5th Plenary Session; Trans-Pacific Partnership; Nobel Prize in Psychology/Medicine; Operation Sky Net; Repatriation; Zhou Yongkang; Tianjin blast; Donald Tsang; University of Hong Kong; Academic freedom; Presidential election; Kuomintang; Hung Hsiu-chu.
The 5th Plenary Session of 18th Central Committee of the CCP
- The 5th Plenary Session of 18th Central Committee of the CCP was confirmed to be held in late October 2015 and expected to talk about the next 5-year plan for economic development and the issue of party’s personnel change.
- //The Central Committee, the decision-making body of China’s Communist Party, said the meeting would be held from October 26 to 29. The party is expected to approve a draft of the national economic and social development programme from 2016 to 2020 during the meeting. The full plan will then be put to the National People’s Congress for rubberstamping in March, before each region and industry comes up with its own plan with more details.// Source: SCMP, 12 October 2015
- //根據早些時候的中國官方報道披露，中共十八屆五中全會主要議程是，中共中央政治局向中央委員會報告工作，研究關於制定國民經濟和社會發展第十三個五年規劃（「十三五規劃」，2016-2020）的建議。[…] 自中共在2014年10月召開十八屆四中全會以來，已經有多名中共中央委員及中共中央候補委員落馬，其中最引人注目的是前中共中央統戰部部長令計劃，他在今年7月20日更被開除了黨籍。預料，十八屆五中全會將正式宣佈撤銷令計劃的中央委員資格。事實上，從中共十八大召開至今，總共有7名中央委員落馬，十八屆四中全會遞補了其中3人，另外11名中央候補委員落馬，3人遞補為中央委員。故此，無論是中央委員還是中央候補委員，目前均有空缺。// Source: BCC (Chinese Edition), 12 October 2015
A new regional free-trade deal without China: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- On 06 October 2015, 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific have historically reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which promotes regional free trade among the signatories. The TPP, however, has excluded China as well as Hong Kong for the time being.
- //There are 12 countries involved: the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru. The pact is aimed at deepening economic ties between these nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth. Member countries are also hoping to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulation. The agreement could create a new single market like that in Europe. […] The 12 countries have a collective population of about 800 million – almost double that of the European Union’s single market. The 12-nation would-be bloc is already responsible for 40% of world trade.// Source: BBC, 08 October 2015
- The TPP propelled by the United States has covered a wide range of issues, including reducing tariffs and quotas, setting environmental, labour and intellectual property standards, allowing free flow of data on the Internet, opening opportunities for services industries, etc. For details, please see a brief note from New York Times. While it was seen as a hallmark victory for President Barack Obama internationally, domestic opponents to the deal, including Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the presidential candidacy of the Democratic Party, accused the deal of encouraging export of jobs.
- //The product of 10 years of negotiations, the agreement is a hallmark victory for President Obama who has pushed for a foreign-policy “pivot” to the Pacific rim. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership now takes center stage on Capitol Hill, where it remains politically divisive. In June, Mr. Obama successfully overcame opposition from Democrats to win trade promotion authority: the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress. He must now convince Congress — his fellow Democrats, in particular — to approve the trade deal. […] Supporters say it would be a boon for all the nations involved, that it would “unlock opportunities” and “address vital 21st-century issues within the global economy,” and that it is written in a way to encourage more countries, possibly even China, to sign on. Passage in Congress is one of President Obama’s final goals in office, but he faces stiff opposition from nearly all of his fellow Democrats. Opponents in the United States see the pact as mostly a giveaway to business, encouraging further export of manufacturing jobs to low-wage nations while limiting competition and encouraging higher prices for pharmaceuticals and other high-value products by spreading American standards for patent protections to other countries. A provision allowing multinational corporations to challenge regulations and court rulings before special tribunals is drawing intense opposition.// Source: New York Times, 05 October 2015
- Analysts pointed out that the impact of China-excluded TPP could be negative to China and Hong Kong.
- //Beijing and Hong Kong are grappling with the impact of a Washington-led free-trade agreement that could deal a blow to their respective economies and shave 2.2 per cent off the mainland’s GDP, according to a Chinese economist. People’s Bank of China research bureau chief economist Ma Jun made the forecast in joint research published by the official Shanghai Securities News yesterday, a day after Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said Beijing would “evaluate comprehensively” the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that excludes Beijing. […] A spokeswoman of Hong Kong’s Trade and Industry Department said Hong Kong welcomed and supported regional initiatives in free trade. Federation of Hong Kong Industries honorary chairman Stanley Lau Chin-ho said the deal might speed up the migration of Hong Kong factories from the mainland to TPP member countries such as Vietnam and Brunei. “The trade deal is unfavourable to Hong Kong,” he said. “But it’s not the end of the world.” Lau said the central government should improve the mainland’s operating environment to lift its competiveness, which has been eroded by rising wages, more demanding labour rules and industrial reform.// Source: SCMP, 09 October 2015
- The US President Barack Obama made it clear that the deal was to set the standard for international trade according to American values. Despite such statement, membership of TPP remains open to China.
- //US President Barack Obama took a dig at China on Saturday as he defended the new TPP Pacific Rim free-trade deal, which excludes Beijing. In his weekly address to the nation, Obama said the 12-country accord concluded this week after five years of negotiations features the strongest labour and environmental standards in history, which he said will level the field in international trade. Once approved by all the signatories, the TPP could be the largest regional trade pact ever. “Without this agreement, competitors that don’t share our values, like China, will write the rules of the global economy,” Obama said. “They’ll keep selling into our markets and try to lure companies over there, meanwhile they’re going to keep their markets closed to us.”// Source: SCMP, 10 October 2015
- //While acknowledging such a pact would inevitably divert some trade and investment away from China, Beijing would assess comprehensively its potential once the official agreements were reached, Gao Hucheng, China’s trade minister, said in a [sic] interview with state media posted on the ministry’s website www.mofcom.gov.cn late on Thursday. “The United States and the TPP members have repeatedly said that TPP does not target China, and it’s not intended to deter or exclude China,” Gao was quoted as saying.// Source: SCMP, 08 October 2015
- Caixin’s Editorial, which reflects one of the Chinese points of view, argued that China did not need to fear the TPP but could join it at wish as any free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific would lack significance without China as the second largest economy in the world.
- //It is true that the TPP is more comprehensive and has higher standards than existing multilateral trade agreements. It is not only intended to lower or eliminate tariffs, but also encourages good governance policies aimed at leveling the playing field for all its trade partners. On top of that, it sets higher standards for the environment, intellectual property and labor protections. It has stringent requirements on state-owned companies that countries like Japan might not able to meet, not to mention China, where the state sector still weighs heavily on the economy. […] Whether China should join the TPP is an issue that has been hotly debated. Some have predicted that frictions among signatory countries will slow its progress. But as a growing number of countries in the region have joined or expressed interest in joining, some in China now argue that many bilateral trade agreements Beijing has signed with other nations will offset the impact of the TPP. Others say that since the U.S.-led effort was designed to contain and isolate China, Washington will be determined to keep China out no matter what efforts it makes. But these conspiracy theories fall short because even some TPP members acknowledge that an agreement without China will lack far-reaching significance. As the world’s second-largest economy, China stands more of a chance than many other countries to get involved in TPP negotiations if it wants, because of its enormous clout in global trade.// Source: Caixin, 14 October 2015
- Jane Perlez also summarized various comments on TPP’s implications for China, the United States and the Asian region.
- //The pact still must win approval in Congress, and analysts said the economic effects may be less sweeping than Washington predicts. But the mere fact that President Obama delivered on his pledge to close the deal came as a relief to allies in Asia. It was seen as a counterweight to China’s efforts to expand its influence not just in trade but in other areas, including its island-building in the disputed South China Sea and the establishment of a new regional development bank to compete with Western-led institutions. […] In China, where the government’s initial opposition to the trade pact has softened recently, the Ministry of Commerce issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the accord was “one of the important free trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific region.” Early in the negotiations, Beijing criticized the pact as an American effort to contain China, an argument that is still frequently heard from Chinese analysts. […] Although the conclusion of the negotiations were broadly welcomed among America’s friends in Asia, the United States should not view Asian nations as wanting to decide between Washington and Beijing, Mr. Kausikan said.“No one sees the TPP as an alternative to China,” he said. “The U.S. is important, and China is important. We’re capable of doing things simultaneously. China is a huge economic factor that cannot be wished away.”// Source: New York Times, 09 October 2015
- Analysts, such as Barry Naughton and Arthur R. Kroeber, also offered their views on the China File:
- Barry Naughton: //Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a big deal, in all senses of the word. It is the most important trade deal negotiated in over 20 years, and it also represents a new effort to agree on a range of “behind the border” regulatory issues that go well beyond traditional trade issues. […] What does TPP mean for China? Until about three years ago, China routinely denounced the TPP, holding that it was part of an effort to contain China. However, China has more recently dropped its blanket opposition, and taken a more nuanced “wait and see” attitude. On a number of occasions, Chinese spokesmen have indicated that although they were not ready to meet the demanding requirements of a potential TPP agreement today, they might be ready and willing to join in a few years. […] First, the TPP shows the U.S. and Japan exercising leadership, stepping out ahead of the global community in their willingness to negotiate a new set of rules and obligations. This dynamism presents challenges to China. […] Second, the TPP shifts economic balances and alliances within Asia. The TPP greatly increases the likelihood that Japanese Prime Minister Abe will carry through on Japanese economic reforms, therefore making economic revival there more likely. […] Third, TPP increases the pressures within China for more decisive economic reforms. China launched the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) two years ago, partly in order to pilot measures of external liberalization that would be useful in a new round of reform. The possibility that TPP would be agreed to was a consideration, and part of the impetus for the Shanghai FTZ. However, the FTZ has so far under-performed expectations. Now, the TPP will present Zone officials with a clear benchmark of world “best practice.”//Source: China File Conversation, 06 October 2015
- Arthur R. Kroeber: // For the most part I concur with Barry about the scale and importance of the TPP, and the challenges it poses for China both economically and strategically. I’m not sure I agree, though, that it will do much to “reduce Chinese economic preponderance” in the region. That preponderance is driven by China’s sheer size, its continued growth—which though slower than in the past is still faster than that of most other Asian economies—and its increasing centrality in global supply chains. Moreover China has its own strategy for increasing its influence, through the infrastructure projects under the “Belt and Road” umbrella, which will be funded by Chinese policy banks and the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Moreover, the TPP illustrates a dilemma for U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific. […] This stance is borderline incoherent, and it’s understandable why many Chinese see it as duplicitous. Washington’s words are all about constructive engagement, but its deeds mostly smack of containment. At the root is a deep ambivalence about whether or not the U.S. should accept China as an equal. […] For the moment, China and the U.S. still mostly conduct their relations on a basis of economic pragmatism rather than strategic rivalry. But the ground is rapidly shifting. The completion of the TPP sharpens the question of how the U.S. and China will share power in the Asia-Pacific, but provides no answer.// Source: China File Conversation, 06 October 2015
Nobel Prize in Physiology/ Medicine for a Chinese for the first time
- Ms. Tu Youyou (屠呦呦), a veteran Chinese medical researcher who became the latest winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, first time for a Chinese in this category.
- //Tu, who has a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Peking University and is not a member of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been criticised by some mainland scientists for not crediting her team. The 85-year-old researcher won the prize for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against malaria, according to a statement issued by the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet. When efforts to eradicate malaria failed and the disease was on the rise in late 1960s, Tu turned to traditional herbal medicine to tackle the scourge. Tu was the first to show that a component extracted from the plant Artemisia annua, later called artemisinin, was highly effective against the disease, it said. The secret, military-backed project was supported by the top leadership including Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai , partly to combat the disease at home and partly to answer a call for help from North Vietnam.// Source: SCMP, 05 October 2015
- Despite the fact that Ms. Tu Youyou is the first Chinese to receive Nobel Prize in this category, the Nobel Prize Committee emphasized that this was not a prize for Chinese Traditional Medicine. Liu changhua (柳长华), a professor at China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (中医科学院), did not agree that it was a western recognition of Chinese medicine. The clash between the two medical schools of thought continued.
- //“我亦喜亦忧，”中医科学院教授柳长华说。“我很高兴这种药物挽救了生命，但如果这是中医未来的必走之路，我觉得很悲伤。”他说，这是因为屠呦呦的方法，与西方制药企业从全球各地的传统药典中寻找新药的方法，几乎没有差异。[…] “我们真的尊重这种文化遗产吗？”柳长华说。“当我们认为中药需要现代化的时候，中药的发展路子要像屠呦呦一样，我认为这是一种不尊重。” […] 共产党在1949年执政时，中国几乎没有西医医院。几年后，毛泽东宣布，“中国医药是一个伟大的宝库。”但与这一赞誉一同到来的还有告诫：中医必须现代化。这意味着要成立中医院、学校，以及像北京的中国中医科学院这样的研究机构。但资金却大量流向了西医。在毛泽东时代，被称作“赤脚医生”的农村医疗工作者常常是中医，这一点提升了中医的声望。毛泽东去世后，随着国家日渐繁荣，政府更是对西医寄予厚望。如今，中国有110万名西医执业医生，而中医只有186947名。在全国的23095家医院中，只有2889家中医医院，《2013中国卫生统计年鉴》显示。 “它是这个国家的一部分，但中国又把自己定义成了一个与科学联系得非常紧密的现代国家，”伦敦威斯敏斯特大学(University of Westminster)的人类学者蒋熙德(Volker Scheid)说。“所以就造成了冲突。”// Source: New York Times (Chinese edition), 13 October 2015
Anti-graft campaign continues in and outside China
- Zhan Zaisheng (詹再生), a fugitive who fled China, was repatriated from Malaysia back to China on 11 October 2015. Another fugitive Yang Jinjun (杨进军) was also repatriated from the U.S. back to China on 18 September 2015 before President Xi’s visit. They were also among the 100 persons wanted on the Red Notice of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) as requested by China. Since April 2015, China launched a programme named the Operation Sky Net (天网行动) as new initiatives to catch fugitives who ran overseas. One of the issues of these arrests is neither Malaysia nor the United States has signed repatriation agreement with China. For clarifications on the legal implications of the deportation of a Chinese citizen from the US, see Jerome Cohen and Donald Clarke’s contributions in ChinaFile Conversation.
- //The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said yesterday that Malaysian police had detained former banking official Zhan Zaisheng. […] Zhan allegedly profited from illegally raised funds involving more than 680 million yuan (HK$830 million). He worked at the Agricultural Bank of China in Fuqing county, Fujian. […] China has signed extradition treaties with 39 nations, but not Malaysia. The government launched operation “Sky Net” in April to go after suspects who had fled China, often taking large sums of money with them. The operation is part of an anti-corruption campaign launched by President Xi Jinping after he assumed power in 2013. One component of Sky Net involves a nationwide operation to cut off illegal money transfers to overseas fugitives. Suspects usually transfer money to the domestic accounts of underground banks, who then ask their overseas partners to put the equivalent amount in designated accounts in foreign currencies, bypassing regulators.// Source: SCMP, 11 October 2015
- // The US government has repatriated one of Beijing’s most wanted fugitives to China ahead of a state visit by President Xi Jinping , a sign of improving cooperation between the two countries that raises hopes more such repatriations may follow. Yang Jinjun, 57, who is suspected of bribery and corruption and fled to the United States in 2001, was listed as a wanted person by the Chinese government this year. Yang, a native of Wenzhou, was general manager and legal representative of Minghe Group before fleeing the country in 2001. He is the first of 100 targets whose names were made public by the government in April to be forcibly repatriated to China by the US government, according to a statement released by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Friday. […] In April, the CCDI released a list of 100 fugitives it wanted returned to China as part of its “Sky Net” anti-graft operation. A red notice appeals for the location and arrest of each wanted person, and asks those member states that have signed up to the organisation, which facilitates international police cooperation, to extradite them. // Source: SCMP, 18 September 2015
- Meanwhile, other former officials Wang Yongchun (王永春), Guo Yongxiang (郭永祥) and Ji Wenlin (冀文林) related to Zhou Yongkang (周永康) were tried and sentenced by court for graft. The state-run media referred them as the ‘oil gang’. For detail of the background of anti-graft campaign since the presidency of Xi Jinping, please see CEFC’s former News Analysis by Samson Yuen. For a spider map that depicts Zhou’s intricate networks and overlapping interests, please see the Interactive Graphic prepared by Canxin.
- //Two former aides of China’s disgraced security tsar Zhou Yongkang were each jailed for 20 years for graft yesterday, following the sentencing of his two key allies on Monday. Wang Yongchun, former deputy general manager of oil giant China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), was found guilty of taking 48 million yuan in bribes over more than a decade, possessing assets he could not account for, and abusing his position. He was fined 2 million yuan (HK$2.45 million). […] Meanwhile, Guo Yongxiang – a former deputy governor of Sichuan province – was found guilty of receiving more than 43 million yuan in bribes, largely through his family network, between 2001 and 2013. Guo also had significant assets he could not source and was fined 2 million yuan. He cooperated with the investigation, and received a reduced sentence, said a court in Yichang city, also in Hubei. […] The dismantling of Zhou’s former power network continues further with the graft trial of Ji Wenlin, the former vice-governor of Hainan province and once a staunch ally. Ji is accused of illicitly receiving more than 20.4 million yuan in assets and bribes between 2002 and 2013, Xinhua said. He worked under Zhou when the latter was the party boss of Sichuan and also when he became security minister. A Tianjin court began trying the case yesterday. Zhou was sentenced to life imprisonment in June.// Source: SCMP, 13 October 2015
- On 07 October 2015, the former Fujian governor, Su shulin (苏树林) was under investigation for corruption related to his former position as the general manager of Sinopec, China’s largest oil refiner. He is the first incumbent provincial governor being sacked. Professor Bo Zhiyue, Director of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre (NZCCRC), pointed out that Su’s downfall may not be directly related to Zhou Yongkang, but he may have collaborated with some of Zhou’s close associates.
- //Fujian governor Su Shulin, once a rising star in China’s graft-ridden oil sector, is under investigation for corruption reportedly related to his tenure as the head of a state-owned oil giant, according to separate sources and reports. Su’s downfall, announced late on Wednesday night, was related to problems uncovered by the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s internal graft watchdog, during their inspection of Sinopec in November, a source close to CCDI told the Post. The mainland’s Caxin [sic] financial media group also carried a report, citing several sources. Su was the general manager of Sinopec, China’s largest oil refiner, from 2007 to 2011 before becoming a top Fujian official. CCDI inspectors found Su, 53, had helped a relative’s company secure Sinopec’s oil depot project in the Yangpu Economic Development Zone in Hainan province, Caixin said. Sinopec had also paid for Su’s wife’s shopping trips to Hong Kong, inspectors found. Su’s career spans more than two decades in the oil sector, among the hardest hit by the anti-corruption campaign launched by President Xi Jinping almost three years ago. The campaign had brought down a slew of senior oil industry executives, many of them linked to disgraced former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, himself a veteran of three decades in the sector. State-run media have referred to the officials as the “oil gang”. […] His time at CNPC overlapped that of Jiang Jiemin, another disgraced former top executive at the company who was named director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission in March, 2013. Jiang appeared in a Hubei court on bribery charges in April. A decision in that case is still pending.// Source: SCMP, 07 October 2015
- //After Xi Jinping had secured his position as the heir to President Hu Jintao in 2010, Su was transferred to Fujian in March 2011. He was made acting governor in the next month and became governor in July of that year. He was elected as a full member of the 18th Central Committee in November 2012. At the age of 50, working as the governor of Fujian, a province where the new Party boss had worked for more than 17 years, Su seemed to have a bright political future ahead. Nevertheless, without any prior warning, his political career ended suddenly. […] According to the newspaper of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the timely news release on Su’s downfall is highly praise-worthy: the move has a strong deterrent effect on the one hand and is extremely popular among the party members and among the people on the other. Consistent with Xi’s statement that his anti-corruption campaign is not about power struggles, the Chinese official media has mostly dismissed Su’s connections with Zhou Yongkang, the former Politburo Standing Committee member who spent most of his early career in the petroleum industry. There is some truth in this assessment. Although the two worked in the same industry for 12 years, they had no overlap in their careers. Zhou Yongkang was deputy general manager and general manager of the China National Petroleum Corporation from 1988 to 1998 but he was transferred to the Ministry of Land and Resource in March 1998. Ten months later, Su began his tenure as deputy general manager of the China National Petroleum Corporation. Yet Su must have worked very closely with some of Zhou’s associates in the same industry. Most importantly, the fact that Su is the first incumbent governor to be sacked for corruption in China and that he is from Fujian province, Xi’s old stomping grounds, has sent a clear signal to governors of other provinces that Xi is determined to terminate corruption in the Party.// Source: The Diplomat, 13 October 2015
- The high-profiled prosecution of former CCP officials was said related to the upcoming CCP meeting in late October.
- //北京時間10月12、13日接連兩天，原周永康秘書、四川省人大常委會副主任郭永祥；中石油原副總經理王永春；中共國資委原主任蔣潔敏；四川省委原副書記李春城被密集宣判。 […] 北京觀察人士認為：此次五中全會重要節點，當局有意釋放重要信號，上述看似毫不相關的兩條消息實際上關聯頗深，美國《紐約時報》也認為“中國共產黨通常在重要會議前夕公布犯罪判決”。據報，這四人都是周永康的重要親信，周永康是中共66年以來因貪腐而被判刑的中共最高級別官員，一度震驚海內外，他的落馬甚至打破了“刑不上大夫”的潛規則，周永康被指浸淫石油系統多年，蔣潔敏和王永春是“石油幫”重要成員，李春城和郭永祥是“四川幫”。外界有評論將李春城、郭永祥、李崇禧視作周永康勢力在四川的三個棋子，而這其中又以圍繞李春城形成的官商關係網最為龐大。周永康曾在政法系統深耕多年，並長期插手石油和政法系統以及四川官場，建立了龐大的“獨立王國”，其中又以政法委對抗胡錦濤形成“第二權力中央”，而政法系統的反人類罪最為國際社會聚焦。但伴隨着習近平當局反腐的深入，多年處心積慮的帝國砰然倒塌。繼周永康2015年6月11日被判處無期徒刑后，其心腹舊部也相繼面臨終結審判。// Source: Vision Times, 14 October 2015
Another blast in Tianjin since August
- An explosion took place at a warehouse in Tianjin on 12 October 2015, 2 months after the widely reported explosion happened in Tianjin in August. For the background, please see CEFC’s previous Press Highlights. Reports on the blast were again censored.
- //A fire consumed a warehouse in the Chinese city of Tianjin late Monday, the state news media reported. While no casualties were reported, the episode took place two months after explosions at a chemical storage depot in another part of the city killed at least 165 people. In a scene reminiscent of that blast on Aug. 12, social media sites in China showed videos of a large fireball lighting up the sky in Tianjin. Firefighters received an alarm at 9:46 p.m. on Monday, responding to a fire in a warehouse storing ammonia and alcohol, the Beijing News reported. The fire was under control by midnight, the newspaper reported, citing a local government announcement. A witness told the newspaper that there had not been a blast, though several other accounts in the Chinese news media described the fire as an explosion. The August explosions at a warehouse that stored hazardous chemicals leveled part of Tianjin’s port district and exposed a system of lax enforcement of safety rules and political cronyism that has accompanied China’s rapid industrialization. Monday’s fire occurred in the Beichen district, an area far closer to the urban core of Tianjin.// Source: New York Times, 12 October 2015
- //The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.
- “All news websites are strictly forbidden from hyping the warehouse explosion in Tianjin’s Beichen District. Content which seizes the opportunity to attack the Party, the government, or the social system will be investigated and lead to punishment [of the source]. Delete such content immediately. (October 13, 2015) [Chinese]”
- A chemical warehouse in Xiditou Village, Tianjin erupted into flames on Monday night, just two months after chemical explosions in another part of the port city claimed 165 lives. No casualties have been reported.// Source: China Digital Times, 13 October 2015
Former Chief Executive prosecuted by anti-graft agency in Hong Kong
- The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) prosecuted former Chief Executive of Hong Kong Donald Tsang over charges of public misconduct after more than 3 years of investigation. He is the highest former official ever prosecuted in Hong Kong.
- //He is accused of approving a licensing bid by Digital Broadcasting Corporation – a radio station of which penthouse owner Bill Wong Chor-bau is a major shareholder – and of proposing the flat’s interior designer for nomination to the city’s top honours. The first charge alleged that between November 2, 2010 and January 20, 2012, Tsang, without reasonable excuse, failed to tell Exco he was in talks with Wong, a major shareholder of Wave Media, to lease the penthouse at East Pacific Garden. Tsang allegedly approved applications by Wong’s company – later renamed DBC – for a digital broadcasting licence, the surrender of its AM radio licence, and the appointment of Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as DBC director and board chairman. […] The second charge accuses Tsang of suggesting that interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai be nominated under the city’s honours and awards system between December 2010 and July 2011. He allegedly did not tell the then permanent secretary for the Chief Executive’s Office, Development Bureau and Honours and Non-official Justices of the Peace Selection Committee that Ho was tasked with the flat’s design.// Source: SCMP, 05 October 2015
- //Former justice minister Elsie Leung Oi-sie held out the prosecution of ex-leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen as proof that the status of chief executive is not above the law, and backed calls yesterday for a rethink of whether anti-bribery laws should fully apply to Hong Kong’s top official. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, whose position was recently described by Beijing’s top representative in the city as “transcending all three branches of government”, refused to make such a commitment, but he denied any political consideration in the decision to charge Tsang after 3 1/2 years of investigation.// Source: SCMP, 06 October 2015
- Ng Chi Sum (吴志森) argued that the prosecution was motivated by political consideration. He speculated that the prosecution could be a Beijing’s warning to the civil servants in Hong Kong. He also argued that the prosecution is of selective nature as other cases of higher severity against current government officials were not treated as equal to Tsang’s case.
- //法律界人士指出，要證明公職人員行為失當，比以防賄條例入罪的門檻低得多，是以此罪檢控的最大理由。但公職人員涉及利益而沒有申報，回歸後又豈止一宗。董建華年代的前財政司長梁錦松稅前買車，沒有申報。梁振英年代的行政會議前成員林奮強辣招前賣樓，沒有申報。發展局長陳茂波家族在新界東北發展區屯地，沒有申報。行政長官梁振英收受澳洲企業5000萬港元顧問費，也沒有申報。上述案件，都涉及赤裸裸的金錢利益，比曾蔭權案明顯而嚴重，但他們至今仍相安無事，林奮強陳茂波案廉署最後終止調查決定不予起訴，梁振英案至今無聲無息。[…] 唐英年落選特首，許仕仁鋃鐺入獄，曾蔭權被廉署檢控，有說是要整肅曾慶紅、廖暉時代的治港核心，也有說是因為公務員在佔中運動裏立場不夠堅定，炒掉管公務員的鄧國威，控告前朝特首曾蔭權，是中央要向公務員示警，產生震懾作用，政治忠誠是考驗公務員的最高標準。[…]有人為曾蔭權終獲起訴而歡呼，有輿論指「法治機制健康有效」、「法律面前人人平等」。有人為曾蔭權終獲起訴而歡呼，有輿論指「法治機制健康有效」、「法律面前人人平等」。如果真的如此美好，那麼林奮強呢？陳茂波呢？梁振英自己呢？終審法院前首席大法官李國能防賄條例「刑上行政長官」的建議，至今仍落實無期，「無人可以凌駕法律」的說法，實在高興得太早了。// Source: Initium, 07 October 2015
Dispute over HKU’s pro-vice chancellorship appointment
- 2,000 HKU students and staff joined silent march to protest Chan Man-mun’s rejection from the pro-vice-chancellor post on 07 October 2015. Later on 09 October 2015, thousands of HKU alumni and people concerned gathered at HKU and protested against the decision to reject the appointment.
- //The turnout was estimated at a sizeable 2,000 – and yet some junior employees of the University of Hong Kong were absent during yesterday’s silent march of staff members and students to defend institutional autonomy. Fears that dabbling in politics might hamper promotional prospects kept lower-ranked employees away, according to senior academics who took part. […] Rally organiser Professor Timothy O’Leary, head of HKU’s school of humanities, demanded the council explain its decision. “There has been a slow and steady campaign going on in the council,” he said. “HKU is in a crisis of governance. The chairman must address the [appointment] issue immediately.” O’Leary said Hong Kong’s chief executive should no longer be the chancellor of all the city’s publicly funded universities. An HKU spokesman said the university “respected the freedom of university members to express their views and participate in social affairs”.// Source: SCMP, 07 October 2015
- //More than a thousand students, alumni and teachers joined a protest at Hong Kong University Friday evening as anger mounts over political interference in the city’s education system. […] Protesters Friday were dressed in black and gathered around a stage set up outside the university library. […] On Thursday, academic staff from across the city’s universities and higher education institutions launched a new group — the Scholars’ Alliance for Academic Freedom (SAAF). They said it would “pay close attention” to academic freedoms in Hong Kong and examine any violations. “Academic freedom can only exist through perpetual awareness, insistence and collective work,” it said in a statement. […] Once a British colony, Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 under a deal which guaranteed the retention of its civil liberties and capitalist lifestyle for 50 years. But teachers report increasing self-censorship over political issues for fear of losing jobs.// Source: Hong Kong Free Press, 09 October 2015
- Professor John Carty, a former member of HKU’s Law Faculty, agreed that the HKU council was obviously influenced by political consideration, but he himself did not agree that the criticisms of Chan’s competence or his managerial skills were merely “personal smear attack” but “fair comment” where reasonable people may hold differing views.
- //Any influence of the Hong Kong government, which has six nominees on the council, will be widely assumed to be nothing more than a “diktat” from Beijing. So, it is easy to widen the Chan nomination dispute to include evidence of a failure of China’s “trumpeted support for the rule of law”, particularly in view of the “personal smear attacks” on Chan by the pro-Beijing press in Hong Kong (Cohen and Cheung again). Chan has counted 350 such attacks. So it may appear that Beijing is directly engaged in an attack on the academic autonomy of HKU, one more incident in a global struggle where the Chinese government is itself seen as incompatible with “the fundamental values of human rights and the rule of law”. No wonder Chan is seen as a threat! […] The article included such criticism as: Chan’s policy of having assistant professors without research degrees supervising mainly mainland PhD students; the faculty holding apparently academic meetings which are actually an expression of political activism; and appointing many senior Western academics who are not noticeably academically productive in research while in Hong Kong. If there was to be a judicial review of these smears, I would expect any judge to say that they are “fair comment”. That is, they come within a margin where reasonable people could hold differing views. […] Chan sees Occupy Central as part of a worldwide struggle for democracy. If staff and students of HKU decide to break the laws of Hong Kong with a view to compelling a change of government, that is fine with him as long as they fulfil their contractual duties to the university. […] Obviously, the council is influenced by political considerations. It is only to be expected that the pro-government and pro-Beijing factions will avail themselves of the institutional advantages which they have, under the colonial-style constitution of the council, to resist Chan’s appointment. The whole controversy is only one incident in a global battle whose end is not yet in sight.// Source: SCMP, 07 October 2015
Presidential Election and the KMT internal struggle
- As the public support for the Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) was far behind another presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), there was rumour in the past few weeks that the KMT’s Central Committee had considered replacing Hung with Chu Li-luan (朱立伦), the current KMT chairman. Hung refused to give up her presidential candidacy for the KMT, and argued that the rules for the party would be under heavy attack if she were forced to step down from her election campaign. As an update, the KMT held an extraordinary party congress on 17 October 2015, which made a decision to nullify Hung’s candidacy and to invite Chu to be the new presidential candidate for the KMT as expected. Hung accepted the party’s decision, but emphasized that the decision could cause much controversies damaging the KMT itself.
- //據台灣傳媒報道，原本多番表明無意參選總統的朱立倫，分別於9月17日、25日及本月3日與洪秀柱會談，除第一次談及黨資源問題，其餘兩次均觸及總統大選「換柱」話題。黨內高層表示，洪秀柱經黨內程序獲得認可代表國民黨出戰大選以來，選情仍不見起色，被民進黨對手蔡英文大幅拋離，而洪近日再拋出「憲法終極統一」主張，更令選情雪上加霜。受連帶影響，國民黨在立法委員選舉的戰情上也面臨崩盤。朱立倫9月底終於鬆口向黨務主管表達，他願意參選總統。消息指朱立倫曾提出「朱洪配」的安排，但仍得不到洪首肯。// Source: Mingpao, 06 October 2015
- //在大選前3個月突然傳出陣前換將的國民黨，宣布周六(17日)舉行臨時全國黨代表大會，屆時將決定是否撤換總統參選人洪秀柱。國民黨中央黨務幹部通過於本周六舉行臨全會，主題為「凝聚共識、團結勝選」。報道指，此次臨全會與上次全代會只距離3個月，創下國民黨創黨百年以來，兩次全代會時間距離最近的紀錄，顯示國民黨欲速戰速決，希望讓「換柱」風波落幕。[…] 洪秀柱陣營和支持者早前要求，全代會任何決定都要以暗票表決，以免支持洪秀柱的代表不敢表態。洪秀柱表示，不論臨全會是用明票還是暗票，都已經破壞了黨內初選制度，希望代表可以就此進行辯論。洪秀柱在7月19日經全代會通過提名，代表國民黨角逐明年1月16日的總統大選，若本周六確認撤銷其提名，將是國民黨史上第一位被撤銷提名的總統參選人。// Source: Mingpao, 12 October 2015
- //Delegates at an extraordinary party congress voted overwhelmingly to nullify Hung Hsiu-chu’s nomination and selected party chairman Eric Chu to stand in the January 16 polls. Chu, mayor of suburban New Taipei City and a former accounting professor, had earlier declined the nomination, but is expected to accept it to help salvage the party’s fading election hopes. The KMT has lost favour over its pro-Beijing policies; polls had put Hung about 20 percentage points behind Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen, who wants greater caution in relations with the mainland; Hung backed a pro-unification stance and also supported a peace deal with the mainland. […]Hung’s nomination in July formed Taiwan’s first presidential race between female candidates from the two major parties. However, the veteran legislator and former teacher was seen as lacking executive experience and had focused much of her campaign on the party’s already embattled cross-strait policy.// Source: SCMP, 17 October 2015
- Exempt of Hung’s speech before the KMT’s decision to nullify her presidential candidacy: //去年九合一敗選後，黨內四顧茫茫，支持者灰心喪志，在低迷的氛圍中，本黨幾乎喪失了為2016大選奮戰的勇氣。今年年初，無論外界如何催促，黨內天王再三婉拒參選，秀柱和多數黨員同志一樣憂心如焚，為了避免外界譏笑泱泱大黨竟無一人應戰，秀柱責無旁貸的投入初選，希望藉此喚醒大家共赴黨難，力挽狂瀾。因此，從4月20日登記領表開始，秀柱循黨內機制一步一腳印，上山下海尋求連署，衝破連署門檻和防磚民調的嚴格考驗，完成所有程序，成為本黨創黨以來第一位經由民主初選機制所產生的總統候選人。[…] 在這次選舉過後，未來當我們談到民主制度的建立，以及程序正當性的捍衛時，本黨今日所為，究竟會如何載入輝煌的黨史呢？[…] 我重申，臨全會如果廢止我的提名，在合理性、正當性和程序合法性是有高度爭議的，秀柱無法認同，但身為黨員，只有被迫接受。// Source: China Times, 17 October 2015
- A political commentator, Nan Fang Shuo (南方朔), argued that the issue of replacing the presidential candidate right before the election in mid-January 2016 has entered KMT a crisis of splitting. He attributed the drama to the intra-party factional struggle within the KMT. He also analysed that if the replacement finally took place, Chu, as both the KMT chairman and the incumbent mayor of New Taipei City, might face a credibility crisis himself and risked losing the KMT presidency as well as the mayoralty of New Taipei City to DPP.
- //根據台灣《自由時報》於9月24日所公布的民調，蔡英文為75％，親民黨的宋楚瑜為13.76％，國民黨的洪秀柱最差，只有12.13％，宋洪兩人相加還差蔡英文一大截。所以最近國民黨內人心浮動，要求把洪秀柱緊急換掉的聲浪不斷，最近的幾次國民黨中常會上，都有多名中常委發言，炮聲隆隆的要求把洪秀柱換掉，這種換柱的聲浪，9月中下旬甚至升高為行動，那就是有一群台灣中南部的領袖站了出來，宣稱要組織一個「台灣國民黨聯盟」。由中南部地方領袖廖了以和張榮味等帶頭組成的這個「聯盟」，既是個國民黨內的壓力團體，但也是個準分裂的組織。它要求國民黨的黨中央要對換柱問題及早作出明確的決定，如果黨中央還不決定，這個聯盟就可能作出進一步行動。這顯示出，為了洪秀柱問題，國民黨已出現大分裂的危機。[…] 擁護洪秀柱的深藍群眾顯然認為要求換柱、反對洪秀柱的人，乃是國民黨的本土派台灣人，而國民黨的本土派最大的領袖乃是王金平，所以換柱乃是王金平的陰謀，因此要保柱，就必須打倒王金平，「換柱」和「反王」已真正對立了起來。[…] 所以根據現在的情勢發展，洪秀柱問題已成了國民黨的亂源。洪秀柱是個分量不夠的人物，她缺乏了成為大選候選人的聲望和才幹，但因為馬英九要卡死王金平，遂把洪秀柱當成了一枚鬥爭的棋子，於是假戲真作，最後使得洪秀柱成了黨的提名人。因此洪的出線，靠的不是她的聲望和能力，而是靠黨內鬥爭所造成的縫隙，她的出線因為聲望太差，遂使得蔡英文顯得更為優秀，因而蔡的氣勢一路大漲，根據情勢的發展，蔡英文和民進黨，差不多已取得了過半的實力。// Source: Mingpao, 05 October 2015
- //一個黨的黨主席，態度強硬的要把黨提名候選人幹掉，不管從哪個角度來解釋，這都是國民黨最高層級的鬥爭。這種事在正常政黨民主國家都絕對不可能發生，但它卻在台灣出現。因此這件事可說是國民黨有史以來最大的家醜，一個政黨會鬧出這種家醜，它必定會使人民對這個黨失去信心，因此朱立倫親自出馬幹掉洪秀柱，已有人認為它是國民黨離心離德，正式走向衰敗沒落的開始。朱立倫目前是黨主席，有黨權在握，他發動鬥爭要把洪秀柱拔掉，當然可能達到目的，但他此舉必大失人心，他也不可能是贏家。朱鬥洪，洪當然必死，但朱也信用及權威掃地，2016年大選，國民黨已必然慘敗。[…]但若朱辭掉市長，他一定不可能贏蔡英文，而且新北市長補選，國民黨可能失敗，總統失掉，六都被民進黨全拿，那麼國民黨就輸得更多。所以當朱立倫發動對洪秀柱的攻勢，民進黨已揚言要在新北市發起罷免朱立倫的運動。因此若朱立倫真的取代了洪秀柱，朱立倫自己的麻煩將會立即開始！// Source: Mingpao, 12 October 2015
- Meanwhile, Tsai paid her first visit to Japan as a presidential candidate to discuss matters of regional stability and economic integration. Tsai’s move has provoked strong reaction from the Beijing government. An analyst, Cary Huang, pointed out that the Beijing feared Taiwan would build closer ties with Japan and the United States to check China.
- //Tsai said she met “some people concerned” and touched on issues of regional stability, economic integration and economic cooperation between the two countries. However, she declined to specify with whom she met.// Source: SCMP, 10 October 2015
- //With Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party looking likely to resume power in the upcoming presidential election, the challenge Beijing faces in maintaining its ties with Taiwan looms large once more. Frontrunner DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Japan this week perfectly underscores this point. Beijing expressed its strong opposition to Tsai’s visit, accusing her of trying to promote Taiwan independence. State-affiliated commentary website China Review News warned: “Increasingly, cross-strait ties are no longer a family matter between Taiwan and mainland China.” Despite improved relations between the mainland and Taiwan under the island’s pro-reunification Kuomintang, the pro-independence DPP’s potential return to power poses a threat to Beijing, who fears it will seek closer political and military ties with Tokyo and Washington to check China. […] The DPP was ousted in 2008 after failing to maintain close relations with Beijing. President Ma Ying-jeou, of the KMT, who came to power then, has since staked his entire presidency on improving ties with Beijing. But his strategy has backfired, costing his party a landslide defeat in local elections last year. […] But Beijing remains dissatisfied. The party-run Global Times expressed the leadership’s concerns this week when it said that “while Tsai’s slogans have edged towards the middle, the risks that cross-strait ties will regress are increasing, given the many suggestions that Tsai’s slogans are but part of her electoral game”.// Source: SCMP, 11 October 2015