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
  22-26.3.2021, No. 858  
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Switzerland unveils new strategy for China (China Daily)
Relations between China and Switzerland entered a new era after the Federal Council of the European country announced what it called "a new strategy for China", developed with input from all levels of government, covering all types of interactions over the coming years. A statement from Switzerland's Federal Department of Foreign Affairs noted the country was one of the first in Europe to recognize the People's Republic of China and there was "a 70-year history of close cooperation" between the states. Switzerland is an independent, nonaligned nation. Although the policy document was keen to stress this was a continuation of its relations with China, rather than a change in course, it noted: "China's role in the world has changed and the (United States) is no longer the only great power". China is Switzerland's third-largest trading partner and its biggest in Asia. The new approach based on the Swiss document will strengthen those ties, acknowledge areas where there is common ground, and also fundamental differences between the two sides. "Pioneering spirit and pragmatism, in addition to a strong stance in the defense of Swiss interests and values, have molded Switzerland's policy on China for 70 years," wrote Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis. "They will continue to do so." When Switzerland's Foreign Policy Strategy 2020-23 was published in 2020, cooperation with China was identified as a priority. The latest policy document picked out China's enthusiasm for and investment in areas such as environmental protection, education, finance and culture as fields in which it hoped to further strengthen ties. Global problems, the policy document continued, demand global solutions. "Switzerland is therefore also committed to constructive cooperation with China in international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization," it said. "As a neutral state, Switzerland sees itself as a bridge-builder. It remains committed to upholding international law and rules-based multilateral cooperation," added Cassis. But the Swiss document also has descriptions of China's political system, ethnic group policies and human rights that China said are "groundless". Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, said on Monday the groundless accusations go against facts and are not conducive to the healthy development of bilateral relations. China's embassy in Switzerland said in a statement on Sunday "it is regrettable that the document has… put some 'malicious' labels on China, sending out wrong signals". There are no systems in the world that are entirely the same with each other, the statement said. "A country's people should have the say in whether a political system is the best for them. The Swiss side should get rid of its ideological prejudices and respect Chinese people's choice of development road and political system that they think are the best for them." ^ top ^

What is behind Switzerland's first 'China strategy' report? (Global Times)
Switzerland recently released its first "China strategy," describing China as a priority country for its foreign policy. While hyping so-called "differences in values" and "human rights" concerns among bilateral relation, it also expressed a strong intention to shore up economic and trade ties with China which, however, would only be expected under mutual respect over each other's core interests. Within the focus areas of Switzerland's report, it first claimed that human right topic is a "core element of the two countries' relations." Meanwhile, it aims to "modernize" the bilateral free trade agreement with China, and has listed out areas that it intends to pursue cooperation, from trade, infrastructure projects to digitalization. Though Switzerland is a traditional neutral state, it, as a member of the Western world, has recently played up the so-called concerns over values or a fabricated human right concern over China, sowing certain degree of discord within bilateral relations. In addition to the deep-rooted ideology prejudice, pressure faced by this neutral European country from the US-led Western forces could not be excluded. In the meantime, its intention to enhance economic cooperation with China may be a more genuine appeal within expectation. As the first European country establishing a free trade agreement (FTA) relation with China, Switzerland has been benefited from the China-Swiss ties. Bilateral trade doubled within 10 years, with a major part of the growth generated after the FTA came into effective in 2014. Besides the crucial FTA, the two nations have signed dozens of bilateral agreements, from areas of technology, culture, education to tourism and finance. As an economy hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, to continuing a sound economic tie with China would definitely facilitate its recovery during post-pandemic era. A leading Swiss financial services company, Credit Suisse Group, plans to triple its headcount in China over the next three years, ramping up its ambitions to gain market share in the Chinese market, Bloomberg reported. As the world enters a turbulent phase of economic recovery, robust relations with China, the major driver of the global recovery, is of great significance for many economies, including Switzerland. However, the prospect of economic and trade cooperation would only be rosy on the premise of mutual respect over each other's core interests. After the release of the so-called China strategy of Switzerland, the Embassy of China in the country has responded clear that it meets the common expectations and interests of the two peoples as the Swiss government acknowledged the tremendous achievements China has made in economic development, positively commented the 70-year cooperative relations between the two countries and regarding China as one of its diplomatic priorities. However, as the embassy stressed, it is regrettable that the Swiss have engaged in groundless accusations and attacks on China's political system, policies on ethnic minorities and human rights development in the document, sending false signals which goes against facts and is not conducive to the healthy development of Sino-Swiss relations. China is firmly opposed to the baseless vilification. China has been committed to further opening up its market to the world, and joining hands with partners to uphold multilateralism. As FTA and innovative strategic partners, it is expected that Switzerland could discard ideological bias and respect the Chinese people's choice of development path, so as to seize the opportunity to boost its own recovery. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

China's top legislator attends conference of six nations' parliamentary speakers (Xinhua)
China's top legislator Li Zhanshu on Thursday said legislative bodies of Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China should cooperate on promoting public health, green development and the high-quality joint building of the Belt and Road. He also called for firmly maintaining the authority of international law for a more just and reasonable international order, as well as enhancing legislative work to safeguard national security in the countries. Li, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, made the remarks when addressing the Fourth Conference of Speakers of Parliaments on Countering Terrorism and Strengthening Regional Connectivity via video link. He said strengthened cooperation among the six countries' legislative bodies could help facilitate the COVID-19 prevention and control, the resumption of work and production, economic recovery, and the improvement of regional connectivity. Li also briefed the conference participants on China's principles and stand on issues related to Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The issues Xinjiang faces are about terrorism and separatism. It is not about human rights, ethnicity, or religion, Li said, adding that the Chinese government carried out anti-terror and de-radicalization work in Xinjiang in line with laws to protect people's lives and safety, which has won the sincere support of people of all ethnic groups. He said the enactment of the law on safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) conforms to the aspirations of the Hong Kong people as the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong had suffered severe setbacks particularly since the turbulence in 2019. He added that the NPC decision on improving the HKSAR electoral system aims to faithfully implement the principle of "one country, two systems" and the HKSAR Basic Law, in order to ensure long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong. Li said the COVID-19 pandemic once again shows that the interests of all countries are closely linked, and cooperation is the only choice of the international community to cope with challenges. He added that the NPC stands ready to use the conference as a platform to strengthen communication and make unremitting efforts to deepen mutual friendship, enhance policy coordination, safeguard common interests, and achieve mutual benefits. ^ top ^

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Announces Sanctions on Relevant UK Individuals and Entities (Global Times)
The United Kingdom (UK) imposed unilateral sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals and entity, citing the so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang. This move, based on nothing but lies and disinformation, flagrantly breaches international law and basic norms governing international relations, grossly interferes in China's internal affairs, and severely undermines China-UK relations. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has summoned British Ambassador to China to lodge solemn representations, expressing firm opposition and strong condemnation. The Chinese side decides to sanction the following nine individuals and four entities on the UK side that maliciously spread lies and disinformation: Tom Tugendhat, Iain Duncan Smith, Neil O'Brien, David Alton, Tim Loughton, Nusrat Ghani, Helena Kennedy, Geoffrey Nice, Joanne Nicola Smith Finley, China Research Group, Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, Uyghur Tribunal, Essex Court Chambers.As of today, the individuals concerned and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China. Their property in China will be frozen, and Chinese citizens and institutions will be prohibited from doing business with them. China reserves the right to take further measures.China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and warns the UK side not go further down the wrong path. Otherwise, China will resolutely make further reactions. ^ top ^

Chinese Defense Minister visits Europe to boost military ties, 'future joint military drills, exchanges likely' (Global Times)
Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe is currently on a visit to four European countries to boost cooperation with their militaries, at a time when some other European countries are sending warships to the South China Sea. Since foreign analysts will likely connect the two events, Chinese experts said on Thursday that China has a high level of potential regarding military cooperation with European countries, but it will also respond to provocative moves from others. Wei is on a visit to Hungary, Serbia, Greece and North Macedonia from Wednesday to March 31 on the invitation of the four countries' defense ministers, Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, a spokesperson at China's Ministry of National Defense, revealed at a routine press conference on Thursday. The visit will boost China's traditional friendship and pragmatic cooperation with these countries' defense authorities and militaries, pushing for the healthy and stable development of military-to-military relations, Ren said. Media reported that some NATO members recently deployed or announced plans to deploy warships to the South China Sea for so-called Freedom of Navigation operations. This includes France, Germany and the UK. Foreign analysts will tend to relate Wei's visit to these NATO members' South China Sea schemes, Chinese observers said. Wei's visit to the four countries is based on China's good bilateral relations with them, and military exchanges have always been ongoing, Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday. There is a high level of potential regarding military cooperation with European countries in both traditional and non-traditional security fields, like the consolidation of disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation, advanced military technologies like drones and AI, and cybersecurity, Cui said, noting that in the future there could be joint military exercises and exchange visits. The cooperation on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic could also be featured, analysts said. Some NATO members are attempting to play certain security roles in the so-called "Indo-Pacific" region. China can respond by getting involved in security affairs around Europe and allow NATO to understand more about China as a global security actor, Cui said. Some of Wei's destinations are also NATO member countries, and NATO is not of one mind on China, with many looking for cooperation instead of confrontation, analysts said. China needs to boost military exchanges and security cooperation with European countries, Cui said, noting that the Chinese Navy could also send warships to conduct missions and visit friendly countries there. "If they can come to the South China Sea, we can also go to the Mediterranean," Cui said. ^ top ^

Chinese consumers won't pay for multinational companies' political correctness that caters to West (Global Times)
On Wednesday night, sports brand Nike became a trending topic on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. Netizens found the company's statement from last July which said "Nike does not source products from the XUAR (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region." As the saying goes, you will always reap what you sow. After more than half a year, Nike has finally paid the piper. It is losing its reputation in the Chinese market. Chinese netizens have the right to look for and expose Western companies' offensive statements regarding Xinjiang affairs. It is their right to express anger. Every country and market has its interests and self-respect. At a time when the ideological conflict between China and the West is seriously intensifying, it is destined to become difficult for multinational companies. They will be challenged to maneuver and balance between different markets. But it is not the Chinese side to shoulder this responsibility. You cannot ask Chinese side to step back and spare those companies so that they can be "politically correct" in the West — all the while leaving Chinese consumers with damaged dignity. Chinese netizens denouncing those Western companies is a normal reaction of any consumer group, particularly when they feel deeply offended. The ideological conflict between China and the West will be a long-time struggle. The West has various methods to discredit the Chinese government. But it lacks tactics to deal with Chinese public opinion. From the perspective of morality, what they are most fearful about are powerful Chinese grassroots voices. China must not only further its opening-up but also stick to principles to safeguard its interests and dignity. We welcome foreign companies to enter China. But they must act with respect to China. The demand is simple and just. Those companies need to comply with local rules and customs. The rules and habits that they follow when they are in the West need to interact with the principles of the Chinese society, from this, they can then make adaptations. Statements from companies including H&M and Nike made to the Western audiences clashed with the Chinese public's attitudes. I don't think we should define such a clash from a political perspective. We should view it as a market process. This is something that the companies cannot evade to win favor from consumers. We should let the laws of the market determine the outcome of the collision. Western extreme forces are eager to define natural reactions from the Chinese market to external offenses as "political suppression." We cannot allow them to dominate international perceptions of these conflicts and stigmatize China's investment environment. All multinational enterprises should stay away from geopolitics. It is the West that has forced multinational enterprises to politicize the supply chain issue and pushed them to offend Chinese consumers and the market. It is inevitable that they will be punished by the market. This is the real logic, and we need to make it crystal clear to the world public. Many foreign companies have been denounced by Chinese netizens. It is in no way contradictory to China's expanding opening-up. H&M, Nike and others are now suffering heavy losses to their reputations in the Chinese market. Enormous investment in public relations has been destroyed instantly. They need to return to the Western society to complain, because they know that for whatever reason, whether they are active or passive, they have indeed done something that is intolerable to Chinese consumers. ^ top ^

US, EU, UK, Canada launch sanctions blitz against Chinese officials; Beijing hits back (SCMP)
The US, EU, UK and Canada banded together to sanction Chinese officials over suspected human rights abuses in Xinjiang on Monday, a dramatic escalation in tensions with Beijing and a clear sign that the new Joe Biden administration plans to wield its alliances as a powerful tool to counter an increasingly assertive China. "Amid growing international condemnation, the PRC [People's Republic of China] continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang," said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will meet with European Union (EU) and Nato officials in Brussels this week. "These actions demonstrate our ongoing commitment to working multilaterally to advance respect for human rights and shining a light on those in the PRC government and CCP responsible for these atrocities," he said. The EU announced its sanctions first, naming four officials and one entity in Xinjiang – the bloc's first sanctions targeting Chinese officials since the aftermath of the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. China hit back almost immediately, imposing sanctions on 10 European individuals and four entities, including diplomats, officials, academics and politicians. China announced its EU sanctions before the UK, Canada, and US made their own sanctions public on Monday. A former director of the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which implements sanctions policy, told the Post that coordinated sanctions between the US and its allies, all imposed on the same day, are "extremely rare". "Today's actions plainly demonstrate that the Biden administration has turned the page on the Trump administration's general go-it-alone strategy on imposing sanctions," said John Smith, now co-head of the law firm Morrison & Foerster's national security practice. Former acting deputy US trade representative Wendy Cutler, meanwhile, said Monday's actions took the allies' coordination against Beijing to a "new level". "Working with allies and partners to address the human rights abuses conducted by China was taken to a new level today," said Cutler, who is vice-president of the Asia Society Policy Institute in Washington. "A quite powerful message was sent to Beijing today through these coordinated sanctions." The EU, UK, Canada and US sanctions are in response to alleged human rights abuses in the far western region of Xinjiang, where China is accused of detaining a million Uygurs and other ethnic minorities in re-education camps. Beijing says the camps are vocational training centres and part of efforts to combat terrorism. EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said they had learned about China's retaliatory sanctions in the middle of a Foreign Affairs Council meeting. He said the targeting of MEPs, diplomats and scholar was "unacceptable". "There will be no change in the EU's determination to defend human rights and to respond to serious violations and abuses, irrespective of where they are committed," Borrell said. Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the sanctions were a result of "intense diplomacy" between the countries involved. "The evidence of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang cannot be ignored – including mass detention and surveillance, reports of torture and forced sterilisation," Raab said. The four Chinese officials targeted are Zhu Hailun, a former secretary of Xinjiang's political and legal affairs committee; Wang Junzheng, Communist Party secretary of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps; Wang Mingshan, a member of the party standing committee in Xinjiang; and Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau. The UK and Canada sanctioned the same officials, and the US Treasury Department added Chen Mingguo and Wang Junzheng to its own list of sanctioned individuals. Zhu Hailun and Wang Mingshan had appeared on US sanctions lists last July. The entity sanctioned on Monday by the EU, UK, and Canada is the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau, which the EU said "is responsible for serious human rights violations in China, in particular large-scale arbitrary detentions and degrading treatment inflicted upon Uygurs and people from other Muslim ethnic minorities". One name not on the EU, UK, and Canada's list was Xinjiang party boss Chen Quanguo, who is also a member of China's 25-member Politburo. Instead, Brussels opted to target mid-ranking officials. The US sanctioned Chen in July. Washington also sanctioned the entire XPCC in July – an escalation that the EU has not yet taken. The US government and Canadian parliament have also labelled China's actions in Xinjiang a genocide. "Chinese authorities will continue to face consequences as long as atrocities occur in Xinjiang," Andrea Gacki, director of OFAC, said on Monday. The human rights sanctions regime allows for travel bans and the freezing of assets of individuals and entities. Individuals and entities in the EU will also be forbidden from making funds available to those on the list. China responded by imposing sanctions on a range of European individuals and organisations for what it described as "severely harming China's sovereignty and interests and maliciously spreading lies and disinformation". The 10 individuals include five members of the European Parliament – Reinhard Butikofer, Michael Gahler, Raphaël Glucksmann, Ilhan Kyuchyuk and Miriam Lexmann. Also targeted are parliamentarians Sjoerd Wiemer Sjoerdsma from the Netherlands, Samuel Cogolati from Belgium and Dovile Sakaliene from Lithuania, as well as German scholar Adrian Zenz and Swedish academic Björn Jerdén. The four entities are the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the Council of the EU, the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Mercator Institute for China Studies (Merics) think tank in Germany, and the Alliance of Democracies Foundation in Denmark, a forum headed by former Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Those named – and their families – are banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, while companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. European capitals have been reacting to China's rapid fire sanctions response. In response to the Chinese retaliatory sanctioning of Raphaël Glucksmann MEP, as well as a simmering row between Chinese embassy officials in Paris and a French researcher, France said it plans to summon Lu Shaye, Chinese ambassador to France, to the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs. Shortly after the different countries' various sanctions were announced, Blinken joined the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand on a separate joint statement calling on China to "end its repressive practices against Uygur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang, and to release those arbitrarily detained". "The multilateral piece of the Biden agenda is emerging today with this multilateral agreement to impose sanctions on China," Henrietta Treyz, director of economic policy at investment advisory group Veda Partners, said in a research note. "We do believe that as the US shifts away from a unilateral trade strategy and towards a multilateral trade strategy, it will coordinate with [Canada, the EU, the UK], and other nations to contain China and compel change on fronts ranging from climate change to human rights and market access," she said. "Today this means sanctions, tomorrow it could well mean coordinated tariffs." The PSC comprises the ambassadors of the 27 member states based in Brussels and is chaired by the representatives from the European Union External Action Service, the EU's de facto foreign affairs bureau. Major foreign policy moves – such as sanctions – are discussed in the committee before going to the EU Council, where they are taken up by member states' ministers. This move means all 27 ambassadors are forbidden from setting foot on Chinese soil, including in Hong Kong and Macau. Merics has become one of the most influential research houses on EU-China relations in recent years, hiring a succession of high-profile academics and issuing a series of widely read reports on issues ranging from China's Belt and Road Initiative to China's growing influence in Europe. Lexmann, one of the MEPs on China's retaliatory list, said that she was "sad to see that instead of addressing the point of the sanctions, China is engaging in threats and counter-sanctions". In an interview for the South China Morning Post's China Geopolitics Podcast in March, Bütikofer, also a co-chair of the hawkish Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, said "if we muster the courage to apply that mechanism against the atrocities that are being reported from Russia, why would we refrain from also applying the same kind of mechanism to the cases of Xinjiang and Hong Kong?" The sanctions mark a major turn in EU-China ties, coming less than three months after the pair agreed a bilateral investment deal that has yet to be ratified. George Magnus, an associate at the China Centre at Oxford University, said that China's retaliation may mean "the kiss of death for the investment deal". "I don't know how the Parliament actually gets it through after this," Magnus said. Chinese observers had expected a measured response from Beijing. Before the retaliation was announced, Wu Xinbo, head of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, said: "The form of sanctions will be similar to that of the EU, including travel bans and asset freezes. Whether China will use trade as a tool of countermeasure depends on the development of the situation. At present, China may only impose personnel sanctions." Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People's Party, the biggest grouping in the European Parliament, said they "support our colleagues who have been sanctioned by the Chinese government". "Attacking freely elected Members of Parliament shows us the contempt Beijing has for democracy. We will not be intimidated. The EU measures against China have our full support," Weber said. In response to US sanctions related to Xinjiang, China steered clear of senior government officials but targeted some of the most vocal China hawks in American politics, including Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Congressman Chris Smith and US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom Sam Brownback. It is the first time the EU has used its new human rights sanctions regime on China, but it was deployed last month against Russian officials over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The sanctions were adopted by the bloc's 27 foreign ministers at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday and then signed into EU law. ^ top ^

China issues annual US human rights report amid escalating Washington-led West's attacks on Beijing (Global Times)
China published its annual US human rights situation report on Wednesday at a time when the US-led ideological battle against China has intensified, mainly over Xinjiang and other domestic issues. By highlighting the COVID-19 turning into a human tragedy, disorder in American democracy vividly reflected in the Capitol riots, and recent growing discrimination against ethnic minorities including Asian-Americans, China slammed the US' terrible human rights record, which makes its remarks on other countries' human rights situation pure "hypocrisy and double standards." In seven major chapters, the 15,000-word report started with the now well-known line "I can't breathe!" made by George Floyd, an African-American, before he died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck, sparking a national outcry. However, the most striking deterioration in the human rights situation amid COVID-19 in the US was due to a failure of governance, the report said. The epidemic went out of control and turned into a human tragedy due to the US government's reckless responses, it noted. By the end of February 2021, the US, home to less than 5 percent of the world's population, accounted for more than a quarter of the world's confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly one-fifth of global deaths from the disease. More than 500,000 Americans lost their lives due to the deadly virus. Compared with previous reports, this year's report highlights China's definitions of human rights, which put human life and health as a priority, Chang Jian, director of the Research Center for Human Rights at Tianjin-based Nankai University who is one of the report's drafters, told the Global Times on Wednesday. It offsets previous definitions of human rights dominated by US-led Western society which stressed merely respect to human rights while making little actions. However, after having gone through the COVID-19 pandemic, people in the world began to realize that China has not only respected, but more importantly, safeguarded human rights with active actions, Chang said. China usually issues the annual report on the US human rights situation in response to the US' annual reports on human rights practices issued by the US Department of State every year. But this year, in an increasingly complex geopolitical environment, the Chinese government took the initiative in issuing its report first, given the increased human rights violations in the US due to chaotic pandemic control and prevention measures, the arrogance and irresponsibility of the country's leaders, growing political polarization, record-high levels of discrimination, hate crimes and gun violence, according to the experts who drafted the report. Issuing this report is not to interfere in the US internal affairs, it is like at the UN Human Rights Council every country can evaluate another country's human rights situation. Why have we become outspoken on this matter? Li Xiaojun, director for publicity at the Bureau of Human Rights Affairs of the State Council Information Office, said at a press conference for unveiling the report on Wednesday. "We welcome other countries to comment on our human rights situation in a constructive manner. However, US makes some comments on China's human rights issues based on lies and rumors, in an attempt to fulfill its geopolitical goals, which is not acceptable," Li said. Li Yunlong, a professor with the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, echoed Li Xiaojun's view. Li Yunlong said at the press conference that the US likes to point a finger at other countries on human rights, but ignores its own problems including rising gun violence with gun sales and shootings hitting a new record in 2020. More than 41,500 people died by gun violence in 2020 nationwide in the US, an average of more than 110 a day, which is a record, the report said, citing data from Gun Violence Archive. There were 592 mass shootings nationwide, an average of more than 1.6 a day. Just on Monday, a new shooting incident took place in Colorado, causing the deaths of at least 10 people, even as the Atlanta shootings - with eight deaths - were still haunting the nation. Americans bought 23 million guns in 2020 against the backdrop of an out-of-control epidemic, accompanied by racial justice protests and election-related conflicts, a surge of 64 percent from 2019, according to the report. The report also came out in the midst of an intensive US-led sanctions war against China on human rights, as Washington ganged up with its allies including the European Union, the UK and Canada in imposing punitive measures on Beijing with the pretext of the so-called human rights abuses in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. In response to such reckless and unilateral actions, China responded with firm countermeasures, slamming EU individuals and entities that have spread rumors and lies about Xinjiang. "The report shows China is breaking the West's monopoly on human rights discourse and is redefining the international discourse with solid facts and data," Chang said. As the battle between China and US-led allies on human rights issues has become more intensive recently, China fully demonstrated its own interpretation of the human rights issue by issuing a joint statement with Russia on Tuesday, denouncing the politicization of the human rights issue while using the issue as a tool to interfere in other countries' internal affairs and playing out double standards. On Tuesday, China and Russia issued a joint statement, condemning the practice of "politicizing human rights issues" and "interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states under the pretext of 'promoting democracy.'" Some observers considered that a major reason behind the serious turmoil and even fragmentation of the current international system was that Washington, along with its major allies, have defined human rights and democracy with a set of values that can be used as leverage to consolidate Western hegemony with the US as its center. They use this tactic to impact the governance of developing countries like China, and the US even attacks these countries as part of their strategic games. China has never gone against the world's core definition of human rights, but has developed and enriched the definitions, and China's redefinition is expected to become a major force in restoring international discourse, Chang said. When the US-led Western public opinion criticized China on the so-called genocide in Xinjiang, we should keep in mind the US was the one that has carried out systematic ethnic cleansing and massacres of Indians in history. And American Indians still live like second-class citizens today and their rights have been trampled on. For example, some live in low-income communities in the US, suffer higher rates of cancer and heart disease from toxic radioactive environments, and many live near hazardous waste disposal sites and have an abnormally high rate of birth defects. "The modern history of American Indians in the US is actually a history of genocide," Li Yunlong told the Global Times during the press conference. As China is taking more initiatives in demonstrating a shared consensus on this question with more countries other than the US and its allies, which has become a major point in the geopolitical battle today, some observers called for human rights to be redefined instead of following the US-led West hegemony. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Embrace new development, Xi says (China Daily)
President Xi Jinping has urged eastern China's Fujian province to make greater efforts to serve and integrate into the country's new development paradigm, so as to contribute to fully building a modern socialist country. Xi made the remark during a four-day inspection tour in Fujian that concluded on Thursday. During the tour, Xi visited Nanping, Sanming and Fuzhou, the provincial capital, where he inspected the province's efforts in environmental protection, healthcare reforms, cultural relics preservation, urban development, rural vitalization and enterprises' technological innovation. He urged the province to make greater progress in stepping up building a modern economic system, to make bolder moves in serving and integrating into the country's new development paradigm, make bigger strides in exploring new approaches for integrated development across the Taiwan Straits, and to make greater breakthroughs in helping the people to achieve a higher-quality life. At a meeting attended by local officials before Xi wrapped up his inspection tour on Thursday, he expressed hope that Fujian would make new achievements in fully promoting high-quality development. Boosting high-quality growth requires comprehensively and precisely implementing the new development philosophy, which features innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, Xi said. The president urged the province to find its position in building the new development paradigm, try to optimize and upgrade industrial structure, and accelerate the development of the digital industry. Fujian should deeply integrate into Belt and Road cooperation and strive to build the pilot free trade zone as well as the new system of a higher-level, open economy, Xi said. He underlined the need for the province to promote rural vitalization by fostering industries through its unique qualities and advantages, and he urged efforts to improve the rural living environment. Efforts should also be made to improve people's well-being, help residents increase their incomes, and create more jobs, Xi said. As China has vowed it would reach its carbon emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, Xi said that Fujian should work out its timeline and roadmap in a scientific manner to contribute to realizing the goal for reducing carbon emissions. He also stressed the importance of innovation in the country's development and called for efforts to increase support and improve the environment for innovation in order to stimulate its vitality and creativity. During a visit on Wednesday to RICOM, an optical lens company in Fuzhou, Xi said China will give full support to those who are committed to innovation and make contributions to the country. In a talk with company employees, he said innovation is a must for the country to continue making progress during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period. Following others' steps is not workable, and the nation must step up its efforts in technological self-sufficiency and self-dependence, Xi said, and it must enable innovation to remain as the core of the overall situation of China's modernization drive and make innovation a national policy. To do so requires people who can seize opportunities with a sense of responsibility and mission and have the ability to do the job well, he added. In Fuzhou, Xi also visited the Sanfangqixiang-Chinese for "three lanes and seven alleys"-historical and cultural site. He learned about the local efforts in urban planning and development and urged protecting the historical and cultural relics. ^ top ^

Xi stresses more efforts to serve, integrate into new development paradigm (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed more efforts to serve and integrate into the new development paradigm in fully building a modern socialist country. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks during his inspection trip to east China's Fujian Province from Monday to Thursday. Xi also called on Fujian to make greater progress in developing a modernized economy, take bigger strides in exploring a new way of integrated development on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and achieve greater breakthroughs in creating a high-quality life. The inspection trip took Xi to the cities of Nanping, Sanming and Fuzhou. He researched local efforts in implementing the guiding principles of the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, facilitating a good start in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), and coordinating regular epidemic control and economic and social development. On Monday afternoon, Xi visited the Wuyishan National Park, one of the pioneers in piloting the national park system. The aim to build a nature reserves system centering on national parks is to keep the ecosystem intact and protect biodiversity, Xi said. Visiting a tea farm, Xi called for coordinated efforts to promote tea culture, the development of the tea industry and the use of technology in the sector. He also stressed more efforts in implementing the arrangements to dispatch technical professionals to rural areas to help with local development. After the tea farm, Xi visited a park dedicated to Zhu Xi, a renowned Chinese philosopher of the 12th century. The president called for innovative efforts to transform and develop fine traditional Chinese culture. While visiting Shaxian District of Sanming on Tuesday, Xi made his first stop at Shaxian General Hospital where he learned about the reform of local medical and healthcare system and emphasized that people's health is a hallmark of socialist modernization. Xi also called for deepening reform of the medicine and healthcare system, balanced distribution of high-quality medical resources and improved infrastructure at the primary level. In the afternoon, Xi paid a visit to Yubang Village of Xiamao Township, an old revolutionary base, where he underlined that the key to rural vitalization lies in developing industries that suit local conditions and benefit local people. Visiting a rural property rights transaction center in Shaxian, Xi urged innovating the collective forest tenure system in an active yet prudent manner while working hard to make new breakthroughs. While inspecting the provincial capital of Fuzhou on Wednesday, Xi called for continuous efforts to make the city a better place and deliver more benefits to the people. Xi went to the historical and cultural block of Sanfangqixiang (Three Lanes and Seven Alleys) in the city. He said the protection of historical blocks, ancient architecture and cultural relics is equivalent to the preservation of the city's history and heritage. During his visit to RICOM, an optical lens company, Xi underscored the importance of independent innovation. "We can only be in the front rank in scientific and technological development through making innovations, while following others will not work," he said. "We must accelerate our pace to achieve self-reliance in science and technology." On Thursday morning, Xi inspected Fuzhou-based Minjiang University. At a square on the campus, Xi said young Chinese bear the responsibility of realizing national rejuvenation, calling on students to actively devote themselves to building a modern socialist China. Also in the morning, after hearing the work reports of the CPC Fujian provincial committee and the provincial government, Xi stressed the importance of applying the new vision of development in a complete, faithful and full manner in a bid to promote high-quality development. Xi called on Fujian to increase support for innovation, deeply integrate into the joint efforts in building the Belt and Road, ensure the sound operation of the pilot free trade zone, and build a new system for an open economy at a higher level. Efforts are needed to accelerate rural vitalization and fully revitalize the development of the old revolutionary base areas in Fujian, Xi noted. Xi highlighted the need to incorporate the goal to peak carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality into the province's plans for eco-friendly development. Concentrated efforts should be made to improve people's lives and find more ways to increase their income, Xi said. He stressed the non-profit and public-welfare nature of the country's education sector, urging deepening reforms in this sector. He also underlined giving strategic priority to safeguarding people's health, calling for efforts to fortify public health protection network and promote the high-quality development of public hospitals. The anti-epidemic work to guard against both imported cases and domestic resurgences should also be conducted in a continuous and diligent manner, he said. Highlighting Fujian's rich revolutionary legacy and unique advantages in Party history learning and education, Xi called on CPC members to gain a profound understanding about the historical necessity of the leadership of the Party and the correctness of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. He also required enhanced efforts in strengthening primary-level Party organizations and fighting corruption. ^ top ^

CPC to hold a series of events for centenary celebrations (Xinhua)
A series of events will be held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Details of the activities were announced at a press conference held by the CPC Central Committee on Tuesday. The activities include an ongoing Party-wide campaign on CPC history learning and education. A grand gathering will be held, during which President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, will deliver an important speech. Xi will also present the July 1 Medal and certificate to Party members who have made remarkable contributions. The CPC Central Committee will honor outstanding Party members, exemplary Party workers, and advanced community-level Party organizations. A commemorative medal will be awarded to those who have been Party members for 50 years or more and have consistently performed well in their roles. Visits will be paid to the homes of Party members who received various forms of honor and commendation, those who live in difficulties, the veterans, as well as the families of the revolutionary martyrs and Party members who died on duty. Major theme exhibitions will be held to showcase the CPC's journey in the past century, as well as its achievements and experience. A major theatrical performance will be hosted. Seminars and symposiums on theoretical study will also be organized. Documentaries, special programs, TV dramas, music, dances and films will be created and promoted. Major publications, including a book on the CPC's 100-year history, will be compiled and released. Party-themed publicity and education activities will be carried out for the public nationwide. Various celebrations have been scheduled across China, especially at places of great significance in the history of the CPC. ^ top ^

Xi visits Shaxian during east China inspection tour (People's Daily)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, visited Shaxian District of Sanming City on Tuesday during an inspection tour of east China's Fujian Province. Xi paid a visit to Shaxian General Hospital, Yubang Village of Xiamao Township, and the Shaxian rural property rights transaction center to learn about the reform of local medical and healthcare system, rural vitalization, and the reform of forest rights system. ^ top ^

Senior official stresses more efforts to correct misconduct (Xinhua)
A senior Chinese official has called for sustained disciplinary inspection and supervision work to correct misconduct to ensure the smooth implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for development. Zhao Leji, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, made the remarks during his inspection tour in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region from March 21 to 24. Stressing solid progress in improving the primary-level supervision system, Zhao urged supervisory efforts at the grassroots to oversee the implementation of government policies and measures promulgated to benefit people's well-being and promote common prosperity. Zhao underlined the awareness of risks of misconduct, calling for perseverance in implementing the CPC Central Committee's eight-point code for improving Party and government conduct. Urging enhanced efforts to fight against corruption and misconduct occurring on the people's doorsteps, Zhao stressed supervision over the coordinated promotion of poverty alleviation and rural vitalization. ^ top ^



New rule enables Shanghai expats to get vaccinated (China Daily)
Shanghai, the eastern metropolis with the largest expatriate community on the Chinese mainland, announced that it will soon include foreign residents in its voluntary COVID-19 vaccination program. Starting on March 29, appropriately aged expatriates will be able to apply for vaccinations, the city authorities said. This measure, announced late on Tuesday, made Shanghai the second city in China to publicize COVID-19 vaccination plans for foreigners amid the country's efforts to popularize inoculations among its residents. Expat residents aged between 18 and 59 in Wuhan, Hubei province, have been able to apply for inoculations starting this month. Workers at some Shanghai residential communities with a large proportion of foreign residents said on Wednesday they received inquiries from expat residents about how to reserve the inoculations. "In response to their concerns, we'll translate the municipal government's official release with detailed steps on how to book the vaccination appointment and what materials to provide. We plan to publish a bilingual article about this soon on the neighborhood's WeChat account," said Tang Jia, a neighborhood official at Yanlord Garden in Pudong district's Lujiazui financial area. "We'll also share the article in our WeChat group of 270 members who are expats or have expat family members," she said. Another neighborhood official, surnamed Zhao, said the district is considering opening its fourth COVID-19 vaccine inoculation center at Lujiazui to provide convenience to both local and foreign residents. Expats who are covered by the country's medical insurance will be entitled to the same treatment as insured Chinese citizens, while those who are not will pay 100 yuan ($15) per dose. Giuseppe Bigatti, a doctor from Italy and currently director of the hysteroscopy center of Renji Hospital in Shanghai, said that he completed his two-dose inoculation in February when hospital workers were prioritized to get vaccinated voluntarily, and he would like his wife, a schoolteacher from Italy, to get vaccinated soon. "I believe this is the only solution in order to travel again when international travel can resume," he said. Abdurasulov Safar from Uzbekistan, a graduate student at Shanghai International Studies University, welcomed the decision to include expats in the vaccination program, and said he would make an appointment soon. Safar said that he would feel much safer returning to his home country, where the epidemic still lingers, after graduation this summer if he got vaccinated. "The news came at the right time for me and I had a very sound sleep after seeing the information," he said. "I trust China's technology and the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. After getting vaccinated, I'll promote the Chinese vaccine among people in my home country," said Safar. Uzbekistan certified a COVID-19 vaccine produced by a Chinese company in early March. The vaccine is produced by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co. ^ top ^



'Pure, white cotton shouldn't be tainted!' Chinese voice support for Xinjiang (Global Times)
Chinese people are angry. For two days in a row, some multinational companies, including H&M and Nike, came under the spotlight due to their controversial statements on the Xinjiang affairs. They made the statements to follow the industry requirements set by nongovernmental organization Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) to stop using cotton from Xinjiang. When boycott calls from netizens intensified, Chinese industry representatives said it's time to reduce reliance on West-led industry bodies and standards, increase Chinese companies' stake in the global supply chain, and legally push back against unreasonable smears. "I support Xinjiang cotton" has become a popular online campaign on Chinese social media platforms on Thursday - a display of how Chinese companies, media and ordinary people responded to the constant smear campaigns some Western countries have launched on this major commodity in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region while these countries urged multinational companies to reject Xinjiang cotton for the so-called forced labor. At least 30 Chinese companies such Anta, Meters Bonwe and Semir spoke out on their Weibo accounts against the campaign, and Chinese sportswear producer Li Ning - a major competitor to Nike - stressed that the region is an important raw material producing area in the company's supply chain. Such palpable enthusiasm and emotional expression in defending China's Xinjiang as well as the local products was also ignited when several Western countries, following the lead of the US manipulation on the Xinjiang matter, imposed sanctions on individuals and entities under the pretext of so-called labor and human rights issues in the region. It also drew a sharp contrast to certain foreign brands like H&M and Nike that banned cotton from Xinjiang, expressing concerns over this labor allegation. Many Chinese netizens were outraged by such behavior which they called "earning money from China but defaming it on major issues," which severely hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. Ongoing boycott Global Times reporters visited H&M stores in core commercial areas in both Beijing and Shanghai amid growing online calls for a boycott. Some shoppers said they won't patronize the brand unless it rectifies its stance. A white-collar worker surnamed Wang, whose workplace is close to an H&M store in downtown Shanghai, told the Global Times, when asked about his opinion on the latest online backlash, that "as a big company, it [H&M] should learn the lesson that it should have respected Chinese people's feelings when it is doing business in China." Anger erupted after the company said in a statement that it was prohibiting any type of "forced labor" in its supply chain in Xinjiang - a rumor maliciously fabricated and fanned by Western anti-China forces, citing the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a major reason behind its cutoff of raw material procurement from the region. The BCI had more than 1,840 members around the world by the end of 2019, spanning the entire global cotton supply chain, from farmer organizations to retailers and brands, including multinationals such as H&M, adidas, and Nike. More than 30 Chinese celebrities announced they would end their endorsement contracts with the brands listed on the BCI as of Thursday. However, neither the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) nor General Administration of Sport of China officially revoked sponsorships of those brands, though CBA player Zhou Qi said on Weibo that he had taken off his Nike-sponsored jersey. Relevant topics, including celebrities ending their ties with BCI-member brands, adidas' statement on the Xinjiang cotton as well as the Chinese Foreign Ministry defending the cotton, topped the rankings of daily hot hits on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo, gaining millions of views, while major Chinese media outlets released posters and banners in support of Xinjiang cotton. The public outrage toward H&M, Nike and Adidas also created pressure for other multinational companies that had already shown their commitment to the BCI promising not to use any cotton produced in Xinjiang for the so-called human rights violation concerns, including Uniqlo, which is popular among young Chinese. Some urgently clarified their positions on the matter. Japanese garment retailer Muji told the Global Times on Thursday that "it purchases high-quality cotton from all over the world including China, India and Turkey." A large number of Xinjiang cotton-based products are still on sale on Muji's website. But others like Uniqlo, which has distanced itself from the matter, with Fast Retailing Company - the operator of the brand - previously saying "its brand Uniqlo did not produce any products in Xinjiang, nor did it subcontract the products to local fabric factories or textile factories." Why BCI matters The BCI - an influential nongovernmental organization (NGO) and even a rule-maker in the global cotton industry - has been found to be "the black hands" behind this "anti-Xinjiang cotton campaign" among those multinational firms, as when the NGO stopped issuing licenses and certificates for cotton from Xinjiang, Chinese suppliers of foreign brands that have to follow the BCI standards need to follow suit by suspending buying cotton from Xinjiang. "Unfortunately, many suppliers and exporters in China still rely on these West-defined industry standards if they want to export products to Western markets, especially environmental protection and labor rights standards widely accepted by the markets," Wang Jinhua, vice chairman of China Cotton Industry Alliance, told the Global Times on Thursday. In 2015, the NGO began pressuring some multinational companies to reduce or stop the use of Xinjiang cotton amid geopolitical considerations, and it also gave a timetable for companies to end their purchases of Xinjiang cotton. The companies, their suppliers and factories had to follow before entering foreign markets, he said. According to the BCI's official website, the organization has 2,100 members worldwide, of which nearly 500 are from China, including five retailers and brands, 485 suppliers and manufacturers. "The value of BCI's certificate depends on who your target market is. If your customers are all BCI retailers and brand members, then its certificate and licenses are very important because without a BCI certificate, you cannot sell your products to these companies," Zhang Biao, chief manager of a company named Zhongwang in Yuli county in Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang, told the Global Times in an earlier interview. Faced with growing public anger toward the anti-Xinjiang cotton campaign over groundless accusations, some BCI-member Chinese companies chose to quit the NGO. Chinese sportswear maker Anta Sports said on Wednesday that it has started the process to quit the group, as the BCI suspending licensing for Xinjiang cotton echoed the West-led smears on the labor force in the region, and standing with the NGO would trigger another public outcry. Protecting Chinese interests While public outrage on Chinese social media targeted certain multinational firms like H&M, Nike and adidas, industry representatives said China should find out which powers behind the BCI are using a political and ideological agenda in manipulating business subjects, as this NGO is also sponsored by some US and European retailers and associations, including cotton associations of the US and Australia. "BCI has set up a very bad example by using false information and political agenda to interrupt the global trade order," an expert on international affairs, who preferred not to be named, told the Global Times on Thursday. However, can Chinese companies really live without this NGO-led global standard? Some industry representatives said there are several ways to defend their interests while fighting such manipulation on the basis of lies and rumors about Xinjiang. "Besides boycotting H&M and Nike, Chinese authorities need to take action in response to the rejection of Xinjiang cotton," the expert said. Tu Xinquan, dean of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that as the actions of BCI - an NGO - are not official, this can't be resolved under the mechanism of the WTO. "The practical solution is for companies to sue the BCI China office or its headquarters," Tu said. While the Chinese government has been accelerating legislation, or the entity list, in imposing countermeasures against foreign entities and individuals that harm Chinese interests, some industry representatives like Wang consider the entity list as one possible measure to protect Chinese interests. "But more importantly, China's cotton industry needs to continue enhancing its competitiveness and quality, making it irreplaceable for foreign brands, which will use business interests as a major leverage in the face of political agenda," Wang said. For some Chinese suppliers who depend heavily on orders from multinational firms, it's also a good time to shift to the domestic market, in the juncture when the central government also emphasizes the dual-circulation, making more efforts to turn those export businesses to domestic ones, according to the industry representative. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Commerce and the China Consumers Association all voiced support for cotton in Xinjiang, criticizing some multinational enterprises for hurting the feelings of Chinese consumers and infringing on their legitimate rights and interests. "Chinese people have the right to express their feelings. They do not accept the fact that foreign companies earn money from them on the one hand and smear China on the other," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said. Pure white cotton of Xinjiang should not be smeared and tainted, Gao Feng, spokesperson from MOFCOM, said at a Thursday press conference, noting that Chinese consumers had reacted to certain companies' business decisions based on false information, and the foreign companies are welcome to visit the region to take a look at China's support in doing business and in investing there. ^ top ^

Mideast states back China's Xinjiang stance (Global Times)
Soon after the China-US Alaska talks and China-Russia Guilin talks, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi kicked off his visit to six Middle East countries. During Wang's first stop, Saudi Arabia expressed support for China on Wednesday, opposing Western forces driving a wedge between China and the Islamic world and backing China's legitimate position on the affairs related to Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Although the US administration is trying to form an anti-China alliance with a few Western countries under the human rights banner, experts said support from Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, proves that the so-called concern of the Western countries over China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is hypocritical, with an aim to politically suppress China, and it has nothing to do with human rights or religion. Wang Yi's visit not only demonstrates the importance China has always attached to the Middle East, but also reflects the rising status of the region in China's diplomatic map, which will elevate China-Middle East relations to a new level, they said. Wang and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Wednesday agreed to oppose any interference in the internal affairs of other countries and defend the interests of the developing countries, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Mohammed said Saudi Arabia firmly supports China's legitimate position on affairs related to Xinjiang and Hong Kong, opposes interference in China's internal affairs under any pretext, and rejects the attempt by certain parties to sow dissent between China and the Islamic world, Xinhua reported. On Thursday, Wang held talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said regional and international issues as well as bilateral relations will be discussed, Reuters reported. At the invitation of Wang's counterparts of the six countries in the region, Wang is scheduled for official visits to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and a working visit to Oman from March 24 to 30. Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday that with the spread of the epidemic, ongoing instabilities and recurring hotspots in the Middle East, countries in this region hope to enhance anti-epidemic and development cooperation and deepen exchanges on state governance with China, and hope that China will play a bigger role in regional affairs. Zhu Weilie, the director of the Middle East Studies Institute of the Shanghai International Studies University, told Global Times that Wang's visit would put a strain on the US and its allies, but the visit aims to seek development cooperation rather than counter the Western alliance. Cooperation in petroleum and new energy supplies, high-quality Belt and Road Initiative, vaccines, anti-terrorism and anti-separatism, as well as regional security, may be the topics, Zhu said. The traditional pattern of the Middle East dominated by the US has changed and some countries in the region are no longer blindly following the US, and their support for China on Xinjiang affairs is the evidence, Zhu said. The support, and also their cultural and religious closeness with Xinjiang, has shown that the so-called concern from the West is hypocritical and has nothing to do with human rights and religion, Zhu said. Members of a delegation of 20 Arab countries and the Arab Leaguevisited Xinjiang last year. They positively evaluated human rights developments there, saying the Uygurs in China are treated very well, Zhu said. Wang said on Tuesday at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Guilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region that over 80 countries jointly or separately voiced support for China's stance on Xinjiang affairs at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which says enough about which side justice is on, and certain Western forces' manipulation does not represent the international community. At least a dozen Islamic states including Pakistan, Iran, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Egypt in recent years have voiced to the UNHRC their high acknowledgement and praise of China's achievements in human rights and in combating terrorism and de-extremism in Xinjiang. ^ top ^



Over 2.38 mln signatures collected in Hong Kong for improving electoral system (Xinhua)
More than 2.38 million signatures were collected in Hong Kong in support of improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) during an 11-day campaign ending Sunday. Tam Yiu-chung, the chief convener of the campaign, said Sunday at a press conference that some 1.17 million people have signed the petition online and some 1.21 million have written their names at promotional booths on the street. Over 210,000 invalid signatures were identified and removed. Tam said he was moved by the wide participation of Hong Kong residents from all walks of life, including students and ethnic minorities. Tam is also a member of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. The campaign began on March 11, when the NPC, China's top legislature, adopted a decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR. Improving the electoral system is the common voice of Hong Kong people as Hong Kong needs to right the wrong and refocus on development, Starry Lee Wai-king, chairperson of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said. Highlighting the "patriots administering Hong Kong" principle, Ip Lau Suk-yee, chairperson of Hong Kong's New People's Party, believes that after the SAR's electoral system is improved, capable patriots will be elected so that Hong Kong will be more prosperous and people's lives better. Ng Chau-pei, president of Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, said the improvement of the electoral system will facilitate the steady and sustained implementation of "one country, two systems" and Hong Kong's long-term peace and stability. The campaign involved over 1,300 organizations and 5,300 volunteers. ^ top ^

Hong Kong's political future to be mapped out in Beijing next week (HKFP)
The political future of Hong Kong will be mapped out early next week when a high-powered committee of China's top legislative body meets to decide the details of a controversial overhaul of the city's electoral system. The National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) will meet in Beijing next Monday and Tuesday to discus a revamp which is expected not only to reshape the composition of the city's Legislative Council (LegCo), but order specific requirements for who can and cannot be nominated as a candidate. On Monday, according to state media Xinhua, it was decided that the 27th meeting of NPCSC will take place on March 29 and 30 in Beijing. Standing Committee Chairman, Li Zhanshu, said it would deliberate on two bills to authorise amendments to Annexes 1 and 2 of the Basic law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution. The annexes concern the composition of the Chief Executive Election Committee and the electoral methods for Hong Kong's Legislative Council. Local laws will require amendment once the NPCSC decision has been handed down. Chief Executive Carrie Lam said last week the government will table a bill as soon as possible and cooperate with the LegCo to fast-track the amendments by, for instance, shelving other bills or holding extra sittings of LegCo. On March 11, Beijing passed a resolution aimed at ensuring "patriots" govern Hong Kong which increases the size of an Election Committee which chooses the Chief Executive from 1,200 to 1,500, while handing it new powers to nominate and elect members to the legislature. The move will also see the number of seats in the city's legislature rise from 70 to 90, an increase made up of those elected by the expanded Election Committee, and those returned by functional and geographical constituencies. Critics says the changes reduce direct democratic representation in the legislature, tighten control of elections and introduce a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates. The Hong Kong government said the overhaul would ensure the city's stability and prosperity. However, the changes have prompted international condemnation because it makes it almost impossible for pro-democracy candidates to stand. Hong Kong's number two, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, said what he described as the "decision" would be a small incision to improve Hong Kong's electoral system. In a blog post published on Sunday, Cheung said: "There is no change to even a word or a punctuation [mark] in Article 45 of the Basic Law stipulating the Chief Executive's election, and to Article 68 setting out how the LegCo is formed. The ultimate goal of universal suffrage set out by these two articles absolutely unchanged. "This fully demonstrates that the 'Decision' did not cause democracy to regress," he wrote. ^ top ^



Bridge project marks key step in cross-sea railway (China Daily)
The tops of the two main towers of a bridge on China's first cross-sea high-speed railway line were sealed recently, marking a major step in its construction, the company that will operate the line said on Sunday. China Railway Nanchang Group said the main towers of the Meizhou Bay Cross-Sea Bridge in South China's Fujian province were sealed on March 10. The bridge is a major project on a high-speed railway line linking Fuzhou and Xiamen in Fujian. The 277-kilometer line, with a designed speed of 350 km per hour, will have seven stations and pass major cities in Fujian, including Fuzhou, the provincial capital, Putian, Quanzhou and Xiamen. It will halve travel time between Fuzhou and Xiamen to one hour. The railway, expected to open next year, will be an important link in China's high-speed railway network. Another railway line, linking Fuzhou and Pingtan, an island county in Fujian, opened in December. Linking the island to the national network, it operates at 160 to 200 km/h, below the 250 km/h bench mark China uses in categorizing high-speed lines. The island is the closest place on the Chinese mainland to the main island of Taiwan. ^ top ^



China's foreign trade continues gaining momentum in spring of 2021 (People's Daily)
China's total value of foreign trade in goods in the first two months of 2021 reached 5.44 trillion yuan ($836.1 billion), up 32.2 percent year on year. In particular, the country's exports registered a remarkable 50.1-percent growth rate from the same period last year. China's foreign trade has maintained momentum since resuming positive growth last June. As China makes constant efforts to push forward with higher-level opening up, the country is obtaining greater competitive edges in global markets with the help of such growth drivers as technology research and development, talent cultivation, China-Europe freight trains, as well as cross-border e-commerce. Cybrid Technologies Inc., a Chinese company mainly engaged in the development, production, and sales of functional polymer materials, had over 80 percent of its production lines operating during this year's Spring Festival holiday in February. "There are so many orders, and everyone is energetic at work," said Wu Xiaoping, president of the company. As a leading enterprise in the global photovoltaic (PV) panel market, Cybrid Technologies Inc. witnessed shrinking overseas market and declining exports at the beginning of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the face of new difficulties, the company adopted a package of countermeasures timely and maintained its market share amid the pandemic. It has intensified efforts to get new customers in regions including Southeast Asia and Japan, and consolidated cooperative relations with old overseas clients through efforts to send anti-epidemic supplies to its foreign clients and provide them with technical services via video link. What's more important for the company is to hone its abilities, Wu said, stressing that technological innovation is where its core competitiveness lies and professional personnel hold the key to the company's development. Cybrid Technologies Inc. raised its number of research and development personnel from 70 to more than 100 last year, and intends to bring the number to 150 this year. Not long ago, the company established a school, which offers courses regularly to cultivate a number of versatile employees who can shoulder the main responsibility in the company. Innovation is the driving force for high-quality development of trade and the key to improving the value-added level of commodity value chain, said Wang Xiaohong, deputy director of the Information Department of China Center for International Economic Exchanges. Since the cost of production factors rises continuously, traditional comparative advantages are declining, and export commodities have relatively low additional value, companies should speed up efforts to shift the driver of foreign trade from production factors to innovation, Wang noted. While the COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on global logistics industry last year, China-Europe freight trains, which feature high efficiency, wide coverage, all-weather stable operation, and low cost, served as an important bridge and fast channel connecting the continents of Europe and Asia. China-Europe freight trains made a record 12,406 trips and carried a total of nearly 1.14 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) of cargo in 2020, marking year-on-year growth rates of 50 percent and 56 percent respectively. "This year we will send 3,800 containers of goods to Robert Bosch GmbH, and ship equipment to companies like Mercedes-Benz and Honda. Our annual value of foreign trade is expected to exceed 4 billion yuan this year, more than twice that achieved in 2020," said Chen Jiangnan, an executive of an international freight forwarder in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan province. As Chen made the above remarks, a China-Europe freight train carrying 50 containers of auto parts and electric tools for Germany's Robert Bosch GmbH, one of the largest auto parts suppliers in the world, departed from Chengdu International Railway Port for Germany. Last June, 22 enterprises and higher education institutions jointly initiated and established the China (Ningbo) Cross-border E-commerce Overseas Alliance (CCEOA) under the guidance of the municipal government of Ningbo city, east China's Zhejiang province, aiming to help small and medium-sized foreign trade companies avoid detours and reduce operating cost by pooling superior resources and promoting sharing of platforms. Thanks to the platform, small and medium-sized foreign trade companies have enjoyed new models for export trade. According to statistics from Ningbo Municipal Bureau of Commerce, the CCEOA had driven about 24 billion yuan worth of export orders within half a year since its establishment. This year, the alliance aims to facilitate export orders worth over 30 billion yuan and benefit more small and medium-sized firms. ^ top ^

China comprehensively improves level of opening-up (People's Daily)
China's steady and constant progress of opening-up is receiving worldwide attention. Recently, the country became the first member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to ratify the pact. This move indicated China' efforts to advance opening-up to a higher level and break new ground in win-win cooperation, mirroring the new journey the country has embarked on to fully build a modern socialist country. China will practice opening-up on a larger scope, in wider areas and on deeper levels, and leverage the advantages of its super-large market to promote international cooperation, achieve win-win results, steer the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) toward greater success and facilitate the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, said an outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for national economic and social development and the long-range objectives through the year 2035. It envisions a prosperous future in which China interacts with the world with high-level opening-up, and indicates China's commitment to the promotion of common development while the country accelerates the building of a new development pattern. China is comprehensively improving the quality of opening-up, promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, deepening the opening-up based on flows of goods and factors of production, and steadily advancing opening-up with institutional guarantees in the areas of management, standards, rules and norms. The country will keep releasing more dividends to the world. A survey conducted by the US-China Business Council found that nearly 70% of interviewed American companies were optimistic about the business prospects of the Chinese market in the next five years. Another survey done by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China also suggested that over 60 percent of EU firms ranked China among their top three destinations for new investment. The choice of foreign enterprises fully demonstrates the confidence of the world in the opening Chinese market. By comprehensively advancing opening-up to higher levels, China is striving for high-quality development of the BRI cooperation. The joint construction of the BRI is an important approach to enhance people's well-being and promote common development, as well as an important platform to build a community with a shared future for mankind. Under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, as well as the approach of open, green and clean cooperation, the BRI cooperation is demonstrating strong resilience and vitality. To turn Belt and Road cooperation into a journey toward common development and prosperity for all is a common aspiration and a firm conviction of relevant parties. President of the UN Economic and Social Council Munir Akram said that through infrastructure investment, the joint construction of the BRI will lay a foundation for accelerating industrialization and economic development, which will benefit the whole world. The outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for national economic and social development and the long-range objectives through the year 2035 emphasized that China will hold high the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation, adhere to an independent foreign policy of peace, and promote the building of a new type of international relations to foster a more fair and equitable global governance system. China is committed to safeguarding and improving multilateral economic governance system, building a high-standard free trade area network, and fostering sound external environment, which is welcomed by the international society, and marks an important contribution of China to world peace and development. China's development cannot be successful without the support of the international community, and vice versa is also true. On the new journey, the country will only become more and more open and share more opportunities of win-win cooperation with the rest of the world. To work with China for common prosperity, that is a choice to be made by all countries that welcomes open cooperation. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier stresses importance of solid fiscal, tax work (Xinhua)
Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng has called for solid work on fiscal and tax priorities, urging efforts to actively carry out policy research to ensure a good start to the country's 14th five-year plan. At a work conference held at the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences on Tuesday, Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, stressed the importance of implementing proactive fiscal policies to effectively and orderly accomplish various tasks in the sector. The working mechanism and policies should be improved to ensure sound operations at the grassroots level, while technological innovation should be further supported with increasing input into science and technology, Han noted. Efforts should be made to improve the modern tax system, stabilize the macro tax burden, optimize the structure of taxation, and deepen the reform of the tax collection and management system. Han also urged efforts to push for improvements of major social policies, including gradually raising the retirement age, advancing capacity reductions in key industries, and resolving local government debt risks. The vice premier called for research on macro policies, especially fiscal policies, to be strengthened to better serve the country's current priorities, which include achieving a carbon peak and carbon neutrality, improving property market regulation, and promoting the healthy growth of the platform economy. ^ top ^



DPRK fires unidentified projectile into East Sea – Yonhap (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired at least one unidentified projectile into the East Sea, Yonhap news agency reported early Thursday Seoul Time, citing South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other details are not yet available, including how many and what type of projectile was launched, according to the report. It marked the DPRK's "second missile launch in a week after its firing of cruise missiles off the west coast over the weekend was belatedly made public the previous day," the report said. ^ top ^

Kim Il Sung: Let us prevent a national partition and reunify the country (Montsame)
The policy of the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for independent, peaceful reunification clarified by President Kim Il Sung on June 23, 1973 1. To improve the present relations between the north and south of Korea and accelerate the peaceful reunification of the country, it is necessary, first of all, to eliminate military confrontation and ease tension between the north and south. To remove military confrontation and alleviate tension between the north and south is a matter of pressing urgency and vital importance at present in dispelling the misunderstanding and mistrust and deepening mutual understanding and trust, creating an atmosphere of great national unity, ameliorating the relations between the north and south and bringing about the peaceful reunification of the country. 2. To improve north-south relations and expedite the country's reunification, it is necessary to bring about multilateral collaboration and interchange between the north and south in the political, military, diplomatic, economic and cultural fields. Multilateral collaboration and interchange between the north and south are of tremendous importance in reuniting the severed ties of the nation and providing preconditions for reunification. 3. In order to settle the question of the country's reunification in conformity with the will and demand of our people, it is necessary to enable the masses of people of all levels in the north and south to participate in the nationwide patriotic work for national reunification. The dialogue between the north and south for national reunification should not be confined to the authorities of the north and south but should be held on a nationwide scale. 4. In speeding up the country's reunification it is very important, today, to institute a north-south federation under the name of a single country. Under the prevailing conditions the most reasonable way for reunification is to convene the Great National Congress and achieve national unity, and on this basis, institute the north-south federation, leaving the two existing social systems in the north and south as they are for the time being. 5. Korea should be prevented from being partitioned into "two Koreas" permanently as a result of the freezing of national division and that the north and south should also work together in the field of external affairs. Korean people are a single people who have lived with the same culture and the same language through many centuries, and they cannot live separated into two parts. The proposal for Korean reunification is to remove military confrontation and ease tension between the north and south, bring about multilateral collaboration and interchange between the two parts, convene the Great National Congress composed of representatives of people of all levels and political parties and social organizations in the north and south, institute the north-south federation under the single name of the Federal Republic of Koryo and enter the UN under that name. When this proposal for the country's reunification is put into effect, there will be a great improvement in accomplishing the historic cause of peaceful national reunification on the principle of the North-South Joint Statement, as commonly desired by our people and the world's people. ^ top ^

Beijing ready to work with Pyongyang to uphold peace (China Daily)
China stands ready to work with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and other related parties to uphold the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue and preserve peace and stability on the peninsula, said Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. In an exchange of messages with Kim Jong-un, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, Xi called upon both sides and related parties to make new contributions to regional peace, stability, development and prosperity. The messages were delivered by Song Tao, head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, and Ri Ryong-nam, DPRK ambassador to China, during their meeting on Monday in Beijing. Xi congratulated Kim again on the success of the Eighth National Congress of the WPK, saying that the traditional friendship between the two nations is the joint precious treasure of both parties, nations and peoples. He underscored that major changes unseen in a century, coupled with the once-in-a-century pandemic, had led to profound developments in the international and regional situation. He expressed China's readiness to work with the DPRK to jointly uphold, consolidate and move forward bilateral relations, and enable the socialist cause of both nations to keep yielding new outcomes and better benefit the two peoples. In his message, Kim spoke highly of the remarkable achievements attained by the CPC and the Chinese people, under Xi's leadership, in managing to contain COVID-19, building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and eliminating absolute poverty. Kim noted that it is the unwavering position of himself, the WPK and the DPRK people to further strengthen bilateral relations and promote the socialist cause. The DPRK firmly believes that bilateral friendship will be elevated and developed in keeping with the requirements of the current era, he said. ^ top ^



Mongolia's trade policy reviewed by WTO (Montsame)
Mongolia's trade policies and practices reviewed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) between March 17 and 19. The meeting chairperson Ambassador Herald Aspelund noted in his concluding remarks, "WTO Members commended Mongolia on its overall open trade and investment regime, including its policy orientation toward more inclusive trade. Its economic performance over the review period had been impressive as there was generally continued economic growth until early 2020. The impact of COVID-19 has severely affected the Mongolian economy, albeit with Government intervention, mainly in the form of stimulus packages, it was hoped that the economy would recover quickly and accelerate." "Despite these positive trends, Mongolia's economy remained heavily reliant on a few sectors and its trade was concentrated in terms of products and markets, thus Members felt that there was a strong need to diversify. This issue was recognized by the Government as one of its top national policy priorities, as addressed in Mongolia's Economic Recovery Program and the Mongolian Export Program, among others. Merchandise exports and imports reached a record high of USD 13.7 billion in 2019 and the trade balance remained positive for many years, but several Members noted that Mongolia had yet to reach its trade potential." Many members applauded Mongolia's contributions to the Multilateral Trading System including through its coordinating role of the Asian Group of Developing Countries and its contribution the group of Landlocked Developing Countries. Mongolia's ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, its support of the Buenos Aires Declaration on Women's Economic Empowerment, and its participation in various Joint Statement Initiatives were viewed as particularly welcome developments during the period. Several Members inquired about the status of the initiative for joining the WTO's Agreement on Government Procurement and encouraged Mongolia to become a party to the Agreement in the near future. It was also suggested that Mongolia engage further in multilateral and plurilateral trade negotiations in order to reap greater benefits from the Multilateral Trading System. Mongolia's positive developments in the area of trade facilitation were recognized as it had undertaken significant efforts to improve trade facilitation and modernize its customs procedures. This was particularly important given Mongolia's geographical location as a landlocked country and as an important transit corridor along the old Silk Road. The adoption of the National Trade Facilitation Roadmap, the establishment of the National Trade Facilitation Committee, the development of the single window application, and creation of electronic data exchange were all important steps taken to make improvements in this area. Nevertheless, some Members noted that they still faced difficulties with Mongolia's customs clearance and inspection procedures. In their interventions, Members referred to remaining challenges in a number of areas. Mongolia's SPS regime was characterized as lacking alignment with international SPS standards and Mongolia was encouraged to make improvements in this area. Import quotas on certain agricultural products were seen as problematic on several fronts, including what some Members saw as possible inconsistency with WTO obligations. The importance of strengthening good governance, improving transparency and the legal environment were also recurrent themes during discussions. Transparency was identified by several Members as needing improvement on a number of fronts, including in the areas of government procurement, investment laws and regulations, regulatory and legislative processes, and permits and licensing processes for imported goods. Securing an independent judiciary and upholding the rule of law were identified as key elements in enhancing governance. ^ top ^

President receives Ambassador to China (Montsame)
President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga received today Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the People's Republic of China Major-General T.Badral. During the meeting, Ambassador T.Badral briefed on the works that have been done to develop Mongolia-China relations and cooperation for the last five months or since assuming office. President Kh.Battulga asked the Ambassador to pay special attention to strengthen the traditional friendly relations in all levels, especially advancing cooperation in the sectors of economy and trade. ^ 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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