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
  1-5.2.2021, No. 851  
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1,633 new COVID-19 cases reported in Switzerland, Liechtenstein (Xinhua)
Switzerland and Liechtenstein on Tuesday reported 1,633 new COVID-19 cases over the previous day, bringing their combined tally to 526,728, according to data published by the Federal Office of Public Health. With 46 more deaths from the virus, their total death toll stood at 8,771 as of Tuesday, the office said. ^ top ^

Gu claims China's first gold at X Games (China Daily)
Chinese skiing talent Gu Ailing made history on Friday by winning the women's ski superpipe gold medal at X Games Aspen 2021, the country's first-ever gold at the annual extreme sports event. In her debut at the competition, 17-year-old Gu took away the superpipe gold with her excellent execution and height throughout the match. Canada's Cassie Sharpe, the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games halfpipe champion, ranked second. Her compatriot Rachael Karker placed third. Earlier in the day, Gu pocketed a bronze medal in the Big Air event with an aggregate of 73.00 points from the two best jumps out of five. The gold went to Mathilde Gremaud from Switzerland at 91.00, while Canadian skier Megan Oldham bagged silver with 77.00 points. Gu is also scheduled to compete in the slopestyle event on Saturday. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

China, Russia stress non-interference in countries' internal affairs (Xinhua)
China and Russia said Thursday that the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, one of the basic norms governing international relations, should be upheld. In a phone conversation between Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the two sides also pledged to jointly preserve global and regional strategic stability. The international situation is at an important watershed, Wang noted, adding that at such a time, it is even more important for China and Russia to strengthen strategic communication. Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered speeches respectively at the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda. The two leaders echoed each other's positions in their speeches, voicing strong determination to uphold multilateralism and jointly tackle global challenges at the beginning of the year, Wang said. The two heads of state, he said, put forward a China-Russia plan to jointly prevail over the COVID-19 pandemic and revitalize the global economy, injecting positive energy and stability into the volatile international landscape. The two heads of state have also agreed to celebrate this year the 20th anniversary of the signing of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, pointing out the direction for deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between the two countries, Wang said. Both sides should take this opportunity to add new dimensions to this important treaty and send a clear message to the world that the two countries will safeguard the security of themselves and along their peripheries, he added. Both China and Russia attach great importance to innovation, Wang noted, adding that the two countries should join hands to reinforce complementary advantages and strive for major achievements by holding the Russia-China Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation. The two sides should earnestly promote trade and investment facilitation on the basis of mutual benefit, synergize the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union to establish regional industrial chains, supply chains and value chains, so as to lay a solid foundation for mutual benefit and win-win results, Wang said. Wang recalled Lavrov's annual press conference in which the Russian minister said "we can talk endlessly about Russian-Chinese cooperation that embraces a very wide range of spheres," saying that China totally agrees with the remarks. China sees no limit or restricted area for China-Russia strategic coordination that is all-weather and all-dimensional, Wang said. The two countries have conducted efficient coordination within multilateral frameworks and safeguarded international fairness and justice as well as legitimate interests of developing countries, he added. China firmly supports the measures Russia has taken to safeguard its national sovereignty and social stability, and is willing to work with Russia to continuously strengthen coordination on such issues as rejecting interference in internal affairs and fighting against false information, Wang said. For his part, Lavrov said the importance of Russia-China relations has long gone beyond bilateral to gain international and regional significance. The two heads of state have maintained close exchanges, which has provided important strategic guidance for the development of bilateral relations, he said. Lavrov said Russia is very satisfied with the anti-pandemic cooperation between the two countries. Russia is ready to strengthen cooperation with China in vaccine research, development and production, as well as in pandemic prevention and control, so as to eliminate the impact of the pandemic on practical cooperation, he said. Russia and China should intensify strategic coordination and steadily advance bilateral and multilateral agendas within the year, Lavrov said. Noting Russia is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China on international and regional issues, Lavrov said the two sides should firmly support each other on issues concerning each other's core interests, jointly and staunchly defend multilateralism and safeguard international and regional stability. The two sides also had in-depth exchanges on issues of common concern such as relations with the United States, and reached new consensus. ^ top ^

U.S. Reaffirms Commitment to 'One China' Policy (Caixin)
The U.S. State Department has reaffirmed its commitment to the "One China" policy, following recent expressions of support by Washington toward Taiwan. Asked by a reporter Wednesday whether the Biden administration supported the policy, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington's stance had "not changed." The department would continue to be "guided by the 'One China' policy," Price added. The U.S. State Department on Jan. 23 issued a statement urging Beijing to "cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against" the island and "engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan's democratically elected representatives." Promising to deepen ties with Taiwan, the statement made no mention of the policy, which holds that there is only one sovereign nation under the name "China." Yang Jiechi, a Communist Party Politburo member and foreign affairs director of its Central Committee, told a National Committee on U.S.-China Relations virtual event on Tuesday that Beijing expects Washington to "honor its commitment under the three Sino-U.S. Joint Communiqués" and "strictly abide by the 'One China' principle." ^ top ^

Chinese premier holds symposium with foreign experts in China (Xinhua)
Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday met with and held a symposium at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing with foreign expert representatives working in China, before the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year. Li extended festive greetings and good wishes to foreign experts in China and all those international friends who support China's modernization construction. At the symposium, experts from the United States, Italy, Singapore, Nepal, Britain, and France shared their advice and suggestions on topics such as China's economy and finance, basic scientific research, COVID-19 prevention and control, education, scientific and technological innovation, and environmental protection. China's economy made hard-won achievements and posted positive growth in 2020 despite the shocks brought by the COVID-19, Li said, adding that foreign experts also made active contributions. China's economic recovery was attributable to its targeted and effective macro-policies. Market-entity vitality also drove the rallying, Li said. Noting that China still faces complicated and grim situations at home and abroad, and multiple challenges, Li said the country would keep its macro-policies consistent, stable, and sustainable and ensure that its economy runs within a reasonable range. As the largest developing country in the world, China has massive market potential and a long way to go for modernization, the premier said. He stressed that China would handle the relationship between the government and the market through reform and opening-up while forging a new development paradigm. China will further open up to the outside world and absorb all the advanced scientific ideas and research methods that are worth learning, Li said, adding that more foreign experts are welcome to work in the country. ^ top ^

China provides COVID-19 vaccines to 14 developing countries and will aid 38 more: Chinese FM (Global Times)
In addition to Pakistan, China is providing aid in the form of COVID-19 vaccines to 13 developing countries including Brunei, Nepal, the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at press conference on Monday. China will aid 38 more developing countries in need of COVID-19 vaccines, Wang added, noting that China is also actively participating in the WHO's COVAX initiative to provide vaccines to developing countries. A batch of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government to Pakistan has arrived in its capital Islamabad on Monday morning, Wang said. It is the first batch of vaccines provided by the Chinese government to a foreign country, which indicates that China will make its vaccines a global public product. He said that the vaccine cooperation between Pakistan and China not only reflects the sincere mutual assistance between the two as all-weather strategic cooperative partners, but also reflects the duo's efforts to promote vaccines as a global public product and improve the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. China supports its domestic companies in cooperating with their overseas partners in research, development and cooperative production of COVID-19 vaccines, Wang said. China has exported COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese vaccine developers Sinopharm and Sinovac to countries including the UAE, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil and Chile, where clinical trials of China's COVID-19 vaccines are ongoing. Furthermore, China supports the relevant enterprises in exporting COVID-19 vaccines to countries which urgently need them, recognize Chinese vaccines and have authorized their emergency use, Wang noted, adding that more countries have approved Chinese vaccines for local use. "We also look forward to the joint efforts of the international community to promote the equal distribution and use of vaccines around the world and ensure that vaccines are available and affordable in developing countries," Wand said. ^ top ^

Chinese FM meets diplomatic envoys from Eurasian countries (Xinhua)
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday met with diplomatic envoys from Eurasian countries. In the face of major changes unseen in a century and the pandemic, Wang said it is imperative for countries to firmly support each other and insist on win-win cooperation. "China is willing to share the opportunities in the Chinese market with other countries to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results," Wang said. Wang also called for jointly building the Belt and Road with high quality, and achieving common prosperity through consultation, joint construction and sharing. On behalf of the diplomatic envoys from Eurasian countries, Russian ambassador to China Andrey Denisov said that countries in the Eurasian region are willing to work with China to promote cooperation and development to a new level. ^ top ^

China hopes for a stable, peaceful Myanmar through domestic negotiations, not external interference (Global Times)
The Myanmar military on Monday announced that new elections will be held when a one-year state of emergency ends, and it will return the state power to the new government. The military said that during the state of emergency, the Union Election Commission will be reformed and the parliamentary elections results will be reviewed. Myanmar's military announced a state of emergency few hours earlier on Monday and said power had been handed to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, following the military's detention of Myanmar's leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. Western media see it as a de facto coup, as the power transition occurred just hours before Myanmar's newly elected parliament was supposed to begin its opening session, meaning a confirmation of the November election result. Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Monday's routine press briefing that China has noticed Myanmar's situation and are seeking further information. "China is a friendly neighbor of Myanmar, and we hope all parties in Myanmar can properly handle differences under the constitutional and legal framework and safeguard political and social stability," Wang said. The political uproar came after a great wave of dissatisfaction from the military and army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) against the governing National League for Democracy (NLD), which won the November election but was accused of fraud by military, media reported. The NLD clinched an overwhelming victory, giving Aung San Suu Kyi a second five-year term in office. The NLD took 83 percent of the ballot in the election, while the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won 33 out of 476 parliament seats, much fewer than the party had expected. Experts said the military's actions can be seen as an adjustment to the country's dysfunctional power structure. China has maintained good relations with both the current government and the military, and it hopes that the two sides can reach a compromise through negotiations to maintain peace and stability. They also noted the country should be wary of possible external interference. State of discord Over the past five years of the NLD rule, the army and the NLD have been in a state of discord, a Beijing-based expert told the Global Times on Monday on condition of anonymity. The military and USDP lawmakers together account for only about one-third of the seats in the Myanmar parliament, making it difficult to push their proposals, and they are unable to block proposals from the NLD, said the expert, noting that the military and the USDP may feel that their interests could not be guaranteed. From 1962 to 2011, Myanmar's military dominated the country's politics, economy and society. After the democratic transformation took place in Myanmar in 2011, the military gradually lost its political power. Since the 2015 election, the military-backed USDP had been defeated in elections and lost seats in parliament, which made the military realize that it is very difficult to obtain power through elections, the expert said. "The military's actions, therefore, can be viewed as an adjustment facing Myanmar's imbalanced power structure," he said. Tensions in Myanmar had escalated over the last week. A military spokesperson said on Sunday that they would not rule out a coup if the alleged voter fraud, involving over 10.5 million cases, were not investigated, urging the election commission to make public the final polling data, CNN reported. The commission on Thursday rejected the accusation, saying any errors were not enough to impact the final result. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday expressed "great concern" over Myanmar's situation and called for the November election result to be respected and democratic norms to be adhered to. Sixteen nations, including the US, also expressed their opposition to any attempt to alter the outcome of the elections through a joint statement from their international missions released on Friday. Analysts said that it remains to be seen whether the military will yield to international pressure. The detention of governing leaders may trigger resentment among NLD supporters, and even a social backlash that will put pressure on the regime, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement the NLD party released on Monday on behalf of its detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, it urged people not to accept a military coup and should protest, Reuters reported. Yin Yihang, a scholar from the Beijing-based think tank Taihe Institute, told the Global Times that while the military has detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior NLD officials, it has been unable to fully control grass-roots NLD members, with further protests by NLD groups anticipated. "Now the NLD has developed into a fully fledged party organization, ranging from the federal to the township level. After the military takeover, it will be difficult for the NLD to remain quiet," Yin said. US involvement? According to US media, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded on Monday (ET Sunday) by saying that the US was "alarmed" by the situation in Myanmar, warning Myanmar's military that it will "take action" if they proceed with an "apparent coup" against the country's civilian leaders. However, some experts mentioned that former US president Donald Trump, who refused to admit his election defeat and reportedly incited the Capitol riots, might be the Myanmar military's inspiration. Fan Hongwei, director of the Center for Southeast Asia Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Monday that the US may impose sanctions on Myanmar, and military pressure cannot be rolled out. The Trump administration, while concerned about Vietnam and Malaysia, was not so concerned about Myanmar. During the Obama administration, the US paid great attention to Myanmar based on the US' Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy, analysts said. Yin Yihang told the Global Times that although the US had limited official exchanges with Myanmar during the Trump administration, US civil rights groups have maintained a presence in northern Myanmar, radicalizing local people. "As per the current situation, US may also adopt a 'color revolution' approach to Myanmar," Yin said. "The situation in Myanmar is likely to be an opportunity for the Biden administration, which has multiple members from Team Obama, to repair relations with Myanmar, to make Myanmar problematic and use Myanmar to put pressure on China," Fan said. "Myanmar is a country that does not welcome interference by big powers. China has maintained good relations with both the current government and the military, so it still hopes that the two sides can negotiate a compromise to maintain peace and stability," said Fan. As Myanmar's largest trading partner, China's trade volume with Myanmar accounts for more than 33 percent of Myanmar's total trade volume, according to data released by China's Ministry of Commerce in 2020. Therefore, a stable political situation in Myanmar is conducive to exchanges and development between the two countries. An employee of a Chinese company surnamed Liu in Yangon, in the commercial capital of the country, told the Global Times that life is still relatively normal. While mobile signals have been cut off, the network signals are still functioning. "The market is still open, we feel everything is stable. The China-Myanmar pipeline project is operating normally, as are other copper and nickel mines." The impact of the political upheaval on most Chinese companies' operations in Myanmar is limited, as most Chinese firms are based in Yangon, not the capital of Naypyidaw, another employee surnamed Zheng, from a state-owned company based in Yangon, told the Global Times. As for whether Chinese employees will be pulled out of Myanmar, Zheng noted that they are waiting for further notification from the Chinese Embassy in the country. Myanmar's air travel authority said on Monday that it suspended all flights in the country due to the state of emergency. All banks in the country have been temporarily closed. ^ top ^

China temporarily suspends most foreign nationals travelling from Canada (SCMP)
China has temporarily blocked entry to foreign national travelling from Canada, even those with current residency permits, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa said. "In view of the current Covid-19 situation and the need of epidemic prevention and control... all foreign nationals who hold valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion are temporarily not allowed to enter China from Canada," the embassy said in a statement Saturday. A few categories of visa holder, including those with diplomatic stamps, would be exempted. "The suspension is a temporary measure that China has to take in light of the current pandemic situation," the statement added. Canada, with a population of about 38 million, has recorded more than 775,000 Covid-19 cases and nearly 20,000 deaths. ^ top ^

China willing to share nuclear technology for peaceful use: expert (Xinhua)
China will further promote international cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, sharing technologies from its new third-generation reactor, which has just gone into commercial use, according to a senior expert on Sunday. The No. 5 unit in the city of Fuqing, in east China's Fujian Province, China's first nuclear power unit using Hualong One, a domestically designed third-generation reactor, began generating electricity for sale on Saturday. "We are willing to provide to other countries worldwide with the Hualong technology, including main components, personnel training, as well as our experiences in global cooperation," said Xing Ji, chief designer of Hualong One, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua. "We also expect wider cooperation with other countries in developing new technologies on nuclear energy," said Xing, who is also chief engineer of the China Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation. China has actively participated in international organizations in the field of nuclear energy, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, to promote international technological exchanges. It also plays a significant role in ITER, the world's largest nuclear fusion experiment, and works with other countries to tackle challenges in this regard. Boasting 716 national patents and 65 international ones, over 200 overseas trademarks, and 125 software copyrights, Hualong One is China's homegrown model of the safer and more efficient third-generation reactor. Safety is usually a massive concern for nuclear plants, only sharpened by Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster. Hualong One has a designed life of 60 years and meets the strictest safety standards in the world. Hualong One's reactor core contains 177 fuel assemblies. The design can increase the unit's power while making it safer, according to Xing. The reactor comes complete with a combination of active and passive safety systems. The passive safety system, which relies on natural forces like gravity, provides an extra safety net for the reactor when all power supplies shut down in emergencies, Xing said. The Hualong One is designed to resist damage from the equivalent of a 9-magnitude earthquake or an aircraft impact, Xing said. It can avoid nuclear leakages and quickly restart operations, even in extreme circumstances like those of Fukushima, where an earthquake was coupled with a tsunami. Nuclear power is considered a clean energy source, promoted for global low-carbon development. Hualong One's step forward in commercial operations demonstrates China's commitment to green development as a responsible country, Xing said. China has vowed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Xing believed that these goals call for much more reliance on low-carbon alternatives like nuclear power. The No. 5 unit will likely generate nearly 10 billion kWh of electricity each year, potentially reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 8.16 million tonnes in annual terms, according to the China National Nuclear Corporation data. Hualong One has also extended the refueling interval to 18 months, making it more cost-effective, according to Xing. He also mentioned that China has achieved fruitful results in the research of fourth-generation nuclear-energy technology for commercial use. It has made breakthroughs in the technologies of fast neutron reactors and high-temperature gas-cooled reactors. ^ top ^

FM says vaccine to further lift anti-pandemic co-op with Hungary (China Daily)
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday that with joint efforts of China and Hungary, vaccine cooperation will definitely become an upgraded version of anti-COVID-19 cooperation between the two countries. Wang made the remarks during a phone conversation with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto. Wang said he is glad to know that Hungary has approved import of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, adding that China attaches great importance to Hungary's urgent desire to strengthen vaccine cooperation with China. Hungary's approval of the Chinese vaccine demonstrates its recognition of and trust in the safety and effectiveness of the Chinese vaccine, and attests to the fine tradition of the two countries helping each other in times of difficulty, he said. China will, based on China-Hungary comprehensive strategic partnership, facilitate Chinese enterprises' export of the first batch of vaccines to Hungary, he added. Overcoming the impact of the pandemic, mutual beneficial cooperation between China and Hungary has maintained a sound momentum, Wang said. According to the Chinese foreign minister, in 2020, the volume of bilateral trade achieved a hard-won growth of more than 14 percent year-on-year, and at the third China International Import Expo last year, among all Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), the volume of transactions Hungary reached with China was the highest. Wang said China will, as always, support bilateral cooperation in various fields, and is pleased to see more Chinese enterprises invest and develop businesses in Hungary. China also hopes that Hungary will continue playing a constructive role in pushing forward China-CEEC cooperation and relations between China and the European Union (EU), he said. For his part, Szijjarto said Hungary attaches great importance to developing its relations with China. The country is ready to deepen practical cooperation with China in various fields, and play an active role in China-CEEC cooperation and EU-China relations, he said. Hungary thanks China for its strong support in vaccine cooperation, and hopes that China will speed up the approval process to facilitate Hungary's purchase of vaccines in China, Szijjarto noted. He said the Chinese vaccines will help Hungary save more lives and accelerate the resumption of work and production as well as economic recovery. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Xi's village visit reflects new focus on rural vitalization (People's Daily)
Visiting poor villages has been a key part of Xi Jinping's more than 80 domestic inspections since he was elected general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in late 2012. His tour in the less-developed Guizhou Province this week, however, signals a change. As the country has gained a decisive victory in ending absolute poverty, the focus of work concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers has shifted to promoting rural vitalization. A priority is to consolidate poverty relief achievements. The more difficult it is for a region to shake off poverty, the greater the need to consolidate and expand its poverty eradication results. By choosing Guizhou, home to the last nine counties removed from the country's poverty list, Xi wanted to see in person the living conditions of those who had shaken off poverty, and promote steady progress in rural vitalization. He went to Huawu Village in Qianxi County that was once reeling under extreme poverty but has received support to develop rural industries and tourism. Xi visited a Miao embroidery workshop there, giving thumbs up to its role in promoting rural vitalization. He joined the family of Zhao Yuxue in Huawu Village to make a traditional snack for festivals and wished the family "a happier and sweeter life." As Xi has pointed out on various occasions, rural vitalization involves work in the following aspects: -- rural industries must be bolstered to turn farming into promising work; -- favorable conditions must be created for those who choose to stay in the countryside; -- cultural activities must be enriched; -- the environment and ecology must be good and village-level organizations should be full of vigor. The message of shifting the focus in work concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers has become clear over time. A key session of the 19th CPC Central Committee last October called for efforts in consolidating achievements secured in poverty eradication and fully promoting the strategy of rural vitalization. At the annual central rural work conference held in last December, Xi stressed that China should push forward rural vitalization in an all-round way as "a historic shift" in the focus of its work concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers. The year 2021 marks the start of China's 14th five-year plan for economic and social development and its new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country. In that pursuit, the rural areas remain where the most formidable tasks, as well as the broadest and most profound foundations, lie. Xi's Guizhou tour is expected to point out the future direction for promoting rural vitalization. As he has said, being lifted out of poverty is not an end in itself but the starting point of a new life and a new pursuit. ^ top ^

Chinese Police Arrest 80 Members of Fake Covid-19 Vaccine Ring (Caixin)
Chinese police in Beijing, as well as Jiangsu and Shandong provinces, have arrested more than 80 suspected members of a fake Covid-19 vaccine ring, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Monday. The group, led by a suspect surnamed Kong, is thought to have been using normal saline to manufacture and sell fake novel coronavirus vaccines, including to other countries, since September. More than 3,000 doses of fake Covid-19 vaccines have been seized, according to local police. When asked about the fake vaccine ring, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wan Wenbin told reporters at a press conference Tuesday that "the Chinese side has notified relevant countries of the situation." He said that the crackdown was led by the ministry of public security, which instructed public security departments nationwide to carry out special operations to combat and prevent vaccine-related crimes. "The Chinese government attaches high importance to vaccine safety and will continue to take measures in accordance with law to crack down on illegal production and sale of counterfeit vaccines, smuggling, illegal vaccination and other vaccine-related crimes," he said. "In the meantime, we will enhance law enforcement cooperation with relevant countries to prevent the spreading of such crimes." ^ top ^

China's top legislature prepares lawmakers for annual session (Xinhua)
China's top legislature briefed some national lawmakers on the upcoming annual legislative session to prepare them well on Wednesday. The session is due on March 5. Briefing the lawmakers, Yang Zhenwu, secretary-general of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said the session would make comprehensive plans and arrangements for China's economic and social development work this year. Summing up the top legislature's efforts in 2020, Yang said it had deliberated 51 legislative bills and draft decisions, adopting 33 of them. The legislature also heard 30 reports and inspected the enforcement of six laws and one decision, among other accomplishments. Various tasks set at the last annual legislative session have been completed, Yang said. He added that the top legislature did its part in balancing COVID-19 responses with China's economic and social development. ^ top ^

Xi attends Chinese New Year gathering, extends greetings to non-CPC personages (People's Daily)
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday met leaders from non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC), as well as public figures without party affiliation, ahead of the upcoming Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, conveyed his festive greetings on behalf of the CPC Central Committee to those non-CPC personages and the vast number of members of the united front. The year 2020 has been an extraordinary year in the history of New China, Xi said, adding that the country faced situations and tasks that were grave and complicated, and challenges and risks that were unprecedented. However, led by the CPC Central Committee, the Party and the Chinese people stayed united and overcame the difficulties together, Xi said, noting that China has achieved major strategic achievements in containing COVID-19, taken the lead in achieving positive economic growth, and accomplished the poverty eradication tasks on time. The country also saw the successful conclusion of the 13th Five-Year Plan, drew up the blueprint for the 14th Five-Year Plan, and made historic achievements in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, Xi said. "We owe the achievements to the Party's strong leadership, as well as the strong unity and hard work of the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, including members of other political parties, the ACFIC and public figures without party affiliation," Xi added. He emphasized that the year 2021 marks the start of the 14th Five-Year Plan, with the country embarking on a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country. Also, grand celebrations will be held to mark the CPC's centenary. Xi expressed the hope that non-CPC personages will contribute their suggestions on the new development stage, philosophy and paradigm. He also called upon them to preserve the political character of pursuing the common goal with unity and working together with the CPC. Xi announced that a campaign will be launched this year within the CPC on studying the Party's history. He urged people from other political parties and public figures with no party affiliation to view the CPC's centenary as an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to cooperation with the Party and enhance their self-improvement. Monday's gathering was also attended by Wang Yang, who is the chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, and Vice Premier Han Zheng. They are both members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. ^ top ^

Xi calls on non-Party members to pool wisdom (China Daily)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, called on Monday for efforts from non-Party members to actively contribute their suggestions and opinions on improving the country's governance in order to write a new chapter of multiparty cooperation in the new era. Xi, who is also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark at a gathering attended by representatives of non-Communist parties, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and people without party affiliation. On behalf of the CPC Central Committee, Xi extended his sincere greetings and best wishes to non-Party members as well as those who are engaged in united front work for the upcoming Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb 12. He said 2021 marks the first year for the country to implement the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for National Economic and Social Development and to start the new journey of fully building China into a modernized socialist country. This year, the CPC will celebrate its centenary, he added. Xi urged non-Party members to firm up their belief in socialism with Chinese characteristics, and uphold and improve the system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation led by the CPC. He also required them to fulfill their responsibility of pooling wisdom and building consensus in implementing the new development philosophy and building the new development paradigm of "dual circulation" in the new development stage. Xi praised non-Party members for their contributions in the past year in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that they unswervingly stood with the CPC, helped the Party fight the virus and provided significant support to the CPC Central Committee in scientific and democratic decision-making. He underlined the need for non-Party members to continue to help the Party and the government to build broader consensus, settle disputes and uphold social stability in order to pool greater strength for adhering to and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. Xi also expressed hope that non-Party members could provide more pragmatic approaches and suggestions to the CPC Central Committee in policymaking and decision-making. ^ top ^

IPR protection prioritized in development (China Daily)
The high level of attention the central leadership attaches to the protection of intellectual property rights shows that they have a significant role in both domestic development as well as the current international situation, said a leading expert in the field. An article by President Xi Jinping on comprehensively strengthening the protection of IPR and stimulating the vitality of innovation to foster a new development paradigm was published on Monday in this year's third issue of Qiushi Journal, a flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. Innovation is the primary driving force behind development, and protecting IPR is equal to protecting innovation, Xi stressed in the article, the content of which was delivered by him at a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in November. Ma Yide, an intellectual property professor at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, said, "Domestically, innovation has become the first productive force due to the requirement of high-quality economic development and the reform of industrial technology. As President Xi said, protecting IPR means protecting innovation. Therefore, making more efforts in IPR protection is the priority in our development." "Strengthening IPR protection, especially in terms of legal protection, also shows to the world that we reject IPR infringements and protect the rights of innovators and intellectual property right holders," Ma added. In the article, Xi called for a stronger and more efficient legal system of IPR protection, as IPR protection matters to the modernization of China's governance system and capacity, high-quality development, people's happiness, opening-up and national security. Xi also stressed legislation on geographical indications and business secrets, calling for research and a draft of IP-related lawsuit specifications, noting that criminal and administrative punishments for IPR violators should be intensified. Meanwhile, IPR protection in new businesses and technologies, including big data, artificial intelligence and genetics, must also be increased, the article said, calling for innovation in IP-related case hearings and the optimized handling of cases. To better protect IPR, a national-level Intellectual Property Court was opened in January 2019 as a division of the Supreme People's Court. It deals with civil and administrative appeal cases on patents and advanced technologies. By the end of 2020, it had dealt with more than 4,000 such cases. "Some of the cases have become benchmarks in safeguarding IPR and promoting high-tech innovation," said Zhu Li, deputy chief judge of the IP Court. These cases covered industries including medicine, telecommunications, animal genetics, network cabling, large machinery, smart input methods and computer software, according to Zhu. "The court has been playing a bigger role in strengthening legal protection of IP rights by improving the efficiency and quality of challengeable IP-related technical cases," he added. Zhu said many technical IP-related cases had been resolved more quickly over the past two years because the new division streamlined the appeal process by allowing litigants to bypass provincial courts and appeal to it directly. This means that litigants, who are unhappy with rulings made by intermediate courts at city or prefecture level, or by other specialized courts, can appeal directly to the top court instead of first appealing to a high court at the municipal or provincial level. "Such a streamlined process not only improves the efficiency of case hearings, but has also unified the trial criteria, as it prevents inconsistencies in handling complicated technical disputes nationwide," Zhu added. Besides the national-level IP court, the country has four intermediate-level courts specializing in IP in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong and Hainan provinces. Furthermore, laws on patents, copyrights and trademarks have also been amended in recent years, with harsher punishments for IP violators and higher compensation for IP owners. All of these measures are to implement the requirements from the central leadership to improve the legal protection system for IPR, Ma said. Action plan China unveiled an action plan on Sunday to guide the building of a high-standard market system in the next five years, in which IPR protection has also been given priority and is regarded as a key way to improve the socialist market economy and embrace a "dual-circulation" development paradigm. The plan stipulates that several IP-related guidelines should be promoted or drafted, such as those on handling civil disputes on business secrets and tackling patent cases on drug listing approval. The plan says that people who infringe others' IPR maliciously or for a long time will face harsher punishment. Procedures to apply for trademarks or patents as well as the time to review these applications must be optimized and shortened, it said. Additionally, rules on patent protection on medicines and IPR protection in e-commerce industries will also be drawn up. ^ top ^

President Xi delivers on Olympic promises (Xinhua)
[…] Winter sports in China was once considered a foreign and unaffordable pastime, but thanks to a drive initiated by President Xi Jinping, more are now taking to ice rinks and ski slopes. On July 31, 2015, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing, making the Chinese capital the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games. Xi appeared on television hours before IOC members cast their votes to personally guarantee a "fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Olympic Winter Games." "The 2022 Olympic Winter Games, if held in China, will boost exchanges and mutual understanding between the Chinese and other civilizations of the world, encourage more than 1.3 billion Chinese to engage in winter sports with interest and passion, and give them yet another opportunity to help advance the Olympic movement and promote the Olympic spirit," said Xi. A long-time sports fan, Xi once pointed out that sport is an important way to improve people's health and fulfill their aspirations for a better life. That explains why he has pledged to get more than 300 million Chinese people on skis and skates, and why health has been incorporated into Beijing's second Olympic journey. To make skiing more accessible to the public, hundreds of new facilities are being built. Five years ago there were only 460 ski resorts in China, but by the end of 2019, that figure had jumped to 770, according to a white paper on China's winter sports industry. Some 2,000 primary and secondary schools across the nation had included winter sports in their curriculum by the end of 2020. During Xi's latest visit this month to Beijing's Yanqing District, he underscored the 2022 Games' role in developing China's winter sports, especially snow sports, and expressed his hopes that hosting the Winter Olympics would contribute to China's goal of becoming a global sporting power. "With these 300 million people engaging in winter sports, we can clearly say the history of winter sports will be one before Beijing 2022 and one after the Winter Games in Beijing. So it's really a landmark event for the global development of winter sports," said IOC president Thomas Bach. Just as China used the 2008 Summer Olympics to push its economic and social development, Xi also intends to use the 2022 Games as a catalyst to promote sustainable economic growth not only in Beijing, but in areas surrounding the capital. The 2022 Winter Olympics will serve as a driving force for coordinated development in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province, Xi noted during an inspection tour to Zhangjiakou four years ago. This promise is in line with the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020, which aims to make the Olympic Games fit into the long-term development plan of a city and region. To the delight of the IOC and Xi, the 2022 Games have already had an important effect on sustainable development in Beijing and its neighboring areas. Chongli was once an extremely poor county in Zhangjiakou with a limited agricultural income. In 2015, 16.8 percent of the 100,000 residents in this county were classed as living below China's national poverty line. But this mountainous town, where most of the 2022 Winter Olympics' snow events will be staged, has been transformed into a skier's paradise thanks to booming tourism. In 2019, the New York Times named Chongli as one of 52 ski destinations worth visiting. In May 2019, Chongli was officially lifted out of poverty. Nearly 30,000 of its 126,000 population are employed by ski resorts or related companies and organizations. Thanks to the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed rail link that opened at the end of 2019, it took Xi less than 50 minutes to cover the 200 kilometers between the two cities during his latest inspection tour, a trip he flew four years ago when he last inspected the Beijing 2022 co-host city. Cost control, especially relating to environmental costs, has become an important issue for the organizers of any Olympics in the modern age. During his first visit to Zhangjiakou in 2017, Xi stressed that construction projects should not be extravagant, and that their follow-up uses should be taken into consideration. For Beijing 2022, a crucial solution has been the reuse of venues from the 2008 Summer Olympics. The iconic 'Water Cube' swimming venue from 2008 has now become the 'Ice Cube,' a premier curling venue. In Beijing 2022's Shougang competition zone, world-class facilities have been repurposed from a disused steel plant that used to exist on the site. A strong focus on sustainability can also be found throughout previous years. The 2022 Games are the first to harness waste carbon dioxide to create ice surfaces. In addition, during the venue construction in the Yanqing competition zone, protecting species diversity on the 2,000 meter-high mountain was a top priority. All trees within the zone were registered and had their profiles marked with a QR code. Temporary migration paths were also built for local animals. China's unswerving commitment to sustainability has won praise from observers. Bach proclaimed that Beijing 2022 can "set a new benchmark for a sustainable Olympic Games." That was echoed by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons, who said Beijing is "taking the lead on sustainability in order to create a new model for the Olympic and Paralympic Games." "Uphold the Olympic spirit, advance peace and development," read the message by President Xi, who has devoted himself to boosting global harmony and cooperation through sport. During President Xi's state visit to Finland in 2017, he and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto agreed to designate the year of 2019 as the China-Finland Year of Winter Sports, which was described as "a historic form of cooperation for both countries." In June 2018, Xi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin watched an ice hockey friendly match between Chinese and Russian youth teams in northern China's city of Tianjin. Calling the game a demonstration of friendship between the Chinese and Russian teens, Xi told Putin that China is willing to work with Russia on exchanges and cooperation in sports such as ice hockey. With many nations feeling isolated and the world still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, China's endeavor of promoting the Olympic ideal of universal solidarity can help to draw the world back together. "We need this solidarity to be able to address the great challenges of humankind. There is not only the virus and maybe future health challenges. This is about a sustainable development in a holistic way," said Bach. ^ top ^

WHO team to visit Huanan seafood market Sunday afternoon (People's Daily)
The World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the coronavirus reportedly visited a cold storage area in Wuhan Sunday morning. The team is expected to visit the Huanan seafood market Sunday afternoon, an expert from the team told the Global Times. Peter Ben Embarek, who leads the WHO team, confirmed with the Global Times that the team will visit the Huanan market. On Sunday morning, the WHO team reportedly visited a cold storage area in a wholesale-style market, a BBC reporter wrote on Twitter. Although the Huanan seafood market has been sealed off, experts believe that there is still plenty to see and experience there. "[We hope to] understand the setting, see the places where cases were linked, reconstruct the initial event there, search for records of animals, products traded there. And possibly talk to some of the merchants who were there at that time," Embarek previously told the Global Times. Although it is too early to reach a conclusion, the possibility that the coronavirus was passed on from cold-chain products into Wuhan, or more specifically, to the Huanan wet market, where the sale of frozen products was once prevalent, cannot be ruled out. To research this hypothesis, Global Times reporters had previously visited Wuhan and spoke with merchants from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the earliest cluster infections in the country were reported, as well as prominent virologists and epidemiologists. ^ top ^



Foreign Ministry says Beijing opposes politicization of sport (China Daily)
The politicization of sport by individual anti-China politicians in the United States goes against the spirit of the Olympic Charter, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday. Wang made the remark after a group of US senators introduced a resolution seeking to remove the 2022 Winter Olympics from China so the event can be "hosted by a country that recognizes and respects human rights". "We firmly oppose it," Wang said, adding that bodies including the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee had also expressed their opposition to the politicization of sport. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that the US has not changed its position or plans regarding the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. In his 2020 New Year's address, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said that "we stand firmly against the growing politicization of sport because only in this way can we accomplish our mission to unite the world in peaceful competition". Speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing, Wang said that while the world continued to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, China's preparations for the Winter Olympics had never stopped. "We believe that after 365 days and nights, friends coming from faraway will gather here with their passion for winter sports," he said as Thursday marked the one-year countdown to the Winter Olympics, which is due to open in Beijing on Feb 4, 2022. According to the spokesman, as one of the first countries to contain the virus and achieve economic recovery, China has created favorable conditions for hosting the Games. China has strictly implemented measures to overcome the impact of the pandemic and its preparatory work has proceeded in an orderly way. So far, the construction of 12 competition venues for the Games has been completed, Wang said. The spokesman also rebutted the groundless accusation made by the US senators in the resolution about "genocide" in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Wang noted that Xinjiang-related issues are not about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but about fighting violence, terrorism and separatism. "No matter how the anti-China forces try to deceive people in the world, they cannot stop China from progressing and they will not escape from punishment by history and justice," he said. ^ top ^



Dozens of South Korean firms sign up for 4th CIIE (China Daily)
Hundreds of enterprises have signed up for the fourth China International Import Expo, which is scheduled to open offline in Shanghai from Nov 5 to 10 this year, including dozens of South Korean companies, ThePaper reported on Tuesday. An online promotional event targeting South Korean companies was held yesterday, with more than 100 South Korean enterprises participating, including auto parts supplier Hyundai Mobis and semiconductor supplier SK Hynix. The CIIE Bureau, Chinese embassy in South Korea and the Korea International Trade Association jointly held the event. According to Sun Chenghai, deputy director of the CIIE Bureau, the third CIIE, which was held in November last year, attracted enterprises from 124 countries and regions, covered an exhibition area of 360,000 square meters and witnessed debuts of 411 new products, technologies and services. Last year's CIIE, with 400,000 registered professional visitors and $72.6 billion in concluded deals, provided a new path for holding exhibitions amid epidemic prevention and control, Sun said. "We have the confidence and ability to formulate a more perfect epidemic prevention and control plan and hold the fourth import expo as scheduled," Sun added, noting that South Korea remains an important participant of the expo. Sun also noted that the Hyundai Motor Group, South Korea's largest automaker, will bring its three whole vehicle brands, as well as auto supplier Hyundai Mobis to the expo this year, and could become the largest enterprise exhibitor in terms of exhibition area. ^ top ^



Country's biggest airshow to be held this year in Zhuhai (China Daily)
The 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, the country's biggest airshow, will be held in 2021, after it was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Yao Yisheng, mayor of Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong province. The event, originally scheduled in November in Zhuhai, a coastal city in the western part of Guangdong, will resume this year at the Zhuhai Airshow Center in the city's Jinwan district, according to Yao, in his government report during the city's annual people's congress.The biennial event, which usually draws key global suppliers, such as Airbus SE, Boeing Co and Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, has become one of the major airshows in the world. Additionally, Zhuhai city also plans to hold AERO Asia, a business and general aviation show for China and Southeast Asia, this year, according to Yao. ^ top ^



Chinese scientists use sound waves to increase rainfall on Tibetan Plateau (SCMP)
Powerful, low-frequency sound waves could be used to trigger rainfall in areas that suffer from drought, according to a study by researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing. In a weather manipulation experiment conducted on the Tibetan Plateau last year, the researchers said they recorded increases in rainfall of up to 17 per cent by pointing a giant loudspeaker at the sky. "The total annual atmospheric water vapour resource in China is about 20 trillion tonnes. [But] only 20 per cent forms natural precipitation that reaches the ground, and the precipitation conversion rate in western regions is even smaller," said the team led by Professor Wang Guangqian from the university's State Key Laboratory of Hydro-science and Engineering. The sound energy might have changed cloud physics, but the cause of the phenomenon would require further investigation, the researchers said in a peer-reviewed paper published in Scientia Sinica Technologica last week. Unlike other rainmaking technologies, sound generation produced no chemical pollution and required no "airborne vehicles such as aircraft or rockets", Wang said. "And there is the possibility of remote control with low cost." The experiment is likely to add fuel to the long-running debate in China on the feasibility and environmental impact of large-scale weather modification programmes. Critics have accused Wang, who proposed the controversial Sky River project to increase rainfall across Tibet by intercepting wet air circulating over the plateau, of wasting taxpayers' money. Others say that even if the sound stimulation method works, it would create noise pollution for the people and animals that live in the area. Wang's loudspeaker was powered by a diesel engine capable of compressing more than 30 cubic metres of air to about 10 times the atmospheric pressure at sea level. That was then used to fire the sound at clouds at a frequency of 50 hertz, which is barely perceptible to most human ears but at a volume of up to 160 decibels, or about the same noise level as a jet engine running at full speed. When the sound waves reached the cloud – about 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) above ground – their strength would drop by 30 decibels. Radar signals revealed significantly more water droplets were formed under the sound blast. Wang and his team believe the increase is caused by the oscillation and merging of smaller particles into bigger ones. In the study, the rainfall was 11 to 17 per cent higher in areas within the device's effective range – a radius of about 500 metres from the sound generator – than outside it. Despite the findings, a researcher from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing who asked not to be named said Wang's two-hour experiment would have to be replicated many times to gather more data. While there has long been speculation that rainfall might be linked to sound – many civilisations perform rain dances in times of drought – the person said there were no physical theories to support the idea. "The subject remains more of myth than science," he said. Wang and his team could not be reached for comment. ^ top ^



China refutes BBC report on women's rights abuses in Xinjiang (People's Daily)
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday refuted a BBC report on alleged abuses of women's rights in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, saying that China is against any acts of interference in its internal issues using Xinjiang affairs. The remarks by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin were in response to a BBC report that said there was "systematic rape" of women in "Xinjiang camps." At a regular press conference, Wang said that there is no systematic rape or sexual abuse of women. Respecting and guaranteeing human rights are the basic principles stipulated by China's Constitution, as it is a country ruled by law. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, unprecedented achievements have been made in women's liberation and development in China, the spokesperson said. Women of all ethnic groups enjoy political rights, cultural and educational rights, labor and social security rights, marriage and family rights as well as other rights according to the law. There are no so-called "re-education" camps in Xinjiang, Wang said, stressing that the vocational education and training centers in the region are part of its counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts. They are no different from the Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) of the UK, or the de-radicalization centers in France. The vocational education and training centers strictly abide by the Constitution and laws to protect the basic rights of trainees from violation, and forbid insulting or abusing trainees in any way, Wang said. He said that there has been much false information on Xinjiang circulating recently. Some of the interviewees in previous reports turned out to be "actors" for and "tools" used by anti-China forces in order to attack China using Xinjiang affairs. Wang said that China welcomes foreigners who hold the principle of objectivity to visit Xinjiang and learn about the actual situation in the region, but also strongly opposes any attempt to interfere in China's internal affairs as well as suggestions of any so-called investigation with presumption of guilt. He added that in recent years, more than 1,200 diplomats, journalists and representatives of religious groups from more than 100 countries have visited Xinjiang. For Xinjiang's social and economic development, Wang pointed out that the Chinese side has published eight Xinjiang-related white papers, and the government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has held 25 press conferences.  ^ top ^

Xinjiang welcomes officials from new US govt to visit, opposes presumption of guilt (Global Times)
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is walking on the path of justice and has nothing to hide, a senior official from Xinjiang told a press conference on Monday. He added that Xinjiang welcomes people from around the world, including officials from the new US administration. A third press conference on Xinjiang-related issues was held in Beijing on Monday with a dozen foreign and domestic media representatives attending. In response to a question on whether Xinjiang would receive visits by US officials, Xu Guixiang, deputy director-general of the publicity department of the Xinjiang Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China, said at the press conference, "We welcome people from all fields around the world, including officials from the new US administration, to visit Xinjiang to know what is really happening there and avoid being fooled by Pompeo's lies. But we also have a bottom line and firmly oppose a so-called investigation with presumption of guilt." Xu noted that former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo's accusation that China was committing genocide in its Xinjiang region is "the largest framing up in human history… his determination is a piece of waste paper." The senior official said that they have maintained communication with EU diplomats over visits in Xinjiang and made detailed arrangements. "We have shown our sincerity and hope they can make the trip." ^ top ^



Britain betrays trust over so-called BNO passport: various sectors in Hong Kong (People's Daily)
In response to the British government's announcement of the so-called British National Overseas (BNO) passport and visa policy, various sectors in Hong Kong said it was a breach of trust and justice, and that it was natural for China to oppose it and take countermeasures. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Friday that China will no longer recognize the so-called BNO passport as a travel document and ID document from Sunday (Jan. 31), and reserves the right to take further actions. The HKSAR government later announced that it will follow up on the national countermeasures in dealing with BNO. The decision was made after the British government announced that it will begin accepting citizenship applications for BNO-eligible Hong Kong residents starting from Sunday. Leung Chun-ying, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said on social media that Britain's act was bringing disgrace on its own head. Leung criticized the British government for its wishful thinking that China would accept the BNO immigration plan and the Chinese government would react in a sluggish way. Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said that Britain has breached trust and justice and violated the Sino-British agreement on Hong Kong, and it was natural for the Chinese side to take countermeasures. Teresa Cheng, Secretary for Justice of the HKSAR government, said in her blog that there is no single clause in the Sino-British Joint Declaration which provides for British rights or obligations to Hong Kong after Hong Kong's reunification with the motherland. China and Britain signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong in 1984. Cheng said that after Hong Kong's return to China, Britain is not entitled to claim any new rights over or obligations to Hong Kong by citing the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Britain has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of "supervision" over Hong Kong, said Cheng. Cheng said that at the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, there was also an immediate exchange of memoranda between the two sides dealing with the issue of nationality. The British Memorandum stated that the British government will not confer the right of abode in Britain on holders of the BN(O) passport who are Chinese nationals in Hong Kong. Cheng quoted former British officials as saying that Britain considered the provisions contained in the British Memorandum to be of binding effect. If BNO passport holders were given full British citizenship automatically, it would be a breach of the commitments made between China and Britain in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Lau Siu-kai, vice chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said Britain's latest policy violated the agreement between China and Britain. Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po said in an editorial on Saturday that the British side uses the status of Hong Kong people who still hold BNO passports as political hype. It aims to mess up Hong Kong on the pretext of providing a new path for Hong Kong people to stay and naturalize in Britain. The editorial said that Britain unilaterally changed the consensus between the two countries on BNO, betrayed trust and grossly interfered in Hong Kong's internal affairs. Ming Pao's editorial on Sunday also pointed out that Britain described the "BNO Immigration Plan" as helping Hong Kong people. Regardless of the selfishness and political calculations behind it, the plan itself alone will inevitably have a divisive effect on Hong Kong. The British side's move obviously violated its promise. China no longer recognizing BNO as a travel document is believed to be only the first step in the counteraction, the editorial said. Sing Tao Daily published an editorial saying that Britain's act not only betrayed international integrity, but also took this opportunity to attack China and seize profits. China's countermeasures are entirely in line with legal principles and reason. ^ top ^



Macao to Start Covid-19 Vaccinations as Sinopharm Shots Arrive (Caixin)
Macao will kick off Covid-19 vaccinations around the Lunar New Year next week as the first batch of vaccines are set to arrive at the special administrative region by the end of this week, Macao's health authority said. The first batch of 100,000 doses to be delivered to Macao are inactivated vaccines produced by the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). Inoculations will be offered first to medical and front-line workers as well as people planning to travel to regions with high infection risks. Macao authorities said in December that the region placed orders to buy Covid-19 vaccines developed by Sinopharm, BioNTech and AstraZeneca. Macao planned to buy 400,000 doses from each developer, enough to cover its population of 630,000. Macao authorities said the vaccinations will be provided free. The mRNA vaccine developed by BioNTech and distributed by Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group in China is expected to reach Macao in late February. The AstraZeneca shots are due for delivery in the third quarter, according to the health authority. China approved the public use in December of the Sinopharm vaccine, which was reported to be 79.34% effective in stopping people from catching Covid-19. ^ top ^



PLA holds exercises near Taiwan Straits almost daily in Jan, warning on 'independence' (Global Times)
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) reportedly sent warplanes for exercises near the Taiwan Straits almost every day of the first month of 2021, and analysts said that the Chinese mainland has talked the talk by warning that "Taiwan independence" means war, and it is also walking the walk by preparing to fight the possible war through exercises, so foreign and Taiwan secessionist forces should not miscalculate. PLA warplanes entered Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwestern air defense identification zone three times on Sunday, according to the Taiwan air force's open radio communication and open-source flight trackers, Taipei-based newspaper the Liberty Times reported. This means there was only one day in January when no PLA aircraft were observed by open-source intelligence in the region, the report said. A separate Liberty Times report on Saturday said that official information provided by Taiwan's defense authorities indicated that as of that day, only on January 1, 8, 10 and 21 did no PLA incursion take place. It is possible that the figures and flight paths released by the island's defense authorities are not accurate, as there have been some cases in which the information they published failed to correspond with data on openly available flight trackers, a Chinese mainland military analyst who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday. Nevertheless, the PLA has been conducting exercises near the Taiwan Straits on about nine out of every 10 days. This high-intensity pattern started in September 2020 and has not stopped. As the PLA exercises go on, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defense, said at a regular press conference on Thursday that "'Taiwan independence' means war," in a stern warning experts said was not only directed to Taiwan secessionists, but also foreign forces that have been sending the wrong signals to "Taiwan independent" forces and supporting them. However, US Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby in response said that there was no reason that tensions between the Chinese mainland and the island of Taiwan "need to lead to anything like confrontation," as he reaffirmed US military support to the island, Reuters reported on Thursday. The Chinese mainland has sent a clear warning by formulating easily understandable words that "Taiwan independence" means war, and is also making concrete steps to prepare for one if it happens by conducting intensive exercises in the Taiwan Straits, analyst said. The mainland is both talking the talk and walking the walk, so foreign and Taiwan secessionist forces should not make the strategic error of believing that the mainland dare not use force when needed, and such miscalculation could lead to a result neither side would like to see, the analyst said. ^ top ^



China's SWIFT joint venture shows Beijing eyeing global digital currency use, to internationalise yuan (SCMP)
A joint venture between the world's largest electronic payment messaging system and the department responsible for China's proposed central bank digital currency is being viewed as a sign that Beijing is exploring the global use of its planned sovereign digital currency and aiding its desire to internationalise the yuan. Calls have been growing from within China for Beijing to reduce its reliance on the US dollar by increasing the global use of the yuan amid deteriorating relations with the United States. And while it remains unclear at this stage as to the scope of the joint venture between SWIFT and both the Digital Currency Research Institute and the China National Clearing Centre within the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the development of the digital yuan could help promote its international use and support the nation's push to rival the US as a global economic power, analysts said. "As a global neutral cooperative, SWIFT always acts in the interests of the entire member community," SWIFT said in an emailed statement to the South China Morning Post. "We have been part of China's financial markets for more than 30 years … and, as we do everywhere we operate, we make adjustments as necessary to remain compliant with regulatory requirements. "[The joint venture is a] compliance update in China in line with that approach that allows us to continue and strengthen our services to support our customers' business goals in China." The PBOC did not reply to request for comment on the joint venture. The SWIFT system has in the past afforded Washington broad powers to impose economic and financial sanctions against countries, leaving them unable to receive payments for exports, pay for goods or own US dollar-denominated assets. The joint venture emerged after concerns were raised that the US might cut off China or Hong Kong from SWIFT as the Trump administration was penalising individuals involved in undermining Hong Kong's autonomy. The new entity, Finance Gateway Information Service, was registered in Beijing on January 16 with €10 million (US$12 million) as incorporation capital, according to the National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System, the Chinese government's enterprise credit information agency. SWIFT is the largest shareholder with 55 per cent of the capital owned via a Hong Kong subsidiary, while the China National Clearing Centre, a wholly-owned domestic settlement subsidiary of the PBOC, owns 34 per cent. China's home-grown cross-border settlement system, Cross-border Interbank Payment and Clearing (CIPS), owns 5 per cent, while the Payment and Clearing Association of China, a self-regulatory association for the payments industry, and the PBOC's Digital Currency Research Institute each own 3 per cent. "It is true that China was trying to develop an alternative system [to SWIFT], but from a realistic perspective it has always been difficult for such system to gain traction, hence this new joint venture," said Oriol Caudevilla, management and strategy consultant at AirHelp. "One of the main goals of this joint venture is to help internationalise the yuan." The PBOC in May announced that from the start of January, all cross-border yuan payments will be cleared centrally via CIPS, which had 984 financial institution participants from 97 markets and areas as of July. Analysts said once the development of the digital yuan had reached a mature stage within its own domestic payments market, it should be expanded for cross-border payments to help increase the popularity of the yuan internationally. Benedicte Nolens, head of the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub in Hong Kong, said at the Asian Financial Forum last month that one of the main challenges to a pan-Asian digital currency was the implementation of a scalable technology network to deal with the complex nature of coordinating across countries with different monetary systems and different clearing networks. "A lot of countries have capital controls, not just China, but other Asian countries," Nolens said. "Any solution means infrastructure has to capture capital control and satisfy regulatory and legal needs of countries." China has so far rolled out various digital currency pilot programmes in the cities of Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiongan and Chengdu, with digital red packets – based on the gift envelopes traditionally given out during holidays and special occasions – provided to consumers to spending at retail shops, restaurants and also online. There is no official timetable for the launch of China's digital yuan, although the PBOC is reportedly aiming to release the e-yuan, also known as the Digital Currency Electronic Payment, before the start of the Winter Olympics that is expected to take place in February 2022 in Beijing. The process of the internationalisation of the yuan accelerated in 2010-11, initially driven by a rapid rise of yuan trade settlement, but this paused in 2015 under strong capital outflow pressures, causing capital controls to be applied that limited cross-border flows and slowed the use of the yuan in international trade. But conditions are now ripe for another push in yuan trade settlement and the resumption of yuan internationalisation, according to Paul Mackel, global head of currency research at HSBC. In August, China's Ministry of Commerce announced that the digital currency would be tested in several new regions, including the Greater Bay Area, an integrated economic hub that takes in Hong Kong, Macau and nine Pearl River Delta cities. Given its role as an international financial centre and the world's largest offshore yuan hub, Hong Kong is well-positioned to facilitate the international expansion of the e-yuan, said Laurence Li Lu-jen, chairman of the Hong Kong Financial Services Development Council, even though Hong Kong has a separate monetary system from China. ^ top ^

China's Carbon Trading Market Hobbled by Unanswered Questions (Caixin)
China has, for the first time, asked domestic companies to shoulder the responsibility for controlling the country's greenhouse gas emissions by buying and selling emission quotas on a unified national carbon market. The sheer scale of the problem could create the world's largest carbon trading market, but big structural factors stand in the way. Systemic issues in China's power generation industry are likely to prevent companies from effectively participating in the national carbon market: the pressure that the added cost of carbon will put on the far-from-market-driven industry and the lack of an absolute cap on the amount of carbon that can be emitted under the program. The national carbon market began, as these things often do, with an official press conference. On Jan. 5, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced the first "compliance cycle" for China's national carbon trading market had begun on Jan. 1 and would last until the end of the year. The announcement effectively served as the official opening of China's national carbon trading market. Under the cycle, which will at first be limited to domestic thermal power generators, 2,225 companies in the industry have until Dec. 31 to meet the requirements set by the government for carbon emissions. Considering the amount of carbon dioxide produced by this industry alone in China, the market has the potential to make a big impact. In China, power generation emits more carbon dioxide than any other industry. It produced 4.14 billion tons in 2018, accounting for 43.4% of the nationwide total. By itself, the industry produces enough emissions to create the largest carbon trading market in the world. Although construction of the national carbon trading market is still in its initial stages, much is riding on its success. China has set ambitious goals for limiting its carbon emissions. At the 75th session of the U.S. General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2020, President Xi Jinping pledged that China would achieve peak carbon emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. China has been planning a carbon trading market for years. In December 2017, the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning agency, held a conference that signaled the construction of a national carbon trading market. The vast majority of China's thermal power companies, primarily coal-fired and gas-fired power plants, were supposed to register for the market between 2019 and 2020. Carbon trading is considered an effective market-based response to climate change as it requires polluters to pay for any emissions of greenhouse gases — in this case carbon dioxide — that they produce beyond a set limit. Government departments start by setting caps on total carbon emissions that apply to all market-registered enterprises. Next, they introduce a nationwide system for polluters — in this case power generators — to trade emissions quotas. This creates a market incentive for companies to conserve energy and reduce their emissions. However, China has yet to realize market-based pricing for electricity, meaning that power generators have no way to raise prices and share the costs of buying carbon emission quotas, saddling them with increased costs of power generation. Experts also worry that a lack of enforcement on carbon quotas will do little to curb emissions in the short term. "If the price of carbon reaches 30 yuan ($4.64) per ton, the cost of carbon will account for 5% to 25% of the total cost of power generation," according to the head of the carbon asset management department at one centrally administrated power generation company. For thermal power generators, the national trading market means that carbon prices will be determined by a unified market. Coal prices in China have already been set by the market. However, the prices that power generation companies charge their customers, are still set by regional or provincial governments. As a result, electricity prices vary by province or region. So although coal prices are set by a market, electricity prices remain regulated and set by the government. The new round of institutional reforms in 2015 only brought electricity prices further down. Under such conditions, any increase in the cost of power generation would likely squeeze the profit margins of power plants and could the struggling ones in big trouble. Duan Maosheng, director of the Center for China Carbon Market Research of Tsinghua University, explained that because electricity prices have yet to be fully marketized, emissions control policy takes into consideration both the direct emissions of electricity producers and the indirect emissions from power consumers. "This is the difference between the carbon trading market in China and in Europe. The latter has already marketized its system. If China can do the same, then increasing the cost of power generation will increase the price of electricity, naturally leading users to consume less. Unfortunately, as things currently stand, end users in China are not affected by changes in the cost of power generation." The current system shields end users from the impact, increasing the cost of carbon, and thus power generation, while maintaining or lowering the price of electricity amounts to more pressure on the thermal power sector. As a result, companies will be forced to weed out outdated generation units at a faster pace. "The thermal power sector will bear the brunt of the impact," said China Huadian Corporation Ltd., one of China's five power generation groups. In a response to Caixin, the company said that the reform of carbon pricing and the electricity market will change the point at which thermal power companies can break even. That in turn is expected to influence decisions on everything from investment in new power generation units to energy conservation and emissions reduction itself. In contrast to thermal power, renewable energy will benefit from policies on carbon trading, carbon neutrality and when carbon emissions are supposed to peak. This industry is expected to see significant increases in the scale of installed capacity and electricity production. "The national carbon trading market is designed to harness market mechanisms to improve efficiency and promote low-cost emissions reduction," said Wang Zhixuan, vice president of the China Electricity Council. Wang said that survival of the fittest based on the value of "carbon" was the fundamental principle of the carbon trading market. "Basically, the market will put power generation companies under cost pressure, encouraging them to actively reduce carbon emissions. However, the primary concern in the initial stage of carbon trading is just to keep the market running smoothly, without any big fluctuations. This means that the pressure will not be that great at first," he said. Several experts said they remain concerned whether the carbon trading market's method of quota allocation can effectively promote emissions reductions. The European Union Emissions Trading System sets absolute caps on different greenhouse gases' total emissions, then allocates quotas within that limit, which companies are allowed to trade. In contrast, China's national emissions cap is the sum of all provincial emissions quotas. The competent department pre-allocates 2019-2020 quotas equivalent to 70% of the thermal power supply volume in 2018. After verifying the 2019-2020 carbon emissions, it will refund quotas or ask companies to buy additional quotas according to units' actual volume of thermal power they supply. Zou Ji, CEO & president of Energy Foundation China, told Caixin that the carbon trading market should be based on a controlled cap and quota trades. The current model of determining a cap by adding up quotas does not conform to that principle. China has yet to propose establishing an absolute cap on the carbon trade. Several insiders agree that it's not an easy goal to achieve. Lin Jiaqiao, co-director of the Rock Environment & Energy Institute, suggests that until China reaches peak carbon dioxide emissions, it will be hard to estimate industry output, making it incredibly challenging to set a cap for the carbon trading market. In addition, thermal power generation units themselves have little power to reduce carbon emissions and limited trading quotas, Zou said. ^ top ^

Hundreds of HNA-Linked Companies Expected to Restructure, Sources Say (Caixin)
A government-appointed working team expects as many as 500 companies linked to the once high-flying HNA Group Co. Ltd. to go into bankruptcy restructuring, sources told Caixin, following news Friday that the Chinese conglomerate and three listed companies it has invested in may have to do so. The news sheds light on the immense scope of HNA's financial problems, even after years of trying to dig itself out from under a mountain of debt amassed during an earlier global acquisition spree that at its height boosted the conglomerate's total assets to 1.2 trillion yuan ($171 billion). On Friday, the three HNA-invested companies, Shanghai-listed Hainan Airlines Holding Co. Ltd. and HNA Infrastructure Investment Group Co. Ltd., and Shenzhen-listed CCOOP Group Co. Ltd., disclosed that creditors have filed applications to a court to force them into restructuring as HNA revealed the same day it also faced such an application. The court, located in HNA's hometown province of Hainan, had yet to inform the listed companies whether it would accept these applications, their exchange filings said. In the filings, the companies also revealed that about 60 of their major shareholders, subsidiaries and other related parties were facing such applications as well. Those 60 or so are just the first batch of HNA-linked companies on their way to restructuring, according to sources with knowledge of the matter. Together, their debts account for about 60% of all HNA-related debts, the sources said. The working team sent by the Hainan provincial government last February to try to defuse HNA's debt crisis expects that 400 to 500 HNA-linked companies, which together hold about 85% of all HNA-related debts, will eventually enter restructuring, the sources said. The working team-led audits of HNA's assets discovered that there are about 2,300 companies backed by the conglomerate, 90% of which are shell companies, people close to the team said. The three listed companies also disclosed that 61.5 billion yuan in total had been embezzled by their shareholders and other related parties. In addition, the companies had provided guarantees for 46.5 billion yuan in financing in a noncompliant manner along with their subsidiaries, the filings showed. Starting next week, China's top securities regulator will probably be verifying HNA and its related companies' restructuring plans and the data on the embezzlement and noncompliant guarantees, the sources said. It will assess if the plans can properly address the embezzlement and guarantee problems to protect interests of smaller shareholders. ^ top ^

German Insurance Giant Allianz to Set Up China's First Wholly Foreign-Owned Insurance Asset Management Firm (Caixin)
Allianz (China) Insurance Holdings Co. Ltd. has received approval from China's insurance watchdog to set up the first wholly foreign-owned insurance asset management firm in the country. German insurance giant Allianz Group, Allianz (China)'s parent, said in a Thursday statement that the new company, Allianz Insurance Asset Management Co. Ltd. (Allianz IAMC), will be incorporated in Beijing. "Allianz IAMC will locally build a professional investment management team, which adheres to the Group's long-term investment methodology to better serve its clients' global asset management needs," the statement said. The approval came just as China and the European Union last month concluded long-running negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement that gives each region's businesses greater access to the other's markets amid tensions between China and the U.S. One of Europe's largest insurers, Allianz Group has shown its ambition to expand into the Chinese market in recent years. As a result of China's financial-sector opening-up, the group in November 2019 set up Allianz (China), China's first wholly foreign-owned insurance holding company. Allianz (China) owns 51% of Allianz China Life Insurance Co. Ltd., a joint venture it established with leading Chinese trust firm Citic Trust Co. Ltd. ^ top ^



Foreign Minister receives Chinese Ambassador (Montsame)
Minister of Foreign Affairs B.Battsetseg received yesterday Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to Mongolia Chai Wenrui. Presenting the congratulatory letter sent from Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi to Foreign Minister B.Battsetseg upon her appointment, Ambassador wished a success on her future endeavors. During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues, including deepening and enriching of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. In order to maintain the active bilateral cooperation in the face of the pandemic, the sides agreed to hold reciprocal high-level visits when the risk of the pandemic reduces, deepen bilateral cooperation in trade and economic spheres by sustainably implementing 'Green Gateway' regulation and support cultural and humanitarian cooperation. ^ top ^

Foreign Minister holds online meeting with Ministry staff (Montsame)
Foreign Minister H.E. Mrs. B.Battsetseg held an online meeting with the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and gave specific directions and guidelines. The Foreign Minister, relaying Prime Minister Mr. L.Oyun-Erdene's intention to work actively and promptly, directed the Ministry staff to work hard and pay extra attention in implementing the objectives and goals set by the Head of the Government. The Foreign Minister stressed the importance of prioritizing works to be implemented in the first 100 days of the newly established Cabinet, of conducting work in an efficient manner, of avoiding bureaucracy and delivering swift service to the public in addition to encouraging each staff member of the Ministry to work in a proactive and disciplined manner. The Minister also stressed the importance to focus on a timely implementation of the goals and objectives pertaining international relations which are set in the long-term development policy the "Vision-2050", the Government Action Plan 2020-2024 and the MFA Strategic Plan 2020-2024 respectively as well as wishing success and urging the Ministry staff to work effectively while taking care of their health and immunity during these difficult times fighting the pandemic. ^ top ^

Government aiming to provide housing accommodations to population (Montsame)
On February 2, Prime Minister of Mongolia L.Oyun-Erdene, accompanied with government officials met with representatives from business entities and non-government organizations engaged in the construction industry in the country. At the outset of the meeting, the newly-appointed Prime Minister highlighted that the government of Mongolia will give all round support to implement its policy to provide its population with housing accommodations. "For instance, a working group will be formed composed of representation from all sides in connection with the development of 'Youth – 1, 2, and 3' public housing projects of apartment complexes." Citizens who are provided with opportunities to live in housing apartment and access to quality healthcare services and educated are the key to build a 'wealthy' middle class, considers the PM. After briefly introducing about Singapore's experience in public housing, PM Oyun-Erdene exchanged views on how to achieve productive cooperation through public-private partnership with the participants of the meeting, and heard their views on pressing issues. Representatives from the Mongolian National Construction Association assured that more than 160 entities and 100,000 employees are committed to contribute to carry out the government's goal to provide 150,000 household families with housing, which was reflected in the government's action plan. The representatives further stressed the importance of upgrading and expanding urban infrastructure and services and tackling issues surrounding property and land use in order to put the goal to increase apartment areas into action. Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city D.Sumiyabazar who was present at the meeting noted that the capital city has pledged to provide its citizens with green and affordable housing apartments equipped with advanced technologies and that correspond with their income. Minister of Finance B.Javkhlan assured that the ongoing housing mortgage program will continue as normal in the next four years and around MNT 60 billion of loan is expected to be disbursed to borrowers each month, and advised the construction companies to arrange their working plan in accordance with this. After hearing the positions of all sides at the meeting, Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene has informed that a working group will be established, headed by Chief of Cabinet Secretariat Ts.Nyamdorj and comprised of representatives from corresponding government ministries, the Bank of Mongolia and nongovernmental sector. He highlighted that young families in Mongolia as well as more than 200,000 families living in Ger districts in Ulaanbaatar city often find it hard to purchase apartments under the government's housing mortgage program with 30-percent down payment and vowed to implement a long-term policy with 9 goals and 47 targets, which seeks to solve urban infrastructure challenges and build satellite cities in areas located 25 kilometers within Ulaanbaatar city, such as Bagakhangai, Terelj, Aerocity, Baganuur, Emeelt and so forth. When doing so, development of the satellite cities will be shaped under various categories of tourism, agriculture and trade, etc. ^ top ^


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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