Chinese officials banned from smoking in public





>>  China continues Diaoyu Islands patrol

By Hu Longjiang

Three China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels patrolled territorial waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands on Sunday of December 29, according to the State Oceanic Administration.

The administration identified the three vessels as CCG 2337, 2112 and 2151.





>>  Chinese companies to put huge investment in Nepal’s defunct factory

By Ashok Thapa

Two Chinese firms, the Chenhui Minerals Limited and South China Mining Energy Company, which had previously applied to operate one of Nepal’s ailing state-owned enterprises, have committed to inject fresh investment worth 2 billion Nepalese rupees (some 20 million U.S. dollars) each to run the factory.

Earlier, in the first week of October, these firms applied to Nepal’s Industry Ministry for running the Nepal Metal Company Limited (NMCL) by taking all its shares.

Sending a separate detailed proposal to the ministry on Friday of December 27, the companies said both of them are ready to put in an additional around 20 million US dollars investment to operate the factory after procuring all shares and clearing all liabilities.

“They committed such a huge sum of amount only to operate the factory while it will cost much more for them to procure all shares in the factory and clear all of its liabilities,” Chitrangat Baral, an official of the ministry, told Xinhua on Sunday of December 29.

Though the ministry had previously said it would decide if to hand over the factory to one of the firms in mid-December, it could not do so after none of them succeeded to furnish the detailed proposal about their plans and future course of action so as to ensure the smooth operation of the factory.

“As these companies seem to be really interested to take over the company, we will make a decision within this week in regards to which among the two be given the factory to run,” Baral said, adding that the ministry has already agreed informally to hand over the factory to one of the Chinese companies.

“We are still going through the proposal sent by the Chinese companies. One of them having proper business plan and vision to run the factory in the long term will be awarded with the factory, ” NMCL Board Chairman Shankar Aryal told Xinhua.

The Chinese firms will soon be called to negotiate for the price of the factory, he added.

Established in 1976, the NMCL engages in mining, beneficiation and marketing of zinc-lead ores and concentrates.

The company based in Dhading district near Kathmandu however has never gone into full-fledged operation since its establishment because of the decade-long Maoist insurgency in Nepal.

“It’s better to hand over the closed company to these interested Chinese firms than letting the expensive machines to rust and we are positive about it,” Aryal said.

The government owns a 71 percent stake in NMCL while the Khetan Group of Nepal holds a 13 percent share, with the Hyderabad Industry Limited of India and KK Bamford Company of Hong Kong each taking 6 percent of the company’s shares.





>>  China Eastern flies Beijing-Bali for New Year

By Qian Chunxian and Huang Xin

China Eastern Airlines will fly direct from Beijing to the Indonesian resort island of Bali from December 31 to February 27, the company announced on Sunday of December 29.

Shanghai-based China Eastern will have three Beijing-Bali flights a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, departing Beiing at 15:30 local time and arriving at 22:30 local time. The return flight departs at 23:40 local time and lands in Beijing at 06:50 the next morning. An Airbus A330-300 aircraft will be used on the route, said the company.

Bali is a world famous tourist destination. The new route will mean more tourists from north China visit the tropical paradise during the 2014 Chinese New Year holiday period.





>>  Chinese officials banned from smoking in public

By Tian Ye

Chinese officials are asked to “take the lead” in adhering to the smoking ban in public spaces.

According to a circular from the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, officials are not allowed to smoke in schools, hospitals, sports venues, public transport vehicles, or any other venues where smoking is banned.

Government functionaries are prohibited from using public funds to buy cigarettes, nor are they permitted to smoke or offer cigarettes when performing official duties, the circular notes.

“Smoking remains a relatively universal phenomenon in public venues. Some officials smoke in public places, which does not only jeopardized the environment and public health, but tarnished the image of Party and government offices and leaders and has a negative influence,” reads the circular.

The sale of tobacco products and advertisements will no longer be allowed in Party and government offices. Prominent notices of smoking bans must be displayed in meeting rooms, reception offices, passageways, cafeterias and rest rooms.

China is the world’s largest cigarette producer and consumer. The number of smokers exceeds 300 million, with at least 740 million nonsmokers regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

In 2003, China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and it became effective in January 2006. The FCTC requires a reduction in tobacco supply as well as consumption. The 12th Five-Year plan (2011-2015) promised to ban smoking in public places.

Experts are widely critical of the current government effort, which lags far behind the FCTC standard, and no national law is yet in place banning smoking in indoor public places.





>>  Wedding banquet lands 94 diners in hospital

By Yao Yuan and Wang Yanming

China has ordered strict enforcement of a regulation that requires officials to report their assets and their family members’ earnings.

The Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee said in a circular issued recently that authorities will enhance supervision to ensure officials’ assets reports are accurate.

A revised regulation issued in 2010 requires officials to report their marriage status, property, and their children’s and spouses’ earnings, overseas business dealings and other investment activities.

But some corrupt officials have circumvented the regulation by transferring their illegal gains overseas, or to their spouses or children to avoid punishment.

According to the regulation, officials who fail to report their assets will not be promoted. They may also face punishments ranging from reprimand to dismissal.

Authorities will launch random checks on the authenticity and integrity of the reports, according to the circular.





>>  Grassroots medicine benefits Tibetans in NW China

By wang Wen and Li Linhai

Kelsang, 35, has spent two days being treated for flu in Nyanthok health center, and his wife for four, a total expense of 220 yuan (36 U.S. dollars).

They only have to pay five percent of their total costs. The remainder will be covered by medical insurance.

“Seeing a doctor is no longer expensive,” said Kelsang with a smile.

Since October, northwest China’s Qinghai Province has been running a diagnosis and treatment grading system which encourages patients to go to local health centers for minor illness such as colds and chronic diseases including diabetes and coronary heart disease. They should go county-level hospitals for small surgery like an appendectomy and to prefecture or provincial hospitals for the most serious problems.

“In the past, I went to prefectural hospitals when I was ill. It was both inconvenient and costly, so I chose not to go if I could stand the pain,” said Kelsang.

He was surprised that a township health center had qualified doctors, a nice environment and a wide range of medicine.

“My wife can lie down comfortably on a bed to receive her infusion,unimaginable in big hospitals where beds are usually held for the seriously ill,” said Kelsang. “In big hospitals, demand for beds always greatly exceeds supply.”

The Nyanthok health center in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Huangnan has seven doctors and nine nurses. The health center supervises six village health centers and takes care of 9,600 residents.

Han Fayun, head of the center, said the government gave a total of 384,000 yuan (40 yuan per resident per year) to set up health files, offer vaccinations, provide maternal and child health care as well as offering visiting doctors and nurses to patients with chronic complaints.

“At first I didn’t believe these physical examinations were all for free, but now I know,” said Kelsang. “Besides free check-ups, medicine is cheap.”

Having worked at the center for more than a decade, Han is delighted to see more locals coming for help.

“Our patients pay cost price of everything we prescribe, and pay only one yuan for all handling charges, such as fees for registration, diagnosis, treatment, and injection,” said Han, adding that as much as 95 percent of the expense can be covered from the patients’ health insurance. In big hospitals, the insurance may only cover 75 percent.

Han is proud of his work. He knocks on door after door with his fellow medical workers to ask if the elderly people or children in the families need anything.





>>  Tianjin Port throughput surpasses 500 mln tonnes

By Yao Yuan and Sun Honglei

Tianjin Port said on Sunday its annual cargo throughput crossed the 500 million tonnes mark for the first time, while remaining as the world’s fourth-largest harbor by cargo throughput.

Located on the coast of the Bohai Sea, the Tianjin Port follows the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, the Port of Shanghai — both in east China — and the Port of Singapore in terms of cargo throughput volume.

Improved infrastructure and steady goods flows from the inland have contributed to the rapid growth in the port’s throughput, with coal, oil products, ores and steel being the main goods delivered by the harbor, said officials at the Tianjin Port (Group) Co..

The largest comprehensive port in north China, the Tianjin Port has established trade ties with more than 500 ports in 180 countries and regions around the world.





>>  Chinese players spend 83 bln yuan on games in 2013

By Huang Xin

Game subscribers in China hit 490 million in 2013, with sales topping 83.17 billion yuan (13.6 billion U.S. dollars), the 2013 China Game Industry Annual Conference heard.

The number of subscribers rose 20.6 percent from a year previously and sales revenue surged 38 percent year-on-year, according to Sunday’s report.

Client games are most popular with a market share of 64.5 percent, followed by browser games, mobile games, social games and console games.

As sales of mobile devices continue to sizzle, mobile games have grown sharply compared to a few years ago, and games on televisions, reader handles and wearable devices will be where market players scrabble in the future, according to the report.





>>  51-bln-yuan in lock-up shares eligible for trade

By Xu Feng, Hua Yedi and Yang Yichen

Lock-up shares worth 50.8 billion yuan (8.32 billion U.S. dollars) will become eligible for trade next week in China.

The volume marks a huge rise from the 37.5 billion yuan seen from December 23 to 27, according to information from the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

Altogether, 45 listed companies on the two stock exchanges will see their lock-up shares released to capital markets next week.

Under the mainland’s market rules, major shareholders of non-tradable stocks are subject to one or two years of lock-up before they are permitted to trade.

Of all the companies with non-tradable shares becoming tradable next week, Chongqing Department Store Co., Ltd. has the most — 236 million non-tradable shares worth 5.13 billion yuan.





>>  20 injured in blaze in HK

By Zhao Jinghjing

More than 20 people were injured in a fire in North Point of Hong Kong on Sunday of December 29.

Fire erupted at a scaffolding outside Fung Wah Mansion on Cheung Hong street at around 7:23 a.m.Sunday.

Firemen had put out the fire and brought people in the building to safety, police said.

Fifteen injured people had been sent to nearby hospitals. The cause of the fire is still unclear, police added.







>>  Chinese icebreaker awaits better weather to rescue Russian ship in Antarctic

By Lu Rui

Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, on way to rescue a Russian science ship trapped off Antarctica, has stalled itself since midnight Friday of December 27 after getting stuck in thick ice only 6.1 nautical miles away from the Russian ship.

“Since the thick ice exceeds the ship’s icebreaking capabilities and an upcoming cyclone will exacerbate icy conditions, we have to temporarily stall the ship,” said Wang Jianzhong, captain of Xuelong.

The captain told Xinhua that they will stay still and secure ship safety before continuing rescue efforts in favorable weather conditions.

“We will also provide emergency relief and other assistance to the Russian ship to the best of our ability,” Wang added.

The stranded Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy can be seen through a powerful telescope on Xuelong. The helicopter aboard named Xueying 12 in Chinese, or Snow Eagle, cannot take off due to poor visibility and heavy snow.

Xuelong will do its utmost to approach the trapped Russian ship in the first place after communication, Wang said.

French icebreaker Astrolabe is also one the way to rescue, but a main engine has broken down due to the extreme weather, making it unable to offer help very soon.

The Russian ship, built in Finland in 1982, is carrying a team of Australian scientists and other passengers to conduct scientific experiments. It is scheduled to return to New Zealand in January 2014.





>>  China stops 63 batches of imported food 

By Zhu Shaobin and  Xu Bo

China’s principal quality watchdog announced that quarantine authorities disqualified 63 batches of imported food in November.

The disqualifications were mainly in 14 food products including sugar, wine and biscuits, and involved microbial contamination and additive irregularities, said Chen Xitong, a spokesman at the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Meanwhile, three batches of disqualified cosmetics were also reported last month, including perfume and mouth wash, Chen said at a press conference on Friday of December 27.

Local authorities have taken measures to return or destroy these disqualified products, the spokesman said.





>>  China’s economic reform will be faster than expected: CME Group

By Wu Xintao

The pace of Chinese economic reform would surprise people, and it will be faster than commonly expected, said Blu Putnam, Chief Economist at Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group, in London.

China appears to be choosing to accelerate its reforms and increase the pace of economic liberalization with more market-based initiatives, said Putnam in a recent interview with Xinhua.

“China managed its deceleration and transition to new leadership very well. We will be going to see a lot of market-oriented reform, more investments are allowed to the markets, particularly the futures markets, more Chinese investors have better linkage with the global markets, and a faster normalization of currency,” said Putnam.

A transition is under way to shift toward a more domestic demand-driven growth model. That transition is only likely to go well if greater price flexibility is provided to consumers and companies to improve the price discovery process and allow for more efficient allocation of resources and capital, said CME Group in its latest global economic outlook report.

CME Group forecasts that the average growth rate in the second 10 yeas of this century would be 6.5 percent, slower than the 10.5 percent in the first 10 years.

“This is a natural slowing process, but it is still a growth rate that any of the mature industrialized countries were chasing for,” said Putnam.

A faster pace of RMB (the Chinese yuan) normalization and an opening of markets to more international linkages now seems increasingly likely, in the context of economic model transition, analyses Putnam.

“The movement of the currency over the seven or eight years has appropriately balanced the pressure of demand and supply. So if the currency were totally free to trade it would probably stay around where it is now,” said Putnam.

“The RMB will become a major global currency, that is widely used in trade, but capital flows is much more important than the trade flows, in terms of how the currency is accepted globally. The capital flows will change over the next couple of decades, so the next decade is when the RMB we see where it will take its position in the world currencies.”

When talking about the opportunities for international financial companies like CME Group, the chief economist said: “The opportunity to CME is really a partnership. We’ve been very active over the last 20 years, becoming one of the partners with different futures exchanges in China. These markets will interact with markets all over the world, that interaction will be very exciting to the futures markets and derivatives markets around the world.”

Taking oil futures market as an instance, Putnam said, China has been a very large purchaser of oil, but its impact on oil prices is very muted now. When China develops its own futures market, it will have more impact.





>>  China’s national lawmakers reduced

By Fu Shuangqi and Cui Qingxin

China’s top legislature finalized the dismissal of Ji Jianye, former mayor of Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, as a national legislator on Saturday of December 28.

Ji was removed from his post as deputy to the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) on November 29 by the Standing Committee of the Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress, where he had been elected.

The NPC Standing Committee reviewed and upheld Jiangsu’s decision at its bimonthly session, which closed here Saturday.

Ji was dismissed as Nanjing mayor after he came under investigation for serious discipline violations this October.

A statement from the NPC Standing Committee said that three other NPC deputies had resigned and one had died, reducing the total number of NPC deputies to 2,984.

The resignations were from Wu Yulu, former president of a coal mining firm in central China’s Henan Province; Xu Long, former president and general manager of China Mobile’s branch in south China’s Guangdong Province; and Wang Shujun, former mayor of Anshun City in southwest China’s Guizhou Province. They resigned under discipline violation investigation.

Gao Xiaohong, a construction worker elected as NPC deputy in Beijing, died of illness in November.





>>  Former Nanjing mayor kicked out of top legislature

By Fu Shuangqi and Cui Qingxin

China’s top legislature finalized the dismissal of Ji Jianye, former mayor of Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, as a national legislator on Saturday of December 28.

Ji was removed from his post as deputy to the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) on November 29 by the Standing Committee of the Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress, where he had been elected.

The NPC Standing Committee reviewed and upheld Jiangsu’s decision at its bimonthly session, which closed in Beijing Saturday.

Ji was dismissed as Nanjing mayor after he came under investigation for serious discipline violations this October.





>>  Audit spots abuses of anti-poverty funds in China

By Zhan Yan

The National Audit Office (NAO) on Saturday of December 28 said some funds set aside for the disadvantaged regions were misused.

An audit was carried out across 19 counties in six provinces and regions, including Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia in April and May. It targeted funds appropriated to the 19 disadvantaged counties from 2010 to 2012.

During the three years, 3.92 billion yuan was injected into the 19 disadvantaged counties and the audit checked 32 percent of it, or 1.24 billion yuan.

It found 234 million yuan was misused through false declaration, embezzlement and waste, said Jiang Xiaohua, an official with the NAO.

A total of 137 people had been investigated as of Thursday, Jiang said.





>>  Forbidden City joins the 21st century

By Guo Likuan and Bai Ying

China’s Palace Museum, better known as the Forbidden City, opened a fan club on Saturday of December 28 and a Wechat account will go live on New Year’s Day.

Curator Shan Jixiang said on Saturday that the Forbidden City needs a greater social network presence and wants more fans online.

The Palace Museum presence online will feature microtopics and micro-exhibitions through WeChat, a hugely popular Chinese messaging app with more than 400 million users, to help viewers better appreciate the imperial buildings and cultural relics.

Since it opened its microblog account on January 1, 2011, the Forbidden City has won more than 4 million followers, according to the curator.

Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City was home to China’s emperors and was the highest center of power for about 500 years. It attracts more than 14 million visitors annually.





>>  Better broadband connects China’s villagers

By Zhu Shaobin

Broadband now connects 91 percent of Chinese village and more than 5,000 schools in remote, generally impoverished, settlements should be online within the year.

Coverage has increased from 88 percent at the beginning of 2013 with 19,000 more villages being caputred in net this year, according to the Industry and Information Technology Ministry.

The three major telecom operators, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, have invested more than 6 billion yuan (almost a billion U.S. dollars) this year in villages.

In terms of telephones, 95.6 percent of villages with at least 20 households now have coverage, up from 95.2 percent at the start of 2013.

Chinese Internet users hit 604 million as of the end of September this year, according to the State Internet Information Office.





>>  China wins 124 world titles in 2013

By Cao Jianjie

Chinese athletes have won 124 titles from world championships and World Cup finals in 2013, according to a report from the State General Administration of Sport (SGAS).

About 32 percent of the titles came from 11 Olympic sports, which are swimming and diving, badminton, gymnastics, shooting, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling, short track speed skating, freestyle skiing, said the report.

The report also said Chinese have shattered 13 world records in 2013 including four from as many Olympic sports – namely, swimming, shooting, weightlifting and short track speed skating.

The report noted that China has won 2,876 world championships, Olympic and World Cup finals titles since 1978.





>>  Fireworks workshop blast kills six in central China

By Han Xiaojing and Tan Chang

Six people were killed on Saturday after a fireworks workshop blast in Changde City of central China’s Hunan Province, local authorities said.

The blast happened at around 7 a.m. at the illegal workshop in a village in Changde’s Lixian County. Five villagers, who were believed to be workers manufacturing the fireworks powder, died instantly, the Changde municipal government said in a statement.

The explosion caused a nearby house to collapse, killing an old man inside, the statement said.

The suspect who ran the illegal workshop has been taken into custody by police, it said.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.





>>  China’s special equipment accidents kill 24 in November

By Zhu Shaobin

Accidents involving the use of special equipment such as elevators and boilers left 24 people dead and 26 injured last month in China, a government official said.

The death toll was two less than that in the same period last year, said Chen Xitong, a spokesman for the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

The casualties stemmed from 16 separate accidents, with elevators reporting the most accidents at seven, Chen said at a press conference on Friday of December 27.

He added that investigations into the accidents are underway.

A lack of safety awareness, improper use of equipment and slack security management at work sites are mainly the causes to such accidents, which are reported on a monthly basis by the government agency.






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