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Tibetan student self-immolates in India www.aljazeera.com

A Tibetan student has self-immolated in India after shouting "freedom", police said on Saturday, injuring himself critically.

Tenzin Choeying set himself on fire on Friday at the Central University for Tibetan Studies in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state.

Self-immolation has regularly been used as a protest against China's actions in Tibet. But Indian police said they are also investigating the 20-year-old's recent exam failures as being a possible cause for his actions.

The International Campaign for Tibet identified the student as Tenzin Choeying. It quoted Chime Namgyal, head of the Tibetan Youth Congress activist group in Varanasi, as saying Choeying shouted "Victory to Tibet".

Tenzin Tsundue, who visited Choeying at the hospital in Varanasi, told Al Jazeera that the patient is expected to survive.

"He is stable, the next five days are crucial, the doctor says," he wrote in a Whatsapp message to Al Jazeera.

"My concern, as his brother, is to arrange for him the best treatment, and get him back to life."

Tsundue also sent to Al Jazeera a note, which he said Choeying wrote before the incident.

In in Choeying wrote in English, "Please don't cry. Tell everyone that my body is for Tibet."

Police said they were still investigating and will take statements from Choeying and his family. "The boy is recovering at the hospital. He can speak but has around 50 percent burns," Sanjay Tripathi, a Varanasi police spokesman, told AFP news agency.

Religious repression accusations
China says its troops "liberated" Tibet in 1951, but many Tibetans accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture.

China rejects the accusations and blames the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader who lives in exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala, of inciting self-immolations in a bid to split Tibet from the rest of the nation.

A young farmer self-immolated in southwest China in March, the first Tibetan to set themselves on fire in 2017.

The Tibetan government in exile in India said he was the 146th Tibetan to self-immolate since 2009.

Choeying is the not the first Tibetan to set himself on fire in India. A Tibetan exile set himself alight and died two days later in New Delhi in 2012.



Iron and steel sector profit set to soar www.chinadaily.com

First-half financial performance strong on back of supply-side reform

China's ferrous metal industry is set to post a strong performance in the first half of the year on the back of government measures to cut overcapacity and optimize the industry's structure, experts said.

"With the reduction of excess capacity, there is a tight supply of iron and steel, leading to high prices, especially wires and rebars," said Wang Guoqing, research director at the Lange Steel Information Research Center in Beijing.

The government's thrust on supply-side reforms has produced positives, Wang said.

Around 20 listed firms in the iron and steel sector have forecast their earnings for the January-June period.

HBIS Co Ltd said its first-half profit will likely be between 1.15 billion yuan ($148 million) and 1.27 billion yuan, up 181-210 percent year-on-year.

If its forecast holds, that would be the third highest growth rate in the 20 years since the company listed on the A-share market.

Similarly, Fujian Sansteel Minguang Co Ltd said it expects its first-half profit to rise 200 percent year-on-year to 1.08 billion yuan.

"The main reason (for the good performance) is the government's efforts to eliminate outdated capacity, especially inferior steel," said Li Xinchuang, president of the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute.

By June 30, China had shut all companies that produce inferior steel. More than 500 such companies whose combined capacity was 119 million metric tons were shut, according to a statement from the China Iron and Steel Association.

On Thursday, the Lange Steel Composite Steel Price Index reached 144.9, up 7.4 percent from the beginning of the year.

The Long Steel Products Price Index was at 159.8, up almost 19 percent from early January. The Flat Steel Products Price Index, however, was down almost 3 percent at 131.9.

Long steel products include rebars and wires, and flat plate steel products are hot-rolled steel plates, cool-rolled plates and medium plates.

The rebar price is 3, 928 yuan per ton, up by 676 yuan from the beginning of the year.

"Although data show that the total steel output has increased in the January-June period, the demand has shifted from informal products such as inferior steel to qualified steel made by major steel companies. That means, the supply is not adequate to meet the current demand," said Wang.

At the same time, iron ore prices are comparatively low thanks to rising output, oversupply, and high port inventories, Wang said. "Low material prices help keep steel production costs at relatively low levels."

China imported 539 million tons of iron ore in the first half, up 9.3 percent year-on-year, while the country's iron ore production was 508 million tons in the first five months, up 10.4 percent, according to data from the Lange Steel Cloud Platform. Low costs and high prices are expected to boost companies' profits.

Li said rising infrastructure investment, automobile production and machinery manufacturing in the first half of the year will also likely expand steel consumption.

Total profit of major iron and steel companies was 37.9 billion yuan in the first five months of this year, exceeding full-year combined profit of 33.15 billion yuan in 2016, according to the China Iron and Steel Industry Association.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the January-May operating income of the ferrous metal smelting and rolling process industry was 3.02 trillion yuan that generated a profit of 105.3 billion yuan, up 93.5 percent year-on-year.

Gan Yong, president of the Chinese Society for Metals, however, said overcapacity reduction should be continued with the same level of determination in spite of the current profits. "Once the companies increase their output production, prices will decline immediately."



China is trading more with North Korea but buying much less coal www.cnn.com

China has slashed imports of coal from North Korea even as overall trade between the countries continues to rise.
A Chinese government official said Thursday that China-North Korea trade was worth $2.6 billion in the first half of 2017, up about 10% over the same period last year.
But coal imports slumped by 75%, suggesting Beijing is gradually choking off North Korea's biggest source of foreign currency.

China's overall imports from North Korea fell 13% compared to the first half of 2016, said Huang Songping, a spokesman for China's customs department. They had risen by 18% in the quarter ended March.
The decline follows China's decision in February to ban all imports of North Korean coal.
President Trump has repeatedly criticized China over its trade with North Korea, calling on it to exert more pressure on Kim Jong-un's regime. He called out the "nearly 40%" increase in trade in the first three months of the year on Twitter last week.
"So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!" he added.

The overall rise in trade has been driven by China's exports to North Korea, which were up by nearly 30% in the first half of the year.
China insists none of its current trade with Pyongyang is in violation of international sanctions. Huang told reporters on Thursday that the rise in trade was mainly due to an increase in textile exports.
"The sanctions imposed by the [United Nations] are not a comprehensive embargo," he said. "Trade related to the people's livelihood in the North Korea, especially those that embody humanitarian principles, should not be affected by sanctions."

The new data reflects China's attempt to pull off a delicate balancing act between the U.S. and North Korea, where it wants to prevent the regime collapsing because it worries about what that would mean for regional stability.
But Beijing is also eager to avoid riling Trump.
"If Trump were to give up on Chinese support in terms of containing North Korea, then there's a risk of increased trade tensions between the U.S. and China, which could negatively impact China's overall export performance," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.
"The new figures that the customs bureau have put out today suggest [they] have made an effort, at least on paper," he added.



Cosco leading China's 'Belt and Road' drive www.asia.nikkei.com

DALIAN, China -- China Cosco Shipping is poised to go on a fresh overseas investment spree to secure ports and logistics hubs as part of China's efforts to create its huge "Belt and Road" economic zone aimed at increasing that country's influence over distribution from Asia to Europe.

The state-owned shipping titan specifically plans to acquire a Spanish port operator for 200 million euros ($228 million) and spend $38 million to secure an inland logistics hub in Khorgos, Kazakhstan.

China Cosco Shipping, which was formally established in February 2016 through the merger of China Ocean Shipping (Group) and China Shipping (Group), is now at the vanguard of the Belt and Road initiative.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has advocated the scheme, as has the Chinese government, which hosted an international conference on it for the first time, in Beijing in May.

Riding the economic zone drive, Cosco has already moved to secure overseas business footholds, acquiring the Piraeus port in Greece and obtaining the rights to use container terminals in the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.

Cosco is again accelerating its drive to expand overseas operations as part of its growth strategy while playing the role of trailblazer in the Belt and Road scheme.

Recently in Hong Kong, Cosco Shipping Holdings, a major container transportation company of the Cosco group, announced that it had offered to buy the major shipping company Orient Overseas International, together with Shanghai International Port Group, for HK$49.2 billion ($6.3 billion).

The takeover will create the world's third-largest shipping line by capacity as Beijing pushes to raise China's profile in global shipping.

Cosco Shipping Ports, a Cosco group company, signed an agreement in June to acquire a 51% stake in Spanish port operator Noatum Ports, securing its biggest foothold at a port in the Mediterranean.

Noatum Ports operates terminals at ports such as the Valencia port, and railroad terminals in Madrid and elsewhere.

Chinese shipping giant aggressively investing in ports, logistics hubs

DAISUKE HARASHIMA, Nikkei staff writer
According to Cosco, the Port of Valencia is one of the three biggest container ports in the Mediterranean, and Noatum Ports owns the biggest terminal there.

Cosco in Kazakhstan

Cosco Shipping Holdings and Lianyungang Port Group, a Chinese port operator based in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, will buy into KTZE-Khorgos Gateway.

The two Chinese companies will each hold a 24.5% stake in the container transportation company affiliated with the Kazakhstan government.

While the two Chinese companies will together hold a 49% stake, a Kazakhstan government-affiliated company will remain KTZE-Khorgos Gateway's top shareholder.

Khorgos is located about 15km from the border with China. It is an important transportation hub connecting China to Europe by rail.

Chinese and Kazakhstan railroad tracks have different widths. This makes it necessary for rail cargoes transported from China to be transferred to another train at Khorgos.

By investing in KTZE-Khorgos Gateway, the Cosco group intends to utilize Khorgos as a logistics hub for transporting Chinese and foreign cargoes arriving at Lianyungang by sea to Europe.

Shipping industry woes

The global shipping industry is struggling amid weak demand, which is partly due to a slowdown in the Chinese economy. A container vessel supply glut has also triggered price competition among shipping companies, further hitting their bottom lines.

Cosco is also struggling amid weak demand and vessel oversupply.

For example, Cosco Shipping Holdings, a listed Cosco group company, posted a net loss of 9.9 billion yuan ($1.46 billion) in the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2016, compared with a net profit of 470 million yuan in the previous year.

The Cosco group is now under pressure to make further restructuring efforts, including reducing its fleet of vessels. Under such circumstances, large-scale investments could further hurt the group's financial health.



Arconic faces investor lawsuit over deadly Grenfell Tower fire www.cnn.com

The American manufacturer of cladding panels installed at London's destroyed Grenfell Tower has been accused of defrauding investors in a new lawsuit.
The proposed class action filed Thursday by Arconic shareholder Michael Brave alleges that the company failed to properly disclose the sale of "highly flammable" building materials that were used to refurbish the doomed tower.
At least 80 people were killed when the building burned on June 14.
The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, alleges that Arconic made false and misleading statements about its "business, operational and compliance policies."
Arconic (ARNCPR) declined to comment on the lawsuit on Friday, but said that the material was certified for use in the U.K.
It said it sells its products "with the expectation that they are used in a system that complies with local building codes and regulations."
Arconic, which was spun out of Alcoa (AA) last year, supplied its Reynobond PE panels to a distributor for instillation at Grenfell Tower in 2015.

Arconic shares plunged by roughly 20% following the fire, but have since recovered some of their losses. The suit seeks to recover "significant losses and damages" suffered by shareholders as well as "further relief."

Arconic building materials were used to refurbish Grenfell Tower in 2015. The fire occured on June 14, 2016.
Arconic halted sales of the cladding for use in high-rise buildings less than two weeks after the fire.
"This is the right decision because of the inconsistency of building codes across the world and issues that have arisen in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy regarding code compliance of cladding systems in the context of buildings' overall designs," the firm said at the time.
A criminal investigation into the tragedy is underway. Arconic says it has offered its "full support to the authorities as they conduct their investigations."
The inquiry is focused on how the blaze started, how it spread so fast and whether any person or organizations should be held responsible.

A Reuters article cited in the suit reported that it had seen six emails sent or received by an Arconic sales manager in 2014 that raised questions about why the company supplied combustible cladding for use at Grenfell Tower.
"We did not supply other parts of this cladding system, including the insulation," Arconic said in a statement responding to the Reuters report. "While we publish general usage guidelines, regulations and codes vary by country and need to be determined by the local building code experts."
Samples of insulation from the tower and equivalent aluminum composite tiles sent by police for analysis have failed safety tests, according to the Metropolitan Police.



Mongolian judges to learn about rule of law and U.S. jurisprudence www.ptonline.net

PRINCETON AND BLUEFIELD — Five judges from Mongolia will participate in the U.S. Congress–sponsored Open World Program on Rule of Law, July 22—29, in Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

The Mongolian judges’ delegation includes Luvsandorj Odonchimeg, judge; first-instance Intersoum Criminal Court of Dundgobi Province; Mishigdorj Batzorig, judge, first-instance Civil Court of Khan-Uul District; Nandintsetseg Zorigoo, judge, first-instance Criminal Court of Zavkhan Province; Tungalag Lkhagvajargal, chief judge, first instance Administrative Court in Zavkhan Province; Ariuntsetseg Lkhagvasuren, civil judge, first instance Inter-Soum Civil Court of Orkhon Province; English Facilitator Khorolsuren Magvan, political specialist, U.S. Embassy, Ulan Batur, Mongolia. Bulgan Khorloo will serve as interpreter during the group’s study tour.

The Mongolian judges will learn about rule of law, U.S. jurisprudence, and the different levels of courts (city, county, state, and federal levels). Specifically, they will learn about the U.S. Federal District Courts from the Program Mentor, the Honorable U.Ss Federal Magistrate Omar Aboulhosn; the role and functions of Bluefield City Court from Bluefield City Judge David Kersey; the role of Mercer County Circuit Court from Circuit Court Judges Derek Swope, William Sadler, and Mark Wills; the role of Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office from Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler and his colleagues; the role of Mercer County Family Court from Family Court Judge Mary Ellen Griffith; the role of Mercer County Magistrates’ Courts from County Magistrate Michael Flanigan; the types of cases heard in the U.S. Federal District Courts from the Honorable Senior U.S. Federal District Judge David Faber; how Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and independent attorneys support victims of physical, neglect, and emotional abuse and sexual abuse, children/human rights, and restoration of violated rights from Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor and Holly Flanigan, attorney at law; the role of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia from West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Allen Loughry III and about the administrative aspects of the court from Gary Johnson, director, Administrative Office of the West Virginia Courts; the role of the ACLU-WV; and the Mongolian judges will learn about how children’s and human rights and the indigent are safeguarded and provided legal support from Shiloh Woodard of Child Protect, Cathy Wallace of ChildLaw Services, Tracy Burks of the Public Defender’s Office, and Devin True of Legal Aid of West Virginia.

West Virginia field staff of Senators Capito and Manchin and Congressman Evan Jenkins will brief the visitors about the role of the federal government in promoting rule of law. A brief visit with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has been requested.

Cultural activities in Appalachia will include a picnic at Rodger Woodrum’s farm in Rocky Gap, Va., and bowling at Carl Mariotti Jr.’s Mountaineer Bowling Lanes.

The Mongolian judges’ delegation will enjoy home stays with Pete Sternloff, Doris Sue and Norris Kantor, Kitt and Gary McCarthy, and Lou Freeman in Bluefield, and Carol and David Bard and Elizabeth Muldoon and Joe Parker in Athens, West Virginia. Host families, a significant ingredient of US-sponsored exchange programs, afford international professionals a unique perspective of American life and culture. More importantly, home stays foster friendships, a key element in people to people diplomacy.

Managed by the independent Open World Leadership Center for the US Congress, OPEN WORLD enables leaders of emerging democracies’ political and civic leaders to work with their American counterparts and to experience American-style democracy at the local level. Open World aims to build mutual understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation and newly independent post-Soviet Republics and to work with their leaders as they implement democratic and economic reforms. The Washington, D.C., office of FHI 360 Development administers the program.

Locally, the Mongolian judges’ visitors program will be implemented by the Center for International Understanding, Inc. 110 Lovell Ave., Princeton. For information about how to participate in similar exchanges as citizen diplomats and ambassadors, call 304-425-4593 or email ciu1988@yahoo.com.



Japanese House of Representatives’ Speaker T.Oshima to visit Mongolia www.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar / MONTSAME /. Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan Tadamori Oshima will pay official visit to Mongolia on 17-19 July at the invitation of Parliamentary Speaker M. Enkhbold.
Speaker T.Oshima will meet with the President of Mongolia, the Speaker and Prime Minister of Mongolia. At these meetings, the sides are expected to discuss close cooperation of the parliaments to develop strategic partnership between Mongolia and Japan at bilateral, multilateral and regional levels.
It is the first visit at the level of Japanese legislative body head to Mongolia and the visit is being organized within the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Japan.



North Korea ban lifts coking coal price www.mining.com

The price of coking coal jumped on Friday with the industry benchmark price tracked by the Steel Index up 2.8% to $167.60 a tonne. Premium hard coking coal prices (FOB Australia) are now at the highest level since mid-May.

According to preliminary Chinese customs data released this week, the country imported 21.6 million tonnes of coal (both thermal and metallurgical) in June. Volumes were down 2.7% from May and on par with June last year. Total import for the first six months of 2017 rose 23.5% compared to the same period last year to 133.3 million tonnes.

Chinese import volumes are up despite a 75% drop in coal shipments from North Korea. Following UN sanctions imposed in February, Beijing halted all cargoes from the totalitarian state and during the first six months the country imported just 2.7 million tonnes from its neighbour. In the past China skirted embargoes against North Korea on humanitarian grounds, saying a ban would hurt ordinary citizens of the impoverished country.

Last year China imported 22.4 million tonnes of anthracitic coal that can be used as an alternative to coking coal in the steelmaking process from North Korea, a nearly 15% rise from 2015. That places the Asian country just behind in Australia as China's number two supplier of met coal.

Coking coal is trading nearly $150 a tonne below its mid-April peak when the price of jumped to highest since the second quarter of 2011 due to disruptions related to cyclone Debbie in the state of Queensland.

But most producers would probably be happy with a price around of $160. In November 2015, the spot price fell to a record low of $73 a tonne.

A survey of economist and investment bank analysts by FocusEconomics show prices are expected to moderate through to the end of the year.

The median forecast is for met coal to average $146 per tonne in Q4 2017 and $133 during the final quarter next year. Coking coal averaged $121 a tonne in 2016 and $90 the year before.



Coal mine crackdown dims prospects for Mongolia's fortune seekers www.mining.com

Working 50 metres (164 feet) under ground with minimal air supply, Uuganbaatar is one of thousands of Mongolians trying to make a living digging for coal.

Although the mining season does not begin until autumn, when the ground freezes and work is safer, the 31-year-old and his colleagues are seeking to gain a head start by digging a shaft in Nalaikh, one of the nine districts of Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar, in late June.

But their mine could soon be shut by the government, which has launched an unprecedented crackdown on sites that don't meet safety standards.

That would mean even fewer opportunities for Mongolia's individual prospectors, who have already been hit hard by the privatisation of mines previously open to all.

Miners such as Uuganbaatar dig for coal under loose arrangements with local unions and private companies.

"Things seem really tough for private miners now," said Uuganbaatar, who, like many Mongolians, goes by one name.

"All the licences have been bought up by influential big shots. Whenever you start to dig somewhere, someone shows up and chases us away. It's impossible to find a place or mine to dig in."

A weak economy and particularly harsh winters drove herdsman from across Mongolia to Nalaikh's private mines in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The district, with a population of nearly 30,000, was home to Mongolia's first state mining company, which collapsed in the 1990s in the midst of a post-communist economic crisis. The firm's dilapidated buildings dot the landscape.

With the economy slowing again after a commodities boom earlier in the decade, authorities fear more people could be tempted down the mines.

"More mines will probably be shut down," said Byambadorj, a woman who ran two private mine shafts with her husband for 13 years until the government closed them in June.

"In Nalaikh, life revolves around mining, and mining is the main means to support our lives," she says, insisting that her mines were operating according to the safety standards.

The government had tried to get companies to improve safety by issuing licenses. An official said nine companies had been granted licenses, but not all had met the standards.

"People were working in shafts with no air supply," said S. Battulga, an official whose department is responsible for reviewing mining licenses across the country.

"Therefore it was requested that the private mining licences in Nalaikh be cancelled," on health and safety grounds, he added.

Nalaikh authorities would like people to switch from mining to work in brick factories but no one seems keen to switch despite the danger.

In the past 25 years, the government has recorded 234 fatalities in Nalaikh's coal mines, although residents say the real number is hundreds higher. (Reporting by Joseph Campbell; Writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Robert Birsel)

By Joseph Campbell



Russia-China trade surges 26% in first half of 2017 www.rt.com

Trade between Moscow and Beijing has increased significantly in the first six months of the year, according to the Chinese customs administration.

Through June, trade between Russia and China was worth $39.78 billion. Russian exports increased 29.3 percent to $20.34 billion, while Chinese exports to Russia were up 22.2 percent to $19.44 billion.

In 2016, trade between Moscow and Beijing grew only 2.2 percent to $69.52 billion. The countries have set a goal to boost trade to $200 billion by 2020.

In July, the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the China Development Bank (CDB) agreed to establish a Russian-Chinese investment fund worth 68 billion yuan ($10 billion). It was created to make settlements in ruble and yuan easier.

Both Moscow and Beijing have repeatedly talked about the importance of payments in local currencies for bilateral trade.

The agreement was signed at a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, while he was in Russia on an official visit.

The countries are also jointly building the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility on the Yamal Peninsula in the Russian Arctic. Over the past year, Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia as China's top oil supplier.

China is building a new transport corridor to Europe as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (also known as the New Silk Road), which goes through Kazakhstan and Russia to Europe.