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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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  13-17.9.2021, No. 883  
    Archiv / Archives
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Table of contents

DPRK

Mongolia

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Switzerland

Spectrum music festival debuts in Switzerland (Xinhua)
2021-09-14
The first edition of Spectrum Classic-Electronic Festival, a two-day event combining classic and electronic music, was held in Switzerland over the weekend. The festival, held in the medieval town of Saint-Prex, was initiated by Swiss pianist and composer Melodie Zhao. "I think this festival could be one of a kind in Switzerland, because it blurs the frontiers between musical genres and brings together different audiences," Zhao told Xinhua. "I wish to attract more young people to classical music via this event and believe that music should not bear boundaries of social rank or age," Zhao said. The festival attracted hundreds of spectators. ^ top ^

Vatican Swiss Guard's new barracks designed to include women, newspaper reports (SCMP)
2021-09-13
The new barracks of the Vatican Swiss Guard, the elite and colourfully dressed corps that protects the pope, will be designed to accommodate female guards even though they are not yet allowed, a Swiss newspaper reported on Sunday. Nearly all of the guard are single men who live in a communal barracks just inside the Vatican gates. The commanders and married members live in separate flats. All members are Swiss citizens. The 50 million Swiss franc (US$54.49 million) project for a new barracks is due to be completed by 2026 and will upgrade the guards' quarters to single rooms with private bathrooms, Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported. "From the beginning it was important to us that the new building provide space for serving women," the newspaper quoted Jean-Pierre Roth, who heads the foundation overseeing the project, as saying. Allowing female recruits would require the pope's approval. The president of the Foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, which supports the guard financially, said that would help to find new recruits for the 135-strong corps, which needs to hire around 30 to 35 guards a year to keep the number stable. "As soon as female guards are allowed, the guard's recruitment potential will increase," foundation President Ruth Metzler-Arnold, told the newspaper. A Vatican spokesman travelling with the pope in Hungary and Slovakia said he was not aware of the report and a security source aboard the papal plane said "We'll see" when asked if the Swiss Guard would one day allow women. ^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Beijing slams South China Sea 'provocation' after turning away German warship (SCMP)
2021-09-17
Beijing said other countries' patrols in the South China Sea were "provoking incidents" and "creating contradictions" as it rejected a German warship's port call request. In response to the German foreign ministry's announcement that the frigate Bayern had been refused permission to visit Shanghai, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday that "countries outside the region should respect regional countries' efforts to maintain peace and stability, and play a constructive role". "China attaches great importance to the development of an all-round strategic partnership between China and Germany, including cooperation between the two militaries, and is willing to carry out friendly exchanges on the basis of mutual respect and mutual trust," Zhao said, adding that it was up to Germany to "create a good atmosphere for this". Zhao again accused "a few powers" of frequently conducting freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to flex their muscle and instigate trouble. He said China was determined to safeguard its sovereignty and maritime interests. The 4,000-tonne frigate Bayern set off from Wilhelmshaven last month for a six-month mission to the Indo-Pacific, including the disputed South China Sea, to strengthen Germany's presence in the region. China has overlapping claims with several neighbours to the resource-rich South China Sea, through which about a third of global trade also passes. The United States has frequently deployed its warships and planes to conduct "freedom of navigation" operations and naval exercises in the region to challenge China's claims, and asked its allies to do the same. Before the Bayern's departure last month, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said its goal was to show allies in the region that "we are standing up for our values and interest together". She also said she wanted the European Union to establish a "permanent presence" in the region. After the rejection of the port call request, the frigate's route was updated to include a stop in the northern Australian city of Darwin. Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University, said that for nearly a year, the German government had been repeating remarks about coordinating with allies, establishing a strategic presence and safeguarding freedom of navigation, and this was probably the cause of Beijing's anger. "According to these statements, Germany's motives could be reasonably considered by the Chinese government to be harmful to China's security interests and sovereign claims," he said. "Under those circumstances, we could imagine that China would refuse the German warship permission to call at Chinese ports." Shi said that despite its immediate negative impact, the refusal of the port visit was unlikely to affect other aspects of the China-Germany relationship if Germany took no further steps that Beijing deemed harmful to China. Nils Schmid, foreign affairs spokesman for the Social Democratic Party – which is leading in the polls for the German election, to be held in less than two months – said that the frigate's journey was "symbolically important" but he did not envisage Germany becoming very active militarily in the region. ^ top ^

Chinese FM meets S.Korean president, wraps up four-nation visit (Global Times)
2021-09-16
In the final stop of his four-nation Asia trip, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday, with both sides agreeing to boost ties, and Moon called on China to continue to play a constructive role in the Korean Peninsula issue. Observers said that Wang Yi's tour, which took him to China's four neighboring countries - Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and South Korea, set a ballast stone for regional peace and economic prosperity, amid the chaos brought by the US. Moon said South Korea attaches great importance to its relationship with China. Despite the pandemic challenge, South Korea and China have maintained close high-level communication, and their economic and trade cooperation has grown, setting a good example for international cooperation against the epidemic. Moon said South Korea hopes China will continue to play a constructive role in maintaining peace and contributing to the realization of the denuclearization of the Peninsula. South Korea hopes to maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges with China, give full play to the role of the committee for future development of China-South Korea relations, expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and push for more fruitful cooperation in the economic sector, trade and environmental protection. It also supports China in hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, Moon said. For his part, Wang said that China and South Korea are inseparable neighbors, as well as mutually beneficial and win-win partners. Under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, the China-South Korea relations have maintained a sound momentum of development, and the friendship has been further deepened through joint efforts to fight the pandemic, Wang said. Wang said that China firmly supports the efforts of two Koreas to overcome difficulties, remove interference and improve relations. Wang also held talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong in Seoul on Wednesday, and discussed the Korean Peninsula issue, Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday. The importance of China for South Korea is evident, as China is the largest market for South Korea whose trade with China exceeds that with the US and Japan. Maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is an essential cornerstone for regional prosperity, also the common interests for both countries, Dong Xiangrong, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday. For China, a stable diplomatic environment in its neighborhood is crucial, given the US military presence in South Korea at the current US-China competition in many areas, Dong noted. "Though South Korea is an ally of the US, its national interests do not always coincide with those of the US. This was reflected in South Korea's effort to keep a balance between its ally US and its strategic partner China in a bid to earn best interests." "South Korea gradually realized that China is the anchor for regional peace while the US brought more instability and risks," Lü Chao, a fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. Wang's visit to South Korea yielded the desired results, Lü pointed out, as South Korea has not publicly taken sides despite recent US pressure on Seoul. "South Korea is facing a general election in 2022, and blindly picking sides will greatly increase the uncertainty of the election. The problems the country is facing include the epidemic and the sluggish economic development. If China and South Korea can reach a certain consensus in supporting South Korea to overcome the difficulties, it will help Moon to stabilize the political situation," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. South Korea is Wang's last stop of a four-nation Asia tour after Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore. Coming about two weeks after US Vice President Kamala Harris' trip to the region that sought to pit countries against China, Wang's trip showed that China and the neighboring countries are aiming to work together to strengthen diplomatic relations and guard against the interference and instigation from outside forces, experts noted. The four-nation tour achieved considerable results and stabilized the surrounding geopolitics despite strong pressure from the US, as more countries have seen the practical benefits of closer ties with China in terms of trade, the pandemic fight, regional peace and stability, Zheng said. "While the US uses the vaccines and other anti-epidemic assistance as 'bargaining chips' to force other countries and regions to pick sides, China provides anti-epidemic support generously. The sharp contrast also makes more countries see China's responsibility as a major regional power." "The US fans the flames in China's neighborhood while China talking about mutual benefits with its neighbors. What a sharp contrast!" Lü said. ^ top ^

Chinese ambassador to Britain barred from parliament over sanctions on lawmakers (SCMP)
2021-09-15
China's ambassador to Britain Zheng Zeguang was barred from the country's parliament in Westminster over Chinese sanctions on British lawmakers. Zheng had been expected to speak at the summer reception for the all-party parliamentary group on China on Wednesday at the Terrace Pavilion of the House of Commons. But the event was cancelled after Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle and Speaker of the House of Lords John McFall agreed Zheng could not enter until the sanctions were lifted. "If those sanctions were lifted, then of course this would not be an issue. I am not saying the meeting cannot go ahead – I am just saying it cannot take place here while those sanctions remain in place," Hoyle said. "I regularly hold meetings with ambassadors from across the world to establish enduring ties between countries and parliamentarians. But I do not feel it's appropriate for the ambassador for China to meet on the Commons estate and in our place of work when his country has imposed sanctions against some of our members," he added. In March, China slapped sanctions on nine British individuals in retaliation against joint sanctions by Britain, Canada, the European Union and the United States on four Chinese officials for their role in alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The list including four members of parliament, Iain Duncan Smith, Tom Tugendhat, Neil O'Brien, Tim Loughton and former transport minister Nusrat Ghani, and two members of the House of Lords, Helena Kennedy and David Alton. Also sanctioned were barrister Geoffrey Nice, China academic Joanne Smith Finley, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, the Uygur Tribunal – an independent body investigating China's alleged crimes against humanity – and Essex Court Chambers, which employs four lawyers who wrote a legal opinion concluding China had committed genocide in Xinjiang. A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in London said it "would never tolerate any attempt at harming China's core interests". "The despicable and cowardly action of certain individuals of the UK parliament to obstruct normal exchanges and cooperation between China and the UK for personal political gains is against the wishes and harmful to the interests of the peoples of both countries," the statement said. In response to the barring of the Chinese ambassador from the House of Commons, Conservative MP Tugendhat said: "Parliament welcomes all those who come as friends. Sadly the Chinese ambassador represents a regime that has tried to silence our democracy and bully those freely elected by the British people. The speaker defends the liberties of all members of parliament to speak freely and that means making clear that some are not welcome here." Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP and member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a pan-national group that advocates a tough line on China, said: "I generally prefer engagement to isolation but when the Chinese government is sanctioning MPs for speaking up for human rights then it is important for the UK parliament to send the strongest possible signal that this is unacceptable. I am pleased that Speaker Hoyle has sent the clearest possible signal." The move marks the latest bump in the road for China's relationship with Britain, with pressure mounting on the government to take a tougher line on Beijing on human rights and alleged economic foul play. It unfolded a day after the conclusion of the second set of hearings at the Uygur Tribunal. Over four days, the hearings heard evidence from dozens of academics, officials, exiled Uygurs and other Muslim minorities about the situation in Xinjiang, where the British parliament has already determined that genocide has occurred. The government of Boris Johnson did not recognise the vote. China has rejected the tribunal, with foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian dismissing it as a "kangaroo court" and its organisers as "clowns". ^ top ^

China, Singapore pledge to deepen pragmatic cooperation in multiple fields (Xinhua)
2021-09-14
China and Singapore pledged here Monday to deepen pragmatic cooperation between the two countries in multiple sectors. While meeting with Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China and Singapore have enjoyed mutual understanding and mutual trust in the development of bilateral relations. While mainly focusing on economic development and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the two side have worked together to push forward the development of the bilateral ties and have achieved fruitful results, Wang said. China is willing to join hands with Singapore to promote strategic communication, deepen pragmatic cooperation, overcome difficulties and meet challenges, and win the war against the pandemic at an early date so as to push forward the speedy recovery of each other's economy and make positive contribution to peace and development of the region and the world at large, Wang said He stressed that the two sides should maintain high-level exchanges, strengthen joint prevention and control of COVID-19 and press for cooperation in fighting the virus. Wang also noted that the two sides should work together to push forward the joint construction of the Belt and Road with high quality, give full play to the role of the new land-sea route, synergize the new land-sea route with the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Mechanism, tap the cooperation potential in the fields including E-commerce business, artificial intelligence, mobile payment and big data so as to add new impetus to the development of bilateral ties. China is ready to work with ASEAN countries including Singapore to make good preparation for the commemorative event to mark the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relations between China and ASEAN so as to elevate the China-ASEAN relations to a higher level, he said. Wang said the two sides should also work together to push for the early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). For his part, Balakrishnan said China and Singapore have maintained an open, candid and friend-like relationship, and Singapore is grateful for China's provision of COVID-19 vaccines to his country. Singapore is always ready to deepen its cooperation with China in the fight against the pandemic, trade, investment, digital economy and green development, he said. He said Singapore would like to make greater efforts to align China's plan for the new land-sea route with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, so as to inject new impetus into the ties between the two countries. As China-ASEAN relations bear a fundamental, comprehensive and strategic significance, Balakrishnan said ASEAN countries hope to develop a stable and solid relationship of cooperation with China as both sides mark the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations this year. Singapore supports the acceleration of consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, and backs the RCEP agreement taking effect at an early date, Balakrishnan said. He noted that Singapore is willing to work with China to stick to multilateralism in addressing new problems and challenges, in a bid to push for the just and sustainable development of the world. ^ top ^

Hanoi, Beijing will shore up marine stability (China Daily)
2021-09-13
In a series of high-level talks between China and Vietnam, both socialist countries sent clear signals on jointly stabilizing the South China Sea situation, exchanging political support and advancing collaboration in economic recovery. In particular, properly handling maritime issues and carrying forward the consultations on the expected text of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea were among the new consensuses made during State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to the southeast Asian country over the weekend. Behind these positive gestures are Beijing and Hanoi's mutual trust and willingness to control maritime differences despite Washington's recent attempts to use the topic to alienate them, experts said. Wang had a packed schedule during his stay in Hanoi from Friday to Sunday, meeting with prominent figures including Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee. Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said Hanoi's great hospitality and the high level of meetings arranged for Wang "reflect Vietnam's great emphasis on ties with China and the positive atmosphere between the two countries". During meetings on Saturday, Wang said the two sides should cherish the hard-won stable situation in the South China Sea, "find a proper place in the overall bilateral ties for maritime issues", and refrain from worsening the situation. Also, the two countries should "jointly guard against attempts made by external forces for alienating" them, and they should convince the world that the two nations have both the capability and wisdom to manage their divergence, Wang added. Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh told Wang that his country is ready to keep the maritime situation stable, embark on maritime cooperation with an incremental approach and contribute to ensuring the region's peace. In Wang's separate talk with Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, both sides highlighted the need to carry forward the consultation on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea together with the nine other members besides Vietnam of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Beijing looks forward to formulating "a valid, substantive agreement that aligns with international law", Wang said. The Vietnamese minister echoed the call for promoting the consultation, and said both sides should continue advancing their cooperation in the Beibu Gulf and in areas of low sensitivity. Su, the CIIS scholar, noted that this year, senior US political figures including Vice-President Kamala Harris have visited Vietnam in an attempt to weaken Beijing-Hanoi ties by hyping maritime tension. "But the latest messages issued over the weekend show that China still enjoys adequate trust from its neighbors and positivity prevails in their interactions, and their differences are under control," Su added. During the weekend meetings, the two sides reaffirmed political support for each other's following the socialist path, and Wang relayed Beijing's strong support to Vietnam's new leadership that took office this year. For his part, the Vietnamese foreign minister said Hanoi will continue its clear support for China in topics such as democracy, human rights, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan and novel coronavirus origin tracing. The two countries should join hands to push back at smearing and attacks made by external forces against socialist countries, champion their common interest, further honor the noninterference principle and support the international system and international order, Wang said. Yang Baoyun, a professor specializing in ASEAN studies at Thailand's Thammasat University, said, "The positive signals issued during Wang's visit show that Beijing is a reliable neighbor for Hanoi given the ravaging pandemic, and that both countries need each other politically, economically and internationally." As China and ASEAN became each other's top trade partner last year, the steadfast growth of trade between China and ASEAN countries including Vietnam "helps keep production chains there afloat and cushion the blow from the pandemic", Yang said. Speaking on the lasting impact made by the pandemic, Wang said Beijing is willing to offer support with vaccines, share experiences in COVID-19 response and therapeutics and help Vietnam promote economic recovery. To keep bilateral economic and trade exchanges afloat, Beijing is ready to advance the construction of cross-border economic cooperation areas, and help Vietnam speed up its industrialization process, he added. The Vietnamese prime minister said Hanoi is ready to learn from China's experience in COVID-19 response, shore up teamwork in trade and investment and facilitate China's investment in Vietnam. ^ top ^

China, Cambodia agree to enhance bilateral cooperation (Xinhua)
2021-09-13
Visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn agreed here on Sunday to further enhance cooperation between their two countries. During a meeting with Prak Sokhonn, Wang said that he and Sokhonn have met face to face for three times in less than one year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, fully demonstrating the significance and extraordinary nature of bilateral relations. The China-Cambodia relations, forged and nurtured by former leaderships of both countries, have weathered tests and difficulties and have become rock solid in the face of challenges in the international arena, said the Chinese state councilor. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Wang said, China and Cambodia have maintained mutual support in their concerted fight against the viral disease. Facing a changing world, the two countries have been jointly fighting power politics and bullying, safeguarding international fairness and justice, and the common interests of all developing countries, Wang said. He said China will continue to firmly support Cambodia in safeguarding national sovereignty and dignity, combating COVID-19 and developing economy, and playing a bigger role in regional and international arenas. Both sides should coordinate bilateral cooperation in all areas, boosting the high-level development of China-Cambodia relations. Wang promised that China will continue to help Cambodia fight the COVID-19 outbreak by providing vaccines and other materials. He said China will increase imports of Cambodian agricultural products, helping push forward Cambodia's industrialization and its economic transformation. He expressed the wishes that the China-Cambodia free trade agreement would take effective at an early date, offering Cambodia the driving force for economic recovery. Wang also urged both sides to speed up the construction of the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, which would play a pivotal role in building an industrial investment group for the region. The Chinese state councilor said China is keen to dovetail the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor with the Lancang-Mekong Economic Development Belt, elevating the China-ASEAN relations to a new stage. Sokhonn appreciated China's assistance to Cambodia in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak and developing its economy, saying that the Cambodian side highly values China's success in controlling the pandemic and its leading role in international anti-epidemic cooperation. He noted that Cambodia, supporting scientific approaches to trace the COVID-19 origins, opposes any plan to politicize the origins-tracing issue. Cambodia will strictly abide by the one-China principle and stand firmly with China on issues of China's internal affairs, such as those involving Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, said Sokhonn. He said Cambodia is committed to working with China to build a community with a shared future for both countries, hoping that the two sides will further strengthen exchanges and cooperation in various fields including trade, investment, defense and security, and jointly build the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone into a win-win model under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Cambodia also firmly supports the multilateralism and the development of ASEAN-China relations, added Sokhonn. At a joint press conference after their meeting, the two senior officials said they reached a six-point consensus regarding bilateral relations and cooperation. First, implement the consensus reached by top leaders of the two countries, and support each other on issues concerning core interests of both sides. Second, carry on anti-pandemic cooperation and strive to eliminate the "vaccine gap." Firmly oppose politicizing COVID-19 origins tracing and acts of sabotaging global anti-pandemic cooperation. Third, jointly build high-quality Belt and Road. Both sides will strengthen cooperation in infrastructure, production capacity and 5G. China will facilitate Cambodia in stepping up industrialization process and increase imports of high-quality agricultural products from Cambodia. The two countries will also steadily implement big projects such as the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone and the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway. Fourth, enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The Chinese side will increase aid in the construction of schools, hospitals and roads in Cambodia. Fifth, jointly promote East Asia cooperation and China-ASEAN relations to a higher level, and step up integrating the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor with the development of the Mekong-Lancang Economic Development Belt. Sixth, strengthen coordination and say no to power politics. Both side will fight bullying acts, jointly safeguard regional peace, stability as well as fairness and justice in the international community. Also at the press conference, Wang stressed that terrorism is the common enemy of mankind and fighting terrorism needs concerted efforts from the international community. All countries in the world should join hands to safeguard an international system with the United Nations at its core and an international order based on international law, he said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China reports highest single-day rise in Fujian's Delta outbreak (SCMP)
2021-09-17
China recorded the largest single-day leap in its rapidly growing Covid-19 outbreak on Thursday, with 61 new symptomatic cases – including one in a previously unaffected city – in the southeastern province of Fujian, as authorities stepped up control measures ahead of two major holidays. There were 31 new symptomatic cases in Xiamen, 28 in Putian and one in Quanzhou, authorities said on Friday. The city of Zhangzhou, which neighbours Xiamen, confirmed its first case in the outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant which was first detected in Putian one week ago. The latest cases bring the total number of infections in the Fujian outbreak to 270, including nine asymptomatic cases. No deaths have been reported. There was also a case reported across the country in Yunnan province, 2,000km away in the country's southwest, in addition to an infection reported there on Wednesday. The Zhangzhou case was identified in the city's Taiwanese investment zone and was determined to be a close contact of a Xiamen patient, according to the city's health commission. Local authorities have further clamped down on residents' movements ahead of the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival which starts on Sunday and is typically a time for family gatherings and travel. It is closely followed by the week-long National Day holiday which starts on October 1. Residents have been barred from leaving Xiamen's Tongan area, which has seen a cluster of cases, while only those who live there can enter and are subject to checks, which started on Thursday evening. Officials in Quanzhou's Quangang district took similar measures on Thursday with residents instructed not to go out of the area without authorisation and controls placed on movement within the area, according to local media. A number of trains and bus lines have also been suspended within the province, as well as connecting services to areas beyond Fujian, and mass testing is continuing. At a National Health Commission briefing on Thursday, officials stressed that travellers across the country should minimise non-essential outings during the holidays and note any local epidemic prevention policies that may be in place at their destinations. Dinner parties with more than 10 people in public places were not recommended, and trips to designated medium and high risk areas must be cancelled. Tourist attractions across the country were also being advised to cap admissions to limit crowds at popular destinations and to strictly implement temperature checks and scanning of health code apps, officials said. Similar recommendations have been made throughout the pandemic. Meanwhile, pressure remains on containing the Fujian outbreak to the province. Some 30,000 people were thought to have left Putian between August 26 and September 10, when the outbreak was detected. Authorities had been working across regions to trace close contacts and conduct Covid-19 testing, Lei Zhenglong, a senior National Health Commission official said on Thursday. In Yunnan, local media reports identified the positive case reported on Wednesday as a Fujian native, but noted the patient had been in the southwestern city of Ruili for a long period of time and not returned recently to Fujian. Thursday's case was a confirmed close contact and the source of infection for both cases reported in Yunnan were not immediately clear. ^ top ^

Shaanxi urged to seek quality growth (China Daily)
2021-09-16
President Xi Jinping has urged northwestern China's Shaanxi province to comprehensively and faithfully implement the philosophy of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development to enable it to write a new chapter of high-quality growth. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark during an inspection tour of Yulin on Monday and Tuesday. The two-day trip to the city took him to a local enterprise, villages, revolutionary sites and a middle school. During the inspection tour, Xi learned about local efforts in advancing rural vitalization, ecological conservation and intangible cultural protection, and called on local people to combine environmental protection with developing specialty industries to explore a path featuring the coordinated development of the economy and the environment, as well as the coexistence of people and nature. Xi asked the province to take concrete steps to strengthen COVID-19 prevention and control while ensuring socioeconomic development, and coordinate development and security to better serve and integrate into the nation's new development paradigm. The CPC won the people's hearts after leading them to achieve the victory of the Chinese revolution, and "hundreds of millions of people firmly chose to stand on our side", Xi said on Tuesday when visiting a revolutionary site in Suide county in Yulin. He stressed the need to carry on the revolutionary tradition and fine work styles, put people's interests first all the time and "consistently stand, empathize and work with them". While visiting another revolutionary site in Mizhi county on Monday, Xi stressed the importance of the Party's policies and strategies. The reason that the Party could make such glorious achievements in the past century is that it insists on Marxism and its efforts are focused on addressing both realistic and strategic problems, he said. While highlighting the need to uphold and improve the Party's leadership, Xi said that efforts should be made to improve the Party's governance of the country in a more scientific and democratic way based on the rule of law. Matters concerning people's quality of life have always been at the top of the agenda of Xi's nationwide inspection tours since he became general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in 2012. He has always used inspection tours to learn about local people's jobs, incomes, housing, healthcare, eldercare and children's education. In Haojiaqiao, a village in Suide, on Tuesday, Xi visited the home of Hou Zhirong, a farmer who escaped poverty in 2016 with the help of the local government. Xi said that he was happy to see Hou and his family live a more prosperous life. "To enable the people to live a better life is always the aspiration and mission of our Party," Xi said. On Tuesday, Xi also visited a middle school in Suide, where he emphasized that education should ensure the all-around development of young people, and called for deepening reform of the education sector and easing the burdens of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring. While visiting a chemical plant in Yulin on Monday, Xi stressed the importance of strengthening technological innovation to step up developing core technology in key fields in order to ensure that the energy industry follows a green and low-carbon path of development. ^ top ^

New action plan shows China's resolve on human rights (Xinhua)
2021-09-15
Chinese officials and human rights experts on Tuesday voiced strong support for the country's newly issued five-year human-rights action plan covering the period from 2021 to 2025. The plan proposes new objectives and missions for the new stage of China's development, with a focus on issues concerning people's wellbeing. Li Xiaojun, an official with the bureau of human rights affairs under the State Council Information Office, told a press conference that the new action plan aims to provide better education, jobs and incomes, promote social-security services, medical services and living conditions, while ensuring more effective ways for the people to exercise democratic political rights. The plan stresses protecting the underage from corporal punishment and bullying, both on the internet and on campus, said Chang Jian, director of the human rights research center of the Tianjin-based Nankai University. It also proposes providing better services to elderly people with disabilities and dementia, Chang added. The plan sets specific targets to protect the rights and interests of the disabled, including 500,000 new jobs for them in urban areas, and building rehabilitation universities, Li Xiaojun said. Bie Tao, head of the Department of Laws, Regulations and Standards under the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said the protection of environmental rights is a major characteristic of China's efforts to safeguard human rights. Noting that the plan urges improvements to the system of compensation for ecological and environmental damage, Bie said regulations will be drafted in this regard. The plan lists China's targets and promises on domestic and international development of the cause of human rights. Li Xiaomei, special representative for human rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the historic achievements made by China in terms of eliminating extreme poverty and building a moderately prosperous society in all respects are the best practice in human-rights progress. "China will open a new chapter in international exchanges and cooperation on human rights in the next five years," Li said. ^ top ^

Xi's passion for sports drives social progress (China Daily)
2021-09-15
President Xi Jinping has championed China's efforts to turn the country into a sports powerhouse, a goal he described as part of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. Xi, a keen sports fan, was personally involved in the country's 2015 bid for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. He also has encouraged hundreds of millions of Chinese to actively participate in fitness-for-all programs, which became a national strategy in 2014 for coordinating efforts to improve people's health and promote the development of competitive sports. Sports are an important indicator of social development and human progress, and a significant manifestation of overall national strength and the cultural advancement of a society, the president has said. Xi will attend the opening ceremony on Wednesday of the 14th National Games and will announce the start of the event, which will run through Sept 27 in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province. The event, to be held in the hometown of the Terracotta Warriors, is triggering a boom in the public's interest in sports and fitness. Xi has a wide range of sports interests, including soccer, volleyball and swimming. In February 2014, he attended the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. During that visit, he told Rossiya TV, a state-owned Russian television channel, that he loves winter sports. "I like watching ice hockey games, speed skating, figure skating and freestyle skiing. Hockey is my favorite." Xi's passion for sports has brought him and the public much closer and has served him well in furthering his image as a man of the people in China. Guan Zhihao, a student of Zhongguancun No 2 Primary School in Beijing who has been playing ice hockey for nearly seven years, said he and his playmates were lucky to meet Xi in February 2017 at the Wukesong Ice Sports Center in the Chinese capital because of the sport. "Grandpa Xi told us a story that impressed me so much," the 12-year-old boy said. "I learned that when he was a child, Grandpa Xi liked skating a lot. He really wanted to own a pair of speed skates, but his family could only afford one pair. He knew his younger brother liked ice hockey, so he gave the opportunity of buying a pair of skates to his brother." "Grandpa Xi said that what we have today is far better than before, so we should cherish the opportunity to practice hard," the boy added. "I feel really lucky that I have the opportunity to play ice hockey. I'm going to keep this up, and I want to participate in the Winter Olympics when I grow up." As a firm promoter of national fitness and sports development, Xi has advocated sports as an important means for improving people's health, meeting people's aspirations for a better life and facilitating all-around human development. China will work to promote sports among children, improve competitive sports and continue to push forward fitness-for-all programs in a bid to build itself into a stronger sporting nation, Xi said during a meeting in Sochi in 2014 with Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee. "President Xi Jinping has a clear vision about the important role of sport in society and has a clear vision about the importance of sport for the education of young people," Bach said in a recent interview with Xinhua News Agency. Under Xi's leadership, China's sports have made great strides over the past years. At the Tokyo Olympics, China ranked second in the medal count with 38 gold, 32 silver and 18 bronze medals, just behind the United States. The country is also advancing preparation work for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which will be held in February. Xi has made several visits to the sports venues to inspect the preparatory work in a bid to ensure that China will present to the world fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Winter Olympic Games. On the international stage, Xi has often used diplomatic occasions to promote friendship and cooperation between China and other countries and international organizations through sports. In February 2012, he wrapped up his visit to the US by attending a National Basketball Association game at Staples Center in Los Angeles. In June 2018, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin jointly watched a friendly China-Russia youth ice hockey game in Tianjin, China, and they exchanged team uniforms and took a group photo with the players in the game. He said that China will continue to expand sports exchanges with Russia, especially in ice hockey, to strengthen bilateral ties. In a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Sept 7, Xi called on both countries to firmly support each other in respectively hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 and the Milan Winter Olympics in 2026, and to strengthen their partnership in ice and snow sports and related industries. ^ top ^

Troops hailed for guarding borders well (China Daily)
2021-09-14
President Xi Jinping has urged officers and soldiers guarding the country's border areas to be more aware of their mission and responsibilities, carry forward good traditions, step up their training and faithfully perform their duties. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark recently in his reply letter to a battalion of the People's Liberation Army that has been commended for defending China's frontiers on the plateau in the Tibet autonomous region. Border troops, who are in the forefront of protecting the country, shoulder arduous tasks and important responsibilities, Xi said, urging them to make new contributions to the Party and people. In the letter, Xi extended sincere greetings to the officers and soldiers of the battalion, saying that they have done an excellent job over the past five years. They have borne in mind the mission that the Party and people have granted them, stood fast and guarded the homeland by devoting their youth and enthusiasm, Xi said. The battalion is stationed 4,800 meters above sea level in an area with a minimum temperature of -40 C that is lashed by winds of at least gale-force for more than 200 days every year. Despite the harsh environment, the officers and soldiers carry out their duties faithfully and responsibly. In 2016, Xi awarded the battalion the honorary title of "Model Battalion in Defending China's Frontiers on the Plateau". In the letter they recently wrote to Xi, the officers and soldiers of the battalion reported on their work over the past five years and expressed their firm belief and resolve to loyally guard the country's borders. ^ top ^

China issues guideline on deepening reform of eco-compensation mechanism (People's Daily)
2021-09-13
China has released a guideline on deepening the reform of the country's ecological compensation mechanism to speed up the building of ecological civilization. The guideline, jointly released by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, details measures for the country to realize long-term ecological compensation goals set for 2025 and 2035. By 2025, an ecological compensation mechanism that is aligned with economic and social development should be basically built up. The classified compensation system targeting ecological elements such as rivers, natural forests and wetlands, and the comprehensive compensation system that features fiscal support will be improved. In the meantime, a market-oriented and diversified compensation pattern will be formed with the whole society more actively participating in ecological protection. By 2035, the country will form an ecological compensation mechanism that meets the requirements of ecological civilization in the new era, according to the document. The classified compensation system will take into account factors including the economic and social development of the ecological protection areas, and the protection costs of diverse ecological elements. Efforts will be made to explore a protection mode that facilitates local governments to strengthen coordination in practicing ecological protection measures, said the document. While focusing on national ecological security priorities, the country will enhance the comprehensive compensation system with policies that conform to the financial capacity and promote equal access to basic public services. Efforts will be made to give full play to the role of market mechanism to promote diversified compensation and help regions that conduct ecological protection measures obtain benefits, so as to encourage the whole society to participate in ecological protection. According to the document, the country will accelerate the building of a national market for trading energy use rights and carbon emission rights, which is to involve voluntary emission reduction projects on greenhouse gases in the fields of forestry, renewable energy and methane utilization. To expand market-oriented financing channels, financial institutions, qualified non-financial firms and insurers are encouraged to provide green services and products, the document added. Supporting policies regarding the rule of law, ecological environment monitoring, and fiscal and taxation will also be introduced to deepen reform of the country's ecological compensation mechanism. Related parties should take their responsibilities to protect ecological environment, and mechanisms to evaluate and supervise the implementation of the policies regarding ecological protection will be further improved, the document said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

China's National Games pose key test for Covid-19 controls ahead of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics (SCMP)
2021-09-13
China is not taking any chances with Covid-19 as it prepares for the National Games – a critical test for next year's Winter Olympics in Beijing. The host city Xian, capital of the northwestern province of Shaanxi, has enacted stringent restrictions as it gears up to accommodate tens of thousands of spectators for the games, the domestic equivalent of the Summer Olympics, which officially start on Wednesday and run until September 27. Held once every four years, the games will be one of the first major sporting competitions to allow fans to cheer on athletes in person in the coronavirus era, although teenage and adult spectators must be fully vaccinated and have given a negative nucleic acid test within the previous 72 hours. The presence of fans will be a significant contrast to the empty stadiums at the Tokyo Olympics, particularly since both have very similar programmes, except for the addition of extra martial arts in the Chinese games. The event may also influence the Covid-19 protocols for the Beijing Olympics next February and – if successful – help justify the authorities' "zero tolerance" policy, which has seen strict travel and border controls imposed, neighbourhoods going into lockdown over just a few cases, mass testing and vaccination drives. The aggressive approach to the pandemic has also seen international sporting events cancelled or relocated, including Women's Tennis Association tournaments and the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. Shaanxi officials have been on high alert for months, in anticipation of the influx of athletes, officials and spectators. Ma Guanghui, deputy director of Shaanxi's provincial health commission, said in late July that by the time the games take place, the city would have carried out nearly 20 million Covid-19 tests since the start of the year and vaccinated 80 per cent of the adult population. […] She said strict checks had to be in force when moving athletes, coaches and technical staff between closed venues, and told officials to strengthen controls at transport hubs such as the airport and railway station, as well as in hotels and tourist areas. Only 15 international flights have been allowed to land in Shaanxi each week, and passengers coming from outside mainland China – including Hong Kong athletes competing at the games – are required to undergo 21 days of centralised quarantine and seven days of home quarantine. Domestic travellers coming from cities that have areas designated as medium or high-risk Covid-19 zones will need to be quarantined for 14 days, while those coming from low-risk cities need to provide a negative nucleic acid test within 48 hours of entering Xian. Major tourist destinations, including the Terracotta Army Museum and the nearby Huaqing Palace, have been closed since the end of July, while taxi drivers say they have been tested every two weeks. Some religious sites, including a major mosque used by members of the Hui Muslim community, have been closed to outside visitors and schools have also imposed tight controls. Meanwhile, participants in the opening ceremony have been given regular Covid-19 tests ahead of the big day. There has not been a local Covid-19 case in Shaanxi since mid-July, but a handful of imported cases were recorded last month. "All the measures are more about accountability," a local taxi driver said. "If there was even a single case in Xian, officials would lose their jobs." Health experts say that even with tens of thousands of spectators at the National Games, the risks from Covid-19 were relatively low […]. Chu [associate professor focusing on sports politics] added that the decision to allow spectators to attend the National Games sends a message domestically and internationally that the country is confident in its Covid-19 controls, unlike in Japan. "On a deeper level, China can show that its system can overcome Covid-19 and broader crises, and by extension can project that they are more capable of doing so than Western systems," he said. Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, has said that the Covid-19 guidelines for the Beijing Olympics are likely to be published next month and would be influenced by the measures taken in Tokyo. "The IOC and Beijing 2022 will apply the same principle as for Tokyo 2020, a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games," he said. "This principle and priority will guide us in discussions." Bach has also said that there were "limitations" for the committee, when asked about calls to boycott the Beijing Olympics over human rights concerns in Xinjiang. Juan Antonio Samaranch Jnr, who heads the IOC's coordination commission, said the committee wanted international visitors to come to the Beijing Games and "we need and we want to have spectators" there. The Covid-19 strategy employed at the Tokyo Olympics had mixed results. Kenji Shibuya, a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo's Department of Global Health Policy, said that in Tokyo, there had been low infection rates among athletes inside the Olympic Village due to mass testing and high vaccination rates, but a rapid increase in cases outside the village. "Obviously, there are a few lessons from the Tokyo Games," he said. "First, it is essential to control and suppress the local transmission. "Second, basic scientific measures do work – testing, vaccination, mask-wearing and ventilation." He added that China had a track record of containing local transmissions, so if there was a thorough risk assessment for the National Games and the implementation of measures such as testing and vaccines, "the risk could be minimised". ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Inclusive finance benefits small firms, farmers in Tibet (Xinhua)
2021-09-16
Inclusive finance has seen rapid development over the past five years in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, benefiting numerous businesses and people on the plateau, according to an official. The region has mainly targeted small businesses, farmers, herders and urban low-income groups in providing inclusive financial services in the 2016-2020 period, Li Yufu, deputy head of the Lhasa central sub-branch of the People's Bank of China, said at a press conference this week. At the end of last year, the banking network in Tibet covered more than 80 percent of townships, and every 10,000 people owned 7.13 automated teller machines, up 4.7 percent year on year, data from the Lhasa central sub-branch showed. Financial services have become more accessible, with the region's number of per capita non-cash transactions up 13.63 percent year on year to 135.81 last year. People in Tibet owned an average of 3.11 bank cards at the end of 2020. Last year, the region has stepped up financial support for entrepreneurship and innovation, as the balance of such loans surged 42.64 percent from the beginning of 2020 to 4.54 billion yuan (about 706 million U.S. dollars) at the end of the year. Li said the Lhasa sub-branch of the central bank has also organized financial institutions in Tibet to consolidate the results of poverty alleviation. At the end of June 2021, the balance of microcredit stood at 1.9 billion yuan in Tibet, supporting more than 143,000 households that had escaped poverty. By the end of 2019, all registered poor residents in Tibet had shaken off poverty, marking the elimination of absolute poverty in the region for the first time in history. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Government spent billions on Xinjiang's health sector in 2016-2020 (Xinhua)
2021-09-14
Government funding in the medical and health sector reached nearly 157.8 billion yuan (about 24.5 billion U.S. dollars) in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), said local health authorities. The part of health expenditure borne by the government increased from 24.4 billion yuan in 2015 to 46.6 billion yuan in 2020 in the region, reducing the proportion of residents' personal expenditure in the sector to below 30 percent, said Cui Yan, deputy head of the regional health commission. Cui made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday. Xinjiang invested 438 million yuan building 147 hospitals in its townships and 546 clinics in villages during the period, generally ensuring that medical services are available in every township and village, said Cui. Tuberculosis has long plagued rural residents in southern Xinjiang. From 2016 to 2020, the reported incidence of tuberculosis in the area dropped by 64 percent through measures such as free health check-ups and free hospitalization and isolation. Xinjiang will further improve the capacity and quality of medical services to bring benefits to more residents, added Cui. ^ top ^

Xinjiang companies recover from sanctions (China Daily)
2021-09-13
Companies in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region sanctioned by the United States over "groundless" accusations of "forced labor" said their businesses are recovering well from the initial setbacks thanks to innovative moves and the support of the strong domestic market. Halimurat Musar, managing assistant of the Aksu Huafu Textile Co, said that after the company was put on the Entity List by the US Department of Commerce in May last year over concerns of forced labor in Xinjiang's cotton and textile industry, some fashion brands in the US, the European Union and Japan chose to cancel orders because companies placed on the list are barred from trading with the US. "Our businesses were nearly dealt a fatal blow at the beginning. The groundless accusation has severely damaged the company's reputation," Halimurat said during an online news conference on Wednesday with the theme "Xinjiang is a wonderful land "that aimed to show the world the reality of the region. Aksu Huafu Textile ensured all its 5,500 employees could receive their basic salaries as the company began to take domestic orders and explore non-US markets, Halimurat said. "During the first seven months of this year, our production was in full swing. During that period, the volume of cotton yarns produced increased 56 percent, and sales volume was up 91 percent. What's more, our revenue more than doubled," he added. Halimurat said the US sanctions won't affect the development of Xinjiang's cotton and textile industry. "It will only make Chinese people more united," he said. China has stated many times that allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang by certain Western countries, including the US, are false and are aimed at curbing China's development. Besides the region's cotton sector, the US has also targeted Xinjiang's rising polysilicon and photovoltaic industries. He Ning, secretary of the board of directors of Xinjiang Daqo New Energy, said that when he learned that the company, which specializes in producing polysilicon, was put on the Entity List in June over forced labor allegations, he thought it quite absurd because the highly automated polysilicon production process isn't labor-intensive. "Although many of our partners and investors in overseas markets clearly know that forced labor cannot exist in Daqo, they still chose not to work with us anymore due to the political pressure from the US," He said at the news conference. Such accusations and sanctions are not intended to protect the human rights of Xinjiang people, but to protect the US' polysilicon and photovoltaic industries, which lack competitiveness in the global market, He said. "In a way, the sanctions have motivated us to invest more in research and development so we can always be ahead of the game," he added. Arken Tuniyaz, vice-chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, said the US and some other Western forces have been expanding their sanctions on Xinjiang businesses based on these accusations, increasing the number of people affected. "Their intentions will only force people out of employment and back into poverty, which will affect Xinjiang's stability. In the end, they want to use Xinjiang issues to curb the development of China," said Arken, adding that despite the sanctions, Xinjiang's foreign trade volume in the first seven months of the year increased 14 percent year-on-year. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong gov't ousts 7 elected pro-democracy district councillors over 'invalid' loyalty oaths (HKFP)
2021-09-16
Seven Hong Kong pro-democracy district councillors have lost their seats, after the government ruled their oaths to bear allegiance to the city and uphold the Basic Law were "invalid." The government announced on Wednesday evening that seven of the 24 district council members who pledged allegiance last Friday had made "invalid oaths." They included Clarisse Yeung and Pakkin Leung of the Wan Chai District Council and Michael Pang of the Southern District Council. Oaths taken by Eastern District Council's Wei Siu-lik, So Yat-hang, Lancelot Chan and Anna Lai were also said to be illegitimate. They were among a group of 24 district council members who became the first to swear allegiance under the administration of Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui. The minister had said he "had doubts" over the validity of some pledges and requested additional information from seven councillors. In nullifying their oaths, the government said Tsui had considered written replies from those concerned. Without specifying the reasons, the authorities said Tsui's decision was based on the principles laid down by an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law by China's top legislative body and other relevant laws. Pakkin Leung of the Wan Chai District Council criticised the disqualification as "arbitrary." He said he had answered questions from the government, but the authorities gave no explanation as to why his oath was invalid. Leung, who became known after filming the dramatic police storming of Prince Edward MTR station on August 31, 2019, thanked Hongkongers who voted in the 2019 election, which saw a historic landslide victory for the pro-democracy camp. "I think I have done my utmost as an elected councillor to defend the dignity of the sacred votes cast by electors… facing absurdity is truly exhausting, but compared to many people, I was very lucky already," Leung wrote on Facebook, adding he would retain the right to appeal the decision. Another disqualified councillor was the Democratic Party's So Yat-hang, who was inclined to take part in upcoming elections, despite a Beijing-led overhaul that drastically reduced the ratio of directly-elected representatives in the legislature. Sharing a news article about his disqualification, So wrote on Facebook that people should "keep going": "There are still people who can remain. [We] need to keep trying any possible methods." The oath-taking requirement for district councillors was part of a new law passed in May, which extended an existing loyalty pledge required for senior government officials, civil servants, lawmakers and judges to other public officers. The district advisory body has been regarded as the last opposition force in the government, after pan-democratic lawmakers quit en masse last November. But since the new stipulation came into force, 260 of the 388 pro-democracy district councillors have stepped down, while eight lost their seats because they are in custody or have left the city. Two of the ousted councillors, Clarisse Yeung and Michael Pang, are facing trial under the national security law. They stand accused of conspiring with 45 democrats to commit "subversion" by organising and taking part in an unofficial legislative primary election in July last year. ^ top ^

Hong Kong will create more national security offences, says security chief (HKFP)
2021-09-14
Hong Kong will create a host of new national security offences, a senior official confirmed Tuesday, building on a law Beijing imposed last year that has criminalised much dissent and transformed the city. Chris Tang, a former police chief promoted to security secretary this year, said officials had started working on local legislation that would define new crimes under the security law. "We hope to complete it within the next term of legislature and we will consult with the public," Tang told the pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao newspaper in a front-page report published on Tuesday. In a separate interview with Sing Tao Daily, another pro-Beijing media outlet, Tang said officials were studying ongoing national security trials to guide their new legislation. "We didn't pay much attention to espionage activities in the past and now we are studying whether we need to regulate that," Tang told Sing Tao's EastWeek magazine. China imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong last year in response to huge and often violent democracy protests. The law targets any act deemed subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. It has been overwhelmingly deployed against people expressing certain political views and has remoulded the once outspoken and freewheeling city in China's own authoritarian image. The new security law will be directed by Article 23 of Hong Kong's mini-constitution, Tang confirmed. Article 23 calls for Hong Kong to pass its own national security legislation after the 1997 handover to China. An attempt to do so in 2003 sparked huge protests and concerns that Hong Kong would lose its unique freedoms. The legislation was shelved. Hong Kong's inability to pass its own security laws was one of the reasons Beijing lost patience after the 2019 democracy protests and promulgated its own law last year. Some of Article 23's offences are already covered by that law — such as secession and subversion. But new crimes would include treason, sedition, theft of state secrets and measures to stop "foreign political organisations" operating in Hong Kong — or Hong Kongers contacting them. Tang gave no timeframe for the new law but said it would be passed by the next legislature. Hong Kong will get a new legislature in December under a new political system imposed by Beijing where less than a quarter of the body's seats will now be directly elected and only those deemed "patriotic" may stand for office. The legislature usually sits for four years. National security offences are treated differently than other crimes. In Hong Kong, only handpicked national security judges can adjudicate trials, bail is usually denied to those who are arrested and juries are not a requirement, despite offences carrying up to life in jail. More than 60 people, mostly prominent democracy supporters, have been charged with security offences in the last year and more than 140 arrested. ^ top ^

'One country, two systems': from Macau, Hong Kong must learn the art of integration (SCMP)
2021-09-13
My guess is that no one in Beijing lost any sleep over Macau's Legislative Assembly elections yesterday. And they shouldn't. There were no surprises. It is the least contested election in Macau with only 14 electoral lists competing for 14 directly elected seats. It didn't start out that way. Nineteen lists consisting more than 150 candidates were running until five lists and 20 candidates were disqualified after the Electoral Affairs Commission found that they had been disloyal to Macau and unsupportive of the Macau Basic Law. And as a result, only one token pro-democracy candidate list – led by the very mild Jose Pereira Coutinho – remained. And so if any of us here in Hong Kong are wondering what our Legislative Council elections, scheduled for the end of the year, will be like, look no further than Macau. We should be looking at Macau because it is now the exemplar of "one country, two systems", showing Hong Kong a political path that would not incur Beijing's wrath. Not only that, Macau is also going where Hong Kong has never gone before: it is being tasked with running its system within the other system. Specifically, Beijing's new plan for Hengqin, an island in Zhuhai being transformed into an economic zone, calls for Macau to run one country, two systems there, and that's huge. Once upon a time, it was hoped that Hong Kong would prove that one country, two systems was the best way forward and facilitate what would ultimately be the country's reunification. Visiting Macau in 2019, President Xi Jinping said that it is Macau that has provided "a gorgeous chapter" in the short history of the one country, two systems experiment. Macau chief executive Ho Iat-seng: "Macau will be an example of China's reunification." And so it is the "Macau model" that the country has embraced, and it is Macau that is being allowed to take the lead ahead of Hong Kong. Beijing's master plan for integration includes Hong Kong, to be sure, so this is no time for sour grapes. Compared with the role envisioned for Macau in Hengqin, however, Hong Kong's proposed role in Qianhai, an economic zone in Shenzhen, is more indicative of Beijing's desire to rein in Hong Kong. Hong Kong must accept that it is part of a much larger picture, take into account what the country is doing, and fit in. In other words, to enjoy the backing of the country, we are no longer free to turn our backs on it. Hong Kong has all along considered one country, two systems as a way to set ourselves apart from the rest of the country. That kind of thinking set us on a diverging path. In contrast, for Macau and Beijing, the one country, two systems principle is about integration and convergence. For those who have been complaining about "mainlandisation", take note of Beijing's treatment of both Hong Kong and Macau. Beijing is serious about integration, about inviting the two cities to contribute, to play distinct roles, albeit in very different ways. Last week, a press conference brought together senior Beijing officials and Greater Bay Area representatives to sell the central government's plan to expand Qianhai, which would be an opportunity to collaborate with Hong Kong in areas including technology and finance. Again, Beijing is not talking about taking over or overpowering us. It is extending to us an invitation to interact with, engage with, and have an impact on the rest of the country. The Hong Kong model of one country, two systems veered off course, and hit a rut over our differences. An overemphasis on how different we are from the rest of the country made it hard to see common ground, find common interests and collaborate. Some of us may not like Beijing's aversion to political surprises, but it doesn't mean we need to keep pushing its buttons. As long as Beijing doesn't swoop in again to clean up after us politically, we can surely map out a brighter future for one country, two systems. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Common understanding of "patriots administering Macao" invigorates SAR's development (Xinhua)
2021-09-13
The election of the seventh Legislative Assembly of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), which took place smoothly on Sunday, proved to be a major practice of democracy fully implementing the principle of "patriots administering Macao." A total of 14 candidates won the directly-elected seats while 12 bagged the indirectly-elected seats. These legislators, elected by Macao residents, enjoy wide public support. They will help further enhance the common understanding of "patriots administering Macao" within the Macao society, invigorate the SAR's development, and lay a solid foundation for the steady and sustained implementation of "one country, two systems" with Macao characteristics. In fact, the principle of administering Macao in accordance with the law was upheld throughout this election. The SAR government organized the election in line with the law to ensure it goes in an orderly and safe manner, while the electoral affairs commission and the Court of Final Appeal performed their duties to ensure that only patriots were allowed to contest in the election, safeguarding the constitutional order stipulated by the Constitution of People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Macao SAR. In addition, the candidates campaigned actively in accordance with the law. Macao residents cherished their votes and exercised their democratic rights endowed by the Macao SAR Basic Law. In a nutshell, the election demonstrated fairness, solidarity, openness and integrity. The candidates of different parties represented the various social classes and groups of the Macao society, with some new forces springing up. There was no lack of criticisms and dissuasion on social malpractices and governance deficiencies. Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the election campaign went in full swing through various online and offline channels, and it was also widely covered by local media. The anti-corruption authority worked actively to ensure transparency and fairness of the election. Implementation of the "patriots administering Macao" principle in this Legislative Assembly election further demonstrated Macao's tradition of patriotic ethos across various circles of the society. There is reason to believe that the newly elected legislators will be able to better shoulder the social responsibilities of pooling public wisdom, representing public opinion, supervising governance and protecting public interests, so as to better facilitate communication between the government and the public and inject strong momentum for building a better Macao. The legislators should also cherish the hard-won achievements of the election, fully and accurately implement the principle of "one country, two systems" and perform their duties endowed by the Basic Law of the Macao SAR. The practice of "one country, two systems" in Macao is facing a rare historic opportunity. The Chinese central authorities' series of policies, including the general plan made public earlier this month for building the Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone in Hengqin, provide vast space for Macao to be better integrated into overall national development. The newly elected legislators should avail themselves of the chance to actively offer suggestions, support and supervision to the SAR government, and write new chapters in the practice of "one country, two systems" with Macao characteristics. ^ top ^

Macau: Legislative election turnout at historic low after opposition barred from running, gov't blames weather and Covid (HKFP)
2021-09-13
Macau has seen the number of blank and invalid votes shoot up amid a record-low voter turnout during its seventh legislative election, after 21 liberal and pro-democracy candidates were disqualified in July. Election officials attributed the poor turnout to the Covid-19 epidemic and the weather. Over 137,000 people — or 42 per cent of Macau's registered voters — headed to the polls on Sunday to elect 14 lawmakers by universal suffrage for the casino town's Legislative Assembly, a drop of almost 15 per cent compared to the election in 2017. However, less than half of the 33-seat chamber is directly elected by the public. Among the remaining seats, 12 were returned by indirect, small-circle elections in professional sectors, whilst seven lawmakers are appointed directly by the Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng. Macau has about 324,000 registered voters. The number of blank votes recorded this year shot up from 922 to 3,141, or 2.29 per cent of all ballots, a proportion which tripled compared to the election four years ago. The proportion of invalid ballots also nearly doubled, according to figures published by the Macau Electoral Affairs Committee (CAEAL). An election official said the low turnout could be attributed to the Covid-19 epidemic and high temperatures on Sunday: "[We] preliminarily believe that this was due to anti-epidemic measures. It was not convenient for some many residents living in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Mainland to return to Macau [to vote] as they would be subject to quarantine," said CAEAL chief Tong Hio-fung. "Also, today's weather was quite hot and there were thunderstorms in the afternoon, these may have affected the desire to vote." The SAR last saw a Covid-19 infection six weeks ago. It has recorded a total of 63 cases since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Sunday saw temperatures of up to 34 Celsius. Election winners came from seven of the 14 tickets running in the elections this year, after 21 candidates on six of the tickets were disqualified because they had failed to uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to Hong Kong's sister SAR, Macau electoral officials said. Disqualified lawmakers and contenders told HKFP that election authorities cited social media photographs with Hong Kong democrats, participation Tiananmen Massacre commemorative vigils and trips to Taiwan as reasons for their disqualification. Candidate Si Ka-lon – on the Macau United Citizens Association ticket – topped the polls with 26,593 votes, securing a total of three seats for the pro-establishment political party dominated by members of the Fujian community in the city. The other two winners on this ticket were Song Pek-kei and Lei Leong-wong. The group nabbed about a fifth of all votes. Coming second in the polls was Ella Lei of The Union for Development, with 23,760 votes. Leong Sun-iok was also a winning candidate on the union's ticket. The remaining winning contenders were José Pereira Coutinho, Zheng Anting, Leong Hong-sai, Wong kit-cheng, Che Sai-wang, Lam U-tou, Lo Choi-in, Ngan Iek-hang, and Ma Io-fong. One of the disqualified pro-democracy candidates, Scott Chiang, compared the election official's comments to telepathy: "The post-[disqualification] election is full of absurd comedy, such as when the Electoral Affairs Committee insisted that the record-low turnout was due to the epidemic and not other reasons – as if they could mindread," he wrote in a post to Facebook on Sunday. "Nevertheless, a legislature produced from an unfair election may have some remaining value. The Legislative Assembly will still play a roll in politics as long as Macau hasn't come under the governance of the Revolutionary Committee or a military state," he said, referring to a governing body during China's Cultural Revolution. "Whether the cup is half empty or half full, everyone is free to choose." The winners are expected to take their seats for Macau's seventh legislative session in October. Each session lasts four years. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Beijing warns Washington not to allow Taiwan to rename de facto embassy (SCMP)
2021-09-13
Beijing is protesting against the possibility of Washington allowing Taipei's US office to be renamed, and has warned the United States not to challenge the one-China principle. The US is considering a request from Taipei to change the name of its mission in the US capital from Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (Tecro) to Taiwan Representative Office, the Financial Times reported, citing multiple people briefed on internal US discussions. A decision had not been made, and would require an executive order by President Joe Biden, according to Saturday's report. Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Friday held their second telephone call of the former's presidency, during which Biden said "the US has never intended to change the one-China policy", according to Beijing's statement. A statement by the US government made no mention of the issue. Beijing views self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province, to be brought into its fold by force if necessary. Observers said Beijing would view a name change as breaking the one-China principle and fear a domino effect in other countries. They said the US had been testing the water over Taiwan – the most sensitive issue as the two powers compete on almost every front, including trade, technology, human rights and the South China Sea. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that China had "lodged solemn representations" with the US and urged it to abide by the one-China principle and the three US-China communiqués – joint statements in 1972, 1979 and 1982 that included the US stating its intention to gradually decrease arms sales to the island. Zhao said Washington should "stop any form of official exchanges between the US and Taiwan to improve substantive relations", including by changing the name of Tecro. The office was established in 1979 – initially named the Coordination Council for North American Affairs in Washington – to serve as a de facto embassy for Taipei after Washington switched its official diplomatic recognition to the Beijing government. Beijing has warned countries against having official contact with the island or allowing it to use its official title of "Republic of China", or "Taiwan", in their exchanges. China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania after the European nation in July allowed the island to open a de facto embassy using the name "Taiwan" – the first country with formal diplomatic ties with Beijing to do so. Beijing has increased its pressure on Taiwan in recent months, sending warplanes to the island's air defence identification zone almost daily and expressing anger over US arms sales to Taipei. The island's government has declined to comment on the possibility of the name change. "It has long been our goal and effort to strengthen and upgrade our relations with the US in all areas," the Taiwanese foreign ministry said on Monday, adding that the island would continue to do so pragmatically and gradually. Taiwan's main opposition party the Kuomintang has urged the government of President Tsai Ing-wen against any misjudgments over the potential name change, saying the office title was not the most pressing issue between the US and the island. "It is more important to ask the US to promptly send the [Moderna] vaccine doses we have ordered," KMT chairman Johnny Chiang said. Liu Shih-fang, the caucus leader of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the legislature, said changing the office title from "Taipei" to "Taiwan" had nothing to do with "interfering in China's internal affairs" but was simply a more accurate way to refer to the island. Ni Feng, director of the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said a name change would bring a "strong reaction" from Beijing and increase friction with the US. "A change of name would be a major event, meaning the US would be taking a significant step to weaken the one-China policy, leaving only a vague gesture," Ni said, adding that Washington was using Taiwan as a pawn in its strategy towards China, to test Beijing's reaction. Zhu Songling, a Taiwan affairs expert at Beijing Union University, said Washington's tactic was to test the water, "which we are very familiar with", and Beijing's biggest concern was a possible domino effect. "Recalling our ambassador to the US, like with Lithuania, cannot be ruled out," Zhu said. Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at Renmin University, said Biden has been increasing support for the DPP since taking office in January, but it was unclear whether he would approve the renaming given the political pressure on him domestically over the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. ^ top ^

Recovery of China-US ties sees 'troublemaking from Taiwan island' (GT)
2021-09-13
On the same day when the top leaders of China and the US held a phone conversation, which brings some hopes for the recovery of the most important bilateral ties of the world, the Taiwan's separatist authorities sent two "senior officials" for sensitive and secret talks with US officials to push Washington to rename the island's representative office in Washington with the word "Taiwan" - a serious move to provoke the one-China principle and to encourage Taiwan secessionism. In the Friday phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the request of the US side, which desperately wants to change the intense situation of China-US ties but has been reluctant to take concrete actions to get the ties back on track, US president Joe Biden said that the US side has no intention to change the one-China policy, according to the statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the call. Chinese mainland experts said if the report that the Biden administration is considering further encouraging the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) authorities to pursue secession is true, this shows that Washington's policy on China is contradictory and Biden's words do not match his deeds. This could derail the effort to improve China-US ties and make the matter even worse. The separatist DPP authorities are trying to sabotage the possibility of a recovery in China-US ties by instigating troubles and playing tricks with some US politicians, they noted, adding that if the US follows Lithuania in provoking China's sovereignty, China's retaliation could be much tougher, otherwise no one would respect the one-China principle anymore. If the US renames the island's representative office in Washington, recalling the Chinese ambassador to the US would be the most basic response, said the experts. There would be more retaliations in the Taiwan Straits as the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will take more direct actions to deter Taiwan secessionism. Mainland analysts warned that the more tricks the DPP authorities play with US officials, the faster they will see the realization of China's national reunification. According to a Financial Times report, multiple people briefed on internal US discussions said Washington is "seriously considering" a request from the Taiwan DPP authorities to change the name of its office in the US capital from "Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office" (TECRO) to "Taiwan Representative Office." The request mirrors the one of Lithuania, which proposed the same move that seriously challenged China's sovereignty and core interests and caused a significant setback to China-Lithuania ties, for which the Baltic country has paid a huge price. Kurt Campbell, White House Asia adviser, has backed the change, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, the FT reported. One said the request had wide support inside the National Security Council and from state department Asia officials. A final decision has not been made and would require Biden to sign an executive order, said people briefed on the matter […]. The Taiwan separatist DPP authorities are a source of constant tensions between China and the US. According to the FT, one person involved with the request to change the name of Taiwan's office in Washington said the DPP authorities discussed the issue with the US at the end of the Trump administration but made a formal request to the Biden administration in March. A senior "official" in the DPP authorities told the FT that the authorities had been urging the change for some time. The FT report also said that "Multiple people briefed on internal US discussions said Washington was seriously considering a request from Taiwan to change the name." "But who are the 'multiple people briefed' on internal US discussions? Are they the White House officials or the third-party brokers hired by the DPP authorities? Obviously, it was the Taiwan authorities, not the White House, that announced the so-called 'renaming consideration' to the media," said Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University. The "officials" of the DPP authorities might be happy about what they did and trumpet the impact they brought to China-US relations, but they are too arrogant and ignorant, Shen noted, stressing that the so-called "Special Channel" that the DPP uses for communication with US officials cannot even enter Washington, DC. "Who will benefit from the renaming? Not the Biden administration, because this goes against its intention to fix China-US ties and will instead bring more tension, and this has nothing to do with Biden's priorities in handling internal affairs. The DPP authorities will benefit, because it could use the tensions to hype secessionism and to cheat voters on the island. So the 'sources' who released the information to the media are the ones who are trying to bring difficulties to the recovery of China-US ties," Shen noted. Taiwan's secessionists should understand that they will be the ones abandoned by the US immediately once the Chinese mainland launches an operation to solve the Taiwan question, and the more tricks they play to make trouble, the sooner they will see their doomsday and the reunification of the country, said the mainland's experts. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China unemployment: Beijing's regulatory crackdowns pose yet another hurdle for young urban jobseekers (SCMP)
2021-09-16
Roughly one out of every seven young urban workers in China remains unemployed, as Beijing's regulatory crackdowns on key industries are adding further pressure on the nation's weak jobs sector amid more signs of a broad economic slowdown, according to the latest economic data. The official figures indicate that the surveyed jobless rate for workers aged 16 to 24 – which includes most high school and college graduates – hit 15.3 per cent in August, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday in its monthly update. Although last month's rate was an improvement from 16.2 per cent in July, and was 0.2 percentage points lower than in June's graduation season, it marked an increase from the 13.1 per cent seen in August 2019, pre-coronavirus. And the 15.3 per cent unemployment rate among the nation's young workers is particularly glaring against the 4.3 per cent jobless rate for workers in the 25-59 age group, while being exactly three times as high as the overall national average of 5.1 per cent. In the past several years, 16- to 24-year-olds have seen their employment rate consistently stay above 10 per cent. And Ding Shuang, chief Greater China economist at Standard Chartered Bank, expects the high jobless rate in the young workforce to continue as millions of fresh graduates will enter the job market every year. "There is also a structural imbalance – many college graduates are reluctant to take some jobs or go to certain regions, and they can afford to wait for one year," he said, referring to the large disparity between the young group and the national average. But looking forward, he said, the situation could be further strained by Beijing's crackdown on the after-school tutoring sector, which traditionally employs tens of thousands of graduates. And economists say the overall job outlook has also been shrouded by both the tutoring crackdown and by Beijing's recent regulations aimed at Big Tech. These moves, they say, have already resulted in job losses, while also hurting recruitment. Meanwhile, sporadic outbreaks of the coronavirus Delta variant across China are also complicating the job situation, with a particularly outsized impact on service sectors and small businesses, according to analysts. Beijing's policymakers are putting a high priority on stabilising the nation's job market, given its social-stability implications. China's fresh college graduates, totalling 9.09 million this year; its nearly 300-million-strong population of migrant workers; and former soldiers are widely regarded as three of the main groups being targeted for additional support by policymakers. The world's second-largest economy aims to create 55 million urban jobs by 2025, including 11 million this year, according to the five-year plan (2021-2025) released last month by the State Council, China's cabinet. A total of 9.38 million new urban jobs were created in the year's first eight months – 85.3 per cent of the annual target. However, those goals are facing headwinds. For instance, retail sales growth in August slowed to 2.5 per cent – a sharp decline from 8.5 per cent a month earlier – as the country adopted strict control measures to fight outbreaks of the Delta variant. National economic growth is widely expected to fall from the 7.9 per cent increase in the second quarter, as that year-over-year figure was skewed upwards by the low comparison base. Some private tutoring companies have already started to lay off workers, many of whom are in their twenties, after Beijing clamped down on the US$70 billion industry, saying it "violated the laws of education" and imposed a heavy burden on families. Fu Linghui, spokesman for the statistics bureau, said that China's job market was "overall stable" this year, and that more jobs could be created as the domestic service sector improves. The overall surveyed urban-unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent in August was unchanged from July, but below the government's annual control target of 5.5 per cent, official data showed. However, that official rate is seen by some analysts as unreliable, as China's tens of millions of self-employed business owners and nearly 300 million migrant workers are not included. "Of course, the pressure and structural problems will exist, which means a continuation of employment-priority policies," Fu said. ^ top ^

China's retail sales growth plunged in August, impeding economic recovery (SCMP)
2021-09-15
Retail sales growth in China slumped heavily in August further, accentuating the slowdown in the Chinese economy, the latest economic data shows. Both industrial production and fixed-asset investments growth in August also fell short of expectations, pointing to more softening in the economy. Retail sales, a key measurement of consumer spending in the world's most populous nation, grew by a mere 2.5 per cent in August compared with a year earlier, way down from the 8.5 per cent increase in July, and much lower than the projection for a rise of 7 per cent estimated in the Bloomberg survey. Industrial production, a gauge of activity in the manufacturing, mining and utilities sectors, grew by 5.3 per cent in August from a year earlier after a 6.4 per cent gain in July. August's figure was lower than the median forecast of the Bloomberg survey for a rise of 5.8 per cent. Notably, revenue in the catering industry during August fell 4.5 per cent compared with a year earlier, marking a sharp reversal from the 14.3 per cent growth in sales in July. Fixed-asset investment – a gauge of expenditures on items including infrastructure, property, machinery and equipment – rose 8.9 per cent in the January-August period, compared with a year earlier. This was lower the median of the Bloomberg survey, which called for a rise of 9 per cent. For the January-July period, fixed-asset investment had been up by 10.3 per cent. The surveyed jobless rate, an imperfect measurement of unemployment in China that does not include figures for the tens of millions of the nation's migrant workers, stood at 5.1 per cent in August, unchanged from July. China has set a target of creating 11 million new urban jobs and a surveyed urban unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent for this year. China's economy grew by 7.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2021 compared with a year prior, while in the first half of the year, it grew by 12.7 per cent year on year. But economists have since slashed their economic outlook for China as the Delta variant spreads across the world's second-biggest economy, forcing the closure of restaurants and entertainment venues and the cancellation of numerous high-profile trade events. Last week, it was confirmed that China's factory-gate price inflation remained high in August, rising to the highest level in 13 years. But last month's trade data, which was also released last week, showed China's imports and exports both defied analysts' expectations last month as exports rose by 25.6 per cent in August from a year earlier and imports rose by 33.1 per cent in August from a year prior. The Chinese economy maintained the trend of recovery in August, however the foundation still needs to be consolidated, according to Fu Linghui, spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics. "We must be aware that the international environment is still complicated and severe, and at home it has been felt that the sporadic outbreaks of Covid-19 and natural disasters such as floods have impacted the economy," he said at a press conference on Wednesday. Looking forward, Evans-Pritchard said expectations may change for September. "We had been expecting services activity to rebound strongly in September as the virus situation was back under control," he said. "However, a jump in [coronavirus] cases in Fujian province this week suggests the recovery might be held back." ^ top ^

Guideline stresses role of green finance (Xinhua)
2021-09-14
Financial tools should be given a bigger role as China continues efforts to deepen the reform of its mechanisms of providing compensation for ecological conservation, according to a guideline jointly released by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, China's Cabinet. The guideline details measures to realize long-term-2025-35-compensation goals related to ecological conservation. More financing tools should be developed based on the various environmental equities like the usage of water, pollution discharges and carbon emissions. Meanwhile, a green stocks index should be set up, said the guideline. Shao Yu, Orient Securities' chief economist, said that a green stocks index helps categorize listed companies bearing similar green features as one investment target. Institutions can evaluate such companies more precisely based on the index and set up related exchange-traded funds. Thus, more social capital will be introduced to better support the development of the green industries. Efforts should also be made to develop carbon emission futures, according to the guideline. It is not the first time that the country has raised the idea of launching carbon emission futures. During the 2021 China (Zhengzhou) International Futures Forum held earlier this month, Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said that carbon emission futures should be rolled out to facilitate the country's green development strategy. The CSRC said at a news conference in late April that the newly unveiled Guangzhou Futures Exchange has been conducting related research and making preparations to introduce carbon emission futures. The experiment regarding the green finance reform should be carried out more extensively. To that end, more innovative attempts should be made in terms of compensation for ecological conservation. Banks will be encouraged to provide green credit services while eligible nonfinancial companies and institutions will be encouraged to issue green bonds. Insurers are encouraged to develop green insurance products which can serve as compensation for ecological conservation acts, said the guideline. HSBC Bank (China) has just made one such attempt. The bank announced that it has provided a loan linked to carbon emission quotas to a State-owned electricity company, which is the first of its kind provided by a foreign bank in China since the launch of the national carbon emission trading system on July 16. The power company has been extended the loan at a favorable interest rate given the liquidity and market value of the carbon emission trading quotas that it owns. "As the national carbon emission trading market becomes more developed and active, we believe more financial institutions will become a part of it and more diversified carbon-related financial products will be developed," said Joseph Ma, head of commercial banking at HSBC Bank (China). As per the calculations of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, at least 2.2 trillion yuan ($341 billion) of investment will be required every year to help the country reduce carbon emissions by 2030. The annual investment for the same purpose will come at around 3.9 trillion yuan between 2030 and 2060. ^ top ^

Tencent, ByteDance and Alibaba respond after China asks tech firms to stop blocking rivals' links (Global Times)
2021-09-14
Chinese tech giants, including Tencent, ByteDance and Alibaba, have quickly responded on Monday to the Chinese government's latest regulatory move on the industry which requested them to stop blocking competitor's website links or "face penalties." Tencent said it will implement the rule step by step while ByteDance called on industry players to make no excuses and stick to specific timetables. Furthermore, Alibaba said it will meet the other platforms halfway. In a regular briefing on Monday, Zhao Zhiguo, spokesperson from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the country's tech regulator, said that facilitating connectivity in the internet industry is necessary to promote the high-quality development of this sector and major companies should proactively take action to promote instant messaging services and stop blocking links. MIIT's request to the major internet firms, is the latest move to protect users' experience and promote a more open market, according to the Chinese news portal Xinhua Finance. The issue of blocking websites has been a key target in a special reform campaign launched by MIIT since July, Zhao said, and it also has focused on violations of market order, users' rights and interests, data security, and qualification management. "The blocking of visits to other website links without justification has seriously affected the user experience and rights and also disturbed the market order," Zhao said. The ministry will also aim to strengthen administrative guidance, supervision and inspection, and impose penalties on those who fail to meet the requirements set by regulators, Zhao said. Tencent told the Global Times on Monday that it supports stopping any website blocking activities at the request of MIIT. "We will adhere to policies set by MIIT and facilitate safe connectivity to other websites in stages and steps," the company said. ByteDance said in a response on Monday that the rule is a basic requirement for the development of the Internet to ensure normal access to legitimate web links, and to protect users rights, maintain market order, and foster industry innovation and development. ByteDance will earnestly implement the decision of the MIIT and "call on all Internet platforms to act together, make no excuses, clarify timetables, and actively implement them to provide users with a safe, reliable, and convenient network space where they can truly enjoy the convenience of interconnection." Alibaba said it will follow the relevant requirements of the MIIT and work with other platforms to face the future and meet each other halfway. ^ top ^

 

DPRK

Chinese UN mission voices concern over leakage of DPRK report (Xinhua)
2021-09-16
China's Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) on Thursday expressed concern over the leakage of a report on sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). "China noted with concern that the 2021 midterm report drafted by the Panel of Experts of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1718 (2006) has been leaked and caused unfounded media hype," a spokesperson of the mission said in a press release. The report of the Panel of Experts has been leaked several times, the unnamed spokesperson said, noting that the UN Secretariat "should take this issue seriously, immediately conduct an investigation and adopt effective measures to prevent similar incidents from happening again." "China has been fully and strictly implementing the Security Council resolutions related to the DPRK and fulfilling its international obligations. Any attempt to slander or discredit China is futile," said the spokesperson. "China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the (Korean) Peninsula issue, and in achieving the denuclearization of the Peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region," said the spokesperson. ^ top ^

DPRK test-fires railway-borne missile with range of 800 km (Xinhua)
2021-09-16
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) launched a railway-borne missile Wednesday with a mission to strike the target area 800 km away, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday. "The test firing drill took place for the purpose of confirming the practicality of the railway-borne missile system deployed for action for the first time, of judging the combat readiness and capability of performing firepower duty of the newly-organized regiment all of a sudden and of attaining proficiency in the action procedures in case of fighting an actual war," the report said. Pak Jong Chon, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau and secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, guided the test firing drill of the missile regiment, it said. Pak said the railway-borne missile system serves as an efficient counter-strike means capable of dealing a harsh multi-concurrent blow to the threat-posing forces through separate performances of firepower duty in different parts of the country. Wednesday's launch comes only days after the DPRK, as it said, successfully tested new type of long-range cruise missiles, which was also attended by Pak. ^ top ^

U.S. condemns DPRK missile launches, calls for dialogue (Xinhua)
2021-09-15
The United States on Wednesday condemned ballistic missile launches by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), calling on Pyongyang to engage in meaningful dialogue with Washington. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in a briefing that the United States condemns the DPRK missile launches, noting "these missile launches are in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions... they pose a threat to the DPRK's neighbors and other members of the international community." In the meantime, Price said Washington is still committed to a diplomatic approach to Pyongyang to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. "We call on the DPRK to engage in a meaningful and substantive dialogue with us," he added. "We've been very clear in the messages that we have conveyed to the DPRK that we stand ready to engage in that dialogue." Price also reaffirmed that U.S. commitment to regional allies is ironclad. The Biden administration has repeatedly suggested that it seeks to engage with Pyongyang over the denuclearization issue but showed no willingness to ease sanctions. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday that the DPRK fired two short-range ballistic missiles into eastern waters. The missile launch came two days after Pyongyang said it successfully test-fired new type of long-range cruise missiles on Saturday and Sunday. Also on Wednesday, the presidential Blue House said that South Korea successfully test fired a homegrown submarine-launched ballistic missile.  ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia, ROK agree to upgrade relations to strategic partnership (Montsame)
2021-09-14
On September 10, President of Mongolia U.Khurelsukh held a virtual summit with President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in. It marked the first summit between the two countries since U.Khurelsukh was elected as the President of Mongolia in June. It is also the second meeting between the two leaders since U.Khurelsukh visited the Republic of Korea in January 2018 when he was working as the Prime Minister of Mongolia. The Presidents of the two countries agreed to upgrade bilateral relations to 'strategic partnership' during the virtual summit and put out a joint declaration. Within the joint declaration, the sides agreed to deepen and expand cooperation in five areas: politics and security; economy, trade and investment; education, science and technology, environment and health; culture, tourism and people-to-people exchanges; and regional and international cooperation. Highlighting that Mongolia and South Korea have been developing bilateral relations for more than 30 years based on their common values such as democracy, human rights and freedom, President U.Khurelsukh reaffirmed his commitment to further strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation. President Moon Jae-in congratulated President U.Khurelsukh on his election and noted his delight with being the first foreign president to hold a summit with Mongolia's new head of state. He reiterated to strengthen relations and cooperation with Mongolia, a key partner in the New Northern Policy, and to work together in the implementation of Vision-2050, Mongolia's long-term development policy. Emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the two countries' legislatures to strengthen the legal environment of bilateral relations, the sides agreed to further enhance political dialogue mechanisms, such as the Intergovernmental Joint Committee, and the Consultative Meetings between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs. The two sides concurred to focus on developing economic priority areas such as transport, logistics, energy, mining and agriculture. President U.Khurelsukh briefed that the plans are underway to establish a satellite city and develop free economic zone at Khushig Valley along the recently opened airport at the valley. In turn, President Moon Jae-in expressed readiness to share experience and cooperate in this direction. The sides stressed the need to further strengthen the legal environment to boost exports, increase investment and reduce trade barriers. Underlining that Mongolia's accession to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement has created more favorable trade conditions, they agreed to continue their efforts to launch the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) dialogues based on the results of the two countries' joint research. President U.Khurelsukh noted that the loans and grants that have been provided by the Republic of Korea over the past years have made a valuable contribution to the social and economic growth of Mongolia, while emphasizing the necessity of accelerating development projects - Solongo 1 and 2 apartment complexes, rent apartments by the Bayangol Mountain and central heating station for 10 rural aimags - in cooperation with the ROK government. The sides agreed to bolster cooperation in the fields of environment, green development, tourism, culture and arts, and creative cultural production. In this context, it was agreed to implement the third phase of the Mongolia-ROK joint project - 'Green Belt', while underscoring the project's significance in mitigating desertification and combating dust storms. It was also agreed to continue to realize scholarship programs, support the people-to-people exchanges, and further develop Mongol studies in South Korea and Korean studies in Mongolia. The leaders also expressed their satisfaction with the development of bilateral ties and cooperation despite the harsh time amid the pandemic. President U.Khurelsukh thanked the government of the Republic of Korea for providing assistance to help combat the pandemic. They also agreed to expand people-to-people exchanges to strengthen friendship and deepen mutual understanding, and continue to work together to protect the interests of Mongolian and South Korean citizens living and working in the two countries, and create favorable living and working conditions. The two sides also agreed to continue to work closely together in the international and regional arenas, emphasizing the importance of ensuring the stability of the Korean Peninsula in order to maintain peace and security in the Northeast Asian region. Moreover, both sides reaffirmed their mutual support for the 'Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Security in Northeast Asia', an initiative of Mongolia, and the 'Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Infectious Disease Control and Health Protection', spearheaded by the President of the Republic of Korea. ^ top ^

Prime Minister presents new revival policy of economy during the pandemic (Montsame)
2021-09-13
Today, September 13, a consultative meeting between the government, the private sector and investors on 'Intensifying economic recovery amid the pandemic' initiated by the President of Mongolia was held in the State House. The consultative meeting aims at hearing the views and initiatives of entrepreneurs and the private sector on the legal environment for economic recovery, fiscal reform, public-private partnerships, intensification of investment, and creation of a favorable business environment. During the meeting, Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene made a presentation 'A new revival policy to stimulate economy in a pandemic era'. At the beginning of his presentation, the Prime Minister briefed on the current international situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global transport and logistics crisis and delays, and stressed an importance to protect and support the economy along with protecting health during the pandemic. A new revival policy to stimulate economy in a pandemic era aims at ensuring political and macroeconomic stability, accelerating public-private partnerships, creating a favorable business environment, improving the environment for foreign and domestic investment, as well as implementing fiscal reforms. The PM said, "The government must look at it through the eyes of business people. We are trying to get rid of red tape through the digitalization of public services. It is important to improve the environment for foreign and domestic investment, maintain its stability and build a barrier-free environment." Moreover, the PM introduced about the fiscal reform. Within this frame, the reform towards increasing the efficiency, transparency, accountability and benefits of state-owned companies will be carried out. The 'from welfare-to-labor' reform aims at supporting low-income people and people, who are able to work, through the employment rather than welfare. Required financing will be resolved to reduce traffic congestion in the capital city, decentralize and ensure the urban and rural development balance. Adhering to a principle that the government will not perform functions, which can be executed by the private sector, it will move to a system where the government procures standard-quality-competition based services. The civil service structure will be reformed and salaries and social securities of civil servants will be improved through authorizing health, education, arts and culture and scientific organizations to spend total funding based on results, performance and quality. ^ top ^

 

Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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