25 December 2019
LEADERS VOW TO JOINTLY TACKLE CHALLENGES
Leaders from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea reaffirmed on Tuesday their commitment to bolster regional economic integration and jointly tackle common challenges such as aging societies, healthcare and environmental protection.
Premier Li Keqiang, ROK President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also laid out a blueprint for trilateral cooperation for the next decade as they convened in Chengdu, Sichuan province, for the eighth China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting.
The three leaders agreed to speed up negotiations on a trilateral free trade agreement, aiming for a comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial FTA with its own value.
They also underlined the significance of coping with aging societies, with ways of promoting healthy and active aging through comprehensive policy measures. Trilateral cooperation in environmental protection, healthcare and addressing climate change was also highlighted.
China proposes the establishment of a joint investment fund between financial institutions from the three nations under commercial and market principles to provide funding support for trilateral cooperation and cooperation at an even larger scope, Li said at the leaders' meeting.
The three countries, all firm supporters of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, must push for the signing of the trade pact next year as scheduled and work toward further regional economic integration, Li said.
The three sides must consolidate the foundation for mutual trust, respect one another's interests and major concerns and stay committed to dialogue and consultation in solving differences, he said.
China, Japan and the ROK, all major countries in innovation, must step up cooperation on innovation, foster new growth points and share innovation outcomes, he said.
He urged more efforts to enable easier mobile payments to provide more convenient services for tourists from the three countries.
Regarding the Korean Peninsula, Li said the three sides must jointly safeguard regional peace and stability and advance denuclearization and the establishment of a mechanism to promote peace on the peninsula, which fits with the common interests of all three countries.
He also urged greater efforts in protecting intellectual property rights and enabling closer people-to-people exchanges.
'MISSING' UYGURS FOUND LIVING HAPPY LIVES
The people alleged to be missing from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have been found to be living peaceful and happy lives, an official from the region's government said on Tuesday.
One lie after another about Xinjiang has been proved to have "distorted the truth or be fabricated stories", Xu Guixiang, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee, said at a news briefing in Beijing organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Xu was referring to the online campaign initiated by some individuals, overseas organizations and media, who posted photos and names to "find missing Uygurs in China". The move is aimed at hyping China's policy in the autonomous region, he said.
The hashtag "StillNoInfo" has been used on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook in the past week.
Xu cited several examples of Uygurs who were said to be "missing" but were found to be living better lives after graduating from vocational education and training centers. Among them is Ruzi Memet Atawulla, 23, who went to a vocational education and training center in 2017 after being influenced by extreme thoughts.
Ruzi Memet graduated in April 2018, and now works in a shoe factory in Hotan, a city in southwestern Xinjiang. "He earns 2,500 yuan ($357) per month from his work, and doesn't want to be disturbed, especially by those connected with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement terrorist forces," Xu said.
Aziz Niyaz and Meryam Gayit, an old couple in Kuqa county, Aksu prefecture, were also described as "missing" on overseas social networks, but actually they are retired and enjoying the life of taking care of their 3-year-old grandson at home, according to Xu.
Xu described the building of the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang as an effective preventive measure of eradicating extremism in the region, which was plagued by violent terrorism three years ago.
He said that there have been no terrorist attacks in Xinjiang since the centers were established in 2017, and people now live peaceful lives.
Rexiati Musajiang, mayor of Hotan, criticized the United States for its interference in China's internal affairs by using Xinjiang's human rights as an excuse. He said at the briefing that the region enjoys stability and people's livelihoods keep improving.
The motives behind US politicians' remarks and acts to smear China's policy in Xinjiang, particularly the Xinjiang-related act that the US House of Representatives recently passed, have demonstrated US attempts at hegemony, he said, and the purpose is to contain China's development and damage the stability of Xinjiang.
MINISTER REVIEWS DIPLOMACY IN 2019
No person or force can stop the 1.4 billion Chinese people marching toward modernization as China will firmly safeguard its core interests and legitimate development rights, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a year-end interview on China's diplomacy published on Tuesday.
Wang said that this year should have been an important anniversary for China and the United States to mark and look into the future, given that it is the 40th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between the two countries.
"Regrettably, the US has successively imposed restrictions and put pressure on China in various fields such as trade and economics, science and technology, and interfered and engaged in smearing China on a series of issues concerning its territorial sovereignty," Wang said.
What the US has done not only has undermined China-US mutual trust established over the past four decades, but also affected the entire world's stability and development, he said.
Wang stressed that China always wants to talk and negotiate with the US on the basis of mutual respect, and the phase one trade deal is an example of how problems can be solved through equal dialogue between the two nations.
"We hope the US will rebuild an objective and correct acknowledgment of China, and we urge the US to return to a rational and practical policy toward China," he said.
In the interview, Wang reiterated that any attempt to interfere in China's internal affairs or hold back China's development "will be crushed by the wheels of history".
"We firmly support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government in ending the violence and chaos, restoring order and exercising law-based governance," he said.
Referring to the Taiwan question, Wang said that this year saw China establish diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands and resume diplomatic ties with Kiribati after both severed so-called "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan authorities, more widely establishing the one-China consensus in the international community than ever before.
In the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, China has ensured the safety and well-being of the over 24 million fellow countrymen of different ethnic groups, allowing no space for terrorism and radical ideologies, he said.
Calling the China-Russia relationship a prime example of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between countries, Wang said Beijing and Moscow have shown firm mutual support on issues concerning each other's core interests and worked together to resist attempts by external forces to keep them down.
"We have enhanced back-to-back coordination in international affairs and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in opposing power politics and bullying practices," he said.
Wang said the rising trend of unilateralism and the supremacy of unchecked national interests threaten to collapse the international order and system that all countries rely on for development, with dire consequences for small and medium-sized countries.
"The international community has no choice but to join hands and firmly resist this perverse trend," he said.
As two major civilizations and forces, Wang said China and Europe stand together for a multipolar world and greater democracy in international relations, for multilateralism and the basic norms of international relations, and for free trade and an open world economy.
"Working together, China and Europe can provide more stability to an otherwise uncertain world," he said.
DEMAND FOR FRESH HOMES MAY DECLINE NEXT YEAR
New housing demand is expected to wane in China during the first quarter of next year, as a growing cross-section of people are wary of further price hikes, according to a central bank survey.
Only 20.7 percent of the survey respondents were willing to make fresh home purchases during the next three months, the lowest level since 2017. It also came against the 21.5 percent demand seen during the third quarter of this year, said the report published by the People's Bank of China, the central bank, which tracks housing demand on a quarterly basis.
The survey covers 50 cities and 20,000 residents and most of the questions are about the participants' income level, employment situation, inflation expectations and willingness for consumption, deposits and investments.
The latest results showed that residents are now less interested in buying new houses. About 11 percent of the participants expect new home prices to decline in the first quarter of 2020, higher than the 9.8 percent seen in the third quarter of this year, the report said.
Policy makers have repeatedly stressed that, "housing is for living in and not for speculation". A similar stance was seen at the annual Central Economic Work Conference held earlier this month, when it was decided to keep the tone unchanged for next year. It also highlighted the need for "keeping property prices stable and rationalizing expectations".
Song Yu, chief economist of Beijing Gao Hua Securities Co Ltd, said the idea of "keeping property prices stable" can be interpreted as a measure to prevent abnormal price swings.
According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, property investment growth weakened to 8.4 percent year-on-year in November, down from 8.8 percent in October. Growth in land sales by volume fell to negative 0.8 percent in November from 12.8 percent in October.
A report from Nomura Securities said that growth in land sales by volume is expected to tumble further in the coming months, given the headwinds including the recent tightening in financing for property developers.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, indicated by a separate PBOC report released on Monday, 37.9 percent of the managers from 5,000 companies were of the view that China's macroeconomy remained "cool" in the fourth quarter, compared with 36.3 percent in the July-to-September period.
Policy makers have recognized that downside pressures on economic growth are increasing in China, influenced by the expected global economic slowdown next year and existing trade friction between China and the United States. Economists said this will lead to more rational and cautious consumption, investment behavior from Chinese people next year.
MORE CROSS-STRAITS FLIGHTS ADDED FOR SPRING FESTIVAL
Civil aviation authorities on the mainland and Taiwan agreed to add extra flights across the Taiwan Straits for Spring Festival in January and February to meet the demands of Taiwan residents on the mainland to return home during the holiday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Tuesday.
Air regulators on the two sides came to an agreement that airlines of the two sides could arrange additional Spring Festival flights across the Straits from Jan 11 to Feb 8 to meet the needs of cross-Straits travelers.
The total number of the additional flights is not limited, the CAAC said in a statement. The Spring Festival holiday on the mainland is Jan 24 to 30 as the first day of the Lunar New Year falls on Jan 25.
Due to limits on availability of mainland airspace, the number of additional flights is capped at a few busy mainland airports. Airports in Beijing will not arrange additional flights, and the maximum number is 147 for airports in Shanghai, 9 for Guangzhou and 23 for Shenzhen, both in Guangdong province, and 17 for Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, the CAAC said.
Specific plans for extra flights will be approved by the air regulators of the two sides before the last day of the year to facilitate passengers' booking and scheduling, according to the statement.
"Adhering to the principle of serving passengers, the two sides will do their best to ensure that all airlines' plans for additional flights are carried out, and they will not place restrictions on airlines that apply under the plan," the CAAC said.
Adding more flights during Chinese New Year has been a common practice between the two sides for years to facilitate Taiwan people returning home for family reunions.
Also, the election for the island's leadership is expected to be held on Jan 11, when many Taiwan residents on the mainland will return to vote. The Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland said in a statement last week that tickets from some busy mainland cities to Taiwan were in short supply around election day and many couldn't get tickets. The association urged the island's air authority to make arrangements to open up more flights.
Considering the market demand, extra flights are expected be arranged in some places on Jan 9 and 10, the CAAC said.
The Cross-Straits Air Transport Committee of the China Air Transport Association said in a statement last month that it had contacted the air authority of the island several times to allow the arranging of extra cross-Straits flights from Jan 4 to Feb 15, but that was declined.
Spring Festival and election day are very close, so many Taiwan residents on the mainland want to make two consecutive round trips across the Straits. Some 10 mainland air companies have offered discounts for ticket packages.
MORE CHINESE SCHOOLS TO BE BUILT OVERSEAS
China will continue to build more schools overseas to offer Chinese education to children of Chinese employees working abroad, the Ministry of Education said.
In response to a proposal made this year by a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the ministry said accelerating the process of building international schools with Chinese characteristics overseas can meet the needs of Chinese employees working at government institutions, State-owned and private companies that have operations overseas, children of overseas Chinese and foreigners with Chinese ancestry.
The ministry has explored ways to increase the number of Chinese schools abroad, including gradually turning some Confucius Institutes into Chinese schools, opening Chinese teaching sections at some training institutions in foreign countries and encouraging domestic training institutions to open full-time Chinese schools overseas.
The schools should have the same teaching schedule as their domestic counterparts for Chinese, math, politics and traditional Chinese culture, and they can also introduce IB, AP and A-level courses to the students, it said.
In response to another proposal made this year by a member of the CPPCC national committee, the ministry said increased demand from Chinese working abroad has led the government to increase financial support for the construction of the schools, teacher training and educational materials.
There are 60 million overseas Chinese and foreigners with Chinese ancestry worldwide, and nearly 20,000 schools are offering Chinese education, according to the ministry.
Zhuge Academy, the international arm of Beijing-based education company Lanxum Inc, will quicken its overseas expansion to meet the rapidly growing demand for better Chinese education.
"We will consider entering the Asian and Middle Eastern markets after opening campuses in Canada and the United States," said Shang Mei, head of international business at the academy.
The academy opened a campus in the Silicon Valley region of California on Sept 8, its second overseas location since establishing its first in Canada in 2018.
"Our quick overseas expansion is in line with the fast-growing demand for quality Chinese education overseas," Shang added. "Some Chinese have strong cultural anxiety since they moved abroad. They don't have an environment to learn Chinese history and culture. Some are afraid that their children will abandon the culture."
Yu Wu, who works at a private company's overseas branch in Saudi Arabia, said: "I am glad that the ministry has tried to open more Chinese schools overseas."