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SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

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
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  5-10.7.2020, No. 824  
    Archiv / Archives
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Table of contents

DPRK

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Foreign Policy

India would not get what it wants from US attempts to disrupt China ties (Global Times)
2020-07-10
In the weeks following the border clash between China and India, senior military officials from the two countries have been engaged in talks on how to ease the tensions. After a Sunday night telephone conversation between Chinese Special Representative on the China-India Boundary Question, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the two sides reached a consensus on de-escalating border tensions. Both sides have already taken practical moves to show their sincerity. However, at this crucial juncture, the US - a country that is reluctant to see a peaceful and stable world - stepped forward to sow discord again. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that China was "incredibly aggressive" in the latest border clash and praised Indians for doing "their best to respond to that." A peaceful and stable border is obviously consistent with the interests of both China and India. But when the two Asian countries are striving for it, the US has been instigating disputes between them by deceiving the Indian people. In the past decades, China and India have developed from Third World followers to influential countries both regionally and internationally. The benign relations between the two countries are vital to regional and global prosperity, peace, and stability. The administration of Narendra Modi is aware that sound China-India ties, rather than tense ones, are much more beneficial to India. Therefore, no matter how tough India is to China, India is unlikely to deviate from meeting China half way. After all, either boycotting China or trying to cut off economic links with China will probably result in huge losses to India. But Washington has been pretending to be ignorant of these realities. It is pushing India into the vast abyss, while simultaneously disguising itself as a loyal friend of India's. According to an Indian media report in January 2020, unemployment among Indian youth has doubled since 2016. This will do no good to the country's long-term development. From this perspective, Chinese companies in India and even some Chinese apps can effectively help India ease the problem by creating jobs. This is in line with India's economic interests and future development. But the US has not taken into consideration any of these realistic aspects when fanning the flame among Indian people, because Washington doesn't really care. Instead, it uses India as cannon fodder of its strategy to contain China. China-US relations are facing unprecedented challenges, but the current US government doesn't show any sign to turn for the better. The US is likely to make full use of India regardless of what India will suffer as a result, as long as it can hinder China's pace of development. But this time, India would not get what it wants if it supports US attempts to disrupt China-India ties. ^ top ^

China joins the Arms Trade Treaty: a new step to uphold multilateralism (China Daily)
2020-07-08
H.E. Ambassador Zhang Jun, China's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, deposited the instrument of accession to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at UN Headquarters in New York on July 6. China's accession to the ATT marks another significant step in supporting multilateralism and forging a community with a shared future for humankind, as stated by Amb. Zhang after the deposit of the instrument of accession. The ATT, which entered into force on Dec 24 2014, aims to regulate the conventional arms trade covering battle tanks, armored vehicles, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, large-caliber artillery, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons. To date, there are 107 State Parties to the ATT. It is notable that the US revoked its signature to the ATT in April 2019. As is known to all, the illicit arms trade and misuse of conventional arms fuel civil wars and regional conflicts, bolster violence by terrorists and other non-state actors or armed groups, destabilize peace and security, hamper sustainable development of countries and regions involved and cause serious humanitarian concerns. Compared to the weapons of mass destruction, the conventional arms resulted in more casualties in reality. As indicated by the UN reported data, death toll caused by the small arms and light weapons reaches up to 200,000 annually. Recognizing the nexus between disarmament, arms control and development, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres characterizes the conventional arms control as part of "disarmament that saves lives" in his new disarmament agenda entitled "Securing Our Common Future" launched in 2018. All UN Member States were called upon to significantly reduce illicit arms flow in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China has all along supported international efforts in addressing the security and humanitarian concerns arising from illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms. In particular, China has actively participated in the negotiations of the ATT and made its contributions to the conclusion of the Treaty. China fully supports the purpose and objective of the ATT and participated in all the five Conferences of States Parties as an observer since 2015. At national level, China has put in place a full-fledged policy and legal framework and exercises strict control on conventional arms export. China's arms export strictly follows three principles: i) conducive to the legitimate self-defense capability of the recipient country; ii) not undermine peace, security and stability of the region concerned and the world as a whole; ii) non-interference in the internal affairs of the recipient country. China exports arms to sovereign states only and not to any non-state actors. China calls for other states to follow suit. China's accession to the ATT is consistent with its above-mentioned national positions and efforts. The deposit of the instrument of accession completes China's legal procedures for its accession to the ATT, which were initiated last September as announced by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his address at the 74th UN General Assembly. The Treaty will enter into force for China in 90 days following the date of the deposit of the instrument of accession. "China is ready to march on with the ATT", as tweeted by Amb. FU Cong, the Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. China's accession will, no doubt, enhance the effectiveness of the ATT, as well as its universality. This is also a convincing testimony to China's willingness to uphold multilateralism, support international arms control efforts, and safeguard international and regional peace and stability. ^ top ^

China hopes for 'reasonable' US (Global Times)
2020-07-10
China continues to try its best to convince the US to stop dangerous approaches to deal with the ties, and to be sincere at dialogues to solve problems, said Chinese foreign minister in a speech at an online forum with more than 30 top diplomats and experts around the world on the direction of China-US relations. China-US relations, "one of the most consequential bilateral relationships in the world," are faced with "the most severe challenge since the establishment of diplomatic ties," Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Thursday at the China-US Think Tanks Media Online Forum. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also attended the forum. From the trade war and competition in the field of high-tech, such as 5G, to military tensions in the South China Sea and the Taiwan problem, as well as the war of words on the COVID-19 pandemic, the two most powerful countries and biggest economies in the world have been competing and struggling in almost every aspect in recent years. Although China is receiving pressure and challenges from the US, the Chinese government has always being calm and pragmatic in handling the severe situation, while the US is getting increasingly unpredictable and unreasonable, experts said. However, experts are pessimistic about whether the US would appreciate China's sincerity and return to the right track, as Washington refuses to accept the rise of China even if it's aware of the fact. In the future, more struggles will come. Analysts said maybe the struggles, which could make hostile forces in the US feel the pain, could help the US learn how to coexist with China peacefully. The unprecedented global challenge of COVID-19 pandemic, for example, could force US decision-makers to choose cooperation if the US realizes it cannot save its economy, as well as the world economy, on its own. Sincerity and suggestions Wang stressed that China and the US should not seek to remodel each other. Instead, they must work together to find ways to peacefully coexist the different systems and civilizations. "China's US policy remains unchanged. We are still willing to grow China-US relations with goodwill and sincerity," Wang said. "Some friends in the US might have become suspicious or even wary of a growing China. I'd like to stress here again that China never intends to challenge or replace the US, or have a full confrontation with the US. What we care most about is to improve the livelihood of our people," he noted. Jin Canrong, the associate dean of Renmin University of China's School of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that the foreign minister is offering goodwill, but the problem is "the US wants to remodel us even though we don't want to remodel the US. Washington doesn't believe stopping the confrontation is urgent, and that a crackdown on China is more important for it to maintain its global hegemony." The Chinese government told the US and the world many times that China has no intention of replacing or challenging the US. Unfortunately, US elites only care about China's capability and disregards China's intentions, said Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. Wang also gave suggestions - "three lists" - for the two sides to settle confrontations and pull the ties back from the brink. The first is a list of cooperation areas. It should specify all areas, bilateral and global, where China and the US need to and can work together, Wang said. "The longer the list, the better. Cooperation on this list should be immune to the impact of other issues." The second is a list of dialogues. "It should itemize the differences that could be solved through dialogue," Wang said, adding they should adapt to the existing dialogue mechanisms and platforms as soon as possible. The third is a list of issues that need proper management. "It should identify the few tough issues that the two countries have little chance to agree on in the near future," Wang said. Diao Daming, a US studies expert at Renmin University in Beijing, said offering such sincere suggestions while some US senior officials are poisoning China-US ties is not easy and commendable, and it shows China is aware of its responsibility as a major power to fix the most important bilateral relationship in the world. Struggles needed However, Washington knows the rise of China is a fact but refuses to accept it. Jin said, "This is why the US is unlikely to give a positive response, and maybe we can help the US accept the facts by having more "effective struggles," which could let them feel the pain, and keep on with our own development. Maybe in five more years, when China totally surpasses the US to become the biggest economy of the world, the US will accept and adjust its approaches." Lü said now is the chance for US policymakers to think rationally about their country's severe economic situation, as this might help us pull China-US ties back from the brink. "According to surveys from some US institutes, China is not a hot topic among the US voters, with the racial problem, economy and COVID-19 more important. So, the White House might realize that blaming and confronting China will not be helpful for the election," he noted. Boosting the economy is the only card that the Trump administration can still play to save its approval rating, and China's cooperation, especially implementing the phase one trade deal, is essential, Lü added. Wang said that "despite the impact of COVID-19, 74 percent of US businesses in China said they plan to make more investments here. Recently, 191 agricultural organizations sent a joint letter to US President Donald Trump calling for the continued implementation of the phase one trade agreement. Many US universities have openly expressed their support for closer China-US educational exchanges." "Many global leaders have called on China and the US to increase dialogue and cooperation and avoid confrontation and decoupling. These are the advice we must heed. More important, they are also the goals we must work for," he said. The Chinese foreign minister also pointed out the correct direction for the two countries to jointly fight the pandemic. Observers believe that without China-US cooperation, it would be extremely difficult for the world to completely win the fight against the virus and realize global economic recovery. "China is ready to share with the US information about COVID-19 prevention and containment as well as our response experience. And we are also ready to have closer exchanges with the US on diagnostics and therapeutics, vaccines, and economic recovery," Wang said. "The US, for its part, should immediately stop its acts of politicization and stigmatization. It should work with China to promote a global response to save more lives, and live up to our international responsibility as two major countries," he noted. ^ top ^

China's autonomous fishing moratorium a milestone for global ocean governance (Global Times)
2020-07-10
China recently started a three-month fishing moratorium on parts of the high seas in the southwest Atlantic and east Pacific. For fishery activities on the high seas without governance of international organizations, it was an innovative measure and the first state action to implement a fishing moratorium and promote protection of fish stocks. The move is of great significance to the promotion of scientific conservation and long-term sustainable use of fishery resources in open waters. It also highlights China's image as a responsible fishing power and is a milestone for China's participation in international maritime management. The fishing moratorium was majorly imposed to protect squid resources, according to media reports. China started to explore squid resources in the southwest Atlantic and east Pacific around 2000 and has been a major country in terms of fishing, trading and consuming squid. Initiated by fishermen in East China's Zhejiang Province, the fishing moratorium was, on the one hand, driven by the natural fluctuation of resources. On the other hand, it was inspired by benefits generated from China's moratorium system that was set up in 1995. Commercial fish resources in the East China Sea, mainly hairtail fish, have been effectively protected after several years of the moratorium. Since 1999, the South China Sea has been closed for summer fishing, and China's fishing ban area now covers all four sea areas under China's jurisdiction - the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea. China has been leading the world in the conservation of marine fishery resources. The current fishing moratorium on the high seas not only highlights the improvement of the quality of Chinese fishermen, but also demonstrates that China has been voluntarily carrying out its international obligations. The fishing moratorium is not just a document. It requires coordination of multiple aspects, such as monitoring, data collection and research. Squid resources are spread widely in the high seas and are without governance by international organizations in some areas. On the basis of fulfilling its responsibility to shore up resource conservation and management, China, as a major fishing country in open waters, needs to enhance international cooperation, encourage non-governmental exchange, and initiate the establishment of an international squid resource management institution. Also, it is important for China to enhance cooperation with regional fishery organizations and nearby coastal states, and to promote the establishment of an international fishing moratorium on the high seas. ^ top ^

China releases article exposing 'US-style human rights' hypocrisy (China Daily)
2020-07-10
The China Society for Human Rights Studies on Thursday published an article, laying bare the hypocrisy of "US-style human rights" as evidenced by its extremely harsh immigration policies and violations of the basic rights and personal dignity of immigrants. The religious, cultural and racial discrimination against immigrants has kept developing and become increasingly intense in the United States, said the article titled "Serious Discrimination Against and Cruel Treatment of Immigrants Fully Expose Hypocrisy of 'US-Style Human Rights'". The article pointed out that the US government has treated immigrants violently, and arrested and detained immigrants on a large scale in the border areas of the United States. The US "zero tolerance" immigration policy has resulted in the separation of children from their parents, the article noted. "Immigrants, including immigrant children, are subjected to inhumane treatment, with their basic human rights, such as the right to life and right to health, being seriously violated," it said. Two conflicting mentalities, namely intolerance and doubt concerning the ethnic characteristics of immigrants, and the ideal of and self-confidence in assimilating immigrants, have been embodied throughout the development history of the US immigration system, the article said. "They have also become the theoretical basis for the US government's immigration policies featuring assimilation or exclusion of immigrants," it noted. As the anti-immigration ideology has occupied the mainstream position, xenophobia is pushed to the extreme, the article said, adding that the unilateral immigration policy of the United States has caused the situation of illegal immigration in the border areas to continue deteriorating. Xenophobia in US immigration policies has caused serious consequences, including intensified social conflicts, the article said. "The divergence in immigration policies existing in different sectors of the United States has exacerbated the country's internal divisions," it said. The US immigration policies that are full of racial discrimination have seriously damaged the recognition for national identity and the fusion of races in the United States, it added. Immigrants who have made a huge contribution to the United States come to be regarded as outsiders who threaten the US political system and burden the country's finances and welfare, according to the article. "Immigrants used to be and will continue to be the victims of exclusion and persecution," the article said. ^ top ^

Digging in on rare earth, the next front in the US supply chain war with China (SCMP)
2020-07-10
As US-China relations hit new lows, Washington is redoubling efforts to address a major Achilles' heel: its dependence on Beijing for rare earth elements – essential materials in various hi-tech products from smartphones and electric car batteries to Javelin missiles and F-35 fighter aircraft. China hawk Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, recently introduced a bill to spur US production of critical minerals, among the latest of several before Congress amid rising concern that China could leverage its dominance in economic and political negotiations. "It's making people in Washington wake up and say this is not sustainable," said Martijn Rasser, a fellow at the Centre for a New American Security. "If China really is willing to restrict exports, we're in for a rough ride over the next few years." But China's strategic-metals grip is so strong and the challenges in competing against its state-led model so great that some estimate it could take over a decade to create a relatively secure US supply chain. The US has also made some significant missteps that haven't helped, critics say. Strategic concerns over rare earths mirror larger calls to reduce US dependence on China – spurred on by critical Covid-19 shortages of personal protective equipment – as President Donald Trump threatens to "completely decouple" the two massive economies. "The rare metals issue is a microcosm of the broader trend," said Paul Haenle, chair at the Carnegie – Tsinghua Centre and a former China affairs director at the National Security Council. "The issue of rare earth exports is particularly important because it also represents national security concerns." While many in Washington agree on the importance of reducing reliance on China, debate rages over how to get there. Legislation, reports and proposals – including those laid out in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing late last month on critical minerals – range from subsidising production, strengthening alliances and increasing research to forging industry co-operatives, boosting recycling and mining in national parks, the Arctic and even outer space. US Army's urgent plan to secure rare earths for weapons. Most legislation faces a tough near-term slog as Congress grapples with Covid-19, economic meltdown and protests over police shootings of African Americans in an election year. But rare earth provisions are included in both the House and Senate versions of the massive annual defence budget bill, a crucial law all but assured to pass, amid heightened suspicion of Beijing's objectives and Trump's "America first" policies. "We have to find an economic message to counter the Chinese state," said a Republican senate staffer who was not authorised to speak publicly. "And rare earth is a big part of that." The Pentagon, wary of its dependence on Chinese supplies for its weapons systems, has outlined a four-phase plan to bolster US mineral supply chains, even as powerful senators push the military for "US sources and at US facilities". The issue also taps into two of Trump's pet themes – reviving extractive industries in the US and "reshoring" American jobs. Analysts believe that Trump's bizarre proposal last year to buy Greenland was tied to its large rare earth reserves. "The fact that he can show up with a hard hat and a bulldozer, it's a great photo op," said Rasser. Rare earths – 17 elements with nearly unpronounceable names like gadolinium and praseodymium – are not particularly rare nor universally valuable, but they are difficult and expensive to refine. And critics say that the US has badly misplayed its hand. Among the largest and most promising US mining operations is California's Mountain Pass, the global leader until China started dominating in the late 1980s. After its 2015 bankruptcy, Washington rather inexplicably opened the door to Chinese investors. In 2017, the US government committee that reviews national security deals approved a US$20.5 million sale to MP Materials, an investment consortium including the co-chairman James Litinsky, a financier; some New York investors; and the Chinese state-controlled Shenghe Rare Earth Shareholding Company, which holds a 9.9 per cent stake. "All alarm bells should have been ringing in Washington," said Thomas Kruemmer, director of Singapore-based Ginger International Trade & Investment, which specialises in strategic metals. "The Trump administration messed up." In an interview, Litinsky said that attention on MP's Chinese shareholders is misguided. "It's impossible to lift a US$1.7 billion chemical plant and mine and send it over to Beijing," he noted. "Our mission as a company is to return the full rare earth supply chain to the United States of America." The MP Materials website touts a contract the Pentagon awarded it in April, although that award faces resistance after several senators strongly objected to the company's ties with China. Even without the Chinese stake in MP Materials, the US relies on China for some 78 per cent of the rare earth elements it uses. The Asian giant is also the global leader in processing – including Mountain Top's output, which is currently sold to China for refining. "[Chinese] ownership is maybe 9.9 per cent. But in terms of MP's revenue, 100 per cent of their revenues are coming from the Chinese side," said Daniel McGroarty, an advisory board member with USA Rare Earth, which controls the Round Top Mountain mine in far west Texas. Kruemmer put it more colourfully: "If China doesn't buy Litinsky's stuff, he can stir it into his morning coffee." As US-China relations hit new lows, Washington is redoubling efforts to address a major Achilles' heel: its dependence on Beijing for rare earth elements – essential materials in various hi-tech products from smartphones and electric car batteries to Javelin missiles and F-35 fighter aircraft. China hawk Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, recently introduced a bill to spur US production of critical minerals, among the latest of several before Congress amid rising concern that China could leverage its dominance in economic and political negotiations. "It's making people in Washington wake up and say this is not sustainable," said Martijn Rasser, a fellow at the Centre for a New American Security. "If China really is willing to restrict exports, we're in for a rough ride over the next few years." But China's strategic-metals grip is so strong and the challenges in competing against its state-led model so great that some estimate it could take over a decade to create a relatively secure US supply chain. The US has also made some significant missteps that haven't helped, critics say. Amid US-China trade war, China aims to elevate its domestic rare earth industry Strategic concerns over rare earths mirror larger calls to reduce US dependence on China – spurred on by critical Covid-19 shortages of personal protective equipment – as President Donald Trump threatens to "completely decouple" the two massive economies. "The rare metals issue is a microcosm of the broader trend," said Paul Haenle, chair at the Carnegie – Tsinghua Centre and a former China affairs director at the National Security Council. "The issue of rare earth exports is particularly important because it also represents national security concerns." While many in Washington agree on the importance of reducing reliance on China, debate rages over how to get there. Most legislation faces a tough near-term slog as Congress grapples with Covid-19, economic meltdown and protests over police shootings of African Americans in an election year. But rare earth provisions are included in both the House and Senate versions of the massive annual defence budget bill, a crucial law all but assured to pass, amid heightened suspicion of Beijing's objectives and Trump's "America first" policies. "We have to find an economic message to counter the Chinese state," said a Republican senate staffer who was not authorised to speak publicly. "And rare earth is a big part of that." The rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California. Photo: MP Materials The Pentagon, wary of its dependence on Chinese supplies for its weapons systems, has outlined a four-phase plan to bolster US mineral supply chains, even as powerful senators push the military for "US sources and at US facilities". The issue also taps into two of Trump's pet themes – reviving extractive industries in the US and "reshoring" American jobs. Analysts believe that Trump's bizarre proposal last year to buy Greenland was tied to its large rare earth reserves. "The fact that he can show up with a hard hat and a bulldozer, it's a great photo op," said Rasser. Rare earths – 17 elements with nearly unpronounceable names like gadolinium and praseodymium – are not particularly rare nor universally valuable, but they are difficult and expensive to refine. And critics say that the US has badly misplayed its hand. Among the largest and most promising US mining operations is California's Mountain Pass, the global leader until China started dominating in the late 1980s. After its 2015 bankruptcy, Washington rather inexplicably opened the door to Chinese investors. In 2017, the US government committee that reviews national security deals approved a US$20.5 million sale to MP Materials, an investment consortium including the co-chairman James Litinsky, a financier; some New York investors; and the Chinese state-controlled Shenghe Rare Earth Shareholding Company, which holds a 9.9 per cent stake. "All alarm bells should have been ringing in Washington," said Thomas Kruemmer, director of Singapore-based Ginger International Trade & Investment, which specialises in strategic metals. "The Trump administration messed up." In an interview, Litinsky said that attention on MP's Chinese shareholders is misguided. "It's impossible to lift a US$1.7 billion chemical plant and mine and send it over to Beijing," he noted. "Our mission as a company is to return the full rare earth supply chain to the United States of America." The MP Materials website touts a contract the Pentagon awarded it in April, although that award faces resistance after several senators strongly objected to the company's ties with China. Even without the Chinese stake in MP Materials, the US relies on China for some 78 per cent of the rare earth elements it uses. The Asian giant is also the global leader in processing – including Mountain Top's output, which is currently sold to China for refining. "[Chinese] ownership is maybe 9.9 per cent. But in terms of MP's revenue, 100 per cent of their revenues are coming from the Chinese side," said Daniel McGroarty, an advisory board member with USA Rare Earth, which controls the Round Top Mountain mine in far west Texas. Kruemmer put it more colourfully: "If China doesn't buy Litinsky's stuff, he can stir it into his morning coffee." Trucks hauling ore from the rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California. Photo: Reuters China's dominance in processing – which tends to create cancer-causing material and often radioactive waste as by-products – is bolstered by a reported 23,000 US patents pending or realised. "People were more than happy to have China do all the dirty work," Rasser said. "But now China has control of the market." The global market for rare earth elements – including their use in permanent magnets found in MRI scanners, batteries and missile wings – is expected to grow rapidly as demand increases for renewable energy products like electric vehicles. Driving US policy and subsidies is concern that, if pushed, Beijing could block rare earth exports. Politicians and military strategists tend to see a greater risk of that happening, industry executives somewhat less so. But Beijing has flexed its rare earth muscle before. A decade ago, China halted exports to Japan for several weeks after a territorial dispute. Beijing subsequently claimed that those rare earth exports were restricted to help market stability and the environment. Last year, as the trade war accelerated, Chinese state media blared "Don't say we didn't warn you," amid threats to cut off rare earth exports, adding "United States, don't underestimate China's ability to strike back." About the same time, President Xi Jinping visited a rare earth processing factory in Jiangxi province. Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit last year to a rare earth refinery in Jiangxi province spurred US officials to redouble efforts aimed at creating a domestic industry. Photo: Xinhua "China tends to play this game far better than the United States does, but I think that was a misstep," said Pini Althaus, chief executive at USA Rare Earth. "All that was achieved by that visit by President Xi was to light a fire under the United States to say we have to do something … It backfired." Even if Beijing doesn't play hardball, foreign customers face shortages as demand for rare earth expands in China, which already uses more than half the global annual output. And the nation's ambitious "Made in China 2025" blueprint is built on industries using rare earths and permanent magnets. Washington's sudden, belated response over an industry it once dominated underscores a US bias toward short-term profits and reactive fixes, analysts said, while China can take a more strategic approach befitting a state-directed economy overseen by a potential president for life. "The Middle East has its oil, China has rare earths," paramount leader Deng Xiaoping noted in 1987 when visiting production facilities in Inner Mongolia. After China's 2010 strong-arm tactics against Japan, some in the West raised warnings but were soon drowned out by economics, a supply glut engineered by China and limited political will. "The Pentagon has built its entire advanced weapons on Chinese quicksand," military consultant James Kennedy wrote in a Defence One commentary in 2016. Mining groups, attracted by growing political tailwinds and the lure of Pentagon largesse, are struggling to build more "secure" rare earth supply chains, even as they acknowledge that US autonomy is a long way off. Althaus, of USA Rare Earth, said it will take the US "decades to get even close to where China is today". USA Rare Earth announced last month that it had secured permit approval for a pilot processing plant in Colorado. Meanwhile, Mountain Pass plans to restart processing facilities that had been shuttered for financial reasons years ago. A US-Australia venture with ties to Malaysia has proposed a processing plant in Texas. And mining interests in Alaska and Wyoming are plugging their potential. But the sums in direct and indirect government subsidies required to build a full and viable US supply chain from ore to oxide are daunting, analysts say. Legislation backed by the Pentagon, which only consumes a small percentage of US rare earth elements, could see US$1.75 billion allocated for strategic minerals that are needed for munitions and missiles; US$350 million for microelectronics; and no ceiling for hypersonic weapons. "No sane private investor will get into this, unless there are all kinds of government guarantees," Kruemmer, of Ginger International, added. "There is no market economy-based solution to this." Analysts also underscore the commercial challenges, which include the need for massive amounts of private capital and years without cash flow. Other obstacles include the economics of separating and refining rare earths, which tend to throw off massive amounts of low value by-products, some of which are toxic. Moreover, output in some US mines is of low concentration and many "proprietary" processing technologies face resistance from community groups and hi-tech customers. "Western large-scale end users diligently nod their heads if some US senator condemns China's stranglehold on rare earths," although in truth they prefer to buy Chinese rare earths given its quality and competitive price, Kruemmer said. "They don't want to be forced to use untested domestic stuff." Even the idea of securing more rare earth material underscores the weak US hand. "What's the point of having a stockpile … if you know you're going to have to send it to China?" the senate staffer asked. "China is the game." ^ top ^

'Unknown pneumonia' deadlier than coronavirus sweeping Kazakhstan, Chinese embassy warns (SCMP)
2020-07-10
The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan has warned of a deadly "unknown pneumonia" after the former Soviet republic reported a spike in pneumonia cases since June. "The death rate of this disease is much higher than the novel coronavirus. The country's health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus," the embassy said in a warning to Chinese citizens in the country. While the Chinese embassy described the illness as an "unknown pneumonia", Kazakhstani officials and media have only said it is pneumonia. It was not clear why the Chinese embassy had described the illness as "unknown" or what information it had about the pneumonia. The embassy's website, citing local media reports, said the provinces of Atyrau and Aktobe and the city of Shymkent have reported significant spikes in pneumonia cases since the middle of June. Worldwide reported coronavirus infections top 12 million Shymkent and the capital city of Atyrau are 1,500km (930 miles) apart, while the distance between the capital cities of Atyrau and Aktobe is 330km (205 miles). The country as a whole saw 1,772 pneumonia deaths in the first part of the year, 628 of which happened in June, including some Chinese nationals, the embassy continued. "The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan reminds Chinese nationals here to be aware of the situation and step up prevention to lower the infection risks," the embassy statement said. Saule Kisikova, the health care department chief in the capital Nur-Sultan, told the news agency Kazinform: "Some 300 people diagnosed with pneumonia are being hospitalised every day." The agency also said there had been 1,700 pneumonia cases nationwide in June – more than two times the number in the same month last year. The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan has warned of a deadly "unknown pneumonia" after the former Soviet republic reported a spike in pneumonia cases since June. "The death rate of this disease is much higher than the novel coronavirus. The country's health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus," the embassy said in a warning to Chinese citizens in the country. While the Chinese embassy described the illness as an "unknown pneumonia", Kazakhstani officials and media have only said it is pneumonia. It was not clear why the Chinese embassy had described the illness as "unknown" or what information it had about the pneumonia. The embassy's website, citing local media reports, said the provinces of Atyrau and Aktobe and the city of Shymkent have reported significant spikes in pneumonia cases since the middle of June. Shymkent and the capital city of Atyrau are 1,500km (930 miles) apart, while the distance between the capital cities of Atyrau and Aktobe is 330km (205 miles). The country as a whole saw 1,772 pneumonia deaths in the first part of the year, 628 of which happened in June, including some Chinese nationals, the embassy continued. "The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan reminds Chinese nationals here to be aware of the situation and step up prevention to lower the infection risks," the embassy statement said. Saule Kisikova, the health care department chief in the capital Nur-Sultan, told the news agency Kazinform: "Some 300 people diagnosed with pneumonia are being hospitalised every day." The agency also said there had been 1,700 pneumonia cases nationwide in June – more than two times the number in the same month last year. Kazakhstan announced a state of emergency on March 16 to tackle the spread of Covid-19. The lockdown was lifted on May 11, but restrictions and quarantine measures have been reimposed in some areas following the surge in pneumonia cases. Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in a televised address on Wednesday that the situation was still serious and it was too early to relax restrictions. He added the country was "in fact facing the second coronavirus wave coupled with a huge uptick in pneumonia cases", according to the Russian news agency Tass. The Chinese embassy said on Tuesday that the number of Covid-19 cases in Kazakhstan had reached 49,683, including 264 deaths. Late last month officials warned about the rise in pneumonia cases. Kisikova said that doctors were finding 600 people a day with pneumonia symptoms, compared with 80 a day before the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Singapore-based website CNA reported. "Every day, 350 to 400 patients are hospitalised in the city with either Covid-19 or pneumonia," she said. Purchase the 100+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6 webinars with C-level executives. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here. ^ top ^

Chinese Defense Ministry slams Pentagon for South China Sea drill accusation (Global Times)
2020-07-10
By accusing China's military exercises near the Xisha Islands of causing instability in the South China Sea, the US Defense Ministry disregarded the facts, confused right from wrong, and attempted to alienate countries in the region and reap unfair gains, China's Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday. "We are strongly dissatisfied and are resolutely against this," said Defense Ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang in a statement. Ren's remarks came after the Pentagon on July 2 claimed the Chinese drills, which were held in waters near China's Xisha Islands from July 1 to Sunday, were "counter-productive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability," Reuters reported. China announced the drills on June 27 as part of the annual training schedule, Ren said, noting that the drills were aimed at effectively boosting the Chinese military's maritime defense capability, resolutely safeguarding national sovereignty and security, and maintaining regional peace and stability. The drills were not aimed at any specific country or target, the spokesperson said. Under the joint efforts of China and ASEAN member states, the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable and moving toward a good direction. However, the US keeps sending large batches of advanced warships and aircraft to the South China Sea for provocations and muscle-flexing, conducting navigation hegemony operations many times and threatening regional security and stability, Ren said. Only two days after accusing China's drills, the US on Saturday sent two aircraft carriers plus four other warships to the South China Sea for its largest-scale exercises in the region in years, CNN reported on Saturday. The US is the biggest pusher of militarization in the South China Sea, and goes against the efforts and wishes of peace of countries in the region, Ren said. China is committed to building an Asian community of a shared future with countries in the region, and developing friendly and cooperative relations based on respect, equality, and mutual benefit, the spokesperson said. We hope the US can look back at its mistakes, stop provocative military operations in the South China Sea, stop groundless accusations against China, stop alienating countries in the region, and stop creating tensions, Ren said. ^ top ^

China, Russia vow firm mutual support (People's Daily)
2020-07-09
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, held a phone conversation on Wednesday, vowing that the two countries will firmly support each other in safeguarding sovereignty. Xi noted that in late June Russia successfully held a military parade at the Red Square to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War, demonstrating to the world its firm resolve to remember history and safeguard peace. Soldiers march during the military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War on Red Square in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2020. Recently, Russia smoothly carried out a referendum and passed a set of constitutional amendments with a large majority vote, Xi said, adding that it has fully reflected the Russian people's support for the Russian government and approval of its governance philosophy. China will, as always, firmly support Russia's development path that fits its own national conditions and staunchly support Russia in accelerating its development and revitalization, he said. Noting that the international situation is changing rapidly, Xi stressed that it is very necessary for China and Russia, as comprehensive strategic partners of coordination, to strengthen strategic communication and cooperation. The Chinese side, he added, is willing to continue working with the Russian side in firmly supporting each other, rejecting external sabotage and intervention, well preserving their respective sovereignty, security and development rights, and well safeguarding their shared interests. Xi pointed out that at the most difficult time in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Russia supported and helped each other, which has further enriched the strategic significance of their relations in the new era. While dealing with the coronavirus epidemic for a relatively long period of time, the two sides should explore flexible and diverse means to speed up the resumption of work and production in all fields of bilateral cooperation, suggested the Chinese president. He added that they should also seize the opportunity of the China-Russia Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation to fast-track collaboration in such fields as advanced technology, research and development of vaccine and drugs, as well as biosecurity, so as to continuously lift China-Russia ties to higher levels and boost their respective development for the benefit of both peoples. China, Xi said, stands ready to work with Russia to continuously intensify coordination within the United Nations and other multilateral frameworks, safeguard multilateralism, oppose hegemonism and unilateralism, defend international fairness and justice, and make greater contributions to improving global governance and promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. For his part, Putin said the large majority vote for the constitutional amendments in the recent referendum will help Russia maintain long-term political stability, better defend national sovereignty and oppose foreign interference. Russia and China, he added, both value their own national sovereignty and security and have firmly supported each other all the time, as has been demonstrated once again both by their mutual support in the difficult moments during the pandemic, and by the recent participation by the Chinese People's Liberation Army honor guard in Russia's Red Square parade. Russia-China relations are at their best in history, Putin said, stressing that Russia firmly supports China's efforts to safeguard national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, opposes all kinds of provocative actions that violate China's sovereignty, and believes China is fully capable of ensuring long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong. Noting that Russia regards its relations with China as the top foreign policy priority, he said his country is willing to work with China to continuously push forward bilateral practical cooperation in various fields, strengthen strategic communication and coordination within such frameworks as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the United Nations, and safeguard global strategic stability and security. In addition, the Russian president conveyed his sympathies over the flooding and geological disasters in multiple places in South China, and Xi expressed his gratitude for that. ^ top ^

WHO to send experts to China for cooperation on COVID-19 origin-tracing: FM spokesperson (Xinhua)
2020-07-09
After consultation between the two sides, the Chinese government has agreed that the World Health Organization (WHO) will send experts to Beijing to exchange ideas with Chinese scientists and medical experts on science-based cooperation to trace the origin of the COVID-19 virus, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Wednesday. Noting that WHO experts will be traveling to China to prepare scientific plans for identifying the zoonotic source of the disease, Zhao told a daily press briefing that experts from both sides will develop the scope and Terms of Reference for a WHO-led international mission. "Virus source tracing is a scientific issue that should be studied by scientists through international research and cooperation across the globe," Zhao said, adding that it is also the view of WHO that it is an ongoing process probably concerning many countries and localities, and WHO will conduct similar trips to other countries and regions in light of the actual need. Zhao said that the WHO and China have maintained communication and cooperation since the start of the pandemic. Identifying the origin of emerging viral disease has proven complex in past epidemics in different countries. A well planned series of scientific researches will advance the understanding of animal reservoirs and the route of transmission to humans. The process is an evolving endeavor which may lead to further international scientific research and collaboration globally, Zhao said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China sends a new commercial communication satellite into space (Global Times)
2020-07-10
China sent a new commercial communication satellite code-named Apstar-6D into planned orbit via a Long March-3B carrier rocket on Thursday. ^ top ^

China's top law enforcement body unveils campaign to purge 'corrupt elements' (SCMP)
2020-07-10
China's top law enforcement agency has announced a campaign to purge "corrupt elements" from its ranks to create an "ironclad army", according to state media. It will start with a three-month pilot scheme covering five cities and four counties in Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Sichuan and Henan provinces. The campaign will go nationwide next year and will run until the first quarter of 2022. Chen Yixin, secretary general of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission – which oversees police officers, prosecutors, courts and prisons – announced the move at a meeting on Wednesday. Chen, who will head an office set up to oversee the pilot programme, told the meeting that the campaign aimed to rid the country's justice system of "corrupt elements" and purge "two-faced" officials who only paid lip service to the Communist Party's rules and orders. Calling it an "urgent and significant" political task, Chen was quoted by state media as saying: "[We] must be daring and explore new ways, take real action and rectification to scrape the poison off the bones of our political and legal systems." He continued: "We should turn the blade towards ourselves so we can remove the tumour completely, get rid of the black sheep [among us], and ensure that our law enforcement army is absolutely loyal, pure and dependable for the Communist Party and the people." The campaign comes after a three-year anti-vice crackdown on criminals and triad societies in China, as well as law enforcement officers who colluded with criminals. According to official reports, some 67,190 law enforcement officers who acted as "protection umbrellas" for criminals were investigated and prosecuted as a result of that crackdown. A legal expert from Peking University said the latest campaign was meant to "sharpen and strengthen" the "knife's handle" – a euphemism for the party's security apparatus – as the leadership prepared for its twice-a-decade congress in 2022. "It's clear that the party is preparing itself for potential political threats, as external pressure from the friction with the United States intensifies, and so does domestic pressure as the economy slows," said the legal expert, who requested anonymity. China's leadership is increasingly relying on its security apparatus to control political risks and maintain social stability amid uncertainties ranging from the coronavirus pandemic to a shrinking economy. On Monday, Chen's deputy Lei Dongsheng was appointed head of a special working group set up to safeguard political security. Wang Jiangyu, director of the Centre for Chinese and Comparative Law at City University of Hong Kong, said the country's law enforcement agencies had been "plagued by rampant corruption and problems such as abuse of power". "A corrupt and abusive law enforcement system poses an existential threat to the legitimacy of the Communist Party," Wang said. "It is conceivable that the party leaders want to clean up these agencies in order to strengthen the party's rule." ^ top ^

China stresses flood control, advancing water conservancy projects (China Daily)
2020-07-10
China will make all-out efforts in flood control and disaster relief work while advancing the construction of major water conservancy projects, according to an executive meeting of the State Council Wednesday. The meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, stressed that people's lives are the top priority, and decided to increase material and funding support to help local authorities relocate disaster-hit residents. The meeting also decided to repair damaged projects, and restore production to the parts of the country most severely affected by floods. Since the beginning of this year, accumulated precipitation in China has been higher and more intensive than the same period in normal years, causing severe damage to parts of the country, according to the meeting. The meeting urged readying needed flood-prevention materials, strengthening patrolling of reservoirs and dikes, as well as rolling out personnel evacuation plans. It also studied the arrangements for 150 major water conservancy projects, calling for advancing construction and enhancing the capabilities of preventing floods, droughts, and other disasters. Efforts should be made to deepen reforms on investment and financing mechanisms, expand equity and bond financing, and quicken the construction of water conservancy projects by leveraging market-oriented reforms. To secure hundreds of millions of market entities, supportive fiscal, financial, and social insurance policies which have already been unveiled, should be well implemented. Efforts should also be made to establish a market-oriented, law-based, and internationalized business environment. The meeting underlined strengthening services for market entities, providing more convenience for employment and entrepreneurship, and optimizing the environment for foreign investment and foreign trade. ^ top ^

Beijing reports no new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases for 4th consecutive day (Xinhua)
2020-07-10
Beijing on Thursday reported no new confirmed domestically transmitted cases of COVID-19, the municipal health commission said Friday. This marked that the Chinese capital city had reported no new confirmed domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases for four consecutive days. No new suspected or asymptomatic cases were reported, and 12 were discharged from hospital after recovery on Thursday in the city, the commission said in a daily report. From June 11 to July 9, the city reported 335 confirmed domestically transmitted cases, of whom 263 were still hospitalized and 72 discharged from hospital after recovery. There were 24 asymptomatic cases under medical observation, the commission said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing remains committed to making Winter Olympic Games greener (People's Daily)
2020-07-10
A WeChat mini-program for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games was officially launched on July 2 to encourage the public to have a low-carbon lifestyle and contribute to a greener sport event. It will open an individual carbon account for each user and convert their low-carbon behaviors such as walking, bike riding, as well as bus and subway taking, into "carbon points" in their accounts. The mini-program uses digital technology to record a dozen of low-carbon activities in users' daily life and then converts them into carbon points which can be exchanged for corresponding awards. Low-carbon activities are converted into different amounts of carbon points based on how much emission they reduce. For example, a user can get 0.02 carbon points per step, up to 200 points per day, 174 points for participating in the "clear your plate" campaign each time, and 209 points for taking a bus. Quantifying low-carbon activities with carbon points enables the public to better understand carbon emission reduction and gradually develop a green and low-carbon lifestyle, said Liu Xinping, an official from the General Planning Department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. To actively respond to the global climate change, reduce carbon emission and implement carbon neutrality has turned from an "icing on the cake" into non-negotiable requirements that must be met in major sports events. Carbon neutrality refers to taking corresponding measures to offset the carbon emissions from human activities. As a new type of environmental protection, carbon neutrality has been popular among more and more international conferences and competitions. In the past, major international sports events usually achieved carbon neutrality through forestry management, energy conservation and emission reduction, and renewable energy projects. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games made an even bolder move by launching a nationwide low-carbon campaign and developing a mini-program for the public to help reduce carbon emission. As the first Olympic Games to fully implement the Olympic Agenda 2020, the Beijing 2022 has always remained committed to being green, low-carbon and sustainable, from its bidding to preparation. The Carbon Management Plan for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 was released on June 23 last year, the Olympic Day, providing an institutional underpinning for hosting the Winter Games in a green manner, actively encouraging low-carbon ways of life in the society, and promoting the Carbon Generalized System of Preferences for the Olympic Games. With the implementation of the plan, the Beijing 2022 has continuously made breakthroughs in low-carbon energy, venues, and transportation. All venues are constructed in strict accordance with the national green building standards, and the evaluation standards for green snow sports venues are the first of the kind in China and even in the world. For the first time in the Games' history, carbon dioxide will be used as refrigerants at four venues, including the National Speed Skating Oval, which will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the games. Electricity generated by clean energy in Zhangbei county, North China's Hebei Province, has been connected into Beijing's power grid, which will enable wind and solar power from Zhangbei to light up the venues. The Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Sustainability Plan released in May has one vision – sustainability for the future, featuring three key themes of positive environmental impact, new development for the region and better life for the people. "We have been innovating in technology, mechanism and concept to follow a sustainable approach," Liu said, believing that this will not only leave a green legacy of the Beijing 2022, but also help gain rich experience for the sustainable development of the Olympic Games. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Top political advisor stresses consolidation of Tibet's enduring peace, stability (Xinhua)
2020-07-09
China's top political advisor Wang Yang has stressed continuous efforts to consolidate the foundations of enduring peace and stability in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The efforts should center on safeguarding the country's unity and strengthening ethnic solidarity, resolutely combating separatism, forestalling and defusing major risks and challenges and continuously consolidate the foundations of long-term peace and stability in Tibet. Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, made the remarks during an inspection tour in the region. During the three-day tour that started Monday, he visited villages relocated for poverty relief, pasturing areas, industrial parks and religious venues in Xigaze and Lhasa, and presided over a symposium where he listened to suggestions from the attendees. Speaking highly of the efforts made by the region's Party committee in recent years, Wang noted that the work related to ethnic and religious affairs concerns the enduring peace and stability of the region, asking for further research into the history of the community of the Chinese nation to improve public awareness of ethnic unity and progress. He called for raising the social awareness of religious believers that they are, above all, citizens of the country, as well as the promotion of patriotism to further adapt Tibetan Buddhism to the socialist society. Highlighting a people-centered development vision, Wang stressed that poverty alleviation is both an economic and a political task, and urged efforts to make sure nobody from any ethnic group in Tibet lags behind in marching into a moderately prosperous society. He also underscored the role of the rural vitalization strategy, education and characteristic industries in poverty alleviation in the region. ^ top ^

China to impose visa restrictions on US officials who act maliciously on Tibetan issue (Global Times)
2020-07-09
China will impose visa restrictions on some US personnel who have behaved badly on Tibet-related affairs, Chinese Foreign Ministry said, following a statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the US will restrict visas for some Chinese officials over Tibet. ^ top ^

US imposes sanctions over Tibet and urges Beijing to release outspoken professor Xu Zhangrun (SCMP)
2020-07-08
The US State Department blasted China on two human rights fronts on Tuesday in the latest sign of deteriorating relations, unveiling visa sanctions on Chinese officials tied to Tibet and demanding the release of a law professor who publicly criticised Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The double salvo comes less than a week after Beijing imposed a new national security law on Hong Kong that has angered many US and European lawmakers. The law, which critics say violates the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, has sparked fears that China will squelch free speech and peaceful assembly in the city. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials who block outsiders from visiting the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas. "Access to Tibetan areas is increasingly vital to regional stability, given the PRC's human rights abuses there, as well as Beijing's failure to prevent environmental degradation near the headwaters of Asia's major rivers," Pompeo said in a statement. "PRC officials and other citizens enjoy far greater access to the United States." Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun was reportedly taken from his home in Beijing. Photo: Sohu Under a tit-for-tat provision of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018, Chinese officials can be denied US visas if they are complicit in denying American government officials, journalists, independent observers and tourists access to Tibet. Separately on Tuesday, the State Department lashed out at Beijing for detaining a Tsinghua professor. "We are deeply concerned by the PRC's detention of Professor Xu Zhangrun for criticizing Chinese leaders amid tightening ideological controls on university campuses in China," Morgan Ortagus, the State Department spokeswoman, said in a tweet. "The PRC must release Xu and uphold its international commitments to respect freedom of expression," she said. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. US House approves Tibet bill in latest human rights challenge to Beijing 17 Feb 2020 Beijing has not yet acknowledged Xu's arrest at his home in Beijing by police on Monday, which was reported by close contacts of Xu's family. But the outspoken 57-year-old professor had been closely watched by Chinese authorities since at least last year. In May, he published an essay urging the country's leadership to reflect on its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and apologise for its mistakes. In February, while the outbreak still raged in China, he publicly blamed senior Chinese leadership for "putting politics ahead of the people" and wrote that the country's political system had "collapsed under the tyranny". One year before, Xu had been suspended from his teaching post at Tsinghua University, one of China's top schools, after he published an article condemning the Communist Party's decision to remove presidential term limits. The Trump administration's appetite for criticizing China has gone through stages, tied in part to progress on a trade deal and President Donald Trump's wavering feelings toward Xi. But the tone has sharpened notably after Covid-19 spread widely in the US, tied in part to Beijing's early lack of transparency and Trump's growing attempts to deflect blame for mismanaging the pandemic. And Pompeo, dubbed "Trump attack dog on China", has often been the most publicly vocal of the administration's critics. Pompeo told a radio interviewer on Monday that there was an "enormous mismatch" between Xi's policies and "the most fundamental human rights". On Tuesday, another top American official, the head of the FBI, issued his own dire warning about China's efforts to stifle criticism inside and outside its borders. In a speech, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that Beijing has systematically pressured overseas Chinese citizens whom the Communist Party views as dissidents to return home, in some cases by threatening their families. Wray said the programme, called Operation Fox Hunt, was led by Xi. "We're talking about political rivals, dissidents and critics seeking to expose China's extensive human rights violations," Wray said, adding that people who fear they are targets of the programme should contact their local FBI field office. Tuesday's announcement on visa sanctions against Chinese officials over denied access to Tibet did not include specifics or a list of officials subject to the restrictions. The move came the day after the 85th birthday of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader condemned by Beijing. The US law requires that the administration provide to the US Congress within one year of its enactment in December 2018 a report that included a list of the individuals barred from entering the US or stripped of their visas.  ^ top ^

Proposed 'Tibet card' adverse for Indian economy (Global Times)
2020-07-07
Some Indian media outlets have recently suggested that India should play the "Tibet card" after deadly clashes erupted at the China-India border, reflecting nothing but a misguided and nonsensical viewpoint. Perhaps some in India think the Tibet issue could be a trump card to use as leverage when it comes to the tensions between China and India, but such an idea is simply delusional. The Tibet issue falls under China's internal affairs, involves the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity and is a bottom-line issue that should not be touched. In fact, economic growth in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has been maintained at a relatively fast pace in recent years, laying a sound foundation for the stable social environment in the region. The so-called "Tibet card" exists only in the imaginations of some Indians and is of no practical significance in reality. Official statistics show Tibet's GDP grew 8.1 percent year-on-year to reach 169.78 billion yuan ($24.15 billion) in 2019, with per capita disposable income for the region's residents up 12.8 percent to 19,501 yuan. In terms of foreign trade, the Tibet region had trade relations with 71 countries and regions in 2019, and its trade with Nepal jumped 26.7 percent to 3.17 billion yuan. Some anti-China forces are tireless in exploiting the Tibet issue to launch political provocations against the "One China" policy, but facts speak louder than words. The faster Tibet's economy grows, the more stable its society becomes. Its economic growth is also conducive to the development of China-India economic and trade relations. We hope the Indian government will also make more efforts to develop the economies in the Indian states bordering the Tibet region of China. At present, most of these regions are economically unsound due to geographical and climate issues. If India can stimulate economic vitality in these regions by improving infrastructure, encouraging investment and increasing government support, then the states may form closer economic belts with the Tibet region. If that possibility becomes a reality, then the economies on both sides of the China-India border will see great improvements. Local economic prosperity and trade exchanges would also be conducive to ensuring peace and stability in the border region, benefiting both countries and bilateral relations accordingly. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

US sanctions Chinese government officials over treatment of Uygurs in Xinjiang (SCMP)
2020-07-10
The US government has announced sanctions on Chinese officials it deems responsible for human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in the country's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region (XUAR), pressuring Beijing further on one of many issues that have roiled the bilateral relationship. The sanctions specifically name XUAR party secretary Chen Quanguo and three other top officials of the region's leadership, as well as other unidentified people "believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the unjust detention or abuse of Uygurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday. "The United States will not stand idly by as the [Chinese Communist Party] carries out human rights abuses targeting" these groups, he added, citing "forced labour, arbitrary mass detention and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith". Pompeo said the sanctions were authorised by a 2017 executive order signed by US President Donald Trump called "Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption", and were in line with the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which was signed into law by then-president Barack Obama in 2012. Chen is the highest ranking Chinese official to be sanctioned by the US government, a sign that Pompeo is matching his sharp rhetoric against China with action. Chen is a member of the 25-member Politburo, the peak of the Communist Party's leadership. His rank is higher than Pompeo's Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. "The US govt has crossed another 'red line' by sanctioning top Chinese … officials. I think leading CCP figures will be calling their (foreign) lawyers to make sure their assets (if they have any) are going to be outside the US, just in case," Julian Ku, a law professor at Hofstra University in New York, said in a Twitter post. "Few foreign leaders have their personal assets in China, so it is hard for China to retaliate." The US government has announced sanctions on Chinese officials it deems responsible for human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in the country's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region (XUAR), pressuring Beijing further on one of many issues that have roiled the bilateral relationship. The sanctions specifically name XUAR party secretary Chen Quanguo and three other top officials of the region's leadership, as well as other unidentified people "believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the unjust detention or abuse of Uygurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday. "The United States will not stand idly by as the [Chinese Communist Party] carries out human rights abuses targeting" these groups, he added, citing "forced labour, arbitrary mass detention and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith". Uygur woman describes torture in China's Xinjiang 'vocational training' camps Pompeo said the sanctions were authorised by a 2017 executive order signed by US President Donald Trump called "Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption", and were in line with the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which was signed into law by then-president Barack Obama in 2012. Chen is the highest ranking Chinese official to be sanctioned by the US government, a sign that Pompeo is matching his sharp rhetoric against China with action. Chen is a member of the 25-member Politburo, the peak of the Communist Party's leadership. His rank is higher than Pompeo's Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. "The US govt has crossed another 'red line' by sanctioning top Chinese … officials. I think leading CCP figures will be calling their (foreign) lawyers to make sure their assets (if they have any) are going to be outside the US, just in case," Julian Ku, a law professor at Hofstra University in New York, said in a Twitter post. "Few foreign leaders have their personal assets in China, so it is hard for China to retaliate." Before his role in Xinjiang attracted Washington's attention, Chen was the party chief in Tibet, another region with a history of violence and uprisings against Beijing's rule. The only previous Chinese target of US sanctions under the Magnitsky act was Gao Yan, a Beijing public security bureau branch director alleged to have been responsible for the death of the human rights activist Cao Shunli in 2014. Pressure has been building for Trump's administration to take action on Xinjiang. On June 17, Trump signed the Uygur Human Rights Policy Act, which requires greater US scrutiny of suspected human rights abuses in Xinjiang and demands that Chinese officials considered responsible be subject to economic sanctions and barred from entering the US. The legislation was passed in response to the Chinese government's establishment of mass internment facilities in Xinjiang for what Beijing claims to be voluntary "vocational" education aimed at countering religious extremism. Leaks of internal government documents in recent months have challenged that narrative, presenting evidence of a network of locked-down facilities and directives from party leaders to "round up everyone who should be rounded up". Congress pushed for follow-through when, last week, 75 US senators and House members urged Trump to make a formal determination whether China's treatment of Uygurs and other groups constituted an atrocity, possibly even genocide. "It is time for action," members of the Senate and House of Representatives, led by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, wrote in a letter to Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, asking them to sanction the Chinese officials responsible for the mistreatment of Uygurs. US House of Representatives sends Uygur Human Rights Policy Act to Trump's desk for approval "These human rights abuses demand a response from the United States as well as the international community because evidence strongly indicates that the Chinese government is intentionally working to destroy and essentially wipe out Uygur families, culture, and religious adherence and encouraging violence against women," the letter stated. Beijing will consider Pompeo's sanctioning of Chen and the other Xinjiang officials "a highly provocative act", said Michael Hirson, China and Northeast Asia practice director at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said in a research note. "Beijing has long resented the US' use of unilateral sanctions and its claims to 'long-arm jurisdiction' all over the world." "Chen was likely already subject to a travel ban to the US imposed last October (the names are kept confidential) and has long known that he was a potential target," Hirson said. China's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The State Department's latest move against China follows threats of US sanctions against Chinese officials for suspected abuses in Hong Kong and Tibet, two other regions of China ostensibly granted degrees of autonomy from Beijing. Pompeo said on Monday that the United States would restrict visas for officials who were found to be obstructing travel to Tibet by US diplomats, journalists and tourists. He also accused Beijing of human rights abuses and said the US remained committed to "meaningful autonomy" for Tibetans and the preservation of their unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity. As for Hong Kong, Pompeo said on June 26 that he had imposed visa restrictions against Chinese officials in retaliation for Beijing's policies in Hong Kong, including the national security law for the city that was instituted last week. Opposition politicians and critics say the law could be used to suppress dissent and erode freedom in Hong Kong. The other officials identified by Pompeo in relation to Xinjiang on Thursday were Zhu Hailun, party secretary of the Xinjiang Political and Legal Committee, and Wang Mingshan, party secretary of Xinjiang's public security bureau. Those identified by name and their immediate family members are barred from entering the United States. Family members of the other Chinese government officials not yet identified "may also be subject to these restrictions", the announcement said. ^ top ^

New airport capped in China's Xinjiang (People's Daily)
2020-07-09
Construction of the main structure of major buildings of a new airport in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has been completed. According to the Xinjiang Airport Group, the seven-story tower building of the Yutian airport was roofed earlier this month, and the interior and exterior decoration of the terminal and other buildings has started. Located in Hotan Prefecture in southern Xinjiang, the airport in Yutian County has a total construction area of 18,500 square meters. At present, a 15-meter-tall terminal outline, a 34-meter-tall tower, a fuel supply area, and other main buildings have emerged. At the beginning of this year, the COVID-19 epidemic once delayed the construction progress of the Yutian Airport. Since March, nearly 1,000 workers from all over the country have reached Xinjiang to join the construction works, braving strong winds, dust and other environmental difficulties, and finally caught up with the progress. The airport is designed to handle 180,000 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo and mail annually. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Increasing number of HK residents support national security law: poll (Global Times)
2020-07-10
A latest poll showed that two-thirds of Hong Kong residents support the national security law for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), a 9 percent rise compared to the previous month. The Hong Kong Research Association, a nonprofit opinion survey organization, carried out telephone interviews from July 2-5 with 1,097 Hong Kong residents aged 18 or above, and released the results on Wednesday. Among those surveyed, 66 percent showed "support" or "strong support" for the imposition and enactment of the national security law for Hong Kong. Sixty-three percent welcome the set-up of the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in HKSAR, and nearly 80 percent said the implementation of the national security law would not have a negative impact on the international financial hub. Sixty-two percent expressed "support" or "strong support" that the vast majority of cases related to the new law will be heard in Hong Kong, and that the central government retains direct jurisdiction over a small number of key cases. The same number expressed "strong support" or "support" for the appointment of judges by the Hong Kong chief executive for cases involving national security. More than 60 percent believe that it is unreasonable for the US to impose sanctions on Hong Kong over the law. The association noted prosperity and security are the expectations of Hong Kong residents, and that only in a secure and stable environment can the rights and freedom enjoyed by Hong Kong people be guaranteed. Leo Chan, a 26-year-old Hong Kong resident, told the Global Times on Thursday that besides plugging legislative loopholes, the law is also educational, and Chan has full confidence in the peace and stability of Hong Kong in the future. "Rioters and secessionists have set destructive examples for children and brought chaos to the city. But I don't think it can happen again," Chan said. The Hong Kong police force will reorganize its anti-riot squad, and about 3,500 riot police officers are expected to leave the squad and return to their previous posts, as the riots and violence in the city have subsided after the enactment of the national security law for Hong Kong, media reported. Hong Kong Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung said on Monday that the national security legislation has been a great deterrent to riots. The research association said it will suggest that the HKSAR government strengthen publicity, education and promotion of the national security law, and increase public understanding and support for the law. The Hong Kong Research Association regularly conducts research and surveys on topics such as politics, social policy, economy, people's livelihood and international affairs. ^ top ^

Qualities will be basis for selection of judges (China Daily)
2020-07-10
Under Article 44 of Hong Kong's National Security Law, the chief executive is required to designate a number of judges at all levels of court, "to handle cases concerning offenses endangering national security". Before designating the judges, the chief executive may consult the Committee for Safeguarding National Security, as well as the chief justice, and this can be done expeditiously. Whereas the law was enacted on June 30, the first group of six judicial officers, all magistrates, was appointed on July 3 to handle initial arrest cases. Although some people have questioned the propriety of this arrangement, this is misconceived, and smacks of criticism for criticism's sake. Every designated judge will come from existing judicial ranks and will already have established his or her credentials. According to Article 88 of the Basic Law, the chief executive appoints judges on the recommendation of an independent commission, the Judicial Officers Recommendation Committee, chaired by the chief justice. The Basic Law stipulates in Article 92 that judges and other members of the judiciary shall be-"chosen on the basis of their judicial and professional qualities". The committee has listed the qualities required for judicial appointment. These include honesty, integrity, industry, independence and intellectual capacity, outstanding competence as a lawyer and professional excellence, mastery of facts and law, vision, drive and leadership qualities, and an ability to work with others and command respect. Once a judge has passed through all these processes, he or she will be qualified to undertake whatever cases are assigned. Judges are selected without regard to politics, and on the basis of their character. When judges are, as in Hong Kong, selected by an independent mechanism, it helps to promote respect for judicial authority. All judges designated to handle national security law cases will have been carefully vetted by the committee before they are appointed to the judiciary. Upon appointment, judges have to take the oath by which they undertake to "conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with full integrity, safeguard the law and advance justice without fear or favor", according to Section 17 of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance. Judicial officers may be chosen to handle particular types of cases, as where a particular expertise is required. Some judges, for example, handle criminal cases, and are not usually chosen to try other matters. Sometimes judges are chosen to handle specialized legal areas, such as those involving admiralty issues, family law questions or judicial review. There is nothing new in choosing "horses for courses". If the chief executive, having consulted with the chief justice, selects particular judicial officers to handle national security cases because of their track record in conducting criminal cases, there can be no legitimate objections. Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said that the only criteria for the appointment of designated judges are their judicial and professional qualities, and this means that "judges should not be designated on the basis of any political considerations". Judges of foreign nationality, he said, are not excluded from being designated judges. Once the one-year term of a designated judge comes to an end, other suitable judges may then be designated. Before a judge can be designated, any legal objections will have to be taken into account, including, said Ma, "any objections based on bias or reasonable perceptions of bias". If a judge "has made any statement or behaved in any manner endangering national security "according to Article 44, this will be an impediment to the appointment. Once the list of designated judges has been compiled, it will be for the judiciary itself, and not the chief executive, to decide which judges should handle which cases. These procedures are transparent and fair. Indeed, the Basic Law states in Article 85 that the courts "shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference", and this constitutional guarantee will undoubtedly be fully respected at all times. Anyone put on trial will only be convicted if the prosecution has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. As the law stipulates in Article 4, "the rights and freedoms" contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which include fair trial guarantees, "shall be protected in accordance with the law". These encompass, under Article 5, such things as the presumption of innocence, the right to a proper defense and other customary rights of an accused person in a criminal trial. The new law, while recognizing that national security must be safeguarded, also acknowledges that the rights of a defendant must also be protected, which is exactly the approach adopted throughout the common law world. ^ top ^

Central gov't office for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong inaugurated (People's Daily)
2020-07-08
The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was inaugurated here on Wednesday morning. The office was established in accordance with the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which was adopted by China's top legislature and promulgated in the HKSAR on June 30. According to the national security law, the office analyzes and assesses developments related to safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, provides opinions and makes proposals on major strategies and important policies, and oversees, guides, coordinates with and supports the HKSAR in assuming the duties for safeguarding national security. The office also collects and analyzes intelligence and information about national security and handles cases on offenses endangering national security. ^ top ^

SAR appointment of security judges free of politics (China Daily)
2020-07-08
Judges who preside over cases under Hong Kong's new National Security Law will be selected on the basis of judicial and professional qualities and not political considerations, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said. In a statement explaining the court's principles of handing national security cases, Ma said it is the sole responsibility of the judiciary to decide which judge or judges are assigned to individual cases. The statement, which came on Thursday, two days after the law took effect in Hong Kong, responded to concerns over the special administrative region's judicial autonomy. The concerns stemmed from the arrangement, as stipulated in the new law, of asking Hong Kong's chief executive to appoint a designated team of judges to adjudicate national security cases. Under Article 44 of the National Security Law for Hong Kong, the SAR's chief executive will designate a group of judges from each level of court to handle cases and appeals in relation to the new law. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has stressed that she would select only judges who are considered competent to serve after consulting with the chief justice, and that she would not be involved in assigning cases. All designated judges will come from the existing ranks of the judiciary, as prescribed under Article 44 of the National Security Law, Ma said. Ma confirmed that judges of foreign nationality will not be excluded from national security cases, as they are appointed under the Basic Law and their contribution to the SAR "has repeatedly been acknowledged" by the SAR government. Albert Chen Hung-yee, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said the appointment of judges to national security cases has nothing to do with the SAR's judicial autonomy. Judicial autonomy means judges are not subject to any interference during court proceedings, said Chen, who is also a member of the 12-member Basic Law Committee under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature. Chen said all judges in the SAR uphold the principle of judicial autonomy and make their decisions impartially, and therefore, selecting a pool of judges for national security cases will not harm the core of the rule of law in Hong Kong. Barrister Kacee Ting Wong, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said designating a group of judges based on their expertise is not a novel idea in Hong Kong. Ting said it is an existing practice to designate judges to deal with cases in a particular area, such as the Constitutional and Administrative Law List and the Commercial Law List, based on their different expertise. Ting said a few critics misunderstand Article 44 of the National Security Law. The stipulation is much like the existing practice, in which the chief executive appoints judges on the recommendation of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission, he said. The chief executive has never, and will not ever, take an active role in the daily allocation of trials, considering that judicial tasks are highly specialized, the barrister said. The National Security Law will "not in any way" undermine the HKSAR's judicial autonomy, he said. "On the contrary, it has equipped the judges with a legal tool, which was absent in the jurisdiction of Hong Kong, to resolve crimes related to national security and uphold justice," Ting added. ^ top ^

Foreign firms in Hong Kong face 'huge insecurity' over national security law (SCMP)
2020-07-08
Foreign companies operating in Hong Kong are facing a dilemma as they digest the details of the city's controversial new national security law: abide by the rules or support US sanctions against China for imposing the legislation. Company insiders and diplomatic sources said it was too early to assess the impact of the law on business in the financial hub. But its vague language and broad provisions have stoked fears and may result in "huge insecurity" for foreign firms – particularly a clause stating any person or organisation that imposes sanctions could be punished. They said the legislation could be a wake-up call for businesses to re-evaluate their engagement with China, and it may further complicate Beijing's diplomatic relations with the West. Beijing imposed the sweeping law on Hong Kong a week ago, after a year of anti-government protests in the city. It targets acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with a maximum sentence of life in prison. The US Congress has passed legislation to penalise banks for doing business with Chinese officials who implement the national security law. Photo: Reuters Some US companies have already raised concerns about the potential consequences of Article 29, according to a senior official with a trade association who requested anonymity. The article states that it is an offence to steal, obtain with payment or unlawfully provide state secrets or national security intelligence to a foreign country, foreign entity or individual outside China. Under Section 4 of the article, any person or organisation "imposing sanctions, or blocking or engaging in other hostile activities" against China, including Hong Kong, is committing an offence. "The reference to sanctions could be construed to encompass honouring sanctions imposed by an international institution or one's home government," said Lester Ross, partner-in-charge of the Beijing office of international law firm WilmerHale. "And the term 'hostile actions' is entirely vague and open-ended, exposing subject individuals, companies and other entities to investigation and prosecution for a vast array of activities." Ross also said the term "state secrets" could be defined "very broadly". "If, for example, a financial analyst reports damaging information about a state-owned enterprise or a journalist reports a scandal, would they constitute state secrets because domestic financial analysts and journalists would be barred from reporting the same?" he said. "Does [information] provided to foreign or overseas institutions, organisations or persons – as opposed to foreign or overseas governments which is separately referred to – constitute a crime?" What you should know about China's new national security law for Hong Kong The section would put foreign firms, especially from the United States, in a difficult position as they imposed sanctions on China at the request of the US government, according to business sources who declined to be identified. A deepening rift between Beijing and Washington has seen the US since June moving to suspend Hong Kong's special trade status and impose visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for undermining the city's autonomy. The US Congress also passed legislation last week to penalise banks for doing business with Chinese officials who implement the law. One foreign business source said companies were worried about the Chinese response to US sanctions. According to a diplomatic source, a key question now was how businesses would engage with people and organisations potentially affected by the sanctions – and whether it would force them to re-evaluate their strategies in China. 'No winner' amid rising US-China tensions, says Hong Kong's commerce chief Edward Yau There could be more sanctions or restrictions on China to come. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News on Monday that US President Donald Trump was preparing to issue a series of executive orders on China, without elaborating. "We've got a number of executive orders," Meadows told Fox. "We're looking at how we make sure that China is addressed, how we bring manufacturing back from overseas to make sure the American worker is supported. We're also going to look at a number of issues as it relates to immigration, we're going to look at a number of issues as it relates to prescription drug prices – and we're going to get them done when Congress couldn't get them done." Meadows added that manufacturing incentives were a priority for Trump in talks on the next round of coronavirus aid, which are set to ramp up in Congress later this month. Beijing's passage of national security law for Hong Kong draws international criticism The national security law has sparked widespread criticism, including over Article 38 which covers offences committed by foreigners outside Hong Kong. Donald Clarke, a law professor with George Washington University, said in a post on the China Collection blog that the legislation asserted extraterritorial jurisdiction "over every person on the planet". Another foreign business source said the law was unlikely to prompt a mass exodus of companies from Hong Kong, but firms would closely follow the details of the legislation "and look into any need to make contingency plans". "Companies do not want to be politicised but be pragmatic in making economic decisions," the person said. "The introduction of politicisation into business only creates uncertainty." ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Risks seen in future relations across the Taiwan Strait but overall situation controllable: expert (Global Times)
2020-07-09
This year, events affecting relations across the Taiwan Strait have popped up one after another. There were the reelection of Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, the removal of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, politicized and highly inappropriate interactions between the US and the island, the People's Liberation Army's military exercises in and around the straits, and the unfortunate impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. People on both sides of the strait and around the world are wondering what the trends of cross-Straits relations will be like. In an exclusive interview, Global Times reporters (GT) discussed the future of cross-strait relations with Wang Zaixi (Wang), former deputy director of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait of the State Council and Vice President of National Taiwan Studies Association. GT: How do you compare Tsai Ing-wen's "inaugural speech" on May 20 with the one she gave after her election four years ago? Wang: Although the cross-Straits relations part in Tsai's May 20 speech was less detailed with an evasive attitude compared to her speech four years ago, there were still some points in the speech that should put us on high alert. First, Tsai said she would deal with cross-Straits relations following Taiwan region's current "constitution" and the "Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area," but she also said a "constitutional amendment committee," would be established implying that the "constitution" can be revised at any time. In that case, Tsai's promise to follow the "constitution" would be nonsense. Second, Tsai pretty much avoided the 1992 Consensus, only reiterating words about "peace, reciprocity, democracy and dialogue" in her speech. The latter two words clear show her attempt to turn cross-Straits relations into a discussion between two countries. Third, Tsai flagrantly called the island "Republic of China, Taiwan" instead of "Republic of China," which suggests an intent to create an independent Taiwan and legally separate it from the mainland, and to realize her goal of "Taiwanization" - that is, "de-sinicization" of the island. GT: KMT's report on the reasons for its election defeat released in January had many different reactions inside the Blue Camp. How do you view the KMT report, and the "four pillars" mentioned in the report? Wang: The KMT report, which has some serious problems, has been questioned inside the KMT and the Blue Camp. Even some KMT seniors expressed different opinions on the report. I believe there are three major questions. First, it failed to find the real reason for its two consecutive electoral failures, which is rooted in the disunity inside the party. There were some twists in choosing a candidate before Han was chosen. And that decision wasn't unanimously supported inside the KMT, which led to Han fighting the campaign on his own. Han was attacked more from his Party than the DDP. After Tsai Ing-wen beat Lai Ching-te to be the DDP candidate, there were not dissenting voices inside of the DDP. It's absurd for KMT to blame its failure on the 1992 Consensus. Second, the 1992 Consensus can be updated but cannot be abandoned. Ma Ying-jeou opened a new horizon in Cross-Straits exchanges, and achieved peaceful development and established the direct mail, transport and trade links during his eight-year rule. The DPP still cannot give up the bonus from the signing of Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. It is ironic that the KMT chose not to refute this when Tsai attacked the 1992 Consensus as a "one country, two systems." Third, the "four pillars" is wrong, which essentially is Lee Teng-hui's "special state-to-state relations." The "Four pillars" runs counter to the 1992 Consensus. There's no doubt that vote was important. However, abandoning its political stance just to win more votes is not worthwhile for KMT. GT: Some people think the KMT won't recover from this series of hits and won't regain power for a long time. What is your opinion? Wang: That's not necessarily true. The key is for the KMT to transform itself - can it find the right position and grasp the opportunity to regain the office the next time. As the DPP has been long in power, corruption, "black gold" politics and power division will spread. Most voters won't stand for a one-horse race, and the US also dislikes a party holding power for a long time. Moreover, the DPP is a political party that is "good at getting elected but bad at ruling." It believes that as long as the DPP destroys opposition parties, it can stay in the office as long as it wants. But that's impossible. Han was removed, and there will be alternatives. The DPP has its advantages during elections, but it also has disadvantages: can't deal with the cross-Straits relations, the Taiwan economy nor international society. The KMT has a history of 126 years with rich experience and talent. It now needs to solve four problems: internal unification, maintaining the young generation, finding its development direction and right position, and change its image of "bigwigs" to one that is more acceptable to the public. If the KMT follows the DPP, it will not have a future. GT: How do you see the impact of the pandemic on the cross-Straits relations this year? What is your opinion on DPP's so-called "epidemic diplomacy"? Wang: The pandemic has caused a huge impact on cross-Straits relations as Washington and Taipei have had frequent interactions and "tacit cooperation" during the virus outbreak. The Tsai administration cooperated with Washington in blaming the mainland for the pandemic, saying COVID-19 originated in Wuhan. Even now some Taiwan-based media still call the COVID-19 disease the "Wuhan pneumonia," which clearly shows their [ill will]. In the pandemic, Washington not only mobilized US companies to leave the Chinese mainland but also forced Taiwan's high-tech enterprises that had invested in the mainland, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing TSMC, to leave the mainland for the US. Meanwhile, Washington sent a message congratulating Tsai on the commencement of second term in office in the name of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and announced the sale of arms and equipment to Taipei, which emboldened the separatists on the island. As a result, Tsai, who thinks she enjoys the support of the Taiwan pubic and Washington, has taken a tougher stance on cross-Straits relations this year since the pandemic has broken out in the mainland. Tsai has set stricter restrictions on cross-Straits exchanges, and has taken a more adamant approach to "Taiwan independence." It is abundantly clear that Tsai is "seeking independence with the pandemic" and using the virus' spread to prevent cross-Straits exchanges. I think Taipei's "epidemic diplomacy", which is costing the DPP authority a lot of [time and money], has had little effect. Gloating over the virus outbreak in Wuhan earlier this year, the Tsai authority announced a ban on the export of masks and other virus-fighting supplies to the mainland, when the mainland was at the height of the epidemic. Nonetheless, after the virus spread globally, Tsai deployed her so-called "mask diplomacy" claiming in April the island would donate 10 million masks to others, and to provide weekly 100,000 masks to the US. With Washington's support, Tsai also attempted to squeeze into the WHO by publicizing the island's "virus-fighting experience" and its "contribution to the international community" during the pandemic. This attempt later ended in failure, showing the solid foundation of the one-China principle in the international community. GT: PLA fighter jets have been flying near the island of Taiwan. In March it conducted nighttime exercises for the first time and the sorties became quite frequent in June. How do you read the actions of the PLA? Wang: PLA fighter jets flying near Taiwan are normal. The meaning is to declare the sovereignty of China over Taiwan, to deter "Taiwan independence" forces, and to conduct routine military training. The frequency is related to the situation on the island and the environment nearby. GT: What do you expect cross-Straits relations will be like over the next four years? Wang: It will be tough and complex with more variables and risks, but the overall situation is controllable. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China leads global efforts to spur trade (China Daily)
2020-07-10
China is working with a number of countries to spur pragmatic economic, trade cooperation, boost goods trade volume and stabilize industrial chains to facilitate regional and global economic recovery, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday. The joint ministerial statement issued by China's Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore, and commerce authorities from 10 other countries-Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Laos, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay-earlier this month has fully demonstrated China's solid support for international cooperation against COVID-19, and its consistent stance of firmly upholding free trade, said Gao Feng, the ministry's spokesman. Countries like Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay have pledged that they are committed to maintaining open and connected supply chains, to create a collective response to the pandemic that has severely affected the global economy in the past few months. The 12 trade partners agreed to work closely to identify and address trade disruptions with ramifications on the flow of necessities, and recognized that it is in their mutual interest to ensure that the trade channels remain open, including air and sea freight, to facilitate the flow of goods including essential supplies, according to the joint statement. They affirmed the importance of refraining from the imposition of export controls or tariffs and non-tariff barriers and of removing any existing trade restrictions on essential goods, especially medical supplies at this time, said the ministry. Based on the consensus, the trade and economic authorities of the 12 nations also committed to working with all like-minded countries to ensure that trade continues without any friction, and critical infrastructure such as air and seaports remain open to support the viability and integrity of supply chains globally. This move will not only encourage these countries to unite to respond to the challenges of the pandemic, and inject strong momentum into the economic development of the Asia-Pacific region, but also show partner countries' willingness to align with high-standard international economic and trade rules, said Xue Rongjiu, deputy director of the China Society for WTO Studies in Beijing. It will also help upgrade China's value chain and enhance the country's capability to withstand external risks in the industrial, supply and service chains, he said. China will remain a competitive supply chain choice for foreign firms as it has a broad spectrum of strong upstream suppliers and downstream clients, said Julien Hueber, executive vice-president of Industry Solution and Project Business Group at Nexans, the French cable manufacturer. The company, supported by over 26,000 employees globally, started to run a new laboratory in its Suzhou plant last month. With an investment of 17 million yuan ($2.43 million), the new research facility focuses on the relevant advanced robot cable standards in China, Europe and the United States. The establishment of the laboratory has notably improved the research and development capabilities of Nexans China to produce high-end cables that can be used for various industrial robots. At present, Nexans' production and operation in China has fully returned to normal. It will continue to increase investment in the country, as well as introduce advanced production lines, and integrate and reorganize advantageous assets and technologies, said Hueber. It will also enhance its supply chain's industrial value in both China and the rest of the world. ^ top ^

Digital economy: powerful new engine for China's development (People's Daily)
2020-07-10
At a digital factory of IKD Co., Ltd., in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province, automatic guided vehicles are running smoothly and scanners are working efficiently. An invisible 5G network behind these smart devices are contributing to the factory's production data collection and logistics management. "As a provider of automotive aluminum alloy precision die-casting parts, we are required to ensure that our products' stability shall reach 99.99 percent," said He Shenghua, deputy general manager of the joint-stock company. By connecting smart equipment to the 5G network, the company has been able to guarantee sound signal transmission of 700 terminals with high-capacity, high-speed, and low-latency data flow, He introduced. "Our per capita output value grew by 17 percent last year. Meanwhile, our products' competitiveness improved significantly. Our factory is expected to be fully covered by 5G networks by this month," He disclosed. The combination of 5G networks and industrial Internet have added to the significance of digital technologies in smart factories, making them an important engine for national economic development. The value-added of China's digital economy reached 35.8 trillion yuan ($5.12 trillion) last year, accounting for 36.2 percent of the country's GDP, according to the White Paper on the Development of China's Digital Economy (2020), which was released by China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) on July 3. The figure signaled continuous expansion of the country's digital economy. "The foreign high-calcium foreign milk I bought during the June 18 online shopping festival just saved me hundreds of yuan," Li Fangfang, a local resident in Jinzhong, North China's Shanxi Province, told the People's Daily. Benefiting from the rapid development of digital trade, "shopping around the globe at home" has become commonplace for Chinese consumers. While playing a significant role in China's digital economy, digital trade is also the most important embodiment of the internationalization of digital economy. In recent years, China's digital trade has been developing both intensively and extensively, with certain economic models such as e-commerce and sharing economy enjoying particularly rapid progress, constantly injecting impetus into the development of digital economy. The 35.8-trillion-yuan figure also indicated the surging development of China's new industries and new businesses. Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing recently launched autonomous taxi service on a 53.6-kilometer road section in Jiading district, Shanghai, and Chen Feng, a resident in Shanghai, experienced the service the second day after its launch. "The turning, obstacle avoidance, overtaking and braking were all completed automatically, and the service was both comfortable and safe," Chen said. Over 400 innovative 5G projects of have started in China so far, covering multiple areas such as the industry, transportation and medical services. In 2019, the value-added of China's digital industrialization hit 7.1 trillion yuan, marking a nominal growth of 11.1 percent year on year. The 35.8-trillion-yuan figure is a witness to the ever-deepening integration of the country's new technologies into the real economy. In the past, cement manufacturers didn't have many intelligent equipment, and the quality of their products and energy consumption relied heavily on the experience of the workers. In an effort to enhance productivity and reduce cost, Shandong Donghua Cement Co., Ltd., a cement manufacturer in East China's Shandong Province, introduced an "industrial brain" to its workshops, intending to reduce the energy consumption and improve the quality of products during the production of clinker through real time data monitoring and parameters adjustment. "As proven by the trial run, we managed to increase the grinding efficiency by nearly three percent and our economic benefits by more than 40 million yuan. In addition, we saw a four percent reduction in power consumption," said Xu Lu, deputy chief engineer of the company. In fact, more and more traditional industries in the country are creating considerable economic benefits by carrying out comprehensive industrial transformation and upgrading with the help of digital technologies. As indicated by official data, the size of the value-added generated by China's industrial digitalization in 2019 was around 28.8 trillion yuan, account for 29 percent of the country's GDP. Back in 2005, the proportion was only 7 percent. "China's digital economy keeps growing rapidly and is becoming a new engine for high-quality economic development," remarked He Wei, deputy director of the institute of politics and economy of CAICT.  ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier stresses stabilizing foreign trade, investment (China Daily)
2020-07-10
Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua on Thursday called for efforts to keep the overall performance of foreign trade and investment stable. Hu, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks at a teleconference. Foreign trade and investment play a significant role in the development of China's economy. Stabilizing foreign trade and investment is an important part of the efforts to ensure stability in six fronts and security in six areas, Hu said. The six fronts are employment, financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations. The six areas refer to job security, basic living needs, operations of market entities, food and energy security, stable industrial and supply chains, and the normal functioning of primary-level governments. Hu stressed that government policies must be faithfully implemented and services to businesses must be improved to help enterprises tide over difficulties in the context of grave and complicated international environment and COVID-19 pandemic situation. No efforts should be spared to help enterprises stabilize their market shares and new business forms and new models in foreign trade should be supported to accelerate their development, he said. Meanwhile, Hu urged efforts to maintain the stability and integrity of industrial and supply chains and give full play to the role of foreign-invested enterprises in the industrial chain, while promoting the higher-level opening-up. ^ top ^

Big data enables capital to flow to small, micro businesses in more targeted manner (People's Daily)
2020-07-10
Thanks to a big data-based online credit service jointly launched by China Everbright Bank Co., Ltd. and an internet restaurant review platform, Weng Ziqi, manager of a catering enterprise in southeast China's Fujian province, received a 10-million-yuan ($1.43 million) loan earlier this year in less than 24 hours after application, while the process used to take about a month previously. The bank loan came right in time as the catering company was facing huge strain on cash flow amid the COVID-19 epidemic, when it saw urgent need to pay for the rent of its nearly 100 chain restaurants, the salaries of its employees and food storage. "Applying for the loan offline would have been neither efficient nor convenient amid the pandemic," said Weng. As a matter of fact, big data was key to the speedy credit service. According to an employee with the China Everbright Bank Co., Ltd., the internet restaurant review platform played a major role in helping the bank make decisions as the massive transaction data of catering enterprises generated on the platform was a vivid reflection of the enterprises' operation and capital demand. The cooperation with the review platform enabled the bank to acquire valid and first-hand data on loan applicants and thus greatly improved the efficiency of credit services, the employee added. Pre-loan investigations are time consuming and costly labor-wise, said Zeng Gang, deputy director-general of the National Institution for Finance & Development, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). By conducting cooperation with internet platforms, banks can have a better grasp of the real performance of the applicants, he explained. The online transaction data generated can truthfully reflect the revenue and state of operation of the catering enterprises, Zeng added. Besides, such data also help banks evaluate the financing demands and loan repayment capacity of companies and then tailor repayment schedules and methods as well as interest rate levels, thus reducing risks and better ensuring the sustainable development of enterprises. Regarding small and micro businesses, some emerging internet banks are also using data to make financing easier and less costly. Qiu Mengyi, who opened a manicure store in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province, after she graduated from college in 2016, is one of the beneficiaries of the financial services rolled out by internet banks. Due to the pneumonia outbreak, Qiu closed her store for three months and had no source of income to pay for the rent. Fortunately, based on the credit assessment results on Alipay, a mobile and online payment platform, Zhejiang E-Commerce Bank Co., Ltd. offered her a loan of 220,000 yuan for which she doesn't have to pay any interest if she repays the money in three months. Zhejiang E-commerce Bank Co., Ltd., together with All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and other parties, launched a program that aims to provide safe and convenient financing services for small and micro enterprises, individual businesses and farmers through online platforms such as Alipay. As of May 31, the program had provided services for over 13 million clients, issuing loans totaling over 526.3 billion yuan. Meanwhile, non-commercial banks are also providing funds for Internet banks so that the latter can fully exploit their advantages in data and help more small and micro businesses in need. By cooperating with non-commercial banks, the Internet bank Sichuan Xinwang Bank Co., Ltd. has initiated a project to help small and micro businesses in southwest China's Sichuan province solve financing problems. Chang Huanyu, manager of a sound production service provider in Chengdu, Sichuan, has benefited from the project. As online recreational activities thrive amid epidemic prevention and control, Chang's company received many dubbing orders on the internet and was in urgent need of capital. It was with the help of non-commercial banks that Sichuan Xinwang Bank Co., Ltd. enabled Chang to get a loan online, an employee with the Sichuan Xinwang Bank Co., Ltd. Introduced. Specifically, the Sichuan branch of the Export-Import Bank of China has provided low-cost sub-loans, which are then issued to small and micro businesses through the online financing services of Sichuan Xinwang Bank Co., Ltd. On May 27, the Sichuan branch of the Export-Import Bank of China issued loans totaling 300 million yuan to 11,337 small and micro businesses through the Sichuan Xinwang Bank Co., Ltd., securing jobs for about 220,000 people. This year, non-commercial banks will put into over 100 billion yuan more of sub-loans, mainly for small and medium banks, especially internet banks. More and more commercial banks and non-commercial banks are actively working with internet banks to exploit the advantages of the internet, bringing capital faster to small and micro enterprises and providing more convenient and preferential financial services for them. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

U.S. envoy to visit South Korea, Japan on DPRK (People's Daily)
2020-07-07
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and special envoy for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Stephen Biegun will visit South Korea and Japan this week, said the U.S. State Department on Monday. Biegun will travel to Seoul and Tokyo from July 7-10 to meet his counterparts there and continue "close allied coordination" on bilateral and global issues as well as the DPRK, according to a statement released by the department. South Korean Foreign Ministry said that Biegun is slated to meet with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Wednesday morning, followed by the eighth round of South Korea-U.S. vice-ministerial strategic dialogue with Cho Sei-young, South Korea's first vice foreign minister, to discuss the issues of mutual concern. The special envoy's visit comes at a moment that tensions on the Korean Peninsula have reignited and chances for further denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang are slim. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said last week that his country would make all-out efforts to let the DPRK and the United States hold talks before the U.S. presidential election. Pyongyang, however, dismissed Moon's suggestion. Choe Son Hui, first vice-minister of foreign affairs of DPRK, said on Saturday that the United States is mistaken "if it thinks things like negotiations would still work on us." Denuclearization talks between the DPRK and the United States have stalled since the second summit between top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump ended without any agreement in February 2019 in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. Tensions escalated on the Korean Peninsula after the DPRK demolished the inter-Korean joint liaison office building in the DPRK's border city of Kaesong last month in protest against anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent across the border by South Korean civic group activists, mostly defectors from the DPRK. The DPRK has also cut off all communication lines with South Korea. ^ top ^

 

Eleanore Sun
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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