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
  28-31.1.2019, No. 753  
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Foreign Policy

Protesters rush Beijing delegation as US-China trade war talks start with meeting between VP Liu He and USTR Robert Lighthizer (SCMP)
China's trade delegation was given a jolting start to its visit to Washington on Wednesday when it was confronted by Chinese protesters en route to the site of the first of two days of high-stakes negotiations. The demonstrators, reported by Bloomberg to have been protesting Beijing's forced relocation of Chinese citizens, rushed the delegation as it left Washington's Willard Hotel. Video footage of the scuffle shows one woman being knocked down by security personnel. Protesters rush the Chinese trade delegation and scuffle with security as trade talks start. The delegation, led by China's Vice-Premier Liu He, soon arrived at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House, where cabinet ministers will spend two days trying to narrow the gap in the countries' positions in a trade war that is in its seventh month. Among the priorities are protection of US intellectual property, the forced transfer of US technology through joint ventures, and enforcement mechanisms to verify that China follows through on any promised changes. The talks, led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on the American side, come two-thirds of the way into a 90-day truce agreed upon by the countries' presidents on December 1 on the sideline of the G20 summit in Argentina. Mid-level discussions since then have done little to narrow the gap, and with time running out before the March 1 deadline – after which the US is expected to increase tariffs again – both sides will be eager to make significant progress this week before the Chinese government effectively shuts down for the Lunar New Year holiday next week. Highlighting the high-stakes nature of this week's discussions is a scheduled face-to-face meeting between US President Donald Trump and Liu on Thursday. As he left the Office of the US Trade Representative after the afternoon session of negotiations, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the two sides had had a "good conversation". Chinese academic predicts a long and protracted trade war Compared with members of the US delegation, Trump has almost singularly focused his grievances with China on the trade deficit between the two countries and has repeatedly played up China's pledge to buy a substantial amount of American goods and services. That issue is also expected to be a topic of discussion during this week's talks. Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said before the talks began that a short-term deal on China's substantial purchase of US goods was likely, but played down the possibility of substantial progress China could make structural reforms. "I do not believe that the real problems in the US-China relationship can be solved because the Chinese development model under Xi Jinping is directly contradictory to what the US wants," he said. As the talks began, the tension between the parties was palpable, said body language expert Rebecca Klein, reviewing video footage showing Lighthizer breaking the silence with a joke about how one end of the table would get far more TV exposure than the other. "Their body language is one of overcompensation with forced smiles and posturing," said Klein of Baltimore-based TALLsmall Productions, referring to Lighthizer and another US negotiator, Peter Navarro. She added that they presented the body language of "nervous freshmen in an upper-level classroom." The dramatic start to the Chinese delegation's visit continued at lunchtime, when a protester crossed police lines and tried to approach the team's motorcade as it returned to the Willard. NBC reported that a police officer was injured by the protester, who was arrested. In an apparent effort to avoid a repeat of the morning's scuffle, the delegation was ushered into the back entrance of its hotel amid a swarm of uniformed American police officers and plain-clothes Chinese security personnel, none of whom responded to questions. Will China's new forced technology transfer law satisfy US concerns? Asked about how the morning's talks had gone, members of the delegation just smiled silently. About 30 minutes before their arrival, a large delivery of Chinese food was brought to the hotel and collected by a man who declined to say whether it was for Liu's team, responding in Chinese: "We have a lot of staff here." Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, declined to comment on the talks' progress as he walked into the USTR headquarters on Wednesday evening. Said Kudlow, who was part of the US delegation: "Tomorrow afternoon we'll know." ^ top ^

Chinese man Jizhong Chen 'stole Apple's future-car secrets for company in China' (SCMP)
A Chinese Apple hardware engineer who allegedly stole the iPhone maker's driverless car secrets for a China-based company has been charged by the US in the second such case since July. Jizhong Chen was seen by a fellow Apple employee taking photographs on January 11 with a wide-angle lens inside a secure work space that houses the company's autonomous car project, about six months after he signed a strict confidentiality oath when he was hired, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, California. Prosecutors said Chen admitted to taking the photos and backing up some 2,000 files to his personal hard drive, including manuals and schematics for the project, but didn't tell Apple he had applied for a job with a China-based autonomous vehicle company. The arrest comes amid an unprecedented crackdown by the US on Chinese corporate espionage. As US President Donald Trump ratcheted up his trade war with China, the Justice Department in November announced a "China Initiative" aimed at prioritising trade-theft cases and litigating them as quickly as possible. San Francisco prosecutors have brought trade-secret theft cases against Chinese nationals who worked for companies as diverse as Micron Technology, a memory chip maker, and drug maker Genentech. This week, the US charged Huawei, China's largest telecommunications company, with stealing secrets from its American partner, T-Mobile US. Apple said disclosure of the data taken by Chen would be "enormously damaging", according to prosecutors. Among the photos seized by the government: an image stamped "December 19" diagramming Apple's autonomous driving architecture. Another from June 2018 depicts an assembly drawing of a wire harness for an autonomous vehicle. Chen told Apple investigators he had taken the pictures to support applications for jobs within the company after supervisors tagged him with a performance improvement plan, according to the complaint. After Apple learned he was seeking employment with a Chinese rival, he was suspended. The engineer later told Apple he intended to travel to China to visit his ill father, but was arrested last week before he could board his direct flight. He was released from federal custody after posting US$500,000 in cash and property on January 25. Chen's lawyer didn't immediately respond to phone and email requests for comment. Zhang Xiaolang, the former Apple engineer charged in July with stealing self-driving car secrets for a Chinese start-up, pleaded not guilty to the charges. He, too, told Apple investigators he was planning to go to China to visit family. The company that Zhang was allegedly working for, Guangzhou-based Xiaopeng Motors, said at the time that it found no indication Zhang communicated any sensitive information to it from Apple. Apple began its autonomous vehicle project around 2015 with the goal of developing a full self-driving electric car to compete with Tesla. In 2016, Apple scaled back to focus almost exclusively on the underlying software and hardware that could eventually power a self-driving car, whether designed by Apple or a partner. This year, under new leadership hired from Tesla, the company again retrenched, shifting around two hundred of its employees from the autonomous software team to its other artificial intelligence teams inside the company. According to the complaint against Chen, Apple has approximately 1,200 employees working directly on what it calls Project Titan. Representatives of Apple and the FBI didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on Chen's case. ^ top ^

'China threat theory' gauges US paranoia (Global Times)
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats accused China, Russia, Iran and North Korea of increasingly "threatening minds and developing ways to disrupt critical infrastructures." Coats expressed concern about expanding cooperation between China and Russia, which he claimed to be eroding existing standards, attempting to reshape the international system and increasing the risk of regional conflicts. The same day Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities James Anderson noted China's missiles, particularly hypersonic, as a concern for the US government. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe lashed out at China's buildup on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as like Beijing "preparing for World War III." The most powerful country in the world says it is the most threatened and penetrated one. This is contrary to common sense and can only make people feel that the US is quite neurotic on security issues. We cannot represent any other country, but we can certainly admonish Washington: The probability of the US being attacked by China is far less than that of the country being hit by a devastating asteroid. If Washington thinks it is throwing money into water to build an asteroid interception system, then a system to protect against a Chinese missile attack is actually more ridiculous. When you hear something like "China's preparing for World War III," it seems at first unbelievable that such words could come from a chairman of a Senate committee. But in recent years, the Chinese people have witnessed how the US acts increasingly against science and turns democracy into populism. Is this the US we all admired at the beginning of China's reform and opening-up? We can understand that Washington worries about China's development. But it is inconceivable to see such concerns turn into hysterics that dominate US elites' knowledge of China. In recent years, the Confucius Institute has been accused of being China's penetration agency, the high-tech company Huawei has been declared an arm of Chinese intelligence and Chinese overseas students have been treated as spies by US senators, intelligence officers and even Cabinet members. US-style democracy seems to increasingly specialize in judgmentalism and saber-rattling. US elites may have collectively overlooked a very basic logic: Facing a superpower, no country would attack it to seek self-destruction. Washington should stop and think a moment: Is it easier to safeguard US security with technology or through mitigation of tensions with other countries? We suspect that the US system is not promoting the country's best interests, but instead engaging in moves designed to motivate voters. The "China threat theory" is a neat gimmick, a scam of the elites, driven by special interests. But it also serves as a useful measure of the degree to which the US political system is deviating from seeking truth from facts.  ^ top ^

China, SE Asia can strengthen cooperation on anti-terrorism (Global Times)
A grenade attack on a mosque in the southern Philippines's island of Mindanao killed two people and wounded four on Wednesday, just days after twin explosions at a Catholic cathedral in neighboring Sulu province on Sunday that claimed 21 lives, AFP reported Wednesday. ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadly assault at the cathedral. On Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said that China will give its "firm support" to the country in fighting violent extremism. Indeed, China and the Philippines share broad common interests in non-traditional security issues, and the two countries have great potential in cooperation on anti-terrorism. Terrorism is a common enemy of the whole human community, and China has been consistently cracking down on it. As a responsible major country, when the Philippines suffers terrorist attacks, China is bound to provide aid. In 2017 and 2018, China donated three batches of arms to the Philippines to help the country combat terrorism. Southeast Asia is facing a grim situation of anti-terrorism. Terrorist attacks often happen in Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines in recent years. For example, a group of pro-ISIS militants took control of Marawi, a southern Philippine city in 2017. The siege took almost five months to come to an end. The whole of Southeast Asia is now facing a rising challenge: local extremist groups are having more connections with terrorist organizations outside the region. Take ISIS. By recruiting members in Southeast Asian countries, the group is posing a growing threat to Asia. After Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as the Philippines' president in 2016, he accurately appraised the situation. Different from the previous government that helped Washington oppose Beijing, Duterte focused on improving the country's security, cooperating with China and cracking down on terrorism. "It's only China that can help us," said Duterte before his first state visit to China. This shows that China has won recognition from its neighboring countries. China has rich experience in anti-terrorism as well as advanced technology and military equipment. Thus we need to further promote communication with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries in fighting terrorism. China can further cooperate with the whole of ASEAN. In 2018, six ASEAN member countries launched the Our Eyes intelligence initiative. They developed a common database of violent extremists. But as most ASEAN countries still lack the ability to independently deal with terrorist attacks, China can help them by forging cooperation. China also needs Southeast Asian countries' help as some Xinjiang extremists tend to illegally migrate to the Middle East through Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Some Western countries often impose double standards on Southeast Asian countries' anti-terrorism. China is deeply aware that these countries are facing great difficulty and urgency in anti-terrorism, and thus will firmly support them in combating terrorist attacks. With joined hands, China and ASEAN will together head toward peace and prosperity. ^ top ^

US will feel impact of shifts in Chinese investment (Global Times)
A study released by China's Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday reminded Chinese companies of increased risks of investing in North America, especially the US and Canada. As Washington grows more hostile toward Chinese investment through an increase in security reviews, Chinese companies' willingness to go to the US has been decreasing. In 2017, China's investment in North America was down 68.1 percent from the previous year, Chinese official figures have shown. Washington's policy has had a negative effect on China's investment in the US, but it cannot dampen China's overall investment enthusiasm. Chinese companies have become more mature in recent years, and many of them are looking to internationalize their businesses. If the US and Canada seek to close their doors, then Chinese investors will find opportunities elsewhere. China is witnessing an unprecedented boom in outbound investment. In 2018, China's outbound direct investment was $129.8 billion - equal to about 8 percent of Canada's GDP in 2017. The figure is still on the upswing. These capital flows are driving economic growth and job creation, and they're also a strong power that can reshape the global industrial chain. The US was once a key destination for China's outbound investment, but now Washington's policies have prompted Chinese companies to look for alternative investment opportunities worldwide. This trend is of profound significance to the region and the world. There has been much discussion about the impact of Washington's tariffs on the global economy, but less attention has been paid to investment restrictions, which will probably have a more profound impact on the global industrial chain. Let's take the example of Huawei. Amid difficulties involving the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese telecoms company is likely to adjust its global strategy and shift its focus from the US to other markets. The company is now one of the world's leaders in developing 5G network technology. As it moves away from the US and forges closer commercial ties with other countries, the world will feel the impact brought about by changes in the industrial chain as well as investment growth, technology development and job creation. China has a group of enterprises like Huawei that have great international influence. Their outbound investment will reshape the global industrial chain, and one day, this transformation will have an impact on the US economy. ^ top ^

Fresh round of China-U.S. trade talks start in Washington (Global Times)
China and the United States kicked off here on Wednesday morning a new round of high-level talks to address their differences on outstanding economic and trade issues. The talks, scheduled for two days, mark a significant step in the implementation of the important consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump during a working dinner in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Dec. 1. The two heads of state agreed back then that the two sides should try to reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement within 90 days to bring an early end to their months-long trade friction featuring massive tariffs on imports from each other. The latest talks began shortly after 9 a.m. local time (1400 GMT) at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex, following a brief session open to the media. All the discussions and negotiations, which are expected to last until Thursday afternoon, will be held behind closed doors. The Chinese delegation, headed by Vice Premier Liu He, includes senior officials from major economic sectors of the Chinese government, while the U.S. team is led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and includes Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, among others. The White House has said that the U.S. side welcomes the Chinese delegation, which arrived in Washington on Monday, and that Trump is scheduled to meet with Liu on Thursday. The world is watching these talks closely, with many hoping for some substantial, positive progress to be made. Analysts have warned that the lasting trade tension between the world's two largest economies would not only impact their own businesses, workers and consumers, but also stoke global market fears of uncertainty and disruption, and erode confidence in the long-term global economic growth. While acknowledging that the talks will not be easy given the complexity and difficulty of certain issues in dispute, China maintains that there will be no insoluble problems between the two countries as long as they both keep the great benefits of cooperation in mind and show sincerity and mutual respect at the negotiating table. ^ top ^

US' conservative unilateral trade protectionism will affect Southeast Asian economies (Global Times)
Whether Southeast Asia has become one of the beneficiaries of the trade frictions between China and the US appears to have been a hot topic at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. However, economic data recently released by Southeast Asian countries implies that it is not that easy for Southeast Asia to benefit from the China-US trade tensions, at least in the short term, and in fact quite the opposite may be seen. Singapore recently issued its export data for December 2018, which recorded its worst decline in more than two years. It appears that the country's foreign trade has been negatively affected by the China-US trade war. Almost at the same time as Singapore's announcement, Indonesia and the Philippines also released their export figures. Indonesia's exports dropped 4.62 percent year-on-year to $14.18 billion in December, a second month of contraction; while in the Philippines, exports unexpectedly fell 0.3 percent year-on-year to $5.57 billion in November, the first decline since May 2018, with its exports of electronic products decreasing for the first time in two years. A similar situation was also seen in Malaysia. From this point of view, against the backdrop of the China-US trade war, Southeast Asian countries have clearly sensed their vulnerability and sensitivity to the global environment in foreign trade, thus making it inevitable that their economies will suffer more pain in the short term. That being said, there are still a divergence of public opinion toward the China-US trade disputes in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Some observers expressed dissatisfaction with the US initiating the trade war with China and even voiced their open opposition to it. They believe that a trade war is not the correct way to handle problems regarding the China-US trade issues. Others have been concerned but have taken a more cautious attitude toward the China-US trade rows. At present, similar worries and cautious attitudes mainly come from the financial and international trade executives. Take Malaysia's mainstream opinion as an example. Malaysian economists have warned that the China-US trade war may spark a currency war as the depreciation of the yuan may drive down other developing economies' currencies including the Malaysian ringgit against the US dollar. In addition, there are also people taking a subjective yet positive view toward the trade war. That is mainly because Southeast Asian countries may receive an "unexpected dividend" from the trade dispute between China and the US. In this regard, areas such as the industrial development, electronics products, computers and e-commerce sectors are expected to benefit the most. Moreover, in order to avoid high tariffs amid the China-US trade frictions, some companies have taken direct measures such as relocating their factories to other countries, which can also bring certain benefits to Vietnam, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries. Generally speaking, most Southeast Asian nations were expecting to see a trade boost from the tensions, but unexpectedly that does not appear to have been the case. And since the "unexpected dividend" has not yet been experienced, the sharp fall in the growth rate of foreign trade has done nothing but verify these countries' concerns over the trade war. From the perspective of globalization and international multilateral free trade, Southeast Asian countries will by no means play the role as a third-party beneficiary of the global trade environment. As is known to all, the Trump administration advocates "America First" policy, focusing on measures meant to protect US domestic industries and narrow the bilateral trade deficit with other countries. Undoubtedly, this has, and will inevitably continue to, lead to a major shift in US trade policy, which has changed from promoting free trade in a multilateral economic system, to the support of conservative unilateral trade protectionism. Under this scenario, Southeast Asian countries who have always been reliant on foreign free trade and regional integration, have naturally seen a broad and deep collision with the US in their new trade policy. Southeast Asia can hardly play the role as a third-party beneficiary, and China will not be the only country that will face conflict with the US trade policy. ^ top ^

Beijing slams US request for Huawei CFO (China Daily)
Beijing strongly protested Washington's extradition request of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou and demanded "objective" treatment for Chinese enterprises. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that China is dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to the United States' extradition demand and its disregarding Beijing's stern representations. "We call on the US side to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant for Meng Wanzhou as well as the official extradition request," Geng said at a daily news conference. He also urged Canada to take China's position seriously, release Meng immediately and ensure that her lawful and legitimate rights and interests are protected. Ottawa should not risk endangering itself for other's gains, he added. The US Justice Department unsealed criminal charges Monday against Huawei and its several subsidiaries, as well as Meng herself, alleging the company stole trade secrets, misled banks about its business and violated US sanctions. Canada's Justice Department confirmed later that officials had received a formal extradition request from the US, Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported. Earlier on Tuesday, Geng warned Washington in a statement to stop its campaign against Chinese enterprises, including Huawei. "China calls on the US to treat Chinese companies in an objective and fair manner," Geng said in the statement, adding that the country will firmly defend the legitimate interests of Chinese enterprises. "For some time, the US has been using its power to tarnish and crack down on specific Chinese enterprises in an attempt to strangle their lawful and legitimate operations. Those acts were motivated by strong political intentions and manipulation," he said. Huawei has denied committing any of the violations cited in the US charges. The Chinese telecommunications giant said in a statement on Tuesday that it tried to discuss the investigation with US prosecutors following the arrest of Meng in Vancouver, but that request was rejected. The company noted the allegations in the trade secrets charges were already the subject of a US civil lawsuit that was settled. Huawei added it is "not aware of any wrongdoing by Meng and believes the US courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion." Meng was detained in Vancouver at the request of the US on Dec 1 in connection with alleged violations of US sanctions on Iran. She faces an extradition hearing on Wednesday. On Friday, Canadian Ambassador to China John McCallum was asked to resign due to his comment on the extradition of Meng. He said it would be "great for Canada" if the US drops its extradition request against Meng. Zhou Fangyin, a foreign policy researcher at the Guangdong Institute for International Strategies, said Meng's case is obviously not a legal case, but politically motivated. Meng's case is neither related to the national security of Canada, nor is it related to its economic interests, Zhou said. The attitude of the Canadian government reveals how severely this matter is politicized, he added. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

GDP growth of 18 areas surpasses national rate (China Daily)
The GDP growth rate of 18 areas surpassed the national growth rate of 6.6 percent in 2018, Economic View reported on Thursday. Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region recorded the fastest GDP growth at 10 percent last year, followed by Southwest China's Guizhou province at 9.1 percent. The growth rates of Beijing, Shanghai and North China's Hebei province were the same with the national level of 6.6 percent. The economic growth rate in eastern and central China was stable in the past year and the growth rate in western China has continued to take a leading role in GDP growth rate nationwide. Total amounts of the country's GDP for the first time surpassed 90 trillion yuan ($13.41 trillion), reaching 90.03 trillion yuan in 2018. South China's Guangdong province lead total GDP amount list, with 9.73 trillion yuan and East China's Jiangsu province ranked the second with 9.26 trillion yuan. East China's Shandong province and Zhejiang province took the third and fourth spots in total amount of GDP, with 7.65 trillion yuan and 5.62 trillion yuan, respectively. Beijing's GDP reached 3.03 trillion yuan, making it the second city with over 3 trillion yuan GDP, following Shanghai, which grabbed the 11th spot on total amount GDP list. ^ top ^

Xinhua recognized as international news agency by IOC (Xinhua)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recognized Xinhua News Agency as an international news agency, IOC President Thomas Bach announced here on Wednesday. Bach made the announcement while visiting Xinhua's Beijing headquarters, where he met with the agency's president Cai Mingzhao to discuss further enhancing cooperation. Previously, the IOC had recognized Xinhua only as a news agency of Asia. Bach told Cai the decision to now recognize Xinhua as an international entity was made due to Xinhua's "excellent work" in promoting the Olympic Movement across the globe. This is the first time an IOC president has visited Xinhua's headquarters. During the meeting, Cai said Xinhua has long been committed to advocating the Olympic spirit and covering the progress of the Olympic Movement, and has enjoyed sound relations with the IOC. Cai added that Xinhua is the main outlet for covering the Olympics for China's population of 1.3 billion. Expressing deep appreciation to Bach and the IOC for their recognition of Xinhua, Cai said the agency has full confidence in its coverage of both the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. "We hope to have more fruitful and effective cooperation with the IOC at a new starting point," Cai said. Bach spoke highly of Xinhua's long-term support and great contribution to the IOC, especially in the field of promoting winter sports in China, adding that he was looking forward to further strengthening cooperation with Xinhua. The IOC stands ready to facilitate Xinhua's coverage of the Tokyo and Beijing Games, he added. The IOC divides media outlets into two categories: international news agencies and news agencies of a country or region. A recognized international news agency enjoys benefits such as 400 square meters of space at the Olympic venue's press center, a guaranteed photo position at every Olympic venue, and direct coordination with the IOC on the accreditation of journalists. ^ top ^

Li Zhanshu presides over chairpersons' meeting of 13th NPC Standing Committee in Beijing (Xinhua)
Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, presides over a chairpersons' meeting of the 13th NPC Standing Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 30, 2019. ^ top ^

Nation plans to resume Long March 5 flights in July (China Daily)
China plans to resume use of its largest carrier rocket, Long March 5, this year amid a tight launch schedule expected to make the country the world's biggest source of space launches for the second year in a row. The third mission of Long March 5 is scheduled to take place in the second half of July at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province. Preparatory work is proceeding well, according to Yang Baohua, deputy general manager of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the nation's top space contractor. "Overall work for the resumption of Long March 5's service is going smoothly, though some improvements, especially those on the rocket engine, still need to be done," Yang said at the State-owned space conglomerate's headquarters in Beijing. "The goal of resuming its flight in July appears to be achievable." Use of the Long March 5 was temporarily suspended last year after a failure occurred during one launch. The July mission will place the SJ-20, an 8-metric ton technological demonstration satellite, into a geosynchronous orbit. The satellite is the first based on China's new-generation satellite platform, the DFH 5, and will be used to verify several key satellite technologies, he said. Yang also noted that the rocket is expected to conduct its fourth mission before the end of this year as part of the Chang'e 5 mission, the country's fifth lunar expedition. ^ top ^

Nation to ratchet up efforts on 5G technology development (China Daily)
China will ratchet up efforts to commercialize 5G communication technology and welcomes foreign enterprises to join the process as part of the country's push to expand opening-up policies, the top industry regulator said on Tuesday. Wen Ku, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at a news conference that the first commercial 5G smartphones are likely to become a reality this year. "Chinese enterprises will deepen their partnerships with foreign companies so that global consumers can benefit from faster telecommunications and other 5G-related services as soon as possible," Wen added. Foreign technology companies have played an active part in China's third-phase 5G tests, which ended in December, and they have prepared pre-commercial devices, he said. The comments came as China conducts trial operations of 5G systems in several cities and aims to fully commercialize the superfast technology by 2020. On Monday, a test for virtual reality live transmission via the 5G network in China was successfully completed. The broadcast, enabled by telecom equipment maker Huawei's technology, will allow TV audiences to have a panoramic view of this year's Spring Festival gala. Wang Yanhui, secretary-general of Mobile China Alliance, an industry association, said "China's open attitude toward foreign companies in 5G stands in sharp contrast to the US, which banned some Chinese enterprises from entering its telecom market on "national security concerns". On Monday, the US announced criminal charges against Huawei. Wen called the accusations unfair. At the news conference, Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei called on the US government to stop the "wrong practice" of putting restrictions on exporting US technology and products to Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co, a major Chinese chipmaker. "The US Commerce Department is misusing national security concerns and abusing export control measures. It is groundless for a country to use such excuses to put an export ban on a company that is still under construction, and has not yet started mass production," Miao said. The incident originated from a legal dispute among US chipmaker Micron Technology Inc, Jinhua and Taiwan-based chip designer UMC. "Jinhua has no technology and all of its technology was transferred from UMC. If there is any technology dispute, it is UMC that should be held responsible," Miao added. Despite trade frictions between some economies, the top industry regulator said on Tuesday the actual use of foreign capital in China's manufacturing sector reached $41.2 billion in 2018, up 22.9 percent year-on-year. A number of major foreign-funded projects were launched in China last year, including US auto giant Tesla Inc's 50-billion-yuan ($7.42 billion) plant in Shanghai, which effectively rebutted the rumor that foreign capital is fleeing the country. "We are considering a further expansion of market access to telecom and other industries, with more business scope open to foreign companies," Miao said. Qu Xianming, an expert at the National Manufacturing Strategy Advisory Committee, said, "China is still a hot choice for foreign investment. The government's push to create a pro-business environment will help overseas companies better tap into the huge market." ^ top ^



Hong Kong home prices fell by 2.4 per cent in December, says Rating and Valuation Department (SCMP)
The prices of homes in Hong Kong fell by 2.4 per cent in December, the city's Rating and Valuation Department said on Thursday, slower than a drop of 3.2 per cent in November. The decline from a peak in July amounts to 9.2 per cent. Shih Wing-ching, chairman of Hong Kong-based Centaline Property Agency, said home prices will first rise by 5 per cent to 6 per cent, and then drop by about 10 per cent. "The price at year-end will be lower than that in the beginning of the year. "Unless the US reduces interest rates, the home market will not be booming," he added. The US Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged overnight at 2.25 per cent to 2.5 per cent, in line with market expectations. And the interest rate future shows there is a zero per cent chance of an interest-rate increase in March, when the Fed next discusses interest rate increases. The drop in home prices comes after CLSA, Citibank and JPMorgan – in stark contrast with Centaline's Shih – recently said these prices will rise by up to 15 per cent from April to December. These financial institutions correctly forecast the current 15 per cent correction in the market. The correction began in August 2018 after a 28-month rally. Hong Kong, meanwhile, remains the least affordable city in the world to own a flat in. Shih also said the withdrawal of the tender for the first commercial plot on the runway of Hong Kong's old airport at Kai Tak stemmed from a "lack of coordination between senior government officials and frontline officials". "The government wants home prices to drop, but did not take the initiative to lead on this," he said. "The Lands Department upheld the high land price policy, in contrast with the idea of cooling home prices." Shih said frontline government staff should communicate with senior officials and not keep land prices so high, and added that it was normal to see developers offer low prices amid the ongoing US-China trade war. Elsewhere, buyers have walked away and forfeited deposits for 36 homes, a 16-month high, in another sign that they expected prices to fall. ^ top ^

Can Hong Kong's fading film industry be saved from the foreign invasion? (SCMP)
The article "Grand Cinema in Hong Kong's Elements mall to close at the end of February after more than 11 years in business" (January 25) also serves as a reminder that Hong Kong's film industry is fading. Recently, Hong Kong's pop culture has started to move away from Cantonese music and cinema towards foreign versions. Over the years, the staple entertainment of Hongkongers has changed from watching television every night or their favourite movies in the cinema to watching foreign films using mobile apps or binge-watching Korean variety shows. Most of us seem to be neglecting Hong Kong's special culture. Hong Kong movies, which embody our collective memory and – most importantly – our cultural heritage, are losing ground, but we don't seem to care. Some people say they do not go to the cinema to support Hong Kong's film industry these days mainly because tickets are too expensive and also because they feel foreign films are more sophisticated. However, our local films are a transmitter of Hong Kong culture and strike a chord within us in a way that foreign films cannot. It's a pity that Grand Cinema is shutting down, as many of us have good memories of watching films there. I hope more people will support our local film industry and help it shine again. ^ top ^



A show of support? White House map of China that omitted Taiwan catches the eye of island's internet (SCMP)
A White House map that excluded Taiwan from Chinese territory has caught the attention of internet users on the self-ruled island. The map was displayed on Monday during a press conference by White House national security adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The pair were discussing sanctions on a Venezuelan state oil company after the US declared it would no longer recognise Nicolas Maduro as president. While much of world is focused on the ongoing turmoil in the South American country and the possible US response, eagle-eyed internet watchers in Taiwan noticed that while China and Russia were marked in red, along with other supporters of the embattled president, the island was not. Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that must eventually be reunited with the mainland and the issue is regarded as acutely sensitive on the mainland, where it frequently triggers outrage on social media. Beijing has been stepping up pressure on multinational companies to remove any references on their websites that imply Taiwan is somehow separate from mainland China, a move the White House has described as "Orwellian nonsense". Earlier this month McDonald's was forced to apologise for a television advertisement that showed a two-second clip of a student ID card that listed Taiwan as a country. Last year, US clothing retailer Gap also had to say sorry after a T-shirt that showed a map of China without Taiwan drew the ire of some Chinese internet users, while companies ranging from Marriott Hotels to Ikea have run into similar difficulties. But many Taiwanese take a different view and the White House map won applause from many internet users. Cross-strait tensions have increased since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen, from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, and some Taiwanese interpreted the map as a show of support amid increasing pressure from Beijing. A post published on at PTT, the largest bulletin board system in Taiwan had attracted over 500 comments by Wednesday afternoon, with many mocking Beijing's hardline tactics against the island. "Are the Chinese internet users going to boycott the White House?" one user wrote. "Will they force the White House to apologise?" another user wrote. ^ top ^



China's manufacturing shrank again in January, as fears of further economic slowdown mount (SCMP)
Factory activity in China contracted for a second consecutive month in January, as the trade war with the United States and a domestic slowdown continue to weigh on the world's second largest economy. The official purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 49.5 this month from 49.4 in December. This was higher than the expectations of a group of analysts polled by Bloomberg, which had predicted that it would dip slightly to 49.38. However, anything below 50 represents a contraction, meaning that for the second month in a row, one of the main engines of Chinese growth has acted as a drag on the economy. The PMI is an indicator of economic health for manufacturing and service sectors. It provides information about current business conditions to company decision makers, analysts and purchasing managers. However, other sectors of the economy showed some signs of improvement. Non-manufacturing PMI rose to 54.7 from 53.8 in January, well above analysts' expectations of 53.8, according to the Bloomberg poll. This could be due to increased spend in sectors such as construction. Since the start of December, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has approved 16 projects, worth at least 1.1 trillion yuan (US$163.2 billion) in total, according to South China Morning Post analysis of official data. The contraction in production is likely to put a squeeze on employment, with manufacturing being a key source of jobs in many parts of China. However the slight rebound could offer encouragement that the strain on factories will be less pronounced. The figures come amid the most significant slowdown in China's economic growth for a decade. In the fourth quarter of 2018, the economy grew by 6.4 per cent, the lowest rate since 2009, when the effects of the global financial crisis were being keenly felt. On an annual basis, the economy grew by 6.6 per cent in 2018, the lowest growth rate since 1990. The poor manufacturing data had been telegraphed by a succession of indicators which show that consumption is struggling in China and its target export markets. Production is a natural victim of slowing consumption cycles. Car sales in China were down in 2018, dropping by 5.8 per cent to 22.35 million units in 2018. This marked the first contraction since 1992, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association. Smartphone sales in China, meanwhile, dropped by dropped 8 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to Counterpoint Research. January's trade data will be released on February 14, but the most recent data – for December 2018, were much worse than expected, underscoring the rapid weakening of the Chinese economy. Total exports fell to US$221.25 billion, down 1.4 per cent from November and 4.4 per cent from the same month in 2017, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs. "We continue to expect growth to worsen in the first half of 2019 before stabilising in the second half," Nomura said in a note to accompany the trade data on January 14.^ top ^



Parliament Speaker removed by major votes (Montsame)
Today's plenary meeting of the parliament discussed and approved a draft resolution on removal of the Speaker of Parliament, submitted by 39 MPs. One day after the parliament passed bill on Amendment to the Law on the Procedure of the Plenary Session of the State Great Khural these MPs submitted the draft resolution on January 25, considering it necessary to dismiss Speaker M.Enkhbold for his abuse of power including getting involved in the case so called '60 billion MNT' or a scheme of making money to fund election by means of selling senior public service positions during the 2016 parliamentary election. Following discussions at the plenary meeting, a secret poll was conducted, which resulted in 43 out of 65 MPs (66.2 percent) in presence voting for the removal of Speaker M.Enkhbold. The plenary meeting closed after Speaker M.Enkhbold gave his words and transferred a seal of the Parliament of Mongolia to the Deputy Speaker O.Enkh-Amgalan. Mr. Enkhbold Miyegombo has become the second Speaker who was dismissed prior to the legal term. ^ top ^

Trade turnover between Mongolia and Belarus increased by 22 percent (Montsame)
The trade turnover between Mongolia and Belarus reached USD 16 million in 2018, 22 percent increase compared to 2017. Officials highlighted it during the business meeting between the two countries took place today, January 29. About bilateral economic ties and cooperation, Deputy General Director for Foreign Economic Activity at Minsk Department of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Dubova Tatyana Yaroslavovna said "We have come to Mongolia to augment trade volume in Mongolia and to broaden cooperation. Representative offices of the Belarusian biggest machinery and equipment companies have been operating in Mongolia. This time, we signed an agreement on supplying elevator for flour mill. Also the two Chambers of Commerce and Industry renewed cooperation agreement. 15 representatives of 11 Belarussian companies in the fields of mining, food, agriculture and energy arrived Mongolia. At the meeting, the businessmen mostly touched upon transportation issues. "For example, when supplying equipment from Belarusia to a meat processing plant in Uvs aimag, the transportation must pass through Ulaanbaatar instead of directly transporting through border station of neighboring Russia. The Belarusian side asked relevant public organizations to help solving this problem, MNCCI General Secretary E.Oyuntegsh said. Present at the meeting were Ambassador of Belarus to Mongolia S.Chepurnoy and trade representatives of the Embassy of Russia in Mongolia. Business delegation from Belarus will visit Mongolia for two days. ^ top ^

Minister of Foreign Affairs attends AmCham Monthly Meeting (Montsame)
The American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia (AmCham Mongolia) hosted Minister for Foreign Affairs Tsogtbaatar Damdin at the January Monthly Meeting on Tuesday, January 29, at Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar. Manuel P. Micaller, Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia, also attended the meeting and delivered remarks. The meeting convened representatives from AmCham member organizations, state agencies, international development organizations, foreign embassies, and domestic and international businesses. Minister Tsogtbaatar provided updates on the government's trade and investment policy priorities, and outlined the challenges being encountered. In his address, Minister Tsogtbaatar noted, "Mongolia's foreign trade turnover reached nearly 13 billion USD in 2018 – a record-high performance – with export equivalent to almost 7 billion USD, while the FDI grew 1.5-fold over the past year compared to 2015." He highlighted the importance of expanded Mongolia-U.S. comprehensive partnership and the latest developments in bilateral relations between Mongolia and the U.S., including the Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act and the Millennium Challenge Corporation Second Compact, while stressing AmCham Mongolia's role as a bridge connecting investors to state authorities. Following the Minister's keynote address, Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Manuel P. Micaller delivered remarks, stating, "With the new year ahead of us, I want to lay out our economic priorities for 2019: what we hope to accomplish in 2019 in partnership with Amcham and the Mongolian government. The Transparency Agreement is perhaps the most relevant to AmCham members, which requires that new laws, rules, and regulations be subject to a public comment period before becoming final. It is a key element of the Indo-Pacific strategy – combining our two goals of transparency and private sector-led growth into a treaty that will form a cornerstone of our economic partnership once implemented." Chairman of AmCham Mongolia Mr. Oybek N. Khalilov delivered opening remarks, and stated, "AmCham Mongolia will continue to work closely with the Government of Mongolia to promote the growth of a strong and competitive private sector across all industries, and to attract investment to the Mongolian economy. AmCham Mongolia's Roadmap for Growth 2019, a document presenting the framework for our policy and advocacy priorities, will be focused on supporting the country's economic growth by regaining the interest of foreign investors." ^ top ^

Foreign Minister meets Swiss Ambassador (Montsame)
On January 25, Minister of Foreign Affairs D.Tsogtbaatar met Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation to Mongolia Jean-Jacques de Dardel at State House in connection with completion of the latter's mission here. Minister D.Tsogtbaatar appreciated the Ambassador's efforts for developing relations and cooperation between the two countries, while highlighting the significance of a first-ever visit of Foreign Affairs Minister of Swiss Confederation to Mongolia during the Ambassador's tenure in the country. He also highly appraised the Ambassador for his valuable contribution to promote Mongolia's culture and arts in the international arena and wished him success for future efforts. For his part, the Ambassador emphasized successfully developing relations and cooperation between Switzerland and Mongolia and expressed he hopes it will expand more further. Ambassador Jean-Jacques de Dardel initiated a cultural award named after by the Ambassador of Swiss Confederation, rendering support to educate artists in arts schools of Switzerland and organize their exhibitions. ^ 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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