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
  16-20.8.2021, No. 879  
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Foreign Policy

China, Russia embassies stay put in Afghanistan as US and allies flee Taliban (SCMP)
As the US and its allies scrambled to evacuate their staff from Afghanistan, China has asked the "various factions" in the country to ensure the safety of its citizens and interests. Afghanistan, China has asked the "various factions" in the country to ensure the safety of its citizens and interests. The Chinese embassy in Kabul signalled on Sunday that it had been contact with the Taliban and would be staying put as the insurgent forces neared a complete takeover of the country. "The Chinese embassy has requested various factions in Afghanistan to ensure the safety of Chinese nations, Chinese institutions and Chinese interests," it said. "The embassy will take further steps to remind Chinese nationals to closely follow the security situation, increase safety precautions and to refrain from going outside." Russia's embassy has also said it had no plans to evacuate. A Taliban spokesman said it had assured "all embassies, diplomatic centres, institutions, places and foreign nationals" in Kabul that they would remain safe, as its sweeping and rapid advances on Sunday left the capital city in disarray. By Monday, Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani had left the country, marking the stunning collapse of the army and government after a costly, 20-year US military campaign to support them, and the return of Taliban rule. The militant group said it would work towards transitioning the country under an "open, inclusive Islamic government", raising concerns that advances for democracy as well as for Afghan women and minorities in the past two decades will be lost. A joint statement on Monday from more than 65 countries – including the US, Britain, Germany, Japan, Australia, the European Union, Niger, Fiji, Uganda and others, but not China or Russia – called on "all parties to respect and facilitate the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country". "Those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility – and accountability – for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order" it said. "Afghans and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so; roads, airports and border crossing must remain open, and calm must be maintained." UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged the Taliban and others to "exercise utmost restraint to protect lives" and ensure humanitarian needs are met. "Conflict in Afghanistan is forcing hundreds of thousands to flee amid reports of serious human rights violations," he said on Twitter. "All abuses must stop. International humanitarian law and human rights, especially the hard-won gains of women and girls, must be preserved." One of China's main concerns – raised in a meeting with senior Taliban leaders in July – is the future of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement which Beijing has blamed for unrest in its Xinjiang region. Foreign Minister Wang Yi secured a commitment from the Taliban that it would not let any force "use the Afghan territory to engage in acts detrimental to China". Xinjiang region. Foreign Minister Wang Yi secured a commitment from the Taliban that it would not let any force "use the Afghan territory to engage in acts detrimental to China". At the same meeting, in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin, Wang slammed the US for its "hasty withdrawal" from Afghanistan and said the Taliban was an "important military and political force" that was "expected to play an important role in the country's peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process". In April, US President Joe Biden 's administration announced it would withdraw US troops from the country by September 11 after his predecessor Donald Trump struck a deal in February 2020 with the Taliban to reduce the US presence there. ^ top ^

China could participate in post-war reconstruction in Afghanistan: experts (People's Daily)
The Afghan Taliban's military offensive has been moving faster than observers worldwide have expected, and it looks like it is just a matter of time before Kabul is taken, as latest reports from foreign media showed that the Taliban fighters have entered the capital and are negotiating with Afghan government officials on a peaceful transition of power. Although some voices from the West are expecting China to play a bigger role in Afghanistan after the sudden US pullout, even are speculating that China might send troops to fill the vacuum left by the US, Chinese experts said such speculation is totally groundless, and the most China can do is to evacuate Chinese nationals if a massive humanitarian crisis occurs, or to contribute to post-war reconstruction and development, pushing forward projects under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) when safety and stability are restored in the war-torn country. The US can't just leave and take no more responsibility in the region, and if Afghanistan encounters serious humanitarian problems, such as a refugee crisis, Washington should cooperate with other regional countries and at least provide economic assistance, because it was the US that has created this mess, experts noted. If the Taliban builds a new country after it takes complete control, it should keep its promise to cut off all ties with terrorists, extremists and separatists - the "Three Evils" - in the region, and make sure Afghanistan does not become a breeding ground for those forces. Only by doing so can it win more recognition worldwide than it had before the US invasion after 9/11, Chinese analysts said. They noted that if Afghanistan becomes a breeding ground for the "Three Evils," the UN Security Council may consider sending a UN peacekeeping force into the country. According to AP, Taliban fighters entered Kabul on Sunday and sought the unconditional surrender of the central government, officials said, as Afghans and foreigners alike raced for the exit, signaling the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and First Vice President Amrullah Saleh have left the country and headed to Tajikistan, from where they are going to a third country, media reported. The beleaguered Afghan central government, meanwhile, hopes for an interim administration, but increasingly had few cards to play… Helicopters buzzed overhead, some apparently evacuating personnel at the US Embassy. Several other Western missions were also preparing to get staff out, AP reported. Many netizens worldwide compared the current situation with the US evacuation from Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam in 1975, to mock the US failure and pointless military actions in the developing world, as well as those people who still have wishful thinking when it comes to the US government. Some Chinese web users said on China's Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo that "those people who deeply believe in the US never learn the lesson, they just get abandoned by Americans like rubbish," and "the 20-year war ends like a joke. American soldiers died for nothing, the Taliban returned, and the only change is more people have died and American taxpayers have wasted their money to feed the US military-industrial tycoons." Earlier the same day, according to Al Jazeera, the Taliban had taken control of Afghanistan's Jalalabad without a fight, according to officials and a resident, effectively leaving the capital Kabul as the last major urban area under government control. Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies in Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Sunday that "the Taliban's progress is faster than expected. Previously, many observers worldwide expressed concern that the Taliban's military actions would cause a massive humanitarian crisis, but in fact, the Taliban's performance has not been bad so far." "We didn't see massacres or women get abused, and most major cities were captured without a fight. There are some accusations against the Taliban, but we didn't see hard evidence yet. The US embassy's evacuation also didn't get interrupted or attacked even though the Taliban troops have already entered Kabul. All of this shows that the war won't end violently," Zhu said. On July 28, 2021, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in Tianjin with the visiting delegation led by head of the Afghan Taliban Political Commission Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The heads of the Afghan Taliban's religious council and publicity committee were also part of the delegation. Wang pointed out, "We hope the Afghan Taliban will make a clean break with all terrorist organizations including ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) and resolutely and effectively combat them to remove obstacles, play a positive role and create enabling conditions for security, stability, development and cooperation in the region." Baradar told Wang in Tianjin that "the Afghan Taliban will never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to engage in acts detrimental to China. The Afghan Taliban believes that Afghanistan should develop friendly relations with neighboring countries and the international community." Zhu said that the world needs to be prepared to deal with a new Afghanistan under Taliban control, and the key is whether the Taliban would keep its promise to make sure no force can use their country's soil to threaten other countries in the region, and be more inclusive rather than extreme, and then more countries will recognize the country. In Tianjin last month, Wang also said that "the hasty withdrawal of the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan actually marks the failure of the US policy on Afghanistan. The Afghan people now have an important opportunity to achieve national stability and development." But some voices from the West still want to make excuses for the US' humiliation. Reuters published an analysis on Sunday entitled: As Taliban advances, China lays groundwork to accept an awkward reality. The article said the Taliban's momentum as US forces withdraw is awkward for China, which has blamed religious extremism as a destabilizing force in its western Xinjiang region and has long worried that Taliban-controlled territory would be used to harbor separatist forces. In fact, the US is the one that should have felt embarrassed and awkward, said Chinese analysts, and the reason why some Western media or analysts made such comments is that they want China to repeat the mistake made by the US - "stepping on the ground of the graveyard of empires." Zhu said the West is trying to set traps for China. "The current situation is a mess for the US, and will impact countries in the region, and then the impact will come to us [China]. If the Taliban controls the country immediately and brings about stability, this would not be bad news. Extremism and terrorism would be restrained in a stable country that realizes a peaceful transfer without chaos." Of course, some "Three Evils" forces in the region will be encouraged, but Afghanistan's impact on China should not be exaggerated, and the US is the one with the headache, Zhu said. He noted that other anti-government armed forces in the region are unlikely to replicate the progress that Taliban has made in Afghanistan. Pan Guang, a senior expert on counter-terrorism and Afghan studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that "in order to prevent the situation from spilling over, China has already started counter-terrorism cooperation with other countries in the region including Tajikistan and Pakistan to strengthen border control." What China could do is participate in the post-war reconstruction and provide investment to help the country's future development, Pan said. "The US can't just run away. It should also take responsibility to rebuild the country and provide assistance. Washington should be supportive of international cooperation on anti-drug and refugee issues," Pan said. "If Afghanistan encounters a huge crisis in the future, the UN Security Council would need to be united and pass a resolution to send a peacekeeping force, and this would need the US to be supportive and responsible as well." ^ top ^

As US turns inward, China looks to expand its role in the Middle East (SCMP)
China is pushing for a bigger role in the Middle East by promising to work more closely with the region's main players to resolve disputes and ensure stability, as the United States beats a hasty retreat from Afghanistan and remains in a deadlock with Iran. The pledge was reinforced by China's special envoy for Middle East affairs Zhai Jun on Tuesday, when he said that China was closely concerned with developments in the region. His remarks, to a virtual forum attended by academics and former officials from the region, came as a stark contrast to the diminishing role of the US in the Middle East – where Tehran is stepping up its nuclear programme – and further afield in Afghanistan, where the evacuation from Kabul has drawn comparisons with the end of the Vietnam war in 1975. Zhai highlighted China's recent engagement in the Middle East, including two visits this year by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who promised to support the sovereignty of countries facing serious conflict, rejecting foreign interference, as well as cooperation in fighting the pandemic. According to a readout from the Chinese foreign ministry, Zhai said Wang's visit – along with China's proposals relating to stability in Syria, the Palestinian-Israel dispute, Iran's nuclear deal and peace in the Middle East – reflected Beijing's "willingness to defend international justice and resolve conflicts and disputes to contribute Chinese wisdom to the search for long-term stability in the region". Zhai said China would work with the Middle Eastern nations to build a "collective security mechanism" for the region. "In the future, China is willing to work together with countries in the Middle East in deepening anti-pandemic cooperation … safeguarding fairness and justice, building collective security and building a higher level of partnership," he said. China is one of the few countries to maintain good relations with the Arab countries as well as Israel and Iran. Beijing has said the territorial sovereignty of Syria should be respected, and has opposed any attempt to promote regime change in the war-torn country. Over the past few months, China has stepped up engagement with the region, offering to help Middle Eastern nations battle the Covid-19 pandemic, and pushing for talks on a free-trade deal between Beijing and the Gulf Cooperation Council. As for Iran, China has pledged to strengthen ties with Tehran and opposed sanctions against the nation. According to official figures, China is now the Arab states' largest trading partner, reaching nearly US$24 billion in bilateral trade last year. The region is also the biggest source for China's crude oil imports. The Middle East's position at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia has seen growing Chinese investment in the region under President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative. The multibillion-dollar scheme promotes infrastructure connectivity to boost trade and investment between China and the rest of the world, but is viewed by critics as part of Beijing's efforts to expand its global clout. China and Middle Eastern nations face a rising security challenge, as the US has shifted its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific, Sun Degang, a Middle East affairs expert with Fudan University, said. "The US has reduced its foreign policy focus on the Middle East and shifted [this] to the Asia-Pacific region, which is likely to result in a power vacuum and security deficiencies that pose a threat to the security of Chinese personnel and investments in the region," Sun said. As a result, China is seeking "face-to-face" coordination with Middle Eastern countries to prevent the possible upgrade of risks, Sun said. "China is seeking another approach – that is to engage in consultations through multilateral platforms, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, to promote regional stability, rather than the US approach of dividing the region into friends and enemies," Sun said. Li Guofu, a Middle East affairs expert from China Institute of International Studies, said the concept of collective security, introduced by Foreign Minister Wang last year, was a new mechanism aimed at reducing the risks of turmoil in the region, where China's interests were expanding, given the deepening of belt and road ties there. China's Middle East charm offensive continued on Tuesday with the announcement that it will host the fifth China-Arab State Expo this week in the northwestern city of Yinchuan in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, home to a large Muslim population. More than 239 companies will take part in the expo, representing sectors such as clean energy, medical care, digital economy and cross-border e-commerce. Ningxia government officials said the expo would help promote tech transfer and disputes mediation. ^ top ^

Xi calls for steady development of China-Iran partnership (Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Wednesday that China stands ready to work with Iran to push for steady and sustained development of their comprehensive strategic partnership. He made the remarks in a phone conversation with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Xi pointed out that since the establishment of China-Iran diplomatic ties 50 years ago, bilateral relations have stood the test of international changes, with the friendship between the people of the two countries growing ever stronger. In the face of a complicated situation that combines profound global changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century, China and Iran have stood together and helped each other, Xi noted. While working together against COVID-19, the two countries have strengthened solidarity and coordination, made positive progress in practical cooperation, effectively cemented strategic mutual trust, and firmly defended international fairness and justice, he said. China appreciates Iran's active efforts to develop bilateral relations, Xi said, stressing that no matter how the international and regional situation changes, China will unswervingly develop friendly relations with Iran. The two sides, he suggested, should continue to support each other on issues related to their core interests and major concerns. China firmly supports Iran in safeguarding its sovereignty and national dignity, and opposes external interference, he said, adding that China is willing to work with Iran to enhance experience sharing on state governance, strengthen cooperation in pandemic response, advance their respective development, and promote the people's well-being in both countries. The plan for China-Iran comprehensive cooperation has opened up broader prospects for deepening bilateral win-win cooperation, Xi said, adding that the two sides should tap deeply into their potential, actively promote Belt and Road cooperation, and produce more results in practical cooperation. China, Xi said, supports Iran's legitimate concerns on the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue, and stands ready to strengthen coordination and cooperation with Iran on regional affairs, so as to jointly safeguard common interests and promote regional security and stability. For his part, Raisi expressed warm congratulations on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Iran and China. It is a foreign policy priority and focus of the Iranian government to steadfastly develop a more robust comprehensive strategic partnership with China, he said. The Iranian side, he said, thanks China for providing Iran with valuable support to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, appreciates China's fair positions on international and regional affairs, including the Iranian nuclear issue. Iran stands ready to work with China to intensify strategic communication, enhance strategic mutual trust, deepen bilateral cooperation and multilateral coordination, and jointly oppose unilateralism, hegemonism and external interference, Raisi added. The Iranian side firmly supports China's positions on issues concerning Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and staunchly opposes certain countries using the issue of COVID-19 origins tracing as a pretext to suppress and contain China, he said. China's Belt and Road Initiative brims with strategic vision, and Iran is willing to actively participate in it, he added. ^ top ^

China's open and transparent approach says no to US politicization of virus origin tracing (People's Daily)
The World Health Organization's (WHO) plan for the second phase of its study into the origins of COVID-19 was put forward unilaterally by the WHO Secretariat without receiving the prior approval of all member states. The plan overturned conclusions in the report on the joint WHO-China study, which were science-based and authoritative. The proposal, which represents an unhealthy trend towards politicizing the origins of the novel coronavirus, faces objections from China as well as the international community. China has always taken an open, transparent, scientific and cooperative attitude on the issue of origin tracing. It believes that the next phase of the study into the virus' origins should respect the results of the previous round of investigations, relying mainly on scientists, and remaining unperturbed by politics, while efforts should be made to expand research into traceability in various other countries and regions around the world. Media outlets and scientists from Russia, South Korea and the Philippines have also called for investigations to be carried out in the US in search of the virus' origins. China has twice invited WHO experts to China to conduct joint research on the subject of origin tracing, and it has submitted a plan to the WHO for the next phase of origin tracing. According to the plan, the second phase should rely mainly on scientists, and conduct evidence-based scientific research only. The second phase should not repeat work that was already conducted during the first phase, especially where conclusive findings were already reached. The practices, mechanisms and approaches used during the first phase should be drawn on to conduct further studies in an orderly and smooth manner. A team of experts should be selected on the basis of the makeup of the first phase team and their expertise, international reputation and practical experience should be fully respected. Besides being open and transparent, China has also actively worked to maintain the scientific and fair nature of COVID-19 origin tracing. The origin-tracing work for the novel coronavirus is a scientific issue, and the virus' transmission from a host animal to humans should and can only be thoroughly researched by scientists, so as to avert future risks and safeguard the health of all human beings. The Chinese government places a high importance on carrying out scientific studies into origin tracing. By July 19, Chinese research teams and their counterparts from the US and the UK jointly published 225 research papers on origin tracing for COVID-19. The Chinese research teams have released 352 origin-tracing themed papers, and Chinese experts have held six video talks with US experts on pandemic control. China has also actively promoted the sharing of scientific research data and information by building a COVID-19 database which is open to the whole world. China has also suggested that efforts should be made to advance traceability research in various other countries and regions across the world. Recently, Professor Ju Liya, a doctor of immunology at the Pasteur Institute in France, said in an exclusive interview that judging from the overall situation of the pandemic, it is an obvious fact that COVID-19 has multiple origins and broke out in multiple places. Research results published in the European Journal of Epidemiology indicated that the novel coronavirus first occurred in Europe as early as November 2019. A report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the novel coronavirus was first identified in the US in December 2019. Researchers from the Milan Italian National Institute of Health found that the COVID-19 virus may have been circulating in Italy as early as late summer 2019. These facts have indicated that it is very necessary to carry out virus origin tracing in multiple countries and regions around the world. The US has been hyping the "lab leak" theory by manipulating international public opinion with the aim of politicizing the origin-tracing process. However, no staff member or postgraduate student at the Wuhan Institute of Virology have been infected with COVID-19. The institute has neither carried out gain-of-function studies into COVID-19 nor has it ever had any so-called man-made viruses. It is a shared belief that, just as the resolution for the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) reiterated, the next phase of virus-tracing should be an open and transparent process and should not be manipulated by certain countries. China has never rejected cooperation in tracing the origins of COVID-19 but has all along supported and will continue to take part in science-based origin-tracing efforts, said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu. In the meantime, China will continue to act on relevant work recommendations in the report on the joint WHO-China study and actively conduct further follow-up research concerning China as recommended in the report, Ma noted. "What China opposes is politicizing origin-tracing, or origin-tracing that goes against the WHA resolution and disregards the report on the joint study. What it supports is science-based origin-tracing efforts," Ma noted. The findings and recommendations in the report on the WHO-China study are recognized by the international community and the scientific community, and they must be respected and implemented by all parties, including the WHO Secretariat. All future origin tracing should be carried out on the basis of the report, instead of outside of its framework. ^ top ^

Chinese FM, ASEAN envoy to Myanmar exchange views on ties, situation in Myanmar (Xinhua)
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday had a phone conversation with Haji Erywan, special envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to Myanmar and Brunei's second minister of foreign affairs, over ties and the situation in Myanmar. Wang expressed his appreciation for Brunei's contribution to the development of China-ASEAN relations as the rotating chair of ASEAN, and thanked Brunei for its support in elevating the positioning of China-ASEAN relations. He said he hoped that Brunei will continue to play a positive role to ensure that a commemorative meeting marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN will be successful and achieve more important results. Noting that September marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Brunei, Wang expressed his hope that the two sides will take this opportunity to carry forward traditional friendship, deepen the Belt and Road cooperation, and push for new development of China-Brunei strategic cooperative partnership. Anti-pandemic cooperation remains a top priority currently, Wang said, adding that China attaches great importance to the needs of Brunei, will send a batch of vaccines to Brunei and deliver them as soon as possible, and lend a helping hand to Brunei when the country most needs it. Both China and ASEAN countries are friends of Myanmar and hope that Myanmar will achieve peace and stability, Wang said after listening to Erywan's views on the current situation in Myanmar. Noting that China welcomes the appointment of Erywan as ASEAN's special envoy to Myanmar, Wang expressed his belief that Erywan can uphold the ASEAN way and play a unique role in accordance with the five-point consensus reached in April by ASEAN leaders regarding the situation in Myanmar to help different parties in Myanmar find a political solution within the constitutional framework through dialogue. Wang said that China has the following suggestions: First, deal with all parties in Myanmar in a rational and pragmatic manner and gradually build trust; Second, give top priority to helping Myanmar in its fight against COVID-19, and ensure the accessibility and effectiveness of such assistance; Third, remain patient and determined, stick to the direction of promoting peace talks, return government to the people in an orderly manner and restart the democratic process, which not only serves the interests of Myanmar but also meets the expectations of the international community; Fourth, stay vigilant against and oppose interference in Myanmar's internal affairs by extraterritorial forces, and earnestly respect Myanmar's sovereignty and the choice of its people. China's friendly policy towards Myanmar has always been oriented towards all the people of Myanmar, and China will provide urgently-needed help to Myanmar through various channels, Wang stressed, adding that China will fully support ASEAN's special envoy in performing his duties and is willing to continue to play a constructive role in promoting a political settlement of the Myanmar issue. For his part, Erywan thanked China for its continuous assistance of medical supplies and vaccines to Brunei when Brunei is confronting a new wave of COVID-19 pandemic. He said he hopes that the two countries can mark the 30th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties as a milestone, to give full play to the role of the China-Brunei intergovernmental joint steering committee, and further deepen cooperation in various fields, such as energy, agriculture and fishery. Myanmar is an important member of the big ASEAN family, Erywan noted, adding that as ASEAN's special envoy to Myanmar, he will be dedicated to pushing forward the implementation of the five-point consensus, advancing dialogue among relevant parties in the ASEAN way, stopping violence, promoting inclusiveness, and helping Myanmar better fulfill its commitments to the international community. ASEAN appreciates and supports China's continuous crucial role in the Myanmar issue, and is willing to strengthen coordination and carry out cooperation with China, he said. ^ top ^

Meng Wanzhou's Canadian extradition hearings are over, almost 1,000 days after airport arrest (SCMP)
Meng Wanzhou first walked into a Canadian courtroom on December 5, 2018, an anonymous figure dressed in a dark green prison tracksuit. Four days earlier, the Huawei Technologies' executive had been arrested at Vancouver International Airport, setting in motion a chain of events that would throw China's relations with Canada and the United States into crisis. Her battle to avoid extradition to New York, to face trial for fraud, would become a distillation of the tectonic shifts and tensions in global geopolitics. Events in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver would reverberate from Beijing to Washington and Ottawa. On Wednesday, almost 1,000 days after her arrest on a stopover from Hong Kong to Mexico, Meng's extradition hearings finally concluded. But although the marathon hearing process is over, a decision by the judge whether to free Meng or recommend to Canada's Minister of Justice David Lametti that she be sent for trial for fraud in New York will take months to deliver. The committal hearings in the Supreme Court of British Columbia wrapped up two days earlier than expected. Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes adjourned the hearing by saying she would hold a case management conference by phone on October 21, at which time she would announce a date for rendering her ruling. "No one has received a fairer extradition hearing in this country than Ms Meng," Robert Frater, a Canadian government lawyer representing US interests in the case, said near the end of the hearing. A single reporter for the local Vancouver Sun newspaper witnessed Meng's unheralded first court appearance, but by the end of that day, her arrest had become the biggest story in the world; when the bail hearing resumed a couple of days later, about 100 reporters attended. On Wednesday, the process seemed to have come full circle. There was no media scrum for the conclusion of the hearings; pandemic precautions restricted in-person attendance and most reporters were listening in by phone. Huawei Canada said in a statement: "From the start, Huawei has been confident in Ms Meng's innocence and has trusted the Canadian judicial system. Accordingly, Huawei has been supporting Ms Meng's pursuit of justice and freedom. We continue to do so today". Earlier in the day, Frater had told the court that a PowerPoint presentation Meng made to an HSBC banker about Huawei's business in Iran was dishonest enough to establish a prima facie case of fraud and that she could be sent to face trial in the US. "There was some truth, but we say not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," said Frater, the Canadian Department of Justice's chief general counsel. Frater repeatedly told Holmes she could not consider the "alternative inferences" that Meng's lawyers have suggested about evidence in the case; in a written submission, Frater and his colleagues said that only inferences supporting extradition could be considered for the purposes of a committal hearing. Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei and a daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, is accused of defrauding HSBC by lying to it about Huawei's business dealings in Iran, conducted via an affiliate called Skycom, thus putting the bank at risk of breaching American sanctions on Tehran. The alleged deceit centres on the presentation Meng made in a Hong Kong teahouse in 2013 that was intended to allay HSBC's concerns about the Iran dealings of Huawei and its affiliates. Meng denies the fraud charges. Her lawyers told the committal hearing this week that no deceit occurred because Meng had been "crystal clear" in the presentation that Huawei was doing business in Iran, and that no fraud could have taken place because HSBC suffered no loss and no risk of loss. But Frater told Holmes that Meng's presentation was "blatantly misleading" because she had not disclosed the true nature of the relationship between Huawei and Skycom. Instead of being a "third-party partner" of Huawei, as Meng's lawyers agree she depicted Skycom, the two companies were one and the same, Frater said. Frater said that had Meng been "forthright" with the HSBC banker, known as Witness B, she would have told him: "Both Huawei and Skycom are working in Iran and have been conducting banking transactions with you; indeed we plan to continue to do so. And you should also be aware, if you are not already, that Huawei wholly owns Skycom". Frater said Meng's lawyers had attempted the "Herculean task" of arguing that Skycom was not a subsidiary of Huawei in a legalistic sense, as if Meng and Witness B were "professors of corporate law". In her presentation, Meng described the companies as being in a "controllable" relationship. "You should have no difficulty finding dishonesty sufficient to make a prima facie case of fraud," Frater told Holmes. In their committal submission, Frater and his colleagues reminded Holmes that the extradition hearing was not a trial and that she could only consider the evidence in a way that favoured Meng being sent to the US for trial. But Meng's lawyers were trying to offer competing narratives about the nature and purpose of the PowerPoint presentation. "As you know, it is not your role to accept alternative inferences," Frater told Holmes. Both sides agree that HSBC suffered no actual financial loss as a result of Meng's statements, but the crown's lawyers say the risks of a sanctions investigation, reputational damage and potential losses to its loans to Huawei satisfied the element of "deprivation" necessary for a fraud charge. Most of the extradition battle has been devoted to the arguments of Meng's lawyers that she suffered such an "egregious" abuse of process that the entire case must be stayed and she should be released. That argument is broken into four branches: that the US case was politically tainted by former US president Donald Trump and others to help the Americans win a trade war with China; that Meng's Canadian Charter rights were violated by police and border officers; that US authorities misled the Canadian court with "manifestly unreliable" records of the case; and that the prosecution is contrary to international law. Those arguments are still being considered by Holmes. But last week the court began the committal hearings, the final courtroom process before Holmes decides whether to release Meng or recommend to Lametti that she be sent for trial. The final decision on whether to surrender Meng to US authorities rests with the minister. During the committal hearings, the crown must only establish a prima facie case of fraud – that is, that Meng's conduct would be worthy of a trial if it had occurred in Canada. In their written submission, the government lawyers said "committal [for trial] must follow if there are reasonable inferences available that support guilt, even if they are not the strongest or most compelling inferences that arise from the evidence". "It matters not whether the case is strong or weak, or even whether it is 'unlikely to succeed at trial'. If there is an inference available on the evidence to satisfy the elements of the offence, the inference must be drawn and committal ordered," they wrote. Canadian case law had established that a fraud charge could cover "the entire panoply of dishonest commercial dealings", and there was "ample evidence" in the US records of the case to justify Meng's committal, they wrote. Frater said Meng's lawyers were trying to argue that unless a lie was told in a specific way, "you are free to tell all the fibs you want". "She [Meng] attempted to calm fears that there was risk of any kind … that was the dominant message of the PowerPoint," Frater said. He added: "We say that we have met our burden and she should be committed … to await surrender". Experts say that regardless of what Holmes decides, appeals are likely, potentially dragging out the case for years. The committal hearings coincided with an escalation of diplomatic tensions. On August 11, the day committal began, a Chinese court announced that it had convicted Canadian Michael Spavor of espionage and sentenced him to 11 years' jail. Spavor and fellow Canadian Michael Kovrig were arrested in China in the days after Meng's detention, and they were put on trial this year. No verdict has been announced in Kovrig's case. The Canadian government considers both arrests retaliatory and the men victims of arbitrary detention. For now, Meng remains ensconced in a C$13.7 million (US$10.9 million) mansion, a couple of doors down from the official residence of the US consul-general. It is one of two homes she owns in Vancouver. She lives there under partial house arrest, allowed to roam the city, but wearing a GPS tracker on her ankle and accompanied by security guards tasked with preventing her escape. How much longer she remains in this gilded cage is now up to Holmes and Lametti. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Xi stresses promoting common prosperity amid high-quality development, forestalling major financial risks (Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping Tuesday stressed efforts to promote common prosperity in the pursuit of high-quality development and coordinate work on forestalling major financial risks. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at the tenth meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs. He is also head of the committee. Common prosperity is an essential requirement of socialism and a key feature of Chinese-style modernization, Xi said, calling for adhering to the people-centered development philosophy and promoting common prosperity while pursuing high-quality development. Noting that finance is the core of the modern economy, the president stressed that efforts to fend off major financial risks should be coordinated in line with market principles and the rule of law. Other Chinese leaders including Li Keqiang, Wang Yang, Wang Huning and Han Zheng attended the meeting. The meeting heard reports from relevant departments on advancing common prosperity as well as forestalling major financial risks and stabilizing financial development. As China marches towards its second centenary goal, the focus of promoting people's well-being should be put on boosting common prosperity to strengthen the foundation for the Party's long-term governance, said the meeting. Rather than being egalitarian or having only a few people prosperous, common prosperity refers to affluence shared by everyone, both in material and cultural terms, and shall be advanced step by step, it said. The meeting encouraged creating conditions that are more inclusive and fair for people to get better education and improve their development capabilities, as well as shaping a development environment that provides chances for more people to become wealthy. The meeting called for establishing a scientific public policy system and a reasonable distribution system that benefits everyone with a focus on primary and inclusive projects that facilitate people's well-being and guarantee their basic needs. Achieving common prosperity will be a long-term, arduous and complicated task that should be promoted in a gradual and progressive manner, it said, adding local authorities will be encouraged to explore effective ways that suit local conditions. The meeting underlined efforts to properly deal with the relationship between efficiency and fairness, make basic institutional arrangements on income distribution, expand the size of the middle-income group, increase the earnings for the low-income groups, adjust excessive incomes and prohibit illicit income to promote social fairness and justice. Hailing the importance of advancing balanced, coordinated and inclusive development, the meeting stressed that China should improve the socialist market economy, strengthen balanced development among regions and promote coordinated development across industries. Basic public services should be made more equally accessible by increasing inclusive human resources investment and improving the systems of elderly care, medical security and housing supply, the meeting noted. The meeting called for protecting property rights, intellectual property rights and money-making through legal means and facilitating the well-regulated and healthy development of different types of capital. It also underscored common prosperity in terms of meeting people's spiritual and cultural needs. Meanwhile, the country should promote common prosperity among farmers and in rural areas, consolidate and expand achievements in poverty elimination, as well as advance rural vitalization on all fronts. Efforts should be made to strike a balance between ensuring stable growth and preventing risks, consolidate the momentum of economic recovery, ensure high-quality economic development to defuse systemic financial risks, and prevent secondary financial risks while addressing risks in other areas, said the meeting. The meeting stressed making financial supervision more digital and intelligent, taking integrated steps to punish financial corruption and prevent and control financial risks, and accelerating reforms in key areas. ^ top ^

Draft law to safeguard personal information (China Daily)
New technologies and applications for handling personal information are expected to be regulated by a draft law to further protect people's rights in cyberspace, a legislator said on Friday. The draft law on personal information protection will be submitted to a session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, for a third review this week, said Zang Tiewei, a member of the committee's Legislative Affairs Commission. "The draft includes some rules on new technologies and applications that use individuals' personal data to automatically provide services or products, as they have created problems for people," he said. The rules target technology and apps offering services or products after using automated programs to analyze individuals' behavior, hobbies or their income, health and credit. Zang highlighted the principle in the draft that individuals and organizations handling personal information should fully inform the owners of such data and get their permission before collecting, storing or using it, adding that "those using automated programs also need to follow the rules". In addition, the draft has identified personal data of people under age 14 as sensitive information, requiring personal information handlers to take this into consideration when collecting, storing or using it. Information related to ethnicity, religion, biological features, financial accounts and whereabouts had already been designated as sensitive data and should be handled more strictly. According to its proposed agenda, the NPC Standing Committee's session will run from Tuesday to Friday, during which time lawmakers will also review draft laws related to other issues, including supervision, legal aid, physicians, organized crime, family education and land borders. They will also read draft revisions of the Military Service Law, the Law on Scientific and Technological Progress, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Noise Pollution, the Seed Law and the Population and Family Planning Law. Lawmakers will also deliberate on a draft decision to include more national laws in the list of laws in Annex III to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and a similar one concerning Annex III to the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region. Other documents, including reports on the implementation of the national socioeconomic development plan and this year's budget will also be submitted to the top legislature for review. ^ top ^

China's top legislature starts standing committee session (Xinhua)
The Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, started its 30th session Tuesday in Beijing. Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over the session's first plenary meeting. Lawmakers reviewed draft laws on personal information protection, supervisors, legal aid, and physicians. They also reviewed a draft revision to the Military Service Law. In reports submitted to the session, the NPC Constitution and Law Committee said the five drafts are mature enough and suggested them be passed at the session. The NPC Constitution and Law Committee also submitted to the session draft laws on combating organized crime, on family education and on land border. The three drafts all returned to the legislature for a second reading. Lawmakers deliberated for the first time draft revisions to the Law on Scientific and Technological Progress and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Noise Pollution, and draft amendments to the Seed Law and the Population and Family Planning Law. The session reviewed a draft decision of the NPC Standing Committee on the addition to the list of national laws in Annex III to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and a draft decision of the NPC Standing Committee on the addition to the list of national laws in Annex III to the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region. Lawmakers also deliberated a draft decision on authorizing the Supreme People's Court to launch a pilot reform of the trial-level system, among other bills. ^ top ^

Chinese lawmakers meet to hear multiple reports (Xinhua)
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, held a plenary meeting on Wednesday to hear multiple reports. Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, attended the meeting, which was presided over by Cao Jianming, vice chairman of the committee. At the meeting, lawmakers heard a report on the implementation of the plan for national economic and social development. Since the start of this year, China's economy has been steadily recovering and has met projected target, which laid a solid foundation for achieving the goals for this year's economic and social development, according to the report. The report laid out the work priorities for the second half of the year, including continuing the solid efforts in COVID-19 prevention and control, and striving to keep economic growth within a reasonable range. A report on budget execution was also submitted to the meeting for review. From January to July, revenue in the national general public budget reached 13.77 trillion yuan (about 2.12 trillion U.S. dollars), up by 20 percent year-on-year. During the same period, expenditure in the national general public budget reached 13.79 trillion yuan, up by 3.3 percent year-on-year, according to the report. Work for the second half of the year will be focused on six aspects, including forestalling and defusing local governments' debt risks, and continuing the reform of the fiscal and taxation systems, said the report. Lawmakers heard a report on cultural relics work and the enforcement of the Law on Protection of Cultural Relics. Fully implementing the law, China has scored historic achievements in work in the area, said the report. It proposed several measures for future work, including upholding law-based management of cultural relics. The meeting also reviewed a report on the ecological conservation of the Xiongan New Area, and two law enforcement reports on the Enterprise Bankruptcy Law and the Animal Husbandry Law. ^ top ^

China issues regulation on IT infrastructure security (Xinhua)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has signed a State Council decree to publish an administrative regulation on major IT infrastructure security. The regulation was issued as the country's major IT infrastructure faces severe security challenges, including frequent cyberattacks, according to a State Council statement on Tuesday. The regulation, which will take effect on Sept. 1, defines what can be identified as major IT infrastructure projects, and clarifies the liabilities of operators concerning the security of these projects and the penalties for offenders. Major IT infrastructure projects are IT network facilities and information systems of major industries and in key areas, according to the regulation. The state cyberspace administration will take charge of coordination, the public security department will provide supervision, and the state telecom regulator and other relevant departments will be responsible for the security control of major IT infrastructure projects under their watch. Operators of major IT infrastructure projects bear the primary responsibility of maintaining the integrity, confidentiality and availability of relevant data, according to the regulation. It stipulates requirements for these operators to ensure cybersecurity, including conducting security checks and risk assessments every year and prioritizing safe and creditable internet products and services in procurement. Personal information and important data collected and produced by the operators during their operations within the Chinese mainland should be stored in the mainland, said the regulation, adding that security assessments will be necessary for business needs of providing such data overseas. Operators of major IT infrastructure projects and the relevant regulatory agencies will face administrative and criminal punishment if they fail in their duties, according to the regulation. Organizations and individuals that compromise the security of such infrastructure will also receive legal penalties, per the regulation. ^ top ^

Public servants punished for collapse (China Daily)
Forty-one public servants have been punished for a deadly collapse that claimed 29 lives at a rural restaurant in Shanxi province, the province's emergency management department said. Aside from administrative punishment and disciplinary penalties, some officials were summoned, according to a news release issued by the department on Monday. According to the Communist Party of China Constitution, there are five forms of disciplinary action for Party members: warning, severe warning, removal from a position within the Party, probation within the Party and expulsion from the Party. The department didn't specify the details of the punishments. The accident occurred on Aug 29 last year when family members and fellow villagers attended a birthday banquet for an 80-year-old man surnamed Li in Chenzhuang village, Xiangfen county. It also injured 28 people and caused direct economic losses of about 11.6 million yuan ($1.8 million). Frequent, unauthorized building expansion by unqualified contractors that resulted in a weight exceeding the building's carrying capacity, causing a pillar to break, and directly caused the collapse, the release said, adding that a downpour before the accident may also have been a factor. The restaurant was constructed without approval from local authorities. Its owners also ignored punishment from the local land resources authorities and a decision by a local court, the release said without elaborating. It added that the owner of the restaurant was in criminal custody, the restaurant had been ordered to clear farmland it illegally occupied and it had also been fined. The amount of the fine was not disclosed. The department also denounced the local authorities for dereliction of duty. They failed to address the restaurant's illegal, long-term operation, despite having rolled out a series of campaigns targeting the illegal occupation of land, the release said. The restaurant's owner illegally expanded the building eight times, changing the single-story building into a two-story structure with some makeshift rooms over its roof, according to a previous news release from the Ministry of Emergency Management. ^ top ^



Beijing to control after-school training (China Daily)
Beijing issued a regulation easing the burden heaped on students by schools and after-school training institutions on Wednesday, aiming to effectively reduce parents' expenses and children's homework load in two years. According to the regulation, primary school students in grades one and two should not be given written homework, in order to increase time for activities such as sports, reading and arts. Schools should offer after-school interest groups in fields such as science, art and dance. After-school training institutions will be strictly supervised. The city's education authorities announced on Tuesday that no more after-school subject training institutions will be approved for primary and middle school students. They have been popular with parents looking to push their children to improve their performance in particular subjects. Existing programs can continue as long as they meet standards after review, Beijing Municipal Education Commission spokesman Li Yi told a news conference on Tuesday. Beijing will continue easing the burden heaped on children in the form of after-school courses offered outside school. "The training institutions should not use holidays, weekends or vacation time in winter or summer to teach," he said. "Nor should they go public for financing." Li Yi added that public schools will increase their services to meet demand from students, such as providing after-class services to help with homework or other activities. Wang Shanshan, the mother of a 6-year-old boy, said she warmly welcomed the new regulation, which had eased "huge" pressure on her. "I'm glad that my boy has more time for fun, which is what he really needs at his age," she said. The training institutions have been adjusting to the changes. Li Liang, vice-president of New Oriental Education and Technology Group and head of Beijing New Oriental School, said the company will strictly follow the nation's policies. As one of the leading K-12 training companies in China, New Oriental, which is headquartered in Beijing's Haidian district, has been providing courses in English and other subjects for decades. Li Liang promised that all students and parents will be able to get tuition refunds. "We accept our social responsibility to promote innovative education for all-around development and will make our contribution to building a good industrial climate," Li Liang said. ^ top ^



Don't point the finger at China over Tibet, says senior official (SCMP)
No foreign entity has the right to criticise China over Tibet, a senior official said on Thursday as the region attracts greater international attention. "No one outside China has the right to point fingers at us when it comes to Tibetan affairs. Any attempt … to separate Tibet from China is doomed to fail," Wang Yang, the Communist Party official responsible forethnic affairs, told a ceremony outside the Potala Palace, Lhasa's best known landmark. Wang, the number four in the party hierarchy, is leading a delegation from Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival in the region of the People's Liberation Army, an event Beijing describes as a "peaceful liberation". The PLA's presence in the region started in 1951 after an agreement was signed between the central government and the administration in Lhasa. The current local government of Tibet, known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region, was founded in 1965. Wang, a member of the seven-man Politburo Standing Committee, also praised the party for fending off "sabotage attempts by the Dalai [Lama] clique", alongside economic development in the past 70 years. "Only by following the Chinese Communist Party's leadership and pursuing the path of socialism, can Tibet achieve development and prosperity," Wang said, according to the state news agency Xinhua, Tibet has attracted increased international attention amid China's growing tensions with the United States and India. Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Ngodup Dongchung, a representative of the Dalai Lama, prompting angry protests from Beijing. The US Congress has also passed a number of bills concerning Tibet in the past two years. Meanwhile, the disputed Himalayan border has become the scene of a prolonged stand-off between China and India including the deadliest clash between the two sides in decades last June. President Xi Jinping visited the region last month to mark the same anniversary, becoming the first top Chinese leader to visit the region since 1990. During the trip, he laid down Beijing's priorities in the region, including political stability, economic development, ecology and border security. Wang reiterated some of those talking points on Thursday, but also said that "all-round efforts" are needed to promote Chinese language education, and said "Chinese cultural symbols and images of the Chinese nation" should be shared by all ethnic groups. But in the same speech, Wang pledged greater protections for traditional Tibetan culture and said the Communist Party has committed huge resources to promote the use of the Tibetan language. Tibet has been a decades-long headache for Beijing since the Dalai Lama broke with the Chinese leadership and fled to India in 1959. Bouts of ethnic and religious unrest rocked the Tibetan capital Lhasa in 1989 and 2008. China has accused the exiled spiritual leader of instigating the disturbances, but rights groups said they had been triggered by Beijing's hardline policies and reflected people's desperation. ^ top ^

Xi Focus: 70 years on, Tibet embarks on new journey of modernization (Xinhua)
China's Tibet Autonomous Region is celebrating the 70th anniversary of peaceful liberation -- a turning point in the region's history -- as it starts a new journey of modernization after decades of leapfrog development. With the peaceful liberation in 1951, the people of Tibet broke free from the fetters of invading imperialism for good, and embarked on a bright road of unity, progress and development. In late July, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, visited the region to extend congratulations on the occasion, the first time in the history of the Party and the country. "It has been proved that without the CPC, there would have been neither New China nor new Tibet," Xi said during the visit. "The CPC Central Committee's guidelines and policies concerning Tibet work are completely correct." Thubten Gyaltsen, 81, clearly remembers his miserable days in old Tibet and has witnessed the great transformation of the region. "My parents were serfs and we could barely fill our stomach," he said. In old Tibet, the three major stakeholders -- officials, aristocrats and higher-ranking lamas -- and their agents, made up about 5 percent of the population but owned almost all of the land and most of the livestock. Serfs and slaves had no means of production or freedom of their own and were subjected to exploitation and oppression. In 1959, democratic reform was launched and feudal serfdom was finally abolished in Tibet. A million serfs and slaves were emancipated. Now, Thubten Gyaltsen and his family live in a two-story house with 13 rooms and a garage in the city of Xigaze. Five in his family of six enjoy wages or pension. "Our lives couldn't be happier, and we are experiencing a totally different world compared with the old days," Thubten Gyaltsen said. Over the past 70 years, the central government has introduced many favorable policies for the region, covering tax and finance, infrastructure, industrial development, education, health, cultural preservation and environmental protection. Since 1978, the CPC Central Committee has held seven national meetings on Tibet to adopt major decisions and plans for the region. "We must make improving people's livelihoods and rallying public support the starting points and ultimate goals for economic and social development," said Xi at the seventh Central Symposium on Tibet Work in August 2020. In 2020, the regional GDP exceeded 190 billion yuan (about 29.3 billion U.S. dollars). The per capita disposable income of rural residents in the region was 14,598 yuan, representing double-digit growth for the past 18 years, while that of urban residents came in at 41,156 yuan. By the end of 2019, all registered poor residents in Tibet had shaken off poverty, marking the elimination of absolute poverty in the region for the first time in history. In just a few decades, the CPC has united and led the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet to make unprecedented historical achievements. Tibet has progressed "from darkness to light, from backwardness to progress, from poverty to prosperity, from autocracy to democracy, from closure to opening up," said an editorial on Tibet slated to be published on the People's Daily on Thursday. The social system in Tibet has achieved a historic leap, the economy and society have made all-round development, people's lives have been greatly improved, and the urban and rural areas are not what they used to be, the article added. Efforts must be made to build a new, modern, socialist Tibet that is united, prosperous, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful, Xi has said. In the new era, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi at the core and with the vigorous support of the whole country, Tibet has eradicated absolute poverty and achieved moderate prosperity in all aspects. People in the region enjoy a stable social environment, economic and cultural prosperity, a sound eco-environment, and lead better lives. Tibet has also been increasing the level of specialization in production and boosting production efficiency. The comprehensive mechanization rate for growing staple crops has reached 65 percent. The region has established a comprehensive transport network of highways, railways, air routes and pipelines. Stretching 1,956 km from Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, to Tibet's regional capital Lhasa, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway linking Tibet with the rest of the country opened in 2006. The Lhasa-Nyingchi railway, the region's first electrified railway, started official operation in June this year, with advanced Fuxing bullet trains running on it. From 1951 to 2020, the central government invested 224 billion yuan in Tibet's education sector. The region now has a modern educational system that includes preschool, primary and middle schools, higher education institutions, as well as vocational and technical schools. During his inspection tour in Tibet last month, Xi said people of all ethnic groups had jointly contributed to the development of Tibet and written the history of Tibet. The continuous pairing-up support programs in Tibet from the rest of the country have facilitated Tibet's new industrialization, IT application, urbanization and agricultural modernization over the past few decades. Zhang Honglin, who works with a leading egg producer in central China's Hubei Province, is playing his role in promoting agricultural modernization in Tibet. Last year, he set up a large egg production company in Shannan City of the region. Zhang said that his company has brought advanced technology, equipment, management methods and experience to help the industry become competitive and maintain high-quality development. "We have also made many improvements based on Tibet's special plateau climate environment." "Practice has fully proved that Tibet can enjoy a prosperous present and a bright future only by unswervingly upholding CPC leadership, socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the system of regional ethnic autonomy," said Zhuang Yan, deputy Party chief of the autonomous region. ^ top ^



PLA Army to host 3 contests under International Army Games 2021 (Xinhua)
The Army of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) will host and participate in three contests as part of the International Army Games 2021. Military participants from six other countries including Russia, Belarus and Egypt will join the contests involving infantry fighting vehicles, man-portable anti-aircraft missiles as well as nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance held in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The participants have all arrived in Korla of Xinjiang for the contests and will soon begin their adaptive training. ^ top ^



Disbandment of HK's largest opposition alliance sounds warning to the rest of radicals (Global Times)
Hong Kong's Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the biggest opposition alliance in the city, announced in a statement that it will disband following a unanimous resolution, starting Sunday. The dissolution, however, will not help them escape from their legal responsibility as the Hong Kong police would continue their probe of this anti-China group that has been provoking chaos and instigating anti-China sentiment for many years. While the central authorities - the State Council's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office and the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong - hailed the result as highly expected, claiming that under the national security law for Hong Kong, any individual or organization that insists on an anti-China stance of provoking riots will have "no way to go," experts in both Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland forecast that more radical opposition groups including the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (known as Hong Kong Alliance), a journalist association and the Hong Kong Association of Falun Gong cult are likely to follow suit. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) said in a public statement on Sunday that police are actively taking follow-up action on the CHRF's violation of the Societies Ordinance, under which any unlawful society may face an imprisonment for three years, according to the local law in Hong Kong. With palpable positive changes in the city's political life under the national security law for Hong Kong over the past year, which effectively plugged the legal loopholes, it is time for the rest of the radical groups to reconsider their purposes and operations, as those acts challenging both the legal and political bottom lines will not be accepted and will always be held to account, experts and official warned. The CHRF said in a statement published on Sunday noon that representatives of a handful of its member groups attended a meeting on Friday and had unanimously decided to dissolve with immediately effect. The CHRF said that its secretariat can no longer operate because its convener Figo Chan Ho-wun is incarcerated over numerous cases. Since no one has indicated they will take over, the CHRF has no choice but to disband, according to the CHRF statement. Chan is currently serving an 18-month jail term for organizing an unauthorized assembly on October 1, 2019 and is facing multiple charges. Established in 2002 and as one of the key opposition groups in Hong Kong, the CHRF has been involved in many major anti-government events over the past few years such as the illegal "Occupy Central" in 2014 and the radical anti-extradition bill protests that turned into a months-long social turmoil, both of which were considered by experts as well-plotted attempts of "color revolution." In March, when reports said the CHRF was investigated by police for allegedly violating the law, many core member groups, including the Democratic Party and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union (PTU), scrambled to withdraw from the CHRF and clear their boundaries. Some of the key figures of the CHRF were also arrested for allegedly violating the national security law for Hong Kong. The CHRF's disbandment was inevitable, as it had a flawed registration, is suspected of being involved in money laundering, and has long been involved in radical activities that constantly damaged social stability and national sovereignty in Hong Kong, according to experts. The CHRF has always been an illegal organization without even registering locally, and by using the excuse of "peaceful, rational and non-violent" protests, it has been colluding with various anti-China rioters in order to confront the central government and make troubles in Hong Kong, the spokesperson of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said on Sunday. At the moment of dissolution, the group has not yet shown any regret, continuing with the disguise of the so-called human rights, democracy and freedom in attempt to gain public sympathy and instigate public opinion. "Such a deathbed struggle is hateful, contemptible and ridiculous," the spokesperson noted. The liaison office of the central government in Hong Kong also listed a number of misdeeds of the CHRF over the past 19 years such as its opposition to Article 23 and to the high-speed railway, its plot of "Occupy Central" in 2014 and anti-extradition actions, turning protests into violence against the police, and attacks against passersby, storming the Legislative Council and advocating for "Hong Kong independence" by asking for the help of foreign consulates in Hong Kong. "Despite claiming they are legal, peaceful and rational, they are completely the root of the chaos in Hong Kong," the liaison office said. The dissolution does not mean the CHRF will be exempt from criminal responsibility. The group's principle personnel such as committee chairman, vice chairman, secretary and committee members who have participated in any CHRF decision to coordinate unlawful assembly or unauthorized assembly are personally liable, legal experts said. In a statement the HKPF released on Sunday, the police reiterated that an organization and its member(s) remain criminally liable for the offence committed, regardless of the disbandment of the organization or the resignation of its member(s). […] While the national security law for Hong Kong has already ushered the city's political life into a new era, and anti-China rioting forces no longer exist, local officials pointed out that with all these positive changes, Hong Kong will not be a hotbed for secessionist forces and radical opposition that aims to subvert power. All organizations that are detrimental to national security and the stability of Hong Kong society should not continue to operate, Tam Yiu-chung, a Hong Kong member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, told the Global Times on Sunday. More radical political groups that have been involved in secessionist activities may announce disbandment in the future given the legal risks they face, some experts forecast. The Hong Kong Alliance is highly likely to announce disbandment soon, Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday. "The Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Association of Falun Gong cult may also follow suit," Lau said. The expert explained that these groups may have been in violation of the national security law for Hong Kong and local laws. "They will weigh the risks themselves and choose to disband. They do not want to be banned by the government, because it will be more detrimental to the group itself and its members," he noted. In order to ensure their cooperation with the government and maintain licensing as well as supervision, organizations like the Law Society of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Bar Association should stop being entangled in political disputes, Lau said.  ^ top ^

Hong Kong authorities evade questions over 'retrospective' security law, despite Lam comments to UN (HKFP)
The Hong Kong authorities have evaded questions over whether the national security law is to be applied retrospectively following comments from the police chief. Last week, Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu told state-backed Ta Kung Pao that the since-disbanded Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) might have violated the security law for "organising a series of large-scale, illegal protests" in recent years. It is despite the fact that the coalition has not organised any rallies since the security law was enacted last June 30. Chief Executive Carrie Lam told the UN last June that the law would "have no retrospective effect." However, when HKFP asked Lam's office if she stood by her comments, the questions were referred to the police for a response. "In conducting any operation, Police will act on the basis of actual circumstances and according to the law," a spokesperson told HKFP, without addressing the questions over whether the law was being applied retroactively. The 19-year-old pro-democracy protest coalition – which was behind the city's largest demonstrations – announced on Sunday that it would cease operations owing to "unprecedented challenges." However, the police and Lam have warned that they cannot escape legal liability by disbanding. After their 2020 July 1 march, the Lam administration said CHRF protesters were "lawful, peaceful and rational," adding that the government would "humbly listen" to their views. But on Tuesday, Lam said that criticism of the authorities for once cooperating with the front was an attempt to "dig up old accounts." "Today with the national security law as a foundation, [law enforcement] may take action against these individuals and groups who touched these red lines and violated the national security law," Lam said. Lam added that the government had learned a "valuable lesson" from the 2019 protests and unrest and that the front's disbandment had nothing to do with freedom. While it always sought police approval when planning demonstrations, and never held protests without police permission, the front has been accused of facilitating violent post-demonstration clashes between protesters and police after several approved 2019 demonstrations ended. It also faced accusations that it failed to register with the authorities as a society. ^ top ^



Afghanistan today, Taiwan tomorrow? US treachery scares DPP (Global Times)
With chaotic scenes at Kabul airport of hundreds and thousands of people fleeing after the Taliban took full control of Afghanistan grabbing global attention and many calling the evacuation of US diplomats another "Saigon moment," more discussions emerged online over "who's next" amid the US failed commitment. For years, Washington has been turning its foreign policy into ideology-driven geopolitical games, and now the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan has even worried some in the island of Taiwan and sounded a warning bell to secessionists there, as it's not the first time the US has abandoned its allies and the so-called alliances, which are made use of only as chess pieces in Washington's global strategy. The Taliban took over Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on Sunday as the country's president Ashraf Ghani fled the country. Many were shocked at the speed with which the Taliban took control as the US-backed government collapsed, and they compared the scenes in Kabul of US diplomats being taken to safety by helicopters to the US withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, when US Marines burned sensitive documents on the roof of the US embassy in Saigon. The Washington Post also pointed out that the Taliban's stunningly swift advances across the country have sparked global alarm, reviving doubts about the credibility of US foreign policy promises and drawing harsh criticism even from some of its closest allies. Taiwan is nervous "Yesterday's Saigon, today's Afghanistan, and tomorrow's Taiwan?" read some online posts by internet users in the island of Taiwan, implying that the so-called alliance that Taiwan has forged with the US is nothing but an empty promise that will eventually "leave the Taiwan people hurting alone." An Op-Ed in local Taiwan news site said that the unexpected end in Afghanistan has "shocked" US allies and partners, who have become wary of putting the safety of Taiwan in the hands of the US, as the latter may pull the same tricks played in Kabul. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan will also have a global impact, especially weighing on its image and credibility, the Op-Ed in a Taipei-based news site said, as Washington's strength in maintaining the global order will be challenged, and the power confrontation in the Indo-Pacific Strategy targeting China will be questioned. "They should say the day before yesterday, Vietnam, yesterday, Taiwan and today, Afghanistan. Wasn't the island abandoned by the US in 1979?" Chang Ching, a research fellow at the Society for Strategic Studies based in the island, told the Global Times on Monday. As part of its latest efforts to play the "Taiwan card" in countering China, the Biden administration recently announced it would hold a virtual Summit for Democracy, which excited the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority of Taiwan. Since taking office in January, US President Joe Biden has taken various measures to demonstrate its deterrent against China, such as deploying military aircraft to the island, sending warships across the Taiwan Straits several times and dispatching senior officials to visit the island, blatantly playing the "Taiwan card" to ruffle China's feathers. However, the failure of the US in Afghanistan should serve as a warning to the secessionists in the island, who have to understand that they cannot count on Washington, as Afghanistan is not the first place where the US abandoned its allies, nor will it be the last, experts warned. Credibility tarnished The aftermath of its failure in Afghanistan will further weigh on the Biden administration, as it is still struggling to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, which will put the US government in an awkward position not only at home but also overseas, as the total defeat of the US has dealt a fatal blow to Biden's political career and the Democrats' credibility, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday. "The US' fleeing action is a warning to the Taiwan secessionists, or rather, a forecast," Li said. He noted that if the island of Taiwan continues on a path misled by secessionists to directly confront the Chinese mainland, the US will cast Taiwan aside just as it has done with Vietnam, and now Afghanistan. The Associated Press said in a report on Sunday that the 20-year war in Afghanistan was the US' longest and most expensive one, and generations of Americans will have to be burdened by the cost of paying it off. As of 2020, the estimated cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that the US has debt-financed has reached $2 trillion, the report said. While observers doubted the geopolitical value the island of Taiwan could deliver to the US in confronting China, some also raised questions about how much the Biden administration, which upholds the one-China policy, is willing to pay for the interests of Taiwan secessionists compared to its heavy investment in time and resources in Afghanistan. "Those who have a clear mind should understand that Taiwan residents can't rely on the US. However, given the ideology-driven influence, some observers may see the situation in the island as being different from that in Afghanistan, but there's one thing in common - America's empty promise," Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday. The failure of America in Afghanistan will surely deala heavy blow to the Taiwan residents, and the DPP-led green camp may try to downplay its impact, Jin said, noting that the US retreat showed that it always puts its own national interests above everything else without taking care of its own allies. One media outlet in Taiwan also pointed out that the key issue is if a war breaks out across the Taiwan Straits, there will be doubts over whether the US will honor its commitments and intervene militarily, as the US' "blurry" policy on the island and its snap decision on the Afghanistan issue have left its commitment to Taiwan "full of question marks." The US retreat from Afghanistan has taught the island of Taiwan an important lesson, that is, the cross-Straits relations must be resolved by Taiwan itself, as the US may choose to abandon the island at any time according to its own core interests, Chang Ya-chung, a Taipei-based political scientist and member of the Kuomintang, told the Global Times on Monday. Furthermore, the US has never promised to send troops if a military conflict occurs across the Taiwan Straits, and only said that it would sell weapons to Taiwan to increase its military strength, Chang noted. Recalling history, Chang said that the US abandoned the Kuomintang authority in the 1940s after World War II, roped Taiwan in during the Cold War to cater to its own needs, but cast it away again in the late 1970s. Chang also emphasized that in face of the crisis, both the mainland and the island should keep in mind that we should not try to seek the answer from the past, but to find a way out in the future. ^ top ^

China halts rail freight to Lithuania as feud deepens over Taiwan (SCMP)
China has halted direct freight trains to Lithuania, in the latest gambit in a simmering geopolitical feud over Taiwan. Multiple sources confirmed Lithuanian media reports that the state train operator, China Railway Container Transport Co (CRCT), has halted the transit of cargoes "until further notice", although there has been no official confirmation as yet. "The trains which have been operating between China and Lithuania have been stopped. As I understand, the decision was made by the local state-owned company in charge of sending those trains. We have not yet seen any official letter or official order to cease the trains," said one source involved in the trade who did not wish to be named, adding there were "no problems" on the route, and that a political motive was suspected. CRCT, a subsidiary of China Railway Group, told Lithuanian clients that it would suspend direct freight operations, the Baltic News Service reported. Despite this, Chinese state media reported that China Railway Group has denied that the order was given, leaving some ambiguity as to whether the suspension was official. Gintanas Liubanas, a spokesman for Lithuanian Railways, said they had yet to receive any official notification about a suspension of service. "For the time being, we have received information through our customers that several freight trains will not arrive in Lithuania at the end of August and in the first half of September," Liubanas said. "Meanwhile, transit trains pass through Lithuania in the usual way. We hope that all the agreements reached earlier will be respected." Last week, hostilities ratcheted up when China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded Vilnius recall its counterpart. This was in response to a decision earlier this year to allow Taiwan to open a "Taiwanese representative office" in the Baltic state. It is more commonplace for de facto Taiwanese embassies in Europe to be called "Taipei representative offices", and Beijing claimed the move was in breach of the one-China policy – a claim that was denied by the European Union and the Lithuanian government. Vilnius confirmed that it will recall ambassador Diana Mickeviciene when she completes her three-week quarantine in Beijing, having recently returned to the Chinese capital from overseas. Senior government sources in Vilnius see the rail suspension as another escalation in geopolitical tensions with China and expect further retribution. "It's going to be more than this, unfortunately. It will be more like total blockade of exports to Lithuania," they said. The government has also contemplated the likelihood of export licences being revoked and Lithuanian businesses having their offices in China closed. While the EU issued a statement of support last week, Vilnius is "still waiting for a greater response than encouraging noises". The European Commission's trade department did not respond to a request for comment on the rail freight situation. Trade volumes between Lithuania and China are relatively low, with many analysts saying that the country's lack of economic exposure to Beijing has helped sharpen its tongue. Lithuania has become the sternest critic of China in the EU and in May became the first country to pull out of the Beijing-led China and Central and Eastern European countries cooperation mechanism, often referred to as "17+1", saying that it had not delivered the expected economic benefits. According to statistics compiled by economic consultancy Rhodium Group, less than US$100 million in Chinese investment was made in Lithuania between 2000 and 2020, the lowest in the EU along with neighbouring Estonia and Latvia. Analysis of Chinese customs data shows that Lithuania's trade deficit with China ballooned by nearly 33 per cent over the first half of 2021, to US$820.7 million. Lithuania's exports to China were actually 4 per cent lower in the first six months of this year than in the same period of 2020. Nonetheless, people involved in the trade route expressed concern at the latest development, which has come at a time when commerce is already severely disrupted by delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. There are also concerns about the broader implications of the suspension, given that Lithuania is on the main transit route for trains bound for Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic coast. "Most of our clients and member companies import products from China by sea, so for us disruptions at some Chinese ports last and this year that happened due to quarantine measures and temporary closures of the ports, as well as skyrocketing prices of the shipping costs by sea, are more concerning," said Tomas Fedaravicius, president of the China-Baltic Association for Industry and Business. "Before the unfortunate news about temporary cancellation of direct freight trains between China and Lithuania for the end of August and September, some of our member companies have been looking into alternative ways to import their goods by rail. They might be a little more cautious now," he added. Tomas Jankauskas, head of sea and rail freight at ACE Logistics in Vilnius, said that while the suspension might cause some inconvenience, firms should be able to switch back to traditional routes that were used before the rail link opened. "It's like Ryanair cancelling their direct flight – it does not mean that people will stop flying." ^ top ^



China's economic recovery 'unstable, uneven' as retail sales, industrial production growth slows (SCMP)
China's economic slowdown continued in July, data released on Monday showed, with both industrial production and retail sales falling short of expectations. Industrial production, a gauge of activity in the manufacturing, mining and utilities sectors, grew by 6.4 per cent in July from a year earlier after a 8.3 per cent rise in June. July's figure was below the median forecast of the Bloomberg survey for a rise of 7.9 per cent. Retail sales, a key measurement of consumer spending in the world's most populous nation, grew by 8.5 per cent in July, down from the 12.1 per cent increase in June, and below the projection for a 10.9 per cent rise estimated in the Bloomberg survey. Fixed-asset investment – a gauge of expenditures on items including infrastructure, property, machinery and equipment – grew by 10.3 per cent in the January-July period compared with a year earlier. This was below the median of the Bloomberg survey, which called for an increase of 11.3 per cent. For the January-June period, fixed asset investment had been up by 12.6 per cent. "Given the combined impact of sporadic local outbreaks of Covid-19 and natural disasters on the economy of some regions, the economic recovery is still unstable and uneven," said NBS spokesman Fu Linghui. "We should not only look at the growth to analyse the economic situation, but also need to look at the overall picture of employment, prices and residential incomes." The surveyed jobless rate, an imperfect measurement of unemployment in China which does not include figures for the tens of millions of the nation's migrant workers, stood at 5.1 per cent in July from 5 per cent in June. China has set a target of creating 11 million new urban jobs and a surveyed urban unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent for this year. China's economy grew by 7.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2021 compared to a year ago, while in the first half of the year, it grew by 12.7 per cent year on year. But economists have since slashed their economic outlook for China as the Delta variant spreads across the world's second biggest economy, forcing the closure of restaurants and entertainment venues and the cancellation of numerous high-profile trade events. The highly-infectious coronavirus mutation has grown quickly since an outbreak in Nanjing last month, leading to tightened control measures in many provinces and raising fears of a further slide in consumer spending. At the start of July, Goldman Sachs cut its quarterly growth forecast to 2.3 per cent from 5.8 per cent for the third quarter, while also trimming its full-year forecast to 8.3 per cent from 8.6 per cent. "There was a broad-based slowdown in all the key indicators last month. This partly reflects disruptions to consumer activity due to the recent virus flare-up and flooding in central China," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, who added that the July figures were generally much weaker than expected. "But investment spending and industrial activity, which are less sensitive to virus restrictions, also weakened markedly, suggesting that tighter credit conditions are biting. "The drop back in consumption should reverse once the virus situation is brought under control and restrictions are lifted. But we think the slowdown elsewhere will deepen over the rest of the year." Data earlier this month also showed export growth, which has been a key driver of China's rebound from the coronavirus slump in early 2020, unexpectedly slowed in July. "Further ahead though, we think there is still scope for rises in consumption as the virus situation comes under control and the vaccination roll-out broadens. But any bounce in consumption coming out of the pandemic is likely to be more than offset by growing headwinds to investment and exports. "Although the People's Bank of China has relaunched efforts to push down borrowing costs, as yet there are few signs that it intends to relax quantitative controls on lending and reverse the recent slowdown in credit growth, which will weigh on capital spending in the coming quarters. And foreign demand for Chinese goods is likely to come off the boil over the coming quarters as vaccine roll-outs and reopening help to normalise global consumption patterns." ^ top ^

China Port Congestion Worsens at World's Third-Busiest Container Terminal (Caixin)
The partial closure of the world's third-busiest container port is worsening congestion at other major Chinese ports, as ships divert away from Ningbo amid uncertainty over how long virus control measures in the city will last. In nearby Shanghai and in Hong Kong, congestion is once again increasing after dropping due to the reopening of Yantian port in Shenzhen, which shut in May for a separate outbreak. The number of container ships anchored off Xiamen on China's southeast coast rose to 24 Tuesday from 6 at the start of the month, according to shipping data compiled by Bloomberg. The Meishan terminal at Ningbo port was shut last week after a dock worker became infected with the delta variant of Covid-19. The terminal accounts for about a quarter of the port's capacity, and it was still closed Tuesday, according to a worker in the press office, who declined to give their name or any other information. There were no updates on the WeChat accounts of the port and the provincial government's Wednesday morning, and the city propaganda office didn't answer the phone. If a phased re-opening begins this week to tackle the backlog, a full resumption of operations may be possible by the beginning of September, logistics intelligence provider project44 said. The world's biggest shipping lines including AP Moller-Maersk A/S and CMA CGM SA are skipping Ningbo port after the closure, according to Simon Heaney, senior manager of container research at Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. The companies prefer to divert shipments to other ports rather than wait outside Ningbo for an unknown length of time while the Covid-19 outbreak continues, he said. Some other ships are willing to wait, with 141 ships at a shared anchorage for the Shanghai and Ningbo ports Tuesday, 60 more than the median number from April to August. "We hear the backlog is getting bigger and the congestion is getting worse," said Dawn Tiura, CEO of logistics industry association Sourcing Industry Group. "The disruption across ports is absolutely related. If you are buying goods that originate or move through China, you need to increase lead times or find another source of supply." The shipping industry has been plagued by disruptions this year that have created delays in global shipping chains and driven freight rates to record highs. Snarls have ranged from a mega-ship stuck in the Suez Canal in March to virus outbreaks in Southeast Asia and China reducing productivity at ports. The backlog has stretched across the Pacific Ocean to Long Beach port in Los Angeles, where more than 30 ships were waiting to get into port to offload, Bloomberg's data shows. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, anchored ships off Vietnam's two largest ports rose to six above the median. "Most ports are already experiencing congestion or delays, so any additional and uncatered for volumes will heap on more pressure," said Drewry's Heaney. ^ top ^

PBOC may stay cautious on rate cuts, say analysts (People's Daily)
Chinese monetary authorities appear to be cautious about adjusting the policy rates in the short term, so the benchmark lending rate may be left unchanged this month, analysts said on Tuesday. The monthly report on China's benchmark lending rate, the one-year loan prime rate, or LPR, will be published by the People's Bank of China, the central bank, on Friday. It is possible the PBOC may leave the LPR unchanged at 3.85 percent. The five-year LPR may also stay unchanged at 4.65 percent, analysts said. The one-year and five-year LPRs have been kept at the same levels since April 2020. Wen Bin, chief researcher at China Minsheng Bank, said he expects policy rates will remain stable, while commercial banks' cost of deposits may continue to drop as financial regulators tightened rules on financial products like structured deposits and internet-based deposits. Although the PBOC cut banks' reserve requirement ratio in July and thus helped lower financing costs in the banking system, the effect is not strong enough to push down the LPR in August, said Wen. On Tuesday, the PBOC injected 10 billion yuan of liquidity into the interbank system through seven-day reverse repurchase agreements, carrying an interest rate at 2.2 percent, via its open-market operations. It followed a similar liquidity injection of 10 billion yuan ($1.54 billion) via seven-day reverse repos on Monday and another 600 billion yuan in cash via medium-term lending facility, or MLF. The MLF interest rate also remained unchanged at 2.95 percent. The seven-day reverse repo rate is usually seen as the short-term policy rate, and the MLF interest rate is regarded as the mid-term policy rate, the central bank said in its latest monetary policy report issued last week. Unchanged policy rates will reflect the PBOC's "prudent" monetary policy stance, although the recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases may further drag down China's economic growth in August, following already weakened economic activities in July, stated a research note of Nomura Securities. In Nomura's view, China's interbank liquidity conditions appear to have tightened slightly last week, compared with the preceding week, with the major real money market rates rising a tad. The weekly average funding costs of government bonds also increased slightly. "There's no need for policy interest rate cuts," said Iris Pang, chief economist in China for ING Bank. "Because, the RRR cut has pushed down market lending rates, and another RRR cut is likely to happen in the fourth quarter if there are more incidents and dramatic policy actions." Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, said: "We don't think policymakers have an appetite now for a significant easing of the overall macro policy stance. "But we expect policymakers to be keen to avoid a sharp slowdown and to be more willing to take measures to support growth in the second half than in the first half." Other than monetary easing, a big question is whether the government will change its plan on fiscal spending and move the schedule forward, said Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist of Pinpoint Asset Management. Beijing planned to have government-led investment projects ready for launch around the end of this year. Without help from the fiscal side, China may see GDP growth slowing by the fourth quarter, said Zhang. ^ top ^



Zamyn-Uud free economic zone opens for regular operation (Montsame)
Today, August 14, a ceremony has taken place to inaugurate the 'Zamyn-Uud Free Economic Zone'. During the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister S. Amarsaikhan noted, "Although the decision to establish the free zone was initially adopted in 2004, there have not been any substantial construction works. Therefore, we are working to settle obstacles in establishing the free economic zone and intensify its activities." He also emphasized that a bill was formulated to amend the Law on Free Zones with aims to approve related State Policy and improve legal environment. "The bill is expected to be considered and approved during the autumn session of the Parliament this year. The free economic zone is believed to serve as a bridge among Mongolia, China and Eurasia." Within the framework of the project on infrastructure improvement of Zamyn-Uud free economic zone, sets of works were completed on 48 hectares with the soft loan of China. These include establishment of water supply, sewerage, power plant, road and communication. Favorable regulatory framework will enable increase in exports and imports, development of factories, creation in new sectors of trade and development and employment, boost in tourism and transit and logistics activities, bring new technologies, trade facilitation and regional development. For instance, the GDP is expected to grow by 10 percent over the years 2022-2034 and the number of jobs will increase by 9,400 by 2026, 15 thousand by 2030 and 18 thousand by 2034. According to the master plan for the Zamyn-Uud free economic zone, 68 investors have been selected to operate activities on 101 hectares of land, of which 7 hectares are for tourism, 47 hectares for manufacturing, 20 hectares for trade and services, 25 hectares for warehousing and logistics, and 1.4 hectares for gas stations. Present at the ceremony, there were MP and Deputy Prime Minister S. Amarsaikhan, MP and Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industrialization Policy B. Choijilsuren, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Economy J. Ganbaatar, MPs D. Sarangerel and T. Enkhtuvshin, Minister of Environment and Tourism N. Urtnasan, Minister of Energy N. Tavinbekh, Mongolia's Ambassador to the People's Republic of China T. Badral and Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Mongolia Chai Wenrui. ^ top ^

PM: A policy to intensify public-private partnership is being announced (Montsame)
Today marks the 200th day since the formation of Mongolia's new government. In connection with this, the "Economy in the midst of the pandemic - Public-Private-Investors Meeting" was held, involving foreign investors and representatives of the international organizations in Mongolia. During the meeting, Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene announced that the Government of Mongolia is announcing a policy to intensify public-private partnerships, marking the 200th day since the formation of new government. The government has focused on acceleration of the vaccination rollout in the country in its first 100 days. The PM noted that Mongolia was able to immunize its 62.2 percent of the total population against COVID-19, which currently ranked 14th in the world, thanks to the generous support provided by the partner countries. It has also been underscored during the meeting that the government's implementation of the 'MNT 10 trillion Comprehensive Plan for Health Protection and Economic Recovery' has played a significant role in reviving the economy and protecting the citizens' health. In particular, as a result of a MNT 320 billion loan to support agriculture under the comprehensive plan, this fall is expected to yield more than the 30-year average. More importantly, the successful implementation of the plan so far helped keep 130 thousand jobs and save 225 thousand others. […] Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene said, "A sub-working group consisting of investors and representatives of the private sector will be established under the National Committees. It takes time for the public and private sectors to define their coordination. Therefore, national committees are being set up with the aim of creating a system of coordination. In the future, the government will draft a law to revive the economy during the pandemic and submit it to the State Great Khural which is expected to be a great impetus to: Revitalize the post pandemic economy and increase capacity; Provide policy support to increase exports and develop domestic import-substituting industries; Increase foreign and domestic investment and expand the economy; Intensify further public-private partnerships and create a favorable business environment." The Prime Minister stressed that the government plans to establish a Ministry of Economic Development and Planning in 2022 after establishing the aforementioned National Committees and the law to revive the economy. The prices of Mongolia's main export products are increasing in the world market. For example, iron ore prices have doubled, copper prices have risen by 50 percent, gold prices by 19 percent and oil prices by 13 percent. He noted that this growth is expected to continue for the next five years and called on investors to take advantage of this period. Investors and representatives of international organizations expressed readiness to cooperate in agriculture, renewable energy and food production. They expressed support for the Prime Minister's plans to create a legal environment for economic recovery amid the pandemic, digitalize the state procurement and the establishment of the Ministry of Digital Development. They also asked the Prime Minister to hold such meetings more often than once. According to the statistics, a total of USD 29 billion was invested in Mongolia between 1990 and 2020, and USD 2.5 billion in 2020. During the same period, 15.2 thousand companies were registered, of which 50.2 percent were Chinese companies. In terms of economic sectors, foreign direct investment accounted for 70.2 percent in geology, mining exploration and mining, 16.56 percent in trade and catering, 3.2 percent in banking and finance, and 1.2 percent in transportation and logistics. 1.3 percent was in construction, construction materials and other sectors. Canada accounts for 26.9 percent of total foreign investment, China for 19 percent and the Netherlands for 14.7 percent. In 2020, due to the pandemic, the amount of foreign investment in the world decreased by 38 percent, while it decreased by 18.5 percent in Mongolia. ^ top ^

Second phase of ETT bond exchange to accumulate MNT 285 billion (Go Go Mongolia)
In April, 2021, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC received permission from the Financial Regulatory Commission to issue ETT bonds up to MNT 2 trillion with purposes of implementing major projects and financing working capital. ETT plans to offer the bonds to the public in three phases. The first phase was organized between March 30 and April 9. A total of 970 citizens and business entities participated in the exchange and placed 2,755,639 orders, and MNT 347.7 billion was accumulated. MNT 330 billion was collected according to refinancing agreements of banks, and a total MNT 677 billion was accumulated. The second phase will be organized between August 16 and August 25. This time, USD 100 million or MNT 285 billion bonds will be offered to the public. The bond is in US dollars, so it has no risk of exchange rate decrease and has a higher interest rate than other USD financial products. The bond finance will be used for the thermal power plant, water supply and railways of Tavan Tolgoi. As a result, the company's efficiency will increase and it is planned to have a total net profit of MNT 11.5 trillion by 2025, according to the ETT JSC report. ^ 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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