China’s improved air standards cover more cities





>>  Chinese helicopter to rescue passengers from Russian vessel

in Antarctica: AMSA

By Wang Xiaoshu

The helicopter on board the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long will be used to rescue the passengers from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) confirmed on Tuesday of  December 31.

According to the AMSA, The Aurora Australis advised RCC Australia this morning it would be at risk of becoming beset by ice itself if it continued to make further rescue attempts.

The Aurora Australis made attempts on Monday to reach the MV Akademik Shokalskiy but was driven back into open waters due to adverse weather conditions such as winds up to 30 knots and snow showers resulting in poor visibility. The ship is currently located about 16 nautical miles east of the Russian vessel.

In preparation for the rescue, an area for the helicopter to land has been marked on the ice near the MV Akademik Shokalskiy.

But RCC Australia confirmed that this rescue will be a complex operation involving a number of steps and subject to factors such as weather.

The helicopter of Xue Long is unable to fly in the current weather conditions and will hold off on the rescue until conditions improve. Weather conditions are unlikely to start improving until Wednesday and decisions related to carrying out the rescue may be made at short notice.

RCC Australia has also been advised that all 52 passengers leave the MV Akademik Shokalskiy. And all 22 crew members are expected to remain with the vessel.

According to its arrangements, the passengers are expected to be rescued by helicopter in groups of 12 and will be initially transported to Xue Long. The Aurora Australis will then use its barge to transfer all 52 passengers on board their vessel.

The Russian ship, MV Akademik Shokalskiy, 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. And it sent a distress call on Christmas Day after becoming trapped in heavy sea ice in Antarctic sea.

The Aurora Australis is the last ship in the area that will be able to help. For the past days, two icebreakers, Chinese icebreaker Xue Long and French icebreaker Astrolabe, have already given up on efforts to push through the thick and dangerous ice floes to free the trapped ship.





>>  China suspends Pfizer imports

By Hu Longjiang and Hu Hao

China’s drug watchdog has decided to stop importing an injection from the Pfizer Inc., as the U.S. pharmaceutical maker failed in a supplementary application for drug exports.

China will not import Pfizer’s Fluconazole injection, used to treat monilial infection, until the company makes correction, the State Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday of December 31.

The administration said it recently inspected Pfizer’s Amboise factory in France and found that the factory did not submitted relevant supplementary applications in accordance with Chinese law and regulations.

The administration had invited staff from the company for a meeting, it said.

It urged overseas pharmaceutical companies to strictly abide by relevant Chinese laws and regulations on drugs and warned them not to adopt “differentiated treatment” policies in technological standards and drug quality.

Those who violate Chinese laws and regulations will be warned or banned from exporting drugs to or selling drugs in China, according to the administration.X Regarding China’s import ban, Pfizer said in a statement on Tuesday that the problem does not involve safety and quality.

Pfizer respects and values China’s laws and regulations and has taken correction measures, it said, adding that it will continue to cooperate with China’s drug authorities to ensure all its overseas factories supplying the Chinese market meet China’s legal requirements.





>>  Australia welcomes Chinese tourism boom

By Zhao Xiaona

China has passed New Zealand to top the list of international tourists to New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state of Australia, according to Premier Barry O’ Farrell.

The Premier issued a news release on Monday of December 30, saying that NSW becomes Australia’s most popular destination for both domestic and international visitors in 2013.

Recent figures showed that the number of Chinese visitors has increased 18 percent in the past year.

Meanwhile, a latest International and National Visitor Survey showed Chinese tourists stayed more than 11.6 million nights and contributed 1.4 billion Australian dollars (about 1.25 billion U.S. dollars) to the NSW economy, an increase of 178.5 million dollars (about 160 million U.S. dollars) on the previous year.

O’Farrell said NSW is experiencing a Chinese tourism boom, making the state’s tourism-related industries every reason to be optimistic about the year ahead.

The state government also promised to ensure NSW to be the top choice for Chinese families when they are making holiday plans.





>>  Israel keen on increasing trade with China

By Fan Xiaolin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday of December 30 that Israel has set a goal to consistently increase trade with China.

“This is one of the main horizons for ensuring the continued growth of the Israeli economy,” Netanyahu said during a meeting in his Jerusalem office of the Ministerial Committee on Advancing Economic Ties with China. The goal of the committee is to coordinate overall government activity in order to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

The relations between China and Israel have considerably tightened over the past year, with a series of high-level meetings between the Israeli Prime Minister and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Netanyahu also reported an increase in the arrival of Chinese investors to Israel. Israel’s National Economic Council Chairman Prof.Eugene Kandel, who chairs the inter-ministerial committee on strengthening economic ties with China, presented a working plan for 2014. It includes meetings between joint working groups on agriculture, water, energy, high-tech and clean-tech, which will be held in both Israel and China.

According to the plan submitted by Kandel, the commercial ties should be expanded through government-sponsored long-term projects rather than by encouraging individual companies to step up exports.

He added that since last May, “it is possible to see that interest in cooperation with Israel has grown immeasurably throughout the Chinese economy and we have the opportunity to make a significant breakthrough in this direction.”





>>  7-bln-yuan bridge over Yangtze River in east China opens

By Wu Xin and Sun Xiaozheng

The Maanshan Yangtze River bridge in east China’s Anhui Province opened on Tuesday of December 31 at a cost of seven billion yuan (about 1.14 billion U.S.dollars).

The main body of the bridge over the Yangtze River is 11.209 km long. The total investment is about 7.08 billion yuan.

The bridge starts in Laoqiao Township in He County of Maanshan City,and ends at Dangtu County of Maanshan City. With a total length of 36.27 kilometers, the bridge also links the planned Maanshan-Hefei highway.

The bridge has a total of six highway lanes with a designed passing speed of 100 km per hour.





>>  China voices confidence in Olympic security

By Cui Wenyi

China on Tuesday of December 31 voiced support for Russia and confidence in security at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics despite two blasts in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.

“(We) believe that the Russian side can ensure the security and make the Winter Olympics a great success,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing.

Two explosions took place on Sunday and Monday, leaving at least 32 dead and many others injured.

“We firmly oppose terrorist activities in any form,” Hua said, adding that China cooperates well with Russia to fight terrorism.

The 22nd Winter Olympic Games, the first to be held in Russia, are slated for Feb. 7 to 23 with 98 sets of medals up for grabs. Volgograd is some 690 km northeast of Sochi.





>>  Chinese, South Korean FMs discuss ties over phone

By Li Bo

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se, held phone talks on Tuesday of December 31 on bilateral relations.

The two foreign ministers fully acknowledged the sound development of China-South Korea relations in 2013.

In the new year, Wang said, both sides should implement the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, boost high-level exchanges, deepen strategic mutual trust and strengthen friendly cooperation in a bid to lift bilateral ties to a higher level.

Yun, for his part, said that South Korea thinks highly of China’s neighbor diplomacy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness and is ready to make joint efforts with China to push forward bilateral relations.

They also exchanged views on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine.

Wang noted that China and South Korea had strongly denounced Abe’s shrine visit respectively.

“Our response is just and legitimate. We are safeguarding human conscience, internationally acknowledged axioms and people’s dignity of the invaded countries,” Wang said.

Yun reiterated Seoul’s solemn position against Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

The two ministers also exchanged views on the situation of the Korean Peninsula.





>>  China welcomes Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners

By Liao Lei

China has expressed approval of Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners, urging Israel to stop settlements and work with Palestine to establish a proper atmosphere for peace talks.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on Israel’s Tuesday release of 26 Palestinian prisoners and its new plan to construct houses in the West Bank settlement.

Following those comments, Hua recalled Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s latest visit to Palestine and Israel.

“Minister Wang’s visit was aimed at pushing forward peace talks in accordance with President Xi Jinping’s four-point proposal, which was raised in May, for settling the Palestine issue,” Hua said.

Wang urged both sides, especially Israel, to have a sense of urgency, grasp the hard-won opportunities and adopt constructive measures for an early and substantial progress in peace talks, Hua said.

The Foreign Minister emphasized to both sides that the mutual recognition of each’s right to exist is the premise of peace talks, mutual care of each’s concern is essential, and to think from the other’s standing point is a positive way to push forward peace talks, Hua said.

The two sides vowed to insist on peaceful choice and appreciated the international community’s efforts for promoting talks, including those from China, she noted.

China has always been firmly advocating peace, actively pushing for peace talks, and sincerely promoting pacification of the Palestine-Israel issue, Hua said.

In 2013, China simultaneously hosted Palestinian and Israeli leaders in Beijing, raised the four-point proposal for settling the Palestine issue, held a United Nations’ conference on supporting Palestine-Israel peace talks, and supported Palestine’s capability building.

“As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a common friend of the regional countries, China will, in its own way, continue its positive and constructive role on the Palestine-Israel issue, and strive for an early, comprehensive and fair solution,” Hua said.





>>  Israel keen on increasing trade with China

By Fan Xiaolin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday of December 30 that Israel has set a goal to consistently increase trade with China.

“This is one of the main horizons for ensuring the continued growth of the Israeli economy,” Netanyahu said during a meeting in his Jerusalem office of the Ministerial Committee on Advancing Economic Ties with China. The goal of the committee is to coordinate overall government activity in order to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

The relations between China and Israel have considerably tightened over the past year, with a series of high-level meetings between the Israeli Prime Minister and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Netanyahu also reported an increase in the arrival of Chinese investors to Israel. Israel’s National Economic Council Chairman Prof.Eugene Kandel, who chairs the inter-ministerial committee on strengthening economic ties with China, presented a working plan for 2014. It includes meetings between joint working groups on agriculture, water, energy, high-tech and clean-tech, which will be held in both Israel and China.

According to the plan submitted by Kandel, the commercial ties should be expanded through government-sponsored long-term projects rather than by encouraging individual companies to step up exports.

He added that since last May, “it is possible to see that interest in cooperation with Israel has grown immeasurably throughout the Chinese economy and we have the opportunity to make a significant breakthrough in this direction.”





>>  China urges Cambodian dialogue

By Xiong Zhengyan

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman on Tuesday of December 31 urged Cambodian parties to settle differences through dialogue.

“We expect Cambodian parties to give priority to national interests, express appeals by legal means, properly settle differences and safeguard the country’s stability and tranquility,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing.

Hua made the remarks when asked to comment on the recent demonstrations and strikes organized by National Rescue Party, Cambodia’s main opposition party.

As a friendly neighbor, China supports the Cambodian government’s positive efforts to safeguard stability and accomplish economic development, Hua said.

On China-Cambodia relations, Hua reviewed the engagement between leaders of the two countries in 2013, saying leaders have reached important consensuses on bilateral friendship.

As guest of Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong will come to Beijing on Wednesday for the first meeting of Cambodia-China Inter-governmental Coordination Committee, Hua said.

The meeting, one of the consensuses between leaders in April, aims at planning and boosting bilateral cooperation and settling the major issues popping up in collaboration, Hua said.

“I believe the meeting will play a positive role in deepening bilateral all-round strategic partnership,” Hua said.





>>  China-funded highway extension to open in Sri Lanka

By Uditha

A 180-million U.S. dollar extension to Sri Lanka’s first highway, funded by China, will be opened at the end of January, an official said here on Tuesday of December 31.

The four-lane 35-kilometer extension of Sri Lanka’s first-ever expressway was constructed at a cost of 180 million U.S. dollars with funds from EXIM Bank of China.

The extension will have two interchanges at Wathawana area in Galle, Deniyaya Road and in Kokmaduwa along the Weligama Kananke Road.

According to the Secretary to the Ministry of Highways, Ports and Shipping Ranjith Premasiri, the expressway will be extended further from Matara to Hambantota.

According to the Highways officials, plans are afoot to further extend the expressway to link a Chinese funded harbor and international airport in Hambantota and feasibility studies for the proposed extension have already been completed.

The first phase of the southern highway was completed in Nov. 2011 at a cost of 700 million U.S. dollars and was also partly funded by the Chinese government.

A 272 million U.S. dollar Chinese funded southern railway project began construction in October. It will run parallel to the southern highway.

Since Sri Lanka ended a 30-year war in 2009, China emerged at the island’s largest loan provider with 1.2 billion U.S. dollars of loans in 2009 and 821 million U.S. dollars in 2010.

In 2011, the amount fell to 784.7 million U.S. dollars, but China remains involved in almost all the large scale projects taking place, according to the Finance Ministry.

Some of the biggest projects include a 1.3 billion U.S. dollar coal power plant on the northwestern shore as well as a host of other investments in the south of the country that are estimated to exceed 4 billion U.S. dollars, including a 1.2 billion dollar harbor.





>>  Nepal government poised to sign BIPPA with China

By Ashok Thapa

The government of Nepal has accelerated preparations towards signing Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) with China, government officials said on Tuesday of December 31.

Ministry of Industry (MoI) said it was ready to sign the agreement with the northern neighbor responding to the proposal from the Chinese government.

“Our ministry had received a proposal from the Chinese government for signing the pact some six months ago,” Yam Kumari Khatiwarda, joint secretary at the MoI told Xinhua by phone. She said the Chinese authorities had also sent a draft of BIPPA along with the proposal.

“Despite the interest shown by the Chinese government, we cannot fast-track the agreement signing process as the country began preparations due to the recently held election,” Khatiwada said.

“Meanwhile, it also took us longer to hold consultations with the line ministries and other stakeholders including the private sector bodies.”

Jeet Bahadur Thapa, a senior official at the ministry said his ministry has received some comments and feedbacks from the Foreign Affairs Ministry over the draft forwarded by the Chinese side a week ago.

“We are incorporating the comments in the draft and we will give it a final touch within two weeks,” he told Xinhua.

“The final draft will be sent to the Chinese government through Foreign Affairs Ministry along with asking the Chinese counterpart to fix the date for BIPPA signing.”

But officials at the ministry said though the date of the agreement signing is decided by the central government leadership, they assume the BIPPA with China will be signed within the next fiscal year.

The Chinese government has already signed similar agreement with 128 countries while the growing flow of investment from the Chinese investors has encouraged the Nepal government to sign the pact with it.

Investors from China have committed the largest sum of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Nepal, worth Rs 19.39 billion (about 190.98 million U.S.dollalrs), 89 percent of the total amount committed by foreign investors under FDI in the last fiscal year.

The MoI sources also said four other countries, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Pakistan and Turkey have also proposed to the Nepal government to sign BIPPA during the past six months.

“The drafts forwarded by these counties are under consultations. Once the agreement with China is signed, we will accelerate process to sign BIPPA with these four countries,” joint secretary Khatiwada added.





>>  Chinese custom influences Filipino way of celebrating New Year

By Alito Malinao and Tan Weibing

To a Filipino middle-class family, the New Year celebration is not complete without 12 kinds of round- shaped fruits on the dining table which the family members partake after the stroke of midnight on December 31.

This is a Chinese tradition in welcoming the New Year which the Filipinos have adopted.

The Chinese, however, need to have only eight round fruits on the table because the number 8 signifies good luck.

For Filipinos the belief is that the 12 round fruits represent 12 months of the year and assure good fortune to the family members all year round.

As a tropical country, it is not difficult in the Philippines to find round-shaped fruits such as oranges, watermelons, mangoes, pineapples, guavas, rhambutans, jackfruits, pomelos and peaches.

In the Chinese tradition, the pineapple is an important fruit for the New Year celebration because the “eyes” of the fruit symbolize success in one’s career and more opportunities in the coming year. In the Philippines, however, the pineapple is not given such importance. Filipinos do not place pineapples outside doors or on windowsills as some traditional Chinese families do.

But most Filipino families have adopted the Chinese custom of presenting red envelopes with new crisp peso (the Philippine currency) bills to children. Usually the children and even adults are asked to hold coins of various denominations and jump at the stroke of midnight, another Chinese tradition to usher in a prosperous new year.

The belief is that when children jump at the stroke of midnight, they will grow up a few inches in the coming year.

Many Filipinos also believe that having money in their pockets and wallets at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve will ensure a prosperous coming year; the crispier and bigger the better.

The Filipinos, like the Chinese, also believe that what you do at the beginning of the year will have an effect on your life at least until the end of the year.

The most popular New Year’s Eve tradition around the world is display of fireworks.

In the Chinese tradition, firecrackers or fireworks supposedly ward off misfortune and drive away evil spirits. But Filipinos tend to overdo the firecrackers and hundreds of children and adults suffer injuries or even deaths as a result of the wanton use of firecrackers.

The local government of Davao City in the southern Philippines has adopted a total ban on firecrackers because of the harm that the firecrackers have caused during New Year’s celebration.

There were those who suggested that the firecracker ban should be imposed nationwide but many Filipinos, particularly in Metro Manila, want to welcome the New Year with a “bang” literally.

Some gun-owners, including the police, have the penchant of firing into the air as part of welcoming the New Year. The bullets sometimes ricochet and hit innocent bystanders.

Every year, the Department of Health launches a nationwide campaign warning the people of the danger of exploding firecrackers, especially the bigger ones. But these exhortations are often ignored by the public. Two days before the New Year, authorities reported that some 200 have already been injured by firecrackers.

Some Filipinos now hit metal pots, pans and basins or blow their car horns just before midnight of Dec. 31 to make as much noise as possible in welcoming the new year.

As in other Southeast Asian nations, the large Chinese community in the Philippines has been exerting cultural influence on the Filipino way of life long before the coming of the Spanish and American colonizers.





>>  China appreciates IGAD mediation in South Sudan

By Sun Yi

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Beijing on Tuesday of December 31 expressed China’s appreciation and support for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in South Sudan.

Hua Chunying voiced the appreciation at a daily press briefing, when asked to comment on the IGAD summit which ended recently.

After last Friday’s summit in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, the bloc issued a communique condemning the violence in South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, which only gained independence in 2011 after breaking away from Sudan.

Hua said China has been actively engaged in promoting peace talks since the outbreak of the conflict, including working with relevant parties in South Sudan and providing humanitarian aid.

China’s special representative on African Affairs Zhong Jianhua made contact with all parties on the sidelines of the summit, and will push ahead his efforts in the area, she said.

China urged the two conflicting parties in South Sudan to take national and people’s interests first, respond to mediations by the international community and solve their dispute through talks, she said.

“For the next stage, China will step up communication and coordination with all parties to bring stability back to South Sudan at an early date,” Hua said.

South Sudan has been witnessing violent clashes between government troops and forces loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar.

IGAD is a grouping of east African states that include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.





>>  Chinese cargo ship catches fire in Mumbai: report

By Wu Qiang

A Chinese cargo ship caught fire in the sea on Tuesday evening of DEcember 31 in the jurisdiction of Yellow Gate police station of Mumbai, India, said local media.

A police officer said that their team had gone to the spot and they did not have information about any casualty till the reports filtered in, said local daily Times of India online.

The Mumbai fire brigade received a call about the fire at around 21:50, said the report.

Commander Rahul Sinha, chief public relation officer of the defense ministry, was quoted as saying he did not have much details about the fire and was collecting information.





>>  Xi’s speech on overall reform published

By Ren Ke

The full text of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s remarks on comprehensively deepening reform after a key meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were published on Tuesday of December 31.

Entitled “Unifying the Thought and Spirit of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee”, Xi’s speech was delivered after the key meeting that detailed the blueprint for China’s reforms in all aspects.

In the full text of the speech giving no occasion or time of delivery, Xi said the general objective for reform is improving the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and promoting the modernization of the state governance system and governance capacity.

Xi vowed to further emancipate thought, develop productivity and strengthen social vitality: the goals for reform, but also the conditions for achieving it.

Xi added that reform will focus on the economic system, in a bid to exert the traction of economic reform on reform in other fields, as economic base determines the superstructure.

The reform will keep to the direction of a socialist market economy system. Although China is an established socialist market economy, it needs further improvement, and the market needs further development.

Xi reiterated that the market should exercise a decisive role in distributing resources.

The Chinese president said the reform should promote social equity and justice, and improve the well-being of the people, in the midst of growing democratic, rights awareness and increasing complaints over social injustice.

The comprehensively deepening reform should use the people’s strength, Xi added, calling for making reform to mirror the people’s interests, opinions and suggestions.





>>  China to boost judicial transparency, fairness

By Yang Hui and Yang Weihan

China’s courts at various levels are required to impose standardized penalty measurement from Jan. 1, 2014, the latest boost to judicial transparency and fairness, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) said on Tuesday of December 31.

The SPC has previously issued two specific circulars on the standardized penalties in local courts, asking them to to accurately determine criminal responsibilities that defendants should bear, according to a guideline from the SPC.

Penalty measurement refers to discretion as to whether defendants should be sentenced to punishment below or above the norm.

The guideline specifies procedures assessing penalties for 15 crimes including intentional injury, robbery and rape.

It also asked the courts to combining punishment with leniency, stating that violent and drug crimes should be heavily punished based on benchmark sentences, while leniency should be showed to those involved in less serious crimes.

Standardized penalty measurement has been trialed since 2008 and the overall effect proved to be positive, the SPC said.




>>  China to improve rural schools

By Fu Shuangqi

China plans to improve schools in poor rural areas over the next three to five years, said the Education Ministry here on Tuesday of December 31.

The program will mainly cover schools in west and central China, with the addition of a few poor areas in the east, said a ministry statement.

The government will invest in school facilities including classrooms, dormitories, playgrounds, canteens, toilets and drinking water supply, as well as providing them with adequate teaching equipment, the statement said.

All current village schools will be made operational and the class size of township and county schools will be reduced to a maximum 45 students in primary and 50 students in middle school classes.

The ministry wants keep the dropout rate in primary schools under 0.6 percent and at middle schools under 1.8 percent, the statement said.

County governments in poor areas are asked to draw up detailed plans for each school that needs improvement. All plans will be submitted to the central government for review.

The program funds will come from the central budget, in addition to provincial and county governments.





>>  China to step up care for the elderly

By Zuo Yuanfeng and Cui Jing

The Chinese government has released a guideline on enhancing senior care services for people aged 60 and older.

The document, jointly released on Tuesday of December 31 by 24 departments including a national working committee on aging, aims for comprehensive and improved policies and services, a more respectful public environment and more effective implementation by 2015.

The document urges health institutes to set up health profiles for locals over 65 and provide free health checks at least once a year.

Public transportation should designate at least 10 percent of seats for the sick, the disabled, the elderly and the pregnant.

According to the document, elderly support management work will be regulated further by 2020, with more varieties of senior care services and better capacity.

The guideline aimed to address various problems in the country’s elderly care system such as vastly different caring standards among provinces, weak government financial support and caring capacities not meeting demands.

Local governments were encouraged to set up their own caring standards and specify target groups in line with the document and local reality.

The document also cited preferential policies and services in government administration, commercial services, and cultural and sports activities, such as free access to museums and galleries.

In addition, it called for more timely and effective handling of public complaints over services for the elderly.

Also on Tuesday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs released a circular urging a pilot reform in state-sponsored care homes that clarifies their functions to improve management and service.

According to the circular, nursing homes will disclose their services details and the senior members’ status for public scrutiny and official evaluation.

These nursing homes will increase investment in infrastructure, providing more beds while training staff.

The circular said that state-sponsored care homes that specialize in for-profit services should be transformed into enterprises if conditions permit.




>>  China’s improved air standards cover more cities

By Yang Hui and Fu Ruizhen

China’s improved air quality monitoring standards will apply in more cities from Wednesday of January 1, the latest effort to combat air pollution.

The number of cities covered by the tighter standards will rise from 74 to 161. The cities will be required to issue real-time air quality monitoring data, according to a statement from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The new standards, which included indices for ozone and PM2.5 (airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns) come into use on January 1. Previously, PM10 was the main indicator of air quality.

The new standards come in response to public debate in 2011, when people became aware of the huge discrepancies between the air quality data published by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and that of local environmental agencies.

Central and local governments will invest about 440 million yuan (72.68 million U.S. dollars) to improve monitoring, and the ministry will use nearly 100 experts to overhaul such monitoring stations nationwide.





>>  Education ministry launches Android app

By Liu Lu and Yu Xiaojie

The Ministry of Education launched its Android app and the mobile version of its website on Tuesday of December 31.

Android users can visit to download the app and get access to the mobile version of the website via cell phones and other mobile devices.

The ministry started its official microblog on Jan. 1, 2013, and opened a WeChat account on Dec. 1, 2013. The microblog has attracted almost six million followers so far.

The ministry said that it provides multiple platforms, including its website, mobile website, Android apps, microblog and WeChat, to better interact with users and offer convenient and timely information on education.





>>  ”Police Story 2013″ tops Chinese box offices

By Guo Likun

“Police Story 2013,” a new action thriller from Jackie Chan, ruled China’s box offices in the past week, grossing nearly 288 million yuan (47.29 million U.S. dollars) in the six days since it hit screens on Decembe 24, according to a film industry weekly.

The movie was shown on about 219,800 screens, with 7.11 million admissions during the period, China Film News reported on Tuesday of December 31.

“Personal Tailor,” the latest comedy from popular director Feng Xiaogang, which had ranked first in the previous week, was second on the charts for December 23-29, taking in 220 million yuan.

“Firestorm,” a Hong Kong action film, came in third, taking in 33.5 million yuan during the week.





>>  3,000-year-old tombs bear secrets of ancient Zeng State

By Cao Kai, Wang Xian and Yu Pei

Archaeologists announced that more than 2,000 relics dating back more than 3,000 years and discovered in central China’s Hubei Province are likely to reveal the mysteries of the Zeng State during the early Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC).

Two excavations at the Yejiashan Graveyard in Suizhou City, which began in June 2011 and March 2013 respectively, have led to the discovery of 140 tombs and 7 horse pits, where a large amount of pottery, bronzeware, lacquerware, protoporcelain and jade were unearthed, said Huang Fengchun, head of the excavation team, at a symposium on Monday of December 30.

The graveyard consists of a cluster of tombs believed to have belonged to three emperors of the Zeng State, an affiliated state of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

The excavation of the Yejiashan Graveyard is of great academic significance for the research of the enfeoffment system in the Western Zhou Dynasty, said Ye.

Further excavation will probably unravel the mysteries of the Zeng emperors, said Li Boqian, an archaeologist at Peking University.

First discovered in 2011, the Yejiashan Graveyard was named among China’s Top 10 Archeological Findings that year by China Cultural Heritage News, a publication affiliated with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

The latest excavation has found the dynasty’s first painted bronze and a tomb holding a set of 19 dings (cooking vessels) and 12 guis (food containers), which surpassed the burial norms for a king.





>>  China installs faster education backbone network

By Fu Shuangqi

China’s first coherent 100G network was officially operational on Tuesday of December 31, as the expanded education and research network (CERNET) passed an acceptance check .

CERNET,the national academic computer network, can now run 100G signals, while most backbone networks are still restricted to 10G.

The network extends over 21,700 km, linking 34 cities in 29 provinces, and providing a minimum 1G access for more than 2,000 universities and research institutes. About 500 of them will have a minimum of 10G access, according to CERNET sources. All equipment used was developed and made in China.

The network is not only updated with greater capacity but also has better security and management, according to Prof. Wu Jianping, of the Department of Computer Science and Technology, Tsinghua University, head of the CERNET expert panel.





>>  China to maintain prudent monetary policy, liquidity: monetary-policy committee

By Lin Jianyang

China should continue its current prudent monetary policy and maintain appropriate liquidity for the world’s second-largest economy in 2014, the monetary-policy committee advising the People’s Bank of China (PBOC, central bank) said on Tuesday of December 31 in a statement.

The Chinese central bank should also keep money supply and total social financing (TSF) growing at a reasonable pace, and optimize financing and credit structures, said the statement, which came after a regular quarterly meeting of the committee.

The central bank should embed reforms in its daily macroeconomic management and continue improving the efficiency of China’s financial market, it said.

More work should be done on interest rate liberalization, reforming the Renminbi exchange rate regime and keeping the Renminbi exchange rate basically stable at a reasonable and balanced level, it said.

The 15-member monetary-policy committee, headed by central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, is a consultative body for the making of monetary policy by the PBOC.

The committee is usually comprised of senior government officials from the Finance Ministry, statistics bureau and other financial regulators, as well as members of academia. It meets quarterly and makes policy suggestions.





>>  China approves five new listings, resumes IPOs

By Han Qiao

China’s state securities regulator approved the listing of five companies on Monday evening of December 30, signaling the resumption of initial public offerings (IPO) on its stock markets after a break of more than one year.

More companies will receive approval in the coming days, and about 50 companies are expected to complete preparation for listing by the end of January, Tuesday’s China Securities Journal reported.

China has an approval-based IPO system, whereby new listing candidates go through multiple rounds of reviews to receive approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

The country halted new share listings in the fourth quarter of 2012 in an effort to prop up the ailing stock market and reframe the country’s IPO mechanism.

The CSRC last month unveiled a reform plan for the new share issuance system, building up market expectations for IPO resumption.

The plan aims at making reviews of new listing candidates more transparent and valuations of new share offerings better reflect the demand-supply dynamics.





>>  Hong Kong fiscal reserves stand at 710.2 billion HKD

By Wang Xin

The Hong Kong government announced on Tuesday of December 31 that fiscal reserves stood at 710.2 billion Hong Kong dollars (91.6 billion U.S. dollars)at November 30, compared to 733.9 billion Hong Kong dollars eight months before.

The government announced its financial results for the eight months ended November 30. There was a surplus of 15.6 billion Hong Kong dollars in November, reducing the deficit for the eight-month period to 23.7 billion Hong Kong dollars.

Expenditure for the period amounted to 264 billion Hong Kong dollars, with a revenue of 240.3 billion Hong Kong dollars.

The improved financial results in November were mainly due to the collection of profits tax. Revised estimates for the current financial year will be published along with the 2014-15 Budget on February 26.





>>  Tibetan economy up 12.5 pct in 2013

By Qin Yazhou, Wang Jun and Li Baojie

The economy of Tibet is estimated to have grown 12.5 percent in 2013 to reach 80.2 billion yuan (13.2 billion U.S. dollars), local authorities said on Tuesday of December 31.

The growth rate was 0.5 percentage points higher than last year. Gross domestic product (GDP) in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region is up 82 percent in just four years.

Tibet’s GDP has maintained double-digit growth for the past two decades.

In 2013, fixed-asset investment rose 28 percent to 91 billion yuan, while retail sales are estimated to have jumped 16 percent to 28.9 billion yuan, Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party chief of Tibet told the region’s economic conference.

The region is estimated to have played host to 13 million tourists in 2013, up 22.8 percent.

The per-capita cash income of farmers and herdsmen is estimated at 6,520 yuan, an increase of 14 percent. Average urban income looks to have risen 11 percent to 20,192 yuan.





>>  Mainland tourist in Taiwan has bird flu

By Tian Ying and Zha Wenye

Taiwan’s disease control authorities announced Tuesday that a tourist from the mainland was confirmed with H7N9 avian influenza, the island’s second imported case of the virus.

The 86-year-old man from the Jiangsu Province entered Taiwan on December 17, and showed first symptoms on December 19, and had difficulty in breathing by December 23. He has been hospitalized since Decembe 24.

The man’s two daughters traveling with him have stayed on the island to look after him, show no symptoms. The other 22 from the tour group have returned to the mainland.

The first imported case of H7N9 in Taiwan occurred in April this year.





>>  South China nuclear plant starts operation

By Wang Pan and Li Baojie

The first generating unit of the Yangjiang nuclear power plant in south China’s Guangdong Province began trial operations on Tuesday of December 31.

The No. 1 unit was connected to the power grid Tuesday, the Yangjiang Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. said in a statement.

The plant, at an estimated cost of 73.2 billion yuan (12.1 billion U.S. dollars), is scheduled to start commercial operations in a few months.

Construction on the No. 1 unit of the second nuclear power plant in Guangdong started in mid December 2008. Its six units will generate 48 billion kwh of electricity a year after going into commercial operations around January 2019, the company said.

Compared with a similar coal-fired plant, Yangjiang can reduce coal consumption by 15.6 million tonnes of standard coal a year. It can also help cut emission of carbon dioxide by 38.3 million tonnes per year and that of sulfur dioxide by 370,000 tonnes.





>>  China stocks close higher as 2013 closes

By Zhu Shaobin

Chinese shares closed higher on the last trading day of 2013, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up 0.88 percent, or 18.45 points, to finish at 2,115.98.

The Shenzhen Component Index rose 1.53 percent, or 122.49 points, to finish at 8,121.79.

The gains on Friday did not reverse the losing trend of the stock market in 2013.

While the Chinese economy expanded 7.7 percent in the first three quarters, the Shanghai Composite Index has declined more than 7 percent since the markets opened for trading on Jan. 4, and the Shenzhen Component Index made an annual loss of almost 11 percent, putting Chinese stock markets among the world’s worst performers.

Low confidence in the nation’s stock market due to its multiple weaknesses diverted investors to other more profitable choices, said Lei Li, an analyst at, a financial services provider. High levels of profit-taking and financial scandals further hurt confidence, Lei said.

Compared to the bleak performance of the main board, the ChiNext Index, tracking China’s Nasdaq-style board of growth enterprises, closed the year with an annual gain of more than 80 percent, amid the nation’s efforts to push forward economic restructuring by promoting emerging industries.

The ChiNext fell 0.27 percent to close at 1,304.44 on Tuesday after the the nation’s securities regulator approved the listing of five companies on Monday evening of December 30.

This resumption of initial public offerings (IPO) comes after a break of more than a year. The China Securities Regulatory Commission unveiled a reform in late November that no longer requires the market regulator’s approval for new IPOs. More companies are expected to complete preparation for listing by the end of January.

In Tuesday’s trading, total turnover on Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses rose to 163.76 billion yuan (26.86 billion U.S. dollars) from 160.18 billion yuan on the previous trading day.

Brokers and bank shares led the rise with China Merchants Securities up 1.52 percent to 12.68 yuan per share; Ping An Bank surged 4.34 percent to 12.25 yuan; China Life gained 1 percent to end at 15.13 yuan.





>>  8 foreigners busted in China drugs raid

By Yao Yuan and Fu Qing

Eight foreign nationals have been detained on suspicion of drug trafficking in south China’s Guangdong Province, local police said Tuesday.

The public security bureau of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, said police confiscated 12.51 kg of drugs including methamphetamine and heroin last week.

The arrests were made in a hotel and a rental house in the city’s Yuexiu District on December 28. after police seized crystal meth from in the mail on December 26 and launched investigation.

The bureau did not reveal the nationalities of the suspects.

Drug trafficking is a felony in China. Those convicted of trafficking more than 50 grams of heroin can face capital punishment.





>>  Frost damages crops in southwest China

By Ji zhepeng and Li Baojie

Freezing weather, snow and frost have damaged 10 million mu (670,000 hectares) of crops in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, local authorities said on Tuesday of December 31.

The weather also damaged tropical and subtropical cash crops such as coffee and rubber, flowers and vegetables, the provincial agricultural department said in a statement.

The freezing weather and frost have inflicted a direct economic loss of 11.8 billion yuan (1.9 billion U.S. dollars) to the agricultural, forestry, animal husbandry and fishing industries, it said.

The province experienced sharp temperature drops of up to 18 degrees as of December 14 and only saw temperature climb again late last week.

The cold weather, snows and frosts even killed 21,400 head of livestock, the agency added.





>>  Gas poisoning kills 9 in SW China

By Yao Yuan and Hu Xing

Suspected gas poisoning claimed nine lives in a village in southwest China’s Guizhou Province on Tuesday of December 31, local authorities said.

An official with the government of Weining County, Bijie City, said the eight bodies were found in the house of a villager named Zhang Zelong after police received a report at 5:10 p.m..

Police suspected a liquified gas leak caused the death. An investigation into the case is ongoing.








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