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
  22-26.10.2018, No. 739  
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Bringing Swiss bliss to Beijing (China Daily)
One-star Michelin chef Marc Strebel took over TRB Forbidden City's kitchen from Oct 19 to 21 as part of the third edition of the Swiss Gastronomic Week initiated by the country's embassy in China. He served a four-course lunch and five-course dinner with wine pairings every day. Strebel offers contemporary dishes that pay respect to natural products at his restaurant, La Maison du Village, on Lake Neuchate's bank. The "curious perfectionist's" philosophy is to present an atmosphere where he can create simple, gourmet moments in relaxed settings, he says. His menu and its inspirations hail nature, while the ingredients he chooses embrace fine dining's essence. The 40-year-old began his culinary career at the Montreux Palace on Lake Geneva. He and La Maison du Village's manager, Caroline Arlettaz, took their current restaurant over in 2012. "My cuisine is influenced by our everyday food and by the respect of the fact that some products are not reachable all year-round but only seasonally," says Strebel, who put his restaurant's top dishes on the TRB Forbidden City's menu. "Typical Swiss cuisine is a simple and convivial meal, like cheese fondue and raclette. I would describe my style of cooking as local, and using fresh and seasonal products and only homemade preparation." Strebel takes inspiration from local producers, fine-dining restaurants, street food and reading books. "Sharing each other's experiences with the team is important to stay creative," he says. "Criticism isn't always easy to manage. But it makes us grow." Strebel served three canapes-onion soup with miso and cheese, beetroot rolls with ham houses, and asparagus with smoked mayonnaise and croutons-as appetizers in Beijing. His courses included scallops, codfish and Wagyu beef with his own twists. Fennel ice cream impressed diners before the dessert of dark chocolate, pecan nuts and earl grey tea. TRB Forbidden City was the Swiss Gastronomic Week in China's third stop. The previous two were Hilton Beijing in April and Hotel Eclat Beijing in September. "When it comes to Swiss cuisine, not that many people know that Switzerland possess such a diverse, dynamic and multicultural culinary culture," says Swiss ambassador to China Jean-Jacques de Dardel. "In addition, the long and profound wine culture, dating back to 2,000 years, helps elevate the dining experience. "For any of our Chinese friends who fancy haute cuisine (and) extraordinary experiences-such as at the Michelin-starred restaurant on the top of the 3,466-meter-high Jungfrau peak-I personally welcome and encourage them to visit Switzerland and to enjoy the dining experiences to the fullest." ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Beijing tells Washington to be less 'erratic' on trade war as Xi-Trump meeting nears (SCMP)
The United States has been erratic and vague in talking to China and should change its style to de-escalate trade tensions, Xinhua said in an editorial on Wednesday. China has always treated US concerns with the "utmost patience and sincerity" and put "practical solutions" on the table to avoid trade frictions, the article said. But Washington has been unpredictable and refused to endorse a line that "neither side wants to fight a trade war", it said. "The US must change its mindset and behaviour model to … normalise bilateral trade relations" and "must change its stance and return to the negotiation table with equal conditions", it said. The editorial was published a month before the scheduled meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As the South China Morning Post reported earlier, the summit is set to take place on November 29 and will be the first face-to-face meeting between Trump and Xi in nearly a year. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He said in an interview with state media last week that Beijing and Washington were in contact over trade issues, though he fell short of giving details. At the same time, the US and China continued pointing fingers at each other over the lack of progress in reaching a truce in the trade war. Larry Kudlow, the White House's top economic adviser, told reporters on Tuesday that Trump and Xi "will meet for a bit", but did not provide details. The US had made its requests but China had yet to respond, he said. "Our asks are on the table; I'd love to see them respond," Kudlow said. "Thus far they haven't." White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that "the ball's in China's court" in terms of reaching a trade deal between the two countries. His comments came two days after he told the Financial Times that Beijing had offered no sign that it was willing to meet US demands in a way that could defuse tensions. Kudlow was quoted as saying that the US had given China "a detailed list of asks" but "the problem with the story is that they don't respond. Nothing. Nada". Tensions remain high between the two countries. US media platform Axios on Monday cited three unidentified sources as saying Trump had no intention of easing his tariffs on China and wanted Chinese leaders "to feel more pain". The US has so far imposed tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods, roughly half the value of all Chinese goods sold to the United States last year. For the last batch of US$200 billion in Chinese imports targeted, the tariff rate will increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent in January if Beijing does not make concessions. Beijing has retaliated with 25 per cent tariffs on the first US$50 billion worth of US imports to China and covered another US$60 billion of US imports with tariff rates of 5 to 10 per cent. The Xinhua editorial said recent "negative" comments by US leaders, without naming anyone, had "neglected rules and caused confusion". "This won't help to solve Sino-US trade issues," it said. The United States' unilateral trade policy was eroding its credibility and posed a risk to the world economy, it said. ^ top ^

China invites Japan along belt and road as Shinzo Abe makes landmark trip to Beijing
Beijing would welcome Japan's involvement in China's overseas infrastructure projects, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday as the two countries marked the 40th anniversary of a mutual friendship treaty. Li made the offer in a meeting with Shinzo Abe, the first Japanese prime minister to visit China in seven years. "China and Japan have to stick to the path of peace, friendship and cooperation to build a more mature and consolidated China-Japan relationship," Li was quoted by state-run CCTV as saying. "China welcomes Japan to take part in the 'Belt and Road Initiative'," he said, referring to President Xi Jinping's signature push to link economies into a China-centred trading network. The two nations had to step up cooperation to foster mutual trust, and work together to protect multilateralism, Li added. Abe pledged to lift Tokyo's often-tense relations with Beijing into a "new dimension" in a "new era" of cooperation. "Today, Japan and China are playing an essential role in economic growth not only in Asia but in the world," he said. "As problems that cannot be resolved by one country alone have risen, the time has come for Japan and China to jointly contribute to world peace and prosperity." Abe will hold further talks with Li on Friday, take part in a forum on infrastructure projects and visit Peking University, before having a meeting and attending a dinner with Xi. With Donald Trump in the White House, China and Japan have made concerted efforts to mend ties in recent months. Trump's "America first" drive has raised fears among Washington's Asian allies, including Tokyo, that the superpower might not maintain its strong presence in the region. Trump's trade war has also pushed China to consolidate ties with its neighbour to head off US attempts to isolate Beijing. But the rapprochement between the two countries has divided Japan, with some questioning if it is worth risking upsetting the United States, one of the island nation's key allies. One Japanese official familiar with China-Japan relations said there were risks but Abe's trip was necessary. "We need to keep a balance," the official said, adding that "the US may get suspicious of Japan getting too close to China". The official also questioned whether China's push to improve ties with Japan would go beyond the short term. "China needs a friend now when it has a trade war with the US. But what will happen when its relations with the US improve?" Ties between China and Japan have long been plagued by wartime grievances and competing sovereignty claims over the East China Sea. They nosedived in 2012 when Japan nationalised part of the Senkaku Islands, also known as the Diaoyus, a chain of islets claimed by both countries. Relations deteriorated further in 2013 when Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 class A war criminals from the second world war, prompting Chinese officials to describe the prime minister as an "unwelcome person". ^ top ^

US and China officials meet ahead of possible talks between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump (SCMP)
A US trade official met with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing last week, in a sign that working-level contact between the two nations has resumed despite rising tensions, ahead of a possible summit next month between their leaders. Alan Turley, deputy assistant secretary on China and Mongolia in the US Commerce Department, also met US business representatives during his visit, according to the US embassy in Beijing and other sources familiar with the situation. A US embassy spokesman said Turley was in the region primarily to accompany a trade mission of US companies to Mongolia, and had stopped in Beijing on his return to meet companies and have industry-related government meetings. Other sources said Turley landed in Beijing last Wednesday night and departed on Friday, and also met with Chinese economists and think tanks. Turley was part of the US delegation which attended the 2017 Belt and Road summit in Beijing. He was also a member of the US negotiating team which visited Beijing in May. Working level contact has been on hold for months as the US and China have exchanged tit-for-tat punitive tariffs, one US source said. "The trade war has already hit confidence in both countries. We have been clear on each other's perspectives so now it is time to push forward to work out a way out of the trade conflicts," according to a Chinese source who met Turley last week. With trade tensions high, the embassy said the US would not be sending any high-level officials to the International Import Exhibition in Shanghai early next month, urging the Chinese government to continue market-oriented reform and offer a level playing field. The trade talks ended in deadlock in June, and the confrontation between the world's two largest economies has now gone beyond trade issues as the US has initiated new tensions with China over the South China Sea and Taiwan. But officials are arranging for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina next month. Lv Xiang, a US specialist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the US was continuing to test Beijing's bottom line on the South China Sea and Taiwan issues, but trade was vital to bilateral ties. "Bilateral relations will be in crisis without a proper solution to the trade war," he said. "But it is unclear who represents the US government. That is the biggest puzzle in the current situation". China's ministries for foreign affairs and commerce have not responded to questions from the South China Morning Post. ^ top ^

Beijing nervous about Brazil's China-bashing presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro (SCMP)
The Chinese government is trying to make peace with Brazil's leading presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, whose China-bashing threatens to chill a profitable trading relationship that has benefited both countries. Chinese diplomats based in Brasilia have met twice with top Bolsonaro advisers in recent weeks, according to participants in the meetings. Their aim is to highlight cooperation with Latin America's largest country, whose grain and minerals have fuelled China's rise while lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty in the resulting commodities boom. Bolsonaro has portrayed China, its largest trading partner, as a predator looking to dominate key sectors of its economy. With its own economy slowing, China cannot afford to become embroiled in another costly trade war as it has with the United States. Two-way trade between China and Brazil stood at US$75 billion last year, according to Brazilian government statistics. China has invested US$124 billion in the South American country since 2003, mostly in the oil, mining and energy sectors, and Beijing is eager to bankroll railway, port and other infrastructure projects to speed the movement of its Brazilian grain. But the far-right Bolsonaro, much like US President Donald Trump, has criticised China repeatedly on the campaign trail, saying the Chinese should not be allowed to own Brazilian land or control key industries. An ardent nationalist, Bolsonaro is expected to win a landslide victory at the polls on Sunday. "The Chinese are not buying in Brazil. They are buying Brazil," he has warned repeatedly. Companies in the crosshairs include China Molybdenum Co, which bought a US$1.7 billion niobium mine in 2016 that Bolsonaro said Brazil should develop itself. Niobium is used as an additive to steel to make it stronger and lighter. It is used in cars, buildings, jet engines and a host of other applications. Brazil controls about 85 per cent of the world's supply and Bolsonaro wants it to reap the benefits. He is also on record opposing a planned privatisation of some assets of state-owned utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA (Eletrobras) on concerns that Chinese buyers would win the bid. Officials at China Molybdenum declined requests for comment, but six senior executives at Chinese companies operating in Brazil told Reuters they were watching Bolsonaro's remarks with varying degrees of concern. "We are worrying a bit about some of his extreme views," a Chinese infrastructure executive said. "He is on guard against China." Bolsonaro's friendly leanings towards Taiwan are likewise vexing to Beijing, which considers the self-ruled island a renegade province. Bolsonaro in February became the first Brazilian presidential candidate to visit Taiwan since Brazil recognised Beijing as the sole Chinese government under the one-China policy in the 1970s. The Chinese embassy in Brazil issued a letter condemning Bolsonaro's Taiwan trip as an "affront to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China". Bolsonaro's combative stance is in stark contrast to the rest of Latin America, whose leaders have welcomed Chinese investment, loans and commodities purchases. And it could eventually put him at odds with Brazil's powerful farm and mining industries, for which China is an indispensable customer. Shares of Brazilian miner Vale SA, for example, the world's largest iron ore producer, hit an all-time high last month on strong Chinese demand for its high-quality ore. Brazil's farm sector, meanwhile, has reaped the benefit of China's feud with Trump. Beijing has sharply reduced purchases of American soybeans, filling the gap with Brazilian crops. Brazilian exports of soy to China are up 22 per cent by value this year with about 80 per cent of its soy shipments now destined there. The US-China trade war has given Brazil leverage for now but Jorge Arbache, former secretary for international affairs at the country's planning ministry, said Brazil would do well not to overplay its hand. Brazil "does not have the luxury of giving up its biggest trade and investment partner", he said. "There's not one economy in the world that can occupy the space China occupies." Chinese diplomats met with Bolsonaro's top economic adviser Paulo Guedes in early September to discuss the importance of the bilateral relationship, Qu Yuhui, Chinese minister-counsellor at the embassy in Brasilia, said on Monday. The Chinese team portrayed their nation as a partner that did not compete with Brazil economically, according to Qu, who attended the meeting, and another person familiar with the matter. Guedes was offered a trip to China to strengthen his knowledge of the world's second-largest economy, Qu said. He said Chinese diplomats made it clear they would like to meet Bolsonaro in person, although no meeting had been set. "Regardless of right- or left-wing, we want to talk and advance the smooth development of China-Brazil relations, which we believe benefit both countries," Qu said. "We have confidence that whoever is Brazil's president will improve China-Brazil relations." Guedes did not respond to requests for comment. Last week, Qu and another Chinese diplomat were spotted entering the offices of Congressman Onyx Lorenzoni, Bolsonaro's campaign manager, proposed chief of staff and the organiser of the candidate's Taiwan trip. Qu declined to comment on the matter. Lorenzoni said he met two Chinese diplomats and that there would be further talks after the election. China was a vital partner and the two countries would maintain good relations, he said. If elected, Bolsonaro's first major meeting with the Chinese would come early in his presidency. Brazil hosts the BRICS summit in 2019, an event that Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to attend. Bolsonaro is content with China purchasing commodities but the former army captain is wary of the Asian nation's recent shopping spree in Brazil's energy and infrastructure sectors. China Three Gorges Corp paid 4.8 billion reais (US$1.3 billion) in 2016 to operate two of Brazil's largest dams. Last year, State Grid Corp of China bought a controlling stake in Sao Paulo's CPFL Energia and a subsidiary for 17.36 billion reais, while China's HNA Airport Holding Group bought a controlling stake in Brazil's second-busiest airport. Brazil is now expected to put a number of government concessions and assets up for bid next year, including railways and state-held energy assets. The outgoing administration of Brazilian President Michel Temer has attempted to privatise state-controlled energy company Eletrobras, a move which requires congressional approval. Bolsonaro has said he is against selling Eletrobras generation assets because it would "leave Brazil in Chinese hands". The Chinese infrastructure executive said his company was worried that Bolsonaro might change the government auction rules to disadvantage Chinese bidders. He and other Chinese executives declined to be identified. To date, Bolsonaro has been vague about how he would carry out actions to stop Chinese investment he sees as undesirable. Brazil has no equivalent of the US Committee on Foreign Investment, which reviews the national security implications of foreign investment in American companies. Bolsonaro also needs to tread carefully with the huge agribusiness caucus that controls more than 40 per cent of seats in Brazil's Congress. The nation's farmers are overwhelmingly supportive of Bolsonaro, but have made clear that maintaining good relations with China, their largest export customer, is paramount. "The economy is much more important than propaganda to get votes," said an executive at an agricultural company who declined to be identified. "You can't change it that easily without severe repercussions." ^ top ^

China, UNDP join hands to reduce disaster risks along the Belt and Road (People's Daily)
In Beijing on Wednesday, China and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched an initiative to enhance disaster risk reduction and response capacity for countries along the Belt and Road. The initiative, led by China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) with technical guidance from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), features a series of implementation projects under the Memorandum of Understanding and the Action Plan signed between UNDP and China to integrate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The first of the series, titled "Technology for Resilience," aims to provide better tech-based solutions for disaster risk information as part of the early warning system, as well as enhanced accuracy of post-disaster damage assessments to enhance disaster preparedness and response capacities. Through full use of China's Beidou Navigation System, the project will share technological resources among countries along the Belt and Road to provide high-accuracy disaster reduction data service for the promotion of the initiative, observed Chen Linhao, deputy director general of the Department of International Cooperation of MOST. China's first Beidou ground station in ASEAN was launched in Laos in August 2016 to assist the country's national survey statisticians, according to Chen, who noted that the new project could benefit public service in the host country while also laying a foundation for future BRI construction. Liao Dinghai, president of Hi-Target Surveying Instrument Co. Ltd, a leading remote sensing solution provider in China and a key implementation partner of the project, introduced that the new project will cover a string of countries, from Russia and Fiji to Malaysia and Mexico, to give a boost to these countries' water conservancy projects and agricultural development in addition to disaster reduction and relief. Cambodia will become the first pilot country to enjoy the services as the country will see construction launch this December. "Such cooperation will bring tangible benefits to countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, and therefore is worthy of further scaling up and promotion," said Zhang Qin, director of the division of international organizations of the Department of International Cooperation of NDRC. According to the Guangzhou-based company, a total of 120 ground stations will be set up under the project to receive real-time observation data from the Beidou system and the received data will be instantly uploaded to three data service centers in China for collection and analyses. Under the project, precise location-based services can be provided worldwide with 10-centimeter-level accuracy for countries outside the initiative and four-centimeter-level accuracy for Belt and Road countries by the end of 2019. The accuracy can be further enhanced to four centimeters for international users and two centimeters in Belt and Road countries by the end of 2020. "This project, as one of UNDP's pilot BRI projects, is expected to bring innovative development solutions to jointly tackle challenges in disaster reduction efforts," said Agi Veres, country director of UNDP China. The project can potentially be "highlighted as an early successful demonstration for the 2019 Belt and Road Forum," she added. ^ top ^

China, Belgium launch new cargo train route (Xinhua)
Belgium and China Wednesday launched a new cargo train route linking the Belgian city of Liege, some 100 km southeast of Brussels, to Zhengzhou, the capital city of China's Henan province. The first cargo train, loaded with 37 containers, left Liege Logistics Intermodal at 4 p.m. local time, starting a trip that covers more than 11,000 km and is set to take 12 days. The Zhengzhou-Liege cargo train route is the third of its kind connecting cities of the two countries, marking their growing interests to nurture closer economic and trade ties. The train service is scheduled to run once a week initially, and the frequency is expected to rise in the future. The first cargo train route between China and Belgium was launched in June last year, connecting China's Daqing city to Zeebrugge Port, followed by the second one in May this year, linking north China's Tangshan City to Antwerp Port. Pierre-Yves Jeholet, vice president of Wallonia, along with He Jinping, vice-governor of the Henan province, said at the launching press conference in Liege, "We have every interest in turning to China and having close, strong relationships, and we must see this as an opportunity and a necessity." Jeholet said Wallonia is encouraging the region's large exporters and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) alike to export more products to China. "This railway link is that together we are able to make such projects," he said. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the friendly relationship between Henan province and Wallonia, He noted, stressing that the route denotes a new phase of development between the two regions. ^ top ^

US says it will not send top officials to China import expo in November (SCMP)
The United States does not plan to send senior government officials to attend a major import expo in Shanghai next month, a US embassy spokesman said on Wednesday, urging Beijing to end what he called harmful and unfair trade practices. The world's two biggest economies are locked in a trade war, with President Donald Trump having railed against China for intellectual property theft, entry barriers facing US businesses and a gaping US trade deficit. Set to run from November 5 to 10, the China International Import Expo will bring together thousands of foreign and Chinese companies, aiming to boost imports, allay foreign concerns about China's trade practices and show readiness to narrow trade gaps. But the US had no plans for high-level US government participation, the spokesman said from Beijing. "We encourage China to level the playing field for US goods and services," he said. "China needs to make the necessary reforms to end its unfair trade practices that are harming the world economy." China's return to the path of economic reform and sincere commitment to market-based trade and investment norms would benefit not only the United States but also the world and eventually the country itself, he said. He declined to give a specific reason why the United States had opted to stay away. China has said British trade minister Liam Fox will attend, while diplomats say most major trading partners will send delegations, including some that have been critical of its trade practices, such as Australia, Canada, France and Germany. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the import expo in early 2017 and is expected to speak at its opening. Critics have dismissed the event, which Beijing plans to hold every year, as largely a propaganda effort, however. Many countries are building "national pavilions" to showcase products at the event in a giant convention hall in the Chinese commercial hub. ^ top ^

Pulling out of nuclear arms pact adds to US options to 'erode Chinese advantage' (SCMP)
Withdrawing from a cold war-era nuclear weapons pact with Russia would mean the United States could deploy intermediate ground-based missile systems in Asia to counter China, military experts say. That would add to the military options available to the US – which can already carry out precise strikes globally – in the event of a conflict between America and China, they added. The assessment came after US President Donald Trump on Monday said China's growing arsenal had played into his decision to pull out of the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned short and medium-range nuclear and conventional missiles. While Beijing is not a signatory to the 1987 treaty, Trump said abandoning the arms control pact was a threat to China, Russia and "anybody else that wants to play that game", and that the US would build up its nuclear arsenal. Beijing rebuked Trump, with the foreign ministry saying it would not be blackmailed into joining the treaty. "We have paid attention to the relevant statement made by US President Donald Trump and his adviser John Bolton regarding China in the context of the INF treaty," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a daily press briefing on Tuesday. "China has always adhered to the defensive nature of its national defence policy and protects its own state interests. China will not tolerate any blackmail from any country" Adam Ni, a researcher on Chinese foreign and security policy at the Australian National University, said America's withdrawal from the treaty would have a significant effect on the military balance between the US and China, especially if a conflict broke out, as it could deploy intermediate ground-based missile systems in Asia. "The US currently has the ability to strike targets in China through air strikes and sea-based missile systems. The deployment of short or intermediate ground-based missiles to, say, Japan would add to US capabilities in the region and erode the Chinese advantage, which has been built over decades," Ni said. Not bound by the nuclear arms treaty, China has built and deployed a sophisticated and modern missile arsenal that means it can target US and allied military assets in the Asia-Pacific region, including its aircraft carriers and airbases. One of the intercontinental ballistic missiles China is developing, the DF-41, would put the entire US homeland within range, while other modern weapons like hypersonic aircraft and laser guns would add to the threat for America if there were a military clash between the two powers. Collin Koh, a maritime security specialist at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said reinstating ground-launched intermediate range missiles would give the US a needed boost, not only for nuclear strikes but also conventional operations. "[China] has been able to make significant progress in the area of land-based offensive missile capabilities while simultaneously building up the air and sea components. There must have been pressure on the part of the US defence establishment to try to cope with these, with the awareness of the limitations of existing capabilities," he said. Trump's announcement has raised concerns globally, with the European Commission urging the United States and Russia to pursue talks to preserve the treaty and Beijing calling on Washington to "think twice". But Liu Weidong, a US affairs expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the US might not start building up short and medium-range land-based missiles even if it pulled out of the pact because such a programme would be costly. ^ top ^

China, India hold first high-level meeting on law enforcement, security (Xinhua)
China and India held here on Monday their first high-level meeting on law enforcement and security. Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi said at the meeting that China and India, as good neighbors and good friends, have great potential and broad prospects for cooperation in law enforcement and security. The establishment of a high-level meeting mechanism on law enforcement and security between the two countries and the holding of the first meeting will be of great significance in promoting the development of bilateral relations and enhancing law enforcement and security cooperation, Zhao said. Zhao hoped that the two sides will earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, further strengthen strategic communication, give full play to the role of the high-level meeting mechanism, and focus on pragmatic cooperation on counter-terrorism, combating separatist forces and cracking down on transnational crime so as to provide a safe and stable environment for the common prosperity and development of the two countries. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on his part, said that India is willing to work with China to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, enhance political mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial cooperation and strengthen pragmatic cooperation in areas such as anti-terrorism, combating separatist forces, and cracking down on transnational crimes. After the meeting, the two ministers signed a cooperation agreement between the two countries. Also on Monday, Zhao met with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and the two sides exchanged views on strengthening cooperation on law enforcement and security between the two countries. ^ top ^

Expect big deals and some choppy waters to navigate when Xi Jinping goes to Manila (SCMP)
Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Manila next month, the Philippines is leaving nothing to chance to ensure a smooth and fruitful trip for one of the world's most powerful leaders. For instance, Manila has gone the extra mile to please its new-found strategic partner by reassuring Beijing that it will not join Washington's reported plans to conduct large-scale drills in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in November. The Rodrigo Duterte administration has also reassured China that there won't be any joint Philippine-US military drills on its soil during his stay. And much to Beijing's delight, the Philippines has decided to take part in the joint China-Asean naval exercises starting from Monday in the waters off Zhanjiang, in China's Guangdong province. This marks the Philippines' first military drill with China, after decades of mutual strategic alienation and, in previous years, all-out acrimony. During Xi's visit, his first ever to the Philippines, the two sides are expected to sign major deals, including big-ticket infrastructure projects as well as a framework agreement for joint energy exploration in the South China Sea. On the surface, Xi's visit marks a sharp shift in what used to be one of the most antagonistic bilateral relations in the region. Beyond the highly cordial diplomatic exchanges with Beijing, however, there is growing frustration in Manila over China's continued reclamation, occupation and militarisation of Philippines-claimed land features in the South China Sea, and unfulfilled promises of substantial Chinese investments in the Southeast Asian country's infrastructure. Throughout his first two years as president, Duterte made it a priority to normalise his nation's historically tense relations with China due to maritime disputes in the South China Sea. For the Filipino leader, who has been keen on luring large-scale Chinese investments, the overall tenor of bilateral relations shouldn't be defined by disagreements alone. Initially, Duterte explored major defence deals with Beijing, regularly welcomed Chinese warships and military aircraft and consciously played down maritime disputes, the better to facilitate a historic rapprochement. So far, Duterte has also made it clear he is not interested in pursuing the Philippines' arbitration award, issued by a special tribunal at The Hague in 2016, which nullified, among other things, China's nine-dash line behind its claim to about 90 per cent of the South China Sea and censured its massive reclamation activities in the area. For a tough-talking leader, Duterte has been unusually meek and friendly towards Beijing, a sea change from the anti-China rhetoric of many of his predecessors, particularly Benigno Aquino III, who portrayed China as the primary threat to regional security. Recent months, however, have also seen Duterte take an increasingly tough stance against China, while quietly welcoming fortified defence cooperation with traditional allies. In May, the Philippine government issued "three red lines" in the South China Sea, warning Beijing of a breakdown in relations if China were to: reclaim and militarise the Manila-claimed Scarborough Shoal; unilaterally drill for energy resources along the Philippine continental shelf; and/or coercively evict Philippine marine forces stationed in the Second Thomas Shoal and other South China Sea land features. The unusually sharp language came amid reports of accelerated Chinese reclamation activities and, crucially, deployment of advanced military assets to disputed islands in the area. In August, Duterte urged China to "temper" its behaviour after the Philippine military complained about harassment of its routine surveillance operations in the South China Sea. Days later, he threatened conflict if Beijing were to unilaterally conduct exploration activities in the Philippine exclusive economic zone, threatening to deploy military officers to bring "a machete there and cut down the Chinese". Behind the scenes, Duterte has also taken a tough line during the negotiation of joint exploration activities in the South China Sea. In response, Beijing has reportedly suspended any big-ticket investments pending completion of a resource-sharing agreement in disputed waters. Meanwhile, the Philippine defence establishment has quietly restored frayed relations with the US and welcomed a greater American strategic footprint in the country. During a visit to the Philippines in late September by Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, the two allies signed an agreement to expand the number of annual military exercises from 261 to 281. This year has seen the return of war games – which had been cancelled in 2016 during Duterte's first year in office, including amphibious drills in the South China Sea – as well as a 60 per cent expansion in the number of American and Filipino troops taking part in the annual Balikatan exercises. Days ahead of Davidson's visit, Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana went to Washington, discussing shared security concerns, including the South China Sea, with US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who pledged "strong support" for upgrading the Philippines' defences. As a sign of robust bilateral relations, the Philippines has been the biggest recipient of America's US$300 million Foreign Military Financing and defence aid initiatives for the Indo-Pacific region. The two allies are also discussing the possibility of granting American troops expanded access to strategic Philippine bases facing the South China Sea, including the Bautista and Basa airbases. With US President Donald Trump's administration launching a trade war against China, the Philippines is hoping to benefit from greater American investment and market access by exploring a separate bilateral free-trade agreement with Washington. Much will still depend on what Xi offers during his visit to Manila, whether in terms of large-scale infrastructure investments or concessions in the South China Sea. What's clear is that, for now, the Philippines is hedging its bets by reviving security ties with traditional allies amid deepening doubt over the fruits of Duterte's strategic opening towards China. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China's top legislator listens to advice from deputies (Xinhua)
Top legislator Li Zhanshu on Thursday sat down with lawmakers to listen to their advice on improving the work of the people's congresses and rule of law, at a symposium. Deputies of the National People's Congress (NPC) should serve as a link between the Party, the country and the people, said Li, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, who presided over the symposium on the sidelines of the ongoing bimonthly session of the NPC Standing Committee. Fifty-six NPC deputies attending the bimonthly session participated in the symposium and shared their experiences and thoughts on performing their duties. Li said the symposium was an important mechanism for the Standing Committee to strengthen its connection with deputies and receive supervision from them. He called on the deputies to report the situation at the grassroots level, and on the needs of the people and their suggestions, to push for improvements in the work of state organs. The deputies were also urged to improve their ability to perform duties, including conducting various forms of research and collecting real opinions from the public. ^ top ^

Chinese man jailed for Koran burning as Islamaphobia spreads online (SCMP)
A man in Xi'an was sentenced to 10 days' detention for uploading a video online of himself burning a copy of the Koran, according to a report from local police that was shared on Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media. The unnamed man, whose personal details were blurred out in the photo, was charged with "inciting national hatred or national discrimination" under article 47 of China's public security administrative laws, according to the police report, which carried a photo of the stamped document from the Wild Goose Pagoda police station in Xi'an. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 15 days detention and a fine of 1,000 yuan (US$144). The report did not mention which social media platforms the video was uploaded to. The widely shared post included a photo of a Chinese-language Koran lying on the floor, with some of its pages torn out and blackened with soot. Most users on Weibo expressed support for the man's actions and questioned why he was punished with detention. "Burning religious books [being a crime] – this is like Islamic laws against blasphemy … making religious norms more important than secular norms. Is China a religious country?!" said one comment that was 'liked' more than 1,700 times. Online Islamophobia in China has become increasingly widespread, despite China's large Muslim population of around 23 million. News of any "special treatment" towards Muslims, such as the introduction by a Beijing university last year of Halal mooncakes for Muslim students, and incidents of anti-Han violence in the Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang in recent years, have triggered waves of Islamophobic comments on Chinese social media. A recent research paper by Luwei Rose Luqiu and Fan Yang found negative stereotypes of Muslims and Islam were commonplace in Chinese media. Many editorials published in the state-owned Global Times over the past year have portrayed Uygur Muslim culture in Xinjiang province as backward, superstitious and in need of modernisation. An article in the Global Times on Wednesday said: "With the promotion of vocational skills, national laws and regulations and de-extremism education, more residents and trainees in Xinjiang begin to realise that women should not be treated as the 'personal possessions' of their husbands." The article was referring to the controversial detention centres for Muslims in Xinjiang that the government says are aimed at deradicalising Muslims and imparting vocational training. Xian, located in the northwestern province of Shaanxi, was once the starting point of the ancient Silk Road. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 ethnic Hui Muslims live in the city, which has a population of more than eight million. It is known for its Muslim Quarter, a centuries-old district with mosques and Halal food stalls that are a reminder of the city's Islamic heritage. ^ top ^

China's top political advisor urges efforts for national reunification (Xinhua)
China's top political advisor Wang Yang has called for uniting the efforts of Chinese at home and abroad in the cause of national reunification. Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks at a ceremony held in Beijing Thursday. The ceremony was held to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification. Wang commended the council for its work in the past three decades and spoke of the need to gather the common will for patriotism, resolutely oppose separatism, and unite all efforts to create a mighty force promoting national reunification. The basis and conditions for advancing peaceful national reunification are better now than any time in the past, and Chinese at home and abroad are now more confident and determined than ever in this endeavor, Wang said. He urged the council to enhance study in theories, stay vigilant to all kinds of separatist forces, disseminate the Party policies, tell the Chinese story well and innovate the ways of work. Before the ceremony, a board of directors meeting was held, electing Wang as the president of the council. ^ top ^

China's top court supports criminal punishment in anti-doping fight (Xinhua)
The illegal manufacturing and sale of performance-enhancing substances could soon face criminal punishment in China, with the country's Supreme Court vowing to fight hard against doping. Jiang Qibo, a judge sitting on China's Supreme People's Court, announced at the second edition of the WADA Global Education Conference on Thursday that the process is in its crucial final stage. "We are studying and drawing up judicial interpretations on the application of law in handling criminal cases related to the use, manufacturing, sale and smuggling of performance-enhancing substances," said Jiang. "We are speeding up our work and will make the result public as soon as possible," he added. China has been working to promote anti-doping legislation, after the State Council launched the Anti-Doping Regulation in 2004. Previously, the regulations had a connection with criminal law, but criminal law lacked specific terms regarding anti-doping. For this reason, the punishments for doping violations have been mostly confined to fines, bans and administrative penalties, while public calls for criminal punishment have been widespread. With the announcement, China's highest judicial authority has thrown its support behind the country's wider anti-doping effort. "With China strengthening the rule of law and anti-doping having been included in the process, we, as China's highest judicial organ, feel obliged to do our part in cracking down on doping," Jiang said. "What we are doing shows China's zero-tolerance stance on doping and sends a strong signal to the sports circle that we advocate fair play," he said. ^ top ^

Controversy erupts online over study of 13 Hui classics (Global Times)
A project under China's National Social Science Fund which studies the 13 classics of ethnic Hui minority has sparked controversy online as some questioned the propriety of the topic since the books are of Islamic philosophy but not all Hui people are Muslim. Titled "The collection, collation and interpretation of 13 classics of ethnic Hui," the project was accused by some of violating China's principle of not binding ethnic groups to religion. The accusation was published by WeChat account "Fengsui" on Wednesday. The article has been removed from the internet as of press time. Zhou Chuanbin, a researcher at Lanzhou University who led the research, told the Global Times that the project, which is a literature study, will gather manuscripts and interpretations of the 13 classic books circulating among Hui people. "The 13 classics belong to an Islamic philosophy system. It has been circulating among Hui people in China since the Ming Dynasty," Zhou said. The project was named as 13 classics of the Hui only because it is widely circulated among Hui people in China, and not all regions which believe in Islam have the book, he said. Those traditional books are for professional researchers, he added. Gao Zhanfu, vice dean of the Beijing-based China Islamic Institute, told the Global Times that the "project on 13 classics of the Hui aims to offer a new interpretation of the classics to make it conform to the path of Islam sinicization." China welcomes positive or negative academic research on religion but the research has to highlight China's basic principles and guidelines toward religion and the value of dialectical materialism, Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. Judging from its title, the project violates the principle that China objects to binding ethnicity to religion. Not all Hui people believe in Islam, Zhu noted. The project was listed on the website of the National Office for Philosophy and Social Sciences (NSSFC) for public comments until next Tuesday. The NSSFC told the Global Times on Thursday that they have received diverse feedback from scholars and are examining the project. ^ top ^

Authorities call for joint efforts to prevent juvenile internet addiction (Global Times)
The Chinese Ministry of Education urged schools and parents to join hands in preventing adolescent internet addiction by issuing a notice to schools and publishing an open letter to parents, calling on both sides to make efforts in preventing juveniles from being addicted to the internet. Schools should teach students to proactively resist harmful information and illegal practices online, according to the notice. In addition, schools should push parents who fail to fulfill their duty as guardians, and enhance parent-child communication. The education authority also stressed the family's role in education. "Family should play its role as the primary 'classroom,' and parents should bear the responsibility as the primary 'teachers' of the children," the notice pointed out. Li Mingxin, principal of the Beijing Primary School, believes education encompasses far more than academic study, and fostering information literacy is equally important. "Information immunity is an important aspect of information literacy. The former refers to the ability to resist harmful information while using the internet, as well as the ability of resisting various temptations," said Li. Cheng Sihui, a professor at the College of Education Science of Wuhan University, said primary and middle schools should attach more importance to internet usage education. In the meantime, parents should pay more attention to family education by reducing the time that parents use the internet, and conducting more effective communication with children. ^ top ^

China tightens supervision on false litigation (Xinhua)
Chinese procuratorates have tightened supervision on false litigation, which refers to baseless lawsuits without merit. Procuratorates nationwide have presented protests or suggestions against 5,178 cases involving false litigation to courts, amid a national campaign launched in 2015, according to a work report delivered by Procurator-General Zhang Jun at the ongoing session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee. A total of 799 people have been prosecuted on the charge of filing false lawsuits in the last five years, according to the report. In September, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate formulated a judicial interpretation defining and giving examples of false litigation, such as if a person aids a person in a marriage to falsify family debts for a lawsuit filing. The campaign comes against the backdrop of a rise in false litigation, with more civil cases being accepted by courts since the adoption of a case-filing registration system. ^ top ^

Top court turns up heat on verdict compliance (China Daily)
The Supreme People's Court pledged to strictly punish people who fail to comply with verdicts and who oppose the enforcement of rulings, to protect the rights of lawsuit winners and strengthen China's rule of law. The top court made the promise in a report about the work of Chinese courts on Wednesday to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature. The NPC Standing Committee will review the courts' performance. The report said the top court has taken various steps against defaulters in recent years, including increasing criminal punishments for those who are able to comply with court-mandated penalties but refuse, as well as people who illegally hide assets and then claim inability to pay. Since the beginning of this year, for example, 7,281 people have been criminally punished for flouting court rulings, up 90.6 percent year-on-year, it added. "Every court must fight defaulters with zero tolerance, which is not only to safeguard the rights of people who win lawsuits but also to build a more fair legal environment for all of us," said Zhou Qiang, president of the top court, who explained the report on Wednesday. He ordered all judges to abide by 37 judicial interpretations and guidelines issued by the top court since 2016 to improve verdict enforcement while avoiding judicial mistakes and disorder. To get people to comply with verdicts against them, the top court established a blacklist online in late 2013 to disclose information on defaulters. By the end of September, details on more than 12 million violations of court orders have been posted on the blacklist, the report said. As the difficulty of pushing people to implement rulings often surfaces in public complaints, the top court has coordinated with other authorities to solve the problem since 2016 by restricting defaulters' daily lives. For example, a blacklisted defaulter is prohibited from buying flight and high-speed rail tickets and cannot serve as a company executive. As of September, 14.63 million airplane trips and 5.22 rail trips have been blocked, the report said, adding that 3.22 million defaulters have complied with court orders because of the inconvenience after being placed on the blacklist. To increase the efficiency of verdict enforcement, the top court set up an online platform with banks and financial departments to search the property ownership records of defaulters. To date, more than 3,900 such institutions have connected to the platform, and the courts can search for 16 kinds of assets, including defaulters' savings accounts, securities holdings and real estate, it said. "But the current search steps need to be simplified and upgraded," Zhou said, suggesting courts apply artificial intelligence and cloud computing to speed things up. "We welcome public supervision, such as from lawyers and litigants. What we want is to build a credible society," he said. ^ top ^

China punishes 8,873 people for frugality violations in September (Xinhua)
A total of 8,873 officials and civil servants were punished in September for violating the Party's eight-point frugality code, according to the top anti-graft body of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Tuesday. They were involved in 6,451 cases across the country, according to a statement issued by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the national supervisory commission. Of the cases, 1,508 were related to unauthorized issuing of subsidies or welfare, while 1,225 were for giving or accepting gifts or money, 954 for unauthorized use of official cars, 834 for using public funds for banquets and 601 for holding lavish weddings or funerals. Other cases were related to violations, including traveling with public funds and building offices without authorization. The CPC released the eight-point decision on improving Party and government conduct in 2012, to reduce undesirable work practices. The top anti-graft body has a monthly reporting system with provincial-level governments, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, central Party and government agencies, centrally administered state-owned enterprises and central financial institutions. A total of 60,690 people involved in 42,871 such cases have been punished since the start of the year. ^ top ^

China's top legislature mulls revisions to Criminal Procedure Law (Xinhua)
China's top legislature on Monday started its bimonthly session to deliberate a draft amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law and a draft amendment to the Drug Administration Law, part of a five-day agenda. Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, presided over the meeting. The draft amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law, submitted for a third reading, includes "default judgment" provisions, which will let a criminal trial continue even if the defendant has fled China. One provision makes it applicable to corruption-related criminal cases, and also serious cases endangering state security and terrorist activities that have been examined and approved by the Supreme People's Procuratorate and need to be tried in a timely fashion. To better protect the legitimate interests of the defendant, the draft imposes new stringent rules, requiring the courts to examine whether a case is applicable to a "default judgment." The amendment to the Drug Administration Law aims to address counterfeit drug problems with tougher punishment and all-round supervision. A draft law on basic healthcare and health promotion was also submitted for a second reading. The session will also consider draft revisions to the People's Courts Organic Law and the People's Procuratorates Organic Law. Lawmakers will also review a package of draft revisions on 15 laws, including the Wild Animal Conservation Law and the Metrology Law, in a bid to conform to a key institutional reform plan adopted by the NPC on March 17. For example, the customs and quarantine offices used to be parallel law enforcement agencies under the Wild Animal Conservation Law, but the latter are now a part of the customs administration. Several reports, including two submitted by the State Council on state assets, will also be discussed, according to the agenda. Lawmakers are also considering a change of the intellectual property right appeals procedure, which would hand the Supreme People's Court cases that require more expertise due to the complexity of such cases. The meeting is expected to decide whether to adopt revisions to the Company Law, which set to relax restrictions on public companies making share repurchases. ^ top ^

Draft law revisions suggest public supervision on judicial work (Xinhua)
China's top legislature on Monday began the third reading of draft revisions to the organic laws of the people's courts and the people's procuratorates. Lawmakers will deliberate the draft revisions at the bi-monthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which runs from Monday to Friday. According to the latest drafts, the people's courts and the people's procuratorates must accept public supervision. People's right to know, participate and supervise the work of the people's courts and the people's procuratorates shall be guaranteed, according to both drafts. The draft revision of the organic law of the people's courts includes provisions to better explain and legislate the organization and power of judicial committees. People's courts at all levels shall set up judicial committees, which are composed of presidents, vice presidents and other senior judges of the courts, and the number of committee members shall be odd, according to the draft. Meetings of judicial committees include plenary meetings and meetings of professional committees. Courts above intermediate people's courts can convene meetings of professional committees on criminal, civil and administrative trials, according to the draft. The judicial committee of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) shall host plenary meetings to discuss and pass judicial interpretations before the SPC issues such interpretations. The SPC judicial committee shall also host meetings of professional sub-committees to discuss and pass before SPC issued guiding cases. The judicial committees can also discuss and decide whether to conduct a retrial on a legally effective judgment, decision or mediation ruled by the courts. According to the draft revision of the organic law of the people's procuratorates, the people's procuratorates can launch inspection tours of prisons, detention houses and other parts of the criminal justice system to exercise part of their duties and powers. For a long time, the people's procuratorates usually set up supervision offices in prisons and detention houses to examine the execution of law. The addition of inspection tours aims to improve work methods and effectiveness and prevent corruption and laziness during supervision work, according to Wang Songmiao, spokesperson for the Supreme People's Procuratorate. ^ top ^

Draft law facilitates transfer of criminals to home countries (China Daily)
A draft law that has clarified conditions and procedures for transferring criminals between China and other countries will facilitate international cooperation in fighting transnational crimes and graft, lawmakers and experts said. The draft law on international criminal judicial assistance, submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, for second deliberation on Monday, includes a new chapter on the transfer of criminal convicts. It stipulates that a foreign country can make a request to China on the transfer of its citizens who have been convicted of crimes in China. The transfer will get a green light if the convict's offense also constitutes a crime in the home country, the verdict in China has taken effect and the convict gives written consent for the transfer, according to the draft law. But the transfer request could be rejected by China if the convict has received a suspended death sentence or life in prison, if the remaining sentence is less than a year, or if the convict still has cases pending in China, the draft law stipulates. In turn, the draft law sets up procedures for China to make a request to a foreign country on the transfer of a Chinese citizen who has been convicted of crimes abroad. The draft, submitted to the legislature for the first reading in December, also creates procedures for requests for investigation and evidence collection generated by China or a foreign country. A draft law usually receives three readings at the top legislature before being adopted. "The law can boost international cooperation against transnational crimes and regulate judicial assistance practices," said Zhou Guangquan, a senior legislator from the NPC Constitution and Law Committee, while explaining the draft to the legislature on Monday. "It can also help with China's anti-corruption legislation and hunting of fugitives." Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said such a law is urgent and necessary, "as it meets the growing demand of criminal transfers between China and other countries". "There have been some practices (regarding international transfers of criminal convicts between China and other countries), but they're not regulated enough," he said, adding that it's time to put good practices into law to improve the transfer efficiency by specifying its procedures and conditions. "Such international transfers may involve not only hunting graft fugitives. Such a rule also applies to other transnational crimes such as online fraud and drug offenses," he said. Yang also spoke highly of the two-way transfer provision in the draft law, saying it will improve international relations between China and other countries. Ji Chunwei, a criminal defense lawyer from Guangdong province, said such detailed stipulations on transfers can help save legal resources and offer a clear guide to legal professionals."  ^ top ^

Govt publishes income tax deduction plan for public comments (China Daily)
Chinese residents could benefit from further income tax reduction from next year on, as a tax deduction list has been released for public opinion on Saturday. The Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation published the personal income tax deduction plan seeking public opinion on Saturday. The final version is scheduled to be released by the end of this year. The special deduction items are related to children's education, adult reeducation, treatment of serious diseases, the livelihood of elder people, housing loan interest and home rent. It means people who have expenditures related to the above items could enjoy lower personal income tax after they report relevant spending information to the tax authority. According to the draft plan, expenditures on children's education could be deducted at a fixed standard of 12,000 yuan ($1,732) a year, or 1,000 yuan per month. Expenses on reeducation could be deducted at 3,600 yuan or 4,800 yuan a year. On medical costs of serious illness, the yearly expenditure spent by the patient above 15,000 yuan could be deducted, with an annual cap of 60,000 yuan. On interest for loan for first home by the taxpayers or their spouses, a monthly deduction of 1,000 yuan will be allowed. For housing rent, the deduction will vary from cities, ranging from 800 yuan to 1,200 yuan a month. If taxpayers are supporting parents aged 60 or above, they could get a monthly deduction of 2,000 yuan. Only children could enjoy the whole sum of 2,000 yuan in deduction, while the sum will be divided among siblings if there is more than one child. The new policy is expected to take effect from Jan 1, 2019, according to the document on the website of the finance ministry. The new policy follows a raising of the threshold of personal income tax from 3,500 yuan ($544) to 5,000 yuan per month. The tax reform will significantly help reduce the tax burden on low-and middle-income groups, and raise people's disposable income and promote domestic consumption, said experts. "The scale and intensity of the tax cut, according to the deduction plan, are stronger than expected," said Sun Gang, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences. "The policy considers both fairness and practicality to make the implementation as easy as possible." ^ top ^



Xi Jinping tells China's economic powerhouse to 'leverage huge opportunity' of Greater Bay Area (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping on Thursday told China's southern economic powerhouse of Guangdong to leverage the "Greater Bay Area" to take forward its reforms, on the final day of a four-day visit to the province. State media released details of his remarks during the trip in the evening, with the president also vowing to continue China's reform and opening up as its "correct path", and telling small and medium-sized private businesses that they had Beijing's support. In his meeting with Guangdong authorities in the afternoon, Xi tasked cadres and officials to build the province's free-trade pilot zone, which comprises the Nansha, Hengqin and Qianhai areas, into a high quality gateway to open up to the world. But he also told officials to ensure development was balanced in the impoverished backwaters of the province, and to step up environmental protection and the pollution battle along with Hong Kong, Macau and neighbouring provinces. State television also reported that Xi reaffirmed Guangdong's role as a pioneer and test bed of China's reform programmes – a role which has been blurred in recent years as the country's economy grew more sophisticated after 40 years of reform. "[You] should leverage the development of the Greater Bay Area as a huge opportunity for Guangdong's reform and opening up," Xi was quoted as saying on state television, referring to the scheme to link Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong into an economic and innovation hub. Xi's tour has been highly anticipated amid a slowing economy and growing grievances among private business over being marginalised by the state sector. The trip included officiating at the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau mega bridge, visiting the impoverished northwestern rural part of the province, as well as Shenzhen, the birthplace of the country's reform programme, and Guangzhou. "China's reform and opening up will never stop. And China will have more achievements to impress the world with in the next 40 years," Xi said during his stop in Shenzhen, according to a report on state radio. "Since we are getting better and better, why don't we continue along the chosen path? Although we have some difficulties and problems, we have to solve and overcome them by going along the chosen road. We must firmly walk down the road of reform and opening up." During his visit on Wednesday to Guangzhou Mino Automotive Equipment, a developer of automatic machines to make vehicle parts, Xi again spoke of his support for small and medium-sized enterprises, which are struggling in a slowing economy. Over the weekend ahead of Xi's southern tour, the president and his top economic aide, Vice-Premier Liu He, also stressed the important role of the private sector in China's economy. "The Central Committee of the Communist Party has always valued development of medium and small-sized businesses and has always been looking for ways to encourage your growth," Xi said. "Your accomplishments are not just for your business prosperity, but also contributing to our motherland's strength and people's wealth. "SMEs can get big things done," Xi added. While urging Guangdong officials to allow businesses to drive innovation and steer the market, as well as reducing their operating costs, Xi also warned his cadres to stay vigilant for corruption and maintain a healthy relationship between government and business. ^ top ^

Is nowhere private? Chinese subway users upset by plans to install facial recognition systems (SCMP)
Facial recognition systems will be introduced on Friday at four subway stations in a south China city in a bid to speed up security checks, officials said, while internet users complained of yet another breach of their privacy. The technology will be used in just one security channel at each of the four stations in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, the city's metro operator said on Weibo, China's Twitter-like service. To use the new channels, passengers must first register their details, including a photograph, using the Guangzhou Metro's official smartphone app. "The registration process is voluntary," the company said. "[And] information collected will be used only for security checks and not be passed on to our partner companies." Once registered, passengers will be able to use the dedicated channels and the system will recognise them from the information they registered, it said. The metro operator said it had been working with a number of local technology companies on the project and would also be introducing new luggage scanners. The new hi-tech systems would operate alongside traditional security methods, it said. News of the facial recognition systems caused upset on social media. "I need to register on your app with my real name, just to get through a security check? Is there any privacy left at all?" a person wrote on Weibo. "Looks like I will be running late during the morning rush hour from now on," wrote another. The metro operator said if the new systems proved successful, the technology would be rolled out across the city's network. Facial recognition systems have been used extensively by the Chinese authorities for security purposes, from surveillance to spotting jaywalkers in big cities. They are also by companies in the fields of retail, travel and banking, and have stirred heated debates on the subject of personal privacy. Earlier this month, facial recognition helped police to capture a fugitive wanted in a murder investigation who had been on the run for 19 years. In September, police in Sichuan province used it to arrest a dozen fugitives at concerts held by Hong Kong Canto-pop star Jacky Cheung. ^ top ^



Tibet provides legal education to monks (Global Times)
The Tibet regional government is encouraging Tibetan monks and nuns to learn about the laws, a move experts hailed as using education to raise local people's legal awareness. Professional working teams organized by the regional department of justice taught the monks about legislation and law enforcement in the region, according to a government report released by Tibet's department of justice on Wednesday. Teams are composed of prestigious monks, legal professionals and officials that were dispatched to temples, the department said. Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Tibet University in Lhasa, told the Global Times on Thursday that education about legislation and law enforcement was weak in this region because some Buddhist practitioners consider themselves as people beyond judicial reach. Team members are fluent in Putonghua and Tibetan language as well as ethnic and religious policies, which guarantee the efficiency and quality of the education. The working teams addressed the language problem, which Xiong noted as the greatest obstacle to teaching law to residents in Tibet. We should not be satisfied with the progress and bilingual teams should expand their work to a wider audience, Xiong said, noting that Tibetan Buddhists from Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces speak a dialect and may still find it difficult understanding these courses. The regional government also used digital tools. A game which runs on instant messaging app WeChat incorporated legal knowledge relevant to daily life, and users can scan a QR code to play it. A government report said over 1.8 million people have played the game. "Multimedia and illustrated displays of legal knowledge engage people better than a didactic approach, Xiong said. The regional government also used cultural activities, including a calligraphy contest, riddle guessing games, and collective morning reading to mobilize more monks and nuns. "Spreading legal knowledge will help the Buddhists live in a society under the rule of law, and enhance regional stability and ethnic unity," Xiong noted. Management of Tibetan monks in temples used to be loose, with many migrant Buddhists from all over the country staying at Tibetan temples without being registered and were beyond the temple's supervision, Xiong said. More than 24,000 people participated in 923 lectures on the Constitution and other laws, with almost 70,000 brochures distributed in a campaign promoting legal awareness among monks in March, the department said. ^ top ^



Cathay Pacific passengers 'don't feel secure' after massive data leak hits Hong Kong-based airline (SCMP)
Cathay Pacific Airways fliers were on Thursday still reeling from the shock of the airline's massive data leak revealed the night before, but lawyers said it would be hard for the affected passengers to seek damages unless they suffer actual monetary loss. The Hong Kong-based carrier revealed late on Wednesday night that 9.4 million customers' personal details including names, nationalities, dates of birth and identification numbers were illegally accessed in March. The airline is in the process of alerting affected passengers, offering them "ID monitoring services" by a third-party provider. The victims included Hong Kong resident Marcus Langston. Cathay Pacific on Thursday night alerted Langston via email that his personal data including travel documents and date of birth were involved in the leak. He said he immediately went online to reference the leak of 380,000 British Airways passengers' data in August and September to get an idea how his situation might play out. "After I googled the British Airways case, my main concern was the data being used on the 'dark web' as fake identification," Langston said, referring to media reports that the leaked data was up for sale on the dark web or a crime-linked deep layer of the internet. As Langston noted that British Airways could face a class-action lawsuit to compensate affected customers, he said Cathay should do more than provide an email urging him to update his password. Other fliers were awaiting notification about whether their personal information had been compromised in the breach. Some wondered why it took seven months for Cathay to come forward. Simone Chen said she was concerned about what precautions the company would put in place in future. She added she would be watchful "if there is a financial loss" and "how they offer to compensate it". Another flier, Ada Lam, said she was not expecting compensation beyond vouchers if her personal data had been leaked. Lam described the news as the latest in a long line of frustrations that she and other Hongkongers had encountered with the airline. "They lost money in fuel hedges, but it doesn't mean they have to cut costs for basic services and frontline staff," she said. "Passengers get affected." Lam has not contacted Cathay to ask about her data, but said the situation left her feeling worse. "I don't feel secure," she explained. "Now I never know who will have my personal data on hand." An angry passenger, identified by the user name smileymiley, left a comment on the Post's website, claiming "in the past six months I have had to cancel credit cards which were registered with Cathay showing unauthorised transactions of US$4,000 from airlines". He could not be reached for comment. Under Hong Kong's privacy law, there is no mandatory time limit for notifying a regulator or affected person of a data breach, lawyer Dominic Wai Siu-chung said, adding that affected passengers face an uphill battle holding the airline accountable. "Although they could file a complaint with the privacy watchdog, they can't really sue unless they can prove they suffer actual loss, monetary or not," Wai noted. ^ top ^

By-election ban on ousted Hong Kong lawmaker Lau Siu-lai not necessarily permanent, says veteran pro-Beijing politician Rita Fan (SCMP)
The recent disqualification of ousted opposition lawmaker Lau Siu-lai from running for a seat in Hong Kong's legislature did not necessarily imply she was permanently banned from joining elections, a former pro-Beijing heavyweight said on Sunday. Rather, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, former member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), China's top legislative body, said it would depend on whether Lau could change her stance on Hong Kong sovereignty. Lau was one of six lawmakers removed from the Legislative Council for improperly taking their oaths in October 2016. She had planned to run in the Kowloon West by-election next month but was banned on October 12, with a returning officer appointed by the Electoral Affairs Commission arguing that she once advocated self-determination for Hong Kong and had not genuinely changed her stance. Lau had ditched the self-determination calls over the past months in preparation for the by-election on November 25. "If a person believes in Hong Kong independence or self-determination, it will be very difficult to see changes in a short time," Fan said. "But maybe in the future he or she might adjust their thoughts for some reason and not just for running in an election. I believe that it would show in words and deeds. "So disqualification once does not mean permanent disqualification. But whether someone can be qualified to run in an election would depend on one's performances." Before Lau was banned, Labour Party veteran Lee had been prepared to serve as the "plan B" candidate for the pro-democracy camp should she be barred from the race. Last Thursday, the returning officer gave Lee, a former lawmaker, last-minute approval to run in the by-election. Before Lee was validated, there were fears in the camp that he might also be barred from the by-election for his core positions over the years in the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which has long called for an end to "one-party dictatorship". These concerns were sparked by Tam Yiu-chung, the city's sole NPCSC member, who warned in March that Hongkongers who chanted slogans urging an end to "one-party dictatorship" would run the risk of being disqualified from future elections. His remarks came after the national legislature passed constitutional amendments that further underlined the undisputed authority of the Communist Party. Fan said slogans calling for an end to one-party rule violated the country's constitution but that Hong Kong might not have the laws to deal with such issues. "The laws of Hong Kong might not have enough ordinances [for the authorities] to make decisions relating to this area … it might be because the law might not be able to fully reflect the requirements of the nation's constitution for Chinese nationals living in Hong Kong," she said. "I cannot forecast future situations, but neither could I rule out the possibility that you might have to follow exactly the country's constitution [in validating a nominee]." ^ top ^



Driver turned off speed control before deadly Taiwan train crash, court hears (SCMP)
The driver of a train in Taiwan that crashed killing 18 people told a court on Tuesday he had switched off its speed-control system, a court official said, as investigators pieced together events that led to the island's worst rail crash in decades. The train came off the rails on Sunday on a curve while moving at almost 140km/h (87mph) – nearly twice the speed limit of 74km/h (46mph) – in the island's mountainous northeast, the head of a government investigation team said. Chief investigator Wu Ze-cheng said earlier it was not clear whether the speed-control system, called automatic train protection, had switched off by itself or had been manually disabled before the accident, which also injured 187 people. A spokesman for Taiwan Yilan District Court said the driver told his bail hearing he switched off the system himself to boost the train's power when it had slowed down on an earlier stretch of the journey. "He should have turned the system back on at the next stop," said the court spokesman, Huang Yong-sheng. "The defendant is highly suspected to have been negligent." Reuters was not able to reach the train driver, You Zhen-zhong, 48, for comment. He was granted bail of T$500,000 (US$16,160) and barred from leaving Taiwan after being detained for the investigation. You had been treated in hospital after the accident. You's public defender, Kou Tua-jai, said the driver knew he had to turn the protection system back on, but he had failed to do so because he was busy communicating with other coordinators due to a separate problem with the train's speed. "He admitted that he's responsible for dereliction of duty, but he'd like to raise one point: there was something wrong with the train," Kou said. Kou added that the driver said the speed shown on the train's indicator was not its real speed. Chief investigator Wu said more investigation was needed to determine why the driver failed to turn the protection system back on. He said it was not immediately clear if the speed shown on the train's indicator was different to its actual speed. The disaster was Taiwan's deadliest rail accident since a 1981 collision that killed 30 people. The head of the state railway administration, Lu Jie-shen, had offered to resign but that was not accepted by the transport minister, the railway authority said. Premier William Lai apologised for the accident on behalf of the government. "People expected the railway to be the safest," Lai told parliament. "I apologise to the people on behalf of the Executive Yuan," he said, referring to the island's cabinet. Train derailments are not uncommon on the island, which has rough, mountainous terrain, but deadly accidents are rare. ^ top ^



China's Xi Jinping hails his free-trade zone policy as a milestone in country's reform (SCMP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping reassured the nation of Beijing's commitment to reform and opening up amid an escalating trade war with the United States, as he wrapped up his highly anticipated visit to Guangdong province on Wednesday. Xi hailed his government's free-trade zone (FTZ) policy as a "milestone" for a "new era" of reform in a message to a high-level forum marking the fifth anniversary of the opening of the country's first FTZ in Shanghai. Ahead of his tour of southern China, there had been hopes that the trip – held 40 years after the country embarked on its economic reforms – might provide some indication of new efforts to liberalise the economy and support an ailing private sector. But while Xi visited two parts of the Guangdong free-trade zone – Hengqin in Zhuhai and Qianhai in Shenzhen, official reports provided no such news. In contrast, at the Shanghai forum, which was attended by members of the party's Politburo and featured heavily on the main evening news reports, Xi gave a glowing endorsement of the policy in absentia. "The development of FTZs is a strategic move by the party's central leadership to advance reform and opening up in the new era," he was quoted as saying. "It is a milestone during reform and opening up of our nation." China has 12 free-trade zones across the country, with the latest opening in Hainan in April. The areas are intended as testing grounds for local authorities to experiment with policies to support businesses and attract foreign investment with fewer restrictions. Once tested and approved, the principles and ideas can be rolled out across the country or wherever they are deemed useful. For instance, the concept of the "negative list" – which details sectors that are closed or only partially open to foreign investors – was first tested in the Shanghai free-trade zone but is now used in FTZs around China. The introduction of the list means that in FTZs foreign investors no longer have to work their way through lengthy government approval procedures in sectors not covered by it. Lin Jiang, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said Xi's visit to Hengqin and Qianhai was a "high affirmation" for the concept of free-trade zones. "Although China's FTZs have not been around that long, they could be the symbol of reform and opening up for the next 40 years," he said. In contrast, the special economic zones created by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s as a way to trial controlled capitalism in a planned economy had become outdated, he said. "Today, it is very hard for special economic zones to attract foreign investment with only favourable policies such as tax incentives and cheap rents," he said. "Moreover, the cutthroat competition that exists between them can actually lead to the government losing tax revenue." Based in Shenzhen, which was now a thriving manufacturing hub for electronics and gadgets, meant Qianhai was perfectly placed as a testing ground for financial innovation, such as supply chain finance and finance leasing, Lin said. While there was no indication of any new reforms during Xi's trip, the choice of each of his destinations appeared to be loaded with meaning. For example, his visit on Monday to a hi-tech industrial estate in Zhuhai and Gree Electric Appliances, a leading home appliances manufacturer, was likely meant to show his support for private entrepreneurs, many of whom have shifted their factories and wealth abroad out of fears of a deteriorating business climate and inadequate protection of private property. Likewise, on Tuesday, Xi officiated at the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which Beijing sees as an important vehicle for further integration in the Greater Bay Area. And his visit to the impoverished backwaters of Yingde, where he pledged that "no one would be left behind", was a clear reminder that fighting poverty would remain a top policy priority for Beijing. On Wednesday afternoon, Xi also visited an old district of Guangzhou, the Guangdong capital, and inquired about cultural heritage protection works, after which he visited Jinan University, which was the first to welcome overseas students of Chinese descent after the country opened up to the West four decades ago. ^ top ^



North Korea calls on US to 'immediately lift' sanctions that 'do more harm than good' (SCMP)
A senior North Korean official used a regional security forum in Beijing on Thursday to call for Washington to "immediately lift" US-led sanctions against Pyongyang, describing them as "confidence-destroying measures" harming the denuclearisation process. "[The US should] immediately lift the sanctions and the hindrance to confidence-building. Those countries joining the UN sanctions against [North Korea] should pay attention to the positive developments on the Korean peninsula," Song Il-hyok, deputy director general of the North Korean foreign ministry's Institute for Disarmament and Peace, told the Xiangshan Forum. "We think that sanctions and pressure do more harm than good – they are … confidence-destroying measures." Song said the sanctions should be lifted because the situation on the Korean peninsula had changed, with ties between the two Koreas dramatically improving after three rounds of summits and the landmark meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He said Trump and Kim "recognised that the mutual confidence-building can promote the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" when they met in Singapore in June. Song was addressing the two-day forum hours after another North Korean delegate, Colonel General Kim Hyong-ryong, vice-minister of the People's Armed Forces, said Pyongyang wanted to turn the Korean peninsula into "the cradle of peace and prosperity". "It is our unwavering stand to lead the current state of tension … into stable peace and turn the Korean peninsula that was once the hottest spot in the globe into the cradle of peace and prosperity," Kim said at the opening session of the forum. Kim was the first senior general from the North to attend and make a speech at an international security forum. A source close to the forum organisers told the South China Morning Post that Pyongyang had asked for Kim to be given the opportunity to address the meeting. The North Korean representatives were the main focus on day one, with delegates from other countries questioning them over whether Pyongyang was sincere about denuclearising. But Song would only say that "confidence-building is the most important [thing] among nations and among people". Song's call for the sanctions to be lifted drew support from Chinese delegates including Yang Xiyu, a senior fellow from the China Institute of International Studies, who said all countries in the region should make efforts to help the North. Jin Canrong, associate dean of international studies at Renmin University, said China would continue to support Pyongyang's efforts to denuclearise, saying Beijing's policy on the North would not change amid its tensions with the US over trade. But Akiko Yamanaka, a former deputy Japanese foreign minister, and Wang Xiaobin, a senior colonel at the Institute of War Studies with the PLA Academy of Military Science, were sceptical. Both raised doubts over whether progress could be made given the global political climate and divergent views on the definition of denuclearisation between Pyongyang and Washington – particularly the North asking the US to withdraw its troops from South Korea to meet the goal of denuclearising the whole peninsula. ^ top ^

ROK, DPRK, UN Command agree to withdraw firearms, guards from border (Xinhua)
The Republic of Korea (ROK), the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United Nations Command agreed on Monday to withdraw firearms and guard posts by Thursday from the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the inter-Korean border area, ROK's defense ministry said. The agreement was reached after the second consultation on disarming the JSA was held at the Freedom House, a ROK's building in the border village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The first one was held last week. From Oct 1, soldiers from the two Koreas conducted a 20-day operation to remove landmines inside the JSA, which was set up right after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with armistice. During the second consultation, the two Koreas and the UN Command agreed to pull firearms and guard posts out of the JSA by Oct 25, and to conduct a joint verification for the next two days. The three parties jointly confirmed the official completion of the landmine removal works in the JSA, according to the ministry. The disarmament of the JSA was agreed upon by defense chiefs of the two Koreas during the Pyongyang summit in September between ROK's President Moon Jae-in and DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un. Following the disarmament, the ROK and the DPRK planned to station a patrol of non-armed 35 soldiers each, including five officers, inside the JSA. ^ top ^



Mongolian leaders meet with senior CPC official (Xinhua)
Mongolian Prime Minister and head of the ruling Mongolian People's Party Ukhnaa Khurelsukh met here Tuesday with senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Li Hongzhong. Li, who is a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Secretary of the CPC Tianjin Municipal Committee, led a CPC delegation on a visit to the East Asian country on Oct. 21-24. Mongolia's Parliament Speaker, Miyegombo Enkhbold, was also present at the Tuesday meeting. Li said that the CPC and the Chinese government attach great importance to China-Mongolia relations and always place bilateral ties in an important position in China's neighboring diplomacy. During the state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Mongolia in 2014, China and Mongolia lifted their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership, which has provided the direction for the development of bilateral ties, Li said. Leaders of the two countries have met several times this year and reached a series of important consensus on deepening China-Mongolia relations, Li said, adding that the two countries have been strengthening their political mutual trust and accelerating the alignment of their development strategies. China is willing to work together with the Mongolian side to implement the important consensus between their leaders, and jointly promote bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level, he said. During the meeting, Khurelsukh and Enkhbold spoke highly of China's remarkable achievements made under the CPC leadership with Xi at the core since the 18th CPC National Congress, noting that in recent years, Mongolia-China relations have developed smoothly and bilateral cooperation has yielded fruits in various fields. They expressed Mongolia's willingness to work with China to consolidate the political foundation of bilateral ties, dovetail their development strategies and promote practical cooperation in various fields so as to better benefit the two peoples. During the CPC delegation's stay, Li met separately with Mongolia's Deputy Prime Minister Ulziisaikhan Enkhtuvshin, head of the Mongolian cabinet secretariat Gombojav Zandanshatar and chairman of Mongolia's opposition Democratic Party Sodnomzundui Erdene. ^ top ^

President meets Secretary-General of UNCTAD (Montsame)
President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga met Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on October 23 in Geneva, Switzerland. President Battulga began the meeting with a remark on the main issues of concern at the World Investment Forum, while stating that Mongolia also focuses on these issues, including global warming, ecology, unemployment, and inequality in resource distribution, but in a different context. President Battulga spoke about his purpose of attending the Forum which is to draw attention to the diversification of national economy as Mongolia is currently discussing its 2019 budget and promote the economic and business opportunities in Mongolia among global investors. Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi briefly discussed the multilateral activities of the UNCTAD, including in the areas of transport, investment, trade facilitation, and sustainable economic development of landlocked developing countries. President Battulga expressed Mongolia's interest in cooperating with the UNCTAD in diversifying the economy and steering the cooperation among landlocked developing countries. ^ 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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