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
  3-7.12.2018, No. 745  
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Foreign Policy

China-U.S. dialogue on rule of law and human rights concludes in Beijing (Xinhua)
The eighth China-U.S. Dialogue on Rule of Law and Human Rights concluded in Beijing Wednesday. Jiang Jianguo, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, addressed the opening session of the three-day event. Jiang expressed the hope that the dialogue between China and the United States in the field of human rights could comply with the trend and look at the big picture, respect differences and communicate equally, deepen cooperation and enhance mutual trust, in order to play a unique role in promoting the cause of human rights of the two countries and the healthy development of China-U.S. relations. Huang Mengfu, chairman of China Foundation for Human Rights Development, said the dialogue, initiated in 2009, had become an important platform for non-governmental organizations of both countries to conduct exchanges on human rights, effectively enhancing mutual understanding. "It reflects the good wishes of both sides to contribute to China-U.S. relations through people-to-people communication and exchanges," Huang added. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, said Stephen A. Orlins, president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Orlins said he hoped the dialogue would have a positive influence on relations between the two countries and called for confidence in the future of U.S.-China relations. Over 50 experts and scholars from China and the United States attended the event. The American representatives visited the Supreme People's Court and Beijing Internet Court on Wednesday. ^ top ^

China demands clarity from US and Canada over arrest of Huawei CFO 'for violating US sanctions on Iran' (SCMP)
Beijing on Thursday demanded the US and Canada clarify why Ottawa has detained Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei's chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou at the request of the US government. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that both the US and Canadian authorities had yet to clarify their reason for arresting Meng, who is also one of Huawei's deputy chairpersons and a daughter of its founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei. Geng said Beijing had lodged protests with Washington and Ottawa and offered consular assistance to Meng soon after she was detained. Her arrest in Vancouver raises more doubts about a 90-day truce on trade struck between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping on December 1, the day she was detained. Chinese commerce ministry deflected questions that tied Huawei's crisis to the US-China trade war. "I don't have information in this regard at the moment," ministry spokesman Gao Feng said. Ottawa confirmed Meng's arrest on Wednesday. "Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1," Ian McLeod, a Canadian Justice Department spokesman, said. "She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday. "As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms Meng," McLeod said. Meng was tipped by some mainland Chinese media as a leading contender to succeed her father at the helm of the telecom giant. Meng adopted her mother's surname. She was arrested because she attempted to evade the trade embargo placed by the US on Iran, The Globe and Mail reported, citing a Canadian source with knowledge of the arrest. No other details were available. The Chinese government protested against the move soon after the Canadian government made the detention public. "At the request of the US side, the Canadian side arrested a Chinese citizen [who was] not violating any American or Canadian law. The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harm the human rights of the victim," China's embassy in Ottawa said. "The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian sides, urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal liberty of Ms Meng Wanzhou. "We will closely follow the development of the issue and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens." In a statement, Huawei acknowledged the detention and extradition request by the US government. "Recently, our corporate CFO, Ms Meng Wanzhou, was provisionally detained by the Canadian authorities on behalf of the United States of America, which seeks the extradition of Ms Meng Wanzhou to face unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York, while she was transferring flights in Canada. "The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng. The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion," Huawei said. "Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU," the company said. According to Meng's biography in the company's annual report, she joined Huawei in 1993 and held various positions in the company's finance departments. She is currently one of the board of directors' deputy chairpersons and the company's chief financial officer. In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Huawei was being investigated by New York prosecutors on suspicion of breaking sanctions against Iran. The report about the US Justice Department's investigation of Huawei followed news that US prosecutors activated sanctions against another Chinese telecom equipment producer, ZTE, on charges related to its equipment sales in Iran. ZTE was then subjected to sanctions after the US government determined that it had first attempted to trade illegally with Iran and North Korea, and then subsequently failed to follow through on remedies imposed by the US Department of Commerce. US firms were banned from selling microchips and other components to ZTE, crippling and nearly killing the company until the ban was lifted on the orders of Donald Trump, after he was contacted by the Chinese government. As part of a new agreement to lift the ban, ZTE paid US$1.4 billion in penalties, reformed its management and installed US-appointed compliance officers. US Senator Chris Van Hollen, who has co-sponsored legislation meant to keep the ban in place if further violations by ZTE are found, weighed in on Huawei soon after the announcement by Canada. "Huawei and ZTE are two sides of the same coin – Chinese telecommunications companies that represent a fundamental risk to American national security. While the commerce department focused its attention on ZTE, this news highlights that Huawei is also violating US law," Van Hollen said. "At a bare minimum, we must hold both companies to the same standard. More importantly, we need a comprehensive plan to hold the Chinese and their state-sponsored entities accountable for gross violations of the law and threats to our security." David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said US and Canadian business executives could face reprisals in China. "That's something we should be watching out for," he said. "It's a possibility. It's a prominent member of their society and it's a company that really embodies China's quest for global recognition as a technology power." Mulroney said Canada should be prepared for "sustained fury" from the Chinese and said it would be portrayed in China as Canada kowtowing to Trump. He also said that the Iran allegations were very damaging to Huawei and that China would push back hard. Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia, said the Chinese would interpret the arrest as a planned conspiracy to do damage. "She was in transit though Vancouver," he said. "That means the intelligence agencies in Canada and the US were tracking her and planning to arrest her for some time." He foresaw a crisis in relations between the three countries if Meng were extradited, and said any talk of a free-trade agreement between Canada and China would end. ^ top ^

Portugal's support for China's belt and road plan sets alarm bells ringing in Brussels (SCMP)
Portugal's decision to sign a memorandum of understanding with China on its "Belt and Road Initiative" is likely to fuel concerns within the European Union about Beijing's efforts to extend its geopolitical influence in the region, analysts said. The formal agreement, which was signed on Wednesday during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Lisbon, came as Beijing has been seeking to build closer relations with Eastern and Central European countries – including deals already struck with Greece and Hungary – which some EU members have described as an "attempt to divide Europe", they said. Getting a signature from Portugal – the first Western European country to endorse Xi's transcontinental infrastructure development and investment strategy – is likely to be regarded as a coup for Beijing, as Lisbon had been under pressure from other EU countries, including France, not to do so, according to Wang Yiwei, a professor of European studies at Renmin University in Beijing. "The precedent set by Greece inspired Portugal," he said, adding that the latter was in dire need of investment and that the EU had done little to help. "Economic cooperation with China matters to these countries," Wang said. Beijing has for many years played a significant role in shoring up Greece's economy. In 2008, state-owned Cosco began operating a container port in Piraeus – the largest in the eastern Mediterranean – when Athens was on the brink of bankruptcy. The company now owns a two-thirds stake in the profitable facility. Similarly, the memorandum signed by Beijing and Lisbon names Sines, Portugal's largest Atlantic port, as a target for redevelopment using Chinese funding. China is already a major investor in Portugal, one of the least wealthy countries in western Europe, having played a role in the 2011 EU-IMF bailout. In the privatisations that followed Chinese firms bought stakes in Portuguese energy, utility and financial companies. Lisbon also operates a "golden visa" programme, which offers residency to wealthy investors, including those from China. Jan Weidenfeld, head of the European China Policy Unit at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin, said Beijing had won a victory against the EU as it sought to build its influence in western Europe. "For Brussels, this is a bit of a diplomatic defeat," he said. "EU ambassadors in Beijing agreed on clear guidelines that caution member states when it comes to signing MOUs on the belt and road plan, effectively suggesting they should not." So gaining endorsement for the belt and road plan from an EU member state was "massively important" for China, he said. "China can use this to approach other member states and say, 'Look, another EU member state signed up to the initiative. Why aren't you signing an MOU?'" Xi launched the trillion-dollar belt and road plan in 2013 as a way to boost trade and connectivity across Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond. In the five years since, China has significantly increased its global investments and geopolitical influence. The plan has been a cause for concern within the EU, especially as in recent years both Greece and Hungary have refused to give their support to European Union statements criticising China's human rights record and its aggressive moves in the South China Sea. ^ top ^

China's pledge to crack down on fentanyl producers, smugglers will not end US opioid crisis, experts say (SCMP)
The US-China trade war truce includes a pledge by Beijing to tackle another lucrative – and deadly – export: fentanyl, a potent opioid ravaging US communities. Washington has pressed Beijing to do more to crack down on the drug, as smugglers from China are suspected of being the main suppliers of the narcotic, which is 50 times stronger than heroin. At the G20 summit in Argentina over the weekend, China agreed to designate any type of fentanyl as controlled substances, with the US saying this would expose offenders to the maximum penalty under Chinese law – capital punishment. US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the move could be a "game changer". "If China cracks down on this 'horror drug,' using the Death Penalty for distributors and pushers, the results will be incredible!" Trump tweeted. But experts doubt it will make a major difference. Fentanyl production had become a "very profitable" business for Chinese traffickers, said Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations at the US Drug Enforcement Administration. It would be tough for Beijing to control the business, he said, "especially given the huge demand that we currently have in the United States". China is believed to be one of the main manufacturers of synthetic drugs that have been blamed for public health crises in the US, Canada and Australia among other countries. Getting the drug is relatively easy: buyers find fentanyl from suppliers online, pay for it with cryptocurrencies, credit cards or money transfers, and receive their order via international mail services, according to a US congressional report. Vigil said it had become a booming business for clandestine chemical labs in China, where a single kilogram of fentanyl could produce 50kg (110lbs) of "high grade" heroin, turning a less than US$10,000 investment into half a million dollars. According to the US Centres for Disease Control, deaths from drug overdose in the US surged to nearly 72,000 last year – far more than traffic accident deaths, gun-related deaths, or suicide. Fentanyl was linked to the deaths of singers Prince and Tom Petty. At first glance, China does not seem like an ideal base for manufacturing and shipping fentanyl to the United States. Scarred by its own opium crisis in the 19th century, Beijing has a zero-tolerance policy towards illicit drugs. But chemical distributors in China have been able to dodge international and domestic law enforcement with fentanyl, which does have legal uses, such as treating extreme pain for cancer patients. Beijing has previously banned fentanyl variant by variant. Savvy chemists would simply tweak their chemical formula, creating an analogue or slightly different chemical compound to bypass regulations. China's decision to list all fentanyl-like substances could address that issue, but systemic challenges remain. "It seems to be that China just has a huge chemical and pharmaceutical industry, and they just have too many firms and too few police to manage that industry," said Bryce Pardo, a drug policy researcher at Rand Corporation, a US-based think tank. According to a 2015 US State Department report, China had about 400,000 chemical manufacturers and distributors. It also has an unknown number of underground chemical labs that produce synthetic drugs. In 2015, Chinese authorities destroyed 259 labs and arrested 1,570 suspects, according to a 2017 US State Department report. The interests of provincial and central government authorities were also misaligned, Pardo said. Beijing set the rules but turned enforcement over to local authorities, "who are incentivised to export as much product as possible", he said. China's foreign ministry said before the latest G20 talks that it had taken measures to control 25 fentanyl analogues, increased intelligence sharing with other countries and strengthened checks of suspicious parcels. "The US government surely has a bigger role to play in reducing the demand," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. "The US has time and again accused China of being a key source of the fentanyl-like substances at home, but never submitted any accurate statistics or effective evidence to the Chinese side," he said. Even if China successfully cracks down on fentanyl, it is likely that another hub of synthetic opioid production will pop up elsewhere, experts said. Fentanyl production could move to India, which had an enormous pharmaceutical industry and labour supply with "the technical know-how to synthesise these chemicals", Pardo said. Production of illicit drugs will not stop at fentanyl either. According to China's narcotics control commission, domestic seizures of methamphetamine, ketamine and other synthetic drugs climbed 106 per cent year on year in 2016, and synthetic drug production was rising. Michelle Miao, an expert on China's legal system at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said enforcing harsher punishments would not necessarily address the growing global drug demand. The US "launched the war on drugs in the past century, but what you can see now is it is a total failure" she said. "Criminal law should be the last bulwark when things are out of control", she said. "The last measure we can do is mete out punishment, because it does not really solve the root issues." ^ top ^

China promotes "one-stop service" to settle int'l commercial disputes (Xinhua)
The Supreme People's Court (SPC) has appointed seven Chinese legal organizations to provide "one-stop" settlement service in international commercial disputes. According to a statement from the SPC, five arbitration commissions and two mediation centers based in cities including Beijing, Shanghai have been assigned with the task to handle the one-stop service. The SPC also issued a trial regulation on the international commercial court, which clarified the legal procedures concerning processes such as case acceptance, pre-trial conciliation, trial, as well as execution of court verdict. Two international commercial courts were set up by the SPC in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, and Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, at the end of June. Another trial regulation on the International Commercial Expert Committee (ICEC) listed the function and composition of the committee, the requirements, responsibilities and duties of the committee members and the mediation and consultancy mechanism. The SPC launched the ICEC in late August, with a membership of 32 domestic and foreign experts. ^ top ^

Seoul voices concerns as more Chinese military aircraft spread their wings in South Korean air defence zone (SCMP)
South Korea has voiced its frustration about repeated intrusions into its air defence identification zone by Chinese military aircraft, moves that analysts say reflect Beijing's opposition to strengthening ties between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington. South Korean authorities said a Chinese plane, possibly a Shaanxi Y-9 electronic warfare and surveillance aircraft flew into the Korean zone Monday last week without notice. The plane entered near Socotra Rock in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, at about 11am and flew out and into Japan's air defence identification zone about 40 minutes later. The plane re-entered the South Korean air defence zone, near the southeastern city of Pohang, at about 12.43pm. Then it travelled up to South Korea's Exclusive Economic Zone in the Sea of Japan, cutting between the South Korean mainland and Ulleung island. It was unusual for a Chinese aircraft to have taken that route. The plane was reported to have left the zone at 3.53pm. Air defence identification zones are not covered by any international treaty and it is standard practice to notify the country concerned before entering its airspace. The aircraft did not enter South Korean territorial airspace, which under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is defined as 12 nautical miles from shore. According to the South Korean Air Force, the number of Chinese military aircraft entering its identification zone is rising. In 2016, there were about 60 incursions, 70 in 2017 and 110 were reported up to September this year. Seoul called Du Nongyi, the Chinese military attaché to South Korea, to its defence ministry after Monday's incident to expressed its "serious concerns" and called for "measures to prevent recurrences". A middle-ranking South Korea Air Force officer said Seoul paid "extra attention" to the incident. Security analysts said the flights were a demonstration of China's worries about increased US military activity in the region if US-North Korea negotiations failed. Sending military planes over area allowed China to extend its surveillance and sent a message that it was watching and, if necessary, willing to act to protect its interests in the region, analysts said. The US has sent military assets, including nuclear-capable B-52 bombers, to the Sea of Japan, prompting criticism from Beijing and Pyongyang. The US has long said North Korea's behaviour was justification for joint military exercises with South Korea. These were stepped down this year to encourage Pyongyang at the negotiation table but could be stepped up again if talks on denuclearisation fail. "China's moves are part of its grand strategy to exert greater influence, presence, and pressure in the Indo-Pacific region … Possible failure of US-North Korea negotiations would be in [Beijing's] calculations," said Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi, a visiting professor at Pusan National University in South Korea and adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum – a donor-funded, non-profit foreign policy research institute based in Honolulu, Hawaii. "I expect the [US-South Korea] exercises to resume at full scale [if] the US-North Korea negotiations or inter-Korean relations deteriorate … when both Washington and Seoul view that [the drills are] necessary." Zhao Tong, a fellow with the nuclear policy programme at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy in Beijing, said Monday's overflight had several meanings. The resumption of US-South Korea drills and Japan's recent military modernisation "would be viewed by China as a direct threat to its own security and the overfly of Chinese aircraft could be used to send a deterrence signal". "Japan, in particular, is hosting increasingly advanced US military assets on its territory. Chinese reconnaissance aircraft flying in the Sea of Japan can help it keep an eye on what is going on in that region," Zhao said. Beijing fears the strengthening of an alliance network between the South Korea and Japan and, consequently, the completion of a US-South Korea-Japan triangle, often referred to as an Asian Nato. South Korea and Japan signed a military intelligence pact in 2016, which China criticised as a deal between countries that shared a "cold-war mentality". "For China, the formation of a US-South Korea-Japan alliance triangle would be one of their biggest concerns as it would essentially be a powerful containment strategy against Beijing," Hinata-Yamaguchi said. "China would take, and has taken, measures to avoid the formation of an US-South Korea-Japan alliance triangle, such as the [push for] 'three positions' promised between China and the South Korea in the autumn of 2017," Hinata-Yamaguchi said. But Beijing played down the flight and called it a "routine arrangement". Ren Guoqiang, spokesman at the Ministry of National Defence, said last week that Chinese forces were "in line with the international law and practice" and the South Korea side "didn't have to be too surprised about it". The ministry did not respond to requests for further comment. ^ top ^

'Tariff Man' Donald Trump says China trade war talks will end in March – unless they don't (SCMP)
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday held out the possibility of an extension of the 90-day trade truce with China but warned he would revert to tariffs if the two sides could not resolve their differences. Trump said his team of trade advisers led by China trade hawk US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would determine whether a "REAL deal" with China was possible. "If it is, we will get it done," Trump said in a Twitter post. "But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man." The threat of an escalating trade war between the world's two largest economies has loomed large over financial markets and the global economy for much of the year and investors greeted the ceasefire agreed by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping over the weekend with relief. Markets, however, pulled back sharply after Monday's rally as doubts crept in over what could realistically get accomplished in the tight negotiating window. Trump addressed one of the concerns by indicating he would not be opposed to extending the 90-day truce. "The negotiations with China have already started. Unless extended, they will end 90 days from the date of our wonderful and very warm dinner with President Xi in Argentina," Trump tweeted. Earlier on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also raised the prospect of the deadline extension. "So again, this will be a real agreement again, and not that we can accomplish everything in 90 days, but we expect to make a lot of progress," Mnuchin told Fox Business Network. Trump and Xi said they would hold off on imposing additional tariffs for 90 days starting on December 1 while they sought to resolve their trade disputes that have seen the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods disrupted by tariffs. While Trump hailed the agreement with Xi "an incredible deal", a lack of detail from the Chinese side has left investors and analysts wondering if Trump's exuberance is warranted. "It doesn't seem like anything was actually agreed to at the dinner and White House officials are contorting themselves into pretzels to reconcile Trump's tweets (which seem if not completely fabricated then grossly exaggerated) with reality," J.P. Morgan Chase said in a trading note. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday that a reduction in Chinese tariffs on US cars and agricultural and energy commodities would be a "litmus test" for whether US-China trade talks were on track. Washington also expects China to promptly address structural issues including intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, US officials have said. White House national security adviser John Bolton told The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council meeting on Tuesday that Chinese theft of US intellectual property was among the administration's top concerns. He said the United States should look into a rule that would bar imports of Chinese products that used stolen US intellectual property. US Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican, in February 2017 introduced a bill that would have allowed the US government to punish Chinese intellectual property theft by imposing duties on the country's imports. The legislation, which had eight Republican cosponsors but was not put to a vote, envisaged using revenue raised by the duties to compensate those harmed by China's actions. Trump has long accused China of unfair trade practices that hurt Americans and the US economy. "When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power," he said on Tuesday. His appointment of Lighthizer to lead the talks instead of Mnuchin puts one of the administration's toughest China critics in charge. Trump said on Tuesday that Lighthizer would work closely with Mnuchin, Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro, who is a notorious China hawk. Neither the Chinese government nor official state media has made any mention of the 90-day time limit to reaching a consensus on trade, just one of several areas in which both countries' accounts of the terms agreed during the leaders' summit have varied. Trump repeated on Tuesday that China had agreed to "start buying agricultural product[s] and more immediately", a commitment that was absent from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs' statement on Sunday. Trump also tweeted on Tuesday: "MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN." He "seems to be convinced that tariffs are actually a tax paid by other countries, not by the American consumer as is in fact the case", said Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China. "However I will give it to him that he has managed to bring China to the table," said Guajardo, who is now a senior director at Washington-based McLarty Associates focusing on international trade. Just two days before his meeting with Xi, Trump told reporters that he "[liked] the deal we have right now", referring to "billions and billions of dollars coming into the United States in the form of tariffs or taxes". That was a very different message to the one that emerged immediately after the dinner, when Trump said that he and Xi had agreed on "an incredible deal" and that US-China relations had taken a "big leap forward". Trump's disparate statements about his commitment to brokering a lasting deal with China were the result of him trying to both appease the stock markets and gain leverage in the negotiations with China at the same time, Guajardo said. "He's constantly invoking the stock exchange as a referendum on his presidency," Guajardo said. The slump in the US markets on Tuesday after the president called himself "Tariff Man" was proof, he said, that if "you live by the stock exchange, you die by the stock exchange." ^ top ^

Beijing may be 'testing Tokyo's resolve' with drilling missions in contested parts of East China Sea (SCMP)
Tokyo has lodged an official complaint with Beijing after a Chinese exploration vessel was identified operating in a contested part of the East China Sea, with analysts in Japan suggesting Beijing was "testing" Tokyo's resolve. The Chinese ship was sighted in mid-November apparently drilling test boreholes into the seabed in search of oil or gas deposits close to the median line Japan proposed should serve as the maritime border between the two nations. The two countries' Exclusive Economic Zones overlap in the East China Sea, leading to the dispute over precisely where the line should be drawn, while there is also concern in Japan that resources extracted on the Chinese side may actually be coming from deposits in the Japanese sector. Tokyo has proposed the problem be resolved by jointly developing the resources in the region, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approaching Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina to repeat Tokyo's call for the two governments to reopen talks. An agreement reached in 2008 between the two nations to work together to extract any natural resources has been put on hold since tensions intensified over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands – which are known as the Senkaku islands in Japan. Abe's request to Xi was likely prompted by the Chinese test drilling operation, which Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga criticised in a regular press conference in Tokyo on Monday. "It is extremely regrettable that China has continued its unilateral development activities in the waters, while the boundary [between Japan and China] has not been set," he said. Japan made an official protest through diplomatic channels "immediately" after the ship's activities were reported, he said. Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University, said Beijing was exerting pressure on Japan to determine the resolve within the Abe administration to resist. "This is a typical tactic that we have seen the Chinese government use time after time and often you will see Beijing backtrack – just as they have in the trade war with the US – when they meet resistance," he said. "If they sense that their adversary is weak, they continue to push and I believe the problem in this case is that the Japanese government has made no effort to carry out similar exploration for resources. The best thing would have been for both sides to negotiate and keep to their agreements, but China does not seem to want to keep its word." Shimada also said the test drilling was part of a broader Chinese plan to lay claim to larger areas of the East China Sea and boost its claim to sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, in much the same way it has in the South China Sea. "The Senkakus are relatively close to the area where this ship is operating and I believe it is quite significant that exploration has already shown that there is little oil and gas in this area at all," he said. "China's real intention is to get closer and closer to the Senkakus and to use their strong presence to bolster their claims. "Right now, they are testing the resolve of the Japanese government and waiting to see just how firm Tokyo is in response to this provocation." ^ top ^

Warm words from Xi Jinping for Panama on first state visit by a Chinese leader (SCMP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping has landed in Panama for the first state visit by a Chinese leader to the small Central American nation, made possible when Panama switched its diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing last year. Xi was welcomed by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela as he arrived in Tocumen international airport on Sunday 8pm local time. According to China's state broadcaster CCTV, Xi said Sino-Panama relations had made strong progress since the official establishment of diplomatic ties, with cooperation yielding successful results in various fields. "China-Panama cooperation carries huge potential," he added. In an article written for local newspaper La Estrella de Panama, Xi said he had "high expectations" for the visit. The warm ties follow Panama's diplomatic break with Taipei in June last year. Since then, two more Central American countries – Dominican Republic and El Salvador – have this year also made the diplomatic shift. The new friendships are a result of efforts to lure countries with formal relations with Taiwan – a self-ruled island which China claims as its own – to switch their allegiance to Beijing. For the US, it is also an alarming sign of Beijing's growing ties with Latin American countries and increasing influence in Central America, which Washington sees as its backyard. China has been wooing the region with energy and infrastructure deals at the same time US President Donald Trump has pulled his country out of a Trans-Pacific trade pact involving countries such as Chile, Mexico and Peru, and taken a stricter stance on deporting illegal migrants from the region. In October, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Latin American countries to keep their "eyes wide open" when it came to Chinese investment, amid a growing battle for influence in the region. Despite Washington's warnings, Varela welcomed Chinese investments with open arms while dismissing the idea Panama was playing "chequebook politics". Since diplomatic ties were established in June last year, Panama has already guaranteed 28 diplomatic and investment agreements with China – including a US$500 million renminbi-denominated "Panda" bond expected before the end of the year, contracts for a port, convention centre and a new bridge over the Panama Canal. Direct flights have also been launched between the two countries and a free-trade agreement has been under negotiation since July this year. While China is Panama's third largest export destination, Panama is only China's eighth largest trading partner in the whole of Latin America, according to the Chinese ministry of commerce. However, Chinese state media has lavished praise on Panama as the first Latin American country to partner with China on the "Belt and Road Initiative", Beijing's trillion-dollar infrastructure project to bring investment in roads, railways and ports to countries around the world. Beijing is also the second largest customer, after the US, of the key Panama Canal, with six per cent of the world's trade passing through every year between Central and South America and the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Xi will visit the canal's new Cocoli Locks, while also meeting business leaders and attending official meetings with Varela on Monday. Panama is Xi's third stop in a series of state visits after Spain and Argentina, where he struck a 90-day truce on the trade war with Trump on the sidelines of the G20. In Xi's meetings with Argentina President Mauricio Macri after the G20, more than 30 agriculture and investment deals were signed, as well as an US$8 billion extension to last year's currency swap deal, bringing the total swap amount to US$18.7 billion. Xi will visit Portugal on Tuesday on the last stop of his tour. ^ top ^

President's G20 speech wins praise worldwide (China Daily)
International experts applauded President Xi Jinping's speech at the G20 Leaders' Summit for promoting multilateralism, global cooperation and free trade at a time when the world is facing a surge in unilateralism and protectionism. Xi called on G20 member states to stay committed to openness and cooperation, uphold the multilateral trading system, forge strong partnerships and step up macro policy coordination. Addressing the first session of the 13th G20 summit in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, on Friday he also urged commitment to innovation to create new momentum for growth and to win-win cooperation to promote inclusive global development. "Facing various challenges, we must have a stronger sense of urgency, be rational in approach and look beyond the horizon. We must fulfill our responsibility and steer the global economy in the right direction," said Xi, who was attending a G20 summit for the sixth time since his first in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2013. Luigi Gambardella, president of the Brussels-based ChinaEU, an information and communication technology platform, said Xi's speech sends a clear and firm message that China will continue to support the multilateral system and global cooperation, particularly at a time when the international community is faced with unprecedented uncertainties and risks posed by unilateralism and protectionism. "China's commitment to openness and cooperation at G20, which was convened following the 2008 financial crisis to jointly work to boost global growth, is of great significance to the world economy, of which China is a driving force," he said. Statistics show that the country has contributed more than 30 percent of global growth in the past decade. Gambardella said China's position is very close to Europe's on openness of markets, following World Trade Organization rules, and spurring innovation for growth. "The two sides should work together in these areas and become reliable partners," he said. David Gosset, founder of the Europe-China Forum, said Xi's speech at the first G20 summit held in Latin America is a clear reaffirmation of China's commitment to inclusive economic development and global stability in a world of unprecedented interdependence. "In a time marked by fears, irrationalities and confusion, Xi Jinping is rightly calling for a rational approach to solve the issues we collectively face," he said. Gosset believes China's openness and predictability has become a key stabilizing factor in a world of risks and uncertainties. The G20 consists of 19 developing and developed countries plus the European Union. Their economies combined account for 86 percent of the world's GDP and 80 percent of global trade. The summit has become a major forum for global economic cooperation. Rajneesh Bhuee, a consultant economist with Chalkstone Mosaic, a strategic political and social risk management company in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, said Xi's "insightful and motivating speech" could not have come at a better time. "As he notes, this is a time for the global community to unite and steer the economy in the right direction and away from headwinds including the anti-globalization wave," she said. Bhuee said Xi's speech touched on current and much-needed solutions in pushing for global economic growth and positive Sino-African relations that will allow African countries to boost their economic development through implementing projects geared toward sustainable development and innovation. Andrew Cainey, an associate fellow with the Asia-Pacific program at independent policy institute Chatham House in London, said Xi's speech articulates the leadership role that China is now taking on at a time when the United States is taking a step back. "I think Xi made constructive comments in underlining support for global governance and adjustments/reform to make global government work better," he said. Clifford Kiracofe, a former senior staff member with the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said, "In the face of a slowing global economy, the last thing we need is a trade war which hurts China and the US and also the rest of the world." He said Xi is right to emphasize a global perspective, adding, "The globalization process must be fair to all parties and it must take into account diversity and different models of development." Julian Beer, a professor and deputy vice-chancellor of Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom, said Xi's speech highlighted that economic, political and social risks were rising globally and he was "so very right to do so". "We are in one of the most challenging and uncertain times I can remember," Beer said. Timov Andreev, an international expert with the Valdai International Discussion Club, a Moscow think tank, praised Xi for saying that mutual trust and mutual respect are the most important factors in international relations. "As the world's second-largest economy, good relations between China and other countries contribute to the stability of the world," he said. Tang Ying in Nairobi, Ren Qi in Moscow, Wang Mingjie in London, Dong Leshuo in Washington and Chang Jun in San Francisco contributed to this story. ^ top ^

China's plastic waste import ban forcing US and Japan to rethink options (SCMP)
China's ban on imports of plastic waste is forcing nations like Japan and the United States to scramble as they look for new ways to deal with their trash, including exporting recyclable waste to Southeast Asia. But instead of finding solutions, it appears the problem of disposing of recyclables has only become exacerbated, especially with the exploitation of developing countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam, which lack the regulatory infrastructure to prevent illegal dumping. The ripple effects of developed nations being banned from shipping their scrap waste to China, previously the world's biggest importer of plastic waste for recycling, have also surfaced in Japan. Waste management companies are being flooded with requests to handle the extra plastic waste but many have reached their legal limits. "The storerooms of intermediary companies are filled to the brim with garbage from businesses and factories," said one official from a waste management company in Kanagawa prefecture. China was criticised at a meeting of the World Trade Organisation in October for its abrupt policy shift, which many Western countries believe is detrimental to the global environment. But after decades of importing most of the world's trash, China has had enough – something advocates and activists say should come as no surprise, since China, the world's second-largest economy, has an obligation to consider the health of its own people. As its quality of life improves, the nation has naturally decided to reduce its emissions, including those from recycling plastics, experts say. For decades, nearly half of the planet's rubbish had been sent to China, where items such as single-use soda bottles, food wrappers and plastic bags were recycled to make more plastics and raw materials for chemicals. In 2015, China imported about 47 million metric tons of recyclable waste, according to US media reports. According to the journal Science Advances, research done at the University of Georgia shows that China's import ban will leave 111 million metric tons of plastic trash displaced by 2030. In July last year, China said it would ban 24 types of solid waste, including plastics, scrap paper and discarded textiles, from overseas vendors because of the damage it does to the environment and people's health. Since the ban in January this year, recycling businesses around the world have been thrown into turmoil, with recyclable waste piling up at waste treatment sites, according to Western media. In Japan, even if intermediate processors are commissioned to dispose of recyclable waste, facilities are subject to legal limits and there are many vendors that refuse to accept the trash. Japan exports about 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year and until last year around half went to China. According to about a quarter of 102 local governments that responded to an environment ministry survey, the amount of plastics stored at local scrap companies increased between January and July, with some reporting that piled-up waste had exceeded the legal limits. Limit violations were found at five local governments, while 34 municipalities said they were struggling to find destinations for their waste. Plastic waste disposal increased at 56 per cent of intermediate processors that incinerate or shred plastics and at 25 per cent of final processors that bury waste in landfills, while 34.9 per cent of companies said they were limiting or considering restricting the amount of plastics they accept. Japan produces the largest amount of plastic waste per person after the United States and has lagged behind other countries in curbing the use of plastics despite growing fears over environmental pollution. Some industry insiders say the only option is to enhance the technical capabilities of recycling facilities through deregulation as well as to raise awareness of wasteful behaviour among retailers and consumers. The ministry is compiling a strategy to reduce plastic waste, and sources say it is considering including a numerical target for cutting the amount of disposable plastic waste by 25 per cent by 2030, while increasing the use of environmentally friendly bioplastics made from plants. Countries including the US, feeling most of the sting as the world's biggest exporter of scrap, brought up the import ban at the WTO's meeting on October 22. Along with the European Union, South Korea, Canada and Australia, Washington voiced concerns that China had not given a sufficient explanation for its policy change. The US argued that if the disruption of the global recycling trade continued, there "could be a heightened threat of increased marine litter", among other complaints. Japan also expressed its concern over the recycling crisis. China, however, has committed further by saying it plans to expand its import ban on scrap materials to cover more categories. It says waste facilities that do not meet environmental standards are still rampant, leading to water and air pollution. "The problem of foreign garbage is loathed by everyone in China," said an official in charge of international cooperation at China's environmental protection ministry, at a press briefing when the announcement of the ban was made in July last year. Since China's ban, exports from the US and other Western nations to countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and India have surged. But after it was revealed in October that a large amount of illegal dumping had occurred in Malaysia, many developing nations have hinted they intend to follow in China's footsteps with their own restrictions on recyclable waste. At any rate, the policy is forcing rich nations to reconsider what to do with their waste in the long term now that they can no longer dump it in China's backyard. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Li urges ethical approach to research (China Daily)
Texte Premier Li Keqiang urged scientists and research institutes to exercise more integrity and professionalism and to achieve excellence. Misconduct, he said, including ethical violations, should be seriously investigated and punished. Li also encouraged the promotion of a scientific spirit, urged research professionals to concentrate on their studies and called for more opportunities for young people to develop their talents. The premier made the remarks as he presided over the first plenary meeting of the National Science and Technology Leading Group-revamped in August from the previous National Science, Technology and Education Leading Group-which oversees China's science and technology sector. The meeting aimed to promote scientific and technological innovation, and to give greater autonomy to research institutes and professionals. Li said more vigorous efforts are necessary to promote technological innovation and high-quality development, which will usher in a new global tech revolution and accelerate China's economic restructuring. He also called for more focus on core technologies, cultivation of new economic drivers and further integration of science and technology with the economy. Long-term stable support should be provided for basic research, which Li said is the engine of the country's science and technology sector. Enterprises and individuals should be guided to make greater investments in the area and strive for more original achievements, he said. The market should play a decisive role in promoting innovation, and leading enterprises should lead major sci-tech projects to transform research breakthroughs into real products, Li said. He urged development of new platforms by next-generation research institutes-industrial internet platforms, for example-to move the economy to mid-level and higher. The premier also called for strengthened intellectual property rights protection and the construction of a more pleasant environment for fostering innovation. Research institutes and professionals should be given more autonomy, and other incentives should be offered, including more benefits for sharing research, Li said. The group, which is headed by Li, includes ministerial-level officials from more than 10 State Council departments. It was set up to work on and review national strategies, plans and major policies in science and technology, to decide on crucial sci-tech missions and programs and to coordinate different departments. Vice-Premier Liu He is the group's deputy head and Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology, is director of its general office. Last year, about 1.76 trillion yuan ($255 billion) was spent on research and development nationwide, an increase of 12.3 percent year-on-year. ^ top ^

Ministry vows tough line on crime gangs (China Daily)
Texte Chinese police have cracked 1.18 million cases of theft, robbery and fraud since the beginning of the year and retrieved property worth 6.56 billion yuan ($951 million) for members of the public, the Ministry of Public Security announced on Thursday. The ministry will continue to enhance the investigative capacity of police and take multiple measures to beef up their strength to crack down on such crimes across the country, said Chen Shiqu, deputy director of the ministry's Criminal Investigation Bureau. "All local public security bureaus around the country will closely monitor the criminal situation and crack it whenever they discover one," he said, adding that the ministry will team up with local bureaus to track down some of the country's major cross-regional criminal gangs. A new crackdown targeting telecommunication and online crimes kicked off this month and will run to the end of next year, ministry spokesman Guo Lin said. Theft, robbery and fraud are the most common crimes, Chen said. Due to the development of the internet, fast and convenient communication channels, and the prevalence of mobile payment, crimes have undergone some major changes, becoming more cross-regional and professional, he said. The majority of such crimes are committed serially and by syndicates instead of individuals. They gather by location and kinship and spread their criminal methods across the country, seriously undermining public security, he said. In cyberspace, new types of crime have begun to pop up where criminals don't necessarily have to make physical contact with victims, in contrast to some traditional ones such as street scams. A large criminal syndicate busted recently by Chinese police, involving sales of fake medicines and overseas medical care worth about 1 billion yuan ($145 million), is one of the new types of criminal enterprises that have sprung up in recent years, Chen said. Police detained 132 suspects after cracking more than 2,000 cases involving the syndicate, froze 700 million yuan and seized more than 3,000 boxes of fake drugs. The syndicate, registered as a biotechnology company in Dalian, Liaoning province, used an agent network of beauty salons across the country to lure victims abroad with offers of free luxury trips and medical checkups. Its sales staff, disguised as certified doctors and medical professors from the United States, diagnosed the tourists with cancer and talked them into buying a cancer drug called "Cancer Shield", which was priced from 98,000($14,200) to 398,000 yuan and labeled as being produced in the US. The drug, seized by the police, was found to be a domestically produced placebo that cost no more than a few hundred yuan. "Criminals today are using more complicated methods and becoming better hidden, which adds more difficulties to our investigation," Chen said. "But no matter how they change their methods, public security bodies will unswervingly adhere to strict law enforcement and strengthen our force in cracking down on theft, robbery and fraud to protect our people's property." ^ top ^

China tightens regulation of after-school institutions (Xinhua)
China's Ministry of Education has said that 401,050 after-school training institutions have been examined amid a national campaign targeting unlicensed and unauthorized extracurricular programs that put students under too much pressure. The ministry said that 272,842 training institutions were found to have problems, among which 211,225 had completed rectifications by the end of November. A number of after-school institutions were found to have taught courses that were too advanced and placed children under too much pressure, causing unnecessary competition among students. The ministry said that an online management platform will soon be launched to tighten scrutiny of after-school training institutions. Education authorities nationwide will be able to blacklist poorly-managed institutions and accept public complaints about training programs via the platform. ^ top ^

Chinese premier urges technological innovation to support development (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called for deeper reform to inspire creativity throughout society, and make technological innovation better support and guide the development. Li, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks at the first plenary session of the national leading group on science and technology, which he heads. Li said innovation is vital for a country's future and destiny, and China should amplify its strengths in human resources and domestic market to advance its technological innovation and facilitate high-quality development as the country is going through economic transformation and upgrading. Li called for focusing on breakthroughs in key technologies, fostering new growth drivers, and promoting technology-economy integration. He asked for deeper reform on the management system for science and technology and stronger protection of intellectual property, to create a favorable environment for innovation. Li highlighted the role of basic research as the root of the scientific system, calling for strengthened long-term and consistent support for basic research, and urging enterprises and other social forces to invest more in this field. He noted that the spirit of scientists should be promoted to encourage researchers to devote themselves to researching, adding that more opportunities should be created for young people, and an honest, rigorous and pragmatic academic atmosphere should be built. Han Zheng, another member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, also attended the meeting. ^ top ^

Religious believers learn about laws in Charter Week (Global Times)
The Islamic community in Southwest China's Yunnan Province held a quiz contest to popularize the Constitution and regulations on religious affairs during China's first "Constitution Week," which was hailed by an expert as a move to enhance stability and the rule of law. Some 300 Muslims from 12 cities and autonomous prefectures in Yunnan formed 20 teams and competed on Tuesday, China's fifth Constitution Day, in Kunming, capital of Yunnan. The participants, who come from mosques and scripture schools, expressed enthusiasm "greater than we had expected," said Dai Junfeng, secretary-general of the Yunnan Provincial Islamic Association, which organized the contest. Quiz questions focus on the Constitution, other laws, religion-related regulations, and the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. "Given only one month to prepare for the contest, participants all performed very well, demonstrating they attach great importance to the event," Dai told the Global Times on Thursday. A poem recitation performance held after the contest had lyrics saying, "I am proud to be a Chinese and to be a Chinese Muslim," said Dai, showing believers recognize that religious activities must be conducted in line with laws and Chinese society. Shen Guiping, a religious expert at the Central Institute of Socialism in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that "legal education used to be insufficient among religious groups, who have better knowledge of religious canons than the Constitution and other laws." China launched its first "Constitution Week" from Sunday to December 8, with various activities to help people gain awareness of their legal rights and responsibilities. Copies of the Constitution in different ethnic languages were delivered to religious people-majority areas such as the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. A light show on the rule of law was arranged in the square in front of the Potala Palace in Tibet on Monday, local media reported. ^ top ^

Senior official urges expanding publicity, education on Constitution (Xinhua)
A senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official has called for actively responding to what the people need and expect and earnestly performing duties conferred by the Constitution and laws. Guo Shengkun, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Commission for the Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks during an inspection in central China's Henan Province on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday is the country's fifth Constitution Day. The constitutional amendment, which was adopted at the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), embodies the major innovative achievements in theory, practice and systems made by the CPC and the people through practice, Guo said. "This has highly unified the proposition of the Party, the will of the country, and the wish of the people," he said. Guo called for expanding publicity and education on the Constitution and laws, enhancing the society's consciousness of rule of law, promoting law-based governance, and accelerating construction of a country of socialist rule of law. During the inspection, Guo also urged more efforts to push forward the reform on public interest litigation systems, in order to promote law-based government administration and strict law enforcement as well as to safeguard national and public interests. ^ top ^

Human Rights Watch calls on China to free detained labour activists (SCMP)
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on the Chinese government to set free a group of over 30 labour activists, factory workers, college students and trade union officials detained in a nationwide crackdown launched in mid-2018. In July, workers at Jasic International, a welding-machinery manufacturer in southern Shenzhen city, staged protests after being fired by their employer while attempting to form an autonomous labour union. The incident has sparked waves of detentions by the Chinese authorities followed by further activist demonstrations from supporters from across the country, including a group of student activists who identify as Marxists from top universities. Those who have been "arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared" should be immediately released, Human Rights Watch said in a statement. "It's ironic that a self-proclaimed socialist government is cracking down on young Marxists," Yaqiu Wang, New York-based China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "International labour organisations and universities around the world should show solidarity with Chinese workers and students and speak out against China's suppression of labour activism," Wang said. China's Ministry of Public Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The stability-obsessed Chinese Communist Party is suspicious of all grass roots organisations that operate beyond its control, especially any that might lead to large-scale protests. Only worker unions that are registered with the official All-China Federation of Trade Unions are considered legal. The Jasic workers had been willing to register, but had sought to elect their own union leaders, rather than allowing the company management to choose them. As a member of the International Labour Organisation, China should also be obliged to allow workers to freely associate and collectively bargain, Human Rights Watch said. Thirty-two individuals remain detained, including labour union officials who helped workers apply to set up their autonomous union, and four have been charged with the crime of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", according to the Jasic Workers Support Group, a collection of activists. ^ top ^

China to issue new measure for social credit system (Xinhua)
China will take enterprises' credit data into consideration in the approval procedure of initial public offerings as part of the effort to develop a national social credit system, the China Daily reported Tuesday. Enterprises with past records of untrustworthiness will be strictly examined by the securities regulator when applying for initial public offerings and the issuance of convertible bonds, according to a memorandum of understanding issued last week by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Meanwhile, the government will pay close attention to the credit information of enterprises after issuing approvals. "The new MOU does not represent a significant policy shift for the current approval procedure. It is expected to give warnings to market participants failing to obey the rules," an official with the CSRC told the newspaper. The move is part of China's broader goal at developing a system aimed to build a culture of trust in society, collecting data in various fields. The broad social credit system is expected to rank individuals and enterprises, and violators with unethical behavior will be punished according to the rules. The system, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2020, will play a role in serving the non-financial sector and creating a fair business environment, Zhang Chun, an official with the NDRC, told the newspaper. The commission has signed more than 40 memorandums of cooperation with different regulatory authorities, and has launched more than 100 measures, both rewards and punishments, Zhang added. ^ top ^

China to prevent major tax evaders from leaving the country (Global Times)
China will shore up efforts to fight major tax violations starting January 2019 by limiting people who fail to pay accumulated taxes of 100,000 yuan ($14,526) from leaving the country. The State Administration of Taxation reduced the amount for major dishonest tax violation cases from defaulting on 1 million yuan to 100,000 yuan, according to a circular issued on its official website. Enterprises that default on tax payments and refuse to contact tax authorities will be a new focus of the campaign, according to the official document. The defaulter's name, gender and identification card number will be blacklisted as part of the punishment. If an enterprise defaults on taxes, its taxpayer registration number, address and private information of its legal representative and person in charge will also be published. Defaulters will be prevented from leaving the country until they have settled the amount and overdue fine. ^ top ^

China extends poverty relief, social security for disabled: report (Xinhua)
China has taken various measures to promote poverty alleviation and social security for the disabled, according to a report published by the Social Sciences Academic Press. Report on the cause for persons with disabilities in China (2018) said that in 2017, a total of 706,000 disabled people received skill training, and 105,000 were hired at 6,692 special poverty-relief bases. A total of 1 billion yuan (144 million US dollars) was used to renovate dilapidated houses for the disabled striken by poverty in rural areas, benefiting 82,000 households, it said. Noting that subsidies for living allowances for disabled people in need and subsidies to cover the care and treatment for the severely disabled had been extended to cover all county-level regions, the report said over 20 million people received such subsidies in 2017, up 39.5 percent from a year earlier. More than 26 million people with disabilities in both urban and rural areas have participated in social endowment insurance schemes, and 231,000 workers from 7,923 foster institutions can provide services for the disabled, according to the report. Basic public services for the disabled have also been improved, with more than 8.5 million people with disabilities receiving rehabilitation services in 2017. ^ top ^

China punishes over 7,800 officials for violating frugality rules in October (Xinhua)
Texte China's top anti-graft body said 7,819 officials were punished for violating frugality rules in October. The officials were involved in 5,585 cases, said the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission in a statement. Awarding an unauthorized allowance or bonus was the most common misdemeanor, followed by giving or accepting gifts and misuse of public vehicles, said the statement. A total of 68,509 officials involved in 48,456 cases were punished in the first ten months of 2018, it said. The CPC released its eight-point rules in late 2012 to reduce undesirable work practices and maintain close ties with the people, which include requirements on frugality. The anti-graft body has a monthly reporting system on the implementation of the austerity rules within provincial-level governments, central Party and government agencies, centrally administered state-owned enterprises, and central financial institutions. ^ top ^

Ex-Interpol chief facing corruption charges is expelled from Chinese government advisory body (SCMP)
The Chinese former head of Interpol, who is facing corruption charges in his home country, has been expelled from China's top political advisory board, state media said on Friday. The National Committee for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) agreed to revoke Meng Hongwei's membership, Xinhua news agency reported. The CPPCC is a 2,000-strong assembly of delegates whose role is to "advise" the government by putting policy suggestions. Although powerless, it includes celebrities such as film star Jackie Chan, basketball player Yao Ming and some of China's richest corporate chiefs. Meng, also a vice public security minister, disappeared in September while on a visit to China from France, where Interpol is based. Authorities revealed he was facing a corruption investigation, and Meng resigned as head of the international police organisation. Meng's wife, Grace, has been living under French police protection in the city of Lyon, close to Interpol headquarters, since she reported that her husband had gone missing. She said she cannot believe the accusation against her husband and claimed he is the target of "political persecution". She said the term "anti-corruption" has become a synonym for criminal charges that could not be proven. The committee also accepted the resignation of the former head of China's Buddhist association, abbot Xuecheng, who faces criminal investigation for sexual assault and financial crime. He has also been removed as deputy head of the ethnic and religious committee of the CPPCC. A report by fellow monks earlier this year accused Xuecheng of sexual and financial improprieties, including coercing nuns to have sex with him. Investigators had also uncovered evidence that his monastery had broken financial rules. Before his fall from grace, Xuecheng was a prominent personality in Chinese Buddhist life, with a social media following of millions. ^ top ^



Hong Kong's anti-terrorism task force goes to Xinjiang to study local methods, as China rejects international calls to investigate mass internment centres (SCMP)
Hong Kong's anti-terrorism task force headed to China's northwestern region of Xinjiang on Thursday to study how its counterpart there has tackled extremists, the Post has learned. The visit takes place against the backdrop of international calls to investigate mass internment centres for Muslim minorities in the region. But a government source stressed the move did not mean Hong Kong supported such centres, or that it would be borrowing ideas from them, as the local contexts were different. "Xinjiang is, among all places, where China has vowed the most to fight against terrorism. It is therefore a good place for us to learn how officers there have gathered intelligence and protected facilities," the insider said. "The controversial re-education centres are among the measures used but that doesn't mean Hong Kong should borrow the idea. As a matter of fact, we have no such needs due to the differences in terrorism situations we each face." The Post understood that deputy security minister Sonny Au Chi-kwong was leading seven members from the Interdepartmental Counterterrorism Unit, established in April, to visit the province for five days to study its counterterrorism measures and facilities. "The response time to terrorist attacks in Xinjiang is just one minute, to avoid mass casualties. It is worth knowing how they manage to execute such a prompt response," the source continued. On a similar mission, security minister John Lee Ka-chiu will next month lead the unit chiefs to Beijing and southwestern Yunnan province. Islamist terrorists have been said to be using coastal routes to slip into Xinjiang via Myanmar and Vietnam and then Yunnan in recent years. The Security Bureau confirmed the visit and said members from six law enforcement agencies in the unit would exchange views on counterterrorism-related areas with their counterparts in Xinjiang. It did not confirm the reported visit to Beijing next month. The bureau and local law enforcement have visited the northwestern province every few years. This current trip comes just after China rejected a German human rights delegation's request to visit Xinjiang to investigate detention centres for Uygurs. China implemented restrictive policies in Xinjiang as part of a "strike hard" campaign to combat terrorism after riots by the Uygur ethic minority in the autonomous region's capital Urumqi in 2009. Last week, Uygur woman Mihrigul Tursun told the United States Congress she was tortured multiple times while detained in one of the centres, where a number of detainees died. Germany, along with the United States and France, called on China to close the camps during a UN review of China's human rights record in Geneva last month, as rights campaigners said up to a million members of the Uygur minority and other Muslims were detained. Chinese officials have been pushing back against growing criticism of the detention of Muslim minorities in internment camps, claiming authorities were merely providing professional training and education. Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the world should ignore "gossip" about the Xinjiang region and trust the authorities there. "[People] should not listen to gossip or rumours, because the Xinjiang regional government, of course, understands the situation in Xinjiang best, and not other people or organisations," Wang said after meeting German foreign minister Heiko Maas in Beijing. "The efforts are completely in line with the direction the international community has taken to combat terrorism, and are an important part of the global fight against terrorism." Hong Kong's anti-terrorism task force was established in April to boost the city's preparedness and capability in light of global terror threats and attacks. The task force was announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her policy address in October 2017. Headed by the Security Bureau, the unit comprises 43 officers from the six disciplined services, namely the police, customs, immigration, correctional services, the fire services authority and the Government Flying Service. ^ top ^

China 'rejects German human rights delegation's request' to visit Xinjiang (SCMP)
China has denied a German human rights delegation access to the far western region of Xinjiang to investigate mass detention centres for Uygurs, according to the German foreign ministry. German Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler said on Tuesday that the request was made as part of preparations for the annual German-Chinese Human Rights Dialogue in Lhasa on Thursday and Friday. "I am shocked by reports of the treatment of the Turkic Uygur minority, more than one million of whom are estimated to be imprisoned in internment camps in Xinjiang," Kofler said, adding that she would continue to ask for permission to travel to Xinjiang. She said she would also raise Germany's concerns about religious freedom, civil society, and other human rights issues in China during the meeting in Tibet. Germany has been a vocal critic of China's human rights record, including the interment camps in Xinjiang. China says the camps are vocational training centres and part of its anti-terrorism efforts, but critics say Uygurs are forced into centres in violation of human rights. Former inmates and monitoring groups say people in the camps are subjected to prison-like conditions and forced to renounce their religion and cultural background. On a trip to China last month, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Beijing to be more transparent about conditions in the camps. Germany, along with the United States and France, called on China to close the camps during a United Nations review of China's human rights record in Geneva last month. Last week, Uygur woman Mihrigul Tursun told the United States Congress that she was tortured multiple times while detained in one of the centres, where a number of detainees died. After the dialogue in Tibet, Kofler will return to Beijing to meet German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is on a state visit. Last year's human rights dialogue was cancelled by China, with neither China nor Germany saying why it was called off. ^ top ^



Former Hong Kong minister Patrick Ho Chi-ping convicted in US court on 7 of 8 counts in bribery and money-laundering case (SCMP)
Former Hong Kong minister Patrick Ho Chi-ping has been found guilty by a federal jury in New York of offering millions of dollars in bribes to African officials, and now faces jail time in the United States. On Wednesday afternoon, local time, Ho was convicted by the New York Southern District Court jury on seven of eight counts of bribery and money laundering over oil rights for Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy, in Chad and Uganda. "Expected. It's like that," Ho told Hong Kong reporters in Cantonese before leaving the courtroom to return to the Metropolitan Correctional Centre, where he has been held for more than a year. He also thanked his friends in Hong Kong without giving names, and shook hands with every member of his legal team. Ho was unanimously acquitted of one money-laundering charge in Chad, as the jury had reservations about whether the money offered in this case came under US jurisdiction. He will be sentenced on March 14. The maximum penalty for each bribery count is five years' imprisonment and 20 years for money laundering, though he could be sentenced to concurrent terms. Ho, 69, was Hong Kong's home affairs minister from 2002 to 2007. He later became the deputy secretary general of a think tank that was financed by CEFC. Since then, he has been an advocate for the "Belt and Road Initiative", China's global trade strategy. In November 2017, he was arrested at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York and charged with five counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and three counts of money laundering involving US$2.9 million in bribes given to state leaders and officials of Chad and Uganda. Defendant turned witness Cheikh Gadio, the middleman in talks on oil rights between CEFC and Chad president Idriss Déby, previously testified that Ho offered US$2 million wrapped in gift boxes to the leader during a visit to the African nation in December 2014. Ho's lawyer argued the payment was no more than a "charitable donation" to forge long-term relations with Chad. The jury reached its decision after about three hours of deliberation. They asked the court for a copy of some key evidence, including the bank records of CEFC, and the think tank Ho led. Ho's legal team would not comment on whether he will appeal. "That would be left to after the sentencing," his lawyer Edward Kim said. Former US trial lawyer Clay Porter, now head of investigation at consultancy firm Navigant, said while he predicted Ho was likely to appeal, it would be difficult for Ho to argue again about the nature of payments to African leaders. "The jury didn't find [that the payments] were a charitable contribution. The jury found it to be a bribe," Porter said. "Overturning a jury's finding is exceedingly rare." Laura Perkins, former assistant chief of the US justice department's FCPA Unit under its Criminal Division, said Ho might appeal on the grounds of legal errors committed by judge Loretta Preska. "For example, he can appeal if he believes the judge improperly denied his legal objections to the government's charges, or that the judge allowed the government to present evidence that she should not have allowed," she said. Separately, to sentence Ho based on the Foreign Corruption Practices Act, the judge would have to consider the nature of the case and give numerical weight to the roles he played in the charges, the amount of bribes involved, the heads of African states he was trying to bribe, as well as his criminal record. Jason Ng, a New York lawyer based in Hong Kong, said the judge in Ho's case could look into whether the seven charges he was convicted of were related to the same action. Ng, who is also a spokesman for the city's Progressive Lawyers Group, said: "If Ho is seen as doing one thing wrong but violating different laws, the judge may think he should not be penalised seven times for the same action. "But the case also involves different African countries … It is also possible to be seen as being involved in separate actions, and so each one should be penalised." Other factors that could be considered include whether Ho had shown remorse during the trial, and the extent of deterrence needed, according to Ng. Perkins explained that the sentencing involved a mechanical calculation of these factors, after which the judge is free to order any sentence she deemed appropriate, ranging from no jail time to the maximum penalty. Porter said because Ho had pleaded not guilty to the charges, he could receive a heavier jail sentence than if he had cooperated. Apart from the implications surrounding China's expansion strategy, the high-profile case also raised questions about the UN's ability to prevent corruption, with three former UN General Assembly presidents mentioned in court proceedings. Two of the former officials were suspected of being involved in part of the bribery scheme, while a third testified in the case. In 2002, then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa appointed Patrick Ho as home affairs minister. During Ho's corruption trial, the prosecution produced records showing Andrew Lo, former secretary general of the CEFC, was aware of Ho offering bribes of US$2 million to Chad president Idriss Debby and US$500,000 to Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa. Lo, who died in February of suspected flu, was former senior special assistant to Tung Chee-hwa during his tenure as chief executive. A person close to former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa said Tung was neither a member of the China Energy Fund Committee nor related to the operating of the fund in any capacity. "Regarding Patrick Ho's conviction in the United States, Mr Tung is completely unaware of his actions at the time," the person said. "Mr Tung feels sorry for Mr Ho for his suffering in the US." ^ top ^

No plans to unseat Eddie Chu from Legco, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says of lawmaker barred from rural election over independence views (SCMP)
Hong Kong's leader has said her administration has no plans to unseat lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who was disqualified from running in a rural representative election over his stance on the city's independence and self-determination. On Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said authorities would instead review existing legislation on local elections and look into whether this had to be "rationalised". Lam's comments came after Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a local delegate to China's top legislature, called for Chu to be removed from the city's Legislative Council for his views on Hong Kong independence. Speaking to media before an Executive Council meeting, Lam was twice questioned if the government was planning a move against Chu. "Mr Eddie Chu, at the moment is a Legco member. It is not for me as the chief executive to say whether he is qualified [to be] one," Lam said, adding there were "no plans" to change his status as a lawmaker. Chu was disqualified on Sunday from running for the election for the non-indigenous villagers' head post at Yuen Kong Sun Tsuen, in Yuen Long, after he was twice questioned by returning officer Enoch Yuen Ka-lok about his political beliefs. Despite Chu repeatedly saying he was not in favour of Hong Kong independence, Yuen suggested Chu had "implicitly" confirmed his support for the possibility of the city breaking away from China. On Tuesday, Lam said Yuen's decision was made in accordance with the Rural Representative Election Ordinance. According to the ordinance, only those willing to uphold the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution, and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are allowed to run. The Basic Law also states that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. In a document to Chu on Sunday, Yuen suggested it was doubtful if Chu had genuine intentions of upholding the mini-constitution. Lam also ruled out issuing guidelines to returning officers, saying the handling of electoral applications could not be determined by strict and rigid protocol. She said the administration would conduct an internal review on whether existing legislation on elections had to be "rationalised". "Because of the events that have taken place in the last couple of years, there is a need … to review existing legislations and arrangements, to ensure they can respond to the latest situations," Lam said. Chu is the 10th person since 2016 to be disqualified from running for election over issues with allegiance. The other nine cases involved Legco polls. Meanwhile, pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said the government should revise election laws to ban candidates who support calls for independence or self-determination. Speaking on a radio programme on Tuesday, Leung said such revisions should be extended to election laws on all levels, including Legco, district councils, rural committees, and the 1,200-strong committee that selects the city's leader. Leung added that calling for self-determination was no different from calling for independence, as the first applied only to nations with sovereignty. "It's another way of supporting Hong Kong independence," she said. She said the controversy of Chu's case stemmed from the lack of clear laws, and if the government did not revise the laws accordingly, more disqualifications would follow in next year's citywide district council elections. "If you want to participate in the political game... you need to understand this is the rule of the game," Leung said. In the Legco elections of 2016, Chu emerged as the "king of votes" in a surprise landslide victory after securing more than 84,000 votes in the New Territories West constituency. He has been an outspoken critic on village affairs, and claimed to have received death threats for taking on rural vested interests. Last month, Chu vowed to take the fight to rural patriarchs and "democratise and reform rural governance" with an alliance to contest village elections. ^ top ^



Macao encouraged to participate in B&R Initiative (Xinhua)
Macao will be given more support to participate in the Belt and Road (B&R) construction, according to an arrangement signed between China's top economic planner and Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) on Thursday. The arrangement on supporting Macao's full participation in the Belt and Road construction, signed between the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Macao SAR government, focuses on cooperation in financial, economic and trade sectors as well as promoting development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Under the arrangement, Macao will be encouraged to provide financing services for the Belt and Road construction, build itself into a financial service platform for commercial and trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and promoting the internationalization of the renminbi. Macao will also be encouraged to develop into an important transport hub and trade logistics center for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, according to the arrangement. It also called for more effort to align the B&R with plans to build Macao into a global center for tourism and leisure, as well as a China-Portugal business cooperation platform. A joint conference system has been set up for the implementation of the arrangement. The first joint conference was held Thursday after the arrangement signing ceremony. ^ top ^



Battle of hearts and minds has yet to be won on gay marriage (SCMP)
The path towards equal rights for sexual minorities in conservative Chinese societies such as Hong Kong remains full of twists and turns. The latest are the results of referendums held with local elections in Taiwan. Voters rejected reform of the civil code to allow same-sex marriages and inclusion of gay relationships in equality classes. The result dimmed a new beacon for gay rights in Asia after the High Court ruled that a ban on same-sex unions was unconstitutional and gay couples would be allowed to register their marriages from May next year. The authorities now have two years to either revise the civil code defining marriage as between a man and a woman, or institute another law to regulate same-sex marriage. Whatever the decision, gay people will be able to get married by next May. The referendum result calls for institution of a special law. The government must soon propose a draft of this law, which will then be sent to the parliament for review and legislation within its entire session from February to December. According to the referendum law, once a referendum passes, it cannot be overridden in two years. The gay camp still wants revision of the civic code to give them equal rights instead of the special law which they fear would have a lot of limitations. If it is not satisfied with the protections of a new law, it can initiate another referendum after two years. The fight for true equal rights is therefore far from over. The LGBT movement is battle-hardened and determined. One equality campaign leader maintained that the referendums failed only because its members were "not good enough" at canvassing support compared with the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, which claims to represent family values and mainstream opinion. Time will tell, perhaps in another referendum. The vote does not reflect either polls or anecdotal evidence that attitudes towards sexual minorities are changing and public support for same sex-marriage is growing. It is an example of how serious debate about legalisation can spark a backlash from conservative elements of society. They mobilised under the banner of family values to sway the public. However, it should not be a question of what the majority thinks. If personal freedoms are to thrive the majority must respect the rights of minorities. The next landmark in the battle for equal rights for sexual minorities could be the hearing of an appeal by Hong Kong civil servant Angus Leung Chun-kwong, who is seeking the same spousal and tax benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples for his husband. But it may take compelling evidence of a fundamental shift in community standards to convince the government and lawmakers to change the law. The battle for hearts and minds has some way to go. ^ top ^

Cross-Straits stability good for business, entrepreneurs told (China Daily)
Cross-Straits economic cooperation has a solid foundation and strong driving force, China's top political adviser, Wang Yang, said on Tuesday, calling for closer cooperation among companies across the Taiwan Straits to achieve mutual benefits. Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, addressed the opening ceremony of the Cross-Straits Entrepreneurs Summit in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Tuesday. He said the world situation has been complex and uncertain this year, with protectionism and unilateralism on the rise, but trade volume across the Taiwan Straits has stood the test and increased. The mainland and the island have their respective strengths in funding, markets, technology and human resources, he added, and the trend of economic complementarity of the two sides remains unchanged. Wang said the mainland's economy has shifted from a stage of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development, and there is a growing demand for quality products and services from Taiwan. "The mainland's policy orientation of providing good services to Taiwan businesses is consistent," he said, adding that, "The door of opening up to Taiwan will get wider and the policies and services will get better". Wang stressed that a peaceful and stable environment is the prerequisite for development and cooperation. He reiterated that compatriots on both sides should join hands, adhere to the 1992 Consensus on the one-China principle, and resolutely oppose "Taiwan independence". Wu Chia-ying, president of the Taiwan Businessmen Association in Xiamen, said the summit has a meaningful historical background, because this year marks the 40th anniversary of the mainland's reform and openingup, to which Taiwan businessmen contributed a lot. He said Wang's speech showed that both the trend of cross-Straits business cooperation and the mainland's stance of giving favorable policies for Taiwan companies remain unchanged, reflecting Taiwan businesses' expectations. Businessmen on both sides should complement each other in industrial advantages to promote the prosperity of the country's economy, he added. Su Shih-chung, secretary-general of Taiwan Angel Club, an investment association based in Taipei, said Wang's speech showed that technical cooperation by companies on both sides will become a trend as the mainland promotes indigenous innovation. "Taiwan's industrial scale is relatively small, but it has some technological strengths that can be shared with the mainland, and the summit provides a platform for companies to form deeper cooperation," he said. The annual summit was launched in 2013 as a grassroots platform for business communication and exchange across the Straits. About 1,000 business executives and heads of business organizations participated in the event. ^ top ^

More DPP ministers must go to pay for election defeats in Taiwan, Kuomintang lawmaker says (SCMP)
Taiwan's main opposition party has called for a bigger government shake-up after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) landslide defeat in local elections last weekend resulted in several officials resigning. After Taiwan's environment, transport, and agriculture ministers stepped down from their posts on Saturday, Tseng Ming-chung, a legislator and caucus leader from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), demanded further resignations for what he said was the DPP's loss of political legitimacy, Central News Agency reported on Sunday. Among those who should go were the education and health ministers and the vice-chairman of the Central Election Commission, Tseng said. The DPP lost control of seven of the 13 cities and counties it held – including its traditional stronghold in Kaohsiung – while the KMT won 15 vacancies in the November 24 elections, a crushing result for the DPP in what many saw as a referendum on President Tsai Ing-wen's administration. Tsai resigned as chairwoman of her pro-independence party and apologised for the "disappointing performance", which Beijing has spun as an indication of the public's desire for warmer cross-strait relations with the more mainland-friendly KMT. But while relations across the strait have frozen in the last two years, analysts said the DPP's loss might have been more about its domestic reform failures and sluggish economic growth. On Saturday, Taiwanese Premier William Lai Ching-te met 30 ministers and ministers without portfolio to review the government's performance, which he blamed for the DPP's defeat. He accepted the resignations of Environmental Protection Administration chief Lee Ying-yuan, Minister of Transport and Communications Wu Hong-mo, and Council of Agriculture chief Lin Tsung-hsien, CNA reported. The Central Election Commission's chairman, Chen In-chin, also stepped down last week, amid concerns about delays in vote counting and a decision to release results while voters were still in line, potentially influencing their choices. The elections were criticised for being chaotic, with complaints about long wait times outside the 15,000 polling stations amid high voter turnout for not just the local vacancies but 10 referendums on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to nuclear power plants. Many voters were still queuing after the official 4pm closing time – individuals are legally allowed to vote if they were in line by then – resulting in over 80 per cent of polling stations remaining open after the usual cut-off, according to the island's United Evening News. The commission said it would host a general election review meeting this month, according to CNA. In its report to the Legislative Yuan, it said that over a third of the more than 295,000 electoral staff were working on an election for the first time, and pledged to strengthen education and training for its staff. ^ top ^



China visit by North Korean foreign minister aims to shore up support amid stalled denuclearisation talks (SCMP)
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho arrived in China on Thursday on a three-day trip to secure Beijing's support for an easing of sanctions amid the continuing stalemate of denuclearisation talks with the US. China is the neighbouring hermit kingdom's biggest security guarantor and Ri will also be on a mission to solidify relations between the two countries. The Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday Ri was expected to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and "exchange in-depth views" on bilateral relations; the situation on the Korean peninsula; and other issues of mutual concern. It did not elaborate. However, Ri's visit follows hard on the heels of last week's US-China summit in Argentina, which included discussion of North Korea. Experts believe the sudden addition of Beijing to his itinerary has been prompted by the Xi-Trump meeting. North Korean state media last week said only that Ri would be visiting Vietnam and Syria, with no mention of China. US president Donald Trump said after the summit that Chinese president Xi Jinping had agreed to work with him on North Korea, amplifying Pyongyang's concerns over the summit's implications for China's North Korea policy, including Chinese support for an easing of UN sanctions. Zhang Baohui, a professor of political science and director of the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Hong Kong's Lingnan University, said China was likely to push North Korea to implement denuclearisation, in an effort to show the US Beijing was playing its part. "Beijing may be using this opportunity to share the information [on the summit results] with North Korea," Zhang said. "China may convey [US] messages to North Korea and encourage it to complete denuclearisation … to show to the US that it is still sincere in denuclearising North Korea. Beijing thinks the summit has [provided momentum] to reverse the deterioration of its relations with Washington, so Beijing is willing to do more to consolidate the results," he said. But Ri's main focus will be to secure China's support on the easing of UN sanctions, rather than speeding up his country's denuclearisation process. Pyongyang expressed its discomfort on the continuation of sanctions through its state media on Thursday, on the first day of Ri's visit to China. Its state-owned newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said "sanctions regime by adversaries would never work … self-sufficiency has always been our party's consistent strategy", playing down the impact of the UN sanctions regime on North Korea's economy and calling for the sanctions to be lifted. Ri's visit also reveals North Korea's hedging strategy, to offset the risk of possible failure of its denuclearisation negotiations with Washington, according to pundits. Jin Chang-soo, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, a private think tank based in the South Korean city of Seongnam, said Ri's visit could indicate denuclearisation talks with the US were not going well. "North Korea may wish to accelerate restoring its relations with China and its economic and political support to offset the risk on the possible failure of the talks," Jin said. "Frankly speaking, there is not really major progress on denuclearisation and the sanctions regime," he said, noting sanctions were likely to continue. Recent satellite images obtained by CNN indicate Pyongyang has continued to maintain and update its Yeongjeo-ri missile base, in breach of its vow for complete denuclearisation. Bruce Bennett, a senior defence researcher at the Rand Corporation, said North Korea had not yet started denuclearisation, and the lifting of sanctions was not on the Trump administration's table at this stage. "[North Korea] has not yet surrendered a single nuclear weapon, and the number of nuclear weapons is the key measure of the level of North Korean nuclear threat … North Korea is actually doing the opposite of what it has promised to do," Bennett said, noting the possibility of failure for the US-North Korea negotiations. ^ top ^

China encourages U.S., DPRK to advance denuclearization on Korean Peninsula -- Chinese FM (Xinhua)
China encourages the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to advance denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday night. Wang made the remarks when giving a briefing on the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump earlier in the day after the Group of 20 summit in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. During the meeting, Xi expressed China's support to another summit between the United States and the DPRK. China encourages the United States and the DPRK to work towards the same goal, take care of each others' legitimate concerns and advance denuclearization and the establishment of a peace mechanism on the peninsula in parallel, Xi said. Trump has expressed the United States' appreciation of the positive role that China has played and expressed that the United States will continue coordination and cooperation with the Chinese side, Wang said. ^ top ^



Views shared on Mongolia-the U.S.A relations and cooperation (Montsame)
On December 3, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized a regular consultative meeting of staffs of the Mongolian government institutions, who work in charge of relations affair with the U.S.A. The consultative meeting involved about 20 representatives of over 10 organizations, including the Parliament, government, ministries and agencies, with the presence of diplomats of the US Embassy headed by Charge d' affaires a.i Manuel P.Micaller. In his opening speech, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Davaasuren emphasized that Mongolia has been developing active relations and cooperation with its third neighbor –the U.S.A. "In particular many important events have been occurred in 2018 including the visit of Mongolia Prime Minister to the U.S.A, elevation of bilateral relations into expanded comprehensive partnership, signing of a roadmap for expanded economic partnership and the MCC USD350 million Compact as well as others." He also asked the representatives to collaborate for making preparations for regular political consultative meeting between the two countries to be held in Washington early 2019. During the meeting, representatives reviewed the events happened between the two countries in 2018 and exchanged views on measures to be implemented in 2019 to expand the bilateral cooperation. ^ top ^

Mongolia-RoK hold 10th consultation on consular affairs (Montsame)
The 10th consular consultative meeting between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the Republic of Korea was held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on December 4. The meeting was co-chaired by B.Battsetseg, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Mongolia, and by Lee Sang-jin, Deputy Foreign Minister for Overseas Koreans and Consular Affairs, the RoK. During the consultative meeting, the sides discussed matters, including social issues facing people who work under labor contract, facilitation of travel conditions for citizens of both countries, in particular to reconsider current practice that Mongolians are required to deposit money as a collateral when they apply for Korean visa, solve matters regarding refusals for Mongolians at the border even though they obtained the visa, as well as to decrease the incidence that Mongolian citizens exceed visa term and reside illegally in South Korea. Although there are still cases recorded that Mongolian citizens commit criminal offences in South Korea, the statistics showed that a number of Mongolians who committed criminal offences decreased by 9.7 percent in the last two years. ^ top ^

Majority MPs voted against dismissal of PM U.Khurelsukh (Montsame)
Last Friday's plenary meeting of Mongolia's Parliament discussed a proposal submitted on November 19 by 27 MPs objecting to the dismissal of Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh. In regard with the issue under discussion, Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh made a speech. In his speech, U.Khurelsukh said, "Since I became a Prime Minister, I prioritize three main principles; to build a justice in the society, reinforce discipline, order and accountability in the government institutions of all levels, and ensure economic growth and maintain it sustainable. When I was appointed the Prime Minister, I did assert about these. Even further, I will do unwaveringly." "I am appealing You, Members of the Parliament, to join with me for social justice. I will fight for it regardless of whether the cabinet being dissolved or not, and will stand firm on my position," pointed out the PM. After the day-long discussion, 40 MPs (54.8 percent) out of 73 who were present at the meeting voted against the dismissal of Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh. ^ top ^

President receives ambassadors of the European Union and its member states (Montsame)
Today, President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga received resident and non-resident ambassadors of the European Union (EU) and its member states to Mongolia. Present at the annual meeting were, 21 ambassadors of the EU and its member states, including the Federal Republic of Germany, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Austria, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and representatives of the diplomatic missions of other EU member states that are accredited to Mongolia. On behalf of the ambassadors, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the EU to Mongolia, Mr. Traian Laurentiu Hristea gave remarks, in which he noted that the EU attaches importance to its relations with Mongolia. Ambassador Traian Laurentiu Hristea underscored the EU ambassadors' commitment to promoting bilateral trade and investment relations and working towards the diversification of the Mongolian economy, as well as cooperating within the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and Mongolia, which came into force on November 1st, 2017. Moreover, Ambassador Traian Laurentiu Hristea stressed that Mongolia should continue to put efforts into improving investment transparency and the environment while requesting the Government to remain committed to the dialogue with the EU and its member states. During the meeting, President Battulga answered the questions of the ambassadors and discussed the development of tourism and agriculture sectors in Mongolia and policies and ongoing works that are being implemented in these sectors. For instance, President Battulga expressed interest in inviting European tourism and agriculture specialists to Mongolia and learning from their expertise. Furthermore, the President emphasized the importance of productive celebration of the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations between Mongolia and the EU, which will fall next year. At the end of the meeting, the ambassadors thanked President Battulga for the audience and the open discussion. The ambassadors also expressed their confidence in the continuation of the annual meeting and that bilateral relations will flourish on all levels. ^ 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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