Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  28-30.9.2020, No. 836  
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A relationship of many firsts (China Daily)
China and Switzerland open a new chapter to promote multilateralism and free trade, and contribute to improving global governance and addressing various challenges The landscape in Switzerland is picturesque in September, a good season to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Switzerland. The two countries decided to break the ice when the then-president of the Swiss Confederation, Max Petitpierre, wrote to Chairman Mao Zedong in January 1950 to give recognition to New China. Switzerland became the first Western country to recognize the People's Republic of China and establish diplomatic relations on Sept 14 that year. The past 70 years have witnessed friendly exchanges between the two countries. No matter how the international situation changes, China-Switzerland ties have always moved steadily forward along the path blazed by great state leaders of the elder generation. Their practical cooperation in various fields has yielded fruitful results. Over the past seven decades, China and Switzerland have always adhered to the principle of equality and mutual respect in developing bilateral relations. They regard each other as important and equal members of the international community and respect each other's development path and national conditions, although there are great differences in size, social systems and development stages. Their efforts at seeking common ground while shelving differences and enhancing mutual trust have made China-Switzerland relations an example of friendly cooperation between countries with different social systems. Close attention and promotion by state leaders, especially President Xi Jinping's state visit to Switzerland in 2017, have fast-tracked the development of bilateral relations, offering more opportunities for their innovative strategic partnership. The two countries have so far established nearly 40 dialogue mechanisms on the basis of mutual respect and successfully carried out two strategic dialogues for their foreign ministers. China-Switzerland cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative has achieved fruitful results, especially with regard to the facilitation of trade and financial transactions. Switzerland has taken the lead in participating in every step of China's development. After China's reform and opening-up, Switzerland's watches were among the first imported products in the Chinese market and Swiss entrepreneurs set up China's first industrial joint venture. Meanwhile, Switzerland was among the first European countries to recognize China's market economy status and the first continental European country that signed a free trade agreement with China. It was also a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the first country to establish an innovative strategic partnership with China. After China rolled out policies for wider opening-up, UBS Securities, a Swiss financial enterprise, became the first foreign-owned securities company in China. These "firsts" not only demonstrate the courage of the two countries to seize development opportunities, but also fundamentally reflect their deepening mutual trust and mutual benefit. The two countries have been constantly adhering to the principles of pragmatic cooperation, mutual benefits and win-win results over the past 70 years. In the first year of their diplomatic relationship, 1950, the bilateral trade volume was $6 million. Now China has been Switzerland's third largest trading partner for six consecutive years. The bilateral FTA that took effect in 2014 continued to bring about a large amount of dividends and drove the bilateral trade volume up to $31.8 billion in 2019. In addition to trade, mutually beneficial cooperation in science and technology, investment and finance has also been fruitful. Also thousands of Chinese students further their studies in Switzerland and Switzerland received an average of 1.5 million visits from China every year. The friendly cooperation between the two countries is demonstrated not only in the fields mentioned above, but also in their helping each other in the face of adversity. Since the beginning of this year, the governments and people of both countries have strengthened communication and helped each other in the face of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The president of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga wrote a letter to her Chinese counterpart expressing her condolences, and her country provided valuable moral support and material assistance to the Chinese people during the critical period of China's fight against the virus. After the virus broke out in Switzerland, the Chinese government and people took timely action to provide the country with supplies of needed medical equipment through official and private channels while offering the latest diagnosis and treatment plan to the Swiss side. Officials and experts in the two countries exchanged experiences via online links. The concept of a global community of health for all advocated by China has been fully demonstrated in the joint efforts of the two countries in the anti-pandemic battle. Seventy years ago, the international environment that New China faced was very harsh, but Switzerland decided to establish diplomatic relations, reflecting the political courage and strategic vision of the then-Swiss leaders. Since today's world is facing unprecedented challenges, economic globalization is encountering a countercurrent, with unilateralism and populism on the rise, and the international order seriously impacted, the China-Switzerland ties are facing new challenges and opportunities. Standing at a new historical starting point, the Chinese side believes that Switzerland will demonstrate its strategic wisdom and courage once again, keep pace with the times and continue to develop its relations with China in a forward-looking manner. China is willing to work with the Swiss side under their innovative strategic partnership to further deepen mutually beneficial economic, trade, finance and science and technology cooperation, and to continue to release the potential of their cooperation in the Belt and Road construction and make the common interests to better benefit the two peoples. At the same time, China will also join hands with Switzerland to continue to promote multilateralism and free trade, and contribute to further improving global governance and jointly address various challenges facing mankind. The author is the Chinese ambassador to Switzerland. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Beijing blocking Wikipedia from United Nations intellectual property agency over Taiwan is resistance against 'Western values', analysts say (SCMP)
Beijing's move effectively blocking Wikipedia from gaining observer status at a United Nations agency last week on the grounds that it has a Taiwan subsidiary serves at least three of China's political objectives, analysts said. China's move to deny observer status for San Francisco-based Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia's parent, at the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo) dovetails with Beijing's long-standing policy of limiting international recognition of the self-governing island. Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province to be reunited by force if necessary. "It's a pretty low bar to qualify as an observer at Wipo," said James Pooley, a trade secrets lawyer and former Wipo deputy director general who testified before Congress on malfeasance at the UN agency. "The problem that Wikipedia faced, it touched a third rail for China, which is Taiwan." Beijing's muscle-flexing also allows it to thumb its nose at Washington, which mounted a successful last-minute campaign earlier this year to derail China's candidate as head of Wipo, analysts said. US-backed candidate Daren Tang, a Singaporean, won and will start his six-year term Thursday. "China, of course, is really pissed off that the US did this against them," said Wei Lei, former Wipo chief information officer, dismissed in 2019 over what he said were trumped-up charges of theft after reporting irregularities at the agency. Beijing's pique was on display after China's candidate lost out when Ambassador Chen Xu lashed out at the US, accusing it of an "attack" on China's candidate that was "not only unfair, but irrational". Relatively obscure Wipo has an outsize role in global patents and trademarks, a large discretionary budget and a relatively independent director general that has made it attractive to both major powers as they battle over technology. Beijing's slap down of Wikipedia also dovetails with its bid to push back on "Western liberal values" by advocating more state control over information, redefining "human rights" to include material rights and otherwise using its growing voice to blunt foreign criticism. Supporting Beijing's move last week were Russia, Iran and Pakistan. "It's not surprising that Beijing would make common cause with other illiberal regimes," said Walter Lohman, Asian studies director with the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation. "When international opinion touches on Chinese interest, the Chinese Communist Party has no compunction punishing it." "That's a real problem for the free world," added Lohman, a former US Senate staff member. "It's especially a problem for Taiwan, because so much of the world is willing to throw Taiwan under the bus to curry favour with China." Seven countries have severed ties with Taiwan in favour of China since 2016, leaving it with 15, while China, which overtook the US last year in the number of diplomatic partners, has 276, according to the Sydney-based think tank Lowy Institute. That mismatch comes as China has increasingly been able to use its economic clout, military might and global influence to blunt criticism and punish those who voice sensitive human rights issues far from its shores. In outlining its objections involving Wikipedia, Beijing cited "disinformation in violation of the one-China principle on the affiliated websites of the foundation". "Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan would like nothing more than to push back on Wikimedia," said an official close to Wipo. "Next time, China will support Russia, Iran or Pakistan on human rights issues. It's you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." Beijing is hardly the only one playing the carrot-and-stick game, however. The US and EU frequently engage in horse trading with UN allies on issues they consider important. In fact, China openly criticised the US for essentially playing the game better than it did over the top Wipo post. "It is sad that the United States has gone so far as to warn some of the medium and small countries not to vote for China, or they will face consequences such as weakened relations with the United States or losing the World Bank and [International Monetary Fund] loans," Chen said. Wikimedia was one of 12 civic non-governmental organisations that applied for observer status at last week's Wipo general assembly and the only one turned down after China accused it of carrying out political activities and threatening political stability using the Wikimedia Taiwan chapter. Wipo moved to defer the application, said UN insiders, essentially killing it. "I hope as a body that this is a delay, that it's going to be fine. I'll take the outcome of this at face value," said Sherwin Siy, Wikimedia's senior public policy manager. "It's an odd dispute to raise, odd objections in this context. It seems disproportionate to the work we're trying to do at Wipo." Having observer status allows civic groups to influence global intellectual property policy in formal meetings and hallway gatherings, said civic groups that applied. Wikimedia said having observer status would allow it to keep track of copyright developments that could affect its open platform. The application process seemed straightforward and professional, said those who were successful, adding that the last thing they needed was to get in the middle of a fight involving China, Taiwan and Wikipedia. "We try to keep our heads down, stay out of the political manoeuvring, stick to our knitting," said Tim Brooks, copyright committee chairman of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, which seeks to expand public access to historical audio recordings. "You just want to be the person on the side with a clipboard and thick glasses." The US-China jockeying to fill Wipo's top spot highlights China's growing global footprint and US counter-efforts to check its momentum, even as Trump has eroded US credibility and slammed the UN in favour of "America First" policies, said analysts. Each country has four top spots out of the 15 specialised UN agencies and Wipo would have given China five, even though Beijing contributes far less than Washington to the UN budget. "In the last two years, China has been much more strategic about its approach to the UN. It sees the UN as an instrument to advance its policy ambitions in the way the United States simply hasn't," said Kristine Lee, associate fellow at the Center for a New American Security. "It's clear that China has mapped out strategically important agencies such as Wipo and does the leg work to get its people elected." Once in place, Beijing has used its leadership positions effectively, said Lee. It has shifted the debate on the Human Rights Council, arguing that raising millions of people from poverty is a human right, she said, thereby blunting criticism of its tightening grip over Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. On other fronts, Lee added: China's influenced technical standards at the International Telecommunication Union to benefit Huawei; used UN peacekeepers to promote overseas weapons sales; used the Food and Agricultural Organization to promote its Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure project as a counter to the UN Sustainable Development Goals aimed at helping the environment and the poor; and it has used the International Civil Aviation Organization to route flights away from Taiwan during the pandemic. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. Several top UN agency jobs will open in the next few years, and Washington might do a better job preparing, Lee said. "Ultimately, China is eroding what the US has seen as the rule-based order and shifting rules in its favour," she added. "It's creating a world that's much safer for [Chinese Communist Party] authoritarianism and advancing that strategy through the UN." ^ top ^

Xi says China ready to work with Argentina to build global community of health for all (Xinhua)
BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday that China stands ready to work with Argentina and other members of the international community to firmly support the World Health Organization (WHO) in playing a leading role in the fight against COVID-19, win a complete victory over the pandemic as soon as possible, and promote the building of a global community of health for all. Xi made the remarks during a telephone conversation with Argentine President Alberto Fernandez. The COVID-19 pandemic is a severe test for the whole world, Xi said, adding that in the face of the disease, both the Chinese and Argentine governments have adhered to the principle of putting people and life first, and assigned priority to the life and health of the people. Noting that the two countries have been standing together and helping each other in the battle, Xi said China is willing to continue to provide as much assistance as its capacity allows for the South American country and deepen bilateral vaccine cooperation. Xi emphasized that China attaches great importance to its relations with Argentina, supports the Argentine side developing its economy and improving people's wellbeing, and has full confidence about the future cooperation between the two countries. China, he added, will lift the level of opening up in a comprehensive manner and foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other, which will create ample market and development opportunities for all countries across the world, including Argentina. Noting that China-Argentina practical cooperation boasts a sound foundation, strong resilience and huge potential, Xi said China welcomes more good-quality farm products and high value-added commodities from the South American country into the Chinese market, and welcomes Argentina's participation in the third China International Import Expo. Xi called on the two sides to implement existing major projects in earnest, open new frontiers for cooperation, and deepen people-to-people exchanges, so as to push for greater development of the China-Argentina comprehensive strategic partnership. Xi stressed that humankind has entered a new era of interconnectedness, with countries sharing intertwined interests and their future closely linked together. Whether in combating the pandemic or in restoring the economy, the world needs to uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and pursue the path of solidarity, cooperation and common development, Xi said. Noting that both China and Argentina are important emerging markets and developing countries, Xi said China is willing to enhance communication and coordination with Argentina within international frameworks to support multilateralism and promote the building of an open and inclusive world economy. Xi also suggested that the two countries work together in such international organizations and multilateral mechanisms as the United Nations, Group of 20 and World Trade Organization, to push for green, low-carbon and sustainable development, and help make the international system and international order more just and reasonable. For his part, Fernandez wished the Chinese people a happy National Day. He said he listened carefully to Xi's speech at the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and admires Xi's vision and commitment. Noting that Argentina and China share common grounds on many issues, such as upholding multilateralism and tackling climate change, Fernandez said Argentina is willing to strengthen communication and cooperation with China on these issues. China's development presents an important opportunity for Argentina, and strengthening the two countries' relations is a top priority in Argentina's foreign policy, he added. Argentina hopes to deepen cooperation with China in a wide range of fields such as trade, investment, infrastructure and finance, and within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, he said, adding that he believes that will greatly boost Argentina's economic and social development. Argentina, he said, thanks China for providing support and assistance in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, opposes any attempt to politicize the disease, supports the WHO in playing a leading role, and hopes to continue to deepen vaccine cooperation with China. ^ top ^

Joint COVID-19 fight shows profound China-Vietnam friendship – Xi (Xinhua)
BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday that China and Vietnam have illustrated their profound "comradely and brotherly" friendship with concrete actions in the joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and fully demonstrated the unique advantages of Communist parties' leadership and the socialist system. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks in a phone conversation with Nguyen Phu Trong, president of Vietnam and general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee. Expressing great pleasure in talking with Trong over phone as people in both countries are celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, Xi noted that in the battle against the coronavirus disease, the two parties and two countries have been supporting each other in tackling the current difficulties, and have made major achievements in COVID-19 control and prevention. The global spread of the epidemic has once again demonstrated that humanity faces a shared future, and only with solidarity and collaboration can mankind get through difficulties, Xi said. China attaches importance to exploring cooperation with Vietnam in vaccine production and other fields, and is ready to offer vaccines first to developing countries after they have been developed and put into use, Xi said. China, he added, firmly opposes the politicizing, stigmatizing and labeling attempts by certain countries on the pretext of the pandemic, and is willing to work with other countries to promote the building of a global community of health for all. Noting that China and Vietnam are linked by mountains and rivers and remarkably similar in ideology, development path, social system and values, Xi said it serves the fundamental interests of both countries and their people to maintain sound development of bilateral relations. Xi noted that this year marks the 70th anniversary of China-Vietnam diplomatic ties, and that the relationships between the two parties as well as between the two countries have both reached a new historical starting point. China-Vietnam cooperation in trade and other areas is manifesting a strong upward momentum despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in a clear demonstration of the resilience and potential of bilateral relations, Xi added. With the profound changes unseen in a century gathering pace, China and Vietnam should adhere more steadfastly to the leadership of Communist parties and the socialist system, uphold the two parties' high-level political guidance, and maintain inter-party exchanges of theoretical and practical experience, so as to deepen understanding of the basic rules in the socialist cause, Xi said. The two sides, he added, should firmly push forward bilateral practical cooperation in the post-pandemic era, continuously unleash the potential for cooperation, and enhance the synergy between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Vietnam's "Two Corridors and One Economic Circle" plan, he said. He also called for joint efforts to carry forward the traditional friendship between the two nations, cement the foundation of the friendly bond between the two peoples, and guide the youth generations in both countries to inherit and pass on the everlasting China-Vietnam friendship. Meanwhile, the two countries should continue to safeguard multilateralism as well as international fairness and justice, resolve disputes and differences through friendly consultations, and maintain the sound momentum of global and regional peace and development, he added. The CPC, he said, supports the CPV in making a success of its 13th National Congress, and is willing to continue offering as much support and assistance as possible for Vietnam's cause of socialist construction. For his part, Trong conveyed warm congratulations on the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, and spoke highly of the remarkable achievements China has made in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and advancing economic and social development under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi at its core. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and China 70 years ago, bilateral relations have in general maintained a positive momentum of development, Trong said. Vietnam highly values and firmly upholds the friendly and cooperative relationship with China, he said, while expressing gratitude for the valuable support and assistance China has provided for Vietnam at various stages of the latter's liberation and development. He added that the international situation is undergoing rapid and complex changes and Vietnam is going all out to prepare for the 13th National Congress of the CPV, which is scheduled for early next year. The Vietnamese side, he said, hopes to continuously strengthen political mutual trust between the two parties as well as between the two countries, give full play to the political leadership of the two parties in bilateral relations, maintain the right tone in public communication, and push for new progress in economic and trade cooperation. Trong also suggested that the two sides deepen exchanges and cooperation at local levels, boost coordination and cooperation within multilateral frameworks, jointly secure a peaceful and stable environment for development, properly address and resolve existing problems, and lead the relations both between the two parties and between the two countries to new historic development. ^ top ^

FM: Solidarity vital in meeting challenges (China Daily)
China will fully implement the measures announced by President Xi Jinping on global cooperation against COVID-19 and make new contributions to global poverty reduction, said State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Speaking at the High-level Video Conference on Poverty Eradication and South-South Cooperation on Saturday night, Wang said that China will stand firm with all developing countries, and remain their reliable friend and true partner. "No matter how the international landscape may evolve, China will always be a staunch member of the developing world," Wang said. "Now faced with once-in-a-century changes and COVID-19, we developing countries shall not waver in standing closely together," Wang said. He pointed out that the international community must take a "development first" approach, and place greater importance on the UN 2030 Agenda. "We need to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, and support the UN in galvanizing international efforts to build a new type of global development partnership that is more equal, more balanced, fairer and leaves no one behind," he said. Noting that the Belt and Road Initiative constitutes the world's largest platform for global cooperation, Wang called on more developing nations to join in Belt and Road cooperation to build up connectivity for high-quality development. Wang stressed the importance of sharing experience to make effective poverty reduction policies. "Using the master key of development, we could unlock the door toward no poverty," he said. In the fight against COVID-19, Wang said countries should always follow a people-first approach and put saving lives above all else. "We need to pool efforts, mobilize resources and do whatever we can to protect people's lives and health," he said, adding that countries should support the World Health Organization's leading role in global response efforts and reject stigmatization or name-calling associated with the virus. He called on countries to support multilateralism and uphold the UN-centered international system and the WTO-centered multilateral trading system. The conference, chaired by Wang, was attended by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, UN Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, as well as the vice-prime minister of Uzbekistan and foreign ministers or representatives from Cambodia, Egypt, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Laos, Myanmar, Niger, Peru, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, South Africa and Uganda. During the meeting, the senior diplomats had in-depth discussions and reached a consensus on jointly fighting COVID-19 and pursuing the sustainable development goals under the 2030 Agenda, according to a news release. The senior diplomats applauded the initiatives and measures announced by Xi at the high-level events marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, said the release. ^ top ^

Japan's rejection of China olive branch on Senkaku-Diaoyu spat may be sign of tighter US ties (SCMP)
In the midst of current tensions between China and Japan in the East China Sea, a Chinese academic said Beijing wanted Tokyo to know it was intent on reducing its naval presence in the area earlier this year – an olive branch that was summarily snapped when right-wing forces in Japan hired fishing boats to go into the disputed waters, resulting in skirmishes between the two sides. Liu Qingbin, an associate professor at Yokohama National University in Japan, said that a few months before Chinese President Xi Jinping was due to visit Japan in April, in what would have been the first visit by a Chinese president since 2008, Beijing had almost completely reduced its maritime activities in the Diaoyu Islands, or what the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. However, Liu said the two sides went right back to skirmishing after the Japanese fishing boats entered the disputed waters, and Beijing once again began increasing its maritime activities there. "The true situation was that China had actually released enormous goodwill earlier this year", but that plan was derailed by the Japanese right-wingers, who wanted to create a scene before and during Xi's visit, Liu said. "The Japanese claimed that the reduction in military activities was due to typhoons, but there were hardly any typhoons in February," Liu added. Xi's visit was later postponed, ostensibly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and no new date was set. Liu added: "This resulted in a tit-for-tat scenario and the situation that we are in today." China has again been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions. On Wednesday, lawmakers from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party urged the government to hold joint defence drills with the US in the East China Sea to bolster Japan's effective control over the disputed islands. The lawmakers also called for quicker research and development of surveillance drones, amphibious combat vehicles and other weapons systems to better defend the islands. Describing the proposed US-Japan drills as unnecessary for now, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University professor Sato Yoichiro, who specialises in foreign and security policy, said Japan can maintain deterrence in the region simply by increasing coastguard patrols and getting the US to meet its defence obligations in the region. China is said by some analysts to be using the so-called "salami-slicing method" in its maritime activities in the East China Sea, meaning that Beijing is slowly taking small actions in the region to assert control that eventually will add up to a major strategic change, moving gradually from the status quo to seizing administrative and real control over the islands. East Asian security expert Alessio Patalano of King's College London's Department of War Studies wrote in a Royal United Services Institute commentary last month that China's recent longer forays into the disputed waters were aimed at normalising its law-enforcement presence and "actively challenge the Japanese government's position of effective administrative control". […] Describing it as puzzling that China would escalate tensions with Japan at a time of increasing US-China tensions, Mike Mochizuki, an international affairs professor at George Washington University and an expert on Japan-US relations, said doing so would only prompt Japan to tighten its alliance with the US and to join Washington in containing Beijing. However, Mochizuki observed that Japan Coast Guard (JCG) data might have given a misleading picture of Chinese activity near the islands, saying that "what becomes clear is the constancy of the Chinese presence, not an increase in the number of ships". […] Pointing to the difference between the China Coast Guard's (CCG) presence in the contiguous zone of the disputed islands and its intrusions into the territorial waters of the islands, Mochizuki said the former was consistent with the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea, while the latter was a violation of Japanese sovereignty over the islands. While acknowledging that Japan does not abide China's presence in the contiguous zone due to its threatening nature, Mochizuki, who is also one of the top American authorities on northeast Asia, said that what China does is not illegal. "Japan should remain vigilant to protect its territorial interests, but it should refrain from exaggerating the threat," Mochizuki said, adding that the situation was similar to the interactions between the US and China in the South China Sea. "The US believes that its FONOPS manoeuvres are aimed at preserving the rule of law in the South China Sea. But China believes that such manoeuvres are threatening," Mochizuki said. FONOPS, or Freedom of Navigation Operations, are said to be one of the principal tools by which the US challenges maritime claims deemed excessive under international law. "But from the Chinese perspective, at a minimum the contiguous zone presence and the routinised intrusions into the territorial sea deter Japan from deploying a permanent personnel presence or constructing new structures on the islands," Mochizuki said. […] Mochizuki pointed out that China's stake in the disputed islands was primarily symbolic, and noted that even though Beijing would not give up its territorial claims, it also did not want to risk a military conflict with Japan and possibly the US "over small, uninhabited islets with very little strategic value". As for Japan, the real danger, according to Mochizuki, is that with the rise of Chinese military capabilities, US-China-Taiwan interactions will become more complicated and fraught with tension, possibly increasing the risk of a military conflict. "If a Taiwan military conflict were to occur, Japan would become involved inevitably because of the geographic location of Japan's southwest island chain, primarily Okinawa prefecture and the US military assets on Okinawa," Mochizuki said. "In my view, a Taiwan contingency is much more serious for Japan than the Senkaku/Diaoyu island issue. The Taiwan question, not the Senkaku/Diaoyu island issue, is what is driving the militarisation of the East China Sea." ^ top ^

India's border fire may lead to 'unbearable consequence' (Global Times)
Chinese observers warned on Saturday that India's latest tricks of doubling troops at the border and authorizing frontline soldiers to fire in clashes with the Chinese army, all while agreeing to de-escalate tensions at the negotiating table with China, could further increase the risk of conflict at the border and lead to dangerous consequences for itself. Although China and India agreed to stop sending more troops to the border frontline at the latest round of the Military Commander-Level Meeting, tensions continue to flare as New Delhi appears to have no sincerity in keeping its commitment. Given intense tensions, China should be alert to India's tricks along border areas, and prepare for possible military conflicts which may become new normal in the border region in the near future, experts urged. The Hindu cited an anonymous senior government official as saying on Thursday that Indian soldiers are authorized to fire if the PLA comes close. Shots have been fired in the air on multiple occasions on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh recently, the Indian media reported. "Authorizing frontline soldiers to fire in possible clashes is a provocation to the PLA. India has never given up the illusion to nibble at China's territory along the border areas, which the Chinese soldiers should be highly alert to," Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and commentator, told the Global Times on Saturday. Song noted that the 1962 China-India War happened in winter, and there is still a possibility for India to provoke China in the upcoming winter, as its domestic problems linger and get worse. The 1962 war ended with India's all-around failure. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows India has reported more than 5.9 million COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, the second largest number of confirmed cases globally. China and India's agreements on not sending troops to the frontline is a good sign, as a long-time stand-off along the border areas would increase the risk of clashes. But India should also fulfill the agreements reached by the two sides, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Saturday. However, aside from the very frontline border areas which have limited space for troops, India has never stopped facilitating infrastructure construction in the border areas and making military preparations, Qian said. He noted that 200,000 to 300,000 Indian soldiers have been deployed to the border areas with Pakistan and China. The Indian army is ready to be deployed in the harsh winter months, as it has stocked up on essential supplies, including food, clothing and fuel, for soldiers in Ladakh, Indian Major Gen. Arvind Kapoor was cited by ANI as saying two weeks ago. Hindustan Times also reported that since 2019, India has sharpened its focus on increasing infrastructure along the border, and set a target of three years to complete all 61 strategic road projects along its northern frontier. However well India has claimed to make preparations for possible clashes, its shortages on infrastructure construction to the border areas, ability to conduct large-scale operations in winter, and its ability to supply frontline soldiers are not easy to hide or make up in a short time, Chinese experts said. Further provocations along the border areas toward China and clashes will bring India unbearable consequences, they warned, noting that aside from making military preparations, India is also sending diplomatic signals. Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday said at the World Economic Forum Development Impact Summit that the months-long border standoff between India and China is "one facet of a larger phenomenon for which both have to sit down and find a solution." Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Jaishankar on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization foreign ministers' meeting in Moscow earlier this month, in which they reached a five-point consensus to cool down border tensions. Experts said that the successful implementation of the consensus depends on whether India can truly keep its word to avoid the agreements reached turning into "paper talk." They also warned that Indian media should also stop spreading fake news and rumors to hype China's threat, or add fuel to nationalism, as it does no good to bilateral ties. For example, Indian media claimed that China has continued to "invade Nepal inch by inch, and construct buildings on the captured lands." However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal refuted the claims in a release on Wednesday, saying that "The Department of Survey, Government of Nepal, based on the official records, reports of the joint field inspection and boundary maps, has verified and confirmed that the said buildings are not located within Nepali territory." "It is India that always thinks it dominates Nepal, and by hyping China's 'invasion' of Nepal, India is making itself an excuse to enter into Nepal to control the country," Song said, noting that Indian media is creating momentum for India's hegemonic actions. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China's top legislature schedules standing committee session (Xinhua)
BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) will convene its 22nd session from Oct. 13 to 17 in Beijing. The decision was made on Tuesday at a meeting of the Council of Chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee, which was presided over by Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee. According to the proposed agenda, lawmakers will review at the session a draft biosecurity law, a draft export control law, a draft Yangtze River conservation law, a draft support for veterans law, a draft personal information protection law and a draft coast guard law. They are expected to deliberate a draft amendment to the Patent Law, a draft revision to the Law on the Protection of Minors, draft amendments to the National Flag Law and the National Emblem Law, a draft amendment to the Criminal Law and a draft revision to the Administrative Penalty Law. A draft amendment to the Electoral Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses, a draft revision to the Wildlife Protection Law and a draft revision to the National Defense Law will also be reviewed, according to the proposed agenda. ^ top ^

Top political advisory body to meet in November (Xinhua)
BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Standing Committee of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, will convene its 14th meeting in early November in Beijing. The decision was made on Tuesday at the 43rd Chairperson's Council meeting of the CPPCC National Committee, which was presided over by Wang Yang, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee. The Tuesday meeting reviewed and adopted a draft guideline on strengthening CPPCC members' sense of mission, a draft revision of the general rules on special committees under the CPPCC National Committee, and a plan (2020-2025) for promoting the application of information and smart technologies in the work of the CPPCC National Committee. Wang, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, highlighted the need to improve the institutional building of the CPPCC National Committee and called for furthering the role of a mobile platform for political advisors to perform their duties. The CPPCC National Committee has fulfilled its duties with a commitment to controlling COVID-19 while advancing economic and social development over the year, making new contributions to the cause of the Party and the country, Wang said. Tuesday's meeting also reviewed and approved the draft agenda and schedule for the upcoming standing committee meeting. ^ top ^

China's social-credit system to record dissertation cheating: ministry (Xinhua)
China will record dishonesty regarding student dissertations in its social-credit system as part of efforts to improve the quality of postgraduate education, the Ministry of Education said Monday. A new document released by the ministry said there would be a "zero-tolerance" policy toward academic misconduct. The document also demanded strict enforcement of the rules for conferring degrees. The decision to grant postgraduate degrees to candidates should depend on their performance in exams and mid-term evaluations, said the document. Those failing such evaluations should be dismissed from their academic programs, according to document. ^ top ^

Xi Focus: CPC leadership meets to discuss key document (Xinhua)
The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee met on Monday to discuss a report on seeking public opinion about a CPC document on the formulation of the 14th Five-Year (2021-2025) Plan for Economic and Social Development and future targets for 2035. The document, after being revised based on opinions expressed at Monday's meeting, will be submitted for deliberation at the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, which will be held in Beijing from Oct. 26 to 29, according to a decision at the meeting. A set of regulations on the work of the CPC Central Committee was also reviewed at the meeting, which was presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. The gathering of public opinions has given full play to democratic values and considered the views and suggestions of Party members and those outside the Party, according to the meeting. "It is a vivid practice of China's socialist democracy," said the meeting. By convening and presiding over a number of symposiums, Xi has directly listened to opinions and advice on the country's economic and social development in the 2021-2025 plan period from all walks of society, it added. Development goals set for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) are about to be accomplished, which will mark a new and major step forward in China's economic and scientific power, as well as national strength, the meeting said. The meeting emphasized upholding the overall leadership of the CPC and maintaining and improving the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics to promote economic and social development in the 14th Five-Year Plan period. The meeting also stressed staying committed to putting people first, building a new development pattern, deepening reform and opening up, and forestalling and defusing major risks and challenges. The enactment of the regulations on the work of the CPC Central Committee is essential to upholding the authority of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, and its centralized and unified leadership, according to the meeting. It is also a major step for upholding and improving the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernizing China's system and capacity for governance, it said. The regulations are of great and far-reaching significance to fully strengthening Party leadership and Party building, pushing forward national rejuvenation, and striving for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, it said. The regulations specify the CPC Central Committee's leadership status, system, functions and powers, style, decision-making and self-improvement, among others. Members of the CPC Central Committee, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and its Standing Committee have been asked to take the lead in implementing the Party Constitution, the regulations and other Party rules, according to the meeting. All localities, departments, Party members and officials are required to consciously implement the spirit of the regulations, to ensure that the spirit and requirements of the regulations are put into practice in all aspects of the work of the Party and the state. ^ top ^

China stresses solid efforts to boost SOE reform (Xinhua)
China will take steps to implement the three-year action plan on reforming the country's state-owned enterprises (SOEs), according to a conference here on Sunday. The SOEs should become market entities with core competitiveness and push forward the mixed-ownership reform in an active yet prudent manner, said the national teleconference on the implementation of the action plan. Vice Premier Liu He, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and head of the State Council leading group for SOE reform, attended and addressed the conference, which is presided over by State Councilor Wang Yong, deputy head of the group. The conference urged the SOEs to play a larger role in leading innovation efforts as well as actions to improve the industrial and supply chains. Meanwhile, the SOEs shall act as a safeguard in terms of maintaining social development and improving people's livelihoods, according to the conference. The conference called on relevant departments to take responsibility for implementing the action plan and local authorities to seek innovative ways for the implementation. ^ top ^

China's earliest vaccine volunteers conclude 6-month observation, set for second dose (People's Daily)
The six-month follow-up medical observation for China's first batch of COVID-19 vaccine volunteers ends on the weekend, as the volunteers complete the final blood sample collection to see antibody levels. The research team is planning to give volunteers a second dose on a voluntary basis to boost their immunity against the novel coronavirus, the Global Times learned from the research team. Other Chinese vaccine candidates entering the late-stage trials all require at least two doses to maximize immune response. China's earliest group of 108 volunteers started to get their injections on March 17 in Wuhan for Phase I clinical trials of the Recombinant Novel Coronavirus Vaccine (Ad5-nCoV), co-developed by Tianjin-based Biotechnology Company CanSino Biologics Inc and military infectious diseases expert Chen Wei. "We took about 35 millimeters of blood samples this morning. The second dose may be given in the following two days. I did not experience any adverse reactions, no colds, no fevers, over the past six months," Zhu Aobing, 28, one of the first group of volunteers, told the Global Times on Saturday. The vaccine candidate is originally designed for single-dose injection, estimated to stay effective for two years and should be stored at a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius. But now the research team intends to extend it to two doses in order to bring better protection to volunteers, a researcher participating in the clinical trials in Wuhan told the Global Times on Saturday. If an extra dose of the vaccine is given, the team will start a new six-month period of medical follow-up observations. No severe adverse effects from Ad5-nCoV have been discovered so far, Zhu Tao, CanSino's chief scientific officer, said over the last weekend at a conference. The vaccine's effectiveness has been called into question due to tests showing low antibodies in previously published Phase 1 and 2 trial data. However, Zhu said that the neutralizing antibody of the vaccine may have been seriously underestimated, and that a single dose of it can achieve the equivalent immunity effect of two doses of inactivated vaccine. He also stressed that different testing methods can seriously affect antibody testing data. The data show that the Ad5-nCoV vaccine is no less effective than the same-typed Ad26 vaccine already approved in Russia, Zhu added. Other three Chinese-developed vaccine candidates also take two doses of injection including two inactivated vaccines developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group Sinopharm in Beijing, and another inactivated one developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. A 28-day interval between two doses is a normal scheme, while a 14-day interval is acceptable under emergency situations, Yin Weidong, CEO of Sinovac Biotech Ltd, told the media. Whether a third dose is necessary is still under observation now, but the team has already designed a third dose in its Phase II clinical trials and will report the results soon, said Yin. He suggested not to worry too much about a decrease in antibody level over time because the extra shot can consolidate the immune effects. Chinese vaccine companies have signed cooperation agreements with institutions in several countries to promote final-stage clinical trials, Wu Yuanbin, director-general of science and technology for social development with the Ministry of Science and Technology, said at a briefing held by the State Council Information Office of China on Friday. Sinopharm's two inactivated vaccines have entered Phase III clinical trials in the Middle East, with more than 35,000 people vaccinated and no serious adverse reactions. Sinovac Ltd is smoothly running its Phase III clinical trials for its inactivated vaccine in South American and Southeast Asian countries. Volunteers for the late-stage trials of the Ad5-nCoV are also starting injections in a few countries in Eurasia, Wu briefed. ^ top ^



Chinese team to train in Beijing 2022 venue National Sliding Center in early October (Xinhua)
Construction of the National Sliding Center in Yanqing of Beijing has seen big progress that it began ice-making on September 18 and is estimated to finish at the end of the month before China's national team train in the National Sliding Center in early October. The Beijing Major Projects Construction Headquarters Office confirmed on Sunday that up to now, 90 percent of the track ice-making work has been completed, and 60 percent of the track ice-repairing work has been completed. Eight international ice makers from Russia, France, Canada and other countries and regions participated in the ice making work along with 20 domestic ice makers which construct the first ice making and repairing team in China. The National Sliding Center will become the first competition venue of Beijing Winter Olympic Games for the national team to undertake training tasks. A special field operation support management team has also been set up to guarantee the training tasks of the national team. According to the follow-up plan, by the end of 2020, the National Sliding Center, the National Alpine Skiing Center and Yanqing Winter Olympic Village will all be completed. Offering a seating capacity of 2,000 and a standing capacity of 8,000 to spectators, the National Sliding Center features the first bobsleigh, skeleton, luge tracks in China. ^ top ^



Xi hails major progress made in Xinjiang (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping has underlined the importance of upholding lasting peace and stability in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, saying development is the crucial foundation for the region's long-term social stability. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark at a two-day central symposium on work related to Xinjiang, which concluded on Saturday in Beijing. It was the third such symposium since 2010, with the previous one taking place in 2014. Xi demanded law-based governance over Xinjiang and long-term efforts to develop it into a region that is united, harmonious, prosperous, culturally advanced and environmentally friendly, with its people enjoying their life and work. He stressed the need to fully implement the Party's policies and strategies on governing Xinjiang in the new era, which include promoting high-quality growth in the region, improving people's livelihoods and maintaining stability in the region through ethnic solidarity. Saying that people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are members of the great family of the Chinese nation, Xi called for constantly strengthening ethnic unity. Education on the identity of the Chinese nation should be strengthened among the general public so that they will develop a correct understanding of the country, history, ethnicity, culture and religion, he added. In terms of Xinjiang's economic development, he said the region should leverage its geographical advantages to develop as a core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt and align itself with the nation's opening-up strategy. Xi urged efforts to consolidate the foundation and increase the efficiency of the industrial sector in Xinjiang, advance industrial transformation and upgrading, and boost urbanization in an all-around way while protecting the environment. He also underscored the need to coordinate prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic with social and economic development in Xinjiang with a focus on poverty elimination and the promotion of employment. Xinjiang has recently seen unprecedented socioeconomic development, with its people becoming better off. Since the last central symposium on work related to Xinjiang in 2014, the country has been strengthening support to the region both from the central government and other regions to help it develop its economy, employment, education, healthcare and other sectors. Its gross domestic product has increased from less than 920 billion yuan ($135 billion) in 2014 to 1.36 trillion yuan by 2019, with an average annual increase of 7.2 percent. Abdulyokem Roz, a villager from Ayagemangan in Shufu county, was a tractor driver six years ago. He made a living by helping others to plow farmland and harvest crops, and his family's annual income was about 10,000 yuan. When Xi was on an inspection tour in Xinjiang in April 2014, he visited Abdulyokem's home. "He just wanted to see if the country's policies to improve people's livelihoods had truly taken effect," Abdulyokem said about Xi's visit. ^ top ^

Xi Focus: Xi stresses building Xinjiang featuring socialism with Chinese characteristics in new era (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping has called for efforts to build Xinjiang featuring socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at the third central symposium on work related to Xinjiang, which was held on Friday and Saturday in Beijing. Xi underlined the need to fully and faithfully implement the CPC's policies on governing Xinjiang for the new era. Xi demanded law-based governance and long-term efforts to develop Xinjiang into a region that is united, harmonious, prosperous, and culturally advanced, with healthy ecosystems and people living and working in contentment. Thanks to strenuous efforts from all sides since the second symposium in 2014, major progress has been achieved in the work related to Xinjiang, Xi said, citing a series of markedly improving key indicators from 2014 to 2019, such as a sound economic momentum with an average annual GDP growth rate of 7.2 percent, people's living standards being significantly improved with an average annual 9.1 percent growth in residential per capita disposable income, and more than 2.92 million out of 3.09 million people being lifted out of poverty. Such a sound situation where people live and work in contentment has laid a solid foundation for long-term peace and stability in Xinjiang, Xi said. "Facts have fully proved that China's work on ethnic affairs has been successful," he said, noting the achievements are the result of the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, along with the concerted efforts of the whole Party and all the Chinese people including more than 25 million people from different ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Facts prove that the Party's policies on Xinjiang in the new era, which were developed by the CPC Central Committee since the 18th CPC National Congress, are perfectly right and must be adhered to on a long-term basis, Xi stressed. He demanded the entire Party make implementing the Party's Xinjiang policies in the new era a political task, always maintaining the correct political orientation of the work related to Xinjiang. Xi noted that the banner of socialist rule of law must be held high to maintain lasting social stability in Xinjiang, ensuring that the requirement for fully advancing China's law-based governance covers all areas of the work related to Xinjiang. Xi stressed efforts to focus on heightening a sense of identity of the Chinese nation to constantly strengthen ethnic unity. The education on the sense of Chinese identity should be incorporated into the education of officials and the younger generation in Xinjiang as well as its social education, helping the officials and the general public of all ethnic groups develop an accurate understanding of country, history, ethnicity, culture and religion, to let the sense of Chinese identity take root in people, he said. Noting that development is an important foundation for lasting peace and stability in Xinjiang, Xi stressed leveraging the region's geographical advantages to develop Xinjiang as a core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt and a hub of opening-up in the inland and border areas. Xi urged efforts to consolidate the foundation and increase the efficiency of the industrial sector in Xinjiang, advance industrial transformation and upgrading, and boost urbanization in an all-round way while protecting the environment. Stressing the need to coordinate epidemic containment with economic and social development, Xi called for ensuring stability on six fronts -- employment, the financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations -- while maintaining security in six areas: job security, basic living needs, operations of market entities, food and energy, stable industrial and supply chains, and the normal functioning of primary-level governments. He also called for unremitting efforts to eradicate poverty and promote employment in Xinjiang. Xi pointed out that the original aspiration and mission of the Party is to seek happiness for the Chinese people, including people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, including various ethnic groups in Xinjiang. He urged continuous efforts to foster a contingent of high-caliber officials from ethnic-minority groups in Xinjiang who are loyal to the Party and have both integrity and ability, saying that the officials in Xinjiang are trustworthy and capable. Underscoring the great significance of Xinjiang-related work to the whole Party and the entire country, Xi asked for improvement in working mechanism in which the CPC Central Committee exerts the unified leadership, the central departments offer guidance and support, other provincial-level regions render support and cooperation, and Xinjiang plays its principal role. Other senior Chinese leaders also attended the symposium, which was presided over by Li Keqiang. Li Zhanshu, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng were in attendance, while Wang Yang spoke to sum up the event. ^ top ^



Hong Kong-mainland China border could reopen soon as city seeks to recover from Covid-19 (SCMP)
Hong Kong is in advanced internal talks to reopen the border for local residents living in mainland China to return to the city, with officials hoping the move will help revive the beleaguered economy. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Tuesday that discussions were well under way to relaunch cross-border travel in a "gradual and orderly manner", while taking into account the risks to public health. "It is time for us to take a very pragmatic approach to allow people flow, whether [it is] between Hong Kong and the mainland, or Hong Kong and Macau, and Hong Kong with other overseas places," she said. Lam said Hong Kong residents living on the mainland should be given priority to return to the city, without undergoing the 14-day mandatory quarantine if they were able to show a negative Covid-19 test. The arrangement, for which no time frame has yet been given, would allow those living across the border to enter the city to meet relatives and attend to other personal matters. "We are in advanced internal discussions ... to find a way to facilitate such Hong Kong residents coming back," Lam said. Details on whether there was a need for a mutual agreement with Guangdong authorities or to set up a daily quota for travellers, as well as how many border control points should open, were still being discussed, the city's leader said. All but three of the city's border checkpoints have been closed since February, with travellers only allowed to enter via Hong Kong International Airport, Shenzhen Bay, and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Visitors from China, Taiwan, and Macau must undergo 14-day compulsory quarantine in a hotel or at home upon arrival in Hong Kong. Inbound travellers from mainland China, who make up most of the tourists to the city, have fallen at least 99 per cent year on year, every month since March. Only about 2,300 people crossed the border from the mainland in August, roughly 60 per cent fewer than the nearly 6,000 that visited in July. Travel Industry Council chairman Jason Wong Chun-tat said the sector was still disappointed that the talks were only focused on allowing Hong Kong residents living across the border to enter the city, rather than extending it to mainland tourists in general. "We really hope that the government can speed up reopening the border because mainland China is realistically the first place where Hongkongers can travel to," he said, stressing that tour agents had struggled to make any revenue at all due to global travel restrictions. Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing welcomed the additional details from the government on possibly easing cross-border travel, and hoped the plans would be followed through. "If we don't make the first step, then we will never move forward in resuming travel," he said. Yiu suggested cross-border travel could start in mid-October, as the coronavirus situation in Hong Kong and China seemed under control. Hong Kong confirmed four Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, all imported, with new infections generally declining in recent weeks, while social-distancing rules have been gradually eased. Meanwhile, nearly all coronavirus cases in China have been imported since mid-August, according to the National Health Commission. Dr Leung Chi-chiu, a Hong Kong specialist in respiratory medicine, said for city arrivals to skip quarantine they should be required to show a valid negative Covid-19 test result obtained a maximum of three days before travelling. "The risks should not be too high if they had already tested negative before coming to Hong Kong," he said. "Especially since Guangdong province has not recorded any local transmissions for two months." Leung suggested that border restrictions with the mainland could ideally be eased at least a week after the eight-day National Day "golden week" break starting on October 1, when millions of domestic tourists are expected to travel across China. "If there are no major spikes in coronavirus cases in the mainland after this stretch, then I think most people would be at ease to reopen the border," he added. ^ top ^

12 suspects nabbed 26 nautical miles SE of HK waters, mainland police reveal details (Global Times)
Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department revealed details about 12 Hong Kong people who were detained due to illegal entry into mainland waters on August 23, as the case was being hyped by some anti-government forces and Western media. Hong Kong police have received reply from their counterpart in the neighboring Guangdong Province on Friday. They revealed that Guangdong Coast Guard seized a ship suspected of illegally entering the waters of the city of Shenzhen, about 26 nautical miles southeast of the Hong Kong waters, media reported. After boarding the ship, the Guangdong coast guard found 12 Hong Kong people who were then arrested in accordance with the law on suspicion of "smuggling across the border." According to the data provided by the Guangdong police and a search of the marine department's traffic surveillance system and records from marine police digital radar system, the speedboat suspected of smuggling left Pu Toi O at about 7 am on August 23 and entered the mainland waters at about 7:30 am that day. Investigation revealed that the 12 suspects boarded a speedboat arranged by a smuggling group at Pu Toi O in Sai Kung, New Territories of Hong Kong. One of the suspects set sail and planned to escape to Taiwan via mainland waters, in order to escape his criminal responsibility in Hong Kong. Before they boarded the ship, they had paid certain funds to the stowaway group in Hong Kong to arrange their escape, media reported. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said earlier in a tweet that the 12 were "not democratic activists, but elements attempting to separate Hong Kong from China." Media reported that at least 10 of the 12 suspects had previously been charged in Hong Kong with producing or possessing explosives, arson and assaulting police, and one of the group members allegedly violated the national security law for Hong Kong. The 12 Hong Kong suspects have been put under criminal detention, said the Shenzhen police. The investigation is still ongoing. And the 12 suspects are expected to be arrested after approval from Shenzhen Yantian District People's Procuratorate, media reported. Relatives of some of the suspects once asked Hong Kong police to release information such as the locations of the 12 suspects and radar information on the ship when they were detained. The Hong Kong police said that no mainland coast guard vessels were seen entering or staying in Hong Kong waters when the 12 suspects were arrested, media reported. Relatives also demanded that the Hong Kong government allow face-to-face visits with the 12 currently being detained in Shenzhen. Hong Kong police said the relevant departments would continue to maintain close contact with the families, follow up on the incident and provide appropriate assistance. ^ top ^



Taiwan threatens to punish singers Angela Chang and Ouyang Nana for taking part in mainland Chinese celebration (SCMP)
The Taiwanese authorities have threatened to fine two singers for taking part in a mainland Chinese state media show. Ouyang Nana, a Taiwanese cellist and singer, will join singers from Hong Kong and the mainland to perform the patriotic song My Motherland, which will be broadcast on CCTV on Wednesday. The gala will also feature Angela Chang in a chorus celebrating the contributions of those who helped fight Covid-19. The grand gala performance will be aired on Wednesday, the evening before National Day and will also feature several Hong Kong stars such as Angelababy Yang Ying and William Chan Wai-ting. A CCTV trailer for the show features Ouyang saying she was "excited" to be taking part and looking forward to the show. Meanwhile, Chang said: "Because of the epidemic, I feel that when we sing this song, it's full of love. We would like to send positive energy to the audience." The singers have millions of fans on the mainland, but Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said their participation was an attempt by the Beijing authorities to put pressure on the island and promote a "one country, two systems" framework. "In light of the increasingly severe cross-strait situation, Taiwanese should take the interests of Taiwan as a whole as their precondition for doing things. "They should be clearly aware of the mainland's measures and ambitions," the council told the news portal The Taiwan authorities have said they will punish the singers if they are found to have violated cross-strait regulations. On Monday the Ministry of Culture said they could be fined up to half a million Taiwanese dollars (around US$17,000) if they are confirmed to have broken regulations, according to The Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area bans Taiwanese people and organisations from engaging in political activities concerning the mainland. Neither Ouyang nor Chang has responded to the threats so far. Su Tseng-chang, the island's premier, said: "Some people are enjoying our democracy and freedom as well as our medical insurance. As public figures, they went to the mainland to sing inappropriate songs. Taiwan people will make their own judgment." The overseas edition of the Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece People's Daily said in its editorial on Tuesday that it was "laughable" to threaten the singers for performing on the mainland. Last year Ouyang, 20, who is studying in the United States, said she supported the one-China principle in an attempt to rebut online claims she supported Taiwanese independence. "As an overseas student, people often ask me 'where do you come from'," she wrote in a Weibo post. "I come from China. This is my answer." Chang, 38, who has been popular on the mainland for over a decade, has previously appeared on CCTV's Lunar New Year gala, the most-watched television show in China. ^ top ^

Taiwan residents worry about war: surveys (Global Times)
Residents in the island of Taiwan are worrying in an unprecedented way that cross-Straits tension may escalate into a war, as surveys conducted in the island showed that perceptions of official and military relations with the Chinese mainland have worsened. However, a majority of respondents hoped for peaceful talks with the mainland. An annual survey on cross-Straits relations conducted by Taiwan newspaper the United Daily News showed that more than half of the respondents felt that tensions between the Chinese mainland and the island are record high, the newspaper reported on Monday. In the survey, 61 percent believed that the two sides are in a highly competitive situation, and 24 percent believed that relations are easing. Only 7 percent thought that the possibility of war is declining. The respondents' comments on cross-Straits political ties were similar to last year's survey. Only 7 percent of the respondents said the two sides are in close contact, a decline of 4 percentage points from last year. There was also a decline in those who believed that cross-Straits ties are stable. This category fell from 32 percent to 27 percent. Those who felt tensions had increased from 49 percent to 53 percent, a record high for this survey. Those who felt that military tensions between the two sides had worsened rose from 50 percent to 54 percent, a record high. Only 18 percent felt that military tensions had eased. The survey came amid constant hype in the Taiwan media over the activities of People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft in the "airspace" around Taiwan. On Monday, local media reported that PLA aircraft had entered the southwest "air defense identification zone" of Taiwan at 6:47 am for the 13th consecutive day. On September 18, Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, a Ministry of National Defense spokesperson, said at a press conference that starting on September 18, the PLA Eastern Theater Command would conduct real combat-oriented exercises near the Taiwan Straits. The move, which targets the current cross-Straits situation, is a legitimate and necessary action that the Chinese mainland is taking to protect its sovereignty and integrity, Ren said, stressing that the PLA has the firm willingness, full confidence and ability to defeat all outside forces that interfere with the Taiwan question. Another survey released by Taiwan magazine Global Views Monthly on Friday showed that if a war broke out, 54.2 percent of the respondents wished for peaceful talks with the mainland, 22.3 percent expected help from the US, and 16.5 percent said the island should fight. "The result is in line with the current situation in Taiwan," said Zhang Wensheng, a deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, in East China's Fujian Province. "Most people in the island of Taiwan don't want a war but hope for peaceful cross-Straits ties," Zhang told the Global Times on Monday. No matter whether the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) or the Kuomintang Party rules the island, they hope that the authorities could handle cross-Straits relations correctly and ensure peace across the Taiwan Straits, he said. In that case, peaceful talks would be the priority among the three options, he said. Zhang further noted that peaceful talks were also a promise made by Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen to residents before she took office, as she claimed she was capable of ensuring peace across the Taiwan Straits. However, as the situation has deteriorated, and the two sides are in a state of extreme tension, war is not impossible. But, the consequences of a war will be borne by the majority of local residents, he said. The findings of the survey will create some pressure on the DPP authorities, he said. People-to-people exchanges remained positive, with 26 percent of respondents believing that exchanges are lively and 43 percent feeling that relations among people have eased. The recently held Straits Forum in the Chinese mainland for cross-Straits people-to-people exchanges was thought to show that the mainland is handling the complicated situation with "two hands" - supporting exchanges and cooperation to serve the concrete benefits of Taiwan compatriots on the one hand, and increasing military pressure to deter Taiwan separatism and the Trump administration on the other hand, which is increasingly throwing its weight around on the Taiwan question.  ^ top ^



China's economic recovery underlined as manufacturing, services outlook remains positive (SCMP)
Both China's manufacturing and services industries continued to show recovery in September, data released on Wednesday showed. China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) stood at 51.5 in September, with a reading above 50.0 signifying growth in factory output. This was an above the reading of 51.0 for August, and also above the median expectations in a Bloomberg survey for a rise to 51.3. The official non-manufacturing PMI, which measures sentiment in the services and construction sectors, stood at 55.9 in September. This was an above the reading of 55.2 for August, and also above h the median expectations in a Bloomberg survey for a decline to 54.7. The official manufacturing and non-manufacturing indices have showed positive economic activity for seven consecutive months. The official composite PMI was 55.1 in September compared to 54.5 in August. On Sunday, data showed that the profits of large industrial firms increased 19.1 per cent in August compared with a year earlier, though this was slightly slower than the increase of 19.6 per cent in July, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. Still, in the first eight months of the year, industrial profits at China's biggest firms fell by 4.4 per cent compared to a year earlier. According to the World Bank, growth in China is expected to come in at 2 per cent this year, boosted by government spending, strong exports and a low rate of new coronavirus infections since March, but held back by slow domestic consumption. China is expected to be the only G20 country to show positive economic growth this year, the International Monetary Fund has said. China's economy shrank by 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 after the coronavirus shut down large swathes of the country, but avoided a recession after its economy grew by 3.2 per cent in the second quarter, the first major economy to show a recovery from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. ^ top ^

China Moves to Normalize Monetary Policy Amid Stabilizing Economy (Caixin)
China's central bank is moving to normalize monetary policy as the "economy recovers steadily" in another sign that the country's policymakers are gradually pulling back from the stimulus measures enacted amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) will make monetary policy more precise and targeted, it said Monday in a statement after a quarterly policy meeting. The PBOC called on banks to make full use of structured monetary tools to increase the "directness" of its policies and vowed to achieve a long-term balance between stabilizing growth and preventing risks. As the first major nation to halt the spread of the coronavirus, China is recovering economically as exports rise and production rebounds. Yet consumer spending is still much weaker than last year, and smaller businesses are struggling because of diminished demand. "Overall, we think that monetary policy will remain stable in the near term amid the continuing momentum of economic recovery and limited risks of an economic downturn," CICC economists led by Deng Qiaofeng wrote in a note after the statement. "As China's economy stabilizes, we believe the People's Bank of China will also need to consider risks from rapid debt increases when managing aggregate monetary supply." The monetary policy report left out a previous mention of enhancing macro policy adjustment, though it said new bank loans should mainly flow to manufacturing and smaller companies. The ratio of inclusive loans to smaller businesses should be increased and the repayment of such loans should be extended if possible. That signals the central bank will continue to strengthen financing support to manufacturing and small enterprises, according to a report by China Construction Bank, but will try to prevent the money from being used in the real estate and financial markets. ^ top ^

Chinese banks cut saving rates on foreign currencies to record lows amid global coronavirus fallout (SCMP)
China's major state banks are cutting rates on foreign currency deposits to record lows as global interest rates enter negative territory on the back of monetary easing to counter the economic impact from coronavirus pandemic. Bank of Communications became the latest Chinese bank to cut saving rates on foreign currency deposits over the weekend, on deposits below US$3 million from September 26. The bank's announcement followed similar cuts this month by China's-owned peers Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and Agricultural Bank of China. The saving rate on the US dollar is now 0.01 per cent, while all the aforementioned banks are offering 0.35 per cent on a one-year fixed term deposit, currently the highest available saving rate on the dollar. Bank of China has cut saving rates on the US dollar from 0.05 per cent to 0.01 per cent, while deposit rates on the British pound went from 0.05 per cent to just 0.01 per cent. The saving rate on the Australian dollar has also been cut to 0.01 per cent from 0.05 per cent this month. Saving rates for a one-year fixed term deposit on the Japanese yen and the euro is now close to zero, plunging to 0.0001 per cent from 0.01 per cent. "Deposit rates for foreign currencies are already very low," said Hao Zhou, senior economist at for emerging markets at Commerzbank in Singapore. "It may help [lower] overall funding cost in [foreign currencies] onshore in China." Central banks have stepped up quantitative easing, leveraging negative interest rates to encouraging companies and individuals to spend and borrow, a practice which has escalated in a bid to combat the impact of coronavirus. The European Central Bank introduced negative rates in June 2014, while the Bank of Japan adopted a negative rate in January 2016. After slashing interest rates to near zero and pumping financial markets full of liquidity, US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the US central bank is not considering moving to negative interest rates for now. The Bank of England said this month that it would examine the technical feasibility of cutting interest rates below zero. As such, borrowing rates in US dollar and other foreign currencies in China have also dropped, making them more appealing to borrowers. According to the latest data released by the People's Bank of China, outstanding foreign currency deposits at Chinese banks rose to US$819.5 billion at the end of August, up 12.1 per cent from the end of August 2019. Foreign currency loans, on the other hand, rose by 12.2 per cent to US$902.8 billion year-on-year at the end of August, central bank data showed. While China's trade surplus rose to US$119.6 billion in the second quarter and it also recorded cross border fund inflow over the same period, as its foreign exchange reserves slightly expanded to US$3.11 trillion at end of June from May's US$3.1 trillion. Analysts said Chinese companies are more likely to take a cautious view on the yuan, despite it rising 1.84 per cent against the dollar in August, booking its best month since January 2019. Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie, said that the upcoming US presidential election may have an impact on the trade deal between Beijing and Washington , which would in turn introduce uncertainty for the yuan's outlook against the US dollar in the coming months. Hence, Chinese companies are likely to stick with their foreign currency holdings for the time being, he said. "One main reason why China's foreign exchange reserves have not grown that much was because Chinese corporations expected the yuan to depreciate . When they profit in US dollar, they are not willing to exchange back into yuan. It's the same with borrowing," Hu added. ^ top ^



Mongolia joins China to become seventh member of Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (SCMP)
Mongolia formally acceded to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) on Tuesday, becoming the seventh member of the long-standing regional pact. The APTA, previously known as the Bangkok Agreement, represents Mongolia's first regional trade agreement with developing countries. The agreement was founded in 1975 between Bangladesh, India, Laos, South Korea and Sri Lanka, with China joining in 2011. "This is the first expansion of APTA since China's accession in 2001. It is an important milestone in the progress of APTA towards becoming a contemporary regional agreement," said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations under secretary general and executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). "Simple and smooth implementation of APTA trade preferences demonstrates its members' commitment towards utilising trade for sustainable development." But while the accession is significant, it does not necessarily signal an instant entry for Mongolia into other trade deals, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest trade deal due to be signed by the end of the year. RCEP comprises the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc, and five other countries it has free trade deals with, namely Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and China. While existing bilateral free trade deals in the region provided the bedrock for RCEP, APTA is completely separate, trade lawyers and experts said. But if Mongolia continues to deepen ties with other countries that are in both RCEP and APTA, such as China, its biggest trading partner, South Korea and Laos, these relationships may eventually carve out new inroads into the RCEP for Mongolia, experts added. Through APTA, however, Mongolia will benefit from reduced tariff barriers as well as enhanced market access to South, Southwest and Southeast Asia, as well as to China. "With its accession to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, Mongolia believes that this will help the country to further expand its trade and economic cooperation with the member nations, contribute to diversification of its economy as well as more active involvement in regional integration processes," said Tumur Amarsanaa, Mongolia's ambassador to Thailand. APTA is currently engaged in the fifth round of negotiations to widen tariff preferences in trade in goods and expand areas of liberalisation in investment, services trade, and trade facilitation. ^ top ^


Florian Fassbind
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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