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
  24-28.2.2020, No. 805  
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China is one of the best swimmers in economic ocean: Swiss legislator (Global Times)
Editor's Note: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment for bilateral relationship between China and Switzerland. Global Times reporters Dong Feng and Li Sikun (GT) had an exclusive interview with President of the Swiss National Council Isabelle Moret (Moret) in Beijing. Moret visited China in January during which she discussed a range of topics with Chinese leaders and visited some Swiss enterprises based in China.
GT: During the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2019, Switzerland and China signed an MOU. For Switzerland, what does BRI mean? What challenges or opportunities will it offer or present to Switzerland? What roles can Switzerland play in BRI?
Moret: The BRI entails big potential of major economic development through its path. Switzerland being an exporting economy, the BRI offers Swiss companies opportunities for potential cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, financial and professional services, advanced manufacturing, transport and logistics. Sustainability is a key challenge for the BRI. Switzerland can play a positive role by sharing its expertise in topics as sustainable finance and in the dissemination of the highest possible standards. In this regard, the MOU signed by Switzerland and China during the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019 foresees the creation of a joint capacity building platform.
GT: What are your observations of the business environment in China? As the world's second largest economy, China's consumption upgrade is a hot topic. What unique opportunities might benefit Swiss companies?
Moret: Among the 108 export destinations, China has been selected by Swiss small- and medium-sized enterprises once again as the most attracted export market in the Swiss export ranking in 2019. The continuous improvement of the living standards of the Chinese people proves that China is one of the best swimmers in the world economic ocean. The dynamic quality upgrade of the Chinese industrial production, higher salaries and higher purchasing power of rising middle class in China need high-tech solutions for an aging population. The green development in China or strong demand for premium products in Chinese e-commerce creates excellent business opportunities for Swiss companies with highly innovative Swiss premium products.
GT: Against the backdrop of the booming global cross-border e-commerce industry, plus China's further reform and opening-up, what measures will Switzerland take to develop the economy and benefit our peoples?
Moret: Due to its growth and impact, e-commerce raises questions on topics as product safety regulation, custom handling and taxes. By using the available electronic tools and data, solutions are available to align the interests of all stakeholders. Switzerland is cooperating with China both at the bilateral level and at the World Customs Organization to address those questions.
GT: In Zhihu community, China's version of Quora, there is a widespread saying that China is a "pulverizer/terminator of developed countries," or in other words, China's development will take away the advantages of developed countries. What are your perspectives to this? Does Switzerland have such concerns?
Moret: Switzerland is pleased with China's tremendous development achievements. As China continues with reform and opening-up, Switzerland is willing to further strengthen exchanges and cooperation with China in various fields. The Swiss Federal Parliament will play an active role in promoting the development of bilateral relations and enhancing the mutual understanding and friendship between the peoples. The development of China and its internal market is good news for the world's economy, as it should provide opportunities for increased trade. By saying this, I am recalling the importance of a rules-based international trade system with the WTO at its core. Switzerland's economic strength comes from its innovation capacity. When you understand and do this right, it is not a zero-sum game. If China becomes stronger, it means more cooperation and more business opportunities.
GT: In which areas do you think Switzerland and China can further strengthen their cooperation in the future?
Moret: In addition of the fields I have mentioned before, there will be increased cooperation in sectors of environment and sustainable development. Switzerland has increased cooperation with China in environment protection. For example, the (Swiss) embassy has worked on projects aiming at tackling air pollution and lowering carbon emission in China from 2010 to 2015, the results of which were taken into accounts by China's air pollution legislation. A new round of clean air projects will be launched this year. GT: What impressed you most during your China visit?
Moret: I am deeply impressed by the bilateral relations between Switzerland and China that have been consolidated in the past 70 years, and all remarkable achievements. I was impressed by the close and supporting friendship between China and Switzerland. Our bilateral relationship between Switzerland and China "began in the era of horse-drawn carriages and telegraphs and has now entered a new era of Internet and innovation."
GT: We understand you discussed over human rights with Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee. How do you see the Western media reports on the human rights situation in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region?
Moret: With Chinese leaders, we have talked about circumstances in Xinjiang, and we have talked very frankly. As I said, we have long friendship and only old friends can talk about what they have in their hearts. A Chinese proverb says "Don't believe what you hear, believe what you see with your own eyes." Wang Yang, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, invited me to visit Xinjiang. And we have decided to discuss the possibility of the follow-up visit. This visit could be a good part of our human rights dialogues since 1991, between China and Switzerland. We regularly discuss about human rights. Switzerland leads more than 30 bilateral dialogues with China, among which human rights is one of the topics. China has been Switzerland's main economic partner in Asia since 2010, and its third main trading partner overall after the EU and the US. In 2013, a bilateral free trade agreement was signed in Beijing, which went effective on July 1, 2014. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Commentary: Time for deeper China-U.S. cooperation against unconventional challenges (Xinhua)
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, two notable media reports concerning the United States have gone viral in China. One is that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed up to 100 million U.S. dollars in emergency funding to help China combat the epidemic. In a letter to Bill Gates, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he deeply appreciates the act. The other is U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross' much criticized remarks that the disease in China could help quicken the pace at which jobs and manufacturing return to the United States. The sharp contrast between the two suggests that some U.S. politicians' xenophobic sentiments against China are not shared by the good-willed majority of the American people, who are working for a closer China-U.S. relationship amid the epidemic. Earlier this week, some 70 Americans who teach Chinese children online English courses donated thousands of masks to China through their employer VIPKid, a Chinese online education platform. One of the teachers, Juliet Hooks from Pennsylvania, bought 1,800 masks and wrapped them up in boxes decorated with Chinese characters translating to "Be strong, China). Another, Kelsey Covington from Virginia, chose to wear a T-shirt with a world map on which China was marked with a big red heart. Hundreds of adoptive families across the United States have joined in the Chinese-launched Masks for Orphans fundraising project, donating over 20,000 masks to 50 orphanages in China. From a warehouse in the U.S. state of California, 1.8 million masks and 80,000 disposable medical gowns were shipped to China thanks to U.S. humanitarian aid organization MedShare, with support from U.S. enterprises like Coca-Cola and UPS. Statistics show that as of Feb. 2, 188 foreign companies have donated 1.096 billion yuan (about 157 million U.S. dollars) to China, of which U.S. companies have donated the most. Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University who worked together with Chinese scientists during the SARS outbreak in 2003, has teamed up with his Chinese counterparts once again. As the American people are offering their assistance against the epidemic, those aforementioned U.S. politicians should stop engaging in anti-China rhetoric, listen to the voice of the majority, and take the COVID-19 outbreak as a chance to promote deeper China-U.S. cooperation in coping with unconventional challenges for the benefit of all. On the one hand, they need to understand that no one can stand alone against a global public health emergency in today's highly interconnected world, and that cooperation, not confrontation, is the only solution to beating a deadly virus that knows no borders. Differences and collaboration can go hand in hand. Just as Vice Chair of Indonesia's Center for Strategic and International Studies Jusuf Wanandi said, "amid competition, there is always room to help each other, particularly in an epidemic of this scale." On the other, they must realize that as the world's top two economies, China and the United States need to shoulder the responsibilities of major countries in the face of an unconventional global challenge. "This is a time for global solidarity -- political solidarity, technical solidarity and financial solidarity," emphasized Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization. As the fight against COVID-19 is entering a crucial stage, the two countries should work together to set a good example of global solidarity, making concerted efforts to safeguard international health and security, and join hands to build a community with a shared future for mankind. ^ top ^

Trade deal's future at risk if campaigning Trump turns to China-bashing (SCMP)
A presidential election campaign, not yet in full swing, can be high season for China-bashing in the United States. Hopefully the preseason is not a good guide of what to expect. But the recent Munich Security Conference is not encouraging. Foreign Minister Wang Yi found himself defending China against a concerted attack from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper. There was little constructive in the exchange for bilateral relations or multilateral approaches to conflict resolution. Esper devoted his speech to the perceived threat of China's rise. Pompeo compared Beijing to Moscow, saying it was a threat to both Europe and America. Wang dismissed their comments as "lies" and said China was committed to upholding multilateralism to preserve world peace. He said its handling of the virus outbreak showed the advantages of its political system. This tit-for-tat polemic is driven by US efforts to keep Europe onside in its rivalry with China over cybersecurity, technology and trade, highlighted by a global campaign to block Huawei's 5G mobile technology. In that respect, the rhetoric was enlivened by a question from retired senior Chinese diplomat Fu Ying, now chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress. Noting that China had adopted Western technologies without threat to its political system, she asked how adoption of Huawei's 5G technology would threaten Western political systems. It was an example of how a more confident China has no hesitation in rebutting the American narrative on the international stage. The coronavirus outbreak makes rivalry with China a more complex issue in the presidential election campaign. As Wang is reported to have said, restrictions on movement between the US and mainland China complicate implementation of the phase one trade deal to lift US farm exports to China, intended to clear the decks for President Donald Trump's campaign. At home, Trump faces internal criticism over an increasingly authoritarian style, including highly divisive meddling in the justice system. If he faces a domestic political backlash and implementation of the trade deal is lagging, China-bashing could serve as a distraction for voters. That would do nothing for prospects of a badly needed wider trade deal. ^ top ^

Hua Chunying refutes Pompeo's inappropriate remarks (Global Times)
Chinese Foreign Ministry official Hua Chunying met a US embassy representative on Wednesday to make solemn representations over US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's inappropriate remarks on China's handling of the Wall Street Journal case involving an article with a "racist headline," which slandered China's efforts against the coronavirus outbreak. In the meeting with the US embassy representative, Hua, Director General of Chinese Foreign Ministry's Information Department, also protested against the inappropriate comments by a White House National Security Council spokesperson who threatened to take measures against Chinese media after China announced decisions last week to revoke the press credentials of three WSJ journalists over the Journal's racist headline. Hua said that if the US further harasses and restricts Chinese news agencies in the US, China will take further action, according to a statement published on the ministry's official website. The WSJ's mistakes are serious and the paper must take the responsibility. Pompeo and other US officials blatantly defended WSJ's wrongdoings under the cover of freedom of speech, and made irresponsible remarks on China's efforts in fighting against the COVID19 outbreak, which confuses right and wrong and are totally unreasonable, Hua said. Threatening to retaliate against Chinese media is unacceptable. In fact, the US side provoked China in the first place and China responded with justifiable defense, Hua said. Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday also blasted Pompeo for defending the Wall Street Journal's wrongdoings, saying the Journal's racist headline defaming China is not about freedom of speech and the press, and that anyone with basic morality should oppose and object to such racist practices. Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said even the Journal itself admitted its wrongdoing. So why does Mr. Pompeo, brushing off international opinion, keep on "cheering up" the Journal, which makes people wonder if the Wall Street Journal is a proxy of the US Department of State, Zhao said. ^ top ^

US assails Beijing over sentencing of Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai (SCMP)
The United States on Thursday condemned China's sentencing of Gui Minhai, the Hong Kong bookseller and publisher accused by Chinese authorities of providing intelligence to foreign entities. Gui, a 55-year-old a Swedish national, was one of a number of Hong Kong-based booksellers who disappeared in 2015, only to appear on Chinese state television to say while in custody that he had "turned himself in" in relation to a traffic accident in Ningbo years earlier. On Monday, a Chinese court sentenced him to 10 years in prison and deprivation of political rights for five years for "illegally providing intelligence to overseas entities". Criticising the punishment in a statement on Thursday, the US State Department called on China "to release him immediately and unconditionally". The statement, issued by department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, made specific mention of Gui as a "Swedish citizen", an apparent swipe at the claim from Chinese authorities earlier this week that he had voluntarily applied for Chinese citizenship in 2018, while in detention. Since China does not permit citizens to hold two nationalities, such an application would have effectively revoked Gui's Swedish citizenship, potentially restricting the ability of Swedish officials to provide consular support. Stockholm said earlier this week that Gui remained a Swedish citizen and demanded his immediate release. A European Union spokeswoman said there were "serious questions to be answered about this case" and vowed that the EU would continue to raise Gui's case with Beijing. Joining the international community's growing chorus of condemnation after Gui's sentencing, Ortagus said on Thursday that Washington and its allies were "bound by shared principles of rule of law, liberty, equality and human dignity". "We will continue to stand with our partners and allies to promote greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in China," she continued. The statement came amid growing pressure from US lawmakers and advocacy organisations for the Trump administration to place concerns over Beijing's human rights record at the heart of bilateral relations, which have been dominated by trade negotiations for much of the past two years. Since Gui's disappearance in 2015, the case has received sustained scrutiny from governments and human rights groups around the world, and has been held up as an example of the lengths to which Chinese authorities will go to bring Beijing's critics – even those who are not PRC citizens and do not live within its jurisdiction – into line. Gui's Causeway Bay Books was known, like many of Hong Kong's independent bookshops, for its inventory of nonfiction works that delved into the shrouded lives of Chinese Communist Party officials. Before his disappearance while on holiday in Thailand in 2015, he was reportedly preparing to publish a title about Chinese President Xi Jinping's love life. After surfacing on the Chinese mainland and serving jail terms for the traffic accident dating back to 2003, Gui was released but remained under close surveillance by authorities. He was later arrested on a Beijing-bound train in 2018 while in the company of Swedish diplomats. The court statement announcing the sentence did not cite his bookselling business. A foreign ministry spokesman dodged questions on Tuesday about what specific intelligence Gui was purported to have shared with foreign entities. ^ top ^

Coronavirus 'dents plans' for EU-China investment deal by September (SCMP)
The coronavirus epidemic has reduced prospects for China and the European Union reaching a landmark investment deal in time for a September summit, the EU's top trade official said on Wednesday. Phil Hogan, the EU's trade commissioner, also said that a planned meeting between the EU's new leadership and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang would probably not happen in Beijing in March. Beijing had hoped that a deal could be reached with Brussels in time for President Xi Jinping to present it when he meets – for the first time – all 27 heads of EU states in the German city of Leipzig in September. "There's a lot of time lost now and going to be lost because of the coronavirus. A lot of meetings have been cancelled," Hogan told the European Parliament on Wednesday. "If we were going to get a deal by the Leipzig summit we would have to largely have it completed by July." The EU trade chief, who has vowed to use trade as part of the EU's "toolbox" in achieving geopolitical aims, also said there were still differences on major issues. "We are making some progress with the Chinese in relation to a lot of matters, but the key issues of industrial subsidies and forced technology transfer are still not dealt with," Hogan said. But Tobias Gehrke, a specialist on EU-China trade at the Egmont Institute think tank in Brussels, questioned the impact of the coronavirus on the talks. "EU negotiators have been lamenting a lack of substantive progress in the negotiations for the past year, and have increasingly voiced concern that Beijing is dragging its feet in the negotiation because it sees a strategic political window. EU leaders could push for a deal in Leipzig for its political effect, despite EU negotiation goals having fallen short," Gehrke said. He said there were fears in some quarters of the EU that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will be chairing the extraordinary summit in Leipzig, was too keen to reach a deal with China. "The fear is that the summit in Leipzig, with 27 EU heads of states, could fall victim to dissenting EU interests: departing Chancellor Merkel looks particularly interested to see an inked deal," Gehrke said. "This worry has led the EU Commission increasingly voice its concerns over the state of the negotiation." The goal to reach an agreement on investments by the end of this year was cemented in April last year, when Li offered fresh commitments to speed up talks on a decade-long effort to work on the pact. The EU was China's biggest trading partner in 2018, while China was the EU's second largest. ^ top ^

Xi's diplomacy bolsters epidemic fight (China Daily)
China's active, open and transparent cooperation with the World Health Organization and relevant countries in responding to the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak has demonstrated that it shoulders its responsibility as a major international player in helping the world curb the contagion, experts said. The outbreak has also given prominence to the value of President Xi Jinping's vision on building a community with a shared future for mankind as the international community needs to work together to eliminate the threat of the disease in order to uphold global public health security, they said. Speaking on Sunday during a video conference on coordinating epidemic control and socioeconomic development, Xi said leaders of more than 170 countries and over 40 international and regional organizations had expressed sympathy with China over the outbreak, and also voiced their support for the nation in its battle against the contagion. International and regional cooperation should be expanded, and good communication with the WHO and experience-sharing with relevant countries should be continued, Xi said, adding that China will shoulder its responsibilities as a major country and provide necessary assistance to the countries affected by the novel coronavirus. China has donated novel coronavirus testing kits to Japan, which has reported more than 850 confirmed cases. Since the start of the outbreak, Xi has used diplomacy to boost international confidence in the fight against the epidemic. In around a month since the start of the outbreak, Xi had 13 telephone conversations with heads of state or government from 12 countries, in which the topics focused on prevention and control of the disease and China's efforts to reduce the impact of the epidemic on its economy. Xi also met with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Feb 5 and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Jan 29 in Beijing. Yang Yu, a researcher at the China Center for Urban Development and a media commentator, said Xi's telephone diplomacy and communications with foreign leaders demonstrate that China's war on the novel coronavirus has been closely connected with the rest of the world since the start of the outbreak. This shows that the world is a community with a shared future, he said. Speaking to the foreign leaders and the WHO chief, Xi said that China has been communicating with relevant countries and the United Nations body about disease-related information in an open, transparent and responsible manner. He said that China stands ready to work with the international community to effectively respond to the epidemic and jointly uphold global public health security. China has carried out the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures to fight the contagion, which greatly contributes to global efforts in epidemic control and also conforms to the country's value in the pursuit of the common interests of the whole of mankind, Yang said. The WHO praised China's efforts to contain the virus and said it has earned valuable time for other countries to prevent and control the epidemic. "We would have seen many more cases outside China by now if it were not for the government's efforts," Tedros said at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Bruce Aylward, head of the foreign expert panel of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, said on Monday at a news conference in Beijing that the measures China has taken offered experience of improving the global response to the disease. With the emergence of clusters of infection in foreign countries, strategies adopted by China can be implemented in other countries, Aylward said. Xi assured the foreign leaders that China, as a nation that has faced many challenges, has full confidence, capability and determination to win the battle against the outbreak. China's robust epidemic response is meant not only to protect the lives and health of the Chinese people, but also to protect foreigners in China, he said. A meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Friday presided over by Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, underscored the need for the country to develop international cooperation on epidemic control as part of its efforts to advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. In the face of external challenges, society should form a collective identity and closely work together to deal with them instead of treating each other as rivals or enemies, said Xie Laihui, an associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' National Institute of International Strategy. In Xi's letter dated Jan 20 in reply to Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who wrote him a letter on the novel coronavirus outbreak, Xi said he has been advocating that mankind is a community with a shared future. Unity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon in prevailing over a disease that threatens all, he said. International agencies and governments are moving toward greater collaboration and cooperation with China on the virus, Eddie Tapiero, a professor and economist from Panama, wrote in an article published on the China Global Television Network website. "What this threat reminds us is that we live in an interconnected world where the pain of one is the pain of all, and that we need to continue to open more lines of cooperation and collaboration among countries to be able to resolve not only the problem of the coronavirus, but also other global problems like hunger, climate change and human development," Tapiero wrote. In his telephone talks with foreign leaders, Xi also stressed that the impact of the outbreak on China will be short-lived and the general trend of China's economy to maintain a good momentum for development remains unchanged, as it has a resilient economy, robust domestic demand and a strong industrial base. China can and will meet this year's economic and social development goals, in particular the key tasks of securing a decisive victory in establishing a moderately prosperous society in all respects and eliminating absolute poverty in China, Xi said. During Sunday's videoconference, Xi urged coordinated efforts to resume production based on the local health situation to promote socioeconomic development while preventing and containing the spread of the virus. He called for active fiscal and financial policies to promote socioeconomic development, and underscored the importance of resuming production in an orderly manner, stabilizing employment and guaranteeing people's livelihoods. While preventing and controlling the epidemic, China is striving to resume normal economic operations, Yang said, adding that as long as China's economic engine is in operation, global industrial chains will stabilize, which will in turn boost the confidence of global investors. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy urges int'l community to safeguard existing multilateral arms control mechanisms (Xinhua)
A Chinese envoy on Wednesday called on the international community to safeguard the existing multilateral arms control and disarmament mechanisms, and oppose treaty withdrawals and violations. Speaking at a Security Council meeting on non-proliferation, Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Noting this year marks both the 50th anniversary of the treaty's entry into force and the 25th anniversary of its indefinite extension, Wu said members of the Security Council need to recall the historical role played by the treaty and to look forward to its contemporary significance in promoting international peace, security and development. At present, challenges in the field of international security are on the rise and competition among major powers is intensifying, which has a serious impact on global strategic stability, said the Chinese envoy. He added that contradictions in nuclear disarmament have intensified, unilateralism has prevailed in the field of non-proliferation, and politicization of peaceful uses of nuclear energy has become prominent. "We should abide by multilateralism and safeguard the international order based on international law," he said, adding that the international community should work together for the setting of rules and regulations in new areas, such as outer space, cyberspace and artificial intelligence, to meet the new challenges to strategic security. ^ top ^

China and like-minded countries call on UN rights chief to heed voice of developing countries (Xinhua)
China on Thursday delivered a joint statement on behalf of the like-minded countries (LMG) during the on-going 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, calling on the UN rights chief to continue to heed the voice of developing countries. The LMG commends UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet for underscoring dialogue and cooperation with states, and hopes that the High Commissioner will continue to heed the voice of member states, in particular the developing ones, and advance all categories of human rights in a balanced way. The LMG hopes the High Commissioner and her office will abide by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and carry out relevant work in an impartial, objective, constructive and non-selective manner, oppose politicization of human rights and double standards, and stand against "naming and shaming" and exertion of public pressure. Stating that LMG countries maintain a long-standing position on advocating multilateralism and cooperation, Liu Hua, Special Representative for Human Rights of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the LMG expects the High Commissioner and the UN rights office to reflect seriously upon ways to advance global human rights governance for the benefit of people of all countries while investing more efforts on emerging and frontier human rights issues. In particular, she said, efforts should be redoubled in promoting economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development, underlining the importance of development and poverty alleviation to promoting and protecting human rights, and investing more resources in fighting racial discrimination, hate speech, terrorism and extremism, as well as protecting the rights of migrant children. The LMG appeals to the High Commissioner and her office to respect the right of every country to choose its own path to achieve peace and development, recognize the progress and efforts of states, share good practices and experience in the field of human rights, and give more input in technical assistance in line with the country's needs and priorities. The LMG also urges the High Commissioner and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to immediately take concrete measures in ensuring equitable geographical representation and gender parity of OHCHR staff in a transparent manner, in particular, in case of high level officials. "It is the sincere hope of LMG that under the leadership of the High Commissioner, the OHCHR will cooperate closely with states to jointly promote the healthy development of the international human rights cause," Liu said. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Commentary: "Two sessions" postponed for better advancement (Xinhua)
China will postpone the "two sessions," a key event in the country's political calendar, amid concerted efforts to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic and boost economic and social development. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, on Monday adopted a decision to postpone this year's annual session. The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, has been advised by its Chairperson's Council to postpone its annual session. Following relevant laws, rules and procedures, the moves were made responsibly. They are necessary and timely, conforming to the Constitutional principles and the current situation of epidemic control. The moves also demonstrate the concept of putting the people's interests as the top priority. The openings of the annual sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC National Committee had been held on March 5 and March 3, respectively, since 1998. By postponing the sessions, China will have a wider window to fight COVID-19, to identify how to minimize the impact of the epidemic on development and to prepare policies more precisely to boost growth. The current situation remains grim and complex. Among nearly 3,000 national lawmakers and more than 2,000 political advisors, many are scientists, researchers, professionals, medical staff, workers, farmers and officials of various levels. They are fighting at the frontlines against the COVID-19. No victory should be lightly announced until there is a complete win. Besides, the epidemic prevention and control work in Beijing, where the sessions are held, should be carried out with all-out efforts. Imported cases and spread within the city should be prevented. Postponing the two important political meetings that cover every aspect of China's development and the people's wellbeing is a temporary measure that is aimed at achieving better development in the long run. During the "two sessions," growth targets and reform goals need to be set. National lawmakers and political advisors are expected to discuss a series of policies and measures, including strengthening the regulation role of macro-economic policies, ensuring employment, continuing the task of alleviating poverty, as well as keeping foreign trade and investment stable, to put the economic and social development back on track. All the decisions and measures must be made based on an exact review on the impact of the epidemic and a clear vision on long-term development. It takes time to make the judgment, and it is worth doing so. The dates of the "two sessions" will be set later. It will not be long to wait for the decisions, as the positive trend in the prevention and control work is expanding. For instance, more than 20 provincial-level regions, including Beijing and Shanghai, had reported zero infections in the past 24 hours. The political, economic and social order will be back to normal. The move to postpone the "two sessions" will become a prelude to China's glory of rising from hardships and advancing more courageously. ^ top ^

Chinese lawmakers start deliberating draft decision on banning eating of wild animals (Xinhua)
Chinese lawmakers on Monday started deliberating a draft decision on thoroughly banning illegal wildlife trade and eliminating the bad habits of eating wild animals to safeguard people's lives and health. The draft decision was submitted to Monday's bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature. The draft, consisting of eight articles, focuses on the prominent problem of some people recklessly eating wild animals. It aims to completely ban the eating of wild animals and crack down on illegal wildlife trade before relevant laws are amended so as to provide a strong legislative guarantee for safeguarding public health and ecological security. ^ top ^

Spotlight: Governance capacity, system strength highlighted by int'l observers in Xi's speech on COVID-19 (Xinhua)
Observers around the world said Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech on Sunday has demonstrated the country's governance capacity and social system strength in its fight against the COVID-19. In his speech, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed unremitting efforts in the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus disease and coordination in advancing economic and social development. Under the leadership of the CPC, China has pooled its resources to the maximum in the shortest time to combat the virus, showcasing advantages of its social system, said Russian political analyst Victor Porozhenko. Nina Ivanova, chairwoman of the Belarusian Society of Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, said the progress China has made in the fight against COVID-19 proved that the decisions and measures adopted by the CPC Central Committee are "accurate and effective." She noted that China is strengthening measures to stabilize its economy and adjusting policies, which will release huge development potential and inject strong impetus into the country's efforts to achieve economic and social development goals. The Chinese government has taken swift and forceful measures to prevent the epidemic from spreading, actively carried out international cooperation in the research and development of anti-virus medicine and vaccine, and continued to adjust its policies to explore economic driving force, said Eduardo Regalado, researcher at Cuba's Center for International Policy. Regalado said he believes that China will continue to give full play to its advantages in political leadership and allocate its resources to eliminate the epidemic as early as possible and to minimize the negative impact on the economy. Pui Jeng Leong, a media veteran in Brunei, said China's firm measures in combating the COVID-19 have shown "openness," "transparency" and "a highly responsible attitude." Despite some disturbance brought by the epidemic, the observer said he believes that China can do a good job in the overall planning of epidemic prevention and socio-economic development, as "the broad Chinese market is highly resilient" and "the nationwide system to combat the COVID-19 has great advantages." Ismatulla Bekmuratov, a professor of the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies in Uzbekistan, said Xi's speech comprehensively reviewed the measures taken by China since the novel coronavirus outbreak, and put forward clear guidance for the next steps on epidemic control and advancing economic and social development. These practical actions demonstrated the CPC's principle of serving the people wholeheartedly, Bekmuratov said, adding that China's resolute and forceful measures to combat the virus have once again proved that the strength of China's social system is an essential factor for the country to overcome all difficulties including the epidemic. ^ top ^

China Focus: E-learning rises amid coronavirus outbreak (Xinhua)
The school closure amid the epidemic outbreak has not stopped Chinese students from learning as they turn to the Internet to attend classes, bolstering the rise of e-learning. Shen Xiang, a six-grader in east China's Zhejiang Province, now uses Alibaba's communication app DingTalk proficiently to clock in and take classes. "School notices, homework, daily health checks and videos sent by teachers are all available on the platform," Shen said. DingTalk, originally a mobile office tool for white collars, has been adapted to offer online services for schools amid the virus outbreak, welcoming classes of nearly 600,000 teachers in hundreds of cities on Feb. 10, the first day of online schooling in many parts of China. Even in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, more than 700,000 stuck-at-home students ushered their new semester that day on DingTalk. With the help of booming virtual platforms, eye-catching and innovative live stream classes are launched across the country. A popular online video shows a teacher using green onions to help teach and his high school counterpart in the southwestern Chinese city of Nanchong even went into the field to teach geography remotely. Downloads of DingTalk rank high in the Apple App Store due to the wide application of online classes in China, coupled with the work-from-home policies of many firms. "We deployed more than 10,000 new cloud servers within just two hours, a new record for the rapid capacity expansion," said Zhu Hong, CTO of DingTalk. "The epidemic further prompted the demand for online education." Despite being a leader in the category, the heated app gets a surprisingly poor grade, registering a score of 2.6 out of 5 stars by nearly 1.21 million people in the Apple App Store, and was once at risk of being removed. Negative comments mainly come from house-bound students who had to start school in the virtual world instead of spending a protracted holiday as they hoped. "Thank you for letting me see my teacher every day during the holiday!" read a one-star review. In response to the negative feedback, the DingTalk team posted a music video with cartoons on China's social media platform Weibo and a Chinese online video sharing platform Bilibili, "begging" the students to stop giving bad ratings, which has garnered nearly 25 million views. So far, schools in more than 300 cities in provinces including Hubei, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Jiangsu have launched online teaching through DingTalk, covering tens of millions of students. "The epidemic is like a catalyst for many enterprises and schools to adopt digital technology platforms and products," Zhu said. ^ top ^

China's coronavirus epidemic shows strengths, flaws of one country, one system (SCMP)
Beijing has long said that the Chinese system of one-party rule and top-down decision-making has brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and is the most effective form of governance for the world's most populous country. When faced with the brewing public health crisis brought on by the Covid-19 epidemic in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019 that same system acted in ways unheard of under democratic forms of government. They included the shutdown of a city of 11 million people, almost three times the population of Los Angeles, spread over an area five times the size of London. And that was just for starters. It does not take much of an imagination to speculate that such measures in either of those Western cities would have resulted in public uproar and protests on the streets. In South Korea, for example, thousands of protesters on February 22 defied a ban on public gatherings implemented by the government after a jump in infections in that country. That did not happen in Wuhan nor in the rest of Hubei province, where the measures were extended to envelop almost 60 million people. Or at least as far as has been reported, which points to the potential flaws in the same centralised China system that restricts information flow. It also stresses following orders from above, which has been shown to have sped up the response in some respects, but delayed it in others. The World Health Organisation is one body that has said Beijing's efforts to control the outbreak deserves the thanks of the international community. The WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus met China's President Xi Jinping in January and was later cited by local media as saying "China's speed, China's scale and China's efficiency … is the advantage of China's system". The WHO head later pushed back against criticism of these comments, saying China did many good things to slow down the virus. Xi also said was he was confident of stopping the outbreak because of the "strong leadership of the Communist Party". The actions taken by China are almost unthinkable in Western countries, both politically and technically, said Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the New York-based think tank Council on Foreign Relations. "In the West, it'd be a very difficult decision to make, in legal and ethical terms," he said, adding it would be almost logistically impossible elsewhere and showcases the idea of socialism as defined by China's Communist Party. "It was a top-down decision, and of course the people of Wuhan were never consulted," he said. "Measures should have been taken earlier but at that point it was a last resort, or the entire country will become like Wuhan after the holiday." Another significant element to the lock-down decision by Beijing is the timing. It was ordered directly by Xi on January 23, just one day before China's Lunar New Year's Eve – the country's biggest holiday and a time when hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel both within China to visit family and overseas for vacation. At a press conference on February 13, the WHO chief Tedros said another board member of the global health body had called China's decision to lock down Wuhan "heroic". While the virus did spread in China – all the country's provinces eventually reported cases – and spread overseas to dozens of countries, infecting and killing as it went, medical authorities other than the WHO have indicated China's unprecedented clampdown did check the disease. "No other country could mobilise resources and manpower at such speed," said an editorial by the medical journal The Lancet on February 17. That was partly a reference to building two makeshift hospitals in about a week to provide 2,000 beds; commandeering universities, convention centres and high schools as 13 temporary hospitals; and bringing in about 33,000 medical staff from around the country. On February 23, one month after the Wuhan lockdown started, 20 provinces in China reported no new infections. Also, 80 per cent of China's confirmed infections and 95 per cent of fatalities from the virus were within Hubei province where Wuhan city is located, indicating the measures had success. "Unlimited government can be very powerful and provide a comprehensive solution in a crisis, once the leadership is committed," said Huang. "It can penetrate right to the bottom of society, and as in the case of birth control, right into people's bedrooms." In other words, the system of governance that makes such a response to the virus outbreak possible includes methods regarded as unacceptably intrusive in many other countries. Huang's comments about birth control refer to China's introduction of the one-child policy in the 1970s to control population growth. This involved the use of community-level administrations, known as jiedao, that helped implement the birth-control policy even to the point of checking neighbourhood women's periods to monitor unreported pregnancies. The jiedao systen kicked into action again in the virus response, setting up local watch stations on the streets to check people's movements, stop people to take their temperature, and call households by telephone to check on residents. Beside the low-tech checkpoints, hi-tech was also roped in. China's three state-run telecom carriers kept location and travel records for every user in the country for the previous two weeks, which could be called up on the phone to present at health checkpoints. Any record of a trip to Hubei province would ring a bell. The country is also home to 70 per cent of the world's civilian drones, which were used to take body temperature checks from balconies at residential compounds. They even buzzed around peeking into living rooms to see if any group gatherings were taking place against official advice, including mahjong parties. The law was on the state's side, too. Concealing recent travel to Hubei was punishable under as a danger to public security. But such a system that monopolised directions from the top down, contained legions of officials and bureaucrats in multiple layers of administration waiting for orders to act. When an unexpected event like a new virus sprang up and caused an outbreak at the grass-roots level in Wuhan, indications are that as local medical authorities warned of the threat, the local political system froze and information was withheld. In January, as public discontent grew over the handling of the outbreak, questions started to be asked about why updates on the situation had not been released earlier – forcing Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang to say he needed approval from more senior officials to release the information to the public. Again, waiting for orders. The epidemic has shown that a number of Chinese officials and most Chinese people are still thinking in ways from a peasant economy, wrote Professor Jiang Shigong, a law professor with Peking University and an adviser to Beijing. Public anger then blew out through social media when it was announced that Li Wenliang had died. He was a doctor who had been reprimanded by police after trying to warn his colleagues about the new coronavirus before becoming infected himself. Amid that anger calls arose for more freedom of speech, not just from the public but in a statement from academics that called for a return to the collective leadership system that was in place before Xi consolidated power into his hands. The seeming incompetence of local officials did not help the picture. Wang Xiaodong, the governor of Hubei province, was attacked on social media after a press conference in late January. He announced the province had the ability to produce 10.8 billion surgical masks, before an aide passed him a note and he corrected himself to 10.8 million. Xi himself showed signs of frustration with the system and, in an apparent attempt to break through layers of bureaucracy, he spoke directly to a total of 170,000 cadres around the country in a televised speech on the epidemic, an unprecedented move. People's Daily, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, said on a social media account it runs that it was to avoid instructions becoming "distorted" as they were handed down. But others pointed to the problems caused by a heavily centralised and opaque governance system, which has grown increasingly so under Xi. Xu Zhangrun, a law professor with Tsinghua University, wrote in an article published on overseas Chinese-language websites that the incompetence was structural and was caused by Xi's emphasis on political loyalty over governance skills. "The Chinese system does show more efficiency in a crisis, especially so as it enters the private sector and private lives," said Gu Su, a political scientist at Nanjing University. "But in terms of governance, a timely response still means much and could have saved lots of extra costs in latter stage. "We repeatedly see the same mistakes like low level cover-ups and sitting on information instead of making a decision." Huang, from the US Council on Foreign Relations agreed. "If people inside the system can't tell a crisis in front of their eyes, or don't dare tell, or is not willing to, or is not recognised even after he does, we have a real problem" he said. "We can't claim the system has advantages if it encourages inaction and cover-ups and only responds fully in the face of a crisis." ^ top ^

China's railways see passenger trips rising amid work resumption (Xinhua)
China's railways are seeing increase in passenger numbers in tandem with the work and production resumption amid the country's battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic, the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. (CSR) said Thursday. Since Feb. 20, the number of railway passenger trips has picked up with an average daily increase of 60,000, according to the company. As of Wednesday, the CSR had arranged 115 chartered trains and transported 123,000 workers from home to workplaces with as few stops in between as possible, aiming to ensure work resumes in a safe and orderly manner. Meanwhile, a total 199,000 workers had resumed work at 2,817 construction sites of 90 key railway projects directly managed by the CSR. The CSR has cooperated with local governments to strengthen the epidemic prevention work at the construction sites, while preliminary work is underway for other major railway projects. As of Wednesday, the country's railways had transported about 181,000 tonnes of supplies for epidemic prevention and control, said the CSR. ^ top ^

Senior official stresses accomplishing poverty relief tasks despite epidemic outbreak (Xinhua)
Hu Chunhua, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, has called for efforts to win the country's battle against poverty while containing the novel coronavirus outbreak. Hu, also chief of the State Council leading group of poverty alleviation and development, made the remarks Thursday at a teleconference on anti-poverty work amid the epidemic. Amid unremitting efforts of epidemic control, the battle against poverty must be won resolutely, Hu said, underlining that local governments should implement differentiated epidemic control measures based on local health risks. Regions with relatively low risks should fast-track the work of poverty reduction while focusing on forestalling imported virus cases, while hard-hit areas should resume the work of poverty alleviation in an orderly manner based on the local situation, he said. Hu also urged prioritizing poverty-stricken labor force in recruitment, supporting the work resumption of poverty-relief industries and providing aids to people falling into or back to poverty due to the epidemic. More efforts should be made to complete the task as scheduled of meeting the needs of poor populations in terms of compulsory education, basic medical care, safe housing and drinking water, he said. ^ top ^

Firms that enforce virus control to have legal guarantees (China Daily)
For enterprises that cause the spread of the novel coronavirus or create the risk of spreading it after resuming production, fewer arrests and careful prosecution should be made as long as the enterprises have enforced epidemic prevention or control measures, according to a directive published on Wednesday. The directive that aims to provide guarantees for work and production consumption in accordance with the law during the COVID-19 prevention and control period was jointly released by the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice. Securities will be provided to government-organized transport to help migrant workers to return to work. For enterprises that are unable to resume production due to judicial investigations, legal organizations will work with each other to choose the implantation measures that have the least impact on the production of enterprises, the directive said. The production and sale of fake and inferior medicine for the novel coronavirus as well as the activities of hoarding and driving up prices of protective equipment and medicine will also be targeted, it added. ^ top ^

Hospitals in China's low-risk regions urged to ensure full services (Xinhua)
Health institutions in regions across China deemed to be of low epidemic risks shall provide healthcare services in full, according to a circular issued by the National Health Commission. The circular demands local authorities adopt differentiated measures, based on local conditions in the battle against the novel coronavirus outbreak, to guide health institutions to resume normal services to meet people's healthcare needs. Health institutions in low-risk regions should be guided to rationally allocate medical resources and ensure the smooth operation of various departments, including outpatient and emergency services, hospitalization, surgery, examination and testing. In medium-risk regions, hospitals, on the basis of doing a good job in epidemic prevention and control, should gradually shift their focus to ensuring daily healthcare services, according to the circular. Health institutions in high-risk regions are asked to step up services for key patients and meet people's basic and necessary healthcare needs while focusing on epidemic prevention and control. In high-risk regions, the circular says, effective measures should be taken to meet healthcare needs of patients with major diseases that require long-term treatment, such as chemoradiotherapy and hemodialysis, as well as of vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children and the elderly. At the same time, efforts should also be made to ensure that patients with acute and serious injuries receive timely treatment there, according to the circular. ^ top ^



Protecting Beijing critical in China's COVID-19 battle (Global Times)
Beijing is facing mounting pressure in efforts to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) as new confirmed infections surged due to imported cases of infection and cluster outbreaks. Officials from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) confirmed Thursday that the authorities put the capital on top priority of its epidemic prevention and control work, with measures benchmarking those adopted in epicenter Hubei and execution even more rigorous and decisive. Epidemic control in Beijing is relevant not only to the nationwide battle against the virus but also a global one, as the disease has increasingly become a global challenge, CDC officials said. Chinese top leaders urged all-out efforts in containing the virus spread in the capital, as its stability and security is directly relevant to the overall work of the Party and the country. Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at China CDC, told the Global Times on Thursday, that epidemic control criterion in Beijing is different from other provinces and municipalities, aside from Hubei, where Wuhan, the epicenter, is located. "Epidemic control work in Beijing is most critical. Although the current situation in the capital is not as severe as in Hubei, by referencing the measures taken there, the steps taken in Beijing are much more decisive than in other cities," Zeng said. Epidemic control standards fall into a unique category for Beijing, and as the nation's capital, it has a dense population with high individual mobility, extensive educational facilities and a large number of people returning from an extended holiday, the chief epidemiologist said. Meanwhile, with the high density of embassies and frequency of international flights, the situation in Beijing may potentially accelerate the epidemic on a global scale. Beijing banned on Thursday Hubei residents from entering the city after a female ex-prisoner returned to Beijing on February 22 after being released from Wuhan under a so-called strict city lockdown in the epicenter, triggering concerns over loose management in the epicenter's control work. Local authorities in the capital city are also urged to set up checkpoints at highway entrance to the city to screen incoming people and vehicles. Given infection numbers spiked in neighboring countries such as South Korea and Japan, more stringent border entry measures have been implemented in Beijing, including a 14-day mandatory quarantine for all foreign nationals who are from or have traveled through virus-stricken areas. Beijing, with 22 million people, has not fully regained its vitality in the past two weeks despite some companies and institutions have resumed work or are preparing to restart business amid the outbreak. Downtown streets, which used to be jampacked with people, are now almost empty during lunch breaks, while checkpoints are set up at residential communities, office buildings, and even at the entrance to parking lots where security guards and social workers test residents' body temperatures before allowing them to enter. Under significant pressure regarding epidemic control work, Beijing saw a significant rebound of new infections on Wednesday as 10 new cases were reported, ending single-digit growth since February 13. Outside Hubei, new infections in other provinces and municipalities reached 24 on Wednesday, with new cases in Beijing accounting for nearly half of the overall total in the mainland. Among recently reported cases, one confirmed patient surnamed Sun works as a cleaner and was diagnosed as a suspected case on Sunday, causing several more infections in the same workplace, Pang Xinghuo, vice director of Beijing's CDC, told a press conference on Thursday morning. The source of the contagion was from Handan, in North China's Hebei Province, and it is a typical imported case triggering cluster infections at a workplace, she said. While major administrative institutions, companies and authorities in Beijing are gradually resuming work in the past few weeks, grass-root authorities have been facing more challenges in containing the further spread of the virus. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, said, apart from Beijing and Hubei, other places, based on a county-level, have been divided into three categories from low, medium to high risks in regards to work resumption procedures. "Low-risk areas implement strategies of preventing outside infections while fully restoring production and normal life, those at medium risk should prevent imported cases and local spread. High risk areas should carry out prevention measures, plus strict management and control," Ou Xiaoli, official from the NDRC, said on Tuesday. Yang Gonghuan, former vice director of China CDC, told the Global Times on Thursday that Beijing is an iconic place for China's epidemic situation, which needs exceedingly strict management measures as it is the center of the country's social and economic affairs. Beijing authorities vowed to enhance epidemic prevention and control work, particularly enhancing the efforts in monitoring the people who work in logistics, cleaning and other related industries, considering rising risks of both imported cases and case clusters as people return to work, Pang said during the press conference. After days of zero new infections, Beijing saw 10 new cases the day after some reports suggested that a confirmed patient left Wuhan and arrived in Beijing amid supposedly strict travel controls in Hubei Province. The incident sparked questions about whether there are loopholes in the lockdown management in Wuhan and Hubei as well as concerns over the effectiveness of traffic controls and geographical isolation, which are measures proven effective in curbing the viral spread over the past month. Beijing authorities announced they had launched a thorough investigation of the patient who returned on February 22 from Wuhan to Beijing, and more details will be released later. Beijing also issued a notice to all the local companies and organizations to ensure "zero infection," which is also a major political task related to the evaluation of local officials' performance, analysts said. "The new infection cluster in Beijing showed that the head of the work unit hasn't strictly implemented control measures and managed its staff members," Zhu Sheng, vice head of Chaoyang district, was quoted as saying in media reports on Thursday. As of the end of Wednesday, Beijing recorded in total 410 confirmed cases along with five deaths, and 2,658 persons having close contact with infected patients. A social worker at a residential area in Tuanjiehu, in the most viral-stricken Chaoyang district, said they conduct disinfection work every day inside buildings and residents have to scan a QR code at checkpoints before entering the residential area. In recent days, all the returnees to Beijing from other provinces are required to sign a letter of commitment for a 14-day mandatory quarantine period and report body temperatures daily. "If they don't follow the rules, they will bear the consequences on their own accord. Residents are not allowed to leave the area before they finish self-quarantine," she said. "There were some clusters of cases and imported infections in Chaoyang. Now we have to inform every household the importance of the prevention and control work," the social worker told the Global Times. After 14 days, it's up to companies and work units to take responsibility as residents return to work. As part of efforts to contain the further spread of the virus, local authorities announced they would dispatch Party members and officials from major institutions to cover all residential areas in the city and implement all-day inspections, which is also a major measure taken to control the flow of people. Our focus now is the management of those who return to Beijing, a subdistrict official from southern Beijing told the Global Times. "To prevent imported cases of infection, returnees must quarantine themselves at home for 14 days. At the same time, we also go all lengths to manage the communities, as we issued different permits to each resident depending on if he or she is a permanent resident, a tenant or a temporary resident." the official said, noting that local authorities keep in close contact with those who left Beijing and have yet to return to know their situation, and also supervise buildings and companies on work resumption. At this moment, people should remain highly vigilant and avoid having a relaxed mind-set. Some residents and social workers in Beijing also suggested setting up checkpoints at highways or conducting a full-scale screening at communities where foreigners such as South Koreans and Japanese live, given the situation has been worsening in neighboring countries. ^ top ^



Officials: Xinjiang 'name list' terrorist hoax (China Daily)
Officials in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region say a "name list" of people allegedly sent to vocational education and training centers in the autonomous region for having relations with people overseas was fabricated by East Turkestan terrorist forces. The "Karakax List", published by German scholar Adrian Zenz on Feb 17, claims that 311 people from Moyu (also known as Karakax) county, in Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture, were sent to vocational education and training centers for having relations with people who have gone abroad and not returned to China. Zenz claimed his findings are based on leaked Chinese government documents. Mehmutjan Umarjan, head of Moyu county, said on Saturday that the list was fabricated in collusion with East Turkestan forces in and outside China that aim to separate Xinjiang from the country. Xinjiang has set up vocational education and training centers in accordance with the law to provide courses on the standard Chinese language, laws, vocational skills and deradicalization programs for people influenced by religious extremism and terrorism, according to the regional government. "After investigation, it was found that most of the 311 people on the 'Karakax List' are residents of the Bositan neighborhood. They have been working and living normally in society the whole time, and only very few people, who were affected by religious extremism and committed minor offenses, received vocational education and training," Mehmutjan said. Only 19 people on the list have overseas contacts, and they have never been sent to the centers, he said at a news conference on Saturday in Urumqi, the regional capital. Habier Mehsut was one of them. "My father lives abroad, and we often call each other. I've heard that some bad guys are using our information to cheat people, so I'm here to tell you the truth and to keep them from getting what they want," Habier said. Mehmutjan said Zenz is known for publishing baseless remarks, intending to cooperate with anti-China forces in smearing Xinjiang in the name of academic research. "Now he is just up to his old tricks again.... I believe the purpose of his research is to concoct 'evidence', create new hot spots and stir up old topics for anti-China forces in the United States to attack and slander Xinjiang," he said. Yalikun Yakup, deputy head of the Xinjiang Public Security Department, said some ill-intentioned people in the West, like Zenz, have tried to pass off their criminal acts as though they were normal activities so as to attack Xinjiang's counterterrorism and deradicalization measures. Police investigations have shown that many going abroad for "tourism" actually joined terrorist and extremist organizations after leaving China. People who seem to be having normal conversations with relatives abroad are actually plotting terrorist attacks, Yalikun said at the news conference. "As for people selling their properties and leaving Xinjiang, it seems that they just changed their place of residence, but investigations have shown that some of them actually intended to make a "Jihadi migration" and join Islamic State by illegally crossing the borders," Yalikun added. For those who travel aboard, contact people outside of China and sell their properties and leave the region for normal purposes, there are no restrictions and countermeasures at all. On the contrary, their legal rights are protected by law, Yalikun said. ^ top ^

China welcomes the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang: envoy (Global Times)
Chinese representatives to the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council reiterated China's stance on its Northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region policies, telling some western countries that there is no one-size-fits-all model for human rights protection and China welcomes the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang. Based on bias toward China, some countries made groundless accusations about China's policies in Xinjiang during the high level segment of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday, which China firmly opposed and will not accept, said Ambassador Chen Xu, permanent representative of China to the United Nations office in Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland. "China has taken a series of counterterrorism and de-radicalization measures, including establishing vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang. These measures have greatly improved the security situation in Xinjiang, protected human rights of people from all ethnic groups and contributed in a significant way to international counterterrorism and de-radicalization efforts," Ambassador Chen said. "China stays ready to invite more people to Xinjiang to see for themselves the economic, social and human rights development there. "China welcomes Madam Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to visit China, including Xinjiang, this year and we are in close contact with her office in this regard," Chen noted. Chen said that the Chinese government has received more than 1,000 diplomats, international organization officials, journalists and religious leaders in Xinjiang. They all have concluded that what they have seen in Xinjiang is quite the opposite to what is represented in Western media. The United Kingdom and a few other countries groundlessly accused China of "detaining" Uygur people and interfering with people's religious practices in Xinjiang during Wednesday's council session. Special representative for Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Liu Hua said their moves "interfered in China's internal affairs and judicial sovereignty, which China firmly opposes." Liu said that in Xinjiang's training centers, trainees' personal freedom, ethnic customs, freedom of religious beliefs and the right to receive medical treatment were fully protected, and the trainees could go home on weekends. At present, all the trainees participating in education and training programs have graduated and got stable jobs with the help of the government, Liu said. Liu said that some countries and forces have criticized China over its policies in Xinjiang. "Some of them are unaware of the truth, and some are simply unwilling to acknowledge the truth. Instead, they use human rights as a policy tool to discredit, slander and suppress China. "When China took counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in accordance with the law, these countries and forces would say that the counter-terrorism measures were excessive. The measures, they claimed, are in violation of human rights while the same practices in their own countries are considered the rule of law. When China invited these countries to visit Xinjiang, they refused for various reasons," Liu said. When more than 70 countries explicitly supported China's policy in Xinjiang through joint letters and statements, and pointed out that measures taken in Xinjiang are positive practices of counter-terrorism and deradicalization, and effectively protect the basic human rights of people of all ethnic groups, they said that those countries gave in to pressure from China, and that hearsay is far from the truth. Liu said that China's practices show that there is not a one-size-fits-all model for human rights protection, and modernization is not Westernization. The protection of human rights must adhere to a development path that suits a country's own conditions. "There is no war, no displacement and no fear on China's land of over 9.6 million square kilometers, and nearly 1.4 billion people live a peaceful, free and happy life - this is the largest human rights project and this is the best human rights practice," Liu said. ^ top ^

Uighur activists say China's coronavirus measures are causing widespread hunger (HKFP)
The group said that China imposed a quarantine with little advance notice in parts of Xinjiang in late January after at least two COVID-19 cases in the regional capital Urumqi. Citing videos, photos and residents' conversations with members of the Uighur diaspora, the group said that "many" people have gone short on food, medicine or other critical supplies as they have been ordered to stay inside their homes. In one video believed to have been shot last week in Yining county, a man is heard shouting at officials, "I'm starving. My wife and children are starving," before banging his head into a pole and shouting, "Do you want to kill me? Just kill me." The group vouched for the video's authenticity, saying the man and the person who filmed the episode were taking great risks by both breaking the quarantine and circulating the footage. Radio Free Asia earlier reported that in the city of Artux, authorities erected metal fences almost two meters (six feet) high to keep residents from leaving their neighborhoods. China has imposed quarantines in numerous parts of the country to contain the novel coronavirus, which originated in the central city of Wuhan and has since killed more than 2,700 people worldwide, the vast majority in China. China has come under international criticism for its treatment of the Uighurs, with activists and witnesses saying it is trying to forcibly integrate the mostly Muslim ethnicity and strip their Islamic heritage. Beijing has described the camps as educational, saying it is providing minorities with training and discouraging Islamic extremism. ^ top ^



Spotlight: HKSAR government's new budget unveils 15-bln-USD measures to ride out economic difficulties (Xinhua)
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government's financial secretary delivered the annual budget Wednesday, unveiling a string of counter-cyclical measures amounting to more than 120 billion Hong Kong dollars (about 15.4 billion U.S. dollars) to help the community tackle the current economic difficulties. Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his speech on the 2020-2021 budget that 2019 was "an unsettling year fraught with obstacles" for Hong Kong, while the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 "has dealt a severe blow to economic activities and sentiment in Hong Kong." Chan said Hong Kong's economy contracted by 1.2 percent in 2019, and he forecast full-year growth of between minus 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent in 2020. "Therefore, I have decided to implement counter-cyclical measures of a massive scale involving above 120 billion (Hong Kong dollars) so as to meet the public's expectations as far as possible," he said. Focusing on "supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stimulating the economy and relieving people's burden", the measures proposed in the budget range from various tax reduction to cash handout. The measures to relieve the public's financial burden include reducing salaries tax and tax under personal assessment for 2019-2020, waiving rates for residential properties, and providing an extra allowance to eligible social security recipients. Chan also announced a payment of 10,000 Hong Kong dollars to each Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 or above, with a view to encouraging and boosting local consumption on the one hand, and relieving people's financial burden on the other. This measure is expected to benefit about 7 million people. To safeguard jobs and support enterprises, the budget set aside a total of 18.3 billion Hong Kong dollars to implement a raft of measures, including introducing a concessionary, low-interest loan to small and medium enterprises, reducing profits tax for 2019-2020, waiving rates for non-domestic properties and business registration fees, and so on. In the new budget, Chan forecast a fiscal deficit of 37.8 billion Hong Kong dollars in 2019-2020, the first time for Hong Kong over the past 15 years, resulted from the HKSAR government's recent four rounds of relief measures costing over 30 billion Hong Kong dollars, together with the 30-billion-Hong Kong dollar Anti-epidemic Fund established in response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Taking into account a decrease in tax and land revenues in the coming fiscal year due to the impact of the external economic environment and the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as the launch of counter-cyclical fiscal measures on a much larger scale and the continued increase in recurrent expenditure, Chan said he expects the fiscal deficit will rise to 139.1 billion Hong Kong dollars in 2020-2021. "Although a record high deficit is envisaged in next year's budget, I believe that only with such a budget can we help our community and local enterprises ride out their difficulties," he said. Hong Kong's fiscal reserves are expected to be 1,133.1 billion Hong Kong dollars by March 31, 2020, according to the budget. The financial secretary said the current fiscal reserves enable the HKSAR government to roll out special measures amid the prevailing economic downturn, but he stressed that in the coming years the HKSAR government will focus on the optimal use of resources to implement the committed initiatives in an orderly and effective manner so that the public will see progressive improvements in public services and social infrastructure." Expressing her support for the 2020-2021 budget, the third of the current-term HKSAR government, HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she is confident that the "bold and substantive proposals" in the budget will help boost Hong Kong's efforts to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, take care of people in need and bolster the economy. The counter-cyclical measures proposed in the budget "represent an unequivocal commitment by the government to rise to the challenge of overcoming adversity and helping people in need," Lam said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. (1 Hong Kong dollar equals about 0.13 U.S. dollars) ^ top ^

Hong Kong protests: Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai arrested as police swoop over August 31 march deemed an illegal assembly (SCMP)
Media mogul and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was arrested on Friday morning for illegal assembly during the anti-government protests in Hong Kong. A police source said he was held as part of an operation targeting those involved in a march on August 31 amid the unrest sparked in June by the now-withdrawn extradition bill. Officers from the crime unit arrived at Lai's home in Kadoorie Avenue, Ho Man Tin, at about 7.30am on Friday and took him to Kowloon City Police Station, the newspaper he founded in 1995 said. Lai was also arrested on Friday morning for intimidating a reporter in June 2017, during the June 4 vigil held that year in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. He has been accused of intimidating an Oriental Daily reporter using foul language. The newspaper said its journalist had repeatedly reported the incident to police, sending 17 letters. Two pro-democracy politicians were also arrested on Friday morning on suspicion of illegal assembly on August 31. Two sources confirmed that ex-lawmakers Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum were at their homes when police swooped. The Labour Party has confirmed that Lee, a party veteran and general secretary of Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, was arrested at around 8am on Friday. The party condemned police, accusing them of abusing the power to arrest. Lee Wing-tat said his Democratic Party colleague Albert Ho Chun-yan had not been arrested, contrary to earlier reports. It is not clear if Ho was at the August 31 rally. The assembly on August 31 was originally organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, which was behind the city's biggest anti-government events. But they cancelled it after losing their appeal against a police objection to the march. Protesters gathered at Chater Garden in Central regardless, before clashes broke out on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Police made arrests at Prince Edward railway station, where they were accused of using excessive force when they stormed a stationary train. Those behind the rally said it was a religious gathering of Christians praying for Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who they called a "sinner". They highlighted a provision of the Public Order Ordinance, which says assemblies exclusively held for religious purposes do not require police approval. A police source said: "What happened that day was a procession. The people were marching on the streets. It is not a public meeting nor gatherings as cited in the above mentioned law. "Moreover, we have received legal advice from the Department of Justice, which gave green light for the arrests." The Hong Kong protests later morphed into a broader anti-government movement fuelled by allegations of police brutality and the push for more democracy. ^ top ^

Hong Kong Budget 2020: Pro-Beijing camp welcomes HK$10,000 cash handout but urges gov't to act quickly (HKFP)
Hong Kong's pro-Beijing lawmakers have welcomed the relief measures proposed by Financial Secretary Paul Chan in the 2020 budget on Wednesday, but have urged the government to deliver the funds quickly to address the city's urgent economic challenges amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and New People's Party said they were pleased to see Chan had accepted their suggestion to introduce a cash handout for all adult permanent residents, among other sweeteners. Both parties said the one-off subsidy showed that the financial chief had responded to some of the demands of the public. "The Financial Secretary has pledged to hand out HK$10,000 to the general public, the question that comes next would be how to distribute the funds quickly and easily," said Starry Lee, the DAB's chairperson. Regina Ip, chair of New People's Party also expressed praise: "In addition to providing assistance to individual citizens, the budget has addressed the needs of different industries. Many of them have been promised to receive additional assistance to support their development." The DAB estimated that it would take at least two months for the budget to be passed in the Legislative Council and said potential filibustering could delay it further to June or July. They suggested separating the one-off handout from the rest of the budget, and submit it to the finance committee for a speedier review and discussion. "If the public can only start applying for the cash handout in August and receive it in February next year, it will be too late and it won't solve their urgent needs," said Chan Hak-kan of the DAB. The lawmakers also urged the government to learn from the problems they faced during the distribution of the HK$4,000 cash handout scheme in 2018. The programme was criticised for being too complicated as applicants were originally asked to provide proof of address, proof of identity and bank account details. Although the government later scrapped the address proof requirement, the months-long waiting time was widely slammed. "[I]t was quite… I don't want to use the word 'disaster,' but it really attracted a lot of adverse comments from the general public," Lee said. "Online applications would make things easier, " said Alice Mak of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions. "Unlike the HK$4,000 [Caring and Sharing Scheme handout] last year which took many months, and wasted tons of paper." Both parties said they had received complaints from non-permanent residents, who were not eligible to receive the cash handout. Ip said it would be "fairer" if the cash handout would be made available to all Hong Kong identity cardholders, while the DAB suggested the government use the Community Care Fund to cater to those who are not set to benefit. Although the DAB and New People's Party expressed support for most of the proposed relief measures, both parties said that more financial assistance could have been included in the budget. The DAB said there was not enough assistance for the unemployed, and businesses could benefit from a rent reduction policy. Meanwhile, Ip said the budget had failed to address the issue of wealth inequality, as well as macro-economic policies to support the city's economic development in the long run. Ip also expressed concerns over the predicted HK$139.1 billion fiscal deficit for the coming year, saying Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre would be affected. She added that, if the government's expenditure continued to exceed its revenue, it would violate the Basic Law, which stipulates that the government has "follow the principle of keeping the expenditure within the limits of revenues… strive to achieve a fiscal balance" and "avoid deficits and keep the budget commensurate with the growth rate of its gross domestic product". "If this becomes a structural deficit, and if our recurring expenditure continues to increase, it violates Article 107 of the Basic Law," Ip said. "But no matter what, I welcome the Financial Secretary to use the government's abundant resources to provide relief measures for the city's urgent problems." When asked if the budget could boost the popularity of the pro-establishment camp before the Legislative Council election in September, as well as help Chief Executive Carrie Lam salvage her plunging approval ratings, Ip said the relief measures should not be linked with politics. Lam's popularity plunged to a new low of 9.1 per cent according to a survey released by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme on Tuesday. "The cash handout and other measures are for relieving public hardships. It is something that the government should do, with or without the election," Ip said. Paul Chan told the press on Wednesday afternoon that the HK$10,000 handouts will take place this summer. ^ top ^



Taiwan keeps obstructing compatriots' return from coronavirus-hit Hubei (Xinhua)
The Taiwan authority has continued to obstruct the return of over 1,100 Taiwan compatriots from coronavirus-hit Hubei Province by turning down the mainland's new flight plan, according to the cross-Strait affairs office of Hubei. The mainland side has recently proposed through the cross-Strait civil aviation contact channel to send the Taiwan compatriots by six chartered flights to be arranged by airlines from both the mainland and Taiwan in a bid to complete the transportation within a week. The number of Taiwan compatriots who have applied to local authorities in Hubei to return home has risen to 1,148 from 979 since Feb. 3 when a mainland chartered flight sent 247 people back to Taiwan. The stranded compatriots have been under self-monitored quarantine in places across the Hubei province for over four weeks with no infection of the novel coronavirus found among them. They are all eager to return to work, go back to school or seek medical treatment in Taiwan, said the office. ^ top ^

Mainland spokesperson slams Taiwan politicians' pro-independence remarks (Xinhua)
A Chinese mainland spokesperson Wednesday slammed remarks advocating "Taiwan independence" by some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members, saying the fact that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China allows no change and will never be changed. Their remarks have exposed the malicious intention of some people on the island to push "gradual Taiwan independence" and increase the hostility and confrontation between the two sides, said Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office. The nature of these ploys is to seek the selfish interests of one party at the cost of the interests and welfare of Taiwan compatriots as a whole, said Zhu, noting their deed is a complete deception to Taiwan compatriots and the international community. "Taiwan independence" is against history and can only lead to a dead end, said the spokesperson, calling on Taiwan compatriots to join the mainland in firmly opposing "Taiwan independence" and safeguarding peace across the Taiwan Strait. ^ top ^

Taiwan authority's attempt to use epidemic to seek "independence" doomed to failure: mainland (Xinhua)
The attempt by Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority to use the novel coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to seek "Taiwan independence" will never succeed, a Chinese mainland spokesperson said Friday. Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, made the remarks in response to the island's unreasonable demand that the World Health Organization (WHO) accept Taiwan's participation in WHO operations in an intact, unhindered and institutionalized way. "In fact, on the premise of the one-China principle, there are no barriers hindering medical and health experts in Taiwan from participating in WHO technical activities in their personal capacity, nor obstacles for Taiwan to obtain public health information released by the WHO, including developments about the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic," Zhu said, adding that this principled position has been made clear in a comprehensive and systematic manner on many occasions. The DPP authority has repeatedly hyped up Taiwan-related questions involving the WHO, even attacked the organization and made unreasonable demands in violation of relevant regulations of international organizations only for the purpose of political calculations and manipulations, Zhu said. ^ top ^

Coronavirus threat shows 'unacceptability' of Beijing isolating Taiwan, US official says (SCMP)
The global spread of coronavirus has prompted the US government to push back against Beijing's isolation of Taiwan, a state department official said on Thursday. "This Covid-19 outbreak only further underlines the unacceptability of Taiwan being excluded from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Health Assembly because the People's Republic of China blocks every attempt to do so," said Jonathan Fritz, deputy assistant secretary at the US State Department's bureau of East Asian and Pacific affairs. "We continue to push back very, very hard against that with as many of our like-minded partners as possible, and I think our argument is only bolstered now by the outbreak," Fritz said, speaking in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the US response to the contagion's spread. "And I would point out that, you know, this push by the [US government] is fully consistent with our US one-China policy and, of course, with the Taiwan Relations Act," he said. Taiwan has 31 cases of Covid-19 and one recorded death from the illness caused by the virus, which is also known as Sars-CoV-2. On Wednesday, Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre banned all of the self-governed island's doctors and nurses from visiting countries declared to be unfit destinations because of the outbreak, to ensure there would be adequate manpower to tackle the disease at home. The ban is meant to stay in place until the end of June. Washington has supported calls for Taiwan to be granted observer status at the World Health Organisation's annual gathering, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in May, at the start of the WHO's annual assembly, which China has prevented Taiwan from attending. Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan under its one-China policy, which the US acknowledged in 1972. For years, Beijing allowed Taiwan to send observers to the annual conference, but has blocked its representatives in recent years amid tensions between the mainland's government and the island's administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party has a more fractious relationship with Beijing than the opposition. In Thursday's hearing, Fritz asserted that Beijing's insistence on isolating Taiwan in the WHO framework hinders efforts to halt the Covid-19 spread. "To the to the extent that they are unable to get timely information from the WHO that impacts public health on Taiwan," he said. "On the other hand, Taiwan has a lot of expertise... and they have their own epidemiological track record now dealing with Covid-19, and to the extent that that is not being shared in a complete and timely fashion with other WTO members, clearly, that doesn't do anything for the public health of the rest of the international community," Fritz added. Tsai won a second term last month with a comfortable victory over Han Kuo-yu in an election that had been cast as a referendum on the island's approach to Beijing. Tsai, from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), captured more than 8 million votes, trumping her major challenger, Han Kuo-yu, from the mainland-friendly Kuomintang by close to 3 million votes. China's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to queries about Fritz's comments. ^ top ^



Economic Watch: In two-front battle, corporate China gears up operation restoration (Xinhua)
With the positive trend of containing the outbreak of novel coronavirus illness (COVID-19), China is meticulously expanding business operations with a precise approach that attaches different priorities to regions in light of their health risks. A total of 11 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported Sunday outside Hubei Province, the center of the outbreak, while 24 provincial-level regions didn't report newly confirmed cases, according to the National Health Commission Monday. As more provincial-level regions have been reporting no newly confirmed cases for longer streaks, more local governments are starting to lower their emergency response to fast-track the restoration of economic and social order. While high-risk regions still need to be fully committed to epidemic prevention and control, regions with relatively low risks are encouraged to focus on forestalling cases brought in from elsewhere and comprehensively restoring the order of production and life, said a meeting Sunday. Coastal province Fujian has divided the 88 cities and counties into four groups, ranging from regions with over ten infections to regions with none, and adopted differentiated measures to better fight the outbreak and mitigate the impact on the economy. Changting County in Fujian, for instance, which has no confirmed cases of infection, has seen most of the key enterprises resume production. The country has pledged efforts such as arranging customized trains for migrant workers, smoothing the traffic, enhancing credit support and alleviating social security burden on employers to bring enterprises back on track. Shanghai Municipality has rolled out 28 policies to provide targeted fiscal support, tax and fee cuts, as well as epidemic-prevention supplies for local enterprises, ferrying them through rough patches. Foreign companies will also benefit from the supportive policies and be treated on the same footing as other types of enterprises, said Xu Wei, spokesperson for the Shanghai municipal government. The operation resumption rate of 51,000 foreign-funded enterprises in Shanghai is nearly 70 percent, while that of the regional headquarters of 217 multinational companies is as high as 93 percent. Wyeth Nutrition, a Sino-U.S. joint venture with its headquarter in Shanghai, is operating at its capacity to supply infant formula in China. "The local commerce department has built a green channel for us, ensuring smooth operation of our supply chains and product delivery in the Yangtze River Delta," said Cao Jingheng, vice president of the company. Foreign firms and firms are high on the agenda of Chinese government agencies when formulating preferential policies. The Ministry of Commerce has promised to strengthen services and guarantees to foreign-funded enterprises while the General Administration of Customs vowed efforts to optimize the port business environment and promote reciprocal market opening up. Now with the country gradually heading back to work, many are confident that the potential economic blow brought by the national production halt is expected to be only a short-term, one-off hit against China's solid economic foundation. The epidemic might disturb economic activities in the first quarter of this year, but the economy is likely to steady shortly after the epidemic is contained, as the unleashing of pent-up demands will make up for previous weak economic performance, said Pan Gongsheng, vice governor of the People's Bank of China, the central bank. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said Saturday that she expects China's economy to "return to normal in the second quarter" of 2020. "As a result, the impact on the world economy would be relatively minor and short-lived," Georgieva said. ^ top ^



China Focus: Xi says China, Mongolia help each other in face of difficulties (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday held talks with Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Xi said the Chinese government and people are making all-out efforts to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), during which the Mongolian government and people have offered precious support. Hailing Battulga as the first foreign head of state to visit China since the outbreak, Xi said the special visit by Battulga to express consolations and support to China fully embodies the high attention he pays to the China-Mongolia ties and the profound friendship between the two peoples. This vividly shows that China and Mongolia, as neighboring countries, can rely on each other in difficult times, said Xi. Xi expressed his welcome as Battulga paid the visit only one day after Mongolia's traditional Tsagaan Sar holiday, and sent festive greetings to the Mongolian people. Xi said that since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government have attached great importance to the epidemic, activated a national response mechanism and taken the most comprehensive, thorough and rigorous measures. A leading group of the CPC Central Committee on the prevention and control of the COVID-19 was established immediately and a central government guiding team was sent to Hubei province, said Xi. After arduous work, the positive trend in the prevention and control work is now expanding, Xi said, adding that the country has full confidence, capability to win this battle against the epidemic. China has coordinated the prevention and control work with the economic and social development, and tried its best to minimize the impact of the epidemic, he said. According to Xi, China has adopted a targeted approach in different regions to advance resumption of work and production based on local health risks, ensure timely agriculture work in spring and guarantee people's basic livelihood. Noting that China's economy is resilient with broad domestic demand and a strong industrial basis, Xi said China will strive to meet this year's economic and social development targets. Xi said that guided by the vision of a community with a shared future for humanity, China is making every effort not only to protect the life and health of its own people but also to contribute to global public health security. With an open, transparent and responsible attitude, the Chinese government has actively stepped up international cooperation on fighting the outbreak, said Xi, adding that China's efforts have been highly affirmed and recognized by the World Health Organization and the international community. China will continue to work with countries including Mongolia to fight the epidemic and safeguard regional and global public health security, he said. Noting that China and Mongolia are friendly neighbors linked by waters and mountains, Xi said China has attached high importance to the bilateral relations and always taken Mongolia as an important direction of China's neighborhood diplomacy. China is committed to cementing political mutual trust with Mongolia and enhancing Belt and Road cooperation to benefit both peoples, he said. Battulga expressed consolations to the Chinese people over the outbreak and spoke highly of China's rapid establishment of a joint prevention and control mechanism and national people-oriented efforts to fight the epidemic. Stressing that Mongolia and China are comprehensive strategic partners, Battulga said the Mongolian people completely relate to what the Chinese people are going through and would like to stand closely together with the Chinese people in the difficult times. Mongolia launched fund-raising activities to support China's fight against the epidemic, and received active responses from all walks of life, he said, adding that Mongolia will send additional 30,000 sheep apart from the previous donations. Battulga said he believes that the Chinese people will definitely win the battle against the epidemic at an early date and overcome the difficulties to realize the set goals of social and economic development under the strong leadership of President Xi. Mongolia commends China's pursuit of neighborhood diplomacy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, and stands ready to work with China to deepen mutual trust and support, enhance cooperation to promote greater development of bilateral relations, said Battulga. ^ top ^

U.Khurelsukh: Now we will close, ban and punish if it helps overcoming the situation (Gogo Mongolia)
During the cabinet meeting dated February 26, agenda to extend term of intercity traffic suspension and other relevant information exchanged. During the meeting, Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh gave following speech. He said "Of course, we will try to make public understood in a proper way. But it's the time to reign, now we will close, ban and punish in order to overcome this situation. If people don't implement regulation and resolutions from the government, they will be charged". A citizen must fulfill his civil duty. This is not the interest of one or two people. This is public interest and a matter of national security. Therefore, rules and regulations must be followed. The State Emergency Commission performs its work well, and it must continue. Extending term of quarantine is right. If we open intercity transportation tomorrow, people will continue celebrating Tsagaan Sar. All kinds of flu will be transferred during the period. We have to be patient these days. Economic situation is getting worse as we see. But now the government, forcing agencies and other relevant organizations must do their work based on scientific recommendations and regulations. This is a matter of security". And the Prime Minister gave direction to extend suspension of intercity traffic until next Monday. ^ top ^

President and accompanying delegates return from visit to China, start 14-day isolation (Montsame)
President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga today evening returned from the one-day visit to China. During the visit that became the first visit at the level of a head of state to China since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, President Kh.Battulga held a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, exchanging views on joint efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and announcing the donation of 30 thousand sheep by the people of Mongolia to China. Also, Premier of the State Council of China Li Keqiang paid a courtesy call on the Mongolian President. Immediately upon their arrival in Mongolia, President Kh.Battulga and accompanying delegates have been taken to 14-day isolation as a precautionary measure. The President was accompanied by D.Tsogtbaatar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, D.Gankhuyag, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the People's Republic of China, Major General T.Badral, Head of the National Emergency Management Agency, U.Shijir, Chief of Staff to the President, and T.Tegshjargal, Foreign Policy Advisor to the President. ^ top ^


Gabriel Bishop
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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