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The first high-speed railway in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region was opened on Thursday.
According to China Railway Corp, the national railway operator, the new line has reduced the fastest rail journey between Ulanqab and Hohhot, the capital, from 56 minutes to 39 minutes. The cheapest ticket costs 44 yuan ($6.7).
The bullet train runs at 250 kilometers per hour. Ten bullet train services are scheduled daily.
The new 126-km line will be part of a 286.8-km high-speed railway that will connect Hohhot with Zhangjiakou, co-host of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, in Hebei province.
The finished railway, with a designed speed of 250 km/h, will be a major artery in North China upon its completion.
It is expected to be finished and put into service next year. At that time, the Zhangjiakou-Hohhot high-speed rail will be connected to the Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway, which is currently under construction. Travel time from Hohhot to Beijing will be reduced from an average nine hours to less than three hours.
Last year, China's high-speed network reached 22,000 km, accounting for 65 percent of the world's total high-speed rail.
According to a plan released by the National Development and Reform Commission in July last year, China will expand high-speed rail to 30,000 km by 2020, linking 80 percent of its major cities. By 2030, the network is planned to link all cities with populations of more than 500,000.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The 54th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation, Asia and Pacific Regions opened today, August 7 in Ulaanbaatar.
Held under the theme ‘The Challenge of Managing Outcome Focused and Risk Based Regulations for Asia Pacific States’, the five-day conference is being attended by over 400 delegates representing civil aviation authorities of the regional countries.
Olumuyiwa Benard, President of the Council of International Civil Aviation Organization expressed gratitude to the Government of Mongolia for hosting the international conference. “It has been estimated that global air traffic will increase twice in the next 15 years”, he said, adding that majority of this traffic will be in the Asia Pacific region.
“We will work with Mongolia on increasing air navigation safety as the increasing air traffic will burden the Mongolian airspace”.
The Mongolian side highlighted the importance of the conference in promoting Mongolia and the Mongolian civil aviation, and strengthening cooperation between Asia-Pacific countries and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The conference agenda includes a number of key issues such as aviation safety and air navigation, economic development of air transport, aviation and environment and technical and regional cooperation in addition to review of action items arising from the previous conference.
Last year, Mongolian civil aviation delegates led by G.Nyamdavaa, Director of General Civil Aviation Authority took part in the '53rd Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviations Asia & Pacific' held in Colombo city of the Democratic Sociality Republic of Sri Lanka.
South Korean prosecutors are seeking a 12-year jail sentence for Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong.
Mr Lee is facing charges over his role in a bribery scandal which led to the ousting of the ex-President Park Guen-hye.
It is alleged he made a large donation in exchange for government support of a merger of two Samsung subsidiaries.
He has been in prison since February over the scandal, but denies any wrongdoing.
'Closely tied to power'
At the final hearing, prosecutors called him the "ultimate beneficiary" of crimes committed in the scandal.
Prosecutors have accused Mr Lee and four other executives of bribing Ms Park's close confidante Ms Choi Soon-sil with millions of dollars in an attempt to win presidential favours.
They are seeking terms ranging from seven to 10 years for his co-accused.
"The defendants were closely tied to power and sought personal gains," the prosecutors said.
The prosecutors alleged the bribes were aimed at winning government support for a major restructuring of Samsung.
They said the restructuring would help to cement the leadership of Mr Lee, who was standing in as chairman for his ill father, Lee Kun-hee.
Mr Lee's lawyers said the allegations were unjustified and the defendants never sought anything in return for the donations.
A lower court ruling is expected by 27 August, when Mr Lee's current detention period ends.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ During the period between July 31 and August 04, 2017, MSE conducted 5 trading sessions with a total value of MNT 18,093,009,257. The daily average value was MNT 3.6 billion.
1. STOCK TRADING:
409,494 shares of 43 listed companies with a total value of MNT 215,772,156 were traded.
2. GOVERNMENT SECURITIES:
175,327 units of Government retail bonds with a total value of MNT 16,851,013,631 were traded on the primary market in one trade.
9,923 units of Government retail bonds with a total of the value of MNT 996,791,130 were traded by 10 trades on the secondary market.
As of August 04th, 2017, the market capitalization was worth MNT 1,582,173,933,552 and the MSE All index decreased by 0.2% reaching 883.94 units.
Guo Yongcai, a retired forestry worker at Arshaan, Hinggan League, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, moved from his shanty hut to a newly built apartment last year as the local government presses forward with renovations to the community.
Before moving into the apartment, the 77-year-old man had worked at the local forestry bureau for over 3 decades. President Xi Jinping visited Guo's home, a hut measuring 38 square meters, on a cold day in January 2014, during which Xi urged local authorities to pay more attention to improving people's livelihoods.
"As long as there remains one family or even one person who has not resolved their basic livelihood problems, we will not take a rest," Xi told local officials.
The president also visited a herdsman's family in Xilingol League. After learning about the difficulties of electricity and transportation, Xi urged the local government to develop a plan to solve the problems.
Following the president's instructions, the local government sped up its work in areas like shantytown renovation, poverty reduction, pensions and medical services. In the past five years, the local government says 1.78 million people have been lifted out of poverty, with their average net incomes increasing over 15 percent a year.
These improvements come as 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the country's first such region. With a population of 25 million, the northern region is home to a mix of ethnic minority groups, including Mongolian, Manchu, Hui, Ewenki and Korean.
Last year, Inner Mongolia's GDP hit 1.86 trillion yuan ($275 billion), an increase of 7.2 percent year-on-year, while per capita GDP was 74,000 yuan, up by 6.9 percent.
During his trip to the autonomous region, Xi reiterated promotion of an ecological civilization system to protect the region's prairies and environment.
"We should contribute more to building a beautiful China, and explore a green path in accordance with natural law and the country's situation," Xi said.
The autonomous region, which has large coal reserves and rare earth deposits, used to suffer from ecological degradation and desertification caused by over-exploitation of natural resources, including coal, in past decades. The president's order to protect environment has led to a series of measures taken by the local government to improve ecology.
For example, the Xilingol League government designated in 2015 about 75 percent of the league's area as the reserve, where exploitation of resources is strictly limited. The league has denied 24 major projects in the past two years that could have posed a threat to the environment.
The autonomous region has put forward 37 regulations to build an ecological civilization through such measures as protecting the grasslands, forests, lakes and wetlands. Government officials will be held accountable in 84 different types of instances for failing to fulfill their duties of protecting environment.
During his inspection tour, Xi told Inner Mongolian officials to streamline industrial chains and focus more on innovation-driven development, thus transforming the autonomous region's economic structure and cutting emissions at the same time.
The president's instructions had been put into action by the autonomous region — last year, the proportion of the coal industry among Inner Mongolia's overall industrial economy has dropped from 34 percent five years ago to 22 percent.
Last year, about 21 percent of Inner Mongolia's electricity was generated using new energies. About 90 percent of the autonomous region's new job vacancies were created by small and medium-sized enterprises last year.
Xi has paid attention to the country's ethnic groups, and he has expressed concern for ethnic people's livelihoods on numerous occasions.
In May 2016, when he visited a Hezhe village in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, Xi said China's 56 ethnic groups are part of one family and none will be left behind on the road to prosperity. The Hezhe are one of China's smallest ethnic groups, with a population of only 5,000 people, mostly in Heilongjiang.
Xi, in a March panel discussion during the annual session of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, vowed to safeguard the harmony and stability of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and improve the people's livelihoods in the northwestern region.
"We should love ethnic unity as loving our eyes, cherish ethnic unity like cherishing our lives, and hold together tightly like pomegranate seeds," Xi told lawmakers from Xinjiang.
Inner Mongolia has made significant progress in poverty alleviation and promoting prosperity during the past 70 years, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in late July at an event in Beijing organized to showcase the progress of Inner Mongolia during the past seven decades.
"Today, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, Inner Mongolia is presenting an unprecedented new look to the world," Wang told an audience that included ambassadors and other diplomats.
He praised the region for its resilience in tackling desertification and poverty, and its pivotal role in the Belt and Road Initiative and the historic China-Russia Tea Road, once a vital lifeline for trade.
Inner Mongolia is a major link between two key Belt and Road countries — Russia and Mongolia. The China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route extends from Inner Mongolia to Europe.
The president has attached great importance to the opening-up of Inner Mongolia, saying the autonomous region is a door for the country's northward opening-up, given its geographic advantage of bordering Mongolia and Russia. The autonomous region has 18 ports and 4,200 kilometers of border linking with Russia and Mongolia.
The Inner Mongolia should boost reform and development through its opening-up, Xi said, adding that the autonomous region should develop port economies, enhance infrastructure construction, improve the mechanism to cooperate with Mongolia and Russia and turn the region into an important hub for China's northward cooperation.
The autonomous region, which boasts lush green pastures, is also known as China's dairy center due to its quality milk products and is attracting investment interest from countries such as New Zealand, according to the region's government.
Li Jiheng, Party chief of Inner Mongolia, said the region has developed into an important window into China's opening-up and a significant part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
"We will pursue innovative and coordinated development, and adapt activity to the new normal (in China's economic development) ... to ensure strong growth for new types of industrialization," Li said....
Germany is not as safe as it was in the past. In fact it’s dropped 31 places, according to a biennial security ranking of different countries.
Many thanks to Nash Montana for translating this report from TheEuropean.de:
German Federal Republic ranked 51, between Mongolia and Gambia
The German Republic has fallen 31 places according to “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017”, in their security rankings. The Republic of Germany has landed at 51, between Mongolia and Gambia.
Davos economy experts say that Germany is becoming increasingly unsafe.
According to a study that is published every two years, the “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017”, which is published by the renowned World economy forum in Davos, the Federal Republic of Germany — in the category of security and safety — has ranked 31 places lower compared to the last report in 2015. It has been categorized at 51st place, between Mongolia and Gambia.
Finland is the safest, Colombia the most unsafe
In the category “Safety and Security”, the German Republic therefore ranks behind countries such as Rwanda, Kuwait and Tajikistan. According to the study, in terms of security Finland (1), the Emirates (2), and Iceland (3) are highest. On the lower side of the ranking are El Salvador, Yemen and Columbia.
Security perception has dramatically changed
After the many terrorist attacks in Germany and Europe within the past few years, so says the Davos study, the perception of safety and security has dramatically changed. The murder rate as well as terrorist activities have plaid a big role in the result.
Many economists are worried that because of the rising terrorism in Europe, the economy and their businesses will suffer. The report is seen as a representative survey among thousands of business owners worldwide which have rated factors such as the reliability of the police, the rising cost of criminality and violence and terrorism.
Here are the rankings in the category Safety and Security of the “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017”:
2. Arab Emirates
5. Hong Kong
13. New Zealand
134. El Salvador
While the category “Safety and Security” landed Germany only on place 51, the German Republic in the overall ranking is still one of the best travel destinations, at third place. As far as “International openness” Germany is ranked at 20. In the category “Health and Hygiene” Germany is ranked #1. And in the category of “environment and Sustainability” Germany is ranked ay 7, and in the category of “Touristic Infrastructure” it ranked at 9....
New Delhi, Aug. 6: India is confronting an old ghost and a difficult demand from a key China critic it wants to win over as an ally: Mongolia's new President, who wants New Delhi to cough up a much-delayed loan and gift his country an Indian Institute of Technology.
Khaltmaagiin Battulga, a former wrestler who was elected President in July, complained about the loan and pitched for the IIT during his first meeting with India's ambassador in Ulan Bator after taking office, two officials told The Telegraph.
The envoy, T. Suresh Babu, had sought the July 20 meeting to hand over invitations from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then President Pranab Mukherjee for Battulga to visit New Delhi, the officials said.
But the conversation quickly shifted to how keen the Mongolian leader was to develop his landlocked country's information technology capabilities, and how crucial to the project was the $20m loan India had promised eight years ago but failed to release.
Battulga also asked Babu to tell Modi that he wanted an IIT in Ulan Bator, which the Mongolian President promised to personally supervise.
New Delhi has repeatedly rejected past proposals from other countries for IITs, principally because of a resource and faculty crunch.
India has, however, frequently faced accusations from international partners that it does not deliver on key promises on time, and the latest complaints risk complicating its efforts to woo Mongolia's new leader at a time New Delhi is locked in increasingly tense exchanges with Beijing.
The criticism and the proposal are also reminders that foreign leaders' concerns about China aren't enough to automatically drive them closer to India unless New Delhi proves itself a viable alternative as an economic and developmental partner.
"Delay in the release of payment to vendors and stalling of projects affects our image and leads to questions on our credibility to complete key projects in a timely manner," foreign secretary S. Jaishankar had told a Parliament panel in 2015, the year Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Mongolia.
"(The) MEA (ministry of external affairs) thus requires predictable and full funding."
During his campaign for the presidency, Battulga had repeatedly emphasised that one of his key goals would involve making Mongolia "debt-free" -- code for "less dependent on China". Currently, over 60 per cent of Mongolia's foreign trade is with China.
For India, whose troops have been in a standoff with their Chinese counterparts on a Himalayan plateau for more than a month now, Battulga's election offered a window to deepen ties with a country that has traditionally depended on its two giant neighbours, Russia and China.
Battulga's election also reflects a growing political trend within Mongolia --- of seeking to break out of the diplomatic sway of Moscow and Beijing by seeking "third neighbours".
Modi's 2015 visit to Ulan Bator was part of New Delhi's efforts to pitch India as a credible "third neighbour". During the visit, the Indian leader had promised a $1-billion line of credit -- India's largest ever soft loan to Mongolia.
Modi had also been quick to congratulate Battaluga and invite him to India, through a letter that Babu was asked to personally deliver to the new President.
But Battulga was prompt to remind Babu, when the Indian diplomat called on him, of the unreleased loan promised by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the previous Mongolian President, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, during his India visit in September 2009.
Battulga told Babu that Mongolia's concerns on the loan were being addressed "very slowly", one of the officials said.
The Mongolian President also told the Indian envoy that the $20m Indian loan would be useful to his country's plans to develop its information technology sector. Mongolia, he said, could spend that money on training professionals.
He then proposed an IIT in Ulan Bator that, he told Babu, the Mongolian presidency would oversee. India has in the past turned down similar requests from Singapore and the UAE.
In addition, Battulga pressed Babu on the establishment of a joint information technology university that had been discussed during Modi's 2015 visit. Babu told Battulga that India was working with the Mongolian foreign ministry on that proposal.
The Mongolian President also complained to Babu that bilateral trade between the countries - just $11m in 2016-17 - was "insufficient".
Bilateral trade between India and Mongolia last year was a third of the levels just two years ago, when it was worth $33m....
HONG KONG -- Having established a dominant position in its home market, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding is now looking to boost its presence in Hong Kong, rolling out its Tmall retail website for local consumers and releasing a version of its Alipay mobile payment service in Hong Kong dollars.
But Alibaba faces more than a few hurdles, not least because Hong Kong shoppers remain largely suspicious of the quality of goods and services provided by mainland-based companies. E-commerce is also still less prevalent in the territory than in other Asian markets. If Alibaba can succeed in establishing a stronger presence against these odds, it will be an important step toward achieving its global ambitions.
On the offensive
Alibaba officially launched Tmall in Hong Kong in mid-June, enabling local shoppers to take advantage of cheaper daily goods imported from the mainland. Some of these items, which include everything from food to household products, cost less than half of what they do on HKTV Mall, the biggest online retail platform in the territory, operated by Hong Kong Television Network. Speed is another draw. Because Alibaba has a warehouse in China's Guangdong Province, which is adjacent to Hong Kong, Tmall users in the territory can receive next-day deliveries, according to the company.
Meanwhile Ant Financial, Alibaba's financial unit, is stepping up efforts to expand Alipay's user base in the city. After receiving approval from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city's de facto central bank, Ant Financial in May started offering an Alipay mobile wallet and payments app dedicated to local-currency transactions.
In mid-July, Ant Financial held a meeting with major Hong Kong retailers, including shopping mall, supermarket and convenience store operators and small and midsize merchants, to promote Alipay. Venetia Lee, general manager of Alipay Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, said the number of registered users in Hong Kong has already surpassed 100,000 and that her company aims to sign up at least 8,000 local merchants to accept payments via Alipay by the end of this year.
Mongolia: Buy-to-Let Apartment Boom in Capital as Expats Pursue Trillion-Dollar Mineral Wealth www.newsweek.com
Stood, square-jawed, beside the gold-hued Zaisan Monument in Mongolia's capital, the proprietor of a Hong Kong real estate portfolio beholds the flurry of activity below him in Ulaanbaatar. Like the Saker falcon, revered for its keen eyesight — and still beloved by the nomads who inhabit Mongolia’s steppe — the investor (named James) is also hunting, in a sports coat of Italian silk, which glints, subtly, in the morning sunshine. His intended quarry is not small mammals — but the newly completed residential stock which dots the central business district of Ulaanbaatar. He’s here to buy. This east Asian capital commands far juicier returns than anything he’d acquire on home turf.
In a country where explosive growth in the construction sector has been repeatedly stymied by stark recession, James knows his attention cannot alight on dormant building sites. As he explains, the debt market — which is known for its cripplingly high interest rates — has arrested the completion of older developments. Moribund projects have not been released to market. Many may form ghost-towns on the sidewalk for years to come. Any attempts to rejuvenate buildings begun during recessions past will likely idle. There’s a growing and immediate need to house incoming workers, in apartments that pass the prime (or “luxury”) bar mandated by international conglomerates. With Mongolia recording a 43.9% increase in industrial output in the first half of 2017 alone according to the National Statistics Office of Mongolia, expatriates are returning to the city in numbers which will likely be higher than this country has ever known. The 44.2% increase in trade with China during the first two quarters of 2017 only further illuminates why expatriates are arriving in droves.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union — but primarily in the last decade — Ulaanbaatar has oscillated between construction boom-town, and a city shaken by stark recession, forged by predatory lending patterns and bad loans. While the city’s house price index has shown only modest growth since its initiation in 2013, buy-to-let properties in the city’s most desirable buildings are delivering very strong returns for investors. Kacper, who owns ten apartments, is a Central Asian businessman — with investment channeled from both Beijing and Moscow. Like others, his mantra of “buy in Baatar” — which echoes in marble board-rooms, expat dining-spots, and even neighboring countries — makes financial sense. It’s a lucrative formula, forged forward by a class of moneyed apartment buyer who possesses liquid capital and fosters trust with foreign investors.
“Expatriate workers are returning to Mongolia in droves, and mining companies have shown an economic commitment which outstrips any involvement we’ve known before,” Kacper explains. “The demand for high quality apartments that are actually complete and ready for market, outstrips what can be delivered this year,” he reiterates. Even as he eats French fries fried three times over in one of Ulaanbaatar’s swankier eateries, he scours the cityscape himself — like a golden eagle, in Must de Cartier shades. He skips dessert to countersign for his latest acquisition — with a wide prospector’s smile, and a rose-gold pen by Dupont.
While no substantive study has been conducted to measure the actual availability of rental stock in Ulaanbaatar compared to demand, four real estate developers I spoke to concluded that requests from expatriates for residential rental stock will come close to either meeting or exceeding the limits of their portfolio by the 4th quarter of 2017. During the first two quarters of 2017, mineral extraction — which still contributes as much as 50% to Mongolian GDP — showed exceptional results.
Figures from the National Statistics Office (NSO) illustrate the change in Mongolia’s fortunes in no uncertain terms. Coal exports in June were 281% higher than those in the same month of the preceding year. Possessing the 12th largest copper deposits in the world, the metal accounted for nearly 50% of exports in 2016. Correspondingly, the final quarter of 2016 and first quarters of 2017 led to a flurry of announcements to either commence or expand extraction by mining companies. All analysts concur that rising copper prices can only result in substantial capital inflows. As Kacper notes, “Mongolia can only cash in.”
There no doubt whatsoever that Kacper is correct. The mining licences issued thus far illustrate his point. Rio Tinto is not only continuing planned investments, but has restarted exploration for copper after a five year pause. Aspire is raising a private placement to develop its Nurestei coal-coking project. Kincora has acquired a new exploration license for copper and gold. Petro Matad has extended its options for oil exploration in the Taats Basin. The government has doubled the amount of land for exploration, prompting Xanadu Mines to predict a boom of similar size.
Most mining staff come to Mongolia for short periods of time. They tend not to be apartment buyers, as often they have family and settled lives elsewhere. What they do tend to have, however, is large housing allowances, underwritten by even larger multinational funds. Executives crave amenities and home comforts. They do not care for long commutes on congested highways. Much like both James and Kacper they express a preference for City Centre districts such as Sukhbaatar, and, to a lesser extent, Chingeltei.
Lee Cashell, who is CEO at Asia Pacific Investment Partners, believes that yields of 9%-12% are fully achievable in brand new, prime buildings. He’s also clear that these investors are likely to ride the crest of the UB buy-to-let wave:
“Rents are likely to grow rather than decline, meaning better returns on initial acquisition prices. There are strong prospects for capital appreciation too. Prices have tended to reflect economic growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predict an 8% expansion by 2019, placing Mongolia’s among the fastest growing economies in the world. When you combine this with the poor financial position of many developers, and a lack of land, there’s already an upward pressure on sales prices.”
In the recently opened Belgian beer bar in the Shangri-La complex, as foreign contract workers mingle over Lindemans Framboise and moules frites there’s a sense that “Minegolia” may well be back in business for foreign buyers.
But while construction is a familiar industry to Mongolia, which will still be stimulated by mineral extraction, if handled appropriately the pressure for a luxury finish in an unremitting climate can also foster many of the new skill-sets sought by local developers and tradesmen. Focus on construction which simultaneously provides local people with transferable skills will benefit Mongolia — in a manner which FDI, alone, cannot always provide....
Ulaanbaatar: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), under the AFC League Development Programme, staged the first-ever Media and Commentator Workshop in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar which concluded yesterday.
More than 30 members of the Mongolian Football Federation, Mongolian Premier League, Mongolian Premier League clubs and national television and media attended the workshop in the Mongolian Football Federation headquarters.
The workshop, opened by MFF General Secretary Shijir Ulziikhuu, covered the key areas of communications, media management and, with the experienced and much-respected Asian football commentary expert Dez Corkhill, television production and commentary.
In closing the workshop, MFF President, Ganbaatar Amgalanbaatar, said: "This has been an extremely important week for Mongolian football as the public absorb our great game through television and the media.
"It is therefore vital that we help our clubs, our media and crucially our television companies on ways they can promote the game in our country.
"We are grateful to the AFC and the AFC League Development Programme for organising and delivering this workshop and we hope that this week marks not the finish of this education process but the start of project which, in the future, delivers top quality football commentary and reporting to a country that is becoming more and more excited by the game.
"We are already seeing through the engagement with our arrangement with the national television station and a live streaming platform, which has been organised in conjunction with the AFC, that viewer numbers are increasing and that has to be good for the future of the game in Mongolia."
The workshop participants not only had the opportunity to create media plans for the promotion of the clubs but also the national commentators were given live training during a Mongolian Premier League game at the MFF headquarters.
Dez Corkhill added: "There is great potential in Mongolia and the commentators understood the need to celebrate football as well as inform the public. This workshop has been a great success and I know all the participants have left better informed and better prepared than ever before."