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
  24-28.8.2020, No. 831  
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Interview: Swiss economy still facing "substantial" risk from COVID-19 (Xinhua)
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Switzerland's economy is less serious than initially anticipated, but the downside risks remain significant due to higher unemployment and corporate bankruptcies, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) told Xinhua. "The latest available indicators suggest that the immediate adverse effect of the lockdown period on the Swiss economy was less severe than feared in early June," State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch said in an interview. In June, the SECO said that Switzerland's gross domestic product (GDP) was forecast to drop 6.2 percent this year, the worst downturn since 1975, when the country was hit by the oil price shocks. "Switzerland might get hit somewhat less severely by the crisis in international comparison. However, due to the more permanent challenges of COVID-19, the risk of subsequent negative effects as lay-offs and bankruptcies materialize is substantial," she said. The government previously forecast the unemployment rate to rise to 3.8 percent this year due to the decline in foreign trade, shrinking consumer spending and the shutdowns of companies, factories and overall industrial activities. "In some sectors that were directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or the lockdown, we can observe a certain improvement, which should continue. In areas that are more dependent on the international economy, we expect a further deterioration in the labor market situation," Ineichen-Fleisch said. "Overall, we expect unemployment to continue to rise in the second half of the year, which will also affect the level of unemployment next year." The SECO forecasts an underlying economic growth of 4.9 percent in 2021, but expects unemployment to remain high by Swiss standards at 4.1 percent. Ineichen-Fleisch said there is currently no need for further government measures targeting the labor market. "The instruments that had already existed before the crisis, such as short-time working, also work very well during the crisis." "The support measures of historical size adopted during the lockdown and the further application of the short-time work schemes as well as a generous unemployment insurance will support the recovery," she said. The Swiss government has implemented a stimulus package worth over 60 billion Swiss francs (66 billion U.S. dollars) or close to 10 percent of GDP and provided more than 15 billion Swiss francs in emergency loans to nearly 130,000 businesses to dampen the impact of the crisis. "Of course, we cannot exclude that the slump in demand will last longer than expected, which could harm long-term growth. If weak demand persists, additional stimulation measures could be considered. However, now there are no signs of such persistent weaknesses," she said. "The need for large stimulus packages is therefore limited. Economic policy will focus on targeted measures to reduce costs for companies and improve the economic framework conditions," Ineichen-Fleisch said. She also said that bilateral trade with China, Switzerland's main trading partner in Asia, will support the Swiss economy in regaining steam. "After a sharp fall in economic activity in the first quarter, many indicators suggest the Chinese economy is recovering quickly. Therefore, the good bilateral trade relations with China will help Switzerland's economic recovery, in particular regarding goods trade," she said. "Regarding services, however, we currently expect the important group of Chinese tourists to take more time to return to European destinations." ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

China's top diplomats in 'unprecedented' back-to-back Europe trips amid tensions with US (SCMP)
China's top diplomat will visit Europe next week, days after the foreign minister finishes his tour of the region, sources said, as Beijing seeks to boost engagement in the EU amid worsening ties with Washington. Yang Jiechi, director of the Communist Party's foreign affairs office, will travel to Greece and Spain, according to the two diplomatic sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. A member of China's powerful Politburo, Yang is also understood to be planning a potential stop in Portugal. He is also expected to help lay the groundwork for President Xi Jinping's upcoming special summit with European Union leaders in mid-September. Yang's trip highlights the growing strategic importance of Europe as rivalry between China and the US intensifies. It follows Foreign Minister Wang Yi's five-nation visit. After stops in Italy and the Netherlands, Wang was in Norway on Thursday. He will also travel to France and Germany, finishing his trip on Tuesday – days before Yang is expected to arrive. "Clearly, Yang is much closer to Xi [than Wang is] and is the highest foreign policy representative, so [his trip] means a lot," said Mikko Huotari, executive director of the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies. "This double effort [by Wang and Yang] is to my knowledge quite unprecedented. The timing is clearly to make sure that Europe is a strategic partner for China." Huotari said Yang would likely seek to go beyond the heated issue of Chinese 5G technology in talks – an area that has drawn much attention in Europe – and instead focus on partnerships with the countries he visits. Chinese state-backed investors have shown interest in port facilities in the three countries Yang is expected to visit. Greece's Piraeus port is one of the biggest maritime assets controlled by Chinese, but on 5G, Athens has acknowledged US concerns about Chinese technology and said Huawei did not have a big market in the country. In Spain, China Ocean Shipping Company holds a 51 per cent stake in Noatum Port Holdings, giving it control over the major harbours of Valencia, Bilbao and Barcelona. And the Portuguese plan to build a new container terminal in the port of Sines – the closest European facility to the Panama Canal – has attracted both Chinese and US interest. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also been in Europe in recent weeks, warning that China was a threat to the continent's future, as the EU remains reluctant to choose between Beijing and Washington. Wang Yiwei, director of the Centre for European Studies at Renmin University of China, said Pompeo was trying to drive a wedge between China and Europe. "On his recent trip to Europe, Pompeo sought to sabotage China-Europe cooperation with accusations that China is using economic cooperation for its military expansion," Wang said. He expected the focus of Yang's visit to be on post-pandemic economic cooperation amid a renewed push by China for its infrastructure projects in coastal nations in Europe. China's president is expected to attend a virtual summit with EU leaders next month, weeks ahead of the US presidential election. The EU and China remain at loggerheads over an investment treaty, with Brussels accusing Beijing of not making concrete commitments during talks. Yang also travelled to South Korea and Singapore last week, meeting key regional powers ahead of the US election. He had a seven-hour meeting with Pompeo in Hawaii in June, with no consensus reached. He last met European officials in January when he attended a special conference on Libya hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He held talks with Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel on the sidelines of that gathering, calling for progress on the EU-China agenda. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy calls for more support for Iraq (Xinhua)
A Chinese envoy on Wednesday asked the international community to help Iraq fight terrorism and rebuild its economy while respecting the country's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. As Iraq is planning to hold early elections in June 2021, the political process in Iraq is at a crucial stage. The international community should respect Iraq's ownership and leadership in all its endeavors, said Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. When lending a helping hand, it is important to first listen to the views of Iraq, respect its sovereignty, refrain from imposing solutions and interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq should provide election assistance in accordance with its mandate, he told the Security Council. "Iraq has repeatedly protested against unilateral military actions of some countries in its territory. We reiterate that Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity should always be respected," he said. Geng asked for support for Iraq's efforts to safeguard national security and combat terrorism. "We call on the international community to continue to support Iraq in consolidating the hard-won results of counter-terrorism and addressing the issue of foreign terrorist fighters. We should also support Iraq in bringing terrorists to justice in accordance with its domestic laws, and reject double standards and politicization in counter-terrorism." The international community should help Iraq address current challenges and boost socio-economic development, said Geng. The war-torn country is now confronted with economic and fiscal hardships, exacerbated by low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic. The international community must intensify efforts to help Iraq carry out reconstruction, diversify its economy, create more jobs, eradicate poverty, and improve public services and livelihoods, he said. Promises of help should be fulfilled. There should be no blank checks and no political strings attached to aid. Amid the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Iraq, more international assistance is urgently needed to fight the pandemic and strengthen Iraq's public health system, he said. China stands with the government and people of Iraq in their pursuit of peace and development, and supports their efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and security and to fight COVID-19. China will continue to enhance bilateral relations with Iraq, deepen cooperation, including through the Belt and Road Initiative, and contribute to its socio-economic development for the benefit of all Iraqis, he said. ^ top ^

Xi Focus: Xi, Putin exchange congratulations at start of China-Russia sci-tech innovation year (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanged congratulatory letters on Wednesday marking the start of the Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation between the two countries. "As each country is the other's largest neighbor, China and Russia have been working together and helping one another as the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the globe," Xi said in his letter, stressing that launching the Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation between the two countries as scheduled has "fully reflected the high level and exceptionality of their comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era." He expressed his belief that the two countries' successful practice in jointly fighting the pandemic and tiding over difficulties would surely be transformed into a powerful driving force for strengthening bilateral exchanges and cooperation. "China and Russia, as responsible major countries in the world as well as scientific and technological powers with important influence, should move forward with the tide of the times, grasp the trend of development, and advance the all-round, multi-level and wide-ranging exchanges and cooperation between the scientific and technological personnel of the two countries, so that they can make greater contributions to the reform of the global governance system and the building of a community with a shared future for humanity," Xi said. Putin said in his congratulatory letter that scientific and technological innovation is one of the most promising areas of cooperation between Russia and China that will determine the future of the two countries and have a bearing on the improving of the living standards of the two peoples. "Activities under the framework of the Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation are rich in content, covering scientific research, exhibitions and academic exchanges," Putin said. He noted that the governments as well as medical and scientific research departments of the two countries have conducted close cooperation in the battle against COVID-19 and attained a series of important results with broad impact. "I sincerely wish that the Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation will be a success and add new substance to the development of the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era," he said. During Xi's visit to Russia in June 2019, he and Putin announced that 2020 and 2021 would be designated the Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation, the first national theme year titled "scientific and technological innovation" between the two countries. ^ top ^

Chinese elected to Law of Sea tribunal (China Daily)
The election of a Chinese diplomat as a member of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea once again shows that certain countries' attempts to contain and suppress the Chinese contender in the election were unpopular and futile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday. Duan Jielong, China's ambassador to Hungary, was among the six people elected on Monday at the New York headquarters of the United Nations by the States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The other five were David J.Attard, of Malta; Ida Caracciolo, of Italy; Maria Teresa Infante Caffi, of Chile; Maurice Kengne Kamga, of Cameroon; and Markiyan Kulyk, of Ukraine. "The Chinese contender was elected with 149 votes in the first round of voting and will start a nine-year term on Oct 1 to Sept 30, 2029. I'd like to take this opportunity to extend sincere thanks for the States Parties' support for the Chinese contender," Zhao told reporters at a regular news briefing in Beijing. He also expressed congratulations to the other five elected members. Zhao said that the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an important international judicial body set up according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and China always highly values and supports its work. The wide majority support for Duan shows the international community's recognition of the Chinese contender and affirmation of China's contribution to the work of the tribunal over more than 20 years, the spokesman said. It also shows global society's determination to uphold multilateralism and the international rule of law. "We believe that the elected judges will fairly perform their duties and make due contributions to the (the tribunal) and for peaceful settlement of disputes on the sea," Zhao said. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has 21 judges with nine-year terms. A third of the members are replaced every three years. Since it was established in 1996, three Chinese have served as judges: Zhao Lihai (1996-2000), Xu Guangjian (2001-07) and Gao Zhiguo (2008-20). The Chinese military strongly protested a high-altitude US spy plane trespassing in the no-fly zone that is currently hosting a live ammunition drill by the People's Liberation Army Northern Theater Command, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, said in a statement on Tuesday. On Tuesday, a Lockheed U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft trespassed in the no-fly zone, and "seriously disrupted China's routine training activities", Wu said, adding that the maneuver also seriously violated China-US maritime and flight safety codes and international norms. ^ top ^

China opposes U.S. military aircraft trespass in no-fly zone (Xinhua)
A Chinese military spokesperson on Tuesday voiced firm opposition to the trespassing of U.S. reconnaissance aircraft into a no-fly zone, urging the U.S. side to immediately stop such provocations and take concrete steps to safeguard regional peace and stability. Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, made the comment in response to the flight of the U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft into an airspace used for live-fire exercises by the Northern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army. The trespass severely affected China's normal exercises and training activities, and violated the rules of behavior for air and maritime safety between China and the United States, as well as relevant international practices, said Wu. The U.S. action could easily have resulted in misjudgments and even accidents, said Wu, adding that the move was an obvious provocation. China firmly opposes such provocative actions and has lodged solemn representations with the U.S. side, he said. ^ top ^

Chinese premier raises proposals to enhance Lancang-Mekong cooperation (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang raised six proposals to enhance Lancang-Mekong cooperation as the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Leaders' Meeting was convened Monday via video link. The Chinese proposals included promoting water resources cooperation, expanding trade ties and connectivity cooperation, deepening cooperation on sustainable development, upgrading cooperation on public health, strengthening cooperation on people's livelihoods, and upholding the spirit of openness and inclusiveness. "The launch of the LMC has been motivated by a river. Drinking water from the same river, the LMC countries are as close as one family," said Li. "Over the past four years, the LMC has grown rapidly and entered a period of all-round development. It has become a new fountain of strength for regional development, and delivered real benefits to people of all related countries." Li noted the LMC countries have brought the cooperation mechanisms on water resources onto a fast track, strengthened economic cooperation and trade ties, put people first in the LMC, and increased their well-being. "Faced with COVID-19 since early this year, we have pulled together and supported each other in combating the virus and reviving regional growth," he said, noting that in the first half of this year, China's trade with the Mekong countries grew, bucking the trend of the global slowdown. Li said that starting from this year, China will share Lancang River's hydrological data for the whole year with the Mekong countries. China will work with the Mekong countries to establish a Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Information Sharing Platform to help better tackle climate change and natural disasters such as floods and droughts. He proposed to hold the Ministerial Meeting of the Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation and the Water Resources Cooperation Forum regularly, and deliver the cooperation projects on dam safety and early flood warnings to enhance capacity for integrated river basin management and water resources management. Li called for greater synergy between the LMC and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, which runs through western China and connects Southeast Asia with the Eurasian continent, saying this "will make trade routes more convenient, help optimize the allocation of resources, keep industrial and supply chains stable, and spur coordinated development." "We also need to work towards signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement within this year to raise regional economic integration to a higher level, and jointly uphold free trade," he said. Li called on parties to ensure the success of the China-Laos and the China-Thailand railways, and build a network of "fast tracks" and "green lanes" across the region to facilitate the flow of people and goods, and keep industrial and supply chains stable. On sustainable development cooperation, Li said China welcomes more quality agro-products, livestock, and by-products from Mekong countries, appealing for stepping up cooperation to tackle climate change, improve air quality, and protect biodiversity. Regarding public health cooperation, he said China will set up a special fund for public health under the framework of the LMC Special Fund and continue to provide material and technical support to Mekong countries to the best of China's ability. "Once developed and deployed in China, COVID-19 vaccines will be provided to Mekong countries on a priority basis," he said, adding that countries need to carry out information sharing and joint responses in major public health emergencies, and jointly support the World Health Organization (WHO) in better playing its role. While urging for enhancing exchanges and mutual learning between various cooperation frameworks, Li called on parties to promote the LMC's interaction and cooperation with other sub-regional mechanisms. "We will actively explore cooperation with Japan, the ROK, the EU, and other third parties," said Li, adding that China supports ASEAN centrality in East Asian cooperation, and hopes to contribute to ASEAN community building, and deepen the China-ASEAN strategic partnership by promoting Lancang-Mekong cooperation. China has achieved significant progress in both its COVID-19 response and socio-economic development. China's development will create even more cooperation opportunities for Mekong countries and the rest of the world, said Li. "We look forward to working with the Mekong countries to deepen and expand Lancang-Mekong cooperation, and provide stronger impetus for the development and prosperity in our sub-regions and beyond," said Li. Acclaiming the fruitful outcomes of Lancang-Mekong cooperation in total agreement with Li's proposals on ramping up institutional cooperation, leaders attending the meeting said Lancang-Mekong cooperation has played a major role in promoting regional economic and social development, improving people's livelihoods, consolidating peace and security, and enhancing mutual understanding and trust. All attending parties fully acknowledged the progress made on water resources cooperation, and expressed their willingness to work with China in deepening economic development belt cooperation in Lancang-Mekong river basin areas, synergize the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, and strengthen interconnectivity. They appreciated China's promise to make COVID-19 vaccines international public goods once successfully developed, and increase the availability of the vaccines among developing countries, expressing the readiness to work with China in deepening public health cooperation, strengthening cooperation in pandemic prevention and control, and facilitating economic recovery. In addition, all parties expressed a commitment to promoting regional economic integration as well as trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and upholding effective multilateralism. On the sidelines of the meeting, Li and other LMC leaders jointly attended a handover ceremony of Myanmar taking over the next co-chair of LMC. A Vientiane Declaration of the third LCM Leaders' Meeting and a Co-chairs' Statement on cooperation of synergizing the Mekong-Lancang cooperation and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor were released at the meeting. The meeting, under the theme of "Enhancing Partnership for Shared Prosperity," was co-chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos, the LMC Co-Chair, and attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, President U Win Myint of Myanmar, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam. Initiated by China in 2014, the LMC consists of six countries -- China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Lancang River originates on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwestern China. It is called the Mekong River as it flows through the other five countries before emptying into the sea. ^ top ^

China supports TikTok using legal weapons to defend its interests (Xinhua)
China's foreign ministry on Monday expressed support for companies including TikTok to take up legal weapons to defend their legitimate rights and interests. The ministry's spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a daily press briefing in response to a question concerning announcements by TikTok and some WeChat users in the United States to file lawsuits against U.S. government executive orders to defend their legal rights. China will also continue to take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, Zhao said. He said some U.S. politicians are working to crush such Chinese companies as TikTok, WeChat and Huawei because they are down with an anti-China syndrome and will strike at anything Chinese. "That explains their frantic attempts to hunt down TikTok and other Chinese companies by pinning the ideological label on them under the pretext of 'national security'. All the lies and smears are just disguise for their daylight bullying and robbery," he added. The wanton actions some U.S. politicians have taken against specific companies, such as TikTok, are in essence organized and systematic economic bullying targeting outperforming non-U.S. multinational companies. U.S. politicians fear their strength and success and would even resort to state power to pummel them, said the spokesperson. "This is a repudiation of the principle of market economy and fair competition that the United States has always boasted about. This is trampling on international rules and disrupting exchanges and cooperation in science, technology and innovation riding the trend of globalization. The world will only see more clearly the true face of these self-serving bandits-like politicians," the spokesperson added. ^ top ^

China's navy drills in 4 regions show ability to counter US, observers say (SCMP)
China is conducting military drills almost simultaneously in four sea regions, a rare move possibly designed to signal its readiness to handle confrontation with the United States and self-ruled Taiwan. Experts said the timing of the drills was intended to signal a capability to mobilise forces in multiple locations, even though Beijing was not aiming to fight a war against the US. Maritime safety administrations in four locations issued notices between Friday and Sunday announcing drills, and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said exercises had been completed in another. The locations included two in the South China Sea, one in the East China Sea, one further north in the Yellow Sea, and one in the Bohai Gulf, the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea. In the disputed South China Sea, a region east of the southern island province of Hainan will be restricted to military exercises from Monday until Saturday. Hainan hosts one of two home ports for China's two aircraft carriers. On the same days, north of Hainan but still in southern China, an area off Guangdong province in the South China Sea had also been cordoned off to marine traffic while exercises took place. In the East China Sea, the PLA navy had recently conducted air exercises to practise all-weather combat, its Eastern Theatre Command said on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, on Sunday. An area of the Yellow Sea off Lianyungang was restricted from Saturday until Wednesday during live-fire naval exercises, while an area off Tangshan in the Bohai Gulf has been cordoned off since Monday and will remain so until September 30 for live-fire military exercises, the notices said. Despite it stepping up training and exercises in all services, it is unusual for China to conduct exercises in four areas at roughly the same time, and after a major round of exercises in the month preceding it. Major exercises were held near Taiwan in mid-August "to safeguard national sovereignty", coinciding with US Health Secretary Alex Azar's trip to the island. Azar was the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan since Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. […] Collin Koh, a research fellow from the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, said China's four military exercises this time sent out both political and operational signals. "The first relates to demonstrating resolve in keeping up with peacetime combat preparations in the eyes of both domestic public and external audiences," Koh said. "The move would be primarily directed at the recent spate of US and allied military activities in those areas. "Operationally, it's to showcase the PLA's ability to carry out major mobilisation of forces for training across multiple sea areas – which also highlights that the PLA isn't affected in any way by the pandemic. "Song Zhongping, a military commentator in Hong Kong, said any future warfare could happen in multiple places at once, a key reason why China was holding different naval drills at the same time. "The Chinese military needs to put a special focus on the Bohai Gulf, which nears Beijing, the capital, so must be guarded strictly," Song said. "We can aim for peace strategically, but we must have military means to back up this goal." The risk of military confrontation between China and the US has risen, with both nations sending more navy vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea, where China and its Southeast Asian neighbours have maritime disputes. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month referred to China's claims in the waters as unlawful, a comment that was echoed by Australia. In 2016, a Hague tribunal ruled unanimously that, under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, China's claims to almost all of the South China Sea had no legal basis. Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed not to comply with the verdict. China has since stepped up its approaches to Southeast Asian nations, stressing Beijing's desire to resolve the maritime disputes through dialogue, and has called on those countries not to side with the US. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has urged those nations to resume talks over a code of conduct for the South China Sea. China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi told Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last week that Beijing wanted to boost cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. ^ top ^

China, Vietnam further develop cooperation (China Daily)
China and Vietnam should strengthen strategic communication, keep developing their ties and make cooperation between their border areas play a bigger role in promoting ties, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday. Wang made the remark while attending a ceremony with Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the demarcation of the two countries' land boundary and the 10th anniversary of the erection of boundary markers. China and Vietnam signed their land border treaty in December 1999, and it took effect in July 2000. China and Vietnam stuck to resolving their land border issues through talks and spent nine years to get the treaty signed, which showed a significant resolution of the two countries and their ruling parties and strengthened the foundation for common development of their border areas, Wang said. Upholding neighborliness and friendliness serves as a political guarantee for addressing properly sensitive issues between the two countries, while sticking to talks is the right path for solving their differences, Wang said. The two countries should work on maintaining the order of the border areas, improve the business climate there and promote personnel exchanges, he said. They should also enhance cooperation in the management of border affairs, the security, operation of ports and disease prevention, and they should further promote the opening-up of the border areas, he added. When addressing their maritime issues, China and Vietman should draw on the experience of their demarcation of land borders and in the Beibu Gulf, Wang said, adding that they are fully capable of further addressing maritime issues through talks. Wang called for the two countries to actively engage in talks for a basic and long-term solution to the issues that both sides find acceptable. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

How will China shape its development strategy for new stage? (People's Daily)
China's development is entering a new stage. This is the latest assessment made by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on the future prospects of the world's second-largest economy as it prepares economic and social development plans for the next five years. The next five-year plan, the 14th in a row, is now very much in the spotlight. The plan period (2021-2025) will mark the first five years of China's new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country and marching toward the second centenary goal, according to Xi, who delivered his comments this week at a symposium with experts on economic and social work. How will China navigate this new stage of development? What will China's economic and social roadmap be in post-epidemic era? Here are some takeaways from the symposium. Drawn up every five years since 1953, the five-year plan is a major feature of China's governance system, setting growth targets and defining economic and social development policies to ensure national strategies keep pace with the times. At the symposium this week, Xi, reiterating that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, stressed the adoption of a long-term perspective, grasping the trend of the times and extensively pooling wisdom to study new circumstances and make new plans. To reflect the forward-looking vision, when the Communist Party of China Central Committee meets in October to outline the 14th Five-Year Plan, a longer-term vision for 2035 will also be put up for discussion, envisioning a period during which the country's socialist modernization is expected to be basically achieved. Experience has shown that conducting mid- to long-term planning would allow the market to play a decisive role in the allocation of resources, while allowing the government to play a better role, Xi said at the symposium. "The 14th Five-Year Plan will be a critical plan, drawn up at a critical time," said Wang Changlin, president of the Academy of Macroeconomic Research of the National Development and Reform Commission, who attended the symposium. China should be fully aware of both the increasingly complicated external environment and its distinctive advantages, staying strategically focused and preparing for a "protracted war," said Wang. First introduced in May this year, the new development pattern known as "dual circulation", which takes the domestic market as the mainstay while letting domestic and foreign markets boost each other, has been placed high on the authorities' agenda. Describing the new pattern as a "strategic choice," Xi said it is by no means a closed domestic loop, but an open dual circulation that involves both the domestic and foreign markets. He also reaffirmed that opening-up is a fundamental national policy, noting that China will see its status continue to rise in the world economy, with closer ties, and the country will provide more extensive market opportunities for other countries. Lu Ming, a professor with Shanghai Jiaotong University who was another speaker at the symposium, said Xi's remarks have sent a clear signal dispelling concerns that China will shift its focus from opening-up to the domestic market. Rather, Chinese policymakers are fully aware of the importance of further opening-up and are determined to follow the path of reform, he said. The new development pattern, with the domestic market being the mainstay, is in line with China's efforts to expand domestic demand in the past decade, according to Jia Kang, chief of the China Academy of New Supply-side Economics. Taking the domestic market as the mainstay does not mean zero exports, but greater volatilities and uncertainties in foreign trade within an unstable international environment, said Jia, emphasizing that China's status as the "world's factory" will not be changed. In pursuing the new development pattern, scientific and technological innovation, especially making breakthroughs in core technologies, is widely regarded as the key to shaping domestic circulation. At the symposium, Xi underscored creating new growth momentum through scientific and technological innovation, vigorously enhancing the capability to conduct innovation independently, and achieving breakthroughs in key and core technologies as soon as possible. To this end, he urged giving full scope to enterprises as the main actors in technological innovation, and vigorously cultivating and introducing world-class talent and scientific research teams. Innovation-driven development on technological fronts perfectly fits the needs of creating the dual-circulation pattern with the domestic market as the mainstay, said Lu, who noted that development propelled by domestic demand will particularly boost the well-being of the Chinese people. Echoing Xi's call, Robin Li, chairman and CEO of China's internet giant Baidu, pledged to share the company's data and computing power with millions of developers and partners to push for an industrial upgrade. "By being creative and helping them solve problems and encourage innovation, we can stimulate the vitality of the (company's) ecological chain," said Li. ^ top ^

President urges police to preserve security, justice (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping has ordered the nation's police to serve the people wholeheartedly and make every effort to enhance people's sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark on Wednesday while addressing a ceremony to confer a special flag on the Chinese people's police at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Under the new historical conditions, Xi said the people's police must be loyal to the Party, impartial in law enforcement and strict in discipline and serve the people. Xi called the people's police an important force to ensure the country's security administration and criminal justice. He said its missions are to safeguard national security, uphold social stability, protect people's lives, freedom and legitimate property as well as public property, and prevent, restrain and punish violations of the law and criminal activities. Xi asked police to resolutely follow the instructions and command of the CPC, adhere to the people-centered philosophy, uphold a holistic view of national security and protect people's interests. He underlined the importance of upholding social fairness and justice and urged police to strengthen training and oversight in law enforcement and keep improving the credibility of law enforcement and the judiciary. Efforts should be made to allow the people to enjoy fairness and justice in every case in which they are involved, Xi added. The red and blue flag for the people's police is seen as a symbol of its professional development. ^ top ^

Chinese premier stresses flood control, post-disaster recovery (China Daily)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday stressed efforts in flood control and disaster relief as well as post-disaster recovery to support production restoration in disaster-stricken areas and ensure people's livelihood. Li made the remarks while presiding over an executive meeting of the State Council. A total of 100 billion yuan (about $14.48 billion) will be allocated from central and local fiscal for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, while a mechanism will be established to ensure the funds go straight to the disaster-stricken areas, according to the meeting. Funds raised through special government bonds and local government bonds are allowed to be used for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, the meeting said. Specific measures will be introduced to guide state-owned financial institutions and rural credit cooperatives to increase their support for post-disaster recovery of protected agriculture. The fiscal and financial support for enterprises should go in line with more streamlined administration and improved government services so that market vitality could be further unleashed. New measures should be rolled out to lower the entry threshold for companies and optimize services, said the meeting. ^ top ^

Senior legislator urges promotion of vaccine-related work (Xinhua)
A senior Chinese legislator has stressed the need to actively promote work on vaccine research, development and production, making best use of vaccines to prevent and contain infectious diseases, especially in fighting the COVID-19 epidemic. Wang Chen, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and vice chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, made the remarks Tuesday at a symposium on implementing the law on vaccine management, which went into effect on Dec. 1, 2019. Vaccines are the most effective and economical way of preventing and containing infectious diseases, Wang said, adding that the law on vaccine management has provided strong legal guarantees for the healthy development of China's vaccines. Wang also urged for making headway on COVID-19 vaccine research, development, production and supply, and called for safe and effective vaccines to win the battle against COVID-19. ^ top ^

National political advisors meet on economic, social planning (Xinhua)
The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, on Tuesday opened its 13th Standing Committee session on economic and social planning for the next five years. Wang Yang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, attended the opening meeting. State Councilor Wang Yong pointed out while delivering a report at the meeting that goals and tasks should be meticulously set for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for national economic and social development. A holistic and coordinated approach should be adopted, with a focus on key areas, weak links and major challenges, he said. Zhang Qingli, vice chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, who presided over the meeting, asked political advisors to pool their wisdom and offer constructive proposals for the plan. During the session, political advisors will hold discussions on a range of topics including high-quality economic growth, rural vitalization, ecological conservation, innovation-driven development, and people's livelihood. ^ top ^

Four Things to Know About China's Food Security Amid Covid-19 (Caixin)
Food security has made headlines in China since President Xi Jinping called for an end to "shameful" waste earlier this month, after widespread flooding in southern China and disruption to global supply chains from Covid-19 have raised the specter of food shortages. While the likelihood of a food crisis remains remote, Xi was quoted as saying by state media that the country should "maintain a sense of crisis regarding food security, especially amid the fallout of the Covid-19 epidemic, despite the fact that China has scored consecutive bumper harvests." Here are four things to know about China's food security amid the ongoing disruption to global supply. The world is now standing on the brink of its worst food crisis in over five decades amid the coronavirus pandemic, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in June. "Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults," he said. While global reserves of staple crops can still meet demand in theory, many major grain producers, such as rice-rich Vietnam, have imposed curbs on exports since March in order to prioritize their domestic demand. While this could aggravate food shortages in some developing countries that are highly dependent on imports, China is not such a country. The world is now standing on the brink of its worst food crisis in over five decades amid the coronavirus pandemic, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in June. "Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults," he said. While global reserves of staple crops can still meet demand in theory, many major grain producers, such as rice-rich Vietnam, have imposed curbs on exports since March in order to prioritize their domestic demand. While this could aggravate food shortages in some developing countries that are highly dependent on imports, China is not such a country. China's domestic grain production is sufficient to feed its 1.4 billion people. The country's grain output reached a new record of 664 million tons last year, marking the 14th annual increase in the last 16 years. This year's summer harvest was also up 0.9% from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. While imports of pork, soybeans and wheat have ramped up over the past few months – with wheat imports doubling from January to July – China's purchases from overseas remain small compared to domestic production. Only around 2% of China's grain consumption is met by imports, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, which didn't offer a timeframe for the statistic. Imported rice accounted for about 1% of China's rice consumption last year, which is "mainly used for the sake of variety," said Wang Liaowei, senior economist at China National Grain and Oils Information Center in an interview with Xinhua this March. "Even if we do not import rice, it will not affect domestic market supply." Officials in China have reiterated that the country's stockpiles are large enough to cope with supply shocks, often being large enough to meet national demand for months on end by themselves. Take rice as an example, China produced 210 million tons of rice last year, while consuming 194 million tons. With 118 million tons in stock – almost half of the world's reserves – China's rice stockpile can feed the whole country for nine months even if there is no production at all. The reserves of corn and wheat could also meet the country's demand for eight and 14 months respectively, according to Fu Yifu, a senior researcher at the Suning Institute of Finance. According to China's National Bureau of Statistics, food prices climbed 13.2% in July compared with a year ago. The price of pork, the nation's favorite meat, increased by 85.7% during the period. While the pork sector in particular is still reeling from the impact of the African swine fever epidemic, the disruption to international trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic and tensions with Washington have put the country's food imports in general under strain. Devastating floods this year have made things even worse, affecting both domestic production and transportation. As farmers flee inundated fields and rescue boats chug through submerged neighborhoods, the floods have displaced more than 60 million people and caused 180 billion yuan ($26 billion) in direct economic losses. ^ top ^

Landmark startup board launched with new rules (Global Times)
Days before China's tech hub Shenzhen is set to celebrate its 40-year birthday, China on Monday sounded bugle for landmark market-orientated reform for the city's tech startup board, the ChiNext board, by adopting new listing rules that are more accommodative to growing companies. Chinese economists said the move highlighted the country's unwavering commitment to open up and reform, despite the complexities of US crackdown and internal economic challenges. While the reform, which was widely cheered by investors on Monday, was in line with China's long-standing goal of improving its capital market - a crucial area for China's overall economic and technological rise, its launch had fresh meaning, as the new board will not only offer a fast track for Chinese tech firms but also help the country in beating back relentless crackdowns by an erratic US administration, analysts noted on Monday. Still, the new reform to the capital market was just a part of a much broader, more profound campaign pushed by top Chinese officials in recent days across key economic powerhouses in the country from the Yangtze River Delta to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay area to accelerate an ongoing process of industrial upgrade in pursuit of innovation-driven, high-quality growth, amid rising internal and external risks and challenges, analyst remarked. This week, China will display to the world its confidence and resolution for opening-up with a set of measures, including welcoming the listing of 18 tech stocks on the ChiNext board under new IPO rules, as well as celebrating the 40-year-old birthday of its technological hub Shenzhen. The measures are rolled out at a time when China is facing economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, as well as intensified sanctions from the US government as the latter tried to beat down China's rising economic competence. On Monday morning, the first batch of 18 mainland enterprises went public on the ChiNext board under registration-based IPO reforms, marking a new start for the 11-year-old Shenzhen-based tech board which is sometimes deemed the Chinese version of NASDAQ. The reform marks groundbreaking changes for the board, in that companies hoping to get listed on the exchange no longer need to get approval from the regulators. It also largely eased profitability requirements for IPO on the board. Investors welcomed the reform with passionate trading, which pushed all of the above-mentioned 18 stocks flying higher and sent some of them even to trading suspension twice during the day. One of them, the Hebei-based medical diagnosis company Contec, once surged by nearly 30 times and secured a 1,061 percent hike at the end of the afternoon trading session, setting a new record for first-day jump on the country's A-share markets. In general, the ChiNext board surged by 1.98 percent to 2684.63 percent by close time. According to Chinese economists, the registration-based IPO reforms on the ChiNext board supported China's industrial upgrade by making it easier for domestic emerging tech startups to raise funds on the capital markets to support their businesses, thus helping the country shake off technological reliance on Western countries and push technological advances. "With the support from national policies and capital market, large numbers of high-tech firms are expected to spring up like bamboos in China after three to five years and relatively integrated industrial chains with core technologies may emerge in the country," Cao Heping, a professor of economics at Peking University, told the Global Times on Monday. Instead of being weighed down by pressure from the raging pandemic or the US government, China's pace of opening-up has been speeding up recently, with reform measures ranging from channeling overseas capital into the domestic stock markets to launching regional development strategies in certain parts of the country to speed up economic growth. And much more moves make their mark on the economic strength of China and its star cities. Shenzhen, which will celebrate its 40-year birthday on Wednesday, is such an example. The city, one of the first four special economic zones China set up in the beginning of its reform and opening-up, has transformed from a fishing village to global metropolis with trillions of GDP volume with the help of decades-long reforms, including those on capital markets like the aforementioned changes on IPO rules and rollout of policies to boost high-tech industries. Meanwhile, the government is also pushing economic development and technological upgrade with regional policies, such as integrating Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong into a world-class city cluster via the Greater Bay Area initiative. It also rolled out a development plan for the country's top economic powerhouse, the Yangtze River Delta, by integrating Shanghai and the three neighboring provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui. Economists said that such resolute push for market reforms and economic opening-up will help China to "push back" US-initiated economic and tech decoupling with China and accelerate technological advance on its own. "The two-year trade war the US initiated against China has made China realize that it couldn't rely on imports of key equipment and core technologies any more. Hence, the country will surely ramp up its efforts to make key breakthroughs in bottleneck technologies such as semiconductors and high-end manufacturing," said Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics on Monday. According to Cong, the more the US advocates anti-globalization and protectionism, the more open and globalized China will become, adding that China's huge consumption and innovation potential would attract further foreign investment and eventually make the US' ulterior purpose fail. Cao also said that China's manufacturing industry has been in the lower and middle-end of global industrial chain over the past 40 years, throwing domestic enterprises - such as Huawei and ZTE - in a disadvantageous position once developed economies conspire to encircle China's high-tech development. But this situation will change, after those companies benefit from policy support such as being able to raise more funds from the capital markets to back business expansion. "This benefits their technological innovation and the city's high-tech development, and China won't be afraid of US crackdown then," he noted. ^ top ^

China lowers flood emergency response level (Xinhua)
China's Ministry of Water Resources on Monday lowered the emergency response for flood control from Level II to Level III, the second-lowest level. The water level at the Cuntan section of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River had retreated below the warning level, while the inflow into the Three Gorges Reservoir had decreased to less than 35,000 cubic meters per second, the ministry said. It urged local authorities to continue monitoring and forecasting rainfalls and patrolling levees to ensure safety. China has a four-tier flood control emergency response system, with level I being the most severe. ^ top ^



Cooperation sought to pilot green growth of Yangtze zone (China Daily)
The demonstration zone for the integration of the Yangtze River Delta called for the participation of different parties to pilot green growth in the region during a developers' conference in Shanghai on Wednesday. The zone sits at the border of Shanghai and two neighboring provinces with an area of 2,300 square kilometers. It will lead the implementation of the region's integration, a national strategy announced by President Xi Jinping in 2018. Li Qiang, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, said in his opening speech at the conference that rice and fish have been abundant in the area since ancient times. He added that the demonstration zone should embody the concept of sustainable development, break down administrative barriers and accelerate innovation. "The area will be a land of miracles, and to achieve our goals we need a group of ambitious developers with passion and entrepreneurship," he said. Twelve entities founded a developers' alliance during the conference, including companies such as Huawei and Alibaba; academic representatives from Fudan University and the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design; and financial institutions such as the US-China Green Fund and the China International Capital Corporation. The China Three Gorges Corporation will serve as the first rotating chair of the alliance. Wang Lin, general manager of the Three Gorges company, said the corporation will work with other members to explore ways to develop the delta while protecting the environment. Also during the conference, officials from the National Development and Reform Commission, Shanghai and the city's two neighboring provinces called for design plans for a 35-square-kilometer area called "The Living Room of the Jiangnan Watertown", which is located in the middle of the demonstration zone. "We are looking for ideas across the globe that can incorporate international standards with Chinese characteristics in building an environmentally sustainable watertown," Duan Jin, an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, said during his keynote speech on the guiding principles of the development of the area. Duan added that details about the submission will be released online on Thursday. A slew of developmental projects and agreements were signed during the conference, including the creation of an integration index to assist policymaking, a collaboration agreement between design and urban planning institutions, and the integration of healthcare systems among Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang and Anhui. Xia Kejia, director of the Shanghai municipal healthcare security bureau, said they have completed a cross-city medical expense system in more than 5,000 hospitals in all the 41 cities in the Yangtze River Delta last year. "By July, around 2.1 million patients have used that direct payment service with total transactions of 17.5 billion yuan ($2.5 billion) in medical expenses," Xia said. Xia added that the bureaus are working on removing other inconveniences. For example, they are seeking a resolution that would enable people to pay for healthcare in other cities in the zone by using their health insurance. Currently, people who visit hospitals outside of the city where they pay their premiums must pay for medical procedures out of pocket, or apply for insurance in the city where they are receiving care. Liu Jun, president of Bank of Communications, said the bank will provide financing services to green projects in the delta region, such as upgrading environmental protection equipment and reinventing traditional industries. "We believe being green has its value," Liu said. ^ top ^



Xi Focus: Xi's quotable quotes in Shenzhen (Xinhua)
Southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, a landmark in the country's reform and opening up drive, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the special economic zone. Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited the city twice after assuming the post of the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in 2012. The following are some highlights of Xi's quotes on reform and opening up during his two Shenzhen trips -- in December 2012 and October 2018 respectively. Reform and opening up is the source of vitality in the development of modern China, "a magic tool" for the Party and the Chinese people to use to keep pace with the times and the only route that must be taken to adhere to and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. There are no bounds to practice and development, to the emancipation of people's minds, or to reform and opening up. We should adhere to the right direction of reform and opening up, and have the courage to crack the "hard nuts," navigate the uncharted waters, and break through barriers to reform presented by ideological differences and vested interests. The first stop of my investigation trip following the 18th CPC National Congress was Shenzhen. I visit Shenzhen again at the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up to tell the world that China will not stop its pursuit of reform and opening up - not for one moment. China will certainly deliver a bigger miracle that draws worldwide attention. We should stay true to our founding mission of reform and opening up, draw on successful experiences in the past 40 years and raise the quality and level of reform and opening up. People's happiness should be the criteria for evaluating the result of reform. The fruits of reform and opening up should benefit the general public. Reform and opening up has been proved by practice the right path which we must consistently, unswervingly and unremittingly follow. ^ top ^



Urumqi conducts nucleic acid tests on residential communities before normal work resumes (People's Daily)
Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Wednesday started a new round of nucleic acid tests for residents in key residential communities to ensure their health and safety, local authorities said. Urumqi will then further adjust their epidemic prevention and control measures and gradually restore the normal work and life order, deputy director of the regional publicity department Wang Wulong told a press conference Wednesday. Through hard work, the epidemic prevention and control situation in Urumqi has expanded to a positive trend, Wang added. On July 15, Urumqi confirmed one new COVID-19 case. The city then applied lockdown measures in its residential communities and villages, and carried out free nucleic acid tests for all residents. By Tuesday midnight, Xinjiang had 124 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 44 asymptomatic cases, with 3,024 people still under medical observation. No newly confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in Xinjiang since Aug. 16. ^ top ^



Mainland maritime police seize HK rioters at sea upon escaping (Global Times)
Chinese mainland maritime police arrested more than 10 people suspected of illegally crossing the border in waters under mainland jurisdiction, among whom Hong Kong media reported was an anti-government rioter who violated the national security law for Hong Kong and was released on bail pending investigation. Mainland analysts said the case could provide an example for the mainland and Hong Kong to coordinate judicially after the enactment of the national security law for Hong Kong. In addition, they noted that it's a showcase of joint law enforcement between the mainland and Hong Kong to crack down on illegal immigration and other crimes such as smuggling and human trafficking. Mainland maritime police announced on Sina Weibo social media platform on Wednesday evening that Guangdong provincial maritime police seized a speedboat suspected of illegally crossing the border in waters under mainland jurisdiction, and detained more than 10 suspects including one surnamed Lee and another surnamed Tang. The case is under investigation, said the announcement. Hong Kong media reported that the boat held 12 young Hong Kong residents who tried to escape to the island of Taiwan to seek "political asylum" and Lee is a member of the anti-government group "Hong Kong Story." He was arrested on August 10, the same day as Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of Apple Daily, was arrested. Hong Kong media said Lee was arrested by local police on charges of colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security and violating the recently enacted national security law for Hong Kong. He was also allegedly involved in money laundering, said media. Lee was released on bail but was required to report to the police in early September. Other people on the boat detained by the Guangdong police were reportedly rioters who participated in the anti-extradition bill protests in 2019. Hong Kong Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon that the Hong Kong police had not been informed of the incident by the mainland police. Tang said that the mainland would deal with the case in accordance with the relevant laws. If the persons concerned are wanted in Hong Kong, they will discuss how to return the individuals to Hong Kong, Tang said, noting that the police have paid close attention to issues regarding people smuggling. According to Chinese mainland law, the stowaways can be sentenced to a fixed-term imprisonment of one year and shall be fined; after this, they can freely return to Hong Kong. Wu Yingpeng, a lawyer and barrister-at-law in Hong Kong told the Global Times on Thursday that due to the "one country, two systems," the national criminal law is not implemented in Hong Kong. However, when an offender in Hong Kong endangering national security enters the mainland, the mainland law enforcement authorities also have jurisdiction. The authorities can handle the case in accordance with the existing charges of endangering national security in accordance with the national criminal law, Wu noted. Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, from Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times that whether the mainland or Hong Kong law enforcement authorities would address the case accusing the people detained at the speedboat of offenses including violating national security requires negotiation from both sides. And the case could provide an opportunity and example for the mainland and Hong Kong to cooperate on judicial coordination after the enactment of the national security law, Li noted. Some Hong Kong media reported that there had been an increase in the number of people smuggling to the mainland by sea recently, some of whom fled from novel coronavirus testing. Certain others are suspected of participating in the illegal and violent protests last year, sneaking into the mainland under false identities and then trying to escape to Taiwan seeking "political asylum." ^ top ^

Covid-19: Carrie Lam says critics of city-wide testing project are 'smearing' and trying to damage Hong Kong-China relations (HKFP)
Hong Kong's leader has urged people to take part in a Beijing-backed free mass testing programme for Covid-19, saying critics are smearing the project to try to damage the semi-autonomous city's relations with China. Chief Executive Carrie Lam was speaking to reporters on Tuesday before the weekly meeting of her Executive Council, or cabinet. Asked her response to the announced refusal by some medical experts – including leading microbiologist Dr Ho Pak-leung – to take the test, Lam said she could not figure why some experts air criticism and described them as politically motivated. "The so-called experts, doctors or members of the public kept finding excuses to stop citizens from participating in the test… There is only one intention behind this: political calculation. They are smearing the central [Beijing] government and it's an effort to sever Hong Kong's relations with the central government." Hong Kong has escaped relatively lightly from the pandemic with 4,691 infections so far and 77 deaths. It has been battling a third wave of infections but daily new cases have fallen sharply in recent days. The Hong Kong leader has repeatedly thanked Beijing for helping her administration's anti-epidemic efforts. It has sent experts to help with testing and provide assistance in building a temporary hospital. Lam told reporters on Tuesday that the aim of the voluntary mass testing, scheduled to start on September 1, was to identity silent transmitters as early as possible so that the government would feel safer in working to rebuild the economy. The programme was 100 percent voluntary, she stressed. Asked why the risk of crowds gathering for the test was considered acceptable when the government had postponed legislative elections scheduled for September citing the virus, Lam said the comparison was "inappropriate and unreasonable." "I think there are a lot of differences between the two arrangements… It is inappropriate and just unreasonable to compare the elections to the universal community testing." She said the testing would not be crammed into one day and the use of online booking would hopefully avoid queues forming outside test centres. Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan told reporters after the Executive Council meeting that three social distancing measures would be relaxed from Friday. Restaurants will be able to stay open for dine-in patrons until 9pm compared to 6pm previously. But the upper limit for each table remains at two people. Cinemas, beauty parlours and those outdoor sports facilities that involve "less body contact" will be allowed to reopen. Chan acknowledged "fatigue" among the public after months of restrictions. She said users of country parks and those taking strenuous exercise outdoors would no longer have to wear face masks. "The government cannot possibly wait until there are zero confirmed cases to relax social distancing measures," Chan said, citing World Health Organization experts who caution that the world will have to learn to live with the pandemic. ^ top ^



Possible ban on Taobao, Taiwan enrages locals (Global Times)
Taiwan's separatist authority appears to be setting the stage to ban e-commerce platform Taobao Taiwan, as it did two other mainland internet platforms last week, sparking more outrage among shoppers and experts who condemned the government for playing politics at the cost of local people's interests. Taiwan on Monday fined online shopping platform NT$410,000 ($13,951) and ordered it to either withdraw from the market or restructure its ownership. The government equates Taobao Taiwan, a registered UK company, as subsidiary of Chinese mainland's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which owns 28.77 percent of Taobao Taiwan. The Local authority said Taobao Taiwan violates Taiwan's investment rules, which treats investment by foreign countries differently than mainland investment. A possibility of a ban on Taobao Taiwan has astonished and angered local residents who are still reeling after the Tsai Ing-wen authority banned the mainland streaming services providers Tencent and iQIYI last week. Some residents reached by the Global Times complained that the bans create an additional financial burden to them, as Taiwan's stagnant economy and the COVID-19 pandemic have forced many people to live with less. A resident of New Taipei City, surnamed Chen, who often buys clothes from Taobao Taiwan, said the platform is popular among Taiwan people because prices are usually much lower than those of similar quality found on Taiwan's local shopping sites. Chen pointed to product that sold for 20 yuan ($2.9) on Taobao Taiwan but was listed NT$399 ($58) on the island's native e-commerce platform Momo. "For ordinary people who have to pay rents and feed their children on low salaries, Taobao Taiwan is a good platform to save money," Chen said told the Global Times Tuesday. The popularity of Taobao Taiwan has helped deepen ties between Taiwan residents and the mainland, which the local authority reluctant to see, said Taiwan financial scholar Yu Chih-pin. "The Tsai government is trying all means to isolate the link [between the mainland and Taiwan] with its political conspiracies," he said. Chen worries that the Taiwan people's cost of living will rise if Taobao Taiwan is forced off the island. "There are numerous poor people on the island struggling to make a living, but the Tsai authority doesn't seem to care whether they live or die," she sighed. By considering Taobao Taiwan to be a mainland-backed enterprises, the Tsai government is fawning over the US and imitating its potential ban on the mainland's apps TikTok and WeChat, said Taiwan native Tang, who also buys from Taobao Taiwan. "I'm bored with the Tsai authority's tricks (targeting the mainland) like this," Tang told the Global Times. ^ top ^

US needs to stop sending wrong signals on Taiwan: Official (China Daily)
Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, urged the United States not to repeatedly send wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" forces on Monday. The remark came after representatives from the American Institute in Taiwan claimed that security cooperation is an important part of the partnership between the United States and Taiwan while attending a commemorative activity of the 823 Artillery Battle in Jinmen held by the island. Ma said Taiwan is part of China and foreign forces are never allowed to interfere in Taiwan issues. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan will only harm the common interests of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, endanger the vital interests of Taiwan compatriots, and undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, and will only put Taiwan in a more dangerous situation, he said. The US side should abide by the One-China Principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, he added the communiqués, signed in the 1970s and 1980s, clearly state that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of China. ^ top ^



China's economy is bouncing back: WSJ (People's Daily)
As much of the world struggles to contain the coronavirus, China's recovery is gaining momentum, positioning it to further close its gap with the U.S. economy, according to an article, "China's Economy, Bouncing Back, Gains on the U.S.," published on The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. According to the article, China is the only major economy expected to grow this year. J.P. Morgan recently boosted its 2020 China growth forecast to 2.5 percent from 1.3 percent in April. Economists at the World Bank and elsewhere have also upgraded their forecasts for China. China, the world's second-largest economy in real GDP terms, has slowly been catching up on the United States. Economists say China's quick rebound from COVID-19 will accelerate that process, the article said. Homi Kharas, a senior global economics and development fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the coronavirus puts China's economy on track to reach parity with the U.S. in 2028 in absolute terms, using current dollars, two years faster than his pre-coronavirus estimate, according to the article. "China will emerge even stronger as the largest economy in the developing world," the article quoted Kharas as saying. According to the article, China's factories were among the world's first to reopen in April, which helped China grab market share in global trade. Companies from Marriott International Inc. to Starbucks Corp. reported strong second-quarter growth in China, as the rest of the world pulled back. The article added that before the coronavirus, Deutsche Bank estimated China's economy would grow by roughly 26 percent between 2019 and 2023, versus 8.5 percent for the United States over the same period. Now, taking into account the impact of the pandemic, the bank expects China's economic expansion to moderate slightly to 24 percent between 2019 and 2023, while the U.S. over that stretch will have grown by 3.9 percent - less than half the original projection. Yet, China still faces headwinds. It counts on exports for roughly one-fifth of its economic output, making it reliant on customers in the U.S. and Europe overcoming the virus. It must also prevent its own resurgence in COVID-19 cases, the article said. ^ top ^

China's Rare Earth Exports Fall to Over Five-Year Low as Pandemic Devastates Demand (Caixin)
China's rare earth exports plunged 69.1% year-on-year to 1,620 tons in July, customs data showed (link in Chinese), marking the lowest monthly volume since January 2015, as the coronavirus pandemic has heavily hit demand for the minerals. In the first seven months of this year, China's rare earth exports were down 20.2% year-on-year, compared to a much milder 7.6% decline in the same period last year, customs data showed. Rare earths, a collection of chemical elements, have broad applications and are crucial to many cutting-edge products, including phone components, electric-vehicle batteries and military equipment. The production and operation activities of downstream rare earth companies have slowed since the beginning of this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Gao Feng, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, said on Thursday. In response to concerns that the recent decline in rare earth exports may be due to geopolitical tensions between China and the U.S., Gao said Chinese companies conduct their international business based on "changes in international market demand and risks." China remains dominant in rare earth production. Last year, the country had 36.7% of global rare earth reserves and accounted for 62.9% of the world's total output, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). While Beijing has always said it does not restrict rare earth exports, there has long been speculation that China may restrict supplies of the vital minerals to the U.S. amid rising animosity between the world's two largest economies. In recent years, Washington has imposed multiple restrictions on Chinese tech companies, including ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. The U.S. remains reliant on Chinese exports, meeting 80% of its rare earth consumption with Chinese imports between 2015 and 2018, according to the USGS. ^ top ^

China Tells Six Banks to Allocate Discount Loans to County-Level Governments (Caixin)
China's top economic planner directed six state-owned or state-controlled banks to provide credit support to urbanization projects in county-level regions. The move is in line with Premier Li Keqiang's call for distributing money directly into the hands of struggling local authorities. The banks are state-owned China Development Bank, Agricultural Development Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China and China Construction Bank, and state-controlled joint-stock commercial bank China Everbright Bank. They were instructed to arrange credit lines of a certain scale every year to support county-level urbanization projects, particularly in weak areas, according to a notice issued Friday by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). To bolster the pandemic-ravaged economy, China has launched trillions of yuan of fiscal spending and government bond issuances. Central government funds are allocated to provincial governments, which then distribute them to local authorities. But sometimes, some funds meant for local governments were used for provincial government projects, leaving a smaller pool for county-level projects. The loans will be medium to long-term loans, in principle for no more than 20 years. The banks will extend the loans at discount interest rates based on prime rates. The notice defines the qualified projects as 120 demonstration areas for new types of urbanization construction in county-level regions, as well as large towns with more than 100,000 permanent residents that don't house the county-level government. The key areas of support include 5G wireless networks, internet of things projects, smart manufacturing facilities, supply chain digital platforms, shantytown redevelopment, public transportation, vocational skills training facilities, warehouses, and cultural and tourism facilities. The projects have to meet conditions that include generating stable operating cash flow or other reliable sources of debt repayment funds, and covering the loan principal and interest from future operating income or other income of the borrower. For projects with strong comprehensive strength, large loan demand and long investment return cycles, the six banks can provide coordinated support through syndicated loans, the notice said. In addition to bank loans, local governments will also use fiscal funds or special-purpose bonds to support such projects. At an executive meeting of the State Council, China's cabinet, Li stressed efforts to ensure that new fiscal funds directly benefit businesses and people to consolidate the foundation of the country's restorative growth. In June, the premier mandated the establishment of an effective and secured special transfer payment mechanism that all new funds go straight to prefecture and county-level governments as early as possible. ^ top ^



Foreign Minister meets ADB Country Director (Montsame)
The Foreign Minister thanked the Asian Development Bank for its valuable contribution to Mongolia's social and economic reforms over the past 30 years and expressed willingness to cooperate in reducing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and recovering the economy. ADB Country Director Mr. Pavit Ramachandran said that the trade plays a vital role in recovering economy and that the construction work in Altanbulag, Borshoo and Bichigt border ports and Zamyn-Uud free trade zone, as well as the introduction of e-border one-stop service, are underway within the framework of the ADB's Regional Improvement of Border Services. Noting that ADB's next phase of cooperation in 2021-2024 would focus on increasing Mongolia's competitiveness and diversifying its economy, Mr. Pavit Ramachandran expressed interest in collaborating with the Foreign Ministry to enhance Mongolia's participation in regional and global economic cooperation and integration. ^ top ^

Special purpose company established for feasibility study of gas pipeline project (Montsame)
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of a joint Mongolian-Russian special purpose company to develop a feasibility study of the project on building pipelines between Russia and China going through the territory of Mongolia was signed today. The MoU was signed by Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia Ya.Sodbaatar and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors and the Chairman of the Management Committee A.Miller on behalf of their respective Governments. The participants of the meeting noted that the realization of the project to build Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline connecting Russia and China though the territory of Mongolia, which will transport 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to China, has taken a step forward. The meeting reviewed the implementation of the bilateral joint plan and agreed on further measures and activities to be taken by the sides. Next week, a "Confidentiality Agreement" will be established between Gazprom PJSC and Erdenes Mongol LLC. At the request of the Russian side, Prime Minister of Mongolia U.Khurelsukh took part in the virtual signing ceremony and delivered an address. In his address at the signing ceremony, PM U.Khurelsukh highlighted that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on jointly exploring the possibilities of implementing the project was one of the most important results of his official visit to Russia in December 2019. Emphasizing that the successful implementation of the project is significant to not only enrich the comprehensive strategic partnership between Mongolia and the Russian Federation but also advance bilateral cooperation to a new level, the PM pledged to put special attention to the progress of the project and provide relevant support and assistance. Gazprom PJSC, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Erdenes Mongol LLC are working on the implementation of the project, reports the Media and Public Relations Department of the Government. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister meets TRAM project team (Montsame)
At the meeting, the TRAM project team introduced the activities being implemented within the TRAM project since 2017 to promote trade policy, trade facilitation and export. Minister N.Enkhtaivan expressed his commitment to focus on foreign trade and export promotion within the policy of the new government, in particular, he stressed the importance of providing SMEs with access to the market and improving product quality and standards. Moreover, the project team introduced a report of the study towards export financing for Mongolian SMEs. The study identifies the financing difficulties required for national enterprises to enter foreign markets, and based on the study, it has developed recommendations for establishing an export credit guarantee system. The study says that the establishment of this system will allow Mongolian non-mining exporters to increase their exports up to 50-80 percent. Minister N.Enkhtaivan expressed satisfaction with the TRAM activities and the project results and expressed his support until the end of the project in 2021. ^ top ^


Karin Andrea Hess
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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