Archive for March, 2019


Chinese envoy calls for helping DRC with security capacity-building

UNITED NATIONS, March 18 (Xinhua) — A Chinese envoy on Monday urged the international community to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with its security capacity-building.

“The current focus should be put on helping the DRC to enhance its security capacity-building, supporting the effort of the DRC government to maintain peace and stability,” Wu Haitao, the charge d’affaires of China’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, told the Security Council meeting on the situation in the DRC.

The international community should “fully respect the sovereignty and independence and territorial integrity of the DRC,” Wu said, adding that it should also “fully respect the ownership and leadership of the DRC government in handling its own affairs, strengthen communication with the DRC government, and help the DRC to resolve its challenges in humanitarian, security, development and other fields.”

The Chinese envoy also called on the world to continue supporting regional and sub-regional organizations in playing their roles to facilitate and strengthen interactions between the parties within the DRC government to advance the implementation of the peace security and cooperation framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes Region, so as to jointly contribute to the realization of peace and stability in the DRC and a wider region.

“International partners should help with the DRC’s effort to make sure that armed groups in the DRC to abandon the military solution and instead resolve the issues through dialogue and consultation,” he added.

Wu also said that efforts must be made to “continue providing necessary humanitarian assistance and economic support to the DRC government.”

“International partners should focus on increasing input in education, healthcare, infrastructure and other areas, help the DRC to increase employment, improve people’s life, and restore economic and social development,” he said.

“We hope bodies such as UN Development Programme and UN Environment Programme can play a bigger role,” he added.

“The international community should continue actively responding to the DRC’s humanitarian assistance appeal, support the activities of the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross and help contain the Ebola outbreak.

Noting that MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, is “indispensable” to peace and stability in the country, Wu said that China supports the extension of its mandate.

“We hope MONUSCO can continue its activities according to its mandate to help the DRC realize peace stability and development,” he said.

“In the meantime, we hope the (UN) Secretariat, the DRC government and the troop-contributing countries can engage in communication, and in view of the development, conduct timely review and put forward proposals of adjustment to MONUSCO mandate, so as to ensure a step-by-step and orderly handover of security responsibilities from MONUSCO to the DRC security forces,” said the envoy.

China is ready to work with the wider international community to continue contributing to the DRC’s efforts to achieve early peace, stability and development, Wu noted.

Leila Zerrougui, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for the DRC, briefed the Security Council on the situation in the DRC.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Feb. 15 submitted to the President of the Security Council an update on the situation in the DRC.

The update, which covers developments in the DRC from Jan. 1 to 31, was submitted pursuant to Resolution 2409 (2018), in which the Security Council requested the secretary-general to provide a written update every 30 days on political and technical progress towards the holding of elections in the DRC and on obstacles to the implementation of the political agreement of Dec. 31, 2016.

Source: Xinhua


More population to have electricity in Tibet

LHASA, March 18 (Xinhua) — The State Grid’s Tibet branch announced that 25,000 more people in the plateau region will be covered by the main power grid by the end of this year.

In 2019, Tibet plans to build 140 electric substations of 35 kilovolts and above and 7,000 km of power transmission lines as the region continues to expand and upgrade its electricity infrastructure.

By the end of 2018, 2.76 million people in 63 counties, or over 80 percent of Tibet’s population, were covered by the main power grid, thanks to an investment of 8.89 billion yuan (about 1.3 billion U.S. dollars) in the year.

If the plan goes well, the figure will rise to 66 counties by the end of 2019.

A 16.2-billion-yuan power interconnection project was put into operation in Tibet last November, linking the region with the national grid network for the first time.

Source: Xinhua


China hopes DPRK, U.S. to continue talks

BEIJING, March 18 (Xinhua) — China hopes the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States will cherish the hard-won momentum of dialogue and keep talking until a peaceful denuclearized Korean Peninsula is realized, a foreign ministry spokesperson said Monday.

Spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks at a daily press briefing in response to a question on DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui’s comment on a briefing held in Pyongyang.

Choe Son Hui said on Friday that the recent summit between the top leader of the DPRK Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump failed because the U.S. side lacked sincerity.

“After the Hanoi summit, the DPRK and the U.S. both expressed willingness to continue dialogues. We commend and encourage this,” Geng said.

China always believes that the Korean Peninsula issue can only be solved peacefully through political dialogues, he said.

He added that the key to keeping up and advancing dialogue is to accommodate all parties’ legitimate concerns in a balanced way, build up mutual trust and consensus, take phased and synchronized steps, and start with easier moves.

“As the nuclear issue has dragged on for decades and complicated factors are at play, one cannot expect it to be solved overnight. All parties need to have reasonable expectations. One shouldn’t set the bar too high at the outset or make unilateral, unrealistic demands,” Geng quoted Foreign Minister Wang Yi as saying.

He also said China hoped that the DPRK and the United States could cherish the hard-won momentum of dialogue, seize the opportunity, meet each other halfway, build up mutual trust and consensus, keep talking till something good comes out of the talks and a peaceful denuclearized Korean Peninsula is realized.

“The international community should encourage both sides to keep moving toward the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and establishing a peace regime,” Geng said.

China will continue to play a constructive role along with other parties, the spokesperson stressed.

Source: Xinhua


China opens first cross-sea bridge across active faults


Aerial photo taken on March 18, 2019 shows the Haiwen Bridge, south China’s Hainan Province. The cross-sea bridge, which was built over seismic faults, officially started operation on Monday. The total length of the bridge is 5.597 km, including about 3.959 km across the sea. The bridge, which links Yanfeng Township of Haikou City and Puqian Township of Wenchang City, cut the trip between the two places from an hour and a half to about 20 minutes. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)

HAIKOU, March 18 (Xinhua) — The Haiwen Bridge opened to traffic Monday in the island province of Hainan as the first cross-sea bridge crossing active faults and the most earthquake-resistant bridge in China.

The 5.59-km bridge connects the Hainan capital Haikou and Puqian, an island town in the city of Wenchang which is also known as the hometown of many overseas Chinese.

The six-lane bridge, which cuts the travel time between Puqian and Haikou from 1.5 hours to just 20 minutes, is expected to promote the integration of coastal industries in northeast Hainan, said Lin Dong, head of the provincial department of transportation.

With a total investment of 3 billion yuan (about 447 million U.S. dollars), the bridge was under strict marine monitor throughout its construction.


China-EU strategic dialogue stresses cooperation


Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) shakes hands with Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy during the ninth round of the China-EU high-level strategic dialogue in Brussels, Belgium, March 18, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng)

BRUSSELS, March 18 (Xinhua) — The ninth round of the China-EU High-level Strategic Dialogue on Monday in Brussels underlined the need to strengthen the bilateral partnership.

The dialogue was co-chaired by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

Wang said that China and the European Union are comprehensive strategic partners. Facing the turbulent international situation, the two sides have developed fruitful communication and cooperation, playing the role of “stabilizer”.

China and Europe, as two major powers in the world, should take this responsibility. The level and scale of bilateral cooperation are at a historic high, and there is still great potential, said Wang.

The two sides should continue cooperation, adopt problem-solving orientation, explore new methods, new areas and new impetus in the partnerships regarding peace, growth, reform and civilization, and further the enhancement of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the EU.

Wang underlined three points. Firstly, cooperative partnership is the nature of China-EU relations. The common ground is to appreciate the development of bilateral relations, although the two have differences on some issues.

Wang believed there is no essential conflict of interest between China and the EU. The two can seek common ground while reserving differences, but also consolidate the common ground while resolving differences, maximizing the common interest and perception.

Secondly, the goal of China-EU cooperation is to achieve mutual benefit and win-win outcome, said Wang, hoping that Europe will stand to benefit from the new round of Chinese reform and opening-up. He welcomed Europe to participate in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, and expected to see the Europe-Asia connectivity plan to complement the Belt and Road Initiative.

Thirdly, Wang said the respect of each other’s core interest is the trademark of the trust between China and the EU, and he hoped the EU could be discreet in words and deeds. China is willing to work with the EU to maintain a sound development of bilateral relations, benefit the people of the two sides, and contribute more to the world’s peace and development.

Mogherini said the EU-China relations have reached a new high in the past five years in terms of their depth and extent. The two share common stance and goal against unilateralism and protectionism, and both support the international order established around the United Nations.

For the first time, the Chinese foreign minister met the foreign ministers of the 28 EU members on Monday, and they discussed about strengthening the EU-China cooperation. The EU regards China as its important strategic partner, not only economically but also politically, Mogherini noted.

The EU’s new document on policy towards China published last week will not replace the current EU strategic cooperation with China, she said. The EU has no intention to impede the development of China, and it is impossible to do it. The EU wants to see a bigger leading role played by China on global issues.

The EU has differences with China in a number of issues, but has always looked upon the bilateral strategic partnership from the perspective of common prosperity. The EU will continue sticking to the one-China policy without any change, she added.

Mogherini noted that the EU, along with China, will push for the implementation of multilateral agreements, and work closely on issues like the Paris agreement, Iran nuclear agreement, sustainable development goals, African development and so on.

The EU is willing to enhance the connectivity and communication with Asia, explore the complementarities with the Belt and Road Initiative, and vigorously carry out third-party cooperation. The EU hopes to strengthen the security and defense cooperation with China, which is not targeting any third parties. The two sides can cooperate in cyber-security, safeguard the openness, safety and stability of the internet, and establish an order of the digital world based on rules, noted Mogherini.

The two sides also exchanged opinions on the current international situation, the respective relations with major powers, and global and regional hot issues.

Source: Xinhua


Chinese train operator apologises for demanding medical ID from doctor treating sick passenger

  • Physician ‘felt terrible’ after questioning by train conductor
  • Train company says ID check on volunteers is not standard procedure
Dr Chen answered a call for medical assistance aboard a China Railway Nanning Group train, and staff demanded that she produce her licence. Photo: Pear Video
Dr Chen answered a call for medical assistance aboard a China Railway Nanning Group train, and staff demanded that she produce her licence. Photo: Pear Video
China Railway Nanning Group apologised to medical professionals after train staff demanded that a doctor produce her licence as she treated a fellow passenger.
The physician, identified only as Chen, was on a train from Liuzhou to Nanning in Guangxi on Sunday when there was a call for a volunteer to attend an emergency, she told Jianghuai Medicine, a social media news source for medical professionals.

She went to the carriage and found a man in his 40s complaining of severe pain in his abdomen.

Chen asked the man for his medical history, checked his vital signs and examined him before concluding the passenger might have a gastrointestinal disorder.
The man’s condition improved after she gave him medicine from the train’s first-aid kit. She then advised the traveller to go to hospital and request an ultrasound to rule out other conditions.
When Chen made her way back to her carriage, she was stopped by a conductor and asked for her medical licence. The doctor then realised the conductor had recorded her entire diagnosis and treatment.

Chen could not produce her licence, and the conductor asked her to write down her diagnosis, her name, address and signature and photographed her identity card and train ticket details.

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On Jianghuai Medicine, Chen said she “felt terrible” after the questioning and “I may as well not step up in future if something similar happens”.

On social media, some people agreed that a volunteer should be able to identify themselves, while others called for trust. One Weibo user said: “Should such appeals [for help] be changed to ‘doctors with a medical licence on them please come to help’?”

Another asked: “Why not put medical staff on each train since no doctors would dare to come forward?”

On China Railway Nanning Group’s Weibo feed, the company thanked the doctor for attending the patient and apologised for hurting her feelings.

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“The staff did not communicate well with Dr Chen, causing a misunderstanding and creating bad feeling … The Nanning section of the group apologises to doctors and other medical professionals who have been participating in saving and treating patients,” it said.

The group said it was not standard procedure to ask for a copy of a medical licence in such circumstances, and recording the treatment on video was for the benefit of the patient.

Source: SCMP


Philippines goes cap in hand to China as water shortage bites

  • Delegation from Manila lands in Beijing to seek loans and unlock funds for controversial China-backed Kaliwa dam
  • Critics say the Duterte government has engineered the water shortage to gain backing for the dam, which indigenous tribes oppose
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: EPA
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: EPA
The Philippines has gone cap in hand to China as it struggles with a severe water shortage that has seen taps in its capital city run dry.
A delegation from Manila landed in China on Tuesday hoping to attract further infrastructure investment and speed up the delivery of loans Beijing has pledged for an irrigation project and a controversial dam that government ministers say will ease the water shortage. Any new loans they negotiate would be on top of the US$10 billion China has already pledged to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “build, build, build” project to transform the Philippines’ economy.
The site of the controversial Chinese-funded Kaliwa Dam Project. Photo: MWSS
The site of the controversial Chinese-funded Kaliwa Dam Project. Photo: MWSS

The delegation, led by Duterte’s Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, will meet Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan and officials at the Ministry of Commerce, China’s Export-Import Bank and China International Development Cooperation Agency, which reviews foreign aid projects. They will also brief potential investors from the private sector.

Duterte’s Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, right. Photo: PRIB
Duterte’s Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, right. Photo: PRIB

The trip comes amid the most severe water shortage to have hit the Philippine capital in the past decade, with dozens of districts having gone days without water. However, it is likely to prove controversial in some quarters, as critics believe the water shortage has been engineered by the Duterte government as a ploy to win support for the long-stalled Chinese-funded Kaliwa Dam Project. The project, which has been shelved for decades, is controversial partly because Duterte asked China to fund it rather than put it to public tender. It is also opposed by indigenous communities, who stand to be displaced, and by NGOs and the Catholic Church, who question its safety.

The task of Medialdea’s delegation will include trying to speed up the delivery of a promised US$211 million loan from the Export-Import Bank to fund the Kaliwa dam.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said last week the dam was “absolutely” the solution to Manila’s water shortage and defended the conditions of the loan.

Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

He said the bank was giving Manila a preferential rate of 2 per cent per annum for 20 years, with a seven-year grace period; a commitment fee of 0.3 per cent of the loan amount and a management fee of 0.3 per cent of the loan amount.

The delegation will also seek to speed up the delivery of a US$62 million loan pledged by the Export-Import Bank to build the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in the north of the country.

Dominguez urged the Chinese contractors in both projects to build quickly.

Still, in the Philippines, “quickly” can be a relative term.

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Even as the delegation landed in Beijing, a senate probe into the water crisis was hearing from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) administrator Reynaldo Velasco that it would take five years to build the dam, which was still in the consultation stages.

Velasco said that since the dam would be located in the ancestral domain of indigenous communities, “we have to go through a process to be able to get their approval including the agreement [on what displaced families should be paid and their relocation].”

Velasco said if the tribes did not consent, “we will not start the dam”.

Opposition by the tribes has stalled the project for decades.

Graphic: SCMP
Graphic: SCMP

According to Ramcy Astoveza, chief of the Agta tribe, the tribes will never change their mind because “the dam project is a matter of life and death for us. Once we allow the dam inside our natural habitat, what would follow is the death of our tribe”.

Environmental NGOs including the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Alyansa Laban sa Kaliwa Dam, Task Force Sierra Madre and Tribal Centre for Development have warned that, aside from submerging seven villages, the dam project was “within a zone of two active tectonics – the Philippine Fault Zone and the Valley Fault System”.

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Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has warned the dam would endanger 100,000 residents downstream of Kaliwa River, particularly during earthquakes and extreme flooding events brought about by climate change.

As Patrick Ty, chief of the MWSS Regulatory Office, said: “With all the problems Kaliwa Dam is facing, it might get delayed.”

Despite such concerns, the government remains optimistic both projects will go ahead. Velasco said the MWSS hoped to start building the Kaliwa dam by August this year. He denied that Manila’s water shortage was artificial and a ploy to get Metro Manila residents to support the China-funded project.

Source: SCMP


China’s first cloned police dog reports for duty

  • Kunxun, a two-month-old Kunming wolfdog, was born after scientists took the DNA from a ‘one in a thousand’ animal
  • Police hope the programme to clone the force’s best dogs will eventually give it a bigger pool of animals suited to police work

Police say the cloned puppy Kunxun is already showing promise. Photo: Sinogene

Police say the cloned puppy Kunxun is already showing promise. Photo: Sinogene
A cloned puppy, which was bred using DNA from an award-winning police sniffer dog, has started training with a force in the southwest of China.
Earlier this month Kunxun, a two-month-old female, began training at Kunming Police Dog Base in Yunnan province, according to media reports.
The Kunming wolfdog is China’s first cloned police dog and was born after scientists took a DNA sample from a seven-year-old female named Huahuangma, which has won a string of awards for helping to crack multiple cases in the city of Puer.

Since arriving in Kunming, Kunxun has adjusted well to the local environment, the base’s project analyst Wan Jiusheng told Science and Technology Daily.

“She is friendly to humans, sociable and alert,” said Wan, adding that the pup is not scared of the dark or unfamiliar spaces, has a strong sense of smell and can quickly find hidden food.

Kunxun with friend. Photo: Sinogene
Kunxun with friend. Photo: Sinogene

The project was carried out by Yunnan Agricultural University and Sinogene, a Beijing-based company specialising in cloning pets and animals for commercial uses, the newspaper reported.

To produce Kunxun, Huahuangma’s genetic material was extracted and sent to a laboratory in Beijing. An embryo was engineered using an egg from another dog and implanted into a surrogate mother.

“The surrogate was a gentle beagle. To prevent complications and improve the survival rate, we carried out a caesarean section,” Sinogene project technician Liu Xiaojuan told Science and Technology Daily.

Police hope to expand their pool of cloned dogs. Photo: Sinogene
Police hope to expand their pool of cloned dogs. Photo: Sinogene

Beagles are the standard breed used for lab work by the company, which charges a market rate of 380,000 yuan (US$56,000) for each cloned dog.

It can take years to find a police dog like Huahuangma – she was described by Kunming police dog base as “one in a thousand” – and Sinoegene argued that cloning was a better way than breeding of preserving the genetics of such animals.

In one of her more high-profile cases, Huahuangma helped find a crucial piece of evidence – a hotel key – that led to the arrest of a murder suspect in 2016, the company added.

The cloning programme aims to establish a pool of outstanding police dog specimens.

If basic training proves successful, the young Kunming wolf dog will move on to specialist training. Photo: Sinogene
If basic training proves successful, the young Kunming wolf dog will move on to specialist training. Photo: Sinogene

“Currently, police dog cloning is still in the experimental stage. We hope in the next 10 years, once the technology becomes more sophisticated, to mass clone exceptional police dogs,” project analyst Wan said.

Kunxun, whose name contains characters for her breed and “achievement”, is currently undergoing basic training for police puppies.

After six months, the young dogs will enter a “university” and trained to specialise in tracking, drug detection, security or evidence detection.

South Korea was the first country to introduce cloned dogs for police or military use in 2007.

Animal cloning is becoming increasingly prevalent in China for research and commercial uses. Recently, five genetically edited monkeys were cloned to test drugs to treat mental illnesses.

Source: SCMP


Hong Kong subway trains collide amid new signal system trials

Mass Transit Railway (MTR) trains collide near Central station during a signal system trial in Hong Kong, 18 March 2019Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe collision was said to have involved a “modernised train” and occurred during a signal trial

Two subway trains have collided during a new signal system test in Hong Kong, halting services and threatening travel disruption for millions of commuters.

The incident occurred between the Central and Admiralty stations before the service was open to the public early on Monday morning.

While the trains had no passengers on board, both drivers were taken to hospital.

Rail officials warned that repairs were likely to take “quite a long time”.

Network operator Mass Transit Railway (MTR) said sections of the Tsuen Wan Line had been suspended and urged commuters to avoid the route affected and to use other forms of transport if possible.

MTR Corporation has said a failure with the new signal system was to blame for the crash, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper reports.

An investigation has been launched.

Mass Transit Railway (MTR) trains collide near Central station during a signal system trial in Hong Kong, 18 March 2019Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionNeither of the two trains involved was carrying passengers at the time

Further disruption was caused later on Monday morning when a woman fell on to the tracks at Kowloon Tong station, causing a temporary suspension of service in that area.

Hong Kong’s subway network is used by up to six million people on weekdays, Reuters news agency reports.

Source: The BBC


Exclusive: Metro kicks off China unit sale, likely to fetch $2 billion valuation – sources

HONG KONG (Reuters) – German wholesaler Metro AG has kicked off the sale of its China operations by calling for bids, in a deal that would value the business at between $1.5 billion (1.1 billion pounds) and $2 billion, two people with direct knowledge of the deal said.

Metro, which owns 95 stores in China and real estate assets in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, is planning to offload a majority stake in its China business, said the people.

The sale move is part of a global reorganisation of the wholesaler and comes as China’s wholesale and retail sectors are experiencing disruption from e-commerce players.

Metro’s China business could yet be valued at up to $3 billion, said two separate sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Potential bidders include electronics retailer Suning Holdings Group, supermarket chain operators Wumart Stores Inc and Yonghui Superstores, according to three of the people.

Private equity firms such as Hillhouse Capital Group and Bain Capital are also studying a potential deal, they added.

Property makes up the bulk of the value in Metro’s China business, the people said, cautioning, however, that there is a large gap between price expectations among buyers and the seller.

A Metro spokeswoman in Germany said the company is in talks with potential partners concerning the further development of its China business but declined to comment on details of its exchanges with potential partners or the sale process.

Bain and Suning declined to comment. Yonghui and Hillhouse did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Calls to Wumart went unanswered.

First-round, non-binding bids are due in the second week of April, said two of the people. Citigroup and JPMorgan are advising Metro, the people said. The banks declined to comment.

Source: Reuters

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