Beijing to reward terrorism whistleblowers

 

 

 

 

 

>>  China, U.S. eye dialogue between land forces

By Cui Wenyi

Senior military officials of China and the United States on Friday of February 21 agreed to strengthen pragmatic cooperation and embark on a dialogue mechanism between the two land forces.

During the talks with the U.S. Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, Wang Ning, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said that the two sides reached a consensus on developing a new model of military-to-military relations based on the new model of China-U.S.relations.

Wang said the two sides should continue to enhance dialogue, boost mutual trust, properly handle differences and strengthen cooperation,especially in the fields of antiterrorism, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping operations and college education.

Odierno said the U.S.side believes it is important to establish strong military relations. Land forces of the two militaries should strengthen communication and cooperation from a long-term perspective.

 

 

 

 

>>  Don’t hype China’s U.S. T-bond trim: economists

By Zhang Zhongkai and Liu Xinyong

Senior economists have argued against reading too much into China reducing its holdings of U.S. treasury bonds in December with its biggest monthly cut in two years.

China, the largest holder of U.S. treasury bonds, slashed its holdings by 47.8 billion U.S. dollars in the final month of 2013, statistics from the U.S. Department of the Treasury showed on Tuesday of February 18.

The cut came abruptly after the country’s continued raising of holdings of the bonds for three consecutive months from September to November last year.

However, on a year-on-year basis, China’s holdings of U.S. T-bonds rose about 4 percent by the end of last year to 1.27 trillion U.S. dollars, maintaining its position as the largest foreign creditor the United States.

And experts warned against hyping the temporary drop in December, forecasting that China’s holdings will remain steady in the next few years due to its enormous foreign reserve stockpile and the quality of dollar assets.

The cut is just an investment adjustment in line with domestic situations and the international economic environment and is within a rational scale of fluctuation, said Tan Yaling, president of the China Forex Investment Research Institute.

“There is no need to make a fuss about it, as either a rise or a fall in a country’s holdings is normal market operations,” Tan said.

As the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to taper its quantitative easing last December brought an upbeat note to investors, the yield of its 10-year treasury bonds surged to 3 percent, the highest since July 2011.

The high yield dragged down bond prices and sapped the value of China’s holdings.

However, Tan argued that China’s persistent holding of a large amount of U.S. T-bonds is a sensible choice, as the bonds stand out among limited investment choices due to their relatively low risks and stable returns.

China’s foreign exchange reserves reached 3.82 trillion U.S. dollars by the end of 2013. This means that China put about a third of its reserve stockpile in U.S. T-bonds.

The amount of reserves is expected to further increase as China faces surpluses in both the current account and capital account, said Asian Development Bank economist Zhuang Jian.

As the reserves rise, China’s investment into U.S. treasury bonds is not likely to fall in the next few years, Zhuang said.

Guo Tianyong, a professor at China’s Central University of Finance and Economics, pointed out that there are risks in having too big a share in U.S. T-bonds.

“Due to the U.S. quantitative easing in recent years, the value of China’s dollar assets were in effect diluted, and the yield was not that high with the depreciation of the U.S. dollar,” according to Guo.

To better manage the investment of foreign reserves, China should diversify its investment portfolio to wean itself off over-reliance on dollar-based assets, he said.

Meanwhile, the growing forex deposit should be further tapped to benefit domestic economic development by encouraging firms and institutions to hold more foreign exchange, Guo added.

His views were echoed by Tan, who said that the enormous stockpile must be tamed to serve China’s real economy, instead of being a burden for investment.

Zhuang suggested that China diversify the use of foreign reserves by further encouraging companies to compete in the global marketplace, expanding channels for corporate and personal uses, and importing resource-related products and technologies.

The country should also seek balance in both its current account and capital account to relieve the appreciation pressure for the yuan and curb the rapid expansion of foreign reserves.

 

 

 

 

>>  China urges Ukraine to resolve crisis

By Hou Lijun

China on Friday of February 21 urged the two opposing sides in Ukraine to exercise maximum restraint and seek a resolution within the legal framework.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on the current situation in Ukraine as well as the sanctions against Ukraine from the United States and the European Union (EU).

Escalating violence in central Kiev, the capital, has left 77 people dead and more than 500 injured over the past four days.

Hua said China expressed great concern over the situation in Ukraine and worried about casualties during clashes.

“China condemns the extreme violence in Ukraine and holds that all parties should express their appeals through legal means,” she said.

The spokeswoman called on the rival sides to restore social order as soon as possible for the benefit of Ukraine’s people and regional stability.

The United States refused visas on Wednesday on some 20 Ukraine government officials and individuals, while the EU agreed on Thursday to impose a travel ban and freeze assets of Ukrainians they deemed responsible for human rights violations and violence.

Russia, which wields heavy influence on Ukraine, urged the Ukrainian government to act more resolutely amid the current unrest and demanded the radical opposition stop violence.

Russia on Thursday also criticized Western threats to impose sanctions on Ukraine as blackmail and double standards.

China hopes that the international community will make positive efforts and play a constructive role in stabilizing the situation in Ukraine, said Hua.

Protests in Ukraine, which began last November to back the country’s European integration, turned violent in mid-January.

 

 

 

 

>>  China calls Vienna talks a “good start”

By Hao Yalin

China on Friday of February 21 hailed the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna as positive and constructive, which will be a good start for negotiation on a comprehensive agreement.

“This round of talks will help maintain the momentum of dialogue. It also laid a good foundation for negotiation on a comprehensive agreement,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, referring to the Vienna talks which ended on Thursday.

The talks involved Iran and the P5+1 including China, Britain, France, Russia, the United States and Germany.

Hua told a regular press briefing that all parties showed willingness to solve each other’s concerns, conducted substantive discussions on the specific elements a comprehensive agreement involves, and made a timetable for the next round of talks.

She briefed the press on the five principles China put forward, including sticking to the process of P5+1 dialogue with Iran, seeking a comprehensive, fair and appropriate long-term solution, following the principle of step-by-step and reciprocal process, creating a favorable atmosphere for dialogue and negotiation, and pursuing a holistic approach addressing both symptoms and root causes of the issue.

“The five principles aim to help all parties bridge their differences and build a consensus. All sides recognized these principles as positive for promoting the dialogue process,” Hua said.

She said more complicated and sensitive problems will come out as the talks enter a new phase of comprehensive agreement negotiation.

China will join with all parties, in the spirit of the five principles, to continue to promote the negotiation, and play a constructive role in the search of a comprehensive, long-term and appropriate solution of the Iran nuclear standoff, the spokeswoman added.

The next round of talks was set for March 17.

 

 

 

 

>>  China urges Japan’s explanation for storage of weapons-grade nuclear material

By Sun Yi

China here on Friday of February 21 called on Japan to face the international community about its weapons-grade plutonium.

“China has grave concerns over Japan’s storage of weapons-grade plutonium, and lodged representations to the Japanese side recently,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily press briefing.

She also noted that doubts, such as the whereabouts of the plutonium, should be clarified by Japan.

Reports say that since the nuclear security summit in Washington in 2010, the U.S. government has been pressing Japan to return 331 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium given to the country during the Cold War. The United States plans to reach an accord with Japan before the nuclear security summit in the Netherlands this March. Enditem

 

 

 

 

>>  China slams Japan’s attempt to overturn aggression history

By Wang Huihui

China on Friday of February 21 slammed Japan’s attempts to overturn its aggression history as it tried to retract its past apology on wartime sex slaves.

“Any move taken by Japan to deny their crimes and overturn its aggression history will spark firm opposition from the victim countries in Asia and the international community,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing.

Her comments came one day after Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated an overall review over interviews with 16 South Korean comfort women, who identified themselves as sex slaves during World War II.

Forcing women into sexual slavery was a grave crime against humanity by the Japanese military during WWII, and there was solid evidence for that, Hua said.

“We solemnly urge Japan to face up to and reflect on its invasion past, properly handle outstanding issues relating to history, including the issue of comfort women, so as to avoid going too far down the wrong path,” Hua said.

The interviews were conducted in 1993 by Japanese officials in Seoul, resulting later that year in the Kono Statement, an official apology by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono for forced prostitution by the Japanese Imperial Army.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry on Friday also slammed Japan’s attempt to retract its past apology to comfort women.

 

 

 

 

>>  Chinese vice FM hopes to promote easing of tensions on Korean Peninsula

By Peng Qian

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and his South Korean counterpart Lee Kyung-soo held a consultation on Friday of February 21 during Liu’s visit to South Korea, exchanging views on China-ROK relations, the regional situation and other issues of common concern.

Both sides agreed that China-ROK strategic cooperative partnership has made positive achievements since 2013. China decided to work with South Korea to deepen the bilateral exchanges and cooperation in the new year, advancing FTA negotiations and promoting the smooth operation of their common committee on cultural exchanges.

Liu briefed Lee on his latest visit to Pyongyang, expressing positive evaluations on the ease of tensions on the Peninsula since the beginning of 2014.

He said that the situation of Northeast Asia is so complicated that some uncertainties still exist on the Peninsula. He expressed the hopes all parties concerned would work together to promote the easing of tensions on the Peninsula, avoiding tensions such as what happened in the past.

Liu said China insisted on the denuclearization of the Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability of the region and solving problems through dialogues and consultations. China appreciated South Korea’s efforts to improve the North-South relations, urged both sides to continue their dialogues and cooperation to create conditions for an early resumption of the six-party talks.

The South Korean side thanked China’s contribution to maintaining the peace and stability of the Peninsula and promoting resumption of the six-party talks. Seoul is willing to keep close communications and cooperation with Beijing and make efforts to push for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Liu arrived in Seoul later on Thursday following his four-day visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). He will also meet South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae.

 

 

 

 

>>  Madrid’s Thyssen art museum “Chinese Friendly”

By Paul Giblin

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which houses many 19th century impressionist paintings, has become a “Chinese Friendly” place of interest in Spain.

The museum, part of Madrid’s “Golden Triangle of Art” along with the Prado and the Reina Sofia national galleries, follows the capital’s Ritz Hotel in becoming a model for cultural communication between China and Spain by making its facilities more accessible for Chinese visitors.

Other “Chinese Friendly” museums and cultural sites include the Flamenco Dance Museum in Sevilla, Colonia Guell and Bellesguard Tower in Barcelona, and the Interactive Museum of Music in Malaga.

The number of Chinese visitors to Spain increased 35 percent to more than 200,000 in 2013, making China the fastest growing tourism market for Spain.

 

 

 

 

>>  Cambodia’s trade with China’s Hong Kong up 19 pct last year

By Phnompenh

Trade between Cambodia and China’s Hong Kong increased by 19 percent in 2013, thanks to good ties between China and Cambodia, Raymond Yip, assistant executive director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said in Phnom Penh on Friday of February 21.

The total trade value between Cambodia and Hong Kong amounted to 1 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 19 percent year on year, he said.

Of the amount, Cambodia’s export to Hong Kong accounted for 108 million U.S. dollars, up 60 percent, he added.

“Cambodia’s development and market expansion is important to Hong Kong,”, Raymond Yip said at a seminar themed “Hong Kong, an International Hub for Legal and Arbitration Services.”

Hong Kong is Cambodia’s sixth largest trading partner. Currently, some 56 Hong Kong-owned garment and footwear factories are operating in Cambodia, employing about 35,000 workers.

 

 

 

 

>>  Chinese wind energy equipment to enter Swedish market

By Hai Mingwei and Wang Jian

Wind turbines produced by China’s Dongfang Electric Corporation Limited will soon be used in a wind power plant in Sweden, the company authorities said on Friday of February 21.

According to the contract between Dongfang and the Swedish company Skelleftea Kraft AB, the Chinese company will install turbines in the third phase of Blaken wind power plant.

It is the first time China’s wind energy technology has been exported to the Swedish market.

Dongfang Electric Corporation Limited, with headquarters in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, is a leading power equipment manufacturer and service provider.

The Blaken wind power plant, with 100 turbines and total installed capacity of 250MW, will be one of Europe’s biggest wind power plants upon completion.

 

 

 

 

>>  China remains Vietnam’s third largest export destination in January

By Ngan

China ranked the third among Vietnam ‘s export destinations in January after the United States and Japan, with a total value of 1.01 billion U.S. dollars, said General Department of Vietnam Customs on Friday of February 21.

Vietnam’s export revenue to China saw a decrease of 21.02 percent over the previous month and 13.91 percent year-on-year, said the department.

Computer and electronics topped the list of Vietnam’s major exported items to China with turnover of 136.72 million U.S. dollars, accounting for 13.5 percent of Vietnam’s total export turnover to the market during the period.

Cassava and its products sat the second place with 96.26 million U.S. dollars, accounting for 9.5 percent of the country’s total export revenue to China in the first month of 2014.

Remarkable declines were witnessed in Vietnam’s farm, fishery exports in January to China including rubber, rice, cashew nuts, tea, and coffee among others, according to Vietnam Customs.

In 2013, Vietnam exported to China some 13.1 billion U.S. dollars worth of products, an increase of 2.1 percent year-on-year, said Vietnam’s General Statistics Office.

 

 

 

 

>>  China friendship improving life in Pacific: Cook Islands PM

By Huang Xingwei and John Macdonald

People of the Cook Islands on Thursday of February 20 were celebrating a very happy day, with a new water system that would change lives in the Pacific nation, thanks to the deep and growing friendship with China, said Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua after a ground-breaking ceremony for the Te Mato Vai water supply project on Rarotonga, Puna said the nation’s water problems were being addressed “in a very comprehensive way.”

The largest infrastructure project in the Cook Islands, Te Mato Vai is a “triangular” partnership between New Zealand, China and the Cook Islands to replace the island’s aging water network with an investment of 65 million NZ dollars (53.96 million U.S. dollars) .

“Today’s a very important day, a very important and happy day for us because our partnership, our relationship, has finally come out in the open in this very important project. So for me and the Cook Islands it’s a big day and a very happy day,” said Puna.

“I love our relationship with China and it’s a relationship that is growing and growing. We think of China as our very special friends. This project just shows how deep and special that friendship is.”

Earlier at the ground-breaking ceremony, Puna said in a speech that the three nations were “pioneering a new collaborative force in economic cooperation and sustainable development in the region.

“As a collaborative model, the water project carries with it the innovation and foresight of the three countries, which recognize the value of respective strengths and expertise, the importance of sharing skills and resources, and significance of how much difference can be made to the lives of so many people by just working together,” said Puna.

“The water partnership project with our two closest friends will change our lives forever, and the vulnerabilities of aging and inadequate water supply systems will be put behind us once and for all,” he said.

 

 

 

 

>>  China, Cook Islands, NZ tripartite water project launched in Rarotona

By Huang Xingwei

China, New Zealand and Cook Islands on Thursday of February 20 jointly launched the construction of a water infrastructure project which will deliver an improved water main system to the people of Rarotonga, the Cook Islands’ main island.

The Queen’s Representative in Cook Islands Tom Marsters, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, Chinese Ambaassador to New Zealand and Cook Islands Wang Lutong, and Special Envoy of the China-Pacific Island Forum Li Qiangmin attended the launching ceremony.

It is the first time China and New Zealand have worked together to deliver a major development initiative in the Pacific.

The Rarotonga water project is not only the largest ever infrastructure project but also a significant livelihood project in Cook Islands. After completion, it will provide residents with safe and clean drinking water. And more significantly, it will help uplift locals’ level of health.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna said the tripartite arrangement, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, was the mark of deep friendship and respect between Cook Islands, China and New Zealand – a concerted willingness to cooperate on a development project of such a grand scale that it would attract international attention.

“Together, we are pioneering a new collaborative force in economic cooperation and sustainbale development in the region. As a collaborative model, the water project carries with it the innovation and foresight of three countries, which recognize the value of respective strength and expertise, the importance of sharing skills and resources, and significance of how much difference can be made to the lives of so many people by just working together,” said Puna.

“The Water Partnership Project with our two closest friends will change our lives forever, and the vulnerabilities of aging and inadeuqate water supply systems will be put behind us once and for all,” Puna added.

Wang Lutong said in his address that thanks to the close cooperation by the governments of Cook Islands, China and New Zealand, now it comes to the historic moment of launching.

Bearing in mind its important value and meaning to the people of Cook Islands, the Chinese government attaches great importance to the water project, he added.

As the largest developing country in the world, China has carried out South-South cooperations with Cook Islands and other developing countries through bilateral channels, helping them in economic development and improvement of people’s livelihood, Wang said.

“The Chinese side has maintained a positive and open attitude to the tripartite cooperation which could give full play to the respective strength of each party and better promote the development of the recipient countries, as well as in line with the common interests of the three parties. We also maintain that the desires and choices of recipient countries must be fully respected and the principles of helping the local peace and development followed, while carrying out cooperation step by step and starting from easy one first.”

The Rarotonga water project is the first tripartite cooperation for China, and fully reflects the sound relationship and deep trust among the three countries, said the Chinese ambassador.

New Zealand Foreign Minister McCully said the tripartite arrangement represents an innovative way to help Cook Islands achieve a development priority, and it marks a further step foreward in New Zealand’s valued relationship with China.

“This collaboration between the governments of New Zealand, China and the Cook Islands will not only provide the people of Rarotonga with an effective water supply system, it will also deliver to the global community a leading model of triangular cooperation. This form of collaroration in international development is novel.” said McCully.

Also inculded in the launching ceremony was the unveilling of a monument, which is described by project officials as a basalt rock structure, roughly two meters high, and features the project’s fish hook logo.

On Aug. 30, 2012, the governments of China, New Zealand and Cook Islands announced an initiative of triparite partnership in improving the water main system in Rarotonga.

 

 

 

 

>>  Chinese state councilor to visit three European nations

By Cui Wenyi

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi will visit France, Britain and the Netherlands on from February 25 to March 1.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the announcement at a regular press briefing on Friday.

 

 

 

 

>>  Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang to remake “Thieves” with UK producer

By Xia Xiao

Renowned Chinese movie director Feng Xiaogang said in London on Friday of February 21 that he would cooperate with British film producer Duncan Kenworthy to remake the former’s comedy drama “A World Without Thieves”.

Feng made the announcment when appearing at the British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank to attend a series of activities held for him, including a red carpet ceremony, film screening and a conversation.

“We have finished a draft script and going to carry out in-depth discussion about it,” Feng said, referring to the remake of “A World Without Thieves”.

“It’s not just remaking the Chinese version into an English version, but creating something new during the process, which is full of passion,” he said, adding he fully trust Duncan as they often agree on their judgments about films.

The week-long film screening at BFI will showcase selected works of Feng, including Aftershock, Assembly, Back to 1942 and If You Are the One.

The activities at BFI dedicated to Feng are part of the Electric Shadows, a yearlong event film trade and culture exchange event between China and Britain that was launched after British Prime Minister David Cameron ‘s visit to China last year.

During the event, a number of Chinese films would be screened in Britain in the coming months.

 

 

 

 

>>  Overseas-educated talent should be better used: official

By Li Zhihui

China’s top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Friday of February 21 called for the better use of overseas-educated talent to help promote reform and development.

Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks while meeting members of the board of directors of the Western Returned Scholars Association, which was founded in 1913.

The expertise, innovative minds and international vision of overseas-educated scholars are vital for the country’s modernization drive, which should be better used, Yu said.

The association should help overseas-educated scholars to contribute their talent. The government will support the association in improving its organization and working capabilities, he said.

President Xi Jinping encouraged overseas-educated scholars to serve as a talent pool at the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the association held in Beijing last year.

The association held its meeting of the seventh board of directors from Thursday to Friday. Chen Zhu, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, was elected chairman of the board.

 

 

 

 

>>  Chinese tourists to drive luxury products market

By Liu Tong and Ren Ke

Buying luxury products is one of the major reasons for Chinese to travel abroad, a sign that the country’s increasingly rich population will boost worldwide luxury sales, the China Youth Daily reported on Friday of February 21.

Some 64.6 percent of Chinese tourists bought luxury products during their travel to Hong Kong in 2013, 46 percent while in Europe and 33.4 percent while in the United States, the report said, citing data from online travel service Travelzoo.

In comparison, only 12 percent of China’s inbound tourists bought luxury goods in 2013.

The report said a high disparity in such products’ price tags between the Chinese and overseas markets is the major reason. China charges 30 to 40 percent as tariffs for imported luxury products, raising the price in China.

Tax rebate policies also help drive Chinese tourists’ purchases abroad, said the report. It estimated that overall tax rebates from European countries to Chinese tourists can add up to 3 billion euros annually.

Binge shopping is often associated with increases in Chinese outbound travel as many Chinese choose to go abroad during the National Day and Spring Festival holidays, with the two major vacations lasting up to seven days.

A previous report issued by Bain Capital drew an identical conclusion. Of the money Chinese spent on luxury products in 2013, two-thirds of it was spent abroad, it said.

Morgan Stanley also predicted that Chinese outbound tourists will spend an annual sum of 194 billion U.S. dollars overseas by 2015, nearly double the current level.

 

 

 

 

>>  China probes more senior officials

By Liu Tong and Ren Ke

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has picked up its fight against corruption after the Lunar New Year by announcing probes of another two vice-ministerial-level officials.

On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, the Central Commission for Discipline and Inspection (CCDI), the CPC’s anti-graft body, publicized on its website that Ji Wenlin, vice governor of south China’s Hainan Province, and Zhu Zuoli, senior political advisor of northwestern Shaanxi Province, were under investigation for “serious violations of discipline and laws.”

The two officials were removed from their posts on Thursday of February 20.

The bombshells pick up from the CPC’s tough measures against corruption at the end of last year, when barely a week passed without news of high-level officials being probed. In December alone, investigations were opened into five ministerial and provincial-level officials.

Li Chongxi, chairman of southwest China’s Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, was last among a series of “tigers” being investigated last year. He was removed from his post for suspected violations of discipline and laws.

Ji and Zhu put the number of high-level officials being probed at 20 since the 18th CPC National Congress witnessed a power transition among the CPC Central Committee.

“It’s some sort of extension of last year’s anti-graft efforts,” said Dai Yanjun, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. The fact that more than a month passed without any senior officials being brought down did not mean a suspension of the campaign, Dai added.

The lull may simply have been because authorities chose to hold off from announcing the news until after the Lunar New Year holiday, according to the professor.

Anti-graft work has been strengthened comprehensively since the congress, and it has been endorsed by the public. It has been impossible to overlook last year’s introduction of a number of key rules and regulations, including measures to curb extravagance during festivals, a five-year (2013-2017) plan on building a system to punish and prevent corruption, and the declaration that the efforts will target “tigers” as well as “flies,” meaning both high-ranking and grassroots officials.

Dai said the continuation of anti-graft work has also been reflected in further investigation of graft cases. People can see from public information that there seem to be links between the officials condemned last year and those being brought into the spotlight now.

For example, public records show that Ji has held a post in the CPC Sichuan Provincial Committee once chaired by Li Chongxi.

“Undoubtedly, more corrupt officials will be exposed as long as the anti-graft efforts investigate these networks,” said Dai.

Prof. Xie Chuntao with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee agreed that Ji and Zhu’s downfall is not “a reboot of the CPC’s anti-graft measures.”

It is very likely that the authorities pinned down their wrongdoing before the holiday, said Xie, adding that the CPC’s anti-graft plans were laid out at the third plenary session of the CCDI in January.

According to a communique issued after the session, the Party will carry on its anti-graft battle this year through reforming the supervision system and toughening punishment.

It will also sharpen the efficiency of CCDI inspections of provincial governments, state-owned enterprises and public institutions to discover malpractice and harmful work styles.

China’s anti-graft momentum has been strong since the 18th CPC National Congress, and it will keep on like this, said Xie.

 

 

 

 

>>  CPC campaigns to restore moral compass

By Wang Ruoyao, Xu Xiaoqing and Cai Min

Students of Tsinghua University Primary School in Beijing know all about China’s drive to improve its citizens’ etiquette as they get used to a new requirement to bow when meeting teachers and parents on campus.

The prestigious school enforced the rule to answer government calls to educate children with a set of moral principles, namely “core socialist values.” This doctrine has been encouraged by the Communist Party of China (CPC) since its 18th Party Congress in November 2012, but the campaign has ramped up this week since a renewing address by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

On Monday morning, the first day of the school semester, a ceremony was held in the biting cold of the playground. More than 1,600 students in uniform bowed to teachers simultaneously and the latter responded in kind.

“Core socialist values include patriotism and friendship. We help our children start with bowing, a practice to show respect and one that is valued by our traditional culture,” Principal Dou Guimei told local media.

The move epitomized a nationwide campaign to rebuild faith amid concerns that the world’s second-largest economy has to some extent lost its moral compass, a price paid for its three-decade economic miracle.

A “moral vacuum” has been perceived in private and public life, exemplified by pervasive money worship and extreme individualism, as well as endless scandals concerning corruption, food safety and environmental pollution.

In addition, a spate of violence and molestation against children, with some cases perpetrated by teachers and public servants, has prompted rounds of soul-searching among the public.

The latest instruction on reclaiming the moral high ground was delivered by Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, on Monday, when he called for greater efforts to set up a socialist value system with Chinese characteristics in line with a new era.

The 18th Party Congress specified core socialist values as prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, the rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship.

In December, the CPC issued a detailed guideline on bolstering these values, ordering them to be incorporated into the school curriculum, urging media to spread moral righteousness and prodding Party members and officials to take the lead in practicing the principles.

The targets of the guideline have sprung into action. For example, TV stations across China have devoted considerably more air time to public service advertisements and broadcasts championing social values. Local governments have moved to reward Good Samaritans to inspire more good deeds.

Moreover, the ruling party has beefed up its anti-corruption campaign, vowing to crack down on both high-ranking and low-level corrupt officials — “tigers” and “flies,” as Xi put it.

In 2013, a total of 31 high-profile officials were investigated by the the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. And about 182,000 officials were punished by the CPC’s discipline inspection agencies nationwide.

While vigorously pitching the core values, the CPC hopes to provide Chinese people with moral support, as part of its efforts to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation and the goal of building “a moderately prosperous society in all respects,” said Liu Jingbei, a professor with the China Executive Leadership Academy at Pudong, Shanghai.

Yang Hengjun, a writer and commentator, likened a country without core values to “creatures without souls.”

For a giant nation like China, consensus can only be forged if it has a set of core values accepted by both rulers and the public, Yang said in a blog article published in January.

Once serving as the code of conduct in ancient China, Confucian doctrines were denounced a century ago by some intellectuals who regarded the time-honored thoughts as pedantic and outdated.

Anti-Confucius sentiment later climaxed during the Cultural Revolution, and the old sage has never recovered his former glory.

But in fact, nowadays many Chinese people resent widespread vulgar values and welcome specific principles of moral conduct, said Xin Ming, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

However, the CPC would find it extremely difficult to press the whole of society to internalize the values it put forward, as Chinese have embraced diversified thought along with China’s economic liberalization that began 35 years ago, warned Zheng Changzhong, an associate professor with Fudan University’s School of International Relations and Public Affairs.

“We should be aware that there would be a long, bumpy road from establishing the values to making them adopted by all,” Yang said. “And that won’t happen overnight.”

 

 

 

 

>>  Guangzhou closes fancy clubs in public parks

By Cao Kai and Mao Yizhu

Authorities in China’s southern metropolis of Guangzhou have closed two high-end clubs in public parks and will close more, according to a government news conference on Thursday of February 20.

The move follows a similar action by the Beijing municipal government in January, seen as a way to curb officials’ extravagance as private clubs are frequented by the rich and powerful.

Business at a red win bar in Pearl River Park and another club in Modiesha Park have been closed for their extravagant services, according to Mei Heqing, spokesman of Guangzhou Municipal Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Other high-end restaurants and clubs in public parks have been ordered to close their business when their leases end, said Mei.

The Guangzhou municipal government recently had a random inspection of 58 public parks in the downtown area and discovered that some restaurants in the parks were too extravagant and did not adapt to the functions of being public parks.

For those restaurants whose leases have not expired, they are asked to lower their prices so ordinary people can afford their services, Mei said.

There are 129 public parks in Guangzhou.

Authorities in Beijing in January ordered high-end clubs in public park grounds to close or downgrade to an acceptable level.

The move, led by the the Beijing disciplinary authority with support from landscape, cultural relics and park management government departments, targets “unhealthy practices in clubs” and has been incorporated into China’s “mass-line” campaign to bridge the gap between CPC officials and members, and the general public.

 

 

 

 

>>  Expert calls for expediating property tax legislation

By Xu Feng and Han Qiao

A prominent Chinese expert from a government think-tank has called for coordinated efforts to quicken the introduction of property tax legislation and accumulate more experience through trial tax programs.

China currently has 11 property-related taxes, which should be managed and improved as a whole, as part of the drive to tame the red-hot housing market, said Jia Kang, director of the Institute for Fiscal Science Research under the Ministry of Finance, in an article published by the China Securities Journal on Friday of February 21.

However, speeding up legislation does not mean accomplishing it in one move, Jia said, adding that it will take time for China’s existent property regulations to be deliberated on and elevated as laws governing the whole nation.

China has been wrestling with runaway home prices for years, with the introduction of pilot property tax programs in Chongqing and Shanghai in 2011 as one of its latest recourses. For example, under the program in Chongqing, taxes are levied on owners of villas and high-priced apartments.

Jia advised prudence in the expansion of the trials, adding that progress should be guided by the principle of regulating the high-end property sector instead of indiscriminate imposition on all properties.

China’s annual political sessions will open in early March for the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body, and the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament. Property tax legislation is widely expected to be a hot topic of discussion.

 

 

 

 

>>  Chinese able to send messages to judges online

By Hu Longjiang

Chinese people can now leave messages to chief judges online, giving the public better access to members of the judiciary.

Websites www.court.gov.cn, the official website of China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC), and www.chinacourt.org, a news portal for all Chinese courts, have added electronic mailboxes to their homepages.

The move is aimed at improving judicial credibility and fairness by providing an online communication channel, according to the SPC.

By clicking on the mailbox button, users can send messages to chief judges, who own independent accounts and have access to their mailbox.

But the SPC said that these accounts will be administrated by special staff arranged by press and publicity departments of the higher courts.

It promised that staff will respond to and handle problems in a timely manner.

 

 

 

 

>>  China to protect Bohai Sea

By Yu Junjie and Li Zhihui

China will enhance maritime surveillance for the ecological rehabilitation of the Bohai Sea, according to the national oceanic authority on Friday of February 21.

Regular patrols of the Bohai Sea by law enforcement vessels will be put into place, the focus of which will be examination of oil-gas practices, said a senior official with China Marine Surveillance.

Major tasks include inspection of maritime projects, offshore dumping and mariculture. The pollutants will be carefully monitored and controlled, and any economic activities without passing an environmental evaluation will be stopped, he said.

An emergency response mechanism to tackle the environmental accidents such as oil spills will be installed, he added.

The Bohai Sea suffered heavy pollution in 2011–over 6,200 square km of water in the bay was contaminated by an oil leak at the Penglai oilfield run by ConocoPhillips China, a subsidiary of U.S. energy giant ConocoPhillips.

 

 

 

 

>>  Beijing relaxes family planning policy

By Cao Kai, Zhao Renwei and Li Yahong

Beijing relaxed its birth control policy on Fridayof February 21, allowing couples to have a second child if either parent is an only child.

An amendment to the Beijing Population and Family Planning Regulations was approved at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress, the city’s legislature.

It is a significant change to family planning policy that has been in effect for more than three decades and part of a plan to raise the fertility rate and ease the financial burden of a rapidly ageing population.

“Beijing’s average fertility rate has remained at one birth per woman for the past 18 years, which is much lower than the national average that stands at 1.5 and the replacement rate of 2.1,” said Geng Yutian, deputy head of the municipal health and family planning commission.

A working population shrinks when the fertility rate is lower than 2.1, experts say.

An expected baby boom will put more pressure on the mega-city, which has a population of more than 21 million.

About 54,200 more people will be added to the population annually in the first five years after the policy relaxation and 40,000 more will be added every year after then, experts have forecast.

“In the short term, they will pose more pressure on kindergartens and primary schools,” said Geng.

As half of births in Beijing are concentrated in urban areas, the policy relaxation will be a strain on urban hospitals, he said.

The city government will provide support by improving hospitals, nurseries and primary schools, and by protecting women’s right to maternity leave, said Wang Delin, vice chairman of the Legislative Affairs Committee of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress.

About 1,000 beds will be added in the coming three years in obstetrical departments in Beijing hospitals that can cater for 70,000 expecting mothers, said Zheng Jinpu, a member of the commission.

Beside Beijing, Tianjin Municipality and the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Anhui have also changed their policy.

Provincial-level governments in Guangxi, Hubei and Jiangsu have announced their intentions to relax the policy in March. Others, including Hunan, Qinghai and Shanghai, promised changes in the first half of this year.

 

 

 

>>  Beijing to reward terrorism whistleblowers

By Cao Kai and Lu Guoqiang

Police in Beijing announced on Friday of February 21 informants who expose terrorist plots will be rewarded.

The scheme will be effective from March 1 this year, according to the Beijing municipal public security bureau.

Those who provide extremely important information that contributes significantly to the prevention or investigation of violent terrorist activities will be rewarded with at least 40,000 yuan (6,539 U.S. dollars), according to the bureau.

Whistleblowers can call the police hotline 110, send a message or e-mail to Beijing police’s official microblog or report to the police face-to-face, it said.

Anonymous whistleblowers whose identities could not be confirmed will not be rewarded, it said.

Beijing police will protect the safety of the informants, according to bureau.

Terrorism is a rising risk for the capital city with a population of more than 20 million.

A group of terrorists from northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region carried out an attack on Oct. 28 last year in Tian’anmen, an iconic place in Beijing with high-level security.

Usmen Hasan, his mother, Kuwanhan Reyim, and his wife, Gulkiz Gini, drove a jeep with a Xinjiang plate into a crowd of people at noon on October 28, killing two people and injuring another 40, according to the Beijing police.

The jeep crashed into a guardrail of Jinshui Bridge across the moat of the Forbidden City. The three people in the jeep died after they set gasoline inside the vehicle on fire, according to the police.

Police found gasoline, equipment full of gasoline, two knives and steel bars as well as a flag with extremist religious content in the jeep.

 

 

 

>>  China allocates 110 mln yuan to aid quake-hit Xinjiang

By Han Jie and Cheng Jing

China’s central government has provided 110 million yuan (18 million U.S. dollars) for relief work in quake-hit Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday of February 21.

The funds will be used for disaster relief, relocations, medical treatment and infrastructure reconstruction, the ministry said.

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Xinjiang’s Hotan Prefecture on Feb. 12, causing the relocation of some 80,000 people.

As the vast majority of rural residents in the area are living in quake-resistant buildings, the tremor was less destructive than expected. No casualties have been reported.

 

 

 

>>  Xinjiang to offer 163,000 students free education

By Wang Wen and Aynur

Some 265,000 vocational students will receive tuition waivers or grants for accommodation and textbooks in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region this year.

The central and regional government will spend 188 million yuan (30.9 million U.S. dollars) to offer 163,000 rural students free secondary vocational school education, according to the regional education department.

The regional government will spend 92 million yuan on subsidies for 102,000 secondary vocational school students.

The subsidized students come from 26 border or poverty-stricken counties including Wushi and Keping in southern Xinjiang. The subsidies will cover accommodation and textbooks costs.

Students with outstanding performance will be admitted to advanced vocational school and receive subsidies or tuition waivers, said the department.

 

 

 

>>  China reports 4 more H7N9 cases

By Cao Kai and Yao Youming

Four more people were confirmed to be infected with H7N9 bird flu in two Chinese provinces on Friday of February 21, local authorities said.

A 50-year-old man from Changchun City in northeast China’s Jilin Province was confirmed to have the virus by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the provincial government’s information office.

The man, surnamed Liang, is a poultry breeder, and is in a stable condition in hospital.

It is the first human H7N9 bird flu case in the province.

Another three H7N9 cases were also confirmed on Friday in south China’s Guangdong Province, including one death.

A 46-year-old woman from Zhaoqing City and a 69-year-old man in Jiangmen City are in hospital receiving treatment. A 64-year-old man from Guangzhou City died on Tuesday, according to the provincial health and family planning commission.

There have been more than 120 human H7N9 cases reported in China so far this year and at least 32 deaths, according to latest official figures.

 

 

 

 

>>  China stocks slump on Friday

By Zhan Yan

Chinese shares slumped on Friday of February 21 following the release of weak manufacturing data.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.17 percent, or 25.09 points, to finish at 2,113.69. The Shenzhen Component Index lost 1.17 percent, or 91.56 points, to close at 7,750.56.

Combined turnover on the two bourses shrank to 232.8 billion yuan (38.06 billion U.S. dollars) from 298.1 billion yuan on the previous trading day.

The HSBC/Markit China flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for February dipped to 48.3 from a final reading of 49.5 in January, hitting a seven-month low.

PMI above 50 percent indicates expansion and below 50 percent, contraction.

Oil sector ended its strong performances on the two previous trading days.

Oil refiner Sinopec retreated 3.1 percent to 5.01 yuan per share on Friday. PetroChina Co., the country’s largest oil producer, lost 3.88 percent to 7.68 yuan per share.

Sinopec, one of China’s three state-owned oil companies, announced on Wednesday that it would bring in social and private capital to market and sell its oil products.

 

 

 

 

>>  Yuan weakens against USD for 4 days

By Zhang Zhengfu

The value of the Chinese currency Renminbi, or the yuan, has fallen against the U.S. dollars for four days in a row after weakening 30 basis points to 6.1176 against the greenback on Fridayof February 21.

It fell 123 points during the four days, after dropping 20 basis points on Tuesday, dipping another 30 points on Wednesday, and declining 43 points on Thursday, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trading System.

Analysts said the recent decline of the yuan concurred with big banks’ buying of foreign exchanges amid concerns of an economic slowdown, as investors, who used to be overly optimistic on the yuan’s appreciation, are starting to come up with new approaches.

Chinese economic growth eased to 7.7 percent in 2013 from 7.8 percent in 2012. A report released by Xiamen University on Thursday forecast growth will further slow to 7.62 percent in 2014.

Leading economic indicators such as the purchasing managers’ index for the manufacturing sector, dropped to a six-month low of 50.5 percent in January, marking a bumpy start for the Chinese economy in 2014.

Lian Ping, chief economist at the Bank of Communications, said that China’s foreign trade looks to have turned more balanced, which will put less pressure on the yuan’s appreciation. Meanwhile, the United States’ tapering of its quantitative easing also does not support the continuous and sharp gains of the yuan.

In China’s foreign exchange spot market, the yuan is allowed to rise or fall by 1 percent from the central parity rate each trading day.

The central parity rate of the yuan against the U.S. dollar is based on a weighted average of prices before the opening of the market each business day.

 

 

 

 

>>  Insider trading suspected at Bank of Beijing

By Liu Xinyong, Zhao Xiaohui and Tao Junjie

The Bank of Beijing (BOB) is under inspection by China’s securities regulators after a vice president bought shares in the bank three days before a major deal was announced.

Deng Ke, spokesman for the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), told a press conference on Friday of February 21 that the CSRC’s Beijing branch and the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) were inspecting the bank.

“Regulatory measures will be taken if the inspection finds any violations,” Deng said.

The BOB said in a statement filed with the SSE Tuesday that the bank’s vice president Zhao Rui’an had increased his holding in the bank by 30,000 shares on Monday, up from his previous holding of 60,000 shares, at the price of 7.38 yuan per share.

On Thursday,the bank announced an agreement with smartphone manufacturer Beijing Xiaomi Technology Co., on mobile payments and other products.

The bank’s shares rose by the daily limit of 10 percent on Wednesday and another 2.77 percent on Thursday.

The commission urged the bank to make a clarifying statement as the media reports questioned whether Zhao’s was insider trading, due to the inauspicious timing.

On Friday, BOB said that the purchase was in line with their regulations and was not insider trading.

“Zhao Rui’an had not been involved in the bank’s cooperation with Xiaomi before he bought the shares,” the statement said.

 

 

 

 

>>  Doctors asked to sign written commitment of not taking kickbacks

By Fu Shuangqi

Doctors will be required to sign written commitments of not accepting any kickbacks or gifts from hospitalized patients beginning May 1.

Hospitals will present this document to patients within 24 hours after they are hospitalized, said a statement from the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Thursday.

Patients will also need to sign the paper and promise not to give extra money or gifts to doctors, the statement said.

In fear of being neglected or receiving poor treatment, many patients are inclined to give presents or money to their doctors in exchange of favor. Sometimes it will involve a large amount of money when the doctor is famous and busy or the surgery is serious.

The move is expected to create a clean environment at hospitals and keep doctor-patient relations simple, the statement said.

Health departments will set up tip-off hotlines for those failing to do so and commitment papers will be kept in archives for future inspection, the statement said.

 

 

 

 

>>Tencent’s Dianping investment is credit positive: Moody’s

By Lin Jianyang

Tencent’s acquisition of 20 percent equity in China’s lifestyle and group buying website Dianping.com is credit positive, Moody’s Investors Service said on Friday of February 21 in a statement.

Tencent, listed in Hong Kong, announced on Wednesday that it had purchased 20 percent of Dianping.com. The two companies will integrate Dianping’s content, user base and offline retailer network with Tencent’s social communications platforms, such as QQ and Wechat, to build an online-to-offline service.

Tencent did not disclose the cost of the transaction, but China Business News reported on Monday that the company had paid 400 million U.S. dollars.

Tencent is one of the largest providers of Internet services in China. It operates leading social networking services, online portals and online game platforms — generating 44 billion yuan (7.2 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue in 2012.

Dianping.com is one of China’s largest providers of online information on local lifestyle including restaurants ratings and reviews, group buying, and take-out ordering services.

“Because the investment in Dianping enhances Tencent’s product offerings and reinforces the user stickiness of its platforms, it is a positive step towards Tencent’s further monetization of its online applications,” said Moody’s senior analyst Lina Choi.

Moody’s said Tencent can direct its large user base towards Dianping’s website and applications, thereby promoting the latter’s information services, such as restaurant listings.

In addition, Tencent’s online payment solution — available on the Wechat application — can facilitate transactions when users spend at the recommended restaurants, Moody’s said.

“Moreover, Dianping will provide Tencent data on user preferences and consumption patterns, which in turn will lead to other sources of revenue such as targeted advertising,” Choi added.

The investment in Dianping is the latest in a series of investments that Tencent has made in the last 12 months, in an attempt to build a comprehensive platform that encourages its large online user base to access offline information and make purchases.

In December of 2013, Tencent invested in Didi Taxi, a taxi reservation service. Earlier this month, Tencent reached a cooperation agreement with Beijing Wangfujing Department Store, to leverage its online traffic to promote offline purchases.

“Tencent can fund the investment in Dianping from its internal financial resources. Because there is no need to raise debt, the investment will have no impact on Tencent’s Baa1 issuer rating and positive outlook,” Choi said.

 

 

 

 

>>  Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi expands to Singapore retail market

By Chen Jipeng

Fast-growing Chinese smart phone maker Xiaomi started to sell its smart phones to Singapore-based buyers from its online store on Friday of February 21.

The midrange Redmi, which literally means red rice, was sold out within minutes of the launch, according to information from its online store. The phone sells at 169 Singapore dollars (134 U. S. dollars), a price that the local media said was irresistible given its fairly good feel.

The company, one of the most successful start-ups in China in recent years, has previously said that it will sell its flagship Mi-3 smart phone to the Singapore market at 419 Singapore dollars (332 U.S. dollars).

Xiaomi has so far been selling its products in China, including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

It has been a mobile darling for the last year or so, and hired Google’s former head of Android product development Hugo Barra to lead its overseas expansion.

It offers what would be considered by most reviewers high-end devices that come in at surprisingly affordable prices.

The smart phone maker also used restricted supply to build up strong demand for its handsets, which typically sell out within minutes after their launch.

The company sold about 18 million phones last year, up from 7 million in 2012.

 

 

 

 

>>  China to finance new farming practices

Zhang Zhongkai

China will offer customized financial services to new farming practices to push agricultural modernization, China’s central bank said on Friday of February 21.

Financial institutions should give more credit support to innovative farming entities such as family farms and agricultural cooperatives by adjusting loan rates, maturity length and collateral, according to a statement released by the People’s Bank of China.

The move is designed to promote moderate-scale farming operations and modern agriculture by easing financing difficulty for farmers.

Loans’ maturity length can be extended up to 10 years if farmers plant fruits, trees and other crops with long growth circles, the statement said.

Diversified and innovative financing choices will be offered to meet different farming business needs, with support focusing on production materials and machinery purchase, land contracts and other infrastructure development.

Qualified family farms may enjoy specially designed approaches in the inter-bank market to sell bonds to investors publicly or privately , the statement added.

Last December’s central agricultural work conference and the No. 1 central document on agricultural development issued in early January both highlighted the promotion of new farming business models and the need to encourage diversified agriculture practices.

 

 

 

>>  China’s Wanxiang to resume Fisker production

By Li Laifang, Duan Jingjing and Lü Ang

China’s leading auto-parts maker Wanxiang Group said on Friday of February 21 it plans to resume production at Fisker after it purchased the firm in a 149.2 million-dollar deal this week.

Wanxiang will restart production in the coming months at Fisker’s manufacturing plant in Finland and then at a disused plant in Delaware, United States, which Fisker bought from General Motors in 2010, the company said.

A U.S. court judge on Tuesday approved the deal in which Wanxiang purchased the bankrupt electric car maker based in California.

In the next 18 months, Wanxiang aims to sell at least 1,000 Karma vehicles in the U.S. and 500 in Europe. Fisker once dubbed Karma as the “world’s first high performance electric luxury vehicle”.

“Hybrid power cars have won recognition among consumers in the U.S., Europe and Japan, but the sale of such vehicles is still at the beginning in China,” said Lu Guanqiu, founder and chairman of Wanxiang Group.

Wangxiang will focus on sales of hybrid power vehicles in the U.S. and Europe, he added.

In early 2013, Wanxiang Group purchased bankrupt U.S. battery-maker A123 Systems for about 250 million U.S. dollars.

Chinese private companies increasingly invested in overseas companies in the second half of 2013.

According to a report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers, outbound activity of China’s privately-owned enterprises was surprisingly low in the first half of last year but rebounded to a new six-month high with 88 deals in the July-December period.

“Even if a purchase is completed, it does not mean success,” warned Zhang Handong, head of an international trade research center in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province.

“Chinese companies have wanted to buy foreign assets in trouble, but due to lack of expertise, random purchases may bring more trouble,” added Zhang.

Chinese private firms are quite active overseas, but they still need time to integrate, according to Zhang.

 

 

 

>>  New IKEA store in NW China

By Han Xiaojing, Li Hua and Liang Aiping

Sweden’s IKEA Group, the world’s biggest retailer of home furnishings, has started work on a new store in Xi’an, in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province .

With a total investment of 108 million U.S. dollars, the first store in the northwest, with a business area of 80,000 square meters, is due to open in August 2015, in the Xixian district of the city.

The store is expected to attract more than 30,000 customers per day.

“Xi’an is the economic and financial center of central and west China. We are optimistic about the huge market in the city,” said Jon Frauenfelder, IKEA China’s real estate expansion director.

IKEA has 14 stores in 11 Chinese cities. The store in Beijing’s Daxing is IKEA’s largest outside Sweden.

 

 

 

 

>>  Beijing raises pollution alert, limits factory activity

By Yan Xiangling, Ni Yuanjin and Lü Dong

More than 100 factories in Beijing will either halt or limit their activities as the Chinese capital raised its pollution alert on Friday amid signs of lingering smog over the weekend.

Beijing authorities have ordered 36 companies to halt production and another 75 to reduce production as part of a response mechanism triggered by an orange pollution alert, the second highest in a four-tier system.

Authorities cranked up the alert to orange a day after it put in place a yellow one when the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeded 250, indicating serious air pollution.

The AQI measures six airborne pollutants, including PM 2.5, the particles with a diameter less than 2.5 microns that have been a major contributor to the smog shrouding much of north and east China in recent years.

AQI readings at various monitoring stations in downtown Beijing have topped 300 micrograms per cubic meter as of 3 p.m. on Friday, more than 10 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization.

In addition to cutting industrial activity, the municipal government also urged citizens to stay indoors and use public transportation.

 

 

 

 

 

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