create a legal basis for this policy," said Leibold, an expert on Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne's La Trobe University. Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said "no tweaks in national or regional rules" could change the nature of the camps. "Without due process, Xinjiang's political education centres remain arbitrary and abusive," she said. The ruling Communist Party says heightened security is necessary to combat extremism in Xinjiang. The measures proposed by US lawmakers come as US-Chinese relations have deteriorated amid a growing tariff dispute over American complaints about Beijing's technology policy. Last week, US Vice-President Mike Pence accused Beijing of trying to influence the outcome of the November midterm elections. The Chinese foreign ministry rejected that as "groundlessly accusing and slandering China". Beijing has spent decades trying to suppress pro-independence sentiment in Xinjiang, fuelled in part by frustration about an influx of migrants from China's Han majority. Authorities say extremists there have ties to foreign terror groups. The congressional measure calls for the creation of a State Department post to coordinate financial and diplomatic responses, a database for US residents to provide details about missing family members and an expedited asylum process for the affected minority groups. The congressional commission also warned in an annual report on Wednesday of the "long arm" of an "ascendant and increasingly aggressive" China. The 300-page report describes a "downward trajectory" on human rights since Xi took power in 2012. It says the ruling party is "trying to redefine" human rights and "basic human dignity". "China's authoritarianism at home directly threatens our freedoms as well as our most deeply held values and national interests," said a statement by US Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith. The European Union expressed similar concern about Xinjiang last week. The EU is "deeply concerned by credible reports pointing to a serious deterioration" of human rights, said the 28-nation bloc's chief foreign policy official, Federica Mogherini, calling on all countries to carefully consider asylum requests. Omir Bekali, who was profiled by Associated Press in May, is named in the proposed legislation as among those who have testified to the indoctrination, humiliation and indefinite detention of internees. Detainees were ordered to chant "Thank the party! Thank the motherland!" before meals, according to Bekali, a Chinese-born citizen of the central Asian nation of Kazakhstan. The congressional commission is also seeking information from the FBI on Chinese activity on US soil. American citizens, Chinese students and other US residents say they have been harassed over Xinjiang, the commission said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray. Uygurs in Istanbul, Turkey, told AP this year that Chinese authorities asked them to spy on fellow Uygurs abroad in exchange for information about family members in Xinjiang. ^ top ^

Officers, Party members urged to strengthen faith (Global Times)
The government of Urumqi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region vowed on Monday to launch a campaign against the pan-halal tendency, and require officials and Party members to firmly believe in Marxism and Leninism and speak Putonghua in public. Officers of the People's Procuratorate in Urumqi were asked to be more conscious of the ideological battle, take the lead to free minds and shake off conventional thinking, said Liu Ming, secretary of the leading Party members' group of the People's Procuratorate of Urumqi, during the meeting on fighting pan-halal tendency on Monday. Officers of procuratorate are required to speak Putonghua in public and offices. In the past, the rising pan-halal tendency has fueled the dislike of religions in China as some demand that things be halal which cannot really be halal and a suspected trend of Islamic rituals penetrating into secular life. Some companies putting halal labels on milk, toothpaste and tissue. In 2016, passengers on China Southern Airlines' (CSA) flight to Urumqi expressed their anger, after the flight only served halal food. Experts said the pan-halal tendency blurs the boundary between religion and secular life. So it is easy to fall into the mire of religious extremism. Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies expert and professor at Tibet University, hailed the campaign, saying "these demands are in line with the Party constitution. It should be promoted across Xinjiang." Officers of procuratorate organs across Urumqi were encouraged to write articles to clearly express their stand against the pan-halal tendency, according to a statement on the procuratorate's WeChat account. Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, also hailed the move, said that the People's Procuratorate of Urumqi did the right thing. The head and deputy head of Urumqi's People's Procuratorate published articles against the pan-halal tendency, titled "Friends, you don't have to find a halal restaurant for me" and "Xinjiang, a free mind movement is on" respectively. Separately, an article written by an official from social security bureau in Bachu county, which belongs to Xinjiang's Kashgar Prefecture, to his daughter, titled "Enjoy the worldwide cuisine and marry your love," has been viewed on WeChat nearly 10,000 times as of press time. Zhu also warned that pan-halal should not go too far as "the fight against the pan-halal tendency is not against halal." Zhu said officials should recognize the difference between pan-halal and halal. He added that the campaign should not target religious people by restricting their daily habits and privacy. ^ top ^



Activists 'shocked' after Hong Kong police chiefs block alert to banks on human trafficking-linked transactions (SCMP)
Hong Kong's determination to tackle money laundering linked to human trafficking has been called into question after it emerged that police chiefs blocked an alert – prepared by a specialist law enforcement unit – warning banks in the city to be aware of the problem. Anti-human trafficking campaigners expressed shock at news of the suppressed alert. That coincided with the publication of a report by the city's Ombudsman which found a complaint that police were unreasonably withholding data on dirty money transactions linked to human trafficking was "unsubstantiated". The 24-page alert – titled "Combating Human Trafficking in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific Region" – was prepared by the recently formed Fraud and Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (FMLIT) and was designed to sharpen the ability of financial institutions to spot and report suspicious transactions linked to the illicit trade in people. Sources told the Post the alert was cleared for distribution by both the Security Bureau and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority late last year but blocked by police top brass, who feared it could "lead to Hong Kong being labelled as a hub for human trafficking". The task force – a police-led joint effort involving the Monetary Authority and major banks and financial institutions in the city – was set up in May last year. A review is under way to determine whether it should become a permanent feature of Hong Kong's anti-money-laundering regime. A global watchdog, of which Hong Kong and China are members and which sets international standards on combating money laundering, has ranked the trafficking of people into commercial exploitation as one of its core concerns. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force says human trafficking is a global crime racket which earns profits of around US$150 billion (HK$1.17 trillion) a year – the third-largest source of funds for organised crime after illicit drugs and arms. According to The Global Slavery Index, on any given day in 2016 an estimated 25 million men, women and children were living in modern slavery in Asia and the Pacific. The region had the second highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world with 6.1 per 1,000 people affected. Archana Kotecha, head of legal for Liberty Asia and counter-trafficking expert and activist said that, given the high level of human trafficking in the region, and Hong Kong's position as a major regional financial centre, the city "should take seriously its responsibility to put in place the infrastructure required to track and identify proceeds linked to human trafficking and related forms of exploitation. This will go a long way to disabling networks that allow exploitation to flourish". A police spokesman said the draft alert was circulated to Fraud and Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (FMLIT) members for comment but was subsequently not promulgated "owing to different views received". Simon Henderson of Justice Centre Hong Kong, which campaigns against human trafficking and for changes in the laws to combat the problem, said he was shocked by the revelation. "The unsent FMLIT alert shows the urgent need for a comprehensive law on prevention, prosecution, and protection to combat human trafficking and forced labour," Henderson said. "Existing legislation is insufficient. "Worryingly, the decision to hold back on the alert by the Hong Kong Police Force seems to indicate a greater concern with image, rather than combating trafficking in persons." Meanwhile, following a complaint made to the Ombudsman in November 2017 under the code on access to information by the data transparency group Open Data Hong Kong, the watchdog ruled that as "unsubstantiated" allegations that the police refused to release data on the number of suspicious transaction reports it received linked to human trafficking on the grounds that it might "prejudice the prevention of crime". However, the Ombudsman's report, published at the end of a nine-month investigation into the complaint, also found inadequacies with the way the force implemented the code. "We urge the Hong Kong Police Force to enhance its staff training on the application of the code," its report also concluded. A police spokesman said that the force was studying the Ombudsman's investigation report and would take appropriate action if necessary. Without referring directly to the blocked FMLIT alert, a spokesman for the Monetary Authority highlighted there was a growing awareness in the banking sector in Hong Kong of the money laundering threats arising from human trafficking. The HKMA, said the spokesman "encourages development and sharing of information and typologies to help the banking sector to detect typical trends and patterns of suspicious transactions for reporting to law enforcement agencies in deterring and disrupting criminal activities". The Security Bureau had not responded to questions by publication time.  ^ top ^

For Carrie Lam, winning friends in Hong Kong is not as important as getting things done, no matter what the cost (SCMP)
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor may well be the first chief executive since Hong Kong's handover to China to juggle the largest number of contentious issues in a single policy address. On Wednesday, she scrapped the controversial Mandatory Provident Fund's "offset mechanism" despite widespread opposition from employers, announced the huge "Lantau Tomorrow Vision" land reclamation and housing project which could cost up to HK$500 billion and, for good measure, tossed in a complete ban on e-cigarettes and other new tobacco products. And there was considerably more in her second policy address outlining her government's new plans for Hong Kong. At her press conference on Wednesday afternoon, a reporter referred to the Lantau plan and asked Lam whether she was worried Hongkongers might end up blaming her for launching such an "ultra-expensive" project. Lam's response reflected a determination to press on with difficult or controversial plans, regardless of the prospect of criticism. She said the government did not have a figure yet for the cost of reclaiming 1,700 hectares for housing to the east of Lantau Island, but acknowledged that it would be expensive. "It's really, in my view, quite narrow-minded to try to avoid doing things because it is expensive," she said. "We need to ask ourselves whether that would provide the long-term supply of housing and meet the long-term social and development needs of the people of Hong Kong. "So, with that in mind, I really don't think people could blame me. I could go for the populist route and not do these sorts of controversial things, but that's not good for the people." The project is expected to provide 260,000 to 400,000 homes, 70 per cent of which will be public housing, and have a population of 700,000 to 1.1 million over the next 20 to 30 years. A government source put the price tag at between HK$400 billion (US$51.2 billion) and HK$500 billion, nearly half of the government's fiscal reserve of HK$1.03 trillion. By going ahead with it, Lam also defied opposition from environmentalists who have warned that the massive reclamation work could pose a threat to the ecology of the area. Lam's willingness to tackle tough issues head-on was also evident in her decision to scrap the MPF's controversial "offset mechanism" that allows employers to use their share of contributions to the pension scheme to offset long-service or severance payments for employees. In the run-up to her policy address, several figures from the business sector – particularly small and medium-sized enterprises – made their opposition to this change clear. But, Lam said in her 40-minute address to the Legislative Council on Wednesday: "There is no perfect solution in this world, and it would be difficult to forge an absolute consensus in the community. Yet, a divergence of views should never bring Hong Kong to a standstill. "We have already made a lot of effort on many rounds of public consultations. It is high time for us to decide and proceed after these discussions." Her style was in stark contrast to that of her predecessor Leung Chun-ying's handling of the issue. Although he pledged in his manifesto for the 2012 chief executive election to tackle the MPF "offset mechanism" issue, Leung went on to emphasise the need for consensus among the labour and business sectors, and warned against making a rash decision. Four years later, delivering his 2016 policy address, Leung did not mention a word about reviewing or scrapping the mechanism. In his final policy address before leaving office last year, Leung proposed that the government could bear part of the cost to employers in the 10 years after the mechanism was abolished. That was estimated to cost the government HK$6 billion. A week before his term ended in June, Leung offered a revised package earmarking HK$7.9 billion to ease the financial burden on employers over a 10-year period. Neither unionists nor businesses were impressed by his plan, and the hot potato landed in Lam's lap. On Wednesday, the chief executive said her improved proposal for HK$29.3 billion in subsidies over 25 years to help companies cope with changes to the MPF scheme was final, and her government was determined to press ahead. She also made no apologies for leaving the city's smokers unhappy. Announcing a complete ban on e-cigarettes and new tobacco products, Lam stressed that the government "should act swiftly and boldly on matters which clearly serve the public interest". Sitting on a trillion-dollar mountain of fiscal reserve, Lam has the room of manoeuvre to tackle long-standing and thorny issues. But what next? Will the chief executive, who says she couldn't care less about vested interests, and groups chanting high-sounding ideals, alienate more of groups whose support is vital to her government? ^ top ^

Hong Kong's denial of work visa for journalist Victor Mallet sends 'chilling message' about erosion of basic rights, Financial Times says (SCMP)
The Financial Times newspaper has described the Hong Kong government's decision to deny a work visa to its journalist Victor Mallet as sending a "chilling message" to everyone in the city and a reflection of how their basic rights are being eroded. In an editorial late on Sunday night, the newspaper headquartered in London said: "The decision to deny a visa to an FT correspondent is highly regrettable. "It sends a chilling message to everyone in Hong Kong, highlighting Beijing's tightening grip on the territory and the steady erosion of basic rights that are guaranteed in Hong Kong's laws and international agreements." The opinion piece came two days after a spokeswoman for the newspaper said authorities had refused to renew Mallet's work visa without giving any reason. The Asia news editor submitted his renewal application last month. Hong Kong's Immigration Department said it did not comment on individual cases and would not "disclose the specific refusal reason to each applicant", a position it maintained even after Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office demanded an urgent explanation. Subsequently, Beijing's Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong issued a statement on Saturday night firmly supporting the city's government. It said according to the "one country, two systems" governing principle and the Basic Law, the Hong Kong government had the power to make decisions on applications for work visa extensions, and no foreign country had the right to interfere. Mallet's visa rejection has been linked to his role as the Foreign Correspondents' Club's (FCC) first vice-president, where he chaired a talk by Hong Kong National Party convenor Andy Chan Ho-tin in August despite strong objections from the city's government and Beijing. Authorities in the city were at that time considering an unprecedented ban on the party, which they implemented late last month on national and public security grounds. In its editorial, the Financial Times said it did not support the idea of Hong Kong independence, but it strongly supported the principle of free speech. "Seeking [independence] would not only violate the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration but would also be highly impractical. Such a move does not enjoy popular support in the territory," it said, referring to the city's mini-constitution and an agreement signed in 1984 before Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Mallet, the editorial headlined "Hong Kong's move against free speech" said, was an experienced editor and foreign correspondent. There had been no criticism of his work. The piece pointed out that without any explanation from the authorities, it was difficult to resist concluding that the rejection amounted to "retribution" for his role in the club, where he acted as spokesman during the controversy over Chan's talk. Mallet, who was away from Hong Kong last week and returned on Sunday night, was tight-lipped when he was approached at the airport. His Cathay Pacific flight CX702 from Bangkok landed at 10.53pm at Hong Kong International Airport but it was almost 90 minutes later when he exited the restricted zone of the arrivals hall to the public waiting area. Asked if he had been stopped at immigration, Mallet, accompanied by his wife, said: "I can't tell you what happened. "Sorry I'm not allowed to comment on anything, but we're very glad to be back [in Hong Kong]. This has been our home on and off for many years." Mallet came to Hong Kong in October 2016 to run the Financial Times' news operations in Asia, after an earlier stint in the city. He has been the FCC's first vice-president since last year. A source with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed that Mallet had been questioned at immigration and had entered the city as a tourist as his work visa was no longer valid. British tourists can visit Hong Kong for up to six months without a visa. ^ top ^



Taiwan responds to Beijing threats with pledge to increase military spending to 'ensure national security' (SCMP)
Taiwan plans to acquire more weapons to increase its fighting power in the face of growing military threats from Beijing, a move certain to further provoke the mainland amid the escalating trade war and military tensions between China and the US. The self-ruled island's defence ministry announced new spending plans on Wednesday which it said were intended to echo President Tsai Ing-wen's national day pledge to safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty. "In addition to building our indigenous submarines and warplanes, [we] will take swifter actions to acquire new weapons and armaments in order to quickly increase our defence power," it said. The defence ministry statement said there were three ways for the military to safeguard the sovereignty of the self-ruled island, ensure the security of its 23 million people and maintain stability in the region. "They include increasing the national defence budget to ensure national security, promoting indigenous defence to help develop the national defence industry, and ensuring the best welfare for military personnel to achieve the success of our conscription system. "In the future, we will increase our defence budget every year and in the event of purchases of crucial weapons, the ministry will prepare special budgets," the defence ministry said. The military has listed an NT$346 billion (US$11 billion) budget for 2019, up NT$18.3 billion (US$588 million) from last year. A total of NT$73.6 billion (US$2.3 billion) will be allocated from the 2019 budget for the construction of indigenous weapons, creating huge business opportunities within the island, according to the defence ministry. The Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency last month announced plans to sell Taiwan spare parts and logistics support for F-16, C-130 and F-5 indigenous defence fighter jets. It will be the second US weapons deal under Trump, after his administration in June last year agreed to sell a US$1.4 billion arms package to Taiwan that included high-speed anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes, missile components and technical support for early warning radar. In her national day address, Tsai echoed last week's harsh criticism of Beijing by US Vice-President Mike Pence, lambasting the mainland as the cause of cross-strait tension and conflicts in the region. "For some time now, China's unilateral diplomatic offensive and military coercion have not only harmed cross-strait relations. They have also seriously challenged the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," she said. Tsai said there was a need for Taiwan to fortify its national security by upgrading its national defence capabilities. "Our military strategy is resolute defence and multi-domain. Its core value lies in upgrading the ROC military's capabilities. As I have said before, as long as I am president, our national defence budget will grow steadily every year. "Our lean and combat-ready troops absolutely have the ability to defend Taiwan's sovereignty," she said. Beijing, which considers Taiwan a wayward province which must return to the motherland by force if necessary, suspended official talks with Taipei when Tsai became president in May 2016. Since then, it has stepped up pressure on the island to try and force Tsai to accept the one-China principle, persistently staging a series of war games around the island, and poaching five allies from Taiwan. On Wednesday, the US State Department urged Taiwan and China to engage in constructive dialogue and seek a peaceful resolution to their differences. ^ top ^

'I will make Taiwan indispensable' says President Tsai Ing-wen in national day address (SCMP)
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has vowed to turn the self-ruled island into an indispensable member of the world as she blamed mainland China for being a "source of conflict" in a scathing national day address. Echoing US Vice-President Mike Pence's harsh criticism of Beijing last week, the island's leader lambasted the mainland as the cause of cross-strait tension and conflicts in the region, at a rally which was broadcast live to mark the 107th birthday of the Republic of China, Taiwan's official title. "For some time now, China's unilateral diplomatic offensive and military coercion have not only harmed cross-strait relations. They have also seriously challenged the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," she said. Tsai said Taiwan could cope with Beijing's challenges by seeking further support from the United States, Japan, Europe and other like-minded countries, and strengthening its strategic significance so that other nations could rally behind it. "The best way to defend Taiwan is to make it indispensable and irreplaceable to the world," she said. Beijing, which considers Taiwan a wayward province that must be brought back to the Chinese fold, if necessary by force, stepped up pressure on Taiwan in 2016 after Tsai, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, refused to accept the "one China" principle. As part of its strategy to handle diplomatic pressure, "social infiltration" and economic security threats from the mainland, Tsai said Taipei had to strengthen diplomatic ties and establish its "irreplaceable strategic importance". She said Taiwan's advocacy for freedom, democracy and a market economy had helped it become a model for Asian democracy, to develop a strong economy and win the support of like-minded countries. "The United States is a case in point: the US Congress recently passed many Taiwan-friendly legislative bills. Vice-President Mike Pence also openly condemned China's suppression of Taiwan's diplomatic efforts, and lauded our democracy," she said, referring to the Taiwan Travel Act and the National Defence Authorisation Act that call for high-level exchanges of officials and military cooperation between Taipei and Washington. Tsai named Japan, the European Union and some of its allies as other sources of support to help strengthen the island's international presence and role in the world. In slightly more than two years, Beijing has wooed away five allies from Taiwan, leaving just 17 countries which maintain official ties with Taipei. Beijing has also sent warships, bombers and fighter planes on training missions circling the island in an attempt to intimidate Tsai's supporters. Top mainland officials have also declared that the issue of bringing Taiwan under Beijing's control cannot be postponed indefinitely and some analysts believe Chinese President Xi Jinping is determined to accomplish that feat during his time in office. While Tsai would continue to seek stability and progress, she said the government needed to strengthen national security, the economy and the social safety net. That would include boosting the island's defences with annual increases to the arms budget and stepping up efforts to "prevent foreign powers from infiltrating and subverting our society". The president also lashed out at "specific countries" for systematically spreading disinformation, which she said was aimed at "maliciously damaging the information security system, intervening in the election process, or interfering with government operations". Last month, the Tsai government accused Beijing of spreading fake news in a bid to damage peace and stability, as well as to influence next month's local government elections. Tsai's choice of words, coming a week after Pence's critical remarks against Beijing, has been seen by observers as the harshest yet on cross-strait ties, compared with her previous national day speeches. "The tone of her speech on cross-strait issues is quite similar to what Pence said in criticising China and indeed reflects the US position, which should please Washington," said Wang Kung-yi, a political science professor at Chinese Culture University in Taipei. But Wang did not expect any further deterioration in cross-strait ties unless Tsai announced the island's independence. ^ top ^



Vanished Chinese oil tycoon linked to senior official's bribery case (SCMP)
Ye Jianming, the former boss of CEFC China Energy who vanished from public sight in March, has been linked to a bribery case involving a toppled senior official, according to court documents aired on state television on Thursday night. Wang Sanyun, the former Communist Party secretary in Gansu province, went on trial in a court in Zhengzhou in Henan province on Thursday. A television news report on the trial broadcast a picture of court documents which said Wang had been charged with taking bribes from Ye. The court heard that Wang had helped CEFC Shanghai, a subsidiary of CEFC China, to buy equity stakes in the Bank of Hainan via Hu Huaibang, the former chairman of China Development Bank. Wang also helped CEFC Hainan, another subsidiary, to obtain a US$4.8 billion credit line through Hu, who retired from the China Development Bank last month. The report said Wang had pleaded guilty to taking a total of 66.8 million yuan (US$9.7 million) in bribes. There was no word on any sentence. It was the first time that state media had reported details of the allegations against Ye since he disappeared earlier this year. CEFC rose spectacularly from obscurity to become China's fourth-largest oil conglomerate in the space of a few years. Its rise was helped by China Development Bank, a state lender, which pledged billions of dollars to the private firm to finance its aggressive expansion and headline-grabbing acquisition deals, including a failed attempt to buy a 14 per cent stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft. Hu is a veteran Chinese financial regulator and a state banker. According to his official biography, he had worked as the discipline chief at the former China Banking Regulatory Commission and a supervision director at China Investment Corporation, the country's sovereign wealth fund. Hu became the chairman of the Bank of Communications, China's fifth largest lender, in 2008. In 2013, he became the chairman of China Development Bank, before retiring in September. There has been no official announcement on whether there will be an investigation into Hu's role in the affair. The South China Morning Post reported in March that Ye, who in the space of five years rose from obscurity to become head of China's fourth-largest oil conglomerate, had been detained for questioning. No Chinese authority has released any information about him since then, and he has not been formally charged with any wrongdoing. The only piece of information about Ye came from the Czech presidential office. Ye had been an adviser to President Milos Zeman and a delegation from Prague was told Ye was being investigated by the Chinese authorities on suspicion of "violation of laws" after it was sent to Shanghai to find out his whereabouts. Meanwhile, Ye's business empire is crumbling with an army of creditors demanding it repay its debts. Its overseas assets are gradually being taken over by other investors. For instance, China's state-owned giant Citic has taken full control of CEFC China Energy's Czech assets. The South China Morning Post reported last month that the oil trading arm of Chinese arms dealer Norinco and a private enterprise in Jiangsu were bidding for CEFC's assets in Abu Dhabi. ^ top ^



Seoul's diplomatic independence key to peninsula peace (Global Times)
With tensions on the Korean Peninsula easing, Seoul is considering lifting some of its unilateral sanctions against its northern neighbor, according to South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. A close look at international media coverage of this issue would lead one to believe that it is easier said than done. Observers noted that the move may enlarge the rupture between Seoul and Washington or even result in a break in ties. US President Donald Trump has already opposed the idea, saying, "They do nothing without our approval." This shows that the US, despite its geographical distance from the region, holds the key for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Nonetheless, this may be the biggest stumbling block to peacefully solving the nuclear crisis on the peninsula. For a long time, South Korea has been in a subjective position in its alliance with the US and could barely exercise its diplomatic independence on the peninsula issue. The US also maintains South Korea's wartime operational control. Its over-reliance on the US does not help South Korea pull itself out of a security dilemma. Seoul has surrendered its initiative on the peninsula to Washington. As the main stakeholder on the peninsula, South Korea does not have the capacity to shape its own interests, but has to follow the whims of the US. That is why South Korea had to respond to US displeasure during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to the country. Pompeo expressed dissatisfaction with an agreement reached last month between the two Koreas to reduce conventional military threats between them. Seoul needs peace on the peninsula much more than Washington, but Washington's policy toward the peninsula is based on its own interests, not Seoul's. If South Korea continues to follow the US, peace on the peninsula will rest entirely in the hands of the US. South Korea's lack of diplomatic independence has also led to Chinese distrust, as Beijing opposes deployment of the US anti-missile system Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, touted as a security guarantee for South Korea. Nevertheless, the deployment fits the broader US strategic calculation to jeopardize China's interests. By paying heed to Washington's security concerns and binding itself to the Washington war chariot, Seoul has risked ruining its relations with Beijing. South Korea has been bold about engaging with the North recently and the US should be supportive of these efforts for the sake of regional peace. The gradual withdrawal of US troops can be coordinated with the denuclearization and reunification process of the Korean Peninsula. ^ top ^

China, Russia, North Korea call for adjusted sanctions ahead of denuclearization (SCMP)
Chinese, Russian and North Korean deputy foreign ministers have met in Moscow to coordinate a trilateral approach to the denuclearisation process on the Korean peninsula, and called on the UN Security Council to "adjust" the current sanctions regime against Pyongyang. This is in contrast to the Trump administration's declaration that tough sanctions would remain on North Korea until its complete denuclearisation. "It is time to start considering the adjustment of the UN Security Council's sanction regime against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]. The three parties also oppose unilateral sanctions," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement released on Wednesday, a day after the working-level talks in Moscow. China's foreign affairs vice-minister Kong Xuanyou, Russia's deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov and North Korea's foreign vice-minister Choe Son-hui discussed the three countries' cooperation during the denuclearisation process. China and Russia supported Pyongyang's favoured "phased and synchronised measures," to ensure it receives compensation from the international community during the process, rather than waiting for complete denuclearisation. "The three parties agreed that all issues on the Korean peninsula should be resolved through peaceful political diplomacy … The three parties also discussed the need to establish a peace mechanism on the peninsula through bilateral and multilateral cooperation," the statement said. All parties concerned should maintain the momentum of dialogue and take corresponding measures to move in the same direction, the statement said. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that his next summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would not occur until after next month's US midterm elections. Woo Jung-yeop, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said a friendly North Korea would enhance Chinese interests in the long-term. "China is showing off its improving bilateral relations with the North … as China may now view North Korea as a strategic interest, not a strategic burden," he said. "The North Korean issue has become an important factor of the US-China conflict. "China is trying to influence the situation on the Korean peninsula, so that the US will need China's help to solve the North Korean nuclear problem." Trump last month said that he and Kim Jong-un "fell in love" in recent months and called his relations with Kim a "great relationship". He also said his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping may be over amid the worsening China-US relations. North Korean state media said Pyongyang officials had positive talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday. ^ top ^

Pompeo, Kim hold "productive" dialogue on Singapore statement, test site: State Department (Xinhua)
U.S. State Department said on Sunday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong Un, have held a productive dialogue earlier in Pyongyang. According to a statement issued by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, Pompeo "held productive discussions" with Kim on Sunday, when they "discussed the four elements contained in the U.S.-DPRK Singapore Summit Joint Statement" signed by the two countries' top leaders. "They also discussed the upcoming second summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim and refined options for the location and date of that next summit," the statement read. Pompeo and Kim also agreed to instruct their respective working-level teams to meet soon to intensify discussions on the key remaining issues to deliver on the Singapore Summit Joint Statement. In addition, Kim invited inspectors to visit the Punggye Ri nuclear test site to confirm that it has been irreversibly dismantled, the State Department said. "President Trump looks forward to continuing to build upon the trust established with Chairman Kim in Singapore and anticipates meeting again soon," it added. In a related development, the DPRK is demanding the United States take steps to secure Pyongyang's trust before its denuclearization. "Without any trust in the U.S. there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first," DPRK's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the UN General Assembly last week. Pompeo was joined by U.S. special representative on DPRK issues Stephen Biegun, and Kim was joined by Kim Yo Jong, first vice department director of the Central Committee of the ruling Worker's Party of Korea (WPK), the statement said. This has been his third tour to the DPRK since he became the U.S. secretary of state. Pompeo met with Kim on Sunday and arrived in Seoul later. He will also travel to Beijing, according to both China and the United States. While speaking with South Korean President Moon Jae-in before the media, Pompeo said that he and the DPRK side "had a good, productive conversation." "There are many steps along the way and we took one of those today; it was another step forward. So this is, I think, a good outcome for all," he noted. "What we all hope will be the denuclearization and the change in the relationship here on the peninsula...I'm confident together we can achieve the outcome that the world so desperately needs." For his part, Moon said that "I dearly hope that your latest visit, as well as the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit, which I hope will be happening soon, will make an irreversible and decisive progress in terms of complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula as well as the peace process." ^ top ^

China's Xi Jinping will make first visit as president to North Korea 'soon', says South Korean leader (SCMP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit North Korea "soon", according to Seoul. South Korea's President Moon Jae-in told a cabinet meeting about Xi's visit on Monday without disclosing further information. He was speaking as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's tour of the region continued, including a meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un over the weekend. Xi has not visited North Korea since coming to power in 2013 although he sent Li Zhanshu, Beijing's third-ranking Communist Party official, to Pyongyang last month for North Korea's 70th anniversary celebrations. Xi visited North Korea in 2008, when he was China's vice-president. Moon also said he expected Kim to visit Russia, adding that a North Korea-Japan summit was also possible. On Friday, Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Russian senate, visited South Korea and told senior officials that talks about the details of Kim's visit were underway. "A new order is being created on the Korean peninsula, and that new order will lead to a new order in northeast Asia," Moon said, noting that the ongoing talks between the various parties were essential for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace. "We will have to make an active effort to cooperate with the relevant countries," he added. North Korean state news agency KCNA described Sunday's talks between Kim and Pompeo as "productive and wonderful", adding that the two sides' stances were "fully understood and opinions exchanged". The US Secretary of State will conclude his tour of the region with a visit to China, were he was due to meet officials on Monday. Xi's decision to visit Pyongyang may indicate a shift in China's US policy, towards a more hawkish stance against the US as conflict between the two countries moves beyond trade. Experts had noted Xi's absence from North Korea's 70th anniversary last month as a possible demonstration of China's willingness to stabilise its relations with the US. At that time, President Donald Trump was accusing China of slowing down the denuclearisation process with North Korea. Now, however, China appears more willing to actively vie for greater influence on the Korean peninsula and consolidate its role, despite US backlash. Improved ties with Pyongyang would enhance Beijing's bargaining power with the US, according to Zhang Baohui, a professor of political science and director of the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. "China may have reached a different assessment that the Trump administration may be pursuing a containment policy against China regardless of what China does," he said. China would also be aiming to reserve its seat in the upcoming peace treaty on the Korean peninsula, according to Zhang. "If the US is opposing China's participation on the peace treaty, Kim and Moon would be the leaders who can make a difference for China," he said. The Korean war ended in 1953 after an armistice was signed by China, the United Nations Command and North Korea. No formal peace agreement was ever struck. China still wants to be seated at the end of war declaration and will be actively looking to secure its participation during Xi's visit to Pyongyang, according to Zhao Tong, a fellow at Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Programme at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy in Beijing. The two Koreas agreed in April, at the heavily fortified border of Panmunjom, to actively pursue trilateral – two Koreas and the US – or quadrilateral meeting – including China – to declare an official end to the war by this year. "There is no doubt that China would want to be in the loop, to voice its interests on the Korean peninsula via North Korea, especially amid the resumed denuclearisation negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang," Zhao said. "It would be unacceptable for Beijing for an end of war declaration to be announced by the two Koreas and the US only, without China … What China cares about the most is the formality rather than the substance itself. It does not want to appear to be only superpower being left out in the process," he said. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a press briefing on Monday that China and North Korea were good neighbours and Beijing would carry on the tradition of friendship. ^ top ^



Int'l conference 'Deliberative Democracy in Asia' taking place in Ulaanbaatar (Montsame)
The international conference themed "Deliberative Democracy in Asia" is taking place at the Library of National University of Mongolia on October 11-12. The conference is organized by the National University of Mongolia in collaboration with the Government of Mongolia (the Cabinet Secretariat). The two-day conference brought together more than 120 scholars, researchers, officials and guest speakers from Estonia, Japan, South Korea, People's Republic of China., the United States and Australia. Three general sessions are scheduled 'Quality of Democracy', 'Deliberative Democracy in Asia', 'Applying Deliberative Democracy in developing local budget'. In addition discussions and sub session 'Deliberative Democracy and Information and Communication Technology'are taking place. During the conference, a total of 15 presentations are being delivered. Director of Stanford's Center for Deliberative Democracy Mr. James S. Fishkin made presentation on deliberative polling and international practices. ^ 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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