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
  21-25.1.2019, No. 752  
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Chinese vice president calls for closer innovation cooperation with Switzerland (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan said here Monday that China stands ready to work with Switzerland to further promote bilateral ties and cooperation, particularly in the field of innovation. Wang, who is paying a visit to the European country on Monday and Tuesday, made the remarks in his talks with President Ueli Maurer of the Swiss Confederation and at a business dialogue on innovation attended by both leaders. The China-Switzerland relationship has been developing rapidly over recent years and has now reached its best level in history under the guidance of both countries' leaders, Wang said during the talks. He noted that economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has kept deepening, political mutual trust has increased markedly, and bilateral friendship is gaining ever more public support. Switzerland, he added, is one of the first Western countries to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, has taken the lead in multiple areas of cooperation between China and European countries, and has played an exemplary role in promoting China-Europe cooperation. Despite their differences in size, stage of development and genes of civilization, the two countries respect each other's development path and have always treated each other equally and pursued friendly cooperation, Wang said, adding that the 2016 establishment of the China-Switzerland innovative strategic partnership has charted the course for the future development of bilateral ties. The two sides, said Wang, are highly complementary in such areas as economy, trade, finance, manufacturing, medicine and health care, where they can carry out win-win cooperation. Calling the China-Switzerland free trade agreement an example of success in bilateral cooperation, Wang said China is ready to work with Switzerland to speed up the joint study on upgrading the deal, so as to infuse stronger impetus into their economic and trade cooperation. Meanwhile, the continuous opening-up of China's financial sector has created new opportunities for bilateral financial cooperation, he said, adding that Beijing encourages Chinese financial organizations to operate in Switzerland and invites Swiss ones to expand their business in China. He suggested that the two countries explore cooperation in such areas as smart manufacturing, digitization and new energy, so as to enrich the China-Switzerland high-level innovation cooperation platform devised by their leaders. China and Switzerland, he added, should also step up people-to-people exchanges and tourism cooperation, so that they can further consolidate the public support for bilateral relations. The vice president also expressed the hope that the two countries will carry out active consultations on an inter-governmental cooperation agreement within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and achieve positive results at an early date. Addressing the business dialogue on innovation, Wang noted that Switzerland is one of the most innovative countries in the world, and that China also attaches great importance to innovation. To build China into an innovative country, Wang said, Beijing is committed to pursuing innovation-driven development, promoting the rule of law, improving market order and strengthening protection of intellectual property rights. Noting that the pioneering spirit is the most prominent feature of China-Switzerland relations, Wang said the business dialogue on innovation is a concrete measure to implement the consensus reached in 2017 by the two countries' leaders on establishing the China-Switzerland high-level innovation cooperation platform. China and Switzerland, Wang said, should stick to openness and inclusiveness and join hands to promote the building of a high-level open world economy. The two sides should cement mutual understanding and trust, he said, adding that they should understand both the present and the history of each other, so as to jointly plan for the future. The two sides should boost confidence and maintain patience, he said, stressing that China will open wider to the outside world and, with its market of 1.4 billion people promising enormous possibilities, stands ready to share development opportunities with other countries. The two sides should seize opportunities and bravely promote reform, he said, urging Chinese and Swiss enterprises to share innovation outcomes and make concerted efforts to forge global industrial, innovation and value chains. The two sides should also improve business environment and guide bilateral cooperation, Wang said, calling on the two countries' governments to establish reasonable and efficient institutions and provide strong policy support for corporate operations. For his part, Maurer said his country and China have maintained a long-running friendly relationship, with frequent high-level mutual visits and ever deepening political mutual trust. China has made admirable achievements in national development, said the president, adding that Switzerland respects China's history, culture, development path and institutions, and adheres to the one-China policy. Noting that the Belt and Road Initiative is conducive to promoting cross-border trade and investment, the Swiss leader said he looks forward to leading a delegation to China later this year for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Switzerland, Maurer added, is willing to work with China to accelerate the joint study on upgrading the two countries' free trade deal, and boost bilateral cooperation in such areas as trade, finance, technology, medicine, digital economy, people-to-people exchanges, education and tourism, so as to create more mutual benefits. The visit is the first leg of Wang's trip to Switzerland, which will also take the Chinese vice president to the snow-capped Alpine town of Davos for the 2019 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Huawei: Was Canadian ambassador John McCallum trying to defuse Beijing's anger when he said Meng Wanzhou had 'strong case' against extradition? (SCMP)
Analysts are divided over whether Canadian Ambassador John McCallum's remarks on the Sabrina Meng Wanzhou extradition case were an attempt by Ottawa to defuse tensions with Beijing. McCallum caused surprise on Wednesday at a press conference with Chinese-language media in Ontario when he said Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, had "quite a strong case" against an extradition request by the US. The diplomat went on to share his opinion of how Meng could present her defence in the looming extradition hearing. The US Justice Department has indicated it will proceed before the January 30 deadline with the request to bring Meng from Canada to the US for trial on charges of violating US sanctions and misleading US banks on Huawei's business activities in Iran. Political observers in Beijing said McCallum's comments may have been an attempt by Canada to ease its strained ties with China, although the ambassador could also have been expressing his own opinion. Zhang Baohui, a political-science professor and director of the Centre for Asian-Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, said McCallum may have been hoping to cool tensions between Canada and China, as well as shape public opinion in China ahead of the US extradition request. "He may be using these comments to lessen Chinese concerns, thereby pre-empting an escalation of China's retaliation against Canada once the US formally goes ahead with the extradition request," Zhang said. "China-Canada relations are now at their lowest ebb and the ambassador was trying to avoid further deterioration." Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said McCallum's commentary was not convincing as neither the Canadian nor the American judicial systems would permit political involvement in extradition cases. "There are major differences between [McCallum's] comments and the official line of the Canadian government, so I personally don't really think it is the Canadian government trying to pass a message to Beijing through its ambassador," Shi said. Pang Zhongying, a Beijing-based international affairs expert, warned that since the extradition process could take months, or even years, unforeseen risks and uncertainties could further complicate bilateral ties. "Everyone is concerned about the extradition so I think the ambassador was trying to have a communication with the Chinese media by giving some further explanation," Pang said. Speaking in Beijing on Thursday, Hua Chunying, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, reiterated that Canada should immediately "correct its mistake" by releasing Meng. "Canada has made a serious mistake at the very beginning of this case," Hua said. "I think everyone with normal judgment could see the nature of this case, and we hope Canada could see the matter clearly and make the correct decision, rather than doing something to pull chestnuts out of the fire." US President Donald Trump has previously said that he might intervene in the case if it would help secure a trade deal with China. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He is due in Washington next week for a new round of trade talks with his American counterparts to resolve a wide range of trade disputes between the two countries, from forced technology transfers to protection of intellectual property. McCallum, who became ambassador to China in 2017, admitted that bilateral relations with China were now at "a difficult time" with the arrest of Meng, who has been released on bail and is due in court in Vancouver on February 6. "Before this happened, relations between Canada and China were going extremely well," he told the Chinese-language media reporters in the same press conference on Wednesday. "Just to give you one example, in the month of November alone, we had six ministers and three premiers visiting China. And then, on December 1, Madam Meng was detained in Vancouver. "After that, there were two Canadians detained, and after that there was one Canadian who had been sentenced to 15 years on drug charges had a retrial and was condemned to death." The detentions of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on December 10 sparked a global backlash, with a growing number of countries, including the US, Britain, Germany, France and European Union, expressing support for Ottawa. China has insisted that the three cases are not related to Meng's arrest, but has warned Canada of consequences if she is not immediately released. When asked about McCallum's remarks on Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stuck to the government's position of non-interference in judicial matters. "We will make sure that the rule of law is properly and fully followed," he said. "That, of course, includes the opportunity for [Meng] to mount a strong defence." ^ top ^

Communist Party ideology chief Wang Huning raises risk alarm as China battles trade war with the United States (SCMP)
The Communist Party wrapped up a four-day study session on risk controls on Thursday, an event analysts said underlined the leadership's deep concern about growing external volatility and uncertainty amid its high-stakes trade war with the United States. At the session's closing ceremony, which was attended by hundreds of top officials from across the country, Wang Huning, the party's ideology guru and its fifth most powerful member, called on the cadres to fight "a tough battle" in controlling risks, according to state news agency Xinhua. Wang identified a long list of risks faced by Beijing, urging the cadres to safeguard Chinese President Xi Jinping's leadership and toe the party line. Wang also told the officials that they must follow up by showing what they had learned through "actions and results". His call echoed Xi's address to Monday's opening session when he told the cadres to be vigilant for any risks that could jeopardise China's stability and reforms. Xi specified "unpredictable international developments and a complicated and sensitive external environment", a phrase invoked by Chinese leaders to refer to rising threats from China's trade war with Washington. Xi and Wang both told cadres that they must develop "bottom-line thinking" or be prepared for the "worst-case situation". The four-day meeting gave the officials a better understanding of the "new risks and new problems" faced by China, according to Xinhua. Zhu Lijia, from the Chinese Academy of Governance, said Xi's remarks and the study session highlighted Beijing's concern about the fallout from the trade war. "The speech [by Xi] is sternly worded and very solemn," Zhu said. "The impact of the trade war on China's economy is likely to weigh in 2019." He said Xi's references to external uncertainties were in response to a growing atmosphere of confrontation between China and the US as well as its allies. "It's not just the United States, but also the European Union, Australia and other [Western] countries, that [are together] in this ideological confrontation," Zhu said. Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan agreed that the trade war was at the forefront of the leadership's thinking. "The trade war might not end this year, and even if it does, the structural changes to China's economy [demanded by the US] would pose a challenge to the Communist Party," Zhang said. "And [even those changes] won't be enough to end the long-term confrontation and the fact that US considers China a rival." The trade war got under way in July with the US' announcement of punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, a move that prompted immediate retaliation by Beijing. The conflict has already affected global stock markets and the world economy, and the two sides have until March 1 to reach agreement before another threatened round of tariff increases kicks in. Zhang also said Xi's long list of specific risks in his speech suggested that he wanted to further consolidate his power. "He identified seven areas of risk – basically there's nothing that does not constitute a risk," he said. "It's the most serious statement from Xi, and usually it comes with the need for the party to further unite around him." Chris Johnson, a China specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a US think tank, said there was a link between the long list of risks Xi spelled out and his order for the party to prepare for struggle. "In terms of power dynamics, it shows his ability to call an out-of-cycle meeting and drop it on all of the cadres and tell them: 'I understand all the noise, but I'm swimming in one direction. If you are not on board, then you are out of step in the party line, so get on board'," Johnson said. ^ top ^

China, France ready to steadily boost ties: Chinese FM (Xinhua)
China and France are willing to steadily promote the Sino-French comprehensive strategic partnership, visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday. Wang made the remarks while meeting with French president's diplomatic advisor Philippe Etienne for the 18th consultation of the coordinators for the China-France Strategic Dialogue. As this year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, Wang noted China and France look forward to taking it as an opportunity to deepen bilateral ties. The Chinese top diplomat said both sides should give full play to the China-France Strategic Dialogue, strive to accelerate the upgrade of Sino-French pragmatic cooperation, and insist on seeking more common interests under the principles of fairness, open, mutual benefits and win-win results. Two-way trade and investment should be boosted between China and France, Wang said, adding that China welcomes France could continue taking part in the China International Import Expo actively and is ready to import more quality French products according to market needs. China is willing to strengthen the alignment of respective policies and development strategies with France, and improve cooperation in exploring the third-party market, Wang said. China is also willing to align the Belt and Road Initiative with the European Union's Euro-Asian connectivity strategy, and conduct cooperation with the EU based on the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and transparency, Wang said. He also stressed China's readiness to strengthen communication with France within the framework of the UN, G20 and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to safeguard multilateralism and multilateral trading system together for the development of globalization in a more balanced and inclusive way. On his part, Etienne said he has had fruitful talks with Wang during the 18th consultation of the coordinators for the China-France Strategic Dialogue. France is willing to make joint efforts with China to boost bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership through the mechanism like the strategic dialogue, said Etienne. The official highlighted that France is ready to beef up the cooperation with China on trade and investment, as well as in the important fields like nuclear energy, aviation and aerospace. He noted that France is ready to strengthen cooperation with China on the fight against unilateralism, G20 agenda, realizing the Paris agreement on climate change and others, and to join hands with China to safeguard the multilateral trading system which puts the WTO at its heart. ^ top ^

Wary China offers support to embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (SCMP)
China voiced support for the increasingly isolated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday as the Latin American country plunged deeper into turmoil over a diplomatic showdown with the United States. As oil-rich Venezuela's main ally and creditor, China faces a dilemma – caught between backing Maduro and not taking sides – as it weighs the implications of a growing social and political crisis on its multibillion-dollar investment, analysts said. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called on "all parties to remain rational and keep calm, and reach a political settlement through peaceful dialogue". Asked directly if China recognised Maduro, Hua said Beijing sent representatives to his inauguration. "We respect Venezuela's efforts to uphold its sovereignty, independence and stability," she added. "China opposes foreign forces from interfering into Venezuela affairs." Hua's remarks came as Maduro broke off diplomatic ties with Washington after US President Donald Trump formally recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim head of state on Wednesday. Other countries in the region, including Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Peru, also backed Guaido, the 35-year-old president of the National Assembly who had declared himself the country's acting president. Moscow, another key financial and military ally for Maduro, said it would continue to back the embattled leader, while the European Union called for "free and credible elections". Jiang Shixue, director of the Centre for Latin American Studies at Shanghai University, said Hua's remarks showed Beijing stood behind Maduro, who assumed power in 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez and continued an anti-American policy. But it also showed Beijing's deep concerns about the deepening crisis between Maduro and the Trump administration amid the trade war and tech rivalry between Beijing and Washington, he said. "Despite Beijing's criticism of Washington's meddling, China is in a dilemma in Venezuela and it does not wish to take sides or intervene in its international affairs," Jiang said. He said the tensions with the US and major regional players would make Maduro more desperate for China's political backing, but Beijing had to weigh its options carefully. Maduro is not likely to step down voluntarily but Beijing is worried about a possible regime change, especially the prospect of Guaido not honouring deals signed between China and Maduro's government. China has already loaned US$50 billion to Caracas over the last decade, which the South American nation has been repaying in oil shipments. The US is threatening new sanctions on top of years of existing ones as Venezuela's oil output has dropped to near 70-year lows. During Maduro's trip to Beijing in September, President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders promised to "provide whatever help it can offer" to cash-strapped Venezuela. Maduro also secured multiple deals with China worth "billions of dollars", including another US$5 billion credit line. Dong Jingsheng, deputy director of Peking University's Latin America Research Centre, said China was keeping an uneasy eye out for a regime change in Venezuela because it was not clear how the crisis would play out. But even if Maduro was forced out or stood down, "I expect some continuity in Venezuela's economic and trade relations with China because China will remain one of Venezuela's biggest markets for its oil", Dong said. Washington has repeatedly voiced its displeasure and concerns over Beijing's close political and economic ties with Maduro. But Dong said Beijing, which focused on forging close trade and investment ties with the region, had little stomach for the bigger military and security roles in Washington's backyard that US politicians feared. "China would not want to hurt its all-important ties with the US because of its economic and investment interests in Latin America," he said. Jiang and Dong urged Beijing and Chinese companies still operating in Venezuela to prepare for further chaos and unrest. They said Hua's remarks also signalled Beijing shared Moscow's view that Venezuela's political turmoil was another attempt by Washington to launch a "colour revolution" in the country. ^ top ^

Spotlight: Chinese vision of global governance gaining further support at Davos (Xinhua)
After hearing Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan's latest address at Davos Wednesday afternoon, Randall Lane, chief content officer of Forbes, described the speech as "encouraging and thoughtful," with a "global and optimistic outlook of the world." Citing the Swiss proverb "torches light up each other," Wang elaborated on the Chinese leadership's vision of global governance first outlined by President Xi Jinping in a speech at Davos two years ago. Wang told the star-studded forum that in this era of unfolding economic globalization, the entire mankind has a common stake, and that only through joint efforts can a great future be created for all mankind. "I think it is an important speech in a sense that he is calling for cooperation, not calling for confrontation. His message is, let's be inclusive, let's go for cooperation, and... that's very positive," said Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, founder and chief executive of the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development. "What Vice President Wang said today, I think, is a follow-up and confirmation of what President Xi said two years ago. In a way, it's an elaboration of the message of President Xi," he said. Indeed, Wang's well-received speech showed that two years after Xi's speech in Davos, the Chinese leader's vision of global governance has gained more support from the world elites amid uncertainties. The WEF annual meeting this year deals with challenges and opportunities of globalization against the backdrop of the fourth industrial revolution. It is a continuation of the Davos meeting two years ago where Xi championed globalization and multilateralism in his speech. Xi in 2017 called for joint efforts to chart the course of economic globalization and forge new models of global growth, cooperation, governance and development. "Mankind has become a close-knit community of shared future. Countries have extensive converging interests and are mutually dependent," he said. Xi's presence and the Chinese wisdom, amid rising global concerns about protectionism and anti-globalization sentiments, had tremendous "historic significance," said WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab. Chinese wisdom again features prominently at the meeting this year whose main theme is "Globalization 4.0" and which has drawn more than 3,000 world elites to the snow-capped Swiss town of Davos. On the first day of this year's annul meeting which runs from Jan. 22 to 25, a roster of young panelists in the opening plenary agreed that a more "human-centered globalization" is critical "for our shared prosperity and sustainable future," a message consistent with Xi's vision of a community of shared future for mankind. Michael Moller, director-general of the UN Office at Geneva, said at the forum this year that countries need to reinvent international solidarity, reinforce multilateralism, and find ways of working together better, smarter and with a much greater purpose and speed. All of the big issues, namely, climate change, migration, health and corruption, need a "collective approach" by the world, he said. According to the agenda, during this year's Davos meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will deliver a special address to "sound the alarm on the state of global collaboration." Trade protectionism, economic nationalism, populism and trade tensions have reared their heads over the past years. Xi talked in 2017 about "a world of contradictions" and warned against protectionism and trade wars. Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens, said during this year's China Business Night at Davos that if we failed to deal with the many problems such as populism and nationalism, the international society will further be divided. He called on the world governments and business leaders to "work together." "If you join this process I will support you, I will be your partners," he said. In an interview ahead of the 2019 Davos meeting, British scholar Martin Albrow recalled that Xi had said two years ago at Davos that the global economy is "the big ocean that you cannot escape from" and that any attempt to retreat back to isolation runs counter to the historical trend. "The Chinese leadership generally has a very clear-sighted idea of globalization which the world can benefit from," said Albrow. Albrow said a major solution offered by China to tackle global challenges and build an open and more inclusive economy is the Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at promoting inclusive growth by building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road. The 2019 Davos meeting also discussed on the first day how businesses and governments can ensure the success of the ambitious initiative as an engine of development and growth. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said the creation of modernist infrastructure is one of the main objectives of his government. Azerbaijan "definitely" supports the Belt and Road Initiative, he said. ^ top ^

West should report detention professionally (Global Times)
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed Thursday that Chinese-Australian Yang Jun ‒ or Yang Hengjun, as reported in Western media ‒ was detained for engaging in activities undermining China's national security. His legal rights are protected when he is under investigation. Western media reported earlier that the Australian government has received notification from the Chinese side that the Yang has been detained in China. A few days before that, Western media reported Yang "missing" in China. Some Western media linked Yang's detention to the China-US trade war, especially the complicated situation since the arrest of Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou. They are speculating on the special meaning of the latest case without any evidence. Some people in the West have been propagating that China is capturing foreigners at its will as a response to the pressure piled on it by the outside world. Part of their aim is to put more pressure on China while badmouthing the environment of China's opening-up, creating an impression that China is becoming increasingly insecure for foreigners. It is impossible for China to arrest foreigners for no reason. At this point of time, it is even more ridiculous to randomly seize an Australian out of political motives. It is clear now that Yang's case is a legal case, not a political action and has nothing to do with geopolitics. Since Yang is an Australian, the chances that he would face a lawsuit simply for his own personal view are quite small, not to mention his previous influence on Chinese public opinion was limited. Among foreigners caught up in similar incidents in China, a large proportion were originally Chinese but later received a foreign nationality and have lived in China for a long time or have many connections in the country. A majority are still living in an environment full of Chinese elements. Some are still living, working on the Chinese mainland and some are living abroad but maintain close contacts with people in China. Their activities or even their livelihoods are supported by such connections. Most of the Chinese who obtained foreign nationality play a constructive role in communication between China and the world and constitute an element of China's opening-up. However, a few of them have a twisted self-identification and take their foreign nationality as an umbrella to protect them. These people fail to respect Chinese laws. According to the Western media, a friend of Yang told him not to return to China before his departure this time. What was he worried about? The reason should not simply be Yang has criticized the Chinese government. A lot of liberals manipulated public opinion in a more strident way and the most severe punishment they could face is a ban on their social media accounts. That's also the point they complain about the most. Few showed any concerns about their personal safety. People still don't know what Yang actually did. The official announcement on similar incidents is often not released very quickly in China and this is not particular against any specific case or special group of people. After some controversies, the Chinese judiciary is more scrupulous when handling cases involving people who have political labels. We suggest the Western media refrain from making any conclusion based on preset positions. ^ top ^

China insists trade war talks with US are continuing after reports Washington turned down meeting (SCMP)
Beijing insisted on Wednesday that it remains in close contact with Washington as the two sides work to resolve their trade disputes following reports that the US had rejected the offer of a meeting. A report in the Financial Times had said that the US had turned down proposals to hold a vice-ministerial meeting in Washington to pave the way for next week's talks between China's chief negotiator Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The report cited a lack of progress on key US grievances such as intellectual property protection and far-reaching structural reforms of the Chinese economy as the reasons for turning down the request. But when Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, was asked about the report on Wednesday, she told reporters: "I noticed that an American official has clarified the issue. The two sides have remained in contact over trade talks, I haven't heard of any changes." Earlier, Larry Kudlow, director of the US National Economic Council, denied that a vice-ministerial meeting had been scheduled for this week. Kudlow told CNBC: "There were no other intermediate meetings scheduled. The story is unchanged. We are moving towards negotiations." The visit by Liu next week will be his first visit to Washington since May. Liu told Chinese state media after that trip that Beijing and Washington had reached a consensus on "not fighting a trade war", but the relationship quickly soured. The US introduced the first round of punitive tariffs on Chinese products in July, triggering an immediate retaliation from Beijing and a trade war that has hit markets and the economic outlook across the world. The two sides have a deadline of March 1 to reach agreement before another threatened round of tariff increases kicks in. ^ top ^

Philippines bridges troubled South China Sea waters by sending first ship to join PLA Navy fleet review (SCMP)
The Philippine Navy said it would, for the first time, send a vessel to a fleet review hosted by the PLA Navy as tensions between rival claimants to territory in the South China Sea eased. Philippine Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad was quoted by the news portal the Inquirer as saying that plans to send a ship to China for an event that marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Chinese navy were in hand. The Philippines – which successfully challenged Beijing's territorial assertiveness in the South China Sea in a landmark arbitration ruling in 2016 – would be responsible for a first if it joined the fleet review which is scheduled for the coastal city of Qingdao, eastern Shandong province, on April 23. "It was most educational," Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine National Defence Secretary, said on a Sunday tour of the guided-missile frigate Wuhu, one of three Chinese warships on a five-day visit to the Philippines. "They came in friendship, and the least we can do is offer them our vaunted hospitality. We, too, shall be sending some of our ships to visit China within the year." Sending ships would be part of the "confidence-building activities" for both countries, Lorenzana told local media. The Chinese vessels concluded their visit and left Manila on Monday morning. The flotilla, which comprised the frigates Wuhu and Handan and supply ship Dongpinghu, arrived in Manila on Thursday after completing counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Horn of Africa. A Chinese military analyst said a Philippine naval emissary at Qingdao could improve relations as China seeks to establish a code of conduct for the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway now has become a major flashpoint after the United States and its allies including Britain, France and Australia sent in warships as part of freedom of navigation operations, triggering opposition from Beijing. "Cordial relations with China have played a big role in Philippine's anti-terrorism and anti-drugs campaign as well as in its economic development," Song Zhongping, a military commentator in Hong Kong, said. "From a practical perspective, it would also be beneficial to stability in the South China Sea. "Normal military relations between China and the Philippines would also be positive for future negotiations of the code of conduct, and this is also what China would like to see," Song said. Despite some antagonisms, Beijing has courted the Philippines over the past year, with Chinese President Xi Jinping visiting Manila in November to pledge billions in trade and investment deals that critics said could shift Manila's position on territories in the South China Sea. ^ top ^

Cambodian PM Hun Sen welcomes extra US$600 million in aid during visit to Beijing, hails 'very special relationship' (SCMP)
China has pledged 4 billion yuan (US$588 million) in aid to Cambodia from 2019 to 2021, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Tuesday, highlighting strong ties between Beijing and Phnom Penh amid a European Union threat of trade sanctions. Hun Sen is on a three-day visit to China, his most important regional ally, and held bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping in Beijing in which he asked for more aid and investment in his Southeast Asian country's crucial textile industry. Xi pledged the 2019-21 grant in response, Hun Sen's official Facebook post said. The Chinese leader also promised to import 400,000 tonnes of rice from Cambodia, vowed to push bilateral trade to US$10 billion by 2023 and encouraged more Chinese investment, the post said. "The President said the relationship between China and Cambodia is very special, compared to other countries," Hun Sen's post said. China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Xi told Hun Sen China wanted to strengthen political, economic and security cooperation with Cambodia and increase China-Cambodia coordination at the United Nations and within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The two sides should hasten links between China's "Belt and Road Initiative" and Cambodia's development strategy, Xi said. The statement made no mention of the financial aid. China has already poured billions of dollars in development assistance and loans into Cambodia through Xi's ambitious infrastructure programme, which aims to bolster land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Some Western governments have accused China of pulling countries into a debt trap with the initiative, an accusation China has denied. Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party won all seats in a general election in July after the Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017 at the government's request. The European Union condemned the election as not credible and threatened to strip Cambodia of its Everything but Arms status because of the crackdown on the opposition, media and civil society groups before the election. It imposed tariffs on rice from Cambodia last week for the next three years to curb a surge in imports it said had damaged EU producers. ^ top ^

China, Germany hold high level financial dialogue (Xinhua)
China and Germany on Friday held their second High Level Financial Dialogue in Beijing on topics including the global macroeconomic situation, economic governance, China-Germany strategic cooperation, financial cooperation and financial supervision. The dialogue, co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and German Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, has achieved 34 mutually beneficial results, according to a press release after the dialogue. Both sides agreed that in the context of increasing world economic uncertainties, it is of great significance to the economic development of both China and Germany as well as Europe and the world for the two countries, as two major economies, to strengthen macroeconomic policy communication and coordination. The two sides pledged to jointly uphold multilateralism and free trade rules, and firmly support the rule-based and multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the core, said the press release. The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation under multilateral frameworks such as the Group of 20 (G20) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and support the alignment of China's Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian connectivity strategy and European infrastructure planning. "The financial cooperation between China and Germany is of great importance. The two sides should strengthen policy exchanges, expand the two-way opening of the financial sector, promote the connectivity of capital markets, and implement their consensus," said Liu. Scholz said the two countries share good foundations of dialogue and cooperation, adding that Germany is willing to expand pragmatic cooperations with China to enhance bilateral ties. During the dialogue, the two sides signed three documents on the cooperation of central banks, bank supervision and stock and futures market supervision. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Births to decline more, affecting labor force (China Daily)
Births in China are forecast to decrease further in the years ahead, as is the number of workers, a top official with the National Bureau of Statistics said. The projection was made by Li Xiru, head of the population and employment statistics department of the NBS in an article published on the bureau's website on Wednesday. The estimate was published two days after official figures on last year's population showed a steep decline of 2 million births and fueled concerns about a future labor shortage and its potential negative impact on economic growth. "Based on the current number and demographics of fertile women, as well as the fertility rate, China's annual newborn population is projected to continue its decline in the coming years. But total births are set to outnumber total deaths, thus leading to moderate population growth," Li said. Last year, 15.23 million babies were born on the Chinese mainland, compared with 17.23 million in 2017 and 17.86 million in 2016, according to the NBS. Li said the birth decline is the result of a shrinking population of women of childbearing age and the easing effect of the second child policy, which was implemented in early 2016 to allow all couples to have two children. The NBS data shows that fertile women aged 15 to 49 dropped by 7 million year-on-year in 2018, and the number of women at peak fertility, age 20 to 29, was down by 5 million. "However, China is still home to a massive population of women at peak fertility, currently around 100 million, despite the recent fall," Li said, which he believed would help the total population remain on a steady upward trend. In an earlier report released by the population and labor economics research branch of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, researchers predicted that an inevitable dip in total population is likely to occur as early as 2027. They urge immediate research and policymaking to tackle the coming population shift. Accompanying the birth decline is a swelling number of elderly and a shrinking working-age population. "The number and proportion of those aged 16 to 59 have been falling for seven consecutive years," he said. "And the number of people employed saw its first decrease last year. "But the number of people of working age still stands at almost 900 million, and around 780 million are employed." The figures, according to Li, suggest there's an abundant supply of domestic labor. "By improving the labor force participation rate, expanding educational avenues and employment opportunities, we can fully make use of the potential of the workforce," he said. Li added that the increasing proportion of people over 60 would pile pressure on those of working age and pose challenges to economic development and social insurance policies. ^ top ^

Is someone in debt nearby? Chinese court uses chat app to alert people as part of social credit system (SCMP)
In a new addition to China's data-driven social credit system, people in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, can check whether there are debtors near them with a swipe of their fingers. The "Laolai Map" – laolai is a derogatory term for people who fail to pay back money – was announced by the Hebei Higher People's Court last week. Developed by the court, the map can be found on a WeChat mini-program – a tiny application that runs on WeChat's interface. It pinpoints the user's location and scans a radius of 500 metres (550 yards) for any laolai, including individuals, company employees and other organisations. The public can share the information as WeChat moments or with friends. The public can also report any debtors online, according to a notice from the court. People can click on a person's name and report any leads they may have to the court. "The development and application of the map can further realise the connection and sharing of information on debtors and create a social honesty framework that limits those who lose their credibility in many ways," the court said. The Chinese government started developing the social credit system policy in 2011. It rates Chinese citizens, businesses and authorities, and affects everything from loan approvals to permission to board flights. The system is expected to be fully in place by 2020, but is already partially in operation. Debtors face legal restrictions in certain activities, such as buying flight tickets, staying at resorts, and buying property. Their children also cannot go to expensive private schools. According to a Supreme People's Court website providing information to the public on debtors, more than 18 million people have so far been banned from flying and 5.5 million prevented from buying high-speed rail tickets as a result of their debts. In June, the Chinese government publicly named 169 "severely discredited" people for misdemeanours such as failing to pay debts on time or behaving badly on flights. They were banned from buying train and plane tickets for a year. A policy outline released by the State Council in 2014 said the social credit system would be applied in four areas: government affairs honesty, commercial honesty, societal honesty and judicial credibility. Local media have also reported the establishment of city and provincial social credit systems. It is unclear whether and how these systems may be integrated with the national one. Asked to comment, a spokesperson for Tencent, owner of WeChat, said: "We enable users to determine their privacy settings and ask for permission beforehand if we wish to access their location information. We also provide a clear explanation of how we use that information in our Privacy Policy." ^ top ^

China holds reception for ethnic groups in Beijing ahead of Spring Festival (Xinhua)
A reception was held Thursday for ethnic groups in Beijing ahead of the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year. Bater, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and an ethnic Mongolian, delivered a speech at the event, which was presided over by Cao Jianmin, vice chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. While guaranteeing China's national unification and ethnic unity, Bater said it is imperative to foster a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation, increase exchange and communication among people of ethnic groups and further efforts to lift areas inhabited by ethnic minorities out of poverty and help build them into moderately prosperous regions, in order to make new contribution to realizing Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. The event was jointly held by the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China, the ethnic affairs committee of the NPC, the National Ethnic Affairs Commission, the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the CPPCC National Committee and the Beijing municipal government. The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 5 this year. And the public holiday in association with it lasts from Feb. 4 to 10. ^ top ^

China makes progress in streamlining immigration administration (Xinhua)
China has issued about 100 million credentials for exit and entry into the country since May 1, 2018, when authorities started to streamline the process, according to the National Immigration Administration. The figure increased by 12.1 percent over the same period of the previous year, the administration said. Since Sept. 1, 2018, around 15.36 million residents on the Chinese mainland have had their credentials replaced or reissued in places other than where the documents were first issued. The new move is estimated to save over 10 billion yuan (around 1.47 billion U.S. dollars) per year in travel expenses for those concerned, the administration said. ^ top ^

China to deploy drones, surveillance platform to protect Great Wall (Global Times)
Drones, satellites and a real-time surveillance platform are being used to inspect and protect the length of China's ancient Great Wall. Song Xinchao, deputy director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, told the Global Times at a press conference on Thursday that his agency has been using satellite images to analyze problems on and near the wall. Through these images, authorities can figure out whether a nearby mining project will have a negative impact on the wall and if there is illegal construction around, Song said. Northwest China's Shaanxi and North China's Shanxi provinces are the two pilot areas that have deployed drones to monitor the wall. With the help of drones, local governments can efficiently spot problems with the wall and take action to tackle them, Song said. Trials using modern technology have been conducted to maintain and protect the sections of the wall that pass through 15 provinces, regions and municipalities. Song said the agency will build a real-time surveillance platform for the wall that will soon be put into use. Although there are more than 3,000 people involved in protection work, it is far from enough, Song said at the conference. Protection of the wall has attracted widespread public attention in recent years after frequent media reports said the wall was being destroyed in some area and inappropriate repairs were made in other parts. In 2016, the government of Northeast China's Liaoning Province paved a seven century-old section of the wall with cement, appalling the Chinese public, with some calling it a "sacrilege" against the iconic structure. To tackle these problems, the agency is prioritizing prevention. "We won't interfere with the relics too much, and will try to maintain its original status…if the section of the wall was made with bricks, we will repair with bricks; if it's made of clay, we will fix it with clay," said Song. The agency's 16-year plan (2019-35) covers the entire wall under the administration of local governments. The plan will focus on enhancing people's awareness of protection for the wall, including people living near the wall, by informing them of the wall's significance. ^ top ^

LGBT people conceal status (Global Times)
A survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in China shows only 5.1 percent revealed their sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and 4.7 percent in school due to social pressure. The survey, released on Tuesday by the Beijing LGBT Center on its WeChat account, shows over 75.7 percent of the respondents chose not to disclose their sexual orientation to any colleague. In schools, over half kept the secret tight while 43.5 percent told some of their classmates or teachers. About 18,000 LGBT people responded to the survey. Among them, 21.2 percent of the respondents reported negative treatment in the workplace and 40.2 percent in school. "Employers do not usually accept gender identity away from their birth sex, which means such a group faces emotional pressure or discrimination in the workplace," H.C. Zhuo, a trans public benefit worker in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday. Xin Ying, director of the Beijing LGBT Center, said that it is difficult to gather evidence and file a case on a company for discriminating against the LGBT group. A labor dispute arbitration committee in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province on September 27, 2018 accepted a case filed by a teacher who claimed the school expelled him for being homosexual. The employer was ordered to pay him six months' salary. The case was seen by many as progress. The Beijing LGBT Center also said family pressure is great for LGBT people in China. The survey shows nearly half of them did not come out to any family member and 68 percent were urged to marry and have children. Among married respondents, which account for 5.4 percent of those surveyed, 85.4 percent are in a heterosexual marriage, 13.2 percent are in a disguised marriage with the opposite sex, while 1.3 percent of them were registered overseas. Lin Jie (pseudonym), 26, from Beijing, did not disclose his sexual orientation to anybody before entering college "for fear of being isolated or bullied." LGBT organizations on campus helped him to realize the importance of embracing who he really is and seek emotional support when necessary. "But I chose not to disclose my sexual orientation to my parents because I was born in a conventional family. They could not understand there are gay people and they would not accept their son to be one of them," Lin told the Global Times on Wednesday. "Because of the lack of education on gender diversity, many people from the older generation in China still consider LGBT a disease or Western lifestyle," Xin noted. During the third Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council on October 7, a Chinese delegate told the audience that China's non-recognition of gay marriage is decided "by our historical cultural values." ^ top ^

Xi presides over 6th meeting of central committee for deepening overall reform (Xinhua)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), presided over the sixth meeting of the central committee for deepening overall reform Wednesday. Xi, also Chinese president, chairman of the Central Military Commission, and head of the central committee for deepening overall reform, called for "decisive results" in reforms in crucial areas and key links by 2020. The country should continue to fight the tough battles and "crack hard nuts," ensure each undertaking is successful and lay a decisive foundation for fulfilling the reform tasks mapped out by the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, he said. Li Keqiang and Wang Huning, both members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and deputy heads of the reform committee, also attended the meeting. The meeting reviewed and approved a series of official documents:
-- a plan and a guideline both on launching a science and technology innovation board at the Shanghai Stock Exchange and experimenting with the registration-based IPO system;
-- a guideline on establishing a system of protected natural areas with national parks as its mainstay;
-- a guideline on deepening educational and teaching reform and comprehensively improving the quality of mandatory education;
-- a guideline on encouraging and guiding the flow of personnel to remote areas with harsh conditions, local communities and the frontline;
-- a guideline on deepening overall reform in the domains of politics and law;
-- a guideline on advancing the reform of the property right system for natural resource assets;
-- a guideline on building a national territorial space planning system and supervising the implementation;
-- a guideline on setting up a market-oriented green technologies innovation mechanism;
-- a plan on the protection and restoration of natural forests;
-- a plan for building Hainan into a national ecological civilization pilot zone;
-- a plan for experimenting with the national park mechanism in the tropical forests in Hainan;
-- the key points of the reform committee's work in 2019;
-- a report summarizing the reform committee's work in 2018;
-- a report summarizing and assessing the implementation of deepening reform in all areas since the 18th CPC National Congress.

The move to launch the science and technology innovation board and experiment with the registration-based IPO system is a significant measure to implement the innovation-driven development strategy and deepen the capital market reform, according to a statement released after the meeting. It urged for making the capital market more inclusive for science and technology innovation enterprises, with emphasis on support in key and core technology innovation and improving the capability of serving the real economy. Steady efforts should be made to experiment with the registration-based IPO system, coordinate the reforms of stock offering, listing, information disclosure, trading and delisting regulations, and establish and improve a stock offering and listing system centered on information disclosure, said the statement. The meeting stressed innovation in the management system for protected natural areas in accordance with the philosophy of taking mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes and grasslands as an ecosystem. The protected areas should be designed in a unified manner and administered at different levels and zones, while natural ecological systems of national significance should be included into the national park system for strict protection. A management system for protected natural areas should be formed with national parks as the mainstay, supported by nature reserves as the foundation and complemented with various natural parks. The country should foster virtue through education, observe the laws of education, reinforce the basic role of teachers and enhance well-rounded student development. Talent should be encouraged to work in remote areas with harsh conditions, in local communities and on the frontline, the meeting stressed, while noting it is imperative to follow the principle of the Party exercising leadership over talent administration. To push forward reform in political and legal fields, the country must uphold the absolute Party leadership, enhance coordination and planning, and step up the creation of political and legal institutions with optimized, coordinated and efficient features. While saying the property right system of natural resource assets played a fundamental role in strengthening ecological conservation and pushing forward ecological civilization, the meeting demanded efforts to clarify the ownership of related property rights and conduct uniform investigation and surveillance to promote intensive development of natural resources, ecological protection and restoration. It also called for a unified planning for national territorial space integrating the plans for main functional zones, land use, and urban and rural development. China should build a green technology innovation system in which enterprises are the main players and synergy is created through the joint efforts of enterprises, universities, and research institutes, and strive to advance integration of research and development, application and popularization, and industrial development of green technologies. The meeting pointed out that it was of great significance to put all natural forests under protection for building a "Beautiful China" and promoting sustainable development, demanding more efforts in this regard. It stressed that the CPC Central Committee's support for building Hainan into a national ecological civilization pilot zone and piloting the national park mechanism in the tropical forests in Hainan aimed to uphold and act on the philosophy that "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets." It urged Hainan Province to carefully organize efforts, pinpoint tasks and shoulder due responsibilities, and told central authorities to strengthen coordination, guidance and policy support. While noting China has generally established the main framework for reform in major fields and made breakthroughs in deepening reform in all areas since the 18th CPC National Congress, the meeting urged for greater efforts in carrying out major reform steps with fundamental, overall and institutional significance, and beneficial to keeping a healthy economic growth, social stability and people's livelihoods. The meeting also called for emphasis on solving concrete problems, targeted measures and flexible policy implementation while pushing ahead with reforms. ^ top ^

Xi Jinping has issued a rallying cry, but what is China on alert for? (SCMP)
A current account deficit, mounting debt, growing hostility from abroad and a decelerating economy – which could hurt China's political stability – could be among the "black swans" and "grey rhinos" worrying Beijing, analysts said. They added that President Xi Jinping's speech on Monday was a rallying cry for the country's senior officials to fall into line, and to prepare for a turbulent year ahead. Xi was speaking at the opening session of a Communist Party meeting in Beijing of hundreds of provincial leaders, ministers and top generals summoned to "study and learn" about risk control. He told the top cadres to stay alert for any "black swan", or unforeseen, events and to take steps to prevent "grey rhinos", the predictable but ignored threats. The president also flagged a list of risks for officials to keep watch for: political, ideological, economic, technological, social and international threats, as well as those from within the party. He made the remarks as China enters a politically sensitive year, with the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown on June 4 and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China on October 1. Chen Daoyin, a Shanghai-based political scientist, said the emphasis was on external risks. "By talking about grey rhino risks, the top leadership wants to make it clear that these problems are mainly caused by external factors," Chen said. "The key message is that the thinking should be united, so that the party can lead the country to prevent these risks or even solve the problems." In his speech, Xi said party cadres should ensure China's "political safety" by improving ideology "guidance", boosting young people's confidence in socialism, and dealing with officials who were slack, incompetent or corrupt. Hu Xingdou, an independent political economist, said: "Politically the risks may not be too big after three decades of robust economic development and a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in the past few years. "But any risks might be exacerbated by the economic slowdown and tensions over trade and technology with the US and other Western countries," Hu said. China and the US are more than halfway through a 90-day trade war truce, but tariffs remain in place on billions of dollars of goods on both sides. Washington has said it will go ahead with a threat to increase duties from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods if an agreement is not reached by March 1. "In addition to exports, one sector that will probably be hit severely is technology," Hu said. "US chip exports to China may be cut and key technology companies may be hit by sanctions in the US, as Washington takes on Beijing's hi-tech ambitions." Xi also highlighted technology in his speech, including the need to set up national labs and research centres, improve innovation, and push ahead with legislation on artificial intelligence, gene editing, robotics and other areas. Recent data show a "significant and increasing downturn" in China's economy, with annual GDP growth for last year dropping to a near 30-year low of 6.6 per cent, said Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital, a Shanghai investment advisory firm. "Beijing has taken stimulus measures, but most analysts still expect China's economy to continue slowing in the near term," Silvers said. "Xi's call for risk awareness reflects Beijing's reasonable political preparations for expected economic volatility." Louis Kuijs, the Hong Kong-based head of Asia research for Oxford Economics, said one key grey rhino event would be the "virtual disappearance" of China's current account surplus. "China ran a large current account surplus for a long time, but it has been shrinking substantially in recent years. With import tariffs coming down and the impact of US tariffs starting to kick in, the external surplus is likely to come down more," Kuijs said. "This matters because, when thinking about issues such as China's high debt, we used to take comfort from the current account surplus," he said. "Going forward, I am not arguing that the virtual disappearance is going to lead to a crisis, but it will change the way that the market looks at China and its currency." Xi also told cadres to ensure the "steady development" of the property market by "properly" implementing policies and making financing more accessible to small and medium companies. Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia-Pacific economist for Natixis, said the great rhino would no doubt be real estate. "The reality is that it is a bloated sector. [It is] bigger than in any other country in the world as a percentage of GDP. But also more leveraged than any other sector in China," Herrero said. Chinese authorities have tried to rein in the market without success because it is too big to be controlled. "Furthermore, any attempt of control ends up with lower growth as this sector is too important. In simple words, the Chinese government is trapped with the real estate sector but the more it grows the bigger the problem it becomes as China's population is already falling and urbanisation will soon reach its peak," Herrero said. Andrew Tilton, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Goldman Sachs, said getting the level of stimulus right would be difficult this year. "One possibility [of a grey rhino risk] is if Chinese policymakers are really worried about stimulating too much, the risk is you are doing too little. "If growth is slowing globally, China is facing a less friendly external environment in terms of being able to export a lot. And if growth is slowing domestically as well then you may need to do more to stabilise growth than what has been done so far," Tilton said. ^ top ^

Gene-editor faces punishment (Global Times)
The university where Chinese scientist He Jiankui worked has terminated his contract while a Chinese expert called for a thorough investigation into the university and institutes involvved in the controversial gene-edited babies case. Southern University of Science and Technology (SUST), where He had worked, announced on Monday that they had ended all his teaching and scientific activities at the university. However, Qiu Zongqi, the first Chinese laureate for the Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science, told the Global Times on Tuesday that He's employer, SUST, should also be liable for failing to properly supervise He. Qiu said that investigators should also dig deep into He's team and relevant institutes. He, who created the world's first genetically edited babies last year, and people involved in his experiment will face serious punishment, and will be turned over to the public security bureau, the Xinhua News Agency quoted Guangdong provincial government investigators as saying Monday. Investigators also revealed that aside from Lulu and Nana, the two genetically edited babies born in November, another woman involved in He's experiment also got pregnant, Xinhua reported. Investigators said they will also monitor the babies and pregnant volunteers. Chinese scientists and the public have since called for a comprehensive law to regulate China's bioscience sector. But Qiu noted that such a law may face challenges. Calls for such a regulation sometimes cannot catch up with the pace of scientific development, thus creating loopholes in the regulation of scientific research, Qiu said. China's Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) and the National Health Commission (NHC) also condemned He on Monday on their Sina Weibo accounts. The MST said they have suspended all scientific activities related to He's experiment, and will severely punish people and institute involved in the case. Meanhiwle, the NHC vowed to cooperate with Guangzhou authorities investing into the case. Since June 2016, He had been receiving private funding, evading supervision and hiring people, including those from abroad. He undertook human embryo gene-editing for reproduction, which is clearly prohibited in China, Xinhua said, citing Guangdong provincial government investigators. From March 2017 to November 2018, He used a fake ethics examination paper and gathered eight pairs of volunteers consisting of HIV-positive males and HIV-negative females for the experiment, the Xinhua report said. Former Chinese vice minister of health Huang Jiefu told the Global Times previously that it is necessary to establish a national-level authority and improve legal system to supervise biological and human experiments. Huang stressed that the committee should include not only medical experts but ethics and legal professionals as well, and even members of the public. ^ top ^



Criteria to get assistance for living in capital eased (China Daily)
Beijing has eased requirements for social assistance in the hopes of helping more people in need. The new requirements by the Beijing Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau are expected to benefit more than 200,000 people -up from the current 130,000. Under the new program, families who own only one car and have family members with severe diseases can apply for assistance. The car should be used to transport patients to the hospital. Previously, no subsidies were available. The program also allows a family with floor space per person below the city's average to get payments, even if they have more than two houses, said Li Hongbing, deputy director of the bureau. According to the Beijing Statistical Yearbook 2018, the city's average per capita floor space was 34.2 square meters in 2017. The change is a response to the national three-year action plan released by the State Council in June to reduce poverty and boost the economy. The Ministry of Civil Affairs also carried out pilot projects with local civil affair bureaus to better protect low-income families. The special disadvantaged group also benefits from the revised regulations. Severely disabled people in low-income families will be given the minimum living allowance. The allowance, set up in 2007, is an alternative channel that provides money and daily necessities directly to those in need. It is managed by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and local bureaus. The basic living allowance in the capital has been 1,000 yuan ($146) per month since January 2018, according to the municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs. Xu Jiacheng, deputy director of the China Disabled Persons Rehabilitation Association, warned that the implementation of the policy could come with a risk that beneficiaries may not receive the money directly, or that they will get used to welfare payments by the government. "A regular re-examination is necessary to prevent some benefits from becoming routine," he said. The new guideline also stipulates that the consumption of families or individuals who have received social assistance will be examined on a regular basis by the local government, and assistance will be ended when they no longer meet the criteria. ^ top ^



Xinjiang opens bilingual platform against terror (Global Times)
Authorities from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have opened a bilingual WeChat platform for local residents to report terrorist activities and security hazards, and are offering up to 200 yuan ($29) for each piece of valuable information. The platform has also adopted measures to protect the sources' identity, according to a statement released on the platform on Tuesday. The platform, called Xinjiang Pingan Ejia, was launched by the Communist Party of China's (CPC) Xinjiang Regional Committee and CPC Xinjiang political and legal affairs commission to provide an outlet for the public to report safety hazards, and anything that threatens the region's stability. It is written in Standard Chinese and the Uyghur language. The Global Times found that it requires real-name registration with ID number, phone number and address in the Xinjiang region to send reports. People have also been asked to upload photos or videos to prove any potential terrorist activities or security hazards. Authorities will verify the information before taking any action, an official surnamed Niu in Urumqi told the Global Times on Wednesday. He said that the police will also evaluate the cases and prioritize incidents that endanger social stability. Although the exact time remains unknown, Niu said Xinjiang police act very fast on such cases. Xinjiang Daily reported in 2017 that it only took Urumqi police 54 seconds to arrive at a location after receiving a call. Some Xinjiang residents received cash for providing valuable information, the Xinjiang Pingan Ejia platform said in November. People can also send their demands and problems to the government bodies through this platform. Niu said that to popularize the platform, officials and the public are encouraged to follow it on their WeChat, and advertising the platform will also be part of the flag-raising ceremonies and official's visits to villagers, among others. The platform was one of the latest moves of Xinjiang to mobilize the public to fight terrorism and safeguard the region's security. In 2017, the public security bureau in Urumqi launched a mobile app which allows Urumqi citizens to upload text, pictures and videos to the app if they notice any suspicious activity that might pose a threat to social stability and security. ^ top ^

China and CNN in row over Uygur campaigner's account of deaths of nine people in Xinjiang camp (SCMP)
A row between CNN and the Chinese foreign ministry escalated after Beijing claimed that the broadcaster lied in its reporting of alleged deaths in detention in China's far-western Xinjiang region. CNN said it stood by its work after the ministry on Monday called the reporting of Mihrigul Tursun – a Uygur who claimed to have witnessed deaths of nine of detainees in a camp and her son at Urumqi Children's Hospital as a result of Beijing's crackdown on the ethnic minority – "a deliberate lie". In the report, Tursun said she had been taken into the Xinjiang camp where police placed her in an overcrowded cell with more than 50 other women. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday that the story was "totally fake", adding that "authenticity is vital to the reporting of news". Hua said Tursun's family had a record of leaving China several times and some members of her family used other passports including Russian and Egyptian documents. Hua dismissed Tursun's claim that she was forced to remain inside China because her passport was confiscated. Tursun has "never [been] detained by the Urumqi police … She has never been in prison and has never been trained in any skills education and training centre", Hua said. "CNN obviously was not willing to wait for our verification and has just published the story on the weekend." CNN dismissed the ministry's accusation. It said Tursun's story was in line with the testimony she delivered before the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China in November 2018. "We have updated the story on both TV and digital platforms with the ministry's comment. CNN stands by its reporting," it said. "CNN had submitted several requests for comment ahead of our report airing on TV and digital." China's Xinjiang region revised its legislation last year to allow local governments to "educate and transform" people influenced by extremism at "vocational training centres" – a term used by the government to describe a network of internment facilities known as "re-education camps", taking heavy criticism from the West. The change to the law, which took effect in October, came amid an international outcry about the secretive camps in the region. Beijing has invited foreign diplomats and media to the education camps, claiming no violations of human rights have been made there. ^ top ^



Hong Kong opposition lawmakers walk out of meeting with No 2 official Matthew Cheung as row over controversial welfare change rumbles on (SCMP)
Six pro-democracy lawmakers walked out a meeting with Hong Kong's No 2 official on Thursday to protest against an unpopular change in welfare payments. They had asked for a meeting with the city's leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor but the chief executive, attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, sent her No 2, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, to discuss a controversial rise in the age threshold for the elderly Comprehensive Social Security Allowance (CSSA) scheme, from 60 to 65. Welfare sector lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun described the meeting with acting chief executive Cheung and welfare minister Law Chi-kwong as unpleasant, calling the pair stubborn. He said they were unmoved by the lawmakers' calls to cancel the change, which comes into effect on February 1. "Not only did they refuse to shelve the change, they rejected all our suggestions to improve the new cash handouts scheme," Shiu said, referring to a supplement to compensate senior citizens affected by the policy revision. He said they hoped the government would hand out more allowances to those affected. Last week, lawmakers across the political divide joined forces to rebuke Lam in the Legislative Council over the age change but the chief executive managed to pacify her political allies by announcing a new monthly cash handout of HK$1,060 (US$136) – the exact difference between the rates that adults and those over 65 will be getting under the changed policy. But welfare groups and pan-democrats were worried that people aged 60 to 64 would still lose out on allowances exclusively for elderly CSSA recipients, including money for eye glasses and dental services. The Civic Party's Kwok Ka-ki said: "We were humble enough to spend more than an hour with the officials … but we have achieved nothing, unfortunately." Shiu said they walked out of the meeting 15 minutes early after getting sick of listening to the officials' repeating themselves for over an hour. He said they still wanted a meeting with Lam, who was expected to return on Saturday. "It is not only a welfare policy issue but also a governance problem related to the relationship between the executive and legislative branches." The welfare sector would hold a rally on Sunday expressing its dissatisfaction with the policy, he added. ^ top ^

Pro-democracy activists stage flash mob protest outside Hong Kong's Legislative Council during first reading of Chinese national anthem bill (SCMP)
Pro-democracy activists from a youth group staged a guerilla protest at government headquarters on Wednesday, unfurling a black banner against a bill being tabled in the legislature to outlaw abuse of China's national anthem. While lawmakers finished the first reading of the bill without incident in the Legislative Council, the government condemned and reported to police the flash mob protest outside in the public square by Demosisto leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung and fellow activists. The group walked into the area popularly known as "Civic Square" then rushed past unsuspecting security guards to unfurl a banner declaring "Freedom not to sing praises". It was over within a few minutes – after minor scuffles with security – and they left without further drama. Security guards, initially caught unprepared, managed to remove the banner quickly. In a statement condemning the protest, the administration said it had already reported it to police, who were investigating. "The government respects people's right to express their views but has to ensure it can operate effectively, safely and smoothly at the same time," the statement read. "The flag post podium in the East Wing forecourt is not open for public protests." In response, Wong noted their protest had been non-violent. "We condemn the security guards for their abuse of power in attempts to snatch our protest banner," he said. "Their role is to maintain the order of the square, which does not include snatching protest banners." Demosisto party chairman Ivan Lam Long-yin said: "We are against the national anthem law, which would curtail the freedom of expression and have the city coercing citizens into expressing loyalty to the regime. The government should withdraw the bill and launch a public consultation." Police later said a 60-year-old security guard was sent to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam after complaining of chest pain. The case was being handled by the force's Hong Kong Island Regional Headquarters. The bill, presented to Legco in the afternoon and expected to be passed by July, holds up March of the Volunteers as the symbol of China in Hong Kong and introduces a maximum fine of HK$50,000 (US$6,410) and three years in prison as penalties for publicly and intentionally insulting the anthem, whether through the use of its lyrics or score. It would include giving police up to two years to investigate offenders and requiring students to sing and study the song at school. Shortly after 1pm, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen entered the Legco chamber and tabled the bill. Pan-democrats greeted him with placards reading: "Against anthem law. Safeguard freedom of speech." Some chanted the same words as Nip started his speech, but quietened down after being warned by Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen. Nip said the principle of the bill was to maintain the purpose and intent of the mainland's National Anthem Law, to fully reflect its spirit and to preserve the dignity of the national anthem, while taking into account Hong Kong's common law system. "Citizens with no intent to insult the national anthem would not contravene the law inadvertently," Nip said. "I believe most citizens do respect the national anthem and their daily lives would not be affected." But Wong voiced concern that the bill meant another form of national education in schools, instilling patriotism in the city's youth. Other pan-democrats and pro-democracy groups echoed those worries. The Labour Party's Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said: "The government said the primary aim of the bill was to promote respect for the anthem … Such respect can only be earned from citizens, not coerced through a bill which would curtail freedoms." The Hong Kong Music Teachers Union also raised concerns for freedoms of artistic creation and expression. Next to the pan-democrats were members of the Defend Hong Kong Campaign. Waving national and Hong Kong flags, they voiced support for the legislation. Pro-establishment lawmakers including Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, received their letter and thanked them for their support. The bill will be handed to a committee for scrutiny before it is expected to resume second reading and be tabled for final reading and a vote by July. With its predominant membership in the legislature, the pro-establishment camp is expected to ensure Martin Liao Cheung-kong and Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan become chairman and vice-chairman of the committee. Both Liao and Cheung are executive councillors, advisers to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. ^ top ^

'New low' for ties between Hong Kong leader and pro-democracy bloc after Carrie Lam sends No 2 Matthew Cheung to stand in at meeting with them (SCMP)
Hong Kong's pro-democracy politicians said on Tuesday their relationship with the city leader had reached a new low after she turned down their request for a meeting over a major welfare controversy, sending her deputy instead. Seven pan-democrats will represent the camp to meet Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung on Thursday. But they insisted Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor should meet them, just as she met pro-Beijingers to discuss the new handout for elderly welfare recipients. Last week both camps joined forces to rebuke Lam in the Legislative Council, passing a non-binding motion calling on her to shelve a controversial rise in the minimum age for elderly Comprehensive Social Security Allowance (CSSA) recipients, from 60 to 65. Lam managed to pacify her political allies by announcing the new monthly cash handout to compensate senior citizens, a day after meeting her allies. But she has given pan-democrats the cold shoulder, suggesting they were jealous, and saying she was free to meet any lawmakers she chose to see. "The relationship between the pan-democrats and Lam has hit its lowest point since she took office," welfare sector lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun said on Tuesday. Sending a letter to Lam asking for a meeting on the CSSA issue last Thursday, Shiu said her office's reply on Monday said Cheung, not Lam, would meet them on Thursday, along with welfare minister Law Chi-kwong. "We asked to meet the chief executive, not the acting chief executive or the chief secretary," he said. Shiu said his camp understood Lam was in Switzerland – hence Cheung standing in as acting leader – but said they could meet any time before February 1, when the new policy comes into effect. Lam was in Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, and expected to return on January 26. Cheung on Tuesday said he had hoped the pan-democrats would respond positively to his invitation. "We want a face-to-face dialogue, to iron out all misunderstandings so we can take the matter forward," he said. Council Front lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, who convenes pan-democrat meetings, accused Lam of demeaning the bloc. "If we don't go, they will say we're holding a grudge," Mo said, adding that seven representatives of the camp would attend the meeting. She said they were likely to boycott an upcoming Legco lunch, which the city leader was scheduled to attend. Tensions between government and opposition could drag on to dog scrutiny of the next budget, to be outlined on February 27. IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said the CSSA saga would "most certainly" affect his view of Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po's plans. In particular, he cited Lam's earlier expression of surprise at lawmakers' opposition to the CSSA changes, saying they had approved the previous budget, which laid out the change. He said that would mean the burden for democrats supporting the budget would increase substantially. "However well the financial secretary does, to earn our vote he may have to cater to each and every demand we make," Mok said. ^ top ^



US warships sail through the closely watched Taiwan Strait, turning up the pressure on Beijing (SCMP)
Two US Navy warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday and Taiwan said multiple Chinese military jets flew near the southern tip of the self-ruled island to the West Pacific on the same day for a naval training exercise. US guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the USNS Walter S. Diehl conducted "a routine" Taiwan Strait transit "in accordance with international law", US Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Commander Tim Gorman told CNN. "The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Gorman said. "The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows." The US Navy sailed two ships through the Strait in October and November, a manoeuvre that was followed by multiple Chinese warships sailing into the area. The two US warships' latest voyage is expected to further disrupt already rocky China-US relations. Beijing and Washington are embroiled in a trade war that augurs to seriously damage both economies unless negotiators from both sides can reach an agreement before a 90-day truce called in December expires on March 1. Taiwan's Ministry of Defence confirmed two US warships did sail through the Strait, and that the excursion was continuing as of Thursday night. Separately, the ministry said the People's Liberation Army Air Force on Thursday had military aircraft, including H6 jet bombers and KJ500 Airborne Early Warning planes, fly through the Bashi Channel, between the island's southern tip and the Philippines, to the West Pacific. "The PLA aircraft returned to their base after completing their long-distance training exercise," a spokesman said. The PLA conducted a similar exercise last week. The moves by the Chinese and US navies came as the mainland's nationwide state broadcaster CCTV reported on Thursday that the PLA's Southern Theatre was conducting a naval training exercise in the West Pacific. The USS McCampbell, an Arleigh-Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, completed a joint operation with the British Royal Navy frigate, the HMS Argyll, in the South China Sea, according to US Pacific Fleet. It was the two navies' first joint drill in the region since 2010. Both sides said the joint exercise signalled their shared emphasis on regional peace and stability to "address common security priorities". Admiral John Richardson, the US Chief of Naval Operations, said in Tokyo last Friday that US Navy ships would continue to operate freely in international waters. Those vessels would include US aircraft carriers sailing through the Taiwan Strait, Richardson said, adding that the US considers the Taiwan Strait to be international waters. "We don't see any kind of limitation on whatever type of ship could pass through those waters," he said. ^ top ^

Poll boost for Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen after tough stand against Beijing (SCMP)
Public support for Taiwan's embattled President Tsai Ing-wen has risen sharply after her tough rejection of Beijing's call for unification talks, boosting her chances of winning her party's nomination for the 2020 elections. Tsai, whose popularity had been flagging at a low of 24 per cent due to widespread disapproval of her performance, has seen her approval rating climb by 10 percentage points to 34.5 per cent in the latest opinion poll by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation. Michael You Ying-lung, foundation chairman and a hardline supporter of independence for the self-ruled island, said the turnaround in Tsai's popularity showed there was no market in Taiwan for "one country, two systems", the model for unification proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the beginning of January. "The president's popularity stayed at 24.3 per cent last month, but jumped sharply to 34.5 per cent – the highest in six months – because of her rebuke of Xi's speech and her pledge to safeguard Taiwan and the public well-being," You said on Monday, releasing the poll results. You, a member of the hardline faction in Tsai's independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, has strongly opposed Tsai's intention to run for a second term but said the rise in her popularity showed a majority of the public were convinced by her response to Xi's January 2 speech, delivered on the 40th anniversary of the cross-strait ceasefire. Xi's proposal for talks, based on the one-China principle adopted by Hong Kong and Macau, was backed by a warning that any declaration of independence would lead to an attack from the mainland. Tsai wasted no time in rejecting the call, saying Taiwan did not want one country, two systems and that Xi's proposal for unification talks under the one-China principle was intended to destroy the island. Another survey, also released on Monday by the unaligned Taiwanese monthly publication Global Magazine, found Tsai's popularity had risen in just a month to 24.8 per cent, from 13.3 per cent, which it attributed mainly to the rebuke. "Xi's speech gave the president a floating board, allowing her to save herself from her predicament," said Wang Kao-cheng, dean of the college of international relations at Tamkang University in Taiwan. Tsai has been under intense pressure from her party's hardline faction since the DPP's crushing defeat in November's local elections, which was blamed on her government's poor performance. The mainland-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) swept to a landslide victory, taking control of 15 of the 22 cities and counties, including the pro-independence stronghold of Kaohsiung in the south. At the time, analysts and local news media predicted Tsai would have an uphill battle to secure the DPP nomination for her re-election bid. Tsai resigned as party chairwoman immediately after the local elections and has faced calls from DPP hardliners to give up her place on the 2020 presidential ticket in favour of former premier William Lai, who is from the hardline camp. Wang said it seemed Tsai was making good use of developments, from her stern rejection of Xi's call to criticism by her government, including from Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, of Beijing's approaches. "Her rebuke has raised her stake in winning a party's ticket for next year's polls, but if Tsai wants to win a second term, she must secure support from the United States, while riding on the anti-China sentiment to consolidate her political base," Wang said. Washington has shown steady support for Tsai since the November elections, in what local news media has described as a reluctance to see the island lean towards Beijing. Sun Da-chien, a former KMT legislator and now a finance law professor at CTBC Business School in Tainan, said that although Tsai's popularity had risen, this did not mean the public had found her performance, or that of her government's handling of domestic issues, improving. "She needs to work hard to win public support of her domestic performance if she wants to win a second term," Sun said. According to Monday's opinion poll from the foundation, 47.5 per cent of respondents did not approve of Tsai's handling of the island's affairs and personnel, as well as policy matters; while 34.5 per cent gave her their approval. ^ top ^



North Korea's Kim Jong-un tells of 'great satisfaction' at plans for second summit with Donald Trump, praising US leader's 'positive way of thinking' (SCMP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un spoke highly of US President Donald Trump, state media said on Thursday, and expressed satisfaction over the results of talks between officials from both countries about a second summit between Kim and Trump. Kim said he would trust Trump's approach, the North's official KCNA news agency said, weeks after Kim warned North Korea could seek a "new path" if US sanctions and pressure continued. That suggested Kim was focused on the next meeting with Trump to produce results. "Kim Jong-un said that we will believe in President Trump's positive way of thinking, wait with patience and in good faith and, together with the US, advance step by step toward the goal to be reached by the two countries," KCNA said. It said Kim expressed "large satisfaction" at receiving a "great" letter from Trump and a briefing about the results of the negotiations from the North Korean delegation that visited Washington last week but did not elaborate. Kim ordered working-level preparations for the second North Korea-US summit to be done well, KCNA said. The White House said last week a second Trump-Kim summit would be held in late February but did not say where. That follows their landmark first summit in Singapore last June, which produced a promise to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Progress since then has been patchy. Kim has indicated to South Korean President Moon Jae-in he would undertake a "groundbreaking" denuclearisation measure, South Korean newspaper DongA Ilbo reported on Thursday. The newspaper, citing an unidentified source with direct knowledge of the US-North Korea situation, said the same had been made clear to Trump during senior North Korean official Kim Yong-chol's Washington visit last week. North Korea has hinted, for example, at the possibility of agreeing to the US demand for verification of denuclearisation efforts before it discards its Yongbyon nuclear facilities. In turn, the United States has mentioned potential measures such as easing limits on oil imports, a conditional restart of the Kaesong industrial zone in North Korea, and opening a liaison office in Pyongyang, DongA reported. DongA also said that, according to several South Korean government sources, talks between officials from North Korea, the United States and South Korea near Stockholm this week appeared to have been constructive in setting some of the agenda for the second Trump-Kim summit. The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment on the DongA report. The White House said after Trump met Kim Yong-chol, the North's chief nuclear negotiator, last week that economic sanctions against Pyongyang would be maintained despite agreeing to the second summit. Kim Yong-hyun, a professor in North Korea studies at Dongguk University, told the Post the report indicated the two countries have "reached an accord on a broad road map for resolving the North's nuclear issue". "At the summit, the North is likely to offer to freeze or dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear site and accept outside experts for verification, while the US side will probably announce a plan to open a liaison office in Pyongyang and express its will to ease sanctions proactively," he said. But Choi Kang, vice-president of the Asan institute, said he was "sceptical" that any substantial progress had been made on negotiations to date. "Kim and Trump are both playing it up in order to create a favourable atmosphere for their second summit, but the question is how much the North is willing to yield in denuclearisation as Trump needs substantial results to avoid criticism that he is only doing a reality show with the North's nuclear issue." Trump has said there is "no rush" and "no time limit" on denuclearisation negotiations, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has given varying statements about the degree of Washington's patience. Pompeo said after the Singapore summit the United States hoped to achieve "major disarmament" by North Korea by the end of Trump's current term in office in January 2021. He has subsequently said he would not put a timeline on talks. He told Fox News in an interview broadcast on Wednesday there had been progress in stopping North Korea's nuclear and missile-testing programmes. "Chairman Kim continues to assure the president of the United States he is intent on denuclearisation and I hope that at the end of February, when the two leaders get together, we can make a substantial step along the way," Pompeo said. He said on Tuesday he saw an important role for the private sector in helping to develop North Korea if progress was made. ^ top ^



China-aided development center for disabled children handed over to Mongolia (Xinhua)
The handover ceremony of the China-aided development center for children with disabilities was held in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator on Thursday. The comprehensive center is equipped with 250 beds and advanced medical devices, and can provide medical treatments for 250 outpatients a day. Senior Chinese and Mongolian officials, including Chinese Ambassador to Mongolia Xing Haiming, Chief of Staff of the President of Mongolia Zandaakhuu Enkhbold, and Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Mongolia Sodnom Chinzorig, attended the ceremony. "Sharing a 4,710-km-long borderline, China and Mongolia are long-standing close neighbors. The center for children with disabilities has become a symbol of China-Mongolia friendship," said Xing at the ceremony. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Mongolia, Xing added, expressing the hope that the two countries will take this opportunity to elevate the current level of bilateral relations to a new height in all areas. For his part, Enkhbold expressed gratitude to the Chinese government and people, describing the development center as one of the largest humanitarian projects in Mongolia implemented with non-refundable aid from China. ^ top ^

Cabinet meeting in brief (Montsame)
During its regular meeting on January 23, the Cabinet made the following decisions.
- In 2018, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Chief of the Cabinet Secretariat of the Government, central administrative organizations and officials received 2512 petitions, complaints and requests from citizens. Of them, 2408 (95.8 percent) were resolved within the time period required by relevant laws. State administrative organizations of the provinces and capital city received 10013 petitions, complaints and requests, of which 9744 (97.3 percent) were also resolved within the period.
- The Cabinet appraised the result of meetings of the intergovernmental commissions between Mongolia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Mongolia and Hungary, and decided to approve the plan of actions to be implemented in pursuant of the meetings.
- The Cabinet approved a Note between the governments of Mongolia and the Republic of Ecuador on mutual visa exemptions for all types of passport holders. By doing so, it enables nationals of both countries to travel without visa for up to 90 days. In particular, Mongolian nationals are now available to travel seven countries of South America without visa. ^ top ^

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs pays visit to China (Montsame)
Delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister B.Battsetseg paid a working visit to Beijing, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China on January 14-18. Deputy Minister B.Battsetseg held meetings with Vice Chairman of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Zhao Chongjiu in Urumqi city on January 16 and Vice Chairman of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the PRC Ai Lihua in Hohhot on January 17. During the meetings held the parties noted that they are working to realize the goal to increase bilateral trade turnover to USD 10 billion by 2020 through several means, such as increasing export of non-mining products and reducing non-tariff barriers. The Deputy Minister noted how Mongolia has been giving significant importance to the partnership with the bordering regions of the PRC and suggested reviving the mechanism of Permanent Consultative Working Group of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the People's Government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The sides then discussed the current progress of implementation for the protocol of the 4th Meeting of Permanent Consultative Working Group of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the People's Government of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. The working group representatives discussed opportunities to further develop bilateral trades and economic partnership and more specifically, increasing export opportunities to China for meat and meat products produced in the western region of Mongolia and wheat and flour products produced in the eastern region. Discussions were also held on improving the operations of the two countries' border points, such as Zamiin-Uud-Erlian, Gashuunsukhait-Gantsmod, Khavirga-Arkhashaat, Bichigt-Zuunkhatavch and Bulgan-Takashiken, and future measures to be taken to solve pressing issues. ^ 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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