Beijing ‘will not back down’ on Hong Kong’s political reform, says state newspaper

Zhang Dejiang (right) presides over the NPC Standing Committee, which is expected to decide how or whether Hong Kong will choose its own chief executive in 2017. Photo: Xinhua

The central government will not back down from its stance over Hong Kong’s political reform, and authorities can handle any street protests blocking roads in Hong Kong’s financial district, according to the Global Times.

The newspaper, a state-run newspaper known for its nationalistic stance, said the disruptions to society caused by the protests and the class boycott that some student groups have threatened to join would heighten tensions in the city, but backing down to the opposition was not an option, it said.

The Global Times made the remarks in an editorial on Tuesday, a day after the National People’s Congress Standing Committee kicked off a week-long meeting.

The meeting, scheduled to end on Sunday, will decide whether Hong Kong will choose its chief executive by direct election for the first time in 2017.

At the crux of the debate is whether Beijing will require aspirants to secure support from at least half of the nominating committee to be on the public ballot.

In addition, the more Hong Kong activists talk about using tactics of civil disobedience to press Beijing to heed demands for greater democracy, the more it would stand firm on its position, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the city’s sole representative on the standing committee, warned on Monday.

The editorial came a day after an article in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, said Beijing’s stance on political reform would not soften.

“It is widely expected that after the NPC decision comes out, the radical opposition in Hong Kong will very probably launch Occupy Central, and some students may also boycott class. The city’s stability would face unseen pressure,” the Global Times editorial said. “But we think the pressure must be handled by the country and Hong Kong,” it said. “The country has no other way to go. The future of Hong Kong’s political landscape will, to a large extent, depend on the result of this battle.”

If the civil disobedience campaigns lead to great social disorder and eventually the city’s competitiveness becomes compromised, the authorities will be ready to take forceful action, it said.

Student groups and the city’s pan-democratic parties have demanded that the public be able to nominate candidates for the city’s top post. A rejection by Beijing will trigger demonstrations by student activists, who are among the most radical advocates for democracy.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students said it was liaising with its affiliated student unions on a possible boycott of classes starting in a few weeks, if the NPC denies a genuine choice of candidates for chief executive in 2017.

“The opposition in Hong Kong harbours unrealistic fantasies that must be broken,” the editorial said. “As long as we are adamant not to let Hong Kong fall under the grip of the Western powers, the mainland and Hong Kong will have an inexhaustible supply of resources to push the radical opposition and their backers towards desperation.”

China’s second richest man, Zong Qinghou, calls for tax cuts to boost economic growth

Zong Qinghou has called for China’s income tax threshold to be raised from 3,500 yuan (about HK$4,400) to 10,000 yuan to boost people’s income. Photo: Bloomberg

China’s second richest man, Zong Qinghou, urged the government to cut taxes and spending to boost economic growth in an entrepreneurial forum on Saturday, predicting China’s economy would have another 20 years of rapid growth.

“Many small- and medium-sized enterprises cannot survive without tax evasion, which led 20 per cent of businesses to pay 90 per cent of the nation’s taxes,” Zong told a group of economists and entrepreneurs at Yabuli China Entrepreneurs Summer Summit, held in Zhengzhou, Henan province.

He suggested that the income tax threshold should be raised to 10,000 yuan (about HK$12,600) which would help to increase people’s income.

China’s current income tax threshold is 3,500 yuan.

Zong, 68 chairman of China’s leading beverage maker, Hangzhou Wahaha Group, whose products include bottled water, tea and the popular Nutri-Express milk-juice drink, said the government had never considered how to reduce taxation so as to increase ordinary people’s income.

The businessman, worth US$11.2 billion according to the latest Forbes China Rich List, said that the government “didn’t spend” the tax income on improving people’s livelihood, and, instead, too much of it was “wasted”.

He said that 51 per cent of the national revenue was spent on running the government.

Zong thought that China had “a huge contingent of public servants” and the government “should be more thrifty to lighten the burden on tax payers”.

Yet he said he was optimistic about China’s economic outlook, saying he believed the mainland’s rapid growth momentum would continue for another 20 years.

“We still have a lot to do,” Zong said. “For instance, we need to further develop things such as education, healthcare, culture and also the protection of the environment.”

However, he warned that continued heavy taxation could cause instability within Chinese society.

“If the nation is rich, but people are poor, the country cannot be strong and society will be unstable,” Zong said.

He added that the government’s expenditure on “maintaining stability” had “greatly exceeded” its revenues.

“If ordinary people’s income were increased, [everybody] would live a happy life and society would be stable,” he said. “There would be no need for [the government] to have to try to maintain stability.”

He emphasised the need for the government to carry out reforms on its administrative approval system for enterprises. He said the burdens placed on businesses today were actually heavier now [than before]. His Wahaha Group faced paying more than 400 different government administrative charges each year, he said.

Zong, who was ranked the second richest man in China last year but topped the list in 2012, has been a champion of tax cuts before. Last year he prescribed tax cuts and the breaking up of monopolies to help drive economic growth during the second half of the year.

Macau kicks off unofficial referendum on democracy

Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on, Chief Executive of Macau announces re-election bid. Photo: Dickson Lee

Activists in the Chinese casino capital of Macau kicked off an informal poll on Sunday to gauge support for democratic reforms, inspired by a similar vote in Hong Kong that had a big turnout but was denounced by Beijing as an illegal farce.

The former Portuguese colony, like nearby Hong Kong, is a semiautonomous Chinese region with a leader hand-picked by an elite Beijing-friendly committee.

The 400-member committee is widely expected to elect current leader Fernando Chui to another five-year term on Aug. 31, the same day that referendum organizers plan to release the poll results.

The only place in China where casinos are legal, Macau rakes in annual gambling revenue of $45 billion, dwarfing the money earned on the Las Vegas Strip. But social tensions have grown as the decade-long casino boom has widened inequality, strained resources and inflated housing prices in the city of about 600,000.

In May, 20,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate against a bill giving lavish retirement benefits to top officials, forcing the government to scrap it.

The three groups organizing the unofficial referendum, Macau Conscience, Macao Youth Dynamics and Open Macau Society, are taking their lead from Hong Kong democracy activists, who held a similar poll in June that drew nearly 800,000 votes and set the stage for a confrontation with Beijing over democratic reform.

Macau residents can cast votes online from Aug. 24 to 30.

On Sunday they can also go to five polling stations run by volunteers to have their say on two motions: whether they believe Macau’s leader should be directly elected in 2019, and whether they have confidence in incumbent Chui.

Hong Kong came back under Beijing’s control in 1997, and Macau followed two years later. Both are granted a high degree of control over their own affairs under the principle of “one country, two systems.” But unlike Hong Kong, there’s no provision in Macau’s mini-constitution for eventual full democracy.

Chinese jet ‘flew within 10 metres of US plane’

Rear Admiral John Kirby said the SU-27 (pictured) “conducted a dangerous intercept” of a US Navy P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft that was on a “routine” mission on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

The Pentagon accused a Chinese fighter jet of conducting a “dangerous intercept” of a US Navy aircraft off the coast of China in international airspace.

The Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Washington protested to the Chinese military through diplomatic channels, calling the fighter pilot’s actions “unsafe and unprofessional.”

At the White House, Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, called the intercept “a deeply concerning provocation” and suggested it could set back efforts to improve relations.

“What we’ve encouraged is constructive military-to-military ties with China, and this kind of action clearly violates the spirit of that engagement,” Rhodes told reporters.

Kirby said the maneuvering by the Chinese jet posed a risk to the safety of the US air crew, was “inconsistent with customary international law,” and complicates efforts to improve military-to-military relations, which are often strained.

Kirby said the Chinese jet made several close passes by the Navy P-8 Poseidon plane, coming within 30 feet (10 metres) of it at one point. He said the Chinese jet did a “barrel roll” maneuver over the top of the Poseidon at one point and also passed across the nose of the Navy plane, exposing the belly of the fighter in a way apparently designed to show that it was armed.

Kirby said it happened about 135 miles (215 kilometres) east of China’s Hainan Island. In 2001 a Chinese jet collided with a US Navy surveillance aircraft off Hainan Island, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing the Navy plane to make an emergency landing on the island.

The Navy’s P-8 Poseidon aircraft are designed for long-range missions including intelligence collection and reconnaissance.

Shared efforts blunt ISIL’s advance within Iraq: U. S. defense key

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) — U. S. airstrikes and military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish security forces have stalled the advance of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) makes around Erbil, Iraq, U. S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated on Thursday.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel attends a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., the United States, Aug. 21, 2014. "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is more than a traditional terrorist group. It is beyond anything we

ALL OF US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel attends a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, D. C., the United States, Aug. 21, 2014. “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is more than a traditional terrorist group. It is beyond anything we’ve noticed and poses a greater terrorism risk than Al Qaeda”, Hagel stated on Thursday. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

This assistance helped the Iraqis retake and hold the Mosul Dam, which, if breached, would have threatened the life of thousands of Iraqis as well as American personnel and facilities, Hagel stated during a news conference.

“The United States led an international effort to address the humanitarian crisis that will unfolded at Mount Sinjar, ” the secretary said. “As right now there continues to be an acute humanitarian require elsewhere in Iraq, the U. S. appreciates the partnership from the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy and Australia and the United Nations in helping supply relief. I expect more nations to step forward with more assistance within the weeks ahead. ”

While the airstrikes and other assistance made an opening for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to snatch back the initiative from ISIL makes, air attacks will not be enough to eliminate the terrorist organization from Iraq, Hagel said.

According to Hagel, the Defense Department is usually continuing to explore all options concerning ISIL, including continued assistance to moderate forces in Syria. And Leader Barack Obama’s request to Our elected representatives for 5 billion dollars to establish an antiterrorism fund included 500 million dollars for moderate Syrian opposition forces who are also battling ISIL.

The killing of reporter James Foley by ISIL forces is just one example from the ruthless, barbaric ideology of the group, he noted.

“ISIL militants continue to massacre and enslave blameless people and persecute Iraq’s Sunni, Shia and Kurdish and group populations, ” added the defense secretary.

Acknowledging the U. S. doesn’t have the luxury to publish ISIL off just because they’re working in far-off countries, Hagel stated the organization is absolutely an imminent risk to the safety of America and Europe.

S. African cabinet approves funding for combatting Ebola

Full coverage: Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) — The South African cabinet has further approved funding to support Ebola containment and prevent further spread of the virus to South Africa and other countries, it was announced on Thursday.

The funding, which amounts to 32.5 million rand (about 3 million U.S. dollars), will come from the African Renaissance Fund at the request of the Department of Health.

Part of the funding will be used to deploy the mobile laboratory in Sierra Leone, fund transport and accommodation for the team and training for health care workers, said Joe Maila, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

Maila was speaking at a press briefing in Pretoria after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday which was convened to discuss response to the Ebola threat.

The cabinet accepted the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) decision that South Africa be a center of excellence for training, laboratory diagnosis and clinical expertise, said Maila.

At its meeting of health ministers in Johannesburg earlier this month, the SADC designated South Africa as the center of excellence in Ebola laboratory diagnosis in the region.

Maila said the cabinet also established an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to deal with the coordination of the response.

South Africa has dispatched a medical team to Sierra Leone to assist in containing the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in that region.

The deployment is in response to an extended call from the World Health Organization, Global Outbreak Alert Response Network (WHO/GOARN) in aid of the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

Equipped with a sophisticated mobile laboratory, the team is set up close to Freetown, Sierra Leone and will serve to provide specialist diagnostic support in the efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak.

The team consists of four staff members of the Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases (CEZD) and includes a biosafety specialist and three laboratory staff.

Brother-in-law’s public appearance provides twist to Ling Jihua investigation

Ling Jihua’s career suffered a setback after allegations that he tried to cover up details of his son’s death in March 2012.

The brother-in-law of Ling Jihua, once a senior aide to former president Hu Jintao, showed up at a meeting in Yuncheng, Shanxi, providing an interesting twist to the possibility that Ling is under investigation for corruption.

Wang Jiankang, a deputy mayor of Yuncheng, re-emerged in public at a meeting chaired by the mayor on Monday and gave a briefing on the development of the city’s agricultural sector, Yuncheng Daily reported on Tuesday.

Some reports had previously suggested that Wang had been in custody since late June in connection with the investigation related to Ling, either to help with the inquiry, or to be directly implicated in it.

His appearance at the city meeting might mean he was assisting the investigation without being implicated, observers said.

“We still need to see how it will unfold. It seems nothing is certain at the moment. This is a strange period,” said Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan.

Ling was seen as a rising star and was expected to win promotion to the Communist Party Politburo because of his close relationship to Hu, but his career suffered a setback after allegations that he tried to cover up details of his son’s death in March 2012. His son, Ling Gu, died when a Ferrari he was driving crashed in Beijing.

In June, his brother Ling Zhengce was taken into custody over allegations of corruption.

Meanwhile, the party chief of Yuncheng, Wang Maoshe, was removed from office over corruption allegations in a meeting of the city’s party committee on Tuesday, online news portal The Paper reported.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as In-law provides twist to Ling investigation

Deng Xiaoping’s guiding principles are still in play today

When Xi Jinping had taken office two years ago, he began bending the country’s military muscles and asserting Chinese involvement in local affairs.

Several analysts wondered if he was breaking with Deng Xiaoping’s admonition that China should not attract interest and “lie low”, avoiding confrontation in foreign affairs to keep the nation focused on domestic matters.

Yet analysts and China watchers say the philosophy of Deng, who would have celebrated his 110th birthday today, still guides the nation’s foreign affairs – even when marketing China’s interests has been viewed simply by other state leaders as lovato. Indeed Xi’s style, some watchers note, takes cues from Deng.

Despite China’s moves to control, for example , the South China Sea, these watchers say the nation is not ready to be a global chief in security matters – the fact that costs of doing so are too high.

“What we are seeing these days is a China willing to be more proactive in achieving something it wants, such as defending claims in territorial disputes, ” said Taylor Fravel, associate professor of political technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the United States.

But its wish to dominate had limits, he mentioned. “International leadership is costly, and you can only lead internationally if you want to spend the cost for that. China is not ready to assume a leadership role in international affairs. It has its views, but it is not ready to be a chief in resolving problems. ”

Deng’s diplomatic strategy surfaced in the early 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, as China was trying to steady itself among an international furore over the bloody crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989. Faced with international hostility, Deng focused on developing the nation’s economy. Older officials in the two post-Deng organizations led by Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao reiterated Deng’s concepts.

 

“Some countries in the third world want China to be the leader, but we should not have to get, and this is the fundamental policy of our nation, ” said Deng — quoted in a party publication — while talking to officials in December 1990.

“We cannot be the leader, and we do not have enough power. ”

China launched a number of reforms that accelerated economic development. In 2001 – four many years after his death – the nation became a member of the World Trade Organisation and started expanding its influence overseas. It provided a one billion european loan to Hungary in 2011.

This May, Premier Li Keqiang pledged more than US$12 billion within a credit line and aid to The african continent to cover new technology and development of the high-speed railway. State media mentioned the money was on top of loans associated with US$20 billion to Africa already promised by Xi from 2013 to 2015.

In addition , Beijing has sharply increased the role in UN peacekeeping missions. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said China had less than 100 peacekeepers in 2000; the particular UN noted that, as of Come july 1st, the nation had deployed nearly 2, 200 civilian police, military observers, engineers and medical staff — mostly to work in Africa.

 

Deng stressed that China should prevent taking the lead in international politics, yet defended the nation when he believed its core interests were at stake, said Francois Godement, older policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

For example , Deng rejected Britain’s request in the 1980s to continue administering Hk, even as London acknow-ledged China’s sovereignty over the city after 1997.

In early 1979, China engaged in a brief war with Vietnam after Hanoi invaded Cambodia and conquered the murderous Khmer Rouge program, which Beijing had backed. Vietnam also occupied the Spratly Island destinations in the South China Sea, claimed by Beijing.

Deng, then vice-premier, had also developed more resistant to the Soviet Union’s authority. To prevent Moscow coming to Vietnam’s defence, Beijing massed its makes on the Sino-Soviet border. The Vietnamese-Cambodian conflict ended after Vietnam withdrew its forces in 1989.

Under Xi’s leadership, Beijing has began engaging more using its neighbours – sometimes in ways foreign nations have considered to be aggressive.

This week Xi is visiting Mongolia – the first trip presently there by a Chinese president in 11 years – where he is watching the signing of energy and infrastructure deals.

At times, the nation appears to want to lead the region diplomatically. At a May security meeting in Shanghai, Xi called for a community forum for Asian nations to discuss defence issues that did not include the US, stating Asia’s security must be handled simply by Asians.

Yet that will suggestion came after a number of techniques seen as provoking less-powerful nations, as well as the US. Last November, Beijing created an air defence identification zone over the East China Sea, that has begun requiring flight plans and two-way radio contact with Chinese professionals.

The US and Japan – which claims the Eastern China Sea – accused China of stoking tensions.

More worryingly for many foreign leaders, China has asserted its control of the South China Sea, brushing aside the claims of others in the region. That has led to protests by a number of its neighbours. The Philippines recently accused China of carrying out a good “expansionist agenda” and ignoring a global arbitration effort to settle the states.

In May, Beijing installed an oil rig near the Paracel Islands, prompting a stand-off between China and Vietnam. The move led to anti-Chinese riots in southern Vietnam that claimed at least three deaths, Vietnam reported (China claimed four), and confrontations at ocean between Vietnamese fishing boats and Chinese vessels; China’s media showed Xi visiting Chinese troops and officials, and urging soldiers to get “combat ready”.

Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, said China’s rapid economic growth had increased the nation’s confidence, so that it was a lot more assertive in its territorial demands and making its voice heard internationally.

 

China’s power plays have also achieved the financial arena. Last month, Beijing positioned itself as a major player in providing alternative funding to emerging markets by spending the largest share of US$41 billion dollars to a development bank newly formed simply by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Analysts said the New Growth Bank would rival the Global Monetary Fund and World Financial institution, dominated by Europe and the ALL OF US.

Cai Fangbai, China’s ambassador to France in 1990, said the nation would stick to the “lie low” plan in creating policy because China saw itself being a developing nation; its per capita gross domestic product is now about US$6, 800, compared to about US$37, 000 in Japan.

“We are not becoming a leader and China still needs to focus the strengths on economic development, ” said Cai, a member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Committee under the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “China still has to seek its own development and enhance its own strengths. ”

Fravel said for China to determine a leadership role, it would have to minimise the impact of the ALL OF US in the Asia Pacific region, and be willing to pay a huge cost, like stationing troops abroad.

Chu Shulong, deputy director of the Institute of International Strategic and Development Studies at Tsinghua College, said China had acknowledged the particular mounting requests for it to become a lot more involved in international security with its increasing economic and military power.

Indeed, US President Barack Obama criticised China for being the “free rider” in a New York Times job interview on August 10, saying Beijing had failed to help resolve global security issues, referring to the continuous insurgency crisis in Iraq.

“On one hand, some people want China to play a more prominent role, ” Obama said. “But whenever China takes up its role and gets involved, there are people stating China is challenging the US and modifying world order. ”

Still, some scholars and officials have pressed China to develop a new diplomatic strategy that clearly identifies what kind of power it intends to become.

Wang Jianwei, teacher of government and public administration at the University of Macau, who has written on Deng’s diplomatic theory, said there was no reason for China to stick to Deng’s directives.

“It is really time intended for China to present to the world a new foreign policy direction, clearly defining how it positions itself and how it wants to be seen by other nations, ” he said.

“China has to admit modifications. Not many people will be convinced that a nation can keep its foreign policy direction unchanged for two decades. ”

 

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print release as Deng’s guiding principles

SOE chiefs could be next target associated with anti-graft campaign

SOE chiefs could be next target associated with anti-graft campaign

Xi acquired vowed to eliminate extravagance expenses attached to senior positions at SOEs and also to cut salaries.

State media have began to roll out articles lambasting the high-class lives of senior executives with state-owned enterprises (SOEs) – an obvious indication, observers say, that Chief executive Xi Jinping not only plans to cut their perks, but will make them the next target of his anti-graft campaign.

In an post yesterday, Xinhua gave a list of SOE executives and their perks, including extravagant meals, fancy cars plus games of golf. Xi acquired vowed at a meeting on Monday to eliminate these kind of expenses attached to senior positions at SOEs and to cut salaries.

The article mentioned: “Some executives have enjoyed liberties ranging from clothing, meals, homes plus travel to recreational activities in the name of job-related expenditures. ”

Zhu Lijia, a professor of public policy at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said SOE executives were generally paid more than government officials. “They are both public servants. Why should 1 get much higher pay? ” he said. “Taking advantage of public resources is also corruption. ”

China News Service reported recently that provincial governments had lately rolled out their own reform programs for SOEs, including specific benchmarks to keep executives’ salaries “reasonable”.

It noted that open public discontent over high salaries with SOEs was mounting, and has been directed at the monopolised sectors in particular, where high pay levels were deemed particularly unjustified.

Andy Yao Shaohua, senior economist at Hang Seng Bank, mentioned reform in this area was related to the particular continuing campaign against corruption. “The major issue is that many officials possess spent too much public money in the name of work. Banquets and travelling out of the companies’ purses should be strictly limited, ” he said.

According to Xinhua, the approximate 250 A-share companies linked to the government spent a combined total of 6. 5 billion yuan (HK$8. two billion) on receptions in 2012. And in Shandong province, nearly half of company expenditure by all 32 from the SOE chiefs under the provincial federal government was spent on vehicles.

A commentary in yesterday’s People’s Daily by Jin Bei, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, argued that unlike regular companies, in which the goal is to maximise profits, SOEs are set up to operate in the open public interest, and executives’ salaries should be in line with that.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition since SOE chiefs’ fancy cars plus meals in spotlight