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
  21-25.6.2021, No. 871  
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Sun Yang misses Tokyo 2020 following reduced doping ban (China Daily)
Chinese star swimmer Sun Yang will miss the Tokyo Olympics after having a previous eight-year ban reduced to four years and three months following the retrial of his controversial doping violation case. The Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday announced the shortened suspension as the verdict of a second hearing on Sun's case after the Swiss Federal Tribunal upheld Sun's appeal against an earlier eight-year sanction issued in February 2020 by CAS, which ruled that the swimmer had violated doping-test regulations by refusing to cooperate during a random out-of-competition test in September 2018 at his residence in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. The reduced ban, which dates back to February 2020, has denied Sun's hope of defending his 200-meter freestyle title at the delayed Tokyo Games, which open on July 23, yet will see him reinstate eligibility in May 2024 ahead of the Games in Paris. Sun, a three-time Olympic champion who has also won freestyle gold medals in 400 m and 1500 m races at London 2012, will turn 32 by the time he could return. Although having not made any comments on the new sanction, Sun, the first Chinese man to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming, will face a tough battle both in and out of water if he seeks a comeback in 2024. Following the first livestreamed hearing, which took place in November 2019 in the Swiss city of Montreux, a CAS panel determined that Sun was guilty for his reluctance to cooperate during the 2018 test and issued the eight-year suspension. The Swiss supreme court set aside the original ban in December after a successful appeal by Sun's legal team, citing questions over the neutrality of Franco Frattini, chairman of the three-person CAS panel that issued the sanction. After the second hearing, a new panel made of different judges found Sun "to have acted recklessly" when he refused to let anti-doping officials leave his home with a sample of his blood. The formal charges were for refusing to give a sample and tampering with a doping control, according to the CAS release. Sun, however, had reiterated his innocence during the incident, during which he claimed that he refused to cooperate during the procedure only after finding sample collectors from IDTM, a FINA-hired agency, operating without adequate identification and authorization. ^ top ^

Syngenta Takes First Step Toward STAR Market Listing (Caixin)
Syngenta Group Co., the agriculture giant owned by China National Chemical Corp., took a step toward a possible initial public offering (IPO) on the Shanghai Stock Exchange's Nasdaq-like STAR Market. Swiss-based Syngenta started the so-called "tutoring" process with investment banks for the planned offering, the company said Monday in a statement. Syngenta could be valued at as much as $60 billion, Bloomberg reported. The tutoring financial advisers include China International Capital Corp. (CICC), BOC International and Citic Securities, according to the statement. Syngenta Group's intended listing would require a formal submission and be subject to regulatory approvals, the company said. A Syngenta flotation has been long expected. The company accelerated its IPO plans as Chief Executive Officer Erik Fyrwald earlier told German media that the company hopes to list before the end of 2021 instead of in mid-2022 as previously planned. Syngenta AG was previously publicly traded but delisted in 2018 after its purchase by China National Chemical (ChemChina) in a $43 billion deal. ChemChina last year merged Syngenta with Israeli-based Adama and its own agricultural business. After the restructuring, Syngenta reported a strong pick-up in revenue growth in the first quarter as sales rose 20% to $7.1 billion. That marked an acceleration from the full-year 2020 when the company's revenue grew by a more modest 5% to $23.1 billion. Among major business units, the Syngenta Group China was by far the strongest as the nation emerged earlier than the rest of the world from the pandemic. Syngenta Group China's sales rose 41% to $2.2 billion, accounting for 31% of the group's total. The weakest performance came from Adama, whose first-quarter sales were still up 14% year-on-year. ^ top ^


Foreign Policy

Chinese Covid-19 genetic data in US archive was removed in June 2020, virologist finds (SCMP)
Virus sequences from early Covid-19 patients in China were removed from a US database last year at the request of the scientist who submitted them, according to the US National Institutes of Health. The NIH confirmed on Wednesday that its staff had removed the sequences in June 2020, three months after they had been uploaded to the online US government-run genetic sequence archive. Archive rules allow researchers to ask to withdraw their submissions. It made the disclosure after virologist Jesse Bloom, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, said he recovered genetic sequences that were collected by a team from Wuhan University in January and February 2020 but had been removed. The sequences – from Wuhan, the coronavirus outbreak's initial epicentre – could hint at more undisclosed data and help shed light on the outbreak's early stages, Bloom said. But the details of the sequences, including their exact mutations, were included in a paper published by the Wuhan University researchers last June, which remains online. Bloom first noticed the sequences in a research paper published last May that drew from the US archive and cited Wuhan University, but was surprised that he could not locate them, he said in a non-peer-reviewed paper uploaded this week to the preprint server bioRvix. A hunch had pressed him to search the archive's cloud server by guessing the url to see whether the deleted sequences were still there, away from public view. "This strategy was successful," Bloom wrote, adding that these sequences allowed reconstruction of 13 partial sequences of virus from early in the outbreak. "The approach taken here hints it may be possible to advance understanding of Sars-CoV-2's origins or early spread even without further on-the-ground studies, such as by more deeply probing data archived by the NIH and other entities," he wrote. "There is no plausible scientific reason for the deletion," Bloom wrote, reasoning that there were "no corrections to the paper, the paper states human subjects' approval was obtained, and the sequencing shows no evidence of [contamination]. It therefore seems likely the sequences were deleted to obscure their existence." Details of the sequences were included in a table in a paper by the Wuhan team published in the journal Small last June, which remains online. Some scientists, citing Small, questioned Bloom's assertion of obscuring data. Bloom tweeted in response that the information was less usable "as a table of mutations" in a little-known paper than in genetic sequences available in a database. In their request to the NIH, the scientist who submitted the data said it had been updated and was being submitted to another database, so should be removed to avoid contradiction, the US agency said. Two lead authors on the Wuhan paper did not respond to an emailed request from the South China Morning Post for comment about the removal. Chinese researchers operating with national grant funding, such as this Wuhan team, are understood to need approval to release data to external public databases. But Beijing has also moved to control publications about the virus, last year adding an approval process for related research, according to documents obtained by Associated Press. The removed data does not answer sweeping questions about the virus' origins, but some scientists say it helps to affirm beliefs about its early spread and its relation to a Wuhan market linked to some of the first known cases. Maciej Boni, an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University, said the genetic diversity added by the recovered data confirmed the generally accepted timeline for the virus' emergence, and that Wuhan's Huanan market was not its original location. "It's further confirmation that the date of origin was in the mid-October to mid-November range," said Boni, who stressed the importance of data sharing in epidemic response. "Does it change the overall picture? No. But is the data valuable in confirming the picture? Yes." Alexandros Stamatakis, of the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies in Germany, said the data "tended to indicate" the virus must have crossed the species boundary to humans before it was spreading in the market, where wild animals were sold. […] ^ top ^

Chinese president calls for building closer Belt and Road partnership (Xinhua)
China stands ready to work with all parties to build a closer Belt and Road partnership, President Xi Jinping said Wednesday in a written message to the Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation. Xi said the joint building of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that he proposed is aimed at carrying forward the spirit of the Silk Road, working together to build an open platform of cooperation, and providing new impetus for cooperation and development among countries. Over the past eight years, 140 countries have signed cooperation agreements with China under the BRI, with more and more cooperative partners, according to Xi. All parties have actively promoted policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure and facilities, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds, launched many practical cooperation projects that benefit the people, established a comprehensive and compound connectivity partnership, and created a new prospect for common development, Xi said. "In the face of the sudden COVID-19 epidemic, we pulled through difficult times together with mutual assistance, and promoted the development of the joint construction of the Belt and Road projects, which conveyed confidence and strength to the international community and made important contributions to global anti-epidemic cooperation and economic recovery," Xi said. He stressed that Belt and Road cooperation follows the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, adheres to the concept of openness, green development, integrity and cooperation, and is committed to the cooperation goals featuring high standards, benefiting the people and sustainable development. China has entered a new development stage, acted on a new development concept, and has been fostering a new development paradigm, which provides more opportunities in the market, investment and growth for Belt and Road partners, Xi said. He added that China stands ready to work with all parties to build a closer Belt and Road partnership, adhere to the path of unity, cooperation, interconnectivity, and common development, and jointly promote the building of a community with a shared future for humanity. ^ top ^

China's military deployment at border with India a normal defense arrangement: Chinese FM (Global Times)
China's military deployment along the western section of the China-India border is a normal defense arrangement aiming at preventing and responding to encroachment and threats on China's territory,Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday. Zhao's remarks came after India's foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar who said China's military deployment along the border with India and uncertainty over whether Beijing will fulfill its promise on troop reductions remains "a challenge" for relations between the two neighbors, according to a Bloomberg report. For a long time, the root cause of tensions along the China-India border has been India's increase of its military deployment along the border and encroaching on China's territory, Zhao said at Wednesday's media briefing. China always stands for a peaceful settlement of the boundary issue through negotiation and does not agree to link the boundary issue with bilateral relations, Zhao said.  ^ top ^

China and New Zealand should hammer down specific cooperation on BRI and expand bilateral collaboration: Chinese FM (Global Times)
China and New Zealand should use their upgraded free trade agreement to speed up hammering down specific cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and push forward bilateral collaboration, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said during a video conference with his New Zealand counterpart on Tuesday. China attaches great significance to its ties with New Zealand and cherishes the mutual trust built between the two countries, Wang told New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta. Wang also said that the two countries should work out specific cooperation on the BRI and expand collaboration on the development of a clean economy, as well as scientific innovation. China's ties with New Zealand's neighboring Australia have been frayed since Canberra defiantly attacked Beijing at every front, including the origins of COVID-19 and the economy, among other issues. The Australian government in April tore up the BRI deal signed with China. Later in May, China's top planner announced that it is suspending indefinitely all activities under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue. Some analysts suggested that, with Australia continuously sabotaging bilateral relations, New Zealand has the full capability to "fill the demand gap" amid growing consumption from the Chinese middle class of imported quality products like wine, beef and dairy products. During the video conference, Wang also mentioned that he hopes New Zealand will protect legal rights of Chinese and other overseas companies in the country. He also welcomed New Zealand athletes to participate in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Mahuta congratulated China on its achievements on poverty relief, sustainable development and containing COVID-19, as the Communist Party of China celebrates its 100th anniversary. She said that New Zealand opposes politicalizing the pandemic and is willing to hold talks with China on issues regarding island countries of the Pacific. Wang also noted that the international society needs cooperation more than ever. China is willing to talk with New Zealand on climate change topics and urged all sides to expand the scope of the investigation on the origins of coronavirus under the spirit of science. The Chinese foreign minister said that people of a country are the best to judge if human rights are protected and democracy is promoted. Countries can exchange opinions on human rights and democracy issues, yet such dialogue should be based on equal and mutual respect instead of a presumption of guilt, said Wang, noting that China hopes to communicate with New Zealand on those issues.  ^ top ^

China's man in Washington Cui Tiankai heads for home after eight years as envoy (SCMP)
After months of speculation, China's longest-serving ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai confirmed on Tuesday that he would be leaving Washington, at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries. Cui, who held the key position for eight years, was known for his relatively moderate stance compared to the more hawkish breed of Wolf Warrior diplomats. He is expected to be succeeded by foreign vice-minister Qin Gang, a career diplomat who has worked on European affairs, but with no direct experience in the United States. Cui leaves his post at a difficult time in China-US relations, as the Biden administration works to repair its alliances and pushes for greater coordination against Beijing, particularly on human rights and trade. Analysts say they do not expect a summit between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping any time soon, particularly after the fireworks between the two sides' top diplomats at their March meeting in Anchorage. In a departing message, Cui wrote on Tuesday morning that he would be returning to China after serving as its top envoy in the US since April 2013. He called on overseas Chinese in the US to play a key role in stabilising relations between Beijing and Washington, as the Biden administration reviews and shapes its China policy. "China-US relations are at a critical crossroads, with the US engaging in a new round of restructuring in its government policy towards China, and it is facing a choice between cooperation and confrontation," he said. "At this moment, overseas Chinese in the US have to shoulder a greater responsibility and mission, and I hope you will defend your right to be in the US and to develop your own interests, with the starting point of helping to safeguard the fundamental interests of the people in China and the US." Cui's departure from Washington was reportedly delayed so the veteran diplomat could navigate the increasingly rocky waters of the relationship in the face of unprecedented pushback against Beijing's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. His tenure was unusually long, and, at 68, he is well past the traditional retirement age. At a time when China's diplomatic corps had become increasingly outspoken and often outwardly combative, Cui's comparatively softer approach drew a stark contrast with figures such as China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Even while Zhao publicly amplified conspiracy theories that Covid-19 had spread to Wuhan from the US military, Cui said that blame games over the origins of the virus were played out by a "small number of politicians" and did not represent the wider public sentiment in either country. Cui was summoned for "stern representations" over Zhao's comments last March by then-US assistant secretary of state David Stilwell. Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said Cui had played an important and active part in China-US relations, although his role had been limited after the deterioration of recent years. "Cui has kept a good dialogue with the US and played an important and active role in Sino-US relations, but only before the outbreak of Covid-19 and the Biden administration taking a full-scale confrontation against China," Shi said, adding that the deteriorating environment had removed Cui's opportunities for engagement with US government officials. "Cui tried his best to communicate with US think tanks and the media during this hard time, and kept calling on China and the US to ease tensions, that is to say, he still insisted on doing what he could under extremely difficult circumstances, but the improvement was very limited." He also disagreed with the senior diplomat's assessment of the state of China-US relations. "The US-China relations hip is no longer at a crossroads," he said, adding that US policy towards China had already been decided and the US had chosen "a very wrong path". Cui's exit follows the departure of other long-serving diplomats, such as Liu Xiaoming, who was appointed as the special representative on Korean peninsula affairs after his decade-long posting as ambassador to Britain. Cui's successor has not been confirmed, but is widely expected to be Qin Gang, 55, who joined the foreign ministry as a junior aide in 1992. He worked his way up to ministry spokesman, before becoming a vice-minister responsible for overseeing European affairs, information and state protocol matters. Observers said the role of US envoy would be a challenge for Qin, who lacks direct involvement in managing American affairs, in the more complicated and strained atmosphere of China-US relations. "Qin Gang will have a long time to be familiar with American affairs in the future, and the tasks he will face are more intense and complicated than in the past," Wu Qiang, a political analyst in Beijing said. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday there was no information to release on Cui's successor. ^ top ^

Xi calls for greater development of China-Congo Republic relations (People's Daily)
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that China is ready to work with the Republic of the Congo to deepen political mutual trust and share more governance experience with each other to push for greater development of bilateral ties. In a telephone conversation with Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the Republic of the Congo, Xi said China is willing to jointly strive for new progress in the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two sides, so as to bring more benefits to the two peoples. Xi pointed out that the friendship between China and the Republic of the Congo has a long history, and the two sides have always supported and helped each other, and worked closely in international and regional affairs to safeguard international fairness and justice and the common interests of developing countries. Since last year, China and the Republic of the Congo have jointly fought against the COVID-19 pandemic and together promoted the resumption of work and production, with their relevant practical cooperation projects progressing smoothly and their friendship and cooperation ever deepened, he said. Xi emphasized that China supports the Republic of the Congo in taking a development path that suits its national conditions, supports it in safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and supports it in transforming its advantages in resources and geographical position into development advantages. China will encourage more capable companies to invest in the Republic of the Congo, and is willing to deepen cooperation with the Republic of the Congo in such areas as medical care and health, agriculture, and people's livelihood, provide vaccines and other support for the Republic of the Congo's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, help the Republic of the Congo's drive of industrialization and economic diversification, and promote the economic and social development of the Republic of the Congo, Xi said. China and Africa have jointly proposed the "Initiative on Partnership for Africa's Development" to the international community, Xi said, adding that China is willing to work with the Republic of the Congo to have more countries participate to jointly support the development of Africa. Xi said China welcomes the Republic of the Congo's active participation in the next meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to jointly create a new prospect in China-Africa relations. For his part, Sassou expressed warm congratulations on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Under Xi's strong leadership, said Sassou, China has successfully won the battle against poverty and the COVID-19 pandemic and played a pivotal and important role internationally, and the Chinese people are marching forward on the path towards prosperity and development. Expressing his appreciation for China's invaluable support to his country's battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic and social development, Sassou said that the Republic of the Congo supports China's stance on safeguarding its core interests and opposes interference in China's domestic affairs. The Republic of the Congo, he added, is willing to work with China to deepen their friendly ties, actively build the Belt and Road, implement the outcomes of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, so as to push forward the Congo Republic-China and Africa-China cooperation to achieve more outcomes. ^ top ^

China publishes record of expelling foreign warplanes, 'warns risky US close-in recons' (Global Times)
China recently published the flight record of its fighter jets expelling foreign warplanes from the region seen as the South China Sea in May 2020, which is a move that sent a strong signal to the US, as the latter doubled its risky and provocative close-in reconnaissance attempts on China in the region this year compared to last year, Chinese experts said on Sunday. The lead Chinese pilot said he was ready to fight during the encounter, before the foreign aircraft retreated. Some foreign military aircraft were spotted conducting close-in reconnaissance on China in May 2020, and an aviation force brigade attached to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command Air Force deployed in a coastal frontline air base was tasked to engage, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Saturday. Pilot Lu Geng, head of the brigade's air group, immediately led the group in a scramble to engage the hostile aircraft, and succeeded in expelling them, the report said. The warplanes Lu and his group flew were Su-30 fighter jets, which skimmed past islands and reefs in the South China Sea, the report footages show. "This is the PLA Air Force. You are about to enter Chinese airspace. Leave immediately!" They said in radio communications in both English and Chinese. Despite the warnings, the foreign warplanes insisted on approaching by taking turns in dealing with the PLA aircraft. After tasking his wingmen to continue tracking the foreign aircraft and taking video evidence, Lu maneuvered to an advantageous position, locked on targets and made a mock attacking move. This let the foreign military aircraft realize they were at a disadvantage, and after several failed attempts to break away from Lu, they were left with no choice but to retreat, as Lu and his comrades accomplished the mission in safeguarding China's aerial sovereignty, CCTV reported. Remembering the encounter, Lu said that, "If [they] had started the fight, I would fight. Pilots are ready all the time, and there was nothing to hesitate about." The CCTV report did not identify the nationality of the foreign warplanes, but observers said they were very likely from the US, as it has been conducting increasingly frequent close-in reconnaissance activities on China since early 2020. In May 2020, the US dispatched at least 35 large spy planes to the South China Sea, according to the monitoring of the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing-based think tank. In the same month this year, the US doubled the efforts by sending at least 72 spy aircraft to the region, according to the SCSPI. The US has been sending electronic reconnaissance aircraft and anti-submarine aircraft for close-in reconnaissance operations on China attempting to gather intelligence on the PLA and contain Chinese military activities, Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times on Sunday. It is necessary to take countermeasures against these activities that are threatening national security by means that include expelling them, Xu said. The revelation of the encounter to the public a year after its occurrence is a strong signal sent to the still-increasing US close-in reconnaissance activities, and Lu's strongly worded statement displays the PLA's determination and capability to safeguard the motherland, warning of the high risk of the provocative US military activities, analysts said. The international community should know more about the persistent strategic threats the US is posing to China, and that it is the US that has been making provocations, Xu said. Lu is no stranger to the public as a guardian of the South China Sea. He and his comrades broke the PLA's record on flight duration in a single sortie using a fighter jet by completing a 10-hour armed patrol mission to the most remote islands and reefs of the South China Sea in early 2020. ^ top ^

Japan urges Europe to have stronger military presence in Asia to tackle China (SCMP)
Japan's defence minister has urged European nations to have a stronger military involvement in the Asia-Pacific as Tokyo tries to put "tremendous pressure" on Beijing to counter China's influence in the region. In his first speech to the European Parliament subcommittee on security and defence on Friday, Nobuo Kishi called on the European Union to solidify its commitment to the "Indo-Pacific region" and for the two sides to "continue and expand" their security cooperation. "[Parties] such as Japan and the EU must tackle together... the fight against authoritarianism," Kishi said in an online address. "As defence minister, I highly commend the point that the EU strategy sets out [about] the strengthening of presence and action in the Indo-Pacific. "It is my sincere hope that such involvement will continue and expand, and that many more will follow the lead." A source familiar with Japan's defence policymaking said the speech was part of Tokyo's efforts to enlist the EU to put more pressure on Beijing. "Japan hopes to use this opportunity to get more involvement from the EU in the region. HMS Queen Elizabeth's visit to Japan will put tremendous pressure on Beijing this year," the source said. The British aircraft carrier will lead a flotilla of Royal Navy ships in a high-profile tour through Asian waters on its maiden deployment this year, including port visits in Japan and South Korea. The carrier strike group will sail through the contested South China Sea, and conduct exercises with forces from Japan, Australia, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and a number of European states including France, Denmark, Greece, Italy and Greece. In his speech, Kishi criticised Beijing for its "unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion" and efforts to militarise contested parts of the South China Sea. He also expressed concerns over China's "unilateral attempts to change the status quo" in the East China Sea, particularly with the adoption of a controversial coastguard law in January. "The justified rights of all relevant countries should never be undermined due to the coastguard law, and we can never tolerate anything that could heighten the tension on the waters such as the East China Sea and South China Sea," he said. In April following their first face-to-face meeting in Washington since taking office, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden issued a joint statement to express concerns over the East and South China seas as well as over the Taiwan Strait. After the talks, Beijing accused Tokyo of being a "strategic vassal" of the United States. China and Japan have a series of long-standing territorial and historical disputes and more recently have been at odds over Tokyo's plan to release radioactive water in the ocean from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Kishi said on Friday that Japan would "continue to keep a close eye" on the shifting military balance across the Taiwan Strait. "It goes without saying that the stabilisation of the situation surrounding Taiwan is important for Japan's security, but it is also important for a stable international community as well." Beijing considers Taiwan as a breakaway province to be united with the mainland, by force if necessary, and has rejected international support for the self-governed island. Liu Weidong, a professor of international relations with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Japan had taken a tougher line against China in recent months. "Japan sees that Biden has not backtracked on the Trump era's tough policy on China. And it no longer sees the need to improve relations with China. Suga also needs to present a tougher international image to boost his weak domestic support," Liu said. But Liu said European states might not be completely aligned with Japan in its hope to form a united front against Beijing. "Japan wants to put pressure on China. But it might be a one-sided wish if it wants to form a united front with the EU to counter China. Unlike Japan, the EU does not want to closely follow the United States' strategy and completely sacrifice its relations with China. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

China Focus: China issues white paper on CPC's practice in human rights protection (Xinhua)
China's State Council Information Office on Thursday issued a white paper on the practice of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in respecting and protecting human rights. The year 2021 marks the centenary of the CPC. Over the past century, the CPC has invested a huge effort in human rights protection, adding significantly to global human rights progress, said the white paper. For a hundred years, the CPC has always put people first, applying the principle of universality of human rights in the context of the national conditions. It regards the rights to subsistence and development as the primary and basic human rights, and believes that living a life of contentment is the ultimate human right, said the white paper. The CPC promotes the well-rounded development of the individual, and strives to give every person a stronger sense of gain, happiness and security. Its success in pioneering human rights in a socialist country is unique and readily apparent, said the white paper. The life expectancy of Chinese citizens rose to 77.3 years in 2019, compared with 35 years in 1949, according to the white paper. The CPC ensures the right to subsistence, said the document, noting that China has engaged in a huge program of poverty reduction focusing on development-driven poverty alleviation in rural areas. At the end of 2020, China achieved the goal of eliminating absolute poverty as scheduled. Living standards of the Chinese people have improved, the white paper said. In 2020, China's GDP reached 101.6 trillion yuan (about 15.7 trillion U.S. dollars), and per capita GDP was 72,000 yuan, more than the threshold of 10,000 U.S. dollars for the second year. The CPC has also integrated law-based governance with human rights protection, according to the white paper. Under the leadership of the CPC and based on the Constitution, a Chinese socialist system of laws has taken shape, providing a relatively complete legal system to protect human rights, said the white paper. As of April 2021, there were 277 laws in force in China, including the Constitution and related laws, civil and commercial law, administrative law, economic law, social law, criminal law and procedural law related to litigation and non-litigation, it added. Human rights progress in China, guided by a people-centered philosophy, has gone beyond the development of Western views on human rights and its practice in protecting human rights, said Lu Guangjin, secretary-general of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, at a press conference Thursday on the white paper. For a hundred years, the CPC has committed itself to peaceful development and common progress. China is firm in its international stance -- to safeguard world peace and seek progress through cooperation, ensuring human rights with the benefits deriving from development, according to the white paper. China has been an active participant in matters of international human rights, providing a Chinese contribution to global human rights governance and progress, and working with other countries to forge a global community of shared future, according to the white paper. China has sent more than 40,000 military personnel to participate in about 30 UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan, Lebanon, Cambodia, Libya, and other countries and regions, said the white paper. The country now ranks first among the permanent members of the UN Security Council in terms of the number of peacekeepers dispatched, and is the second largest fund contributor to the UN's peacekeeping actions, it added. China has signed 26 international human rights instruments, including six core UN conventions, the white paper showed, adding that China fulfills its obligations prescribed in these human rights conventions, ensures that the formulation, legislation, and any amendments of its laws and policies are consistent with these conventions. The CPC is leading the people towards the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation and the second centenary goal -- to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the centenary of the People's Republic of China. At that time, all rights of the Chinese people will be safeguarded at a higher level, and they will have a better sense of dignity, freedom and happiness. China will make a greater contribution to the protection of human rights, enabling the world to develop better and become more prosperous, said the white paper. ^ top ^

Apple Daily closure ends West's political fantasies (Global Times)
As pictures circulated on social media on Thursday showing a number of local residents lining up in front of newsstands seeking to get a copy of the final edition of Apple Daily, with some trying to amplify a sentiment of sadness by calling it a "painful farewell," local officials and scholars in both Hong Kong and the mainland said such small scale-lamentation remains insignificant in the face of the overwhelmingly positive change the once riot-plagued city has experienced over the past years. The secessionist tabloid, depicted by Western politicians and media as the so-called defenders of freedom of speech, issued its final hard copy on Thursday, after some of its senior executives were arrested on suspicion of violating the national security law for Hong Kong. HK$18 million ($2.3 million) in assets was also frozen during the ensuing investigation. While a small proportion of readers called to "stand with Apple Daily" on a rainy night, trying to create an emotional scene of sounding an elegy for the paper, more Hong Kong people felt relieved, some observers said, as the shutdown of the 26-year-old newspaper, founded by modern-day traitor Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, is a symbolic move to bring the practice of the "one country, two systems" onto the correct path by ending an era when foreign proxies and secessionist forces could meddle in China's internal affairs by cultivating agents like Lai and his media group. With the national security law and the electoral reform for Hong Kong, officials and scholars in the mainland and in Hong Kong see fundamental positive changes to the city's political environment over the past year. Despite that foreign politicians like UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab continued to slam China by calling the shutdown of Apple Daily a "forced closure," claiming it delivered a heavy blow to "freedom of speech," more local residents realized that the secessionist outlet having gone far beyond being a press agency. The closure would also help end the West's political fantasies by using relevant anti-government radicals to exploit Hong Kong, which tried to cause a "color revolution" against China and subvert state power, experts said. From Thursday on, the closure of Apple Daily will save Hong Kong at least 300 million pieces of wasted paper annually, as one copy used to be printed with 10 pages of paper every day, Leung Chun-ying, former chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said in a public post on Thursday. After the board of Next Digital, the parent company of Apple Daily, announced in a public statement on Wednesday that the tabloid will close down on Saturday amid mounting financial pressure to maintain normal operations, Apple Daily said via its website that it would issue its last edition on Thursday, with its website to stop updating at midnight. On Thursday, there was no content on its website but a short notice for readers. The final edition ran a front page picture showing staff illuminating the flashlights on their phones and waving to supporters at the headquarters of the tabloid, creating an emotional moment over the death of the paper, which claimed to be the "paper of Hong Kong residents" over the past two decades. […] ^ top ^

Top political advisor urges enhanced consultation on implementing five-year plan (Xinhua)
China's top political advisor Wang Yang on Wednesday called on political advisors nationwide to improve their capabilities of consultation on implementing the country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025). Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, made the remarks when presiding over the closing meeting of a Standing Committee session of the CPPCC National Committee. Commending the consultation work carried out by members of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee during the session, Wang emphasized more prospective research, in-depth consultation and constructive advice on major programs concerning economic and social development over the next five years. Political advisors should also carry out democratic oversight of the implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan, he said. Attendees at the meeting voted on personnel matters. A lecture on the history of the Party was held ahead of the meeting. ^ top ^

Chinese premier stresses advancing development of western regions (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called for advancing the development of China's western regions to a new level by drawing strength from reform and opening up and innovation-driven development. Li, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks Monday at a meeting of a State Council leading group on western development. Li is head of the leading group. Vice Premier Han Zheng, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and deputy head of the leading group, attended the meeting. Li urged the western regions to commit more efforts to empowering market entities, improving the business environment, and expanding opening up. The regions should give full play to the leading role of scientific and technological innovation, and cultivate and develop characteristic industries and emerging industries, Li said. The western regions should better leverage their advantages in wind, solar and hydro-electric energy as well as mineral resources to build large-scale clean-energy bases and enhance their capacities in guaranteeing energy and important resources for the country, he added. The premier stressed efforts to strengthen ecological protection and restoration and environmental governance, noting that the regions should strive to boost green development. He also underscored efforts to consolidate and escalate the gains in poverty alleviation, maintain the stability of major favorable policies, and promote rural vitalization. ^ top ^

Swine Fever Variants Lead to Mass Outbreaks Across China (Caixin)
New, difficult-to-detect variants of the African swine fever virus circulating in China have spread the disease to pig herds across the country this year, leading to rising incidents of mass infection on farms and stepped-up control measures to stop swine fever's further spread into livestock supply chains. Since late last year, provinces including Henan, Shandong, Hebei, Jiangsu and Guangdong, as well as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, have reported new outbreaks. Farms have reported that infected pigs typically show only mild symptoms in the early stages but have a longer incubation period, making it difficult to diagnose the disease before mass infection spreads across farms. In late February, researchers from the Harbin Veterinary Institute said in a report published in the academic journal Science China Life Sciences that they had documented a milder but harder-to-detect mutation of the virus. The highly infectious disease was first reported in China in August 2018. After significant losses in 2019, the country's hog population bounced back, and had returned to 92% of its normal levels by the end of last year, according to the agriculture ministry. The new outbreaks have resulted in another round of losses for hog farmers. Some small farms have lost hundreds of pigs, while large companies, such as Muyuan Foods, reported losses of nearly 10,000 pigs at two different farms. At an industry summit last November, Ma Junhu, director of Muyuan Foods' veterinary department, said that his company had not detected infections early on, leading to the livestock being misdiagnosed with other diseases. Other experts at the summit said that the virus was highly transmissible in close quarters and that pigs infected with the new variant displayed far fewer symptoms than those infected with the classic virus. Moreover, some of the infected animals were asymptomatic. Experts are divided over the cause of the new variant or variants. While some domestic researchers say the mutation is the natural result of having circulated in the country over a long period of time, others have argued that the use of unregulated "underground vaccines" may be causing the virus to mutate. In March, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a notice that warned about the risks of such illegal vaccines and pledged to crack down. Industry insiders told Caixin that the disease prevention efforts also have to focus on the supply chain from farm to market, including vehicles, slaughterhouses, farmers' markets and other places where live pigs and pork are gathered and placed. Chen Yaosheng, a professor of life sciences at Sun Yat-sen University, said farms themselves need to strengthen and implement stronger disinfection efforts, while also controlling for possible contamination from transportation and pig feedstock. ^ top ^

Xi stresses drawing strength from CPC history to forge ahead (People's Daily)
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Friday stressed bearing in mind the course of the Party's struggles, shouldering the historic mission and drawing strength from the Party's history to forge ahead. Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks when visiting an exhibition on CPC history. Themed "staying true to the founding mission," the exhibition debuted on Friday at the newly inaugurated Museum of the CPC in Beijing ahead of the CPC centenary. "The Party's history is the most vivid and convincing textbook," Xi stressed. The past 100 years have seen the CPC unswervingly fulfilling its original aspiration and founding mission, working hard to lay a foundation for its great cause, and making glorious achievements and charting a course for the future, Xi noted. Xi said it is necessary to study and review the Party's history, carry forward its valuable experience, bear in mind the course of its struggles, shoulder the historic mission, and draw strength from its history to forge ahead. Efforts should be made to educate and guide Party members and officials to stay true to the original aspiration and founding mission of the Party, Xi noted. It is necessary for them to strengthen their awareness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core, and keep in alignment with the central Party leadership, and remain confident in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, as well as always closely follow the CPC Central Committee in terms of their thinking, political orientation and actions, he added. Xi called on Party members to carry forward the fine traditions and play their exemplary role in uniting and leading the Chinese people, based on the new development stage, to follow the new development philosophy and formulate a new development paradigm, to effectively perform their work in promoting reform, development and stability, and to pool strength to fully build a modern socialist China and realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. Xi was joined by other leaders including Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng and Wang Qishan during the visit. Led by Xi, the leaders reviewed the Party admission oath. The exhibition features four parts, namely the founding of the CPC and the victory of the New Democratic Revolution; the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the socialist revolution and development; the reform and opening-up, and the start of socialism with Chinese characteristics; and carrying forward socialism with Chinese characteristics into a new era, building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and embarking on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country. More than 2,600 pictures and more than 3,500 pieces or sets of exhibits reflect the extraordinary 100-year journey the CPC has traveled. Xi and other leaders immersed themselves in the exhibits, files, photos and videos displayed, and learned about them in detail. Among the items are the manuscript of Karl Marx's notes from Brussels, and restoration scenes of the first CPC National Congress and the famous Zunyi Meeting during the epic Long March (1934-1936). Also on display are boards showing the establishment of revolutionary bases, footage from the founding ceremony of the PRC, and weapons used during the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-1953). The exhibition also features data charts relating to poverty alleviation and models of the Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals built in Wuhan to fight the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020. ^ top ^

Campaign to target online idol abuses (China Daily)
China's top internet watchdog has launched a two-month campaign targeting those who use improper means to encourage young people to support their idols online. The Cyberspace Administration of China kicked off the nationwide campaign this month to purify the online environment after it found that some netizens had lured youngsters to spend large amounts of money on stars, flaunt their wealth or become involved in mudslinging exchanges with fans of rival performers. It also discovered that a few people had opened web accounts to post untrue content about celebrities, infringe on stars' privacy or instigate arguments between fans to attract more online views. "All these behaviors have, for some time, disturbed the order of the internet and triggered public concern about star worship, and they have brought negative effects to children's physical and mental health," the administration said, adding that such irregularities are major targets of the campaign. Web accounts and social media groups that lure young followers to support idols by raising money, harming celebrities' privacy, insulting other stars or making false claims will be shut down, it said. Marketing or promotional web accounts that organize fans to slander or support stars by posting or deleting online comments and internet platforms that permit such irregularities will be harshly punished, the administration said. Since the campaign began, several online platforms, including Tencent, Douban, Douyin and Sina Weibo, have published announcements supporting it and have started to clean up improper behavior. Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, has banned netizens from using words such as gossip or onlooker in their nicknames when registering web accounts and has also increased supervision of posts involving entertainment idols. Statistics provided by the platform showed that more than 3,700 pieces of information involving arguments between followers of different celebrities were eliminated from June 4 to 11, and 13 accounts were prohibited from posting for 30 days due to improper behavior. Douban, a popular site that features reviews of movies and television series, said its major focus is combating those who lure youngsters to raise money to support idols. Calling for a long-term mechanism to regulate the activities of groups of fans, the administration also asked entertainment agencies this month to strengthen management of fan clubs and guide young people to follow celebrities in a rational manner. This campaign has been included in the 2021 Clean and Healthy Cyberspace Initiative, which was launched by the administration last month. Other campaigns this year will target netizens who falsify online views or ask for money after helping others remove online posts. Zhao Zhanling, a legal adviser with the Internet Society of China, said he recalled a similar campaign last year against web accounts that misled young people to irrationally support idols. "The problem has appeared frequently because some online platforms can benefit from such improper activities, and those who spark arguments between young fans are not easy to discover," Zhao said. "That's why the administration decided to harshly punish the irresponsible platforms and malicious marketing accounts." ^ top ^



Countdown to Beijing 2022 | BOCOG releases pre-Games Legacy Report on Olympic Day (Xinhua)
The organizing committee for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG) on Wednesday released the bilingual versions of the Legacy Report for the Games (pre-Games) to mark the International Olympic Day. The report, launched at BOCOG's headquarters in Shougang Park, summarizes and highlights all essential legacy outcomes and achievements since Beijing's successful candidature in 2015. BOCOG's Vice President Han Zirong introduced the report at the launching ceremony, highlighting BOCOG's commitment to respect the guidance of the Olympic Agenda 2020 and the New Norm, and at the same time to the mission of hosting a "Green, Inclusive, Open and Clean" Games. "With a focus on the planning, creation and utilization of Winter Olympics legacies in 35 areas of the seven dimensions of sports, economy, society, culture, environment, urban development and regional development, we strive to leave valuable assets for the host cities, and achieve a win-win situation between the Olympic Movement and city development," said Han in her opening remarks. The Legacy Report outlines the pre-Games legacies achieved by Beijing 2022 in 13 chapters, including the popularization and development of winter sports, urban transformation and upgrade, and regional transformation (Beijing- Zhang Jiakou Region) contributions to poverty alleviation. Specifically, for the winter sports popularization program, a record 224 million Chinese people participated in ski and skating activities during the 2018/19 winter season, approaching its objective of involving 300 million Chinese people in winter sports. In terms of regional transformation, the Yanqing competition zone will be transformed into resorts for winter sports, leisure and tourism. The Zhangjiakou competition zone will become a winter entertainment and summer holiday resort for the public after the Games. For urban upgrade and post-games sustainability, BOCOG has renovated and upgraded six venues from Beijing 2008 Games venue legacies to accommodate winter sports, all permanent venues have a sporting and social legacy plan for post-games usage. Chairman of the Coordination Committee of the IOC for Beijing 2022, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, also sent his congratulations remotely for the report launch. "The Olympic Games provides a unique opportunity - and responsibility - to create long-lasting benefits for their hosts through sustainable development. The Beijing 2022 Legacy Report shows tangible results in this respect already today." The report will be followed by a series of other legacy reports and case studies to give a full picture of the Olympic legacies created by the Beijing 2022 Games. ^ top ^



Shanghai to increase minimum wage (China Daily)
Shanghai will increase its statutory minimum wage from 2,480 yuan ($383) to 2,590 yuan per month from July 1, bringing it to one of the highest levels in the country, local authorities announced on Wednesday. The hourly minimum wage will increase from 22 yuan to 23 yuan, according to the municipal human resources and social security department. The minimum wage excludes social security costs, housing allowances and overtime pay. It is the first time the city has raised its statutory minimum wage since the outbreak of COVID-19. ^ top ^



South China City to Test All 8 Million Residents After Delta Variant Found (Caixin)
Dongguan kicked off citywide Covid-19 testing on Monday after two new infections with the delta coronavirus variant were reported over the weekend in the Guangdong province city. A 30-year-old woman surnamed Li tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday. She has the delta variant, which was first identified in India, according to the local health authorities in the southern metropolis of over 8 million residents. Another patient, a 19-year-old male student surnamed Jia had been in close contact with Li and was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Sunday, the authorities said. The Dongguan Campus of Xinhua College of Sun Yat-sen University, where Jia studies and lives, has been locked down, and the town of Machong, where the campus is located, is conducting a third round of mass testing. So far, 86 people who've been in close contact with Jia have been put under medical observation in Dongguan's hospitals, the government said, adding that none of them have tested positive. Luo Dong, deputy director of the Dongguan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a press conference Sunday that virus samples taken from Li's body were found to be "highly consistent" with samples taken from her husband, who had been diagnosed with the delta variant in the neighboring city of Shenzhen. ^ top ^



Former serf in Tibet embraces new life after democratic reform (Xinhua)
Tseten Lhamo piles cow dung at her home in Qoide'og Village of Yardoi Township, Shannan City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, June 3, 2021. Tseten Lhamo, 84, is a resident of Qoide'og Village of Yardoi Township. When recalling her life as a serf in the old days, Tseten Lhamo said she had to work for serf owners all year round, and could never have a rest even on holidays. During those days, the most unforgettable thing for Tseten Lhamo is paying rent. She had to rent farmland from serf owners and hand in heavy rent no matter the harvest was good or not. For Tseten Lhamo, who worked endlessly, even wearing new clothes and having a full meal was impossible. Tseten Lhamo was allocated with farmland, housing after the democratic reform in 1959, that she did not even dare to imagine in the past. ^ top ^



Testimony in 'Uygur court' given by actors (China Daily)
A public hearing by a "Uygur tribunal" on accusations of so-called genocide in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is illegal and the people who gave "testimony" are just actors, Xinjiang officials said on Friday. Xu Guixiang, a spokesman for the Xinjiang regional government, said the British tribunal, opened on June 4, was set up by Western anti-China forces and East Turkestan organizations, groups of secessionists advocating Uygur "independence". It has invited a dozen so-called anti-China experts and scholars to prove a nonexistent lie of "genocide" by the Chinese government against the Uygur ethnic group. "It is simply a shameless act by people who treat the law as child's play," he said at a news conference in Beijing. The attempt to put the label of "genocide" on Xinjiang can be called the biggest false accusation in human history. Such absurd claims have trampled on international law, interfered in China's internal affairs and seriously hurt the feelings of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, he said. More than 20 "witnesses" have given their "testimony" at the "hearing", which is beyond common sense and comprehension. Their ability in fabricating and lying has reached its peak, Xu said. Marhaba Aolan, a professor at Xinjiang University, said: "As a Uygur university teacher, I strongly condemn and oppose the witnesses who have claimed that they have been tortured, abused and sexually assaulted when they were detained in Xinjiang." She said the tribunal is not a judicial body but a private company registered in the United Kingdom under the name of "Uygur tribunal". Its largest donor is the infamous "World Uyghur Congress", an anti-China separatist organization, she added. "It has no basis or validity in international law, so any ruling or verdict by the court will only be a piece of useless paper." Elijan Anayat, another spokesman for the Xinjiang government, said based on the presumption of guilt, this pseudo tribunal fabricated evidence and invited so-called witnesses and victims who are just a few "actors" that have been exposed many times. Some of the witnesses have relatives or friends in Xinjiang who have been sentenced with crimes including homicide, rape and drug dealing, but they claim that their relatives have been "persecuted" or put in "concentration camps", he said. "It is unbelievable for some Western countries and international organizations to regard their false stories as evidence and it is also laughable for the court to put the habitual liars as witnesses." The family members of the so-called witnesses also refuted their claims at the news conference. Habiba Yimit, wife of one of the witnesses, Mahmut Tawakkul, said his claim that he has been tortured in prison is a complete lie. Habiba said she had been with her husband every day before he left the country suddenly and he has never served in prison. Their oldest daughter of their three children had leukemia and the couple took her to Urumqi for treatment. However, Mahmut did not care about the daughter or the family and suddenly disappeared, she said, adding that she learned afterwards that he joined a terrorist group abroad. "We suffered great difficulty since you left and our life only got better thanks to the government's help," she said. "You abandoned your elderly parents, three children and me." Marhaba Abdughopur, younger sister of Shamshinur Ghopur, said she was very angry when she heard the absurd claim made by Shamshinur that women in Xinjiang who have given birth to three or more children should have their uterus removed. "As a gynecologist, I have never seen or heard of that," Marhaba said. "Our parents have eight children and I also have three children. Her fabricated story has never happened in Xinjiang." The anti-terrorism and anti-extremism efforts made by Xinjiang over the years have borne fruit and the region has not seen any terror attack in four years, Xu said. It is the largest guarantee for human rights, he added. ^ top ^



Thursday to be final edition of Apple Daily, as board forced to halt all Hong Kong operations (HKFP)
Hong Kong pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily has decided to halt all operations in the city, the board said in a statement on Wednesday. The decision was made on the same day an Apple Daily opinion writer was arrested under the security law. The last edition of the paper will be available on Thursday the paper announced. The 26-year-old daily faces imminent closure after HK$18 million worth of its assets were frozen by the authorities following the arrest of five top executives. Unable to pay staff, many at the newsroom have resigned. Apple Daily's English news section, finance section, video department, and Twitter account have all ceased operation earlier this week. "The Company thanks our readers for their loyal support and our journalists, staff and advertisers for their commitment over the past 26 years," the board said in a statement. Some 500 police were involved in arresting five top executives, raising the paper's headquarters, and charging parent company Next Digital's CEO Cheung Kim-hung and Apple Daily Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law on suspicion of violating the national security law. The news outlet is accused of publishing more than 30 articles which called for sanctions on the Beijing and Hong Kong governments. Last week, the Security Bureau and the police refused to indicate whether the allegedly offending articles were editorials, op-eds, or news reports, whilst – on Tuesday – Chief Executive Carrie Lam declined to clarify how reporters can avoid arrest. A total of seven individuals connected to Apple Daily have been arrested under the national security law since its enactment last July. Three of them including the newspaper's founder Jimmy Lai have been charged under the law. Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Regional Director Yamini Mishra said on Wednesday that Apple Daily's closure is "the blackest day for media freedom in Hong Kong's recent history." "The paper has been effectively banned by the government for publishing articles that criticized it, and for reporting on international discussions about Hong Kong. This is an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression," said Mishra. "The arrests of Apple Daily staff, seizing of journalistic materials and freezing of its assets will send a shiver down the spine of all media outlets operating in Hong Kong." ^ top ^



Hong Kong and Macao Discuss Easing Covid Travel Restrictions for Each Other's Residents (Caixin)
Hong Kong and Macao have begun talking about easing travel restrictions for each other's residents after the former British colony reported zero local Covid-19 cases for 14 straight days. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a press briefing Monday that the two cities have initiated discussions on plans to exempt travelers from mandatory quarantine, provided they are fully vaccinated and can provide a negative result from a nucleic acid test. To prevent crowds from building up at border crossings, both cities are considering setting a daily quota for the number of travelers. The Hong Kong government will submit policy proposals to Beijing for reopening the border with the Chinese mainland, Lam said. The city is also considering taking back up a suspended plan to exempt mainland travelers from mandatory quarantine, but only once the outbreak in neighboring Guangdong province subsides. Lam's announcement came just as the city reported no new local Covid-19 cases for two straight weeks. Since June 8, the only confirmed cases reported in Hong Kong came in from outside the city. Around 1.94 million Hong Kong residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. That amounts to 28.4% of the eligible population. Of those, 1.28 million people have been fully vaccinated. ^ top ^



DPP urged to cease all actions disrupting Hong Kong (Xinhua)
A mainland spokesperson on Monday urged the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority in Taiwan to end the illusion of colluding with external forces to seek "Taiwan independence," and to immediately cease all actions aimed at disrupting Hong Kong under the guise of "assisting Hong Kong." Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the remarks after Taiwan's mainland affairs authority on Monday again attacked the suspension of the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office (Taiwan) by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government and defended its attempts to disrupt Hong Kong and seek "Taiwan independence" in the name of "democracy and freedom." Ma said the DPP authority has long attacked those who hold different views, suppressed public opinions, fabricated lies to deceive the public, and manipulated the media. The spokesperson reiterated that it is natural that the Taiwan office stationed in Hong Kong must carry out their activities on the political basis of the one-China principle and abide by the Basic Law and relevant laws of the HKSAR. The words and deeds emanating from the Taiwan office in Hong Kong that were aimed at disrupting Hong Kong cannot be covered up, Ma said. The DPP authority's repeated attacks on "one country, two systems" only expose the political intentions behind their Hong Kong office's actions, he added. ^ top ^



China-Based Institutional Investors Increasingly Favor ESG, Survey Shows (Caixin)
Up to 92% of China-based institutional investors plan to increase environmental, social and governance-related (ESG-related) investments this year, despite concerns about a lack of client interest, a recent survey has found. The survey, conducted by American private investment bank Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (BBH), covered 146 respondents in China. All of them invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which are a product that invests in stocks, bonds or other assets. According to the survey, 53% of respondents on the Chinese mainland expect 11% to 20% of their investment portfolio to be ESG ETFs in the next five years, up from 43% in last year's survey. Despite the appetite for increased ESG investment, 19% of the mainland respondents were concerned about the lack of a consistent methodology and framework for ESG ETFs, and 31% were concerned about the lack of interest from customers. "ESG is an investment strategy that is still in a nascent stage in the region and it's not surprising to see a subset of clients that may not be interested in these products yet," Chris Pigott, a senior vice president at BBH, told Caixin. "As the regulators introduce new reporting requirements for the industry and attempt to create industry standards, we expect that to be a tailwind for further investor adoption of these strategies." The concept of ESG is in the ascendant in China and has gradually attracted investors' attention in recent years, particularly as relevant investments form a major part of the government's ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. ^ top ^

Chinese tech names among the fastest growing valuable brands in the world but Amazon, Apple still dominate (SCMP)
Tencent Holdings and Alibaba Group Holding are among the top 10 most valuable brands in the world as Chinese consumer internet companies continue to mature despite antitrust scrutiny and intense competition at home. Kantar, a London-based data and consulting company, published its annual BrandZ report on Monday, evaluating 18,500 brands in 51 markets around the world, ranking the top 100 using a calculation based on the financial value of the parent company and the ability of the brand to grow sales. The top 100 brands were worth a combined US$7.1 trillion, according to Kantar. Tencent, owner of Chinese super app WeChat, took fifth spot, up from seventh last year, with a brand valuation of US$241 billion, while e-commerce giant Alibaba (owner of the Post) fell from sixth to seventh with a valuation of US$197 billion. Amazon retained its position as the world's top brand with an estimated value of US$684 billion, followed by Apple, Google, and Microsoft, with an estimated value of US$612 billion, US$458 billion, and $410 billion, respectively. Chinese firms consolidated their presence on the Kantar rankings this year, with 18 brands named to the top 100 brands list, compared with 17 in 2020. Social e-commerce giant Pinduoduo and Tencent-backed real estate platform Ke, also known as Beike, are the two new Chinese names on the list this year. "After such a difficult year, Chinese brands still achieved strong growth and became an increasingly important force in the world," said Doreen Wang, Kantar president of Greater China and chair of Kantar BrandZ. "After entering a new stage of development, more Chinese companies are aware of the need to shift from Chinese speed to Chinese quality, and from Chinese products to Chinese brands," she said. The combined value of Chinese brands accounted for 14 per cent of the global 100 total, up from 11 per cent a decade ago, according to Kantar. European brands accounted for 8 per cent of the total, compared with 20 per cent a decade ago. Chinese brands were also among the fastest-growing group on the list. Of the five brands in the top 100 that more than doubled their value in the past year, four are Chinese – Pinduoduo, online delivery giant Meituan, liquor maker Moutai and short-video platform TikTok. US carmaker Tesla also doubled its brand value. Zoom, the video conferencing platform founded by Chinese-American entrepreneur Eric Yuan, joined the top 100 list for the first time, ranking 52nd, as more people relied on the app for work and education during the pandemic. Even though more Chinese names are gaining a presence, US brands still dominate, with 56 American brands accounting for 74 per cent of the top 100 brands' total valuation, according to Kantar. ^ top ^

China Dragoons Banks, Alipay Into Crypto Crackdown (Caixin)
China's central bank called a meeting with several major banks and payment provider Alipay to reinforce a ban on cryptocurrency trading, the latest move in a sweeping clampdown on crypto speculation. The People's Bank of China summoned representatives from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Postal Saving Bank of China, Industrial Bank and Alipay, the payment service of Ant Group, and told them not to provide crypto-related services, according to a statement issued Monday by the central bank. Cryptocurrency activities "disrupt financial order and also breed risks of criminal activities like illegal cross-border asset transfers and money laundering," the central bank said. All banks and payment companies must not provide services related to cryptocurrency transactions, it said. It was the latest signal that China will stick to its tough stance against digital tokens like Bitcoin. In May, China's Financial Stability and Development Committee warned the crypto market that it would crack down on cryptocurrency mining and trading as part of an effort to control financial risks, promoting declines in major virtual currencies. In the following weeks, several Chinese regions and provinces including Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Yunnan and Sichuan moved to shut down crypto mining operations. China has long expressed displeasure with the anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies and since 2017 has banned all virtual currency exchanges and fundraising. The country has longstanding rules that bar banks from offering crypto-related services. However, in the past few years, individuals have moved to trade the digital coins on over-the-counter platforms and even offshore exchanges. In the Monday statement, the central bank ordered the financial institutions to launch sweeping inspections of all accounts linked to crypto exchanges and over-the-counter platforms and to cut off their capital flows. The banks pledged to follow the central bank's orders and step up inspections of crypto activity. Alipay also said it would "continue to conduct a comprehensive investigation and strike against virtual currency transactions" and "intensify" its crackdown on cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin stayed near the day's lows after China's announcement, trading down 9% Monday at $32,500. ^ top ^



DPRK reiterates no possibility of any talks with U.S. (Xinhua)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) reaffirmed its position here on Wednesday that it is not considering any possibility of contact with Washington, as that would only be wasting time, the Korean Central News Agency reported. According to the report, DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon made a statement saying "we are not considering even the possibility of any contact with the U.S., let alone having it, which would get us nowhere, only taking up precious time." Ri also said his ministry "welcomes the clear-cut press statement issued by the vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, which is to brush off hasty judgment, conjecture and expectation of the U.S." He was referring to a statement on Tuesday by Kim Yo Jong, who said Washington's expectation of resuming talks with Pyongyang was wrong and "would plunge them into a greater disappointment." On Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un's comments of preparing both dialogue and conflict with the United States at a recent plenary session of the Party as an "interesting signal" and said the United States will "wait to see whether they are followed up with any kind of more direct communication to us about a potential path forward." ^ top ^

Sullivan says comments by DPRK leader "interesting signal" (Xinhua)
The United States regarded the recent comments made by Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), as an "interesting signal," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday. The DPRK leader said Thursday that his country should get prepared for both dialogue and confrontation with the United States, especially for confrontation, to protect the DPRK's dignity and interests for independent development, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. "His comments this week we regard as an interesting signal. And we will wait to see whether they are followed up with any kind of more direct communication to us about a potential path forward," Sullivan said in an interview with ABC News. He reaffirmed that the Biden administration is prepared to engage in "principled negotiations" with Pyongyang to deal with its nuclear program, with the ultimate objective of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Sung Kim, the newly appointed U.S. special envoy for the DPRK, arrived in Seoul on Saturday for a three-way meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts over the denuclearization issue. The Biden administration at the end of April completed its policy review toward the DPRK. The White House said it had reached out to Pyongyang through several channels but had not yet received any response. Kim Jong Un and former U.S. President Donald Trump held their first summit in Singapore in June 2018, agreeing on a complete denuclearization of and a lasting peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula. Denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been stalled since the second Kim-Trump summit ended without agreement in February 2019 in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. ^ top ^



Political consultation held between Mongolian and Italian foreign ministries (Montsame)
On June 22, political consultation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Republic was held via videoconference. Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Munkhjin Batsumber and Undersecretary of the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Manlio De Stefano led the Mongolian and Italian sides, respectively. During the meeting, two sides had extended talks on bilateral political relations and exchanged views on other areas of mutual interest, including cooperation within the regional and international fora. ^ top ^

Parliamentary standing committee chair meets Russian Ambassador (Montsame)
Member of the Parliament, chair of parliamentary standing committee on security and foreign policy B.Battumur had a meeting with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Mongolia Iksander Azizov. At the beginning of the meeting, MP B.Batumur expressed pleasure with the strategic partnership between the Mongolia and Russia has been elevated to comprehensive strategic partnership as part of Mongolia's key foreign policy objective to maintain friendly neighborly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation. Emphasizing the successful development of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the two countries, he said results of Mongolian Foreign Minister B.Battsetseg's visit to Russia indicate the active development of relations between the legislatures. The sides discussed the virtual meeting to be held between the parliamentary standing committee on security and foreign policy and the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs on June 29 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mongolia-Russia diplomatic relations, mining, transport, and economic cooperation as well as ongoing joint large-scale projects. ^ 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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