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
  12-16.11.2018, No. 742  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese community in Papua New Guinea prepares for Xi Jinping's visit (SCMP)
Sandy Gao's restaurant in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, has been closed to the public since Thursday and will not reopen until Sunday. And the Chinese businesswoman could not be happier about it. Located just a short drive from the Stanley Hotel, where Chinese President Xi Jinping will be staying for the duration of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, Gao's eatery has been taken over by a team of chefs who will use it as a culinary base for the visiting leader's sizeable entourage. "The [Chinese] embassy said they wanted to rent my restaurant to prepare food for the delegation," Gao said. "But they won't use it to make President Xi's food, he always uses his own cook." More than 20 chefs and assistants from China Railway Corporation, a state-owned company and major investor in the Pacific nation, descended on the premises on Thursday morning and would stay until the summit ended, Gao said. Other Chinese working in Papua New Guinea said they were looking forward to welcoming Xi to the country and hoped his visit would be good for business. "We have high hopes for the president's visit, I am sure it will be a boost for business interests in the country, and it is very encouraging for the Chinese community here," said a man surnamed Huang, who has been working on an oil project in the country for the past three years. "None of us will be working during Xi's visit, we will stand along the road to the hotel to welcome the delegation." Large sections of the road have been decorated with Chinese national flags. Xi is expected to meet Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill during his four-day trip, and the pair are expected to finalise a number of investment deals. In preparation for Xi's arrival, local authorities arranged for a traditional Chinese arch painted in red and gold to be erected outside the Stanley Hotel. It was largely paid for by the local Chinese community. As well as the huge gateway, the entrance to the hotel and its lobby have been decorated with dozens of Chinese lanterns, all bearing the characters for "Chinese dream", a phrase coined by and repeated by Xi since he rose to power in 2013, while large, plain red flags hang outside. Xi will not be the only state leader staying at the Stanley for the Apec summit. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will also be a guest, though his arrival will not be marked by such a colourful display. Relations between Beijing and Kuala Lumpur have been strained in recent months since the veteran politician, who returned to power this year, halted several China-funded development projects in the Southeast Asian country, including a rail link and two gas pipelines. While Gao was happy to see her restaurant being used to prepare food for the Chinese delegation, she is not alone in wanting to keep the visitors from her homeland well fed during their stay. Local Chinese were seen on Wednesday delivering dozens of boxes of instant noodles and water bottles to the Stanley. ^ top ^

Singapore leader Lee Hsien Loong warns region may have to choose between China and US (SCMP)
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday warned that Southeast Asian nations may be forced to choose between the rival visions of China and the United States, while US Vice-President Mike Pence said aggression should not be tolerated. "If you are friends with two countries which are on different sides, sometimes it is possible to get along with both, sometimes it's more awkward when you try to get along with both," Lee said as he wrapped up the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit. "I think it's very desirable for us not to have to take sides, but the circumstances may come when Asean may have to choose one or the other. I am hoping that it's not coming soon." Lee's remarks highlighted a deep sense of unease in the region, where concern is growing about being caught in the middle of escalating economic and security rivalry between the two powers. US President Donald Trump's absence from the two high-profile Asian summits this week – Asean and also Apec in Papua New Guinea – has raised questions as to America's right to be a leader in the region, at a time when China is angling to supplant it. But Pence said the US saw Asean as an "irreplaceable strategic partner". In a veiled swipe at China's rising military strength in the South China Sea, he said: "We all agree that empire and aggression has no place in the Indo-Pacific. "Let me be clear, though: our vision for the Indo-Pacific excludes no nation. It only requires that nations treat their neighbours with respect, and respect the sovereignty of our nations and international rules and order." As Pence addressed the summit in Singapore, the US Navy said the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and the John C Stennis Carrier Strike Group were conducting warfare drills in the Philippine Sea to show America's commitment to the region. Beijing has long called US military activities in the region a threat to regional stability and, on some occasions, an infringement of its sovereignty. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attempted to reassure the country's Southeast Asian neighbours about its rising power, saying Beijing was committed to finalising a code of conduct covering the disputed waters within three years. Li also urged Asean members to work together to counter US trade policies and complete negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – a free-trade deal between the 10 members of Asean and six other Asia-Pacific nations. China and the United States are expected to continue vying for influence at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea, which will hear from Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has taken a more relaxed stance on the country's territorial claims in the South China Sea that rival Beijing's, also said it was crucial that a code of conduct be completed to help prevent misunderstandings that could lead to conflict. "China is there. That is the reality," he said. "Strong military activity will prompt a response from China. I do not mind everybody going to war, but except that the Philippines is just beside those islands. If there is shooting there my country will be the first to suffer." Lee, who chaired the Asean gathering, said he was confident the RCEP could be concluded next year, but was less optimistic about resolving disputes over the South China Sea. "It will depend on issues that come up," he said. "I am sure all the participants will show their best efforts in order to try and bring it to a conclusion. But I do not underestimate the complexity and the difficulty of the problems when it comes to the substance of the [code of conduct]." Lee said that as China continued to expand its influence, both Beijing and the world would need to prepare for the changes to come. "China's impact on the rest of the world is considerable, and I think increasingly, it will become necessary for China to take into account its impact on the rest of the world – even while it is a developing country as it now is, as it is formulating its policies and … structuring its reforms," he said. The Singaporean leader also said the region would "have to get used to" a different US approach to its Asia policy. "They want to engage but they want to engage in a different way with much more emphasis on what they call a fair and reciprocal relationship," Lee said. ^ top ^

Chinese bishop 'missing' despite historic deal between Beijing and Vatican (SCMP)
A bishop in eastern China belonging to the Vatican-aligned unofficial church has gone missing, sources told Agence France-Presse on Thursday, despite a historic accord reached between Beijing and the Holy See barely two months ago. The September deal paved the way for a rapprochement between the Vatican and the communist country. The pair broke off diplomatic ties in 1951. There are an estimated 10 million Catholics in China, divided between a government-run association whose clergy are chosen by the Communist Party and the unofficial church which swears allegiance to the Vatican. But regardless of the warming ties, those who work closely with the unofficial church say a clampdown by local authorities is ongoing. They fear the repeated disappearance of Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou diocese in Zhejiang province is one sign of increasing governmental control on religious worship. Shao has not been reachable for at least a week, said a Chinese priest who previously worked in an underground church in China and returned to Rome last year. It is at least the fourth time Shao has gone missing this year. Such detentions – usually lasting between 10 and 15 days – often happen to clergy of the underground church, the Rome-based Chinese priest said, though many within the Catholic fraternity had expected an end to this after September's deal. "I know Bishop Shao Zhumin personally but I haven't been able to contact him recently," said Anthony Lam, a Chinese Catholic church expert at Hong Kong's Holy Spirit Study Centre. Pope Francis recognised seven clergy appointed by China as part of the deal, which was signed after the recent clampdown on religion in China. Churches have been destroyed in some regions, crosses have been removed from church steeples, church-run kindergartens have been closed and authorities have clamped down on Bible sales. ^ top ^

Premier Li meets with Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss cooperation (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi discussed bilateral ties here on Thursday and vowed to boost the cooperation between the two countries. In the meeting on the sidelines of a series of leaders' meetings on East Asian cooperation in Singapore, Li said that China and Myanmar are friendly neighbors and that the solid "paukphaw" ("fraternal" in the Myanmar language) friendship has stayed strong since the two countries established diplomatic relations 68 years ago. The premier said China attaches great importance to its ties with Myanmar and stands ready to build on the tradition of friendship, enhance political mutual trust and increase the practical cooperation, thereby facilitating the continued steady progress in the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two sides. China and Myanmar, both developing nations, face the same task of boosting economic development and improving people's livelihood, said the Chinese premier. China is willing to work together with Myanmar in pursuit of further synergy between their development plans and carry out cooperation in human resources and education, Li said. Such efforts will help Myanmar develop its economy and society and benefit both peoples, he added. China supports Myanmar's efforts in maintaining its domestic stability and the approach of trying to resolve the Rakhine issue through dialogues and consultation between Myanmar and Bangladesh, and is willing to provide the relevant parties with necessary support in this regard, Li said. Suu Kyi said Myanmar and China, both developing nations, have had a solid tradition of friendship. She said Myanmar would like to work with China to boost understanding and support, build on the friendly cooperation and promote joint development. Myanmar is willing to strengthen the cooperation with China in economy and trade, human resources and education, she said. Suu Kyi thanked China for the many times it has extended help to Myanmar, especially the constant understanding and support in regard to the Myanmar peace process and the Rakhine issue. Myanmar is willing to work together with the parties concerned to create a favorable environment for peace and development in the country, she said. ^ top ^

First China-Europe special train for commercial vehicles arrives in Chongqing (Xinhua)
A new China-Europe freight train carrying commercial vehicles, the first of its kind, arrived Thursday in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. The train, carrying 112 Mercedes-Benz cars, started its trip in Bremen, Germany on Oct. 29, and traveled 14,000 km across Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan, and arrived in Chongqing via the Horgos Port, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The one-way trip took 16 days and 16 hours, reducing transportation time by more than two-thirds compared with by sea. Compared with shipping containers, train carriages are larger and less restricted by seasonal changes. According to the China Railway Special Cargo Services CO., Ltd., the new train will attract more car companies in China and the Belt and Road countries to utilize it, adding an import and export of 50,000 to 100,000 commercial cars via railway every year. ^ top ^

Key trade talks to continue (Global Times)
This year's ASEAN summit ended in Singapore on Thursday with the top leaders of the association's main partners, including China, Russia and Japan, highlighting regional trade cooperation. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday that China hopes the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the China-Japan-South Korea free trade zone continue in a parallel and balanced manner. He made the remarks during the 21st ASEAN Plus Three Summit, an adjunct to the 33th ASEAN Summit held in Singapore. Noting the rise of trade protectionism, Li said China, South Korea, Japan and the member states of ASEAN should work together to maintain multilateralism and free trade. Li said "we [all participants of the summit] should provide a stable and free legal environment which will contribute to regional development and guarantee regional stability." Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the second RCEP summit on Wednesday that talks to create the regional economic partnership have made substantial progress this year and an agreement is likely to be finalized next year. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Thursday at a daily press briefing that the RCEP would benefit multilateralism and free trade and strongly promote regional economic growth and globalization. She urged the countries involved to complete negotiations in 2019. The RCEP, a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN member states and six of their partners - China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India, is expected to be one of the world's largest trading blocs, accounting for 45 percent of the world population, 40 percent of global trade and one-third of the world's GDP, according to the Xinhua News Agency. "Li's visit helped consolidate bilateral and multilateral relationships between China and Singapore and ASEAN," Gu Xiaosong, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. Liu Feng, a Hainan-based analyst on South China Sea issues, told the Global Times that the ASEAN summit is globally important because Southeast Asia has an important geographic location, and recently the region has had good economic performance and development opportunities. Liu noted that considering China-US trade friction, focusing on regional cooperation is a good hedge against US sway. Liu said China and ASEAN can expect further cooperation on regional security, trade, healthcare, education and culture. The 34th ASEAN summit will be held in Thailand April or May 2019. "We had a good exchange on the South China Sea issue," Singaporean Prime Minister Lee said at a press conference on Thursday after the closing ceremony of the summit. Premier Li reaffirmed that China would work with the ASEAN members to finish negotiations on South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) within three years. Liu, the analyst, said that "China is sincere about the South China Sea issue," and China has a timetable and plan for negotiation on the COC. "A clear timetable will bring confidence and feasibility to negotiation on the COC, which could play a key role in the stability of South China Sea," Gu said. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte also had sharp advice for the South China Sea issue. He noted that, "It's [South China Sea] in their [China's] hands. So why would you have to create friction?" he told reporters before the ASEAN-US summit on Thursday. Chinese experts echoed this point of view. "China has become the most important safeguard and builder in the South China Sea… the countries outside the region should stop trying to provoke the issue." Liu told the Global Times on Thursday. ^ top ^

Debt-trap allegations push China to tighten reins on foreign aid programme (SCMP)
Beijing has drafted a new regulation designed to improve the management of its foreign aid programme amid allegations it has engaged in debt-trap diplomacy and that some of its investment projects have failed to benefit local communities. The document, titled "Measure for the Administration of Foreign Aid", was published on the website of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), which was set up earlier this year to evaluate and administer the nation's aid programme. It will remain available for public comment until late December. The document calls for the CIDCA and other government agencies involved in overseas investment to fully evaluate the projects with which they are involved. Its publication comes amid growing criticism of Beijing's massive infrastructure investment across Asia, Africa and parts of eastern and central Europe that some observers have said has burdened recipient nations with debts they will never be able to repay. While Beijing insists it does not attach political conditions to its investments or interfere in the internal affairs of recipient countries, it has been accused of using projects, especially those under its "Belt and Road Initiative", to raise both its profile and influence around the world. Even within China, questions have been raised about so-called vanity projects, such as luxury government buildings and sports stadiums, that come with massive price tags but do little to benefit the communities in which they are built. One example of this is Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Sri Lanka, the South Asian island's second-largest. Paid for by Beijing and built by Chinese contractors, the facility was designed to handle 1 million passengers a year, but in 2016 welcomed just 5,000. Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University's law school in Beijing, said the new regulation was most likely a reaction to the obstacles China was facing with projects under the belt and road plan, President Xi Jinping's pet project to create new trade and infrastructure links across Asia and into Africa and Europe. "Projects under the belt and road are usually implemented in a way that puts politics first," he said. But the fact projects were driven by government policy meant they lacked proper risk assessment and were badly managed, he said. "This has hampered the effectiveness of Chinese aid, raised questions about its legitimacy and triggered allegations of [Beijing conducting] debt-trap diplomacy." Marina Rudyak, an assistant professor at Heidelberg University in Germany who researches China's foreign aid programme, said the introduction of an evaluation system could be a "very important step" for Beijing, but only if it was independent of the government. "Self-evaluation can lead to a conflict of interest, which is the reason why most so called traditional donors insist on independent evaluation of aid projects," she said. Established in March, the CIDCA – which reports to the State Council, China's cabinet – is widely seen as part of Beijing's efforts to strengthen its strategic planning and consolidate the management of its foreign aid programme, which comes in various forms, including grants, and interest-free and concessional loans. According to figures from AidData, a research facility at William Mary University in the United States, China allocated US$81 billion to its foreign development programme between 2000 and 2014, making it the world's second-largest donor after the US. Last month, US President Donald Trump signed a bill to create a new foreign aid agency with authority to provide US$60 billion in funding for developing nations. And in an apparent bid to offset China's rising influence in the Asia-Pacific region, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week that Canberra would offer US$1.5 billion in the form of grants and low-cost loans for infrastructure development projects in Pacific nations. ^ top ^

South China Sea: Beijing hopes for maritime accord with Asean neighbours in three years (SCMP)
China aims to complete negotiations on a code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea region within three years as Beijing pursues a stable relationship with its neighbours. Premier Li Keqiang made the commitment on Tuesday in Singapore before attending the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Li said a peaceful and stable international environment was crucial for Beijing to improve ties and reach free trade deals with its neighbours, adding that China hoped to conclude negotiations for a comprehensive regional economic partnership trade deal next year. The premier also said that a code of conduct between China and other claimant countries – which China hoped would be successfully negotiated in the next three years – would be conducive to maintaining and sustaining peace in the region. "As the development of the South China Sea has stabilised now, we hope to make use of this opportunity to push for concrete progress of the code," he said. "China and Asean countries will benefit in that process, it will also be conducive to free trade and go on to serve the interests of other parties." In August, Asean and China agreed on a draft code that will lay the foundations for conduct in the disputed waters. China's military build-up in the South China Sea will be high on Asean's agenda. The Asean summit takes place as tensions between China and the United States run high and as both jockey for influence in the region. Locked in a trade war with the United States, China is aiming to reach trade deals with the bloc. American and Chinese vessels have also had near collisions in the South China Sea. US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday that the US objected to China's unilateral military steps in the disputed waters. Calls for a binding code of conduct surfaced in 1995 when China occupied Mischief Reef, a maritime feature claimed by the Philippines. China did not agree to start talks until 1999, and subsequent negotiations led to a non-binding declaration of conduct in 2002. Collin Koh, a maritime security expert at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said there was still a long way to go before the code of conduct was concluded as some Asean states were debating whether it should be legally binding. "And it'll appear that some, if not all, Asean member states have come to moderate their own expectations of the code," he said. "The single draft negotiating text contains many proposed provisions, and since the talks will involve so many players, it'll surely take time. In fact, I will not be surprised if they eventually take more than three years." ^ top ^

Ice-breaking signs show up for China-US trade dispute (Global Times)
Multiple signals from a variety of sources in China and the US indicate the increasing willingness to engage in serious, high-level talks may be the key to ending deadlocked trade negotiations between the world's two largest economies. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying reaffirmed Tuesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump agreed during their phone call earlier that the economic teams of the two countries should strengthen contact with each other. "Both of them agreed that China and the US should start negotiations on issues of common concern and proceed with the China-US trade issue to reach a scheme that both sides can accept," Hua said at Tuesday's routine press conference. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had resumed discussions on a deal that could ease trade tensions. Liu and Mnuchin spoke by telephone on Friday, according to the report. Hua didn't confirm the two men had talked by phone. More frequent communication between the two countries on the trade issue is viewed by some experts as a necessary prelude to the planned meeting between Xi and Trump later this month at the G20 summit in Argentina. Tu Xinquan, dean of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing, said that political and economic conditions in the US do not support a long trade conflict with China. "First, the results of the midterm elections in the US did not tilt toward Trump. Second, the US economy is widely seen as having reached its peak as shown by recent corrections in US stock markets. Those signs show that the tide is turning against Trump and his ability to continue the trade dispute with China," Tu told the Global Times on Tuesday. Shi Yinhong, director of Renmin University of China's Center for American Studies, said that Trump has a batch of conditions that he requires the Chinese government to satisfy. These include scrapping government support measures for State-owned companies and ending the practice of sometimes requiring US companies in China to transfer technologies to Chinese partners. "I don't think the Chinese government can accept all those conditions unless the Trump administration also makes some concessions," Shi told the Global Times on Tuesday. "I think the best result would be for the two countries to stop increasing import tariffs. But the US' ban on Chinese companies importing certain technologies is unlikely to change," Shi noted. The signs of an ice-breaking path forward come as continued robust growth of China-US trade registered a very slight slowdown since the trade troubles began in July. Statistics show China-US trade in the first 10 months rose by 12 percent on a yearly basis, compared with a 12.1 percent growth in the first nine months this year. US companies have also expressed willingness to cling to the Chinese market even under such external pressure. A recent survey conducted by HSBC showed that nearly half of the businesses that sell to China see the country as a top-3 destination to expand their business in the next three to five years, and this sentiment was strongest among US companies that were surveyed. Forty percent of those US companies believe that China will be their most important market, according to findings of HSBC. The bank surveyed 1,205 companies from 11 global economies. Sherman Ge, president of the US-based boat maker Metal Shark Asia Pacific Region, told the Global Times during the China International Import Expo last week that he was concerned about the trade dispute but now believes that companies should "take a long view" of the market. Tu of the UIBE also told the Global Times on Tuesday that the Chinese market is very important to US companies as it is almost the only market with a rapid growth for them. "Of course for US companies that only view China as a manufacturing base and then export made-in-China products back to the US, they might be intimidated by the trade dispute," he noted. "But for companies that also target Chinese customers, I don't think they will give up the Chinese market just because of external policy changes," said Tu. ^ top ^

China International Import Expo ends in Shanghai (Global Times)
The China International Import Expo concluded Saturday after six days of exhibitions and negotiations, with 3,617 exhibitors from 151 countries and regions inking a combined $57.83 billion in deals or intentions. Intentions or deals involving countries and regions along the Belt and Road initiative amounted to $4.72 billion in total, said Sun Chenghai, deputy chief of the China International Import Expo Bureau, CCTV reported. Enterprises in the expo's high-end intelligent equipment exhibition area signed $16.46 billion in deals or intentions. Other deals or intentions included those in consumer electronics and appliances for $4.33 billion, automobiles $11.99 billion, apparel, accessories and consumer goods $3.37 billion, food and agricultural products $12.68 billion, medical equipment and health care products $5.76 billion, trade in services $3.24 billion. ^ top ^

China shares wisdom on poverty relief through Internet (Xinhua)
As China is seeking to bridge its urban-rural digital divide, this year's World Internet Conference (WIC) shares China's experience on poverty alleviation through the Internet with guests overseas. Held from Nov. 7 to 9 in Wuzhen, eastern China's Zhejiang Province, the fifth WIC attracted around 1,500 guests from 76 countries and regions, including government officials, representatives from international organizations, business leaders, experts and scholars. Many participants were eager to gain first-hand anti-poverty wisdom from China, which has lifted 68.53 million people out of poverty in the past five years. "China has achieved great results in bridging its digital divide," said Robert Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, during the conference. "It's a wonderful story the world needs to know and resemble." "We have been pushing ahead to expand access to the Internet in China's rural areas," said Hong Tianyun, deputy director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development when addressing a WIC sub-forum themed "charity and poverty alleviation through the Internet: eliminating hunger and poverty." As of June, 97.4 percent of China's villages have access to broadband Internet and 95 percent have access to 4G networks, according to the latest report on China's Internet development released at the conference. China has also been "very effective" in empowering impoverished people and communities with easier access to the Internet, according to Sally Costerton, senior advisor to the president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is an international organization dedicated to promoting the use of Internationalized Domain Name (IDN), which enables non-English speakers to navigate the Internet in their native languages. "Now we have around 1.3 million Chinese IDNs", said Costerton. "This offers enormous potential to help rural and poorer communities in China and many other countries around the world." Besides, the Chinese government has partnered with e-commerce companies, such as Alibaba and, to pilot e-commerce projects in the country's poverty-stricken areas since 2014. By connecting farmers directly with the market via e-commerce platforms, the targeted projects have contributed to the boom of local agricultural industries. In 2017, 832 poor counties where such projects were launched reported a total online sales volume of 120.7 billion yuan (about 17.4 billion U.S. dollars), up 52 percent year on year, according to official data. "E-commerce has been an integral part of South-South cooperation between the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Chinese government," said Qu Sixi, representative of WFP China Office. He added that WFP is building a platform, in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, to share China's experience in developing its rural areas with other parts of the world. To further enhance the role of Internet in poverty reduction, China rolled out a plan earlier this year to step up efforts in developing rural e-commerce, Internet-based healthcare and online education. The country is aiming to lift at least 10 million people out of poverty by the end of this year and to eradicate poverty by 2020. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China's cyber watchdog demands user data from internet firms in latest crackdown on dissent (SCMP)
China's cyber watchdog on Thursday said it will require detailed logs on users from internet firms as part of a new policy aimed at cracking down on dissenting opinion and online social movements. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said that as of November 30 it will require assessment reports from any internet platform that could be used to "socially mobilise" or lead to "major changes in public opinion". As part of the assessments, which include on-site inspections, companies must show they are logging information including real names, usernames, account names, network addresses, times of use, chat logs, call logs and the type of device being used. The CAC, in its policy notice posted on its website, did not name specific companies affected, but listed a wide range of services including chat functions, blogs, public accounts, webcasts, video sites and news providers. Companies with those functions include Tencent Holdings, Alibaba Group Holding, Baidu as well as Apple, which hosts its message service in China. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post. Control of the internet has tightened under President Xi Jinping's administration – an effort that has accelerated since 2016, as the ruling Communist Party seeks to crack down on dissent in the booming social media landscape. In Chinese cyber policy, content that "undermines" social stability, manipulates history or runs counter to the government line is deemed a cybersecurity risk, comparable to financial and terrorist cyber threats. According to the terms and conditions of social media services, including the Twitter-like service Weibo and Tencent's WeChat, tech companies are already required to share information with the government on request, though there is little transparency on the exact process. Companies have increasingly introduced new features to boost government influence over platforms and quash viral content in order to avoid fines, suspensions and in some cases, permanent closure. On Tuesday, the CAC said it had scrubbed 9,800 social media accounts of independent news providers deemed to have posted sensational, vulgar or politically harmful content. The new policy comes amid a spate of protests from grass-roots movements ranging from labour rights to #MeToo protests. On Wednesday, students at prestigious Peking University were warned against taking part in demonstrations after 12 labour activists, most of them students, went missing from cities across the country over the weekend, including at least one seized on campus at Peking University. Censorship controls are also tightening as US tech giants are expanding, including Apple and Alphabet's Google, which has been criticised over secretive plans to launch a censored search engine in China. ^ top ^

Wang Yang stresses implementation of CPC religious policy (Xinhua)
China's top political advisor Wang Yang has called for comprehensive and precise implementation of the religious policy of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks during a research tour to Jiangsu Province in east China. The two-day tour ended on Thursday. The work on religious affairs affects social harmony, ethnic unity and national security, said Wang, calling on CPC committees at various levels to strengthen the Party's leadership over the work. "Commercial capital should be strictly forbidden from getting involved with religious affairs," stressed Wang. He called on various religions to interpret their teachings and tenets in line with the requirements of the development and progress of contemporary China and fine traditional Chinese culture, to better adapt to the Chinese context. During the tour, Wang also held a symposium on the work of the CPPCC National Committee and visited enterprises with investments from Taiwan. ^ top ^

Chinese court authorizes confiscation of fugitive's illegal assets (Xinhua)
A court in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region authorized the confiscation of the illegal assets of a Red Notice fugitive suspected of embezzlement on Thursday. According to a verdict reached by the Intermediate People's Court of Guilin, 23 of the 52 real estate properties purchased by Huang Yanlan with illegal gains are to be confiscated, along with the illegal income generated from property renting and selling. Huang, a former general manager of a state-owned enterprise in the city of Guilin and deputy head of a city government department, was suspected of misusing and embezzling about 1.17 billion yuan (168.8 million U.S. dollars) from the company's accounts from 1993 to 1998. She and her family allegedly purchased 52 real estate properties in Shanghai. Huang fled the country after an investigation into her was launched in 2002. A Red Notice on Huang was issued by Interpol in 2005. The court started the trial on confiscating Huang's illegal assets in May. ^ top ^

Local govts pay off 3.3b yuan debt for social credit system (Global Times)
The Chinese central government said Thursday that local governments which had been listed as dishonest entities have paid off debt of over 3.3 billion yuan ($475.5 million), as dishonest persons will be barred from taking public transportation in the country. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has been targeting local governments' dishonest behavior since 2017, which is an essential part of building a vital social credit system in China, NDRC spokesperson Meng Wei said at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday. Dishonest entities usually involved people, legal persons of enterprises and social organizations. But media reports found out more than 100 local governments had been listed as dishonest entities. Top officials of dishonest governments are banned from taking high-speed railway, consuming in golf courts and high-end hotels, and purchasing real estate, according to the regulations of China's Supreme People's Court. Zhu Wei, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, noted being listed as dishonest entities serves as a warning to local governments that they are not only administrative entities, but also civil subjects that should abide by civil laws. Local governments sometimes default on construction project money and demolition compensation, violating civil laws and damaging their trustworthy image, Zhu told the Global Times on Thursday. Top officials of dishonest governments will be questioned by a social credit construction organ at the provincial level to rectify dishonest behavior, Meng said at the press conference. Dishonest governments will also be reported to commercial banks, which would have an impact on the amount of loans banks could grant them. Government dishonesty will also lead to a downgrade in their city credit ranking, Meng noted. Low credit ranking and a bad record at financial institutions will discourage potential investors. Therefore, the method is effective in regulating government behavior, Zhu noted. ^ top ^

Remorse letter written by Lu Wei goes on display (China Daily)
"The pain I feel reaches the depth of my heart, the guilt I feel is so overpowering that I cannot find any place to hide, and the remorse I feel has slashed my heart into pieces," Lu Wei, former head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said in his handwritten letter of remorse now on display in Beijing. The letter of Lu is among several other exhibits showing the results of anti-graft campaign, part of a major exhibition commemorating the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. The 58-year-old Lu, also the former deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, mercilessly berates himself in the letter. "I've made unforgivable mistakes in terms of politics, economy, work and life. I severely deviated from principles and crossed the line of ethic as a Communist." "I seriously violated the six critical points (politics, organization, honesty, the masses, work, life)... The scale, depth and severity of my mistakes have brought tremendous harm and shame to the Party." In the letter, Lu also mentions his wife and son. "The style of my life hurt her much and we quarreled often. In despair, she once said in grief and indignation, 'I can't manage you. But sooner or later, the Communist Party of China will.' Now what she said has turned out to be true." "My son has just celebrated his 30th birthday. I was not a good role model for him; neither did I take the responsibility of a father." The exhibition opened at the National Museum of China on Tuesday and showcases a wide range of sectors, including the economy, technology, environment, culture and education. It presents the country's 40 years of development and the changes in people's lives. The exhibition saw more than 31,000 visitors on Wednesday, the museum said. Lu pleaded guilty in October to accepting bribes of more than 32 million yuan ($4.6 million). A sentence is pending. Lu was expelled from the Party and dismissed from public office in February. ^ top ^

Chinese campus crackdown on young Marxist activists expands in major cities (SCMP)
At least 16 of 22 Chinese labour activists – many of them recent graduates from elite universities – who disappeared in five cities over the weekend were still missing early on Wednesday, as authorities widened their crackdown against emerging grass-roots activism led by young Marxists. Students at Peking University (PKU) who formed a missing alumni concern group have been warned by the university over the past two days – in the presence of their parents and others who appeared to be plain-clothes police – to ignore the weekend purge. But the group, which gave the estimate of the numbers of activists still missing, has vowed to keep fighting for their freedom. The latest purge follows the earlier detention of about 50 activists after a labour rights protest that began in Shenzhen at the end of July. The South China Morning Post reported in October that one of the prominent young activists, 22-year-old Yue Xin, was still missing more than a month after her detention in August. The Post also reported that Yue's mother, who had been looking for her daughter, disappeared soon afterwards. There has also been no word on her whereabouts. "Many students were told the weekend incident was a law enforcement action by relevant departments targeting [suspects] of illegal activities," a Peking University student, close to the activist schoolmates, said, refusing to be identified for fear of retribution. "They also warned students against taking further radical actions as the university would no longer tolerate them. Further moves will be dealt with by law. "We will not rest until the university can explain what constitutes the radical actions and illegal activities our alumni are accused of." The disappeared activists are part of the Jasic Workers Solidarity group supporting workers trying to unionise at Shenzhen-based Jasic Technology, a welding machinery manufacturer. Worker representatives were sacked, beaten and detained at rallies and demonstrations which began in July and led to the arrest of about 50 activists by uniformed police. The industrial action, although limited in scale, has been a symbolic milestone for the recent emergence of a new generation of left-leaning social activism in China. The authorities had already stepped up their watch and control on Marxist student groups in universities after the Jasic campaign. But on Friday evening, in an organised effort, 19 people, including young Marxists recently graduated from elite universities, labour activists and workers were violently snatched in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Three other activists – two workers and a recent graduate of Renmin University of China – were taken away on Sunday afternoon in Wuhan. A brief statement by the university's security department said the Friday night incident was a police action targeting suspects who were not current students of Peking University. The statement was posted on the university's internal forum and later deleted. Calls to the public security department in Guangdong province and Wuhan went unanswered while Beijing and Shanghai police declined to respond to the Post's inquiries. The Post could not independently verify the numbers provided by the group. Yu Tianfu, a fourth year student at Peking University, was removed from campus and taken to his home in Chengde, Hebei province, after sharing his witness account in an online video of the violent snatching of alumni Zhang Shengye. Yu said he saw Zhang on campus being bundled into a car by a dozen masked men in black clothes. He said that he and other students were beaten while footage and photos of the arrest were forcibly deleted by the men on site. According to supporters groups, other missing people on the weekend included He Pengchao and Wang Xiangyi, founders of Shenzhen-based social work organisation Qingying, as well as fellow former Peking University students Sun Min and Zong Yang. Also missing are Zheng Yiran, Lu Daxing and Li Xiaoxian, who are graduates from other Beijing universities. They disappeared on Friday along with Qingying staff members Kang Yanyan, Jian Xiaowei, Wang Xiaomei and Hou Changshan, in Shenzhen. At about the same time, activist Liang Xiaogang disappeared in Shanghai and another activist, Wang Guixia, was among five workers who vanished in Guangzhou. In the Wuhan operation, Renmin University graduate Wu Jiawei and activists Tang Xiangwei and Zheng Youshi were netted by plain-clothes police in Wuhan on Sunday, according to a third year university student who witnessed the arrest. Wu was released on Monday afternoon. "About 10 men in black stormed into a noodle shop near the South Central University for Nationalities and they immediately contained three men, one against the wall, another one on the ground and the third one on the table," the student said. He said that he heard one of the men say he was police while quickly flashing his identification to one of the men being held. "Everyone was so scared," said the student, who declined to be identified. Meanwhile, the five workers from Guangzhou who were snatched on Friday were released on Saturday. One of them, a migrant worker, said six men dressed in black stormed into his flat in the Huangpu district of Guangzhou as he was leaving for work. "They held me on the ground and handcuffed me. One of them said he was police and they searched my flat before interrogating me in Huangpu police station," he said. The man said he used to work with a young Marxist activist who was detained following the Jasic demonstrations. He said the activist was of particular interest during his interrogation. "I was not allowed to sleep for 30 hours and they forced me to dictate a statement accusing the activist of mobilising workers to join an organisation endangering state security or they wouldn't let me go. "I had no idea what that was but I was so scared, my mind was muddled and all I wanted was to get out of that place as soon as possible," he said. "But I regret it so much for accusing [the activist] of something they never did." He said he knew he might face further consequences but wanted to speak up to restate the activist's innocence. "Otherwise I just can't live with myself," he said. Seven of the solidarity group detained as a result of the Jasic campaign remain incommunicado, including Shen Mengyuand Xu Zhongliang. Other members have continued to campaign on labour rights as well as for their missing fellows. Some students have also defended their Marxist societies on campuses, as several of these student bodies faced difficulties in renewing their registration with school authorities in the new academic year. "Our universities' campuses are in white terror where students' safety is taken as a joke. We fear more students will disappear," said another member of the Jasic solidarity group. "We hope academics from home and abroad will support students' actions," said the student, who cannot be named. ^ top ^

Xi presides over 5th meeting of central committee for deepening overall reform (Xinhua)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), presided over the fifth meeting of the central committee for deepening overall reform Wednesday. Xi, also Chinese president, chairman of the Central Military Commission, and head of the central committee for deepening overall reform, called for "holding high the banner of reform and opening-up and achieving the overall goal in improving and developing the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernizing China's system and capacity for governance." He also urged more efforts to keep advancing the reform and opening-up in the new era. Wang Huning and Han Zheng, both members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and deputy heads of the reform committee, attended the meeting. The meeting reviewed and approved a series of official documents:
-- a plan to implement an innovation-driven growth strategy in Hainan Province;
-- a plan to develop Hainan into an international tourism and consumption center;
-- a plan to implement fiscal and taxation policies to support Hainan in deepening reform and opening-up;
-- a regulation on the management of the fiscal subsidy fund to support Hainan in deepening reform and opening-up;
-- a plan to adjust policies on duty-free shopping for tourists leaving Hainan;
-- a plan to accelerate the improvement of the reform on the exit mechanism of market entities;
-- a plan to deepen the reform on the government procurement mechanism;
-- a plan to implement the reform on vocational education;
-- a guideline on enhancing the development of county-level media convergence centers;
-- a guideline on deepening reform for fostering world-class science journals;
-- a guideline on integrating law enforcement and approval services at grassroot levels;
-- a guideline on enhancing and improving the publishing sector;
-- a plan to pilot collective medicine procurement;
-- a guideline on improving administrative law enforcement;
-- a document on Beijing's exploration on innovative CPC-led grassroots governance.
The meeting demanded efforts in the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up and called for "more resolve, courage and intensity in its continuation and deepening." A statement released after the meeting said achievements and experience accumulated in the past 40 years should be summarized from "a historical, big-picture and strategic perspective," as well as with a problem-oriented approach. "Since the 18th CPC National Congress, we have not only made many historical achievements, but also created and gathered a lot of fresh experience in reform," the document said. "To celebrate the 40th anniversary, concrete actions are needed in facilitating reform implementation," said the document, adding that local authorities should take tough action against the practice of "formalities for formalities' sake" and bureaucratism. It called for strengthened strategic research and judgments on planing both strategic reforms and campaign-level reforms, to unleash domestic demand, boost economic vitality and foster drivers of growth. "Efforts should be made to foster a good social atmosphere for reform and opening-up, and boost people's confidence in reform," it said. ^ top ^

China's new inconvenient truth: how much lottery money corrupt officials stole (SCMP)
"Ever wonder how come you have never won the lottery? Because the prize money has all been pocketed by corrupt officials!" This was the latest meme making the rounds on China's social media, as members of the public demanded that the government disclose how much money had been taken in one of the biggest scandals to hit the country's fast-growing lottery industry. On Tuesday the authorities scrambled to deny widespread rumours that as much as 136 billion yuan (US$19.5 billion) had been embezzled but said it would be "inconvenient" to reveal the true sum – drawing the ire and mockery of internet users. "Is it inconvenient … because the amount is even larger than what the rumours claimed?" read the most liked comment on the social network Weibo. In mainland China, the official welfare lottery and sports lottery are the only forms of gambling allowed by the Communist Party. With ticket booths all over the country, their combined sales topped 400 billion yuan last year, making it the world's second largest lottery market after the US. But beneath the rapid growth, the state-run system is riddled with problems, including deep-rooted corruption that has prompted the downfall of four lottery officials, plus a minister responsible for oversight. The scandal first erupted early last year, when Li Liguo, the then civil affairs minister, was demoted along with his deputy for allowing "systematic corruption" to happen at agencies under his watch, which include the welfare lottery operator. Two senior officials who had previously been in charge of the China Welfare Lottery Management Centre were also put under investigation for bribery, with another pair later being subjected to a similar investigation. The scandal attracted renewed attention last week after the country's top anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), released a video of the four lottery officials "confessing" their wrongdoings. "Corruption in the lottery system has had a huge, irreparable impact … It is a sheer disaster," said Feng Lizhi, a former deputy head of the lottery centre, in the video. The video was played at a meeting of the Ministry of Civil Affairs last week as a warning and a lesson for cadres, according to the CCDI. "The lottery funds are donated cent after cent by buyers. What must millions of lottery buyers think when problems occur in its use and management?" said a graft buster stationed at the ministry. According to regulations, 50 per cent of the welfare lottery's total revenue from ticket sales should go to jackpots and prizes. A further 35 per cent is earmarked for social welfare projects while the remaining 15 per cent covers operating and administrative costs. But lax oversight has long been an issue. In 2015, a national audit looked at what had happened to 65.8 billion of lottery funds over a three-year period and found that a quarter of that sample sum had been misappropriated. The funds were originally intended for social welfare projects, but ended up being used for other purposes that range from building properties to handing out bonuses. ^ top ^

China solicits public opinions on draft vaccine management law (Xinhua)
China's State Administration for Market Regulation on Sunday published a draft law on vaccine management at its website to solicit public opinions for half a month. The 11-chapter draft law stipulates that supervision and management of vaccines' market access should be tightened. The draft law requires stricter management on vaccine production, research after sales, distribution and vaccination. Illegal behaviors, including fabrication of data, will be severely punished, the draft read. Those who participate in illegal behaviors, shield or connive with violators, hide the fact through fabrication, or impede investigation will receive severe punishment, the draft said. ^ top ^



Chinese province targets school bullies with tough penalties (SCMP)
While Hong Kong has topped a global list for schoolyard bullying, neighbouring Guangdong province is coming down hard on the practice, with punishments ranging from school detention and expulsion to criminal liability. The penalties are part of provincial regulations drafted by Guangdong's Department of Education and due to come into effect on December 1, about a year after the release of a national plan to tackle school bullying. The regulations, which will remain in place for three years, target specific behaviours and classify bullying into three levels of severity. Name calling, destruction of petty property, insulting or slandering people on social media and insulting a person's character are the least serious offences while punching, kicking, slapping, tripping or hair pulling, forcibly removing clothing and extortion fall into the middle category. The most severe cases involve repeat offenders, the use of knives or other weapons to threaten or assault a victim, and the uploading of photos or videos of other people being bullied. Bullies who have reached the age of criminal responsibility will have to bear the full legal consequences of their behaviour. Under Chinese criminal law, 14 is the minimum age for criminal responsibility for violent crimes such as murder, assault or rape. Under the new rules, schools will have 10 days to investigate bullying claims and mete out any punishment, and face penalties if they fail to handle cases adequately. Many online commenters expressed support for the regulations, particularly for the inclusion of name-calling as a punishable offence. "I was called 'short and fat' in middle school, and I still feel bad whenever I hear those words," one user on China's Twitter-like Weibo service wrote. Bullying and peer-to-peer violence affect 150 million schoolchildren aged 13 to 15 worldwide, according to Unicef. And in the long-term, bullying and violence in school can lead to depression, anxiety and suicide. Chinese courts heard almost 800 cases of school violence last year, with almost half of them involving students aged between 16 and 18, according to statistics from the Supreme People's Court's China Justice Big Data Service Platform. In January, a 13-year-old girl killed herself by jumping from a school building after being beaten by classmates, according to Chongqing-based Shangyou News. And in July, a man was sentenced to death after stabbing nine students at his old school in apparent anger over the bullying he experienced there as a child. Hong Kong ranked first among 53 countries and territories in terms of the percentage of children who reported being bullied at least a few times a month in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment, a three-yearly test of 15-year-olds worldwide, the results of which were released last year. The 32.3 per cent reported in Hong Kong was well ahead of the 25.1 per cent recorded in Singapore, the 23.9 per cent in Britain and 18.9 per cent in the United States. ^ top ^



Western envoys seek meeting with Xinjiang Communist Party chief over Uygur rights concerns (SCMP)
Western ambassadors in Beijing want to meet the senior official of China's predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region for an explanation of alleged human rights abuses against ethnic Uygurs. The 15 envoys – led by Canada – made their request in a letter to Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang's Communist Party leader. The move is an unusually broad, coordinated action by a group of countries over a human rights issue in China, and illustrates the pressure being brought to bear on Beijing over its policies in the western region. Beijing has been criticised by campaigners, academics, governments and United Nations human rights experts over mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uygur minority and other Muslim groups who call Xinjiang home. In August, a UN human rights panel said it had received what it called many credible reports that a million or more Uygurs in China are being held in what resembles a "massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy". China says it is not enforcing arbitrary detention and political re-education, but rather some citizens guilty of minor offences were being sent to vocational centres to provide employment. Beijing is angered by criticism of its human rights situation, espousing a policy of non-interference in the affairs of other countries. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday the world should ignore "gossip" about Xinjiang and trust authorities there. It was not clear if the envoys' letter had been sent or if its contents could be revised. One diplomatic source said it was being circulated with a view to gaining more signatures. Several other diplomats familiar with the letter would only confirm its existence and refused to discuss it further, citing its sensitivity. All of the diplomats declined to be identified. Many foreign governments have refrained from speaking out over the Xinjiang situation, with diplomats saying countries are fearful of angering China, an increasingly weighty diplomatic player thanks to its economic clout. In the draft letter addressed directly to Chen, who outranks the region's ethnic Uygur governor Shohrat Zakir, the ambassadors said they were very concerned by the UN findings on Xinjiang. "We are deeply troubled by reports of the treatment of ethnic minorities, in particular individuals of Uygur ethnicity, in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region," the draft reads. "To better understand the situation, we request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these concerns." The letter is copied to China's foreign ministry, the Ministry of Public Security and the Communist Party's international department. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had not seen the letter, and that ambassadors were welcome to visit Xinjiang but if "they want to go with the intention of pressuring the Xinjiang government, then this is definitely problematic". "As ambassadors, their role should firstly be to positively promote mutual understanding, trust and cooperation between the country where they are stationed and the one they are sent from, and not to gossip, making powerless demands and do things that interfere in that country's internal affairs," Hua said. "We welcome well-intentioned attempts to understand the situation. Xinjiang is an open region. But we will firmly oppose ill-intentioned and biased attempts to interfere in the affairs of our local governments, or rashly criticise China over its internal affairs." China has said Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Muslim extremists and separatist groups who plot attacks and stir up tensions with the ethnic Han majority. The letter carries the names of 15 Western ambassadors, including the Canadian, British, French, Swiss, European Union, German, Dutch and Australian envoys. The other countries' ambassadors names in the letter are Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Estonia, Finland and Denmark. Four diplomats familiar with the letter and its contents said Canada had taken the lead in its drafting. Canada's foreign ministry did not comment directly on the letter but expressed deep concern over the reports of detention and mass surveillance of Uygurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang. "The minister of foreign affairs raised the situation faced by the Uygurs directly with China's foreign minister at the UN General Assembly. Canada regularly raises concerns about Xinjiang with Chinese authorities both publicly and privately, bilaterally and multilaterally, and will continue to do so." The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the government was concerned about the situation in Xinjiang and officials had conveyed these concerns to China on a number of occasions. The United States is not represented on the letter, although non-US diplomats said the country had been heavily involved in advocacy on the Xinjiang issue. "We remain alarmed that since April 2017 the Chinese government has detained an estimated 800,000 to possibly more than two million Uygurs, Kazaks and other Muslims in internment camps for political re-education," a US embassy spokesman said. "The United States will continue to call on China to end these counterproductive policies and free all those arbitrarily detained. We are committed to promoting accountability for those who commit human rights violations and abuses, including by considering targeted measures against Xinjiang officials." The US has said it is considering sanctions against Chen, other officials and Chinese companies linked to allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. ^ top ^

White paper sets Xinjiang facts straight, cites successes (Global Times)
Amid ongoing Western accusations against human rights in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China released a white paper on Thursday to explain efforts and achievements in the region's languages, customs, religions and cultural heritage in the past half century. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese central government has attached great importance to documenting and protecting the excellent traditional ethnic cultures in Xinjiang, and ensuring that they are passed on to succeeding generations, the white paper said. Released by the State Council - China's cabinet, the white paper stressed that ethnic cultures in Xinjiang are an inseparable part of Chinese culture. Since ancient times, Xinjiang has been home to various ethnic groups, where different ethnic cultures coexist and integrate, it said. The white paper is a "timely and necessary" move to "correct misunderstandings and ongoing rumors" from foreign media and politicians on the development of Xinjiang, Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body, told the Global Times on Thursday. A group of 15 Western ambassadors in Beijing, spearheaded by Canada, is seeking a meeting with the top Xinjiang official for an "explanation" of alleged rights abuses against Uyghurs, Reuters reported Thursday. Calling the request "rude and unacceptable," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Thursday that China hopes the ambassadors fulfill their responsibility of offering a faithful and comprehensive understanding of China instead of making "unreasonable" request based on hearsay. "Xinjiang is an open region and we welcome the ambassadors to visit for goodwill reasons," Hua said at the daily briefing on Thursday. "However, if they are coming with prejudice and vicious motives to interfere in China's domestic affairs, the answer is a resolute no," she said. The cultural sector has been a battleground to enhance ethnic identity and unity in the region, Zhu noted. For a long time, some domestic and foreign forces have been plotting to separate Xinjiang from China, and while they see little chance of succeeding through political or military means, the forces are targeting the cultural sector, said Zhu. The separatists are spreading two kinds of rumors: Xinjiang's culture is a separate part of Chinese culture, an argument that is contradictory to common sense, and that the Chinese central government is "suppressing or eradicating" cultures in Xinjiang, a narrative that contradicts reality, Zhu said. The latest accusation comes from a CNN report on Thursday, which said Xinjiang is undergoing "cultural genocide" as Uyghur culture and identity are "altered." "The 'cultural genocide' accusation is complete nonsense and contradicts reality," Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at Beijing-based Minzu University of China, told the Global Times on Thursday. Turning a blind eye to the prospering economy and cultures in the region, some Western media and politicians are hyping religious and ethnic issues to gain attention for their political agenda, Xiong said. China has always believed that religions should make adjustments in a socialist society and play a positive role in society, Xiong noted. "Religious doctrines and ethnic cultures that fail to comply with the social development will be outdated. It's a natural rule," Xiong stressed. The white paper, "Cultural Protection and Development in Xinjiang," also offers facts about the preservation of cultural and religious heritage in the region, as well as efforts to improve public services and international exchanges. At major meetings of China's top legislature and political advisory bodies, interpreting services and transcripts of languages used by ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang are provided. The languages are also used during local elections, in local courts and in the gaokao, or the national college entrance examinations, the white paper said. Since 2009, Xinjiang has held seven China International Youth Arts festivals, inviting more than 119 art troupes from countries and regions like Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Azerbaijan. In recent years, Xinjiang has been active in building the core area along the Silk Road Economic Belt, strengthening cultural and scientific and technological exchanges with countries along the Belt, according to the white paper. From 1985 to 2017, colleges and universities in Xinjiang enrolled 50,000 foreign students, the white paper said. "Faced with the rude and groundless accusations, China should continue to send a clear voice to prevent rumors and lies from succeeding," Zhu said. The country should be confident in the region's hard-fought achievements and should always take the initiative in telling the facts of Xinjiang, instead of allowing separatists to set the narrative, Zhu told the Global Times. ^ top ^

Under new US bill, China could face punishment over Xinjiang Uygur camps (SCMP)
Citing "pervasive human rights abuses across Xinjiang", a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday urging US President Donald Trump to take a stronger stance in condemning China's treatment of Muslim minorities in its far western region. The bill, which will be presented to the US House and Senate in similar versions, asked the Trump administration to call on Chinese President Xi Jinping "to recognise the profound abuse and likely lasting damage of China's current policies, and immediately close the 'political re-education' camps". The legislation, which mentions the possibility of sanctions, was put forth by lawmakers including Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey. Representatives Chris Smith of New Jersey, a Republican, and Tom Suozzi of New York, a Democrat, were among those introducing the bill in the House. The legislation would require the US State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies to produce reports for Congress related to security risks, protection of US citizens from intimidation, Chinese disinformation efforts and the scope of abuses. It also urges the agencies to report on Chinese companies involved in the camps and asks the FBI to take action against any Chinese government efforts to intimidate Uygurs living in the US. The bill calls for a new US "special coordinator for Xinjiang" to respond to the situation, including coordinating a ban on the export of US technology that could be used in the surveillance and detention of Uygurs by Beijing. "The internment of over a million Uygurs and other Muslims in China is a staggering evil and should be treated by the international community as a crime against humanity," said Smith, who is also co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. "The Chinese government's creation of a vast system of what can only be called concentration camps cannot be tolerated in the 21st century." The legislation comes as concern over China's abuse of human rights has spread among Democratic and Republican lawmakers. China has a long history of dealing harshly with its Muslim minorities. But the tensions have risen significantly in the Xinjiang region, home to Uygur Muslims, in recent years. As many as 1 million Uygurs are reported to have been held in "re-education camps". Western countries including Canada, France, Germany and the US have urged China to shut down camps in Xinjiang. Amid an international outcry, Trump's senior aides have recently become more vocal in their criticism of China's actions. Beijing has dismissed the nature of the Xinjiang detentions, urging the US and other countries to stay out of its internal affairs. Chinese authorities described the camps as "vocational training centres" used in the country's religious de-radicalisation campaign. The Chinese government has also said that far western Xinjiang faces a threat from Islamic militants and separatists. Chinese officials also denied any citizens were detained arbitrarily and said that the UN's figure of 1 million was inaccurate. When asked on Tuesday if Beijing would allow international observers to inspect camps holding Muslims, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the world should ignore "gossip" about developments in Xinjiang and trust authorities there. The bill introduced on Wednesday calls for the consideration of sanctions against Xinjiang party secretary Chen Quanguo, a member of the powerful Politburo, and other officials "credibly alleged to be responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang". "Chinese government officials should be held accountable for their complicity in this evil and US businesses should be barred from helping China create a hi-tech police state in Xinjiang," Smith said. The bill cited the Global Magnitsky Act, which authorises the imposition of sanctions against human rights violators including a freeze of US assets, US travel bans and a prohibition on Americans doing business with them. ^ top ^



Hong Kong may step up monitoring of border after accusations Guangdong defence force stole land (SCMP)
Hong Kong land officials may step up monitoring of the border by taking aerial photos after mainland Chinese officers on the other side allegedly turned city land into a garden without permission. The Lands Department announced the move a day after the city's leader revealed the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments were locked in a border dispute, both sides having a different understanding of how it should be drawn. The department said the site in question was not considered "high-risk", as public access was restricted. "Due to public concerns, the department will review the current arrangement and look into the possibility of using aerial photos to keep our land border under watch," it said in a statement on Thursday. On Sunday, a Factwire investigation revealed officers from the Guangdong border defence force had turned Hong Kong land next to its garrison in Yantian, Shenzhen, into a 20,000 sq ft garden. Land records showed lots owned by two Hongkongers and two land trusts were affected. On Wednesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told lawmakers both sides held a meeting after the revelation. She said Shenzhen officials claimed to have diverted the course of the Sha Tau Kok River, which forms the border, for flood prevention, in 2013 and arbitrarily changed the demarcation point, without telling Hong Kong. Her government maintained the border had not moved, but Shenzhen had a different understanding of the demarcation. Both sides would listen to legal advice and work together to resolve the dispute, she said. Some of the landowners have said they might claim compensation for their occupied land. Council Front lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said police should be in a better position to monitor land use at the border and they should step up patrols. While the city's officials said they had been kept in the dark, an aerial photo acquired by the Post from the Lands Department showed that, in 2012, there was exposed earth along the border near the site that would become the defence officers' garden. It was not clear whether the work was associated with any drainage work Shenzhen claimed it had done. An aerial photo dated 2015 showed a garden, clearly visible from 6,000ft above ground. Those aerial photos were part of a collection regularly taken by the department for map-making purposes. Executive Council member and barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah said it was unreasonable for Shenzhen officials to claim the border had moved after they diverted the Sha Tau Kok River. "There may have been some ground, if the border was moved naturally," Tong said. He added that any changes to Hong Kong's border would need the approval of the National People's Congress, and a new order from the State Council had to be issued. This was because Hong Kong's stance was based on an order issued by China's State Council in 1997, which said the border between Hong Kong and the mainland should lie at the centre point of the Sha Tau Kok River. ^ top ^

Hong Kong and Macau among 'creators of China's great miracle of reform and opening up', says President Xi Jinping (SCMP)
President Xi Jinping gave Hong Kong and Macau a ringing endorsement as he set out how both cities blazed a trail during China's economic reforms, and praised the cities as being among the "miracle creators" of the country's development. Xi also noted how the former European colonies had taken the lead during China's successful reform and opening up over the past 40 years, investing on the mainland, setting examples of how market economies worked and serving as test beds for innovation. He also named seven members of the Hong Kong elite and one from Macau's as examples of the cities' contributions. The president spoke on Monday at a closed-door meeting with a delegation of top officials and business leaders from the semi-autonomous cities. "Over the 40 years of reform and opening up, our country's development has made historic achievements that have attracted world attention," Xi said. "Hong Kong and Macau compatriots, as well as overseas companies and individuals based in Hong Kong and Macau, have their share of contributions. Regarding this, the mother country and people will never forget. "Hong Kong and Macau compatriots, like mainland people, are both the creators of the country's great miracle of reform and opening up." Xi said Hong Kong and Macau were the first to invest in the mainland, providing the first joint venture company there, the first joint venture motorway, the first branch of a non-local bank and the first five-star joint venture hotel. As of last year, he said, the cities had invested US$1 trillion on the mainland, accounting for 54 per cent of all outside investment. The meeting involved top officials and more than 200 business and political leaders from the two cities. Several leading Beijing officials, such as Vice-Premier Han Zheng, were also present. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor led the city's 160-strong delegation. Her Macau counterpart Fernando Chui Sai-on took a group of 60 to the capital. Xi took pains to show his close association with, and affection for, both cities in his closed-door speech, not missing a chance to remind people how he was personally involved in facilitating the cities' contributions. "I have very close knowledge of this," he said. "When I was working in Fujian, Zhejiang and Shanghai, I planned and moved forward a lot of collaboration projects between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macau." He added that he was in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs after he joined the central government in 2007. "I got to know many Hong Kong and Macau friends in this process." Offering examples of the cities' key contributors to the nation, Xi referenced the Zhong Shan Hot Spring Hotel, built in 1979 by late Hong Kong tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung and Macau's gambling mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun. Xi said he visited the hotel personally. He credited former Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying for hosting free workshops in 1978 on the "Western land administrative system" in Shenzhen and Shanghai, and participating in drafting the country's first land tendering document in 1987 in Shenzhen. Anthony Neoh, the chief adviser to the China Securities Regulatory Commission between 1998 and 2004, and Laura Cha Shih May-lung, who chairs the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, helped establish the norms of the mainland's securities market, Xi said. Other individuals named included the late Hong Kong film mogul Run Run Shaw, the city's late philanthropist Tin Ka-ping, and truck driver turned philanthropist Wong Fuk-wing, who sacrificed his life saving others during an earthquake in Yushu county, Qinghai, in 2010. After the meeting, National People's Congress deputy Brave Chan Yung said, Xi also mentioned former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and former Macau chief executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah for helping to promote China in the United States and Portuguese-speaking countries. Xi also praised former World Health Organisation chief Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun for her work at the international body, according to the NPC deputy. In the speech, Xi said the "one country, two systems" policy – under which both cities are government by Beijing but promised a high degree of autonomy – was their "greatest advantage". He urged the cities to grab the opportunities of the "Belt and Road Initiative" and "Greater Bay Area" plan. The former refers to Beijing's global trade strategy, while the bay area scheme is a plan that seeks to turn Hong Kong, Macau and nine nearby mainland cities into a financial and innovation hub to rival California's Silicon Valley. Xi called on the cities to "more actively" help the country's full-scale opening up, integrate into the country's development, safeguard the country's political system and national security, and promote international cultural exchanges. City leader Lam said on Tuesday the government would seriously study how the president's hopes could be integrated into policies. ^ top ^

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam dismisses request from 17 former chiefs of Foreign Correspondents' Club to clarify whether government considers it to be a neutral body (SCMP)
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has dismissed a request by former chiefs of the Foreign Correspondents' Club for her to say whether the government considers the club to be a neutral body, after its vice-president, British journalist Victor Mallet, was denied entry to the city. Speaking at a media briefing to conclude her trip to Beijing on Monday, Lam also declined to say if Mallet was not welcome in Hong Kong. "On the matter of a visa, we have said in public many times that we would not openly comment on a particular case. But I can say for sure that the decision on every person's entry was made in accordance with the city's ordinance, our policies, and each case's special nature," the chief executive said. Previously, Mallet, who worked for the Financial Times' Asia bureau in Hong Kong, was denied a work visa renewal, and was only allowed to stay in the city for seven days after returning from a trip abroad. Last week, he was denied entry into the city. Authorities had refused to explain Mallet's case, but it was believed to be related to his role in a talk organised by the FCC in August, which featured pro-independence activist Andy Chan Ho-tin. In response, 17 former leaders of the FCC had urged Lam to clarify whether the government still considered the club to be a neutral body – as without such a clarification, members or journalists would be hesitant to take part in its activities. But Lam said: "Whether a body is neutral is not something for a chief executive to define. "As I said when this matter first emerged, we respect and welcome foreign journalists' operations in Hong Kong, that's why I supported the decision to rent the building to them as their home," she added, in a reference to the 19th-century Old Dairy Farm Depot on Ice House Street, Central, where the FCC has been quartered since 1982. "But I hope this respect is mutual, and I hope foreign journalists can obey our laws and enjoy the freedom of reporting as they operate in Hong Kong. So there is no such consideration as to whether it is neutral or not." Earlier on Monday, a delegation of Hong Kong business and political leaders, led by Lam, had a meeting with President Xi Jinping and Vice-Premier Han Zheng. Lam's Beijing trip came shortly after media reports emerged suggesting that Lam would seek to replace her top minister, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung. Asked if she discussed Cheung with state leaders, Lam said: "We did not touch on [the issue] that you have raised … I don't know where the speculation came from. "I would reiterate once more: I have no such plan. My team has been wholehearted and united in implementing the contents of our policy address," she added, in a reference to the annual blueprint she rolled out a month ago. ^ top ^



Played up by US as strategically important, Taiwan is the silent victim in Donald Trump's trade war (SCMP)
Numerous Asian economies linked to China's fortunes are caught in the crossfire of the US-China trade war. But none might feel as voiceless as Taiwan. The self-ruled island's heavy dependence on the mainland economy has exposed it to the twists and turns of the tit-for-tat trade battle launched by US President Donald Trump months ago. But as a steel producer, it also is feeling the impact of the Trump administration's global steel and aluminium tariffs, which target China's excess capacity in its steel sector, in particular. Despite being a close military and security partner of the United States by law, Taiwan has limited diplomatic relations with Washington, mindful that any such exchange would anger Beijing, which considers the self-ruled island a breakaway province to be brought into line by force, if necessary. A 24-year-old goods and services trade deal that is Taiwan's only framework for an economic dialogue with the US was suspended last year amid problems filling vacancies for officials to administer the deal at the United States Trade Representative's office as the trade war escalated. Chern-Chyi Chen, deputy representative of economic affairs at Taiwan's de facto embassy in Washington, said this week that Taiwan's steel sales to the US have dropped 12 per cent since Trump in March ordered the imposing of a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium, citing national security concerns. "Taiwan is not exempted from the tariffs … we hope this will come to an end quickly," the official said at an event presented by the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. Taiwan had lobbied for months to be exempted from the tariffs, which the US president imposed under Section 232 of the US Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Those efforts have proved unsuccessful, despite other major economies' winning either partial exemptions from the duties or a delay in the implementation date. The US – which has no formal relations with Taiwan – had long been the largest importer of Taiwan steel. But amid the trade war and growing friction between Beijing and Taipei, mainland China elbowed the US out of the way in July to become the bigger buyer of Taiwan's steel products as the US bought less, Taiwanese media reported. Last year, Taiwan supplied 3.2 per cent of America's steel imports, mainland China 2.9 per cent. Chen said negotiation was the way to resolve the friction at a time of uncertainty in global trade relations. He called the lack of channels for Taiwan-US discussions lamentable, saying they were needed to manage tensions. He noted that keeping the lines of communication open allowed the US to update trade deals or understandings with South Korea and the EU amid Trump's tough trade action. "With Korea they have updated Korus (the United States – Korea Free Trade Agreement)," Chen said. "With the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker came to town (Washington) to agree to talk with the US administration … It's evident that high level economic dialogue is necessary," the Taiwan envoy said. Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Centre, echoed Chen, saying Taiwan's lack of a trade deal with the US was attributable "to the fact that they don't have a regular dialogue". "The concern of Taiwan is not reaching the appropriate people or level in the administration," Lohman said. Officials from each side at the deputy secretary level are to meet regularly under the goods and services trade pact the US signed with Taiwan in 1994. Known as TIFA, for the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, trade under the pact totalled an estimated US$88 billion in 2014. No TIFA meeting has taken place since Trump took power. The last one was held in October 2016. TIFA, the only framework of economic dialogue for Taiwan and the US, was suspended last year as all three deputy representatives in the US Trade Representative's (USTR) office were yet to be confirmed by Congress. While those vacancies have been filled this year, Taiwanese officials have suggested that TIFA could still be brushed aside by more pressing issues for Washington, including the trade dispute with Beijing. Taiwan's lack of a voice in Trump's tariff war stands out amid the significance the US administration has increasingly attached to the island, as Washington and Beijing become more confrontational on both strategic and geopolitical fronts. US Vice-President Mike Pence made America's stance clear in an October speech in which he said "America will always believe Taiwan's embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people". Pence's remarks sufficiently emboldened Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to cite the speech during an address marking the 107th anniversary of the Republic of China and to declare that Taiwan could cope with Beijing's challenges. Taiwan could do that by seeking further support from the US, Japan, Europe and other like-minded countries, and by strengthening its strategic significance so that other nations could rally behind it, Tsai said. In a rare high-profile show of support for Taiwan, the US government in September recalled its top diplomats from three Central American and Caribbean countries that had recently cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing. The Trump administration also has approved two arms sales to Taiwan in the past two years, after its predecessors had denied many of Taipei's requests for new weapons systems and had delayed decisions on others over the past 10 years. ^ top ^

Risking Beijing's wrath, Taiwan to vote on removing 'China' from name of its 2020 Olympic team (SCMP)
Taiwanese are to vote this month over whether the self-ruled island should compete in the next Summer Olympics under the name "Taiwan," in a highly controversial referendum that would not only provoke Beijing but also put the island's government in a political dilemma if passed. The referendum asks whether Taiwan should compete in the 2020 Games in Tokyo and other international sporting events under that name, rather than "Chinese Taipei" – a title that has been used since 1981. The referendum is among 10 such votes being held alongside the island's local government elections on November 24, but is the only one so far condemned by Beijing as a prelude of the island's attempt to declare independence and change the cross-strait status quo – a move the mainland has said would lead to its attack. The mainland has considered Taiwan a breakaway province since the end of a civil war that saw the defeated Nationalist troops fleeing to the island in 1949 and setting up an interim government. It took over from the Nationalists as the sole representative of China after the United Nations ousted Taipei to admit Beijing in 1971. Since then, Beijing has disputed the island's use of its official Republic of China title in international events and succeeded in making the International Olympic Committee alter the island's ROC team name to "Chinese Taipei" after the Lausanne agreement in Switzerland in 1981. "We want to change the so-called Olympic model that has set restriction on our attending international sporting events for a long time," said Yoshi Liu, spokesman of Team Taiwan Campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, referring to what his group views as unfair treatment by the IOC in requiring the island to take part in global sporting events as "Chinese Taipei" instead of other names like Republic of China or Taiwan. Citing the fact that the island used "Taiwan" or "Formosa" in the Olympics in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968, Liu said the campaign was aimed at reverting to a former title. "We want to change our name back to Taiwan," Liu said, adding that the referendum would allow eligible voters to have their say and decide whether they wanted to accept what appeared to be a humiliating title – one that gives others the impression that the island was part of China. Last month, Taiwan's Central Election Commission announced that the campaign for the name change, which started in January, has support from 430,000 people who signed the petition to hold the referendum – almost twice the 281,745 required. While Liu admitted that most of the supporters were from the pro-independence camp, he said the effort had also won support from a number of politically neutral bigwigs like Chi Cheng, Taiwan's first female Olympic medallist, who co-led the campaign. "After more than three decades of democratisation in Taiwan, most people here have come to accept 'Taiwan' as our title, and by continuing to use 'Chinese-Taipei' to attend the Olympic event, it does not truly reflect the fact that we represent Taiwan rather than China," Chi said. An angry Beijing warned last month that Taiwan would "swallow its own bitter fruit" and could be sacrificing its athletes' chances to compete in the Games. Beijing's International Olympic Committee said in mid-October that the mainland "will not sit by if the vote is passed". It said the IOC had already resolved in May that it would not allow any name change for Taiwan and had informed the island's International Olympic Committee about the resolution. The mainland's defence ministry sees the vote as a prelude for the island to declare independence. "The Taiwan issue is related to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and touches upon China's core interests," the mainland's Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said at a forum in Beijing last month. "If anyone wants to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese forces would take necessary actions at all cost to retake it," he said. Pro-independence supporters in Taiwan were optimistic that the referendum would pass, given the loosening of the requirements after the island's Referendum Act was revised in December. "With so many people signing the petition, I am confident that this referendum will be passed," said George Chang Tsang-hung, a former chairman of the World United Formosans for Independence and ex-mayor of Tainan in southern Taiwan. Under the revised Referendum Act, if 25 per cent of the 19 million or so eligible voters choose yes, the referendum passes and the government must proceed to draw up a bill within three months to reflect the results, which would be reviewed and voted on by the parliament in its next session. As the name change referendum does not require new legislation or a revision of existing law, the government must make plans to negotiate with the IOC over the possibility of the name change, which analysts and officials said would come to naught. "The IOC already notified us in May that it would not allow the Chinese-Taipei Olympic Committee to change its title," said Lin Hong-dao, chairman of the Taiwanese committee. "The IOC will hold an executive committee meeting at the end of this month to decide whether to terminate the operation of the Chinese-Taipei committee if it concludes that the name-change referendum is a political campaign aiming at interfering the independent operation of the IOC," he said. Liu, however, said the name change was far from being a political campaign for the island to declare independence and was merely a public wish for its athletes to be able to compete under the "Taiwan" name. Su Yen-tu, an associate research fellow of law at Taiwan's top academic institution, the Academia Sinica, said that although the government said it had no role in any of the 10 referendums, which were initiated by the public, it had to face risking anger from Beijing and criticism from the public if it failed to do anything. Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said the government respected whatever the referendum result would be and would do all it could to "make sure that the rights of Taiwanese athletes taking part in international games are upheld". She stopped short of saying what the government would do if the island were not allowed to take part in the Olympics. ^ top ^



Beijing to stabilise the yuan, but intervention to cushion – not halt – currency's decline, say analysts (SCMP)
Beijing will resist downward pressure on the yuan "for now", although moderate depreciation in the Chinese currency is probably still on the cards, according to analysts. These comments follow the publication on Friday of a third-quarter monetary policy implementation report by the People's Bank of China, in which the central bank says it will keep the yuan's exchange rate at an equilibrium level. In the report, the bank replaces the phrase that it would "increasingly allow market forces to determine the exchange rate" with a pledge to "reinforce macro-prudential management to keep the yuan exchange rate at reasonable and equilibrium level, if necessary". "Over the long term, it looks likely that the Chinese government will have to allow the renminbi to depreciate more against the currencies of its major trading partners. Although, for the moment, it remains subject to the central bank's intervention," said Dong Chen, senior Asia economist at Pictet Wealth Management. The change in language, along with analysis that suggests the Chinese central bank has been using its foreign exchange reserves to intervene in the currency market on the yuan's behalf since August, hints at the PBOC's willingness to support the currency above the psychologically important level of 7.00 per US dollar. The central bank will support the yuan in the coming weeks, particularly ahead of a crucial meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump at the end of November, according to analysts. The Chinese president and Trump are expected to meet at the G20 summit in Argentina, and any progress, or lack of, towards ending the US-China trade war is expected to affect capital flows in Asia. The yuan will weaken moderately around the summit if there are no signs of progress towards a deal and tensions continue to escalate. The Chinese authorities sold close to US$14 billion in foreign reserves in October and US$17 billion in September, according to a model created by Capital Economics, which the consultancy has interpreted as an attempt by Beijing to cushion – but not stop – the yuan's gradual decline. On Monday, the yuan drifted lower for a fourth straight day, easing 0.12 per cent to 6.9653 against the US dollar. The yuan had strengthened to 6.8691 on November 2, after Trump reportedly asked his administration to start drafting the terms of a possible trade deal with Beijing, as well as a decision by the PBOC to sell yuan bills in Hong Kong that would create another monetary policy tool to help defend the yuan's exchange rate. The currency has, however, since then retreated back towards the 7.00 level. The report also highlighted efforts by the Chinese central bank that seek to support private-sector enterprises, while any mention of the need for structural deleveraging of the economy has been removed. This points to further increases in China's debt-to-GDP ratio and a weaker yuan ahead, said Michael Every, senior Asia-Pacific strategist at Rabobank. He forecast that China's bank lending growth rate would accelerate to about US$4 trillion a year by 2021 from US$2.4 trillion now. "It is a desperate last roll of the dice. When, after an initial sugar rush, this doesn't work, which it won't, we are all in serious trouble," said Every. ^ top ^



Kim Jong-un observes North Korean testing of new 'hi-tech tactical weapon', state media says (SCMP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has supervised the testing of a "hi-tech" new weapon, Pyongyang's state media reported Friday according to Yonhap news agency. "Kim Jong-un inspected the testing of a newly developed hi-tech tactical weapon at the Academy of National Defence Science," Yonhap cited the North's state broadcaster, Korea Central Broadcasting Station, as saying. It said the test was successful but did not specify the type of device involved. The "hi-tech tactical weapon" had been developed over a long period and "builds impregnable defences of our country and strengthens the fighting power of our people's army", it added. "The state-of-the art weapon that has been long developed under the leadership of our party's dynamic leadership has a meaning of completely safeguarding our territory and significantly improving the combat power of our people's army," Yonhap cited KCBS as reporting. State news agency KCNA quoted Kim as saying the newly developed tactical weapon was "groundbreaking". "This result today is a justification of the party's policy focused on defence science and technology, another display of our rapidly-growing defence capabilities to the whole region, and a groundbreaking change in strengthening our military's combat capabilities," Kim reportedly said. Kim reportedly said that the new weapons system was one that his father, Kim Jong-il, was especially interested in during his lifetime, having led the development personally. Pyongyang's suspension of nuclear weapon and ballistic missile tests has been key to this year's rapid diplomatic developments and North Korean-US negotiations, and has been repeatedly praised by US President Donald Trump. Trump and Kim met in a historic summit in Singapore in June, where they signed a vaguely-worded document on denuclearisation of the peninsula. Progress has since stalled as Washington and Pyongyang spar over the meaning of the document, and a return to testing would cast grave doubts over the future of the process. "That pit of dread you felt in your stomach when you read this is your reminder that the DPRK missile test pause is voluntary, partial, and can fail without notice if it isn't explicitly codified," Adam Mount of the Federation of American Scientists tweeted in response to the report, using the country's official acronym. North Korea has not tested a nuclear weapon or ballistic missile since last year. In public Kim has focused almost entirely on visits to economic rather than military projects. ^ top ^

Donald Trump scoffs at report about secret North Korea missile bases, calling them 'normal, nothing new' (SCMP)
US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the United States was aware of undeclared North Korean missile bases revealed by US researchers this week but insisted all was fine. "We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new – and nothing happening out of the normal," Trump wrote on Twitter. "I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!" he said. Researchers at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent Washington think tank, on Tuesday said that satellite imagery had found 13 missile bases undeclared by North Korea. The bases can be used to hide mobile, nuclear-capable missiles, the study said, warning that North Korea could preserve the sites – and the ability to attack – even as it negotiates with Trump on a potentially landmark accord. Trump described a report on the findings by The New York Times as "inaccurate" and "fake news." The 13 sites in question are among an estimated 20 bases, small and dispersed across North Korea, that are believed to have underground facilities containing mobile launchers that can be quickly dispersed to other locations, according to the report from Beyond Parallel, a group at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Although not designed as launch sites, the bases could be used to launch short-range as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to the report. The report's findings appeared to undermine the Trump administration's claims that its outreach to Pyongyang is making progress in getting Kim Jong-un's regime to give up its nuclear weapons programme. But experts argue that the country hasn't made any commitment to dismantle such missile bases yet, so the fact that it would maintain them doesn't in itself represent a breakdown in talks with the US. South Korean officials also played down the report's findings, as did John Bolton, the US national security adviser. "I don't comment on matters that may or not pertain to intelligence," Bolton told reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of regional summits in Singapore. "Obviously, we're very well aware of what's going on in North Korea." But Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that Trump was "getting played by Kim." "We cannot have another summit with North Korea – not with President Trump, not with the secretary of state – unless and until the Kim regime takes concrete, tangible actions to halt and roll back its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes," Markey said in a statement Monday. ^ top ^



China to boost cooperation with India, Mongolia: defense minister (Xinhua)
State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe met with Indian Defense Secretary Sanjay Mitra and State Secretary of the Mongolin Ministry of Defense Khalzankhuu Batbileg in Beijing Thursday. While meeting with Mitra, Wei said China and India see far more common interests than divergencies between each other, stressing that the two countries should boost military exchanges, improve mutual trust in the security field and properly manage and control any disparities. India's relationship with China is one of its most important bilateral ties, said Mitra, who hopes the two sides will further develop relations between the two countries and two militaries. China highly values its relations with Mongolia and hopes to upgrade development of China-Mongolia comprehensive strategic partnership, Wei said while meeting with Batbileg. Batbileg said Mongolia hopes the two countries cooperate on issues including peacekeeping and disaster prevention while further promoting their military relations. ^ top ^

Basic guideline on state monetary policy approved (Montsame)
During today's plenary meeting of the parliament, basic guideline on State Monetary Policy for 2019 was approved with 66.7 percent votes. The basic guideline is formulated for supporting economic recoveries and increasing its accessibility by means of empowering economy to bear risks. It reflects to decrease inflation to 8 percent in 2019-2020 and to 6 percent in the mid-term, as well as ensure sustainability of inflation to keep economic growth and its benefits at constant level, increase the reserve of foreign currency and continue realization of the policy to improve risk-bearing capacity of banks. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
At its regular meeting on November 14, the Cabinet made the following decisions. - The Cabinet approved the establishment of Embassy in Minsk, the capital of Belarus and decided to discuss it with the relevant Parliamentary Standing Committee. - The Intergovernmental Commission meeting between Mongolia and Hungary on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation will be held on November 20-21 in Budapest. The Cabinet approved the directive for Mongolian delegation to participate in the meeting. At the meeting, the parties will review works following the previous meeting and exchange views on expanding relations and cooperation in economy, education, food and agriculture, health, water, water management and environment. - The Cabinet approved the loan agreement on 'Southeast Gobi Urban and Border Town Development Project - Additional Financing' joint project with the Asian Development Bank. Minister of Finance Ch.Khurelbaatar was entitled to sign the agreement. Within the agreement, establishment of wastewater treatment plant and expansion of sewerage system is planned in Murun soum of Khuvsgul aimag, Chinggis soum of Khentii, Bulgan soum of Bulgan, Mandalgobi soum of Dundgobi and Baruun-Urt of Sukhbaatar aimag respectively. - The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Hungary Z.Batbayar was entitled to sign the Intergovernmental agreement between Mongolia and Hungary on Road transportation of international passenger and freight. - The Procedure on land shareholding for proprietor and possessor for the ger area redevelopment was approved. In addition to the Provision 5.1 of the Urban Redevelopment Law, the land shareholders will adhere to the principles of transparency and integrity, protection of property rights and participation on a voluntary basis. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister receives Ambassador of China (Montsame)
Foreign Minister D.Tsogtbaatar on November 12, met with Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Mongolia Xing Haiming, discussing the current state of bilateral relations and cooperation. At the beginning of the meeting, Ambassador Xing Haiming informed of his endeavours to advance bilateral relations and cooperation, especially the activities agreed at decision making level of the two countries. Foreign Minister D.Tsogtbaatar commented the Ambassador's endeavour in developing Mongolia-China relations and highlighted the importance of promptly addressing the issue of coal transport queue at the border checkpoint, due to the technical renovation of Chinese side. In turn, Ambassador Xing Haiming expressed that the Chinese side would check the situation on the site and immediately take relevant actions and to create favorable environment for economic trade and inter-citizen relations. ^ 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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