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China Reform Monitor - No. 1289

Xinjiang residents forced to submit DNA samples;
China, ASEAN reach Code of Conduct "framework"

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
June 15, 2017

May 16:

China will begin the mass collection of DNA samples from residents in Xinjiang. Officials at the regional Public Security Bureau police force have
confirmed to the Associated Press that the agency has purchased at least $8.7 million worth of equipment to analyze the samples, and is planning another $3 million in additional related purchases. Last year, authorities required Xinjiang residents to submit DNA samples, fingerprints, and voice records to obtain passports or travel abroad. In Sheche County, Xinjiang, voiceprint collection systems and 3-D portrait systems are being installed. Since it started collecting DNA profiles in 1989, China has amassed the unique genetic information on more than 40 million people, constituting the world's largest DNA database, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

May 17:

Construction on the 252 kilometer China-Thailand high speed railway from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima will begin this year. The project will be extended another 355 kms to Nong Khai on the Thai-Lao border to join with China-Lao railway from Vientiane to Kunming, Yunan. The railways will also go south to Kuala Lumpur and finally Singapore. "We (Thailand and China) are almost done with the contract, 90 percent I will say, the construction will start in this year for sure," said Chatchai Thipsunaree, Permanent Secretary of Thailand's Ministry of Transport.
According to the official People's Daily, three problems remain unresolved: who will supply the construction materials; the appropriate Chinese "consulting fee;" and the need for Chinese engineers to receive Thai engineering certifications to work in the kingdom. Bangkok also plans to build another high-speed rail from Bangkok to Rayong which will connect with the China-Thailand railway.

A ceremony was held in Taiwan to announce that the Association of East Asian Relations will change its name to the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association,
the official China Daily reports. The head of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, Mikio Numata, Japan's chief representative to the island, attended the ceremony. Earlier this year, Japan's Interchange Association, responsible for maintaining unofficial relations with Taiwan, changed its name to Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, a move which drew strong criticism from China. China has urged Japan to abide by the One-China policy. In December 1972, Tokyo established the Interchange Association while Taiwan set up the Association of East Asian Relations.

May 18:

Philippine Senator Leila deLima is seeking an inquiry into the $167 million in mostly Chinese loans that the Rodrigo Duterte administration is taking to finance infrastructure projects,
The Philippine Star reports. Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also questioned the administration's plan to take a $500 million loan from China to modernize the country's military. Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police said China will donate 23,000 M4 rifles to boost its operational capabilities. Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he was informed of the donation of rifles during Duterte's visit to China in May for the One Belt, One Road conference. "So we will not buy anymore. China will be giving us and we will accept that because it is free," he said.

May 19:

ASEAN member-nations and China have completed a draft framework for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea,
The Straits Times reports. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin announced the draft agreement at a senior officials' meeting in Guiyang, Guizhou. The draft is an internal document and the 11 countries will not release a public draft while negotiations are ongoing. "We don't want any outside interference in this process," Liu said. When asked whether the COC will be legally binding, he said: "I cannot give you a definite answer now. I am sure it will be a very important point of discussion in future consultations." The draft COC framework will be voted on by foreign ministers during the ASEAN-China post-ministerial conference in August in the Philippines. It will form the basis for the next phase of negotiations, which is expected to produce a true, legally-binding COC.

[Editor's note: A COC has been in the making since 2002, when the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was signed. Yet, formal talks only began in 2013 after Manila filed a case against Beijing at an international tribunal questioning its territorial claims in the South China Sea. In the three years since, progress had been slow due to a lack of consensus in ASEAN and China's reluctance to sign a legally- binding COC. Negotiations accelerated last July after Foreign Minister Wang Yi suggested setting an official timeline to conclude a draft COC framework by the first half of this year.]

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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