Unexpected twist in Gui case embarrasses Swedish FM

There has been a new unexpected twist in the case of Gui Minhai, and this time, the Swedish Ambassador to China Anna Lindstedt is involved.

Gui Minhai was born in China and later became a naturalized Swedish citizen. He was a Hong Kong-based bookseller be

fore being sued in the Chinese mainland in 2015. That lawsuit strained relations between China and Sweden.

His daughter, Angela Gui, has recently detailed a bizarre account of her visit to Stockholm, which has

embarrassed the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Angela Gui, who grew up in Sweden, now live

s in Britain where she is studying for a PhD in history at university. She gave her account in a media interview last we

ek and made an announcement Wednesday on her blog. Gui said that Ambassador Lindstedt contacted her in mid-January, inviting her to go to Sto

ckholm to meet two Chinese businessmen, who Lindstedt trusted, to discuss a new approach to her father’s case.

Angela Gui said she went to Stockholm in late January where she met two Chinese businessmen in the presence of Lindstedt. In

her statement, she said that the two businessmen asked her to stop all media engagements and public comment in exch

ange for her father’s release or commutation. According to Gui, Lindstedt supported the plan and said t

hat if not, the relationship between Sweden and China would otherwise be further undermined.

Angela Gui said that after the meeting, she called the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for confirm

ation. “They told me they hadn’t had the slightest idea this whole affair was taking place. They hadn’t even been informed the amb

assador was in the country,” she wrote. In her account of what happened, she not only gave details of the meeting,

but also described how she was feeling threatened and how the whole arrangement seemed suspicious.

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urope needs economic cooperation, not blind suspicion

Austria’s technology ministry has called on Europe to form a joint position on whether or not to allow Chinese firm Huawei to equip 5G for next-generation mobile networks. This consideration co

mes amid the US-hyped security concerns over Huawei and Washington’s relentless efforts to thwart the 5G efforts of this leading tech company.
5G

will be one of the most critical components of the digital economy and society, not only in China but also Europe. Europe has taken significant ste

ps to lead global developments toward this strategic technology. To reposition itself as a leader in world affairs including the field of technology, Europe h

as no reason to reject cooperation with Huawei which has developed the most advanced 5G technology, disregarding u

nwarranted US claims.
Europe is caught in the middle. While the continent treads carefully between China an

d the US, what is at stake is its own interests. As China tries to offer a cooperative approach, Europe, a longtime US ally, is hesi

ant to accept. The Belt and RoadInitiative proposed by China presents tremendous opportunities in terms of trade and g

rowth, while skepticism lingers in Europe about the geopolitical ambition the initiative may harbor.
Ob

servers believe that the funds allocated by the EU will fall way short of what is really needed. The EU will allocate funding for this project in its ne

xt multiannual budget, which will stretch from 2021 to 2027, but can Europe afford to wait till then to walk out of its current plight?

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Japan aims to expand political clout by creating global milit

In April and July, Japan signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), a military logistics pac

t, with Canada and France respectively. The Japanese government will try to get it approved by the National D

iet this year. Canada and France are also advancing domestic procedures for its approval.

The agreement will enable the provision of food, fuel and military supplie

s between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and French and Canadian armies. Jap

an has also inked ACSAs with the US, the UK, Australia and India. Why did Japan sign such an agreement?

After WWII, especially in the late 1960s when Japan became an economic powerhouse, it was no longer satisfied with its status as a military microstate.

In the mid-1980s, Japan accelerated the pace to push its SDF onto the w

orld stage with the aim of becoming a major political power.

In 1996, Japan signed the ACSA with the US, followed by one with Austr

alia in 2010. After the new security law took effect on March 29, 2016, Japan amended t

he two ACSAs, which enabled more flexible provision of ammunition in wartime between the signatories.

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Reportcan extenChina has the capacity to extend local governm

ment bond issuance or implement more tax cuts, Economic Information Daily reported Wednesday, citing the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

A total of 2.61 trillion yuan ($386.46 billion) of bond quota was unused by the end of 2018, accounting for 14.1 percent of total local debt, the academy said in a report.

This means China can extend bond issuance, or undertake 14 percent of tax and fee cuts.

The debt balance stood at 18.39 trillion yuan at the end of last year, well below the official ceil

ing of 21 trillion yuan, and accounting for 109 percent of total fiscal revenue of local governments.

In 2018 local authorities raised a total of 4.17 trillion yuan through bond issuance, down from 4.36 trill

ion yuan in 2017, according to the Ministry of Finance. The local debt ratio was 76.6 percent last ye

ar, significantly lower than the international warning line of 100-120 percent.

Last year local governments’ implicit debt risk was controlled effectively, however, the total debt level was still huge, the academy said.

In 2018 new explicit debts rose 13.5 percent to 2.18 trillion yuan, while the in-balance-sh

eet interest payment reached 734.5 billion yuan, with a 17.1 percent growth rate, about 2.75 times that of fiscal revenue.

A rapid increase in interest payments put pressure on future fiscal guarantees and service capacity, the academy added.

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China-US space cooperation would likely to prompt more

countries to join hands to develop space instead of choosing between China and the US, especially because after the end of the Cold War, international space cooperation has increased.

In fact, the International Space Station launched in 1998 has been operating thanks to the cooperat

ion between the US, Russia, Japan, some European countries, Canada and Brazil. The four maj

or satellite positioning systems — GPS (US), Beidou (China), GLONASS (Russia) and Galileo (Europe) — may also comple

ment each other to provide the most accurate positioning services. And once China and the US engage in a major sp

ace project, many other countries will join in and thus take space exploration to a new stage.

Sino-US space cooperation will stimulate the development of relevant industries and bring tangible benefits to the people. Space explora

tion will set in motion a series of space industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, resources, e

ergy and tourism. These may become new sources of growth for the world economy, promote industrial techn

ologies, and help address some global challenges such as climate change and energy depletion.

And the new products and services so generated will improve people’s lives and contribute to social progress.

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Tiantongyuan redevelopment set to improve livesin the capi

To eradicate the problems in the capital’s suburb in August, the Beijing government launched a three-year, 20-billion-yuan action plan focusing on 97 projects.

However, having since consulted with 17 commissions and bureaus, the aim is now to work on more than 100 projects.

Cai Qi, Party secretary of Beijing, said the city’s urban planners should look at ways of implementing Ti

antongyuan’s original functions to improve living standards and provide better, happier homes.

The plan is part of a citywide campaign to build the capital into a world-class city in accordance with

the Beijing Overall Urban Development Plan published in October 2017. It will run until 2030.

Li Ding, associate professor at the School of Sociology and Population Studies at Re

nmin University of China, has studied Huilongguan for more than five years.

He said the upgrade is badly needed, so the action plan should have been formulated earlier. Moreover, as the lack of major in

frastructure is not an issue residents can tackle, the local government must assume the responsibility.

“Most Huilongguan residents are highly educated, so their demand for educational and cultural facilities is much higher,” Li said.

Since renovation work began at a 19-hectare sports and cultural park in Huilongguan, Li has noticed changes in the community.

“Some old sports facilities have been demolished and the park has been divided into four zones to provide a modern facility,” he said.

According to the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission, there are plans t

o build six kindergartens as well as three primary and two secondary schools to satisfy residents’ needs.

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Despite the deterioration in conditions, the abundance of apartm

ents and relatively low prices continue to attract young and first-time buyers, as

well as tenants. Sp

eaking in a range of accents, a substantial number of residents squeeze

into buses and the subway every morning and head to work.

Chen Mo is one of them. After studying in the capital for seven years, he chose to

settle in the city

after graduation. In 2001, he took a job with State Grid Corp, the national

electricity generator.

Initially, Chen rented an apartment in

Huilongguan, a crowded community in Changping district,

10 kilometers west of Tiantongyuan’s center, that was well-known for its

affordable property.

Served by subway line 13, Changping’s relative ease of access to public

transportation attracted Chen, so he decided to buy an apartment there in 2010.

After months of research, he discovered that he could buy an apartment of more than 100 sq m in Huilon

gguan for 30,000 yuan per sq m, which would only be enough for a home of 50 to 60 sq m in other parts of the city.

“Property prices doubled in Huilongguan in just six months, so I made the down

payment in 2011 without any hesitation,” he said.

Many others followed suit, so a dense population and heavy traffic congestion quickly became the community’s default setting. Ho

wever, without any industry to provide jobs and with few high-quality schools,

many people chose to leave once they had made enough money.

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sq m, Tiantongyuan includes five major communities with

subdistricts that were built in 2000. In the first three years of the century, the population quickly rose to more than 100,000.

The family of Beijing native Du Bo moved to Tiantongyuan in 2005 because at 5,600 yuan per sq m the area was still relatively cheap.

“Our old home in Haidian district was scheduled for urgent demolition, so we had to find another place to live,” the 26-year-old said.

Though the family would have preferred an apartment in the downtown, Du’s parents could not afford

to move to such an expensive area. The urgency of the situation meant the family of four, which included his grandfather, had no alt

ernative but to move to the 120-sq-m, three-bedroom apartment in Tiantongyuan.

“Dirty” and “chaotic” were Du’s first impressions of the neighborhood. Unlicensed traders bloc

ked the roads, meaning people could not park their cars, and feral cats and dogs often ap

peared on the streets. As a result, some people simply bought apartments to rent to tenants.

Du said he has heard that in a building near his tower block, one bedroom can accommodate eight people. “It’s like a dormitory at college,” he said.

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China improves Long March-6 rocket for growing commer

BEIJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — China announced Monday that it is developing the modified version of the Long March-6 rocket with four additional solid boosters to increase its carrying capacity.

The improved medium-left carrier rocket will be sent into space by 2020, according to the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC), which designed the rocket.

With a short launch preparation cycle, the Long March-6 has been mainly used for the academy’s commercial launches. The rocket completed two space tests in September 2015 and November 2017, carrying 20 satellites and three satellites, respectively.

The three-stage rocket is 29.3 meters long, with a launch weight of 103 tonnes. It has a carrying capacity of one tonne for sun-synchronous orbit.

Fueled by a liquid propellant made of liquid oxygen and kerosene, the Long

March-6 is China’s first carrier rocket that uses non-toxic and non-polluting fuel.

Ding Xiufeng, executive manager of the Long March-6 project, said in response to the growing demand for commercial launches, the

y will have the rockets’ market competitiveness enhanced through technical improvements, so that t

hey can provide easier, faster and more comprehensive services to users at home and abroad.

In January, the China Great Wall Industry Corporation, affiliated wi

th the CASTC, signed a multiple launch services agreement with Satellogic to use the Long

March-6 and the Long March-2 rockets to launch 90 satellites for a private Argentine company in the coming years.

The first 13 satellites will be delivered late

r this year. It will be the first time for the Long March-6 to provide launch services for an international user.

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South Korea, US sign cost-sharing deal for American troops

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea and the United States struck a new deal Sunday that increases Seoul’s contribut

ion for the cost of the American military presence on its soil, overcoming previous fai

led negotiations that caused worries about their decades-long alliance.

The development comes as President Donald Trump is set to hold his second summit w

ith North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in late February.

South Korea last year provided about $830 million, covering roughly 40 percent of the cost of the deployment of 28,

500 U.S. soldiers whose presence is meant to deter aggression from North K

orea. Trump has pushed for South Korea to pay more.

On Sunday, chief negotiators from the two countries signed a new cost-sharing pla

n, which requires South Korea to pay about 1.04 trillion won ($924 million) in 2019, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement said the two countries reaffirmed the need for a “stable” U.S. mili

tary deployment amid the “rapidly changing situation on the Korean Peni

nsula.” The ministry said the U.S. assured Sou

th Korea that it is committed to the alliance and has no plans to adjust the number of its troops in South Korea.

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