Chinese researchers discover poisonous plant remedies






>>  U.S. urged to stop spying activities on China

By Zhang Yi

China on Monday asked the United States to explain spying activities it allegedly carried out on China and told it to stop such acts.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a regular press briefing when he was asked to comment on news reports that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on China’s telecommunications giant Huawei, former leaders, foreign and commerce ministries and banks.

China is greatly concerned about the news reports, Hong said, adding that media organizations have recently disclosed a lot of eavesdropping, surveillance and stealing of secret information by the United States, targeting other countries, including China.

Hong said China demands that the U.S. explains itself and stop such acts.







>>  China urges concrete actions from Japan

By Hou Lijun

Japanese leaders should reflect on Japan’s history of aggression, correct mistakes and win the trust of Asian neighbors and international society, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Monday of March 24.

Hong made the remarks at a daily press briefing when asked to comment on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sunday.

Anne Frank, a Jewish German teenage girl, hid in the house from Nazi persecution with her family from 1942 to 1944. The family were later found by German troops and Anne died in a concentration camp in 1945.

She wrote a diary that was later published and has made her a symbol of the struggle against prejudice and oppression.

During his visit, Abe said he would work on creating a peaceful world by “facing historical facts in a humble manner and handing them down to the next generation,” according to media reports.

“We have taken note of relevant reports,” said Hong. “(But) in response to Japan’s stance on historical issues, we have always not only listened to what Japan says, but also watched what Japan really does.”

Koichi Hagiuda, an aide to Abe, also said Sunday that Japan should consider issuing a new statement on wartime sex slavery after the government verifies how the Kono Statement was compiled.

The Kono Statement, made by then Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993, acknowledged the Japanese government and its army were involved in the use of wartime sex slaves.

“We demand the Japanese side faithfully follow its commitments on historical issues, correct its wrong behavior and win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community through concrete actions,” Hong said.







>>  Japan not to revise apology for comfort women, concerns remain

By Jon Day and  Liu Tian

Japan said on Monday of March 24 it will adhere to its official 1993 apology for the forcible conscription of women into sexual slavery by its military during the Second World War.

Japan’s top government spokesman told a news conference that the government has no intention of retracting or revising the landmark apology.

“Replacing the Kono Statement won’t happen and there is no way we will revise. I have never heard the prime minister say otherwise and he has said that clearly in parliament,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

Suga’s remarks followed Japan being blasted by South Korea ahead of a trilateralmeeting Tuesday between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of a conference on nuclear security being held in the Hague Monday and Tuesday.

The trilateral meeting, also scheduled to involve U.S. President Barack Obama, will mark the first time Abe and Park have held formal talks since they both assumed office amid increasingly frosty ties between Japan and its closest neighbors, including China and South Korea, owing to Japan’s right-shifting political maneuvers and revisionist views of its militaristic history.

Suga’s remarks were prompted by comments made by a senior aide to Abe, Koichi Hagiuda, on Sunday stating that it “would not be strange to issue a new political statement on the “comfort women” if new findings emerge.”

Suga dismissed Hagiuda’s comments as being his “personal view” following harsh condemnation from South Korea, and said that regardless of whether the government reviews the testimonies given to the Japanese government by 16 Korean women who testified to Japan’s complicity, coercion and culpability for wartime sexual slavery, Japan’s apology, known as the Kono Statement, would be upheld.

Despite Suga’s assurances, observers here are concerned that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is flip-flopping over the issue and being equivocal in its actual intentions.

Suga previously stated that evidence given by comfort women — a euphemism used to describe sex slaves who served Japanese soldiers in wartime — will be reexamined along with the Kono Statement.

He stated that the evidence given by comfort women, who were forced to work in military brothels and forms the basis of the 1993 Statement, is to be re-examined as the official statements of the comfort women were taken on the premise that their evidence would be heard behind closed doors.

Abe himself had also previously intimated that his government was looking to reexamine the authenticity of the Kono statement with an aim to possibly revising it, and, issuing a fresh statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II next year to replace the Murayama statement, although he said later in parliament the Kono statement would not be retracted.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama issued an historic apology in 1995 for the nation’s wartime atrocities, which has become a benchmark for all administrations thereafter and the Kono statement, which was issued according to the Japanese government’s own studies, concluded that women were recruited to work in brothels against their will through “coaxing and coercion” and they were forced to “live in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere.”

The statement adds that the “undeniable” act of the military authorities of the day, “severely injured the honor and dignity of many women” and goes on to apologize for all those “who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”

Nationalist factions and conservative politicians here have tried to refute both historical and other incontrovertible evidence and testimony given to the Japanese government on the statements, including testimony given by the 16 Korean women.

As such and ahead of Abe releasing his own statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, political pundits are warning any wavering on Japan’s official line could gravely upset its neighboring countries as geopolitical tensions continue to rise and diplomatic ties remain largely severed.







>>  China welcomes Swiss parliament’s FTA approval

By Cui Wenyi

The decision by the Swiss parliament to approve the Chinese-Swiss Free Trade Agreement (FTA) last week was welcomed by China on Monday of March 24.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks during a daily press conference, noting that it is the first FTA signed between China and a developed industrialized country in continental Europe.

The agreement, signed in Beijing last July after nine rounds of negotiations over more than two years, was approved by the lower house of the Swiss parliament in December and was expected to be considered by the upper house, the Council of States, in March this year.

According to Hong, the earliest date for the FTA to come into effect is July.

Hong said the deal is one of the most comprehensive that China has reached in recent years, and showed the determination of the two countries to strengthen trade liberalization and investment.

Hong said the agreement illustrated the common willingness of China and Switzerland to open up to each other and advance economic and trade cooperation.

“It will have an important and positive impact on deepening bilateral ties,” Hong added.







>>  Chinese, Romanian senior officials pledge closer cooperation

By Zhang Yi

Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Monday held talks with Romanian Deputy Premier Liviu Dragnea, with the two officials agreeing to strengthen cooperation.

Zhang said he hopes the two nations will intensify all-around cooperation at all levels and advance bilateral relations to a higher level.

The two sides should strengthen communication and cooperation in various fields including energy, transportation infrastructure construction, agriculture and culture to bring more opportunities for closer bilateral ties and more benefit to the two peoples, Zhang said.

He said China is willing to work with Romania to enhance cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe and promote comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Europe.

Dragnea said Romania is willing to expand cooperation with China in economy and trade, electricity, railways and animal husbandry.

As a good partner and friend of China, Romania will continue to play a positive role in promoting cooperation and strengthen ties between China and European countries, Dragnea added.







>>  China, Bulgaria ink bilateral agreements

By Chen Hang and Marian Draganov

A twinning agreement between Chinese metropolis Shenzhen and Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, as well as seven more bilateral business contracts were signed in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, on Monday of March 24 during a cooperation forum.

Some 60 Chinese companies and 40 potential counterparts from Bulgaria participated in the event titled “Plovdiv–Shenzhen Investment and Cooperation Conference”, organized by the two municipalities, Bulgarian-Chinese Business Development Association (BCBDA) and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade at Shenzhen Council, together with the Chinese embassy in Bulgaria.

“We will make all-round cooperation with Plovdiv, in fields of electronic and information, biological husbandry, fine mechanics, as well as the cooperation in cultural, educational, sport and health programs,” said Xu Qin, Mayor of Shenzhen in an interview with Xinhua after the twinning ceremony.

“The cooperation between cities will carry out the strategies for national cooperation through concrete industry projects,” he added.

Five companies from Shenzhen signed agreements with seven Bulgarian firms. Huawei Technologies Bulgaria signed an agreement with Sienit Holding for joint development of an intelligent industrial park. BGI and Genic Laboratory will cooperate in noninvasive prenatal gene test and neonatal examination. Mindray signed with Dutchmed International EOOD and Infinita for sole agency of its medical appliances.

“The cooperation with Sienit Holding will focus on the intelligent IT solution for the industrial park. We will provide modern and convenient IT solution for the companies in the industrial park, including the Cloud Storage, computing center, overall communication network,” said Liu Yang, manager director of Huawei Technologies Bulgaria.

“Although much has been done to represent Bulgaria in China, there are still huge opportunities and still much work is required on promoting our country, our business, our companies, the opportunities for investment by Chinese companies in Bulgaria,” Plamen Panchev, Board Chairman of Sienit Holding and a founder of BCBDA told Xinhua.






>>  Chinese envoy calls for facilitation of Haiti’s election process

By Ni Hongmei

The political and stabilization process in Haiti has registered continued progress, said a Chinese envoy to the UN on Monday of March 24, urging all parties to facilitate the country’s election process.

“We must actively facilitate Haiti’s election process. We hope all parties in Haiti will resolve their differences through dialogue and reach a consensus as early as possible on electoral matters, with a view to ensuring a smooth general election this year and further consolidate national stability,” said Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the UN, at a Security Council meeting.

The long-awaited adoption and promulgation of the Electoral Law last December, along with this month’s Accord emanating from the Inter-Haitian Dialogue, prepared a path toward inclusive and transparent elections to be held later this year, said Sandra Honore, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti at meeting.

Liu took note of the progress of Haiti’s national police and security situation and warned of the huge task of reconstruction. “At the same time, tensions still exist between executive and legislative departments of Haiti,” said Liu, adding that “coupled with sluggish economic growth and precarious humanitarian situation, the peaceful reconstruction of the country remains an uphill battle.”

Liu stressed that the improvement of the situation requires concrete measures on the part of all stake-holders in Haiti, urging the international community to actively provide assistance on the election process.

Besides, Liu said, the international community should take concrete steps to honor its pledges to Haiti and actively participate in its reconstruction process. He called on all member states to continue to provide financial, technical support to Haiti’s cholera control program.

Liu also hoped that the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti ( MINUSTAH), in accordance with the mandate given by the Security Council, would continue to assist Haiti in maintaining security and stability, promote the political process and strengthen rule of law and institutional capacity development, in order to provide a stable environment for the economic and social development of Haiti.

A strong earthquake rocked Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, killing more than 300,000 people and leveling about 80,000 buildings.







>>  Namibian Prime Minister says his country ready for Chinese investment

By Gao Lei and Nyasha Francis Nyaungwa

Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob said in Windhoek on Monday of  March 24 that his country stands ready for Chinese investment.

Geingob made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua before embarking on an official visit to China with a mission to foster strong bilateral relations in the areas such as trade, industry and commerce. He stressed that working with China will create “win-win situations” for both countries.

“Namibia is an open country. Namibia is ready for investment, particularly Chinese investment … so that we can add value to our resources … We believe that working with you, we will achieve that goal. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” he said.

Geingob is scheduled to visit China at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang from April 4-13. He described his visit as one between two friendly countries.

“China is a friend of Africa, a friend of Namibia, and therefore I’m happy to have been invited to pay this official visit, and I look very much forward to it,” said the Namibian Prime Minister. “I think we are going to have very interesting discussions, dealing with the economy, our future cooperation in the economy and for China to help us develop this country.”

During his visit to China, the Namibian Prime Minister will lead a delegation comprising of politicians, business people and company representatives from agro-processing, health, manufacturing, automotive, textile, chemicals, fisheries and logistics sectors.

The total trade volume between China and Namibia was about 729 million U.S. dollars last year, according to the Economic and Commercial Counselor’s Office at the Chinese Embassy in Windhoek.







>>  China-U.S. nuclear security center opens next year

By Li Zhihui and Yu Xiaojie

Financed by China and the United States, the largest nuclear security center in the Asian-Pacific region is expected to be up and running in 2015.

Located in Changyang science and technology park in Beijing, the Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security is fitted out with labs, exhibition areas, classrooms, test sites and response force exercise facilities, said Wang Yiren, vice chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) which will administer the center.

The center will deal with protection and control of nuclear materials, import and export management, and international exchange. It will help China improve nuclear security and management and be a regional hub for training and exchange, Wang said. It will also play a role in promoting the peaceful use of nuclear power.

Upon completion, the Beijing center will be able to train about 2,000 nuclear-security staff every year, said Deng Ge, director of the State Nuclear Security Center.

Construction of the center began in December 2013.







>>  China rejects U.S. GM corn shipment

By Sun Honglei and Cheng Lu

China’s Tianjin municipality has returned a batch of corn shipment tainted with a genetically-modified (GM) strain not approved by the country’s agriculture ministry, the local quality watchdog said.

The 21,800-tonne shipment from the United States was to be used as animal feed but was found to contain the unapproved MIR162, a strain of insect-resistent transgenic corn, said an official with the Binhai branch under Tianjin Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.

China found the first batch of MIR162 tainted corn shipment last October in Shenzhen in south China’s Guangdong Province, and detected several other batches at the country’s ports. This was the first case in Tianjin.

Statistics released by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the country’s leading quality watchdog, showed that China rejected 601,000 tonnes of unapproved GM corn imports in 2013.







>>  Nu skin penalized for illegal practices in China

By Zhang Xiaosong and Cheng Jing

Personal-care products maker Nu Skin Enterprises (NSE) has been punished in China for numerous offenses including exaggerating product effects to mislead consumers.

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) said Monday that the direct-selling company has conducted business beyond its permitted scope and overstated the value of its products. Some sellers were found to have deceived consumers.

A total of 3.36 million yuan was confiscated or taken in fines by SAIC Shanghai, while the Beijing SAIC fined the firm 1.5 million yuan.

The New York-listed company has been instructed to regulate its business practices and step up training and supervision of its sales team.

Headquartered in the U.S., Nu Skin began operations in China in 2003. It was among the first foreign companies to receive a direct sales license.

While its business in China has grown steadily, the company has been frequently suspected of illegal multi-level marketing.

The SAIC said it will work to strengthen supervision on the direct-selling market and strictly punish illegal practices.







>>  China ends anti-dumping probes into EU wine

By Zhan Yan

 The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Monday of March 24 announced the lifting of anti-dumping and countervailing probes into wine imported from the European Union.

The decision was made following an application by the China Alcoholic Drinks Association (CADA) on March 19 to terminate the probes, said a statement on the ministry’s website.

The ministry had announced the probes on July 1 in response to an application from the CADA.

It had planned to carry out the probes in a year.







>>  Chinese vice premier to attend youth ceremony in Russia

By Liang Linlin

Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong will attend an opening ceremony of China-Russia youth exchanges in Russia from March 27 to 29, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Liu, also a chairwoman of the China-Russia Youth Friendly Exchanges Year committee, will be visiting at the invitation of Olga Golodets, Russian deputy prime minister and a committee chairman, spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.







>>   Fuzhou-Ho Chi Minh air route to open

By Cao Kai and Hu Shanan

A direct flight route between Fuzhou, capital of east China’s Fujian Province, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city, is expected to open on March 31, according to the Fuzhou Airport on Monday of March 24.

The chartered flight will leave Fuzhou at 10:50 p.m. every Monday and Friday via an Airbus A321-200 and return from Ho Chi Minh City the following day, according to the airport.

Fuzhou Airport has international air routes linking the coastal city with Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia.






>>  Macao’s visitor arrivals up 8 pct year-on-year in February

By Lin Juan

Visitor arrivals to China’s Macao in February increased by 8 percent year-on-year to 2,560,560 in February this year, according to figures released Monday by the city’s Statistics and Census Service (DSEC).

Of all the arrivals in February, 54 percent spent only one day. The average length of stay of visitors increased by 0.1 day to 1.0 day in February 2014. Overnight and same-day visitors stayed an average of 1.9 days and 0.2 day respectively, the figures indicated.

Analyzed by place of residence, visitors from the Chinese mainland increased by 14 percent year-on-year to 1.71 million, of which 821,844 traveling to Macao under the Individual Visit Scheme, 48 percent of the total.

Visitors from South Korea (52,427) and Japan (25,730) surged by 33 percent and 23 percent respectively year-on-year, while those from China’s Hong Kong (551,626) and China’s Taiwan (73,160) decreased by 8 percent and 10 percent respectively.

Long haul visitors from the America (12,413), Australia (7,556), and Canada (5,318) increased by 3 percent, 15 percent and 2 percent respectively year-on-year, but those from Britain (4,125) decreased by 5 percent.







>>  Taiwan police expel students from admin building

By Yao Yuan, Li Hanfang and Wu Jihai

Taiwan’s police took action on Sunday night to dislodge students and members of the public occupying the administrative authority building in Taipei.

Large crowds of protesters opposed to a cross-Strait service trade pact, which is still under deliberation at the legislative body, besieged the building from 7:30 p.m. Sunday, shouting slogans and clashing with police. Dozens of protestors broke into the building through the windows.

The occupation and reports of vandalism prompted the authority to condemn the “illegal violence” and send in the police. After negotiations failed, a tense stand-off between around 2,000 police and protesters, whose number had grown to several thousand by midnight, was ended when police began driving out protesters around mid-night.

Protesters joined arms and lay down together outside the building but were hauled away one by one by the police.

The police action lasted about five hours, with more than 2,000 protesters removed from the site and 61 arrests. A total of 110 people were injured, said Jiang Yi-huah, the administrative chief.

Hundreds of students stormed into the legislative assembly on Tuesday last week, protesting about what they see as undemocratic tactics used by the KMT to ratify the pact and are worried about the effect on the local economy.

The protest moved to another level when Taiwan’s leader Ma Ying-jeou held a press conference on Sunday morning. He said the pact would open up the mainland’s service sector to Taiwan and create jobs. He refused to reject the pact, as demanded by protesters.

When asked whether he would go to the legislative assembly to talk with the students occupying the building, Ma said he would like to communicate with the students and was open towards holding a talk, but said the talk would lack meaning if the students set preconditions to it.

Following Ma’s remarks, a stand-off occurred on Sunday afternoon between students inside the legislative chamber and another group rallying outside who tried to force their way in, suggesting some sort of split among the students.

Some students then moved to the administrative building just a bloc away in response to calls for “opening a new frontier”. Many threw quilts over barbed wire barricades and climbed into the compound.

Lin Fei-fan, who led the students in the legislative chamber, said on Sunday evening that protesters at the administrative building were not from their group and represented different views.

There has been no police action to disperse the students in the legislative chamber.







>>  CPC to study Xi’s “mass line” remarks

By Cheng Zhuo and Hua Chunyu

Local Communist Party of China (CPC) organizations and officials at all levels across China are urged to study President Xi Jinping’s recent remarks on the “mass-line” campaign.

The speech and requirements of Xi should be studied carefully, understood and carried out, said a circular issued by the leading group of the CPC’s mass-line campaign and published on Monday.

During his visit to central China’s Henan Province last week, Xi suggested a more stern and sharp approach in the anti-decadence campaign.

Xi also recalled the spirit of Jiao Yulu, a model official who worked in the province’s Lankao county in the 1960s and devoted his life to combating sandstorms, saline-alkali land disasters and floods and improving people’s livelihoods.

Every Party organization and Party member should set a high, strict standard in implementing Xi’s requirements and cleaning up the four undesirable work styles — formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance, the circular said.

The circular urged CPC members and cadres to take Jiao as an example and improve their ideological integrity, personal qualities and their images among the public.

It called on officials to maintain a healthy work and life style and keep vigilant against corruption.







>>  More Chinese officials under the disipline microscope

By Li Laifang, Ye Jianping and Zong Wei

A mayor in southwest China and an academy president in northeast China are suspected of disipline violations, said local Party officials on Monday.

He Huazhang, major of Suining City, Sichuan Province, is under investigation for suspected disciplinary and legal violations, said the Communist Party of China’s Discipline Inspection Commission of Sichuan Province.

Yue Derong, president and CPC chief of Jilin Academy of Agricultural Sciences, is being probed over suspected serious disciplinary violations,said the discipline watchdog of Jilin Province.







>>  Chinese government takes advice on board

By Tian Ying

A total of 5,875 proposals made by Chinese political advisors during the annual “two sessions” were passed to the relevant government departments to deal with on Monday.

At the hand-over meeting, Du Qinglin, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the political advisory body, called on departments to follow up these proposals with concrete action and stressed that proposals must be treated transparently, under supervision.

Representatives from 156 government departments attended the meeting.The 5,875 proposals concern the country’s economic development and social governance. Among them, more than 1,000 proposals pertain to reform, and close to 1,000 proposals to sustainable development.

About 1,500 proposals focused on improving quality of life, some 600 on pollution and the environment, and over 500 on the modernization of government.

Political advisors also offered suggestions on promoting core socialist values and the modernization of national defense and the army.







>>  China needs nuclear power: former energy chief

By Zhu Shaobin

Zhang Guobao, former chief of the National Energy Administration (NEA) said on Monday that China needs nuclear energy to end reliance on fossil fuels such as coal.

“I believe we still should develop nuclear power appropriately because it currently accounts for only 2 percent of the nation’s total electricity generation,” Zhang said during a keynote speech at the three-day China Development Forum that kicked off in Beijing on Saturday.

China ranks 6th worldwide in terms of nuclear power output, but the ratio in its overall electric power generation ranks 30th, which was almost the lowest rate among all nuclear nations, Zhang said.

The country’s nuclear power development came to a halt after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan in March 2011. China also suspended approvals for new nuclear plants and carried out a nationwide safety review after the crisis. The approvals were cautiously resumed in October 2012.

Despite the concerns, Zhang said the proportion of nuclear power in China is just too small. “Based on modern technologies and security lessons from the past, nuclear power can be safely utilized,” he said.

China wants to raise non-fossil fuels in its energy consumption structure to 11.4 percent by 2015. “That goal remains very challenging because the rate was only 9.8 percent in 2013,” Zhang said.

The call for further nuclear power development, in Zhang’s words, was a key point in his suggestion on adjusting the nation’s energy structure to authorities last year, when large parts of the country were troubled by smog. “Apparently, coal burning and vehicle exhaust are both major causes to the smog,” Zhang said.

Official data showed coal accounted for 65.7 percent of energy consumption in China in 2013. The nation’s total installed capacity for nuclear power stood at 14.61 million kilowatts as of the end of 2013, far smaller compared to 860 million kilowatts for thermal power plants.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang also said on Sunday that China will control total energy consumption with higher efficiency, while optimizing the industrial structure with smart power grids and clean energy like wind power, nuclear power, hydropower and photovoltaic.







>>  China’s top universities to enroll more rural students

By Yu Junjie and Tian Ying

China is eyeing a 10-percent increase in the number of students from impoverished rural areas attending the country’s top universities this year, according to a circular released by the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Monday of March 24.

The MOE said the growth will be realized through expanding three existing programs.

Under the first program, central government-affiliated universities, and key universities at local levels will recruit 50,000 rural students, up from 30,000 last year.

This program will be carried out in 832 impoverished counties and 10 provinces with low rates of enrollment in key universities, said the circular.

Under the second program, MOE-affiliated universities and a handful of universities piloting discretionary enrollment should set aside 2 percent of their enrollment quota for students from underdeveloped regions.

The third program will see leading universities at local levels offer more seats to rural students of the same jurisdiction.

The MOE also stressed transparency in information disclosure and stern qualification assessment of candidates during the enrollment so as to guarantee justice and equality.







>>  Xinhua, SOA sign oceanic development pact

By Zuo Yuanfeng and Luo Sha

The Xinhua News Agency and the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) signed a pact Monday aimed at jointly strengthening China’s oceanic economy and its international influence.

According to the Agreement on Strategic Cooperation in Boosting the Development of the Oceanic Economy, Xinhua and SOA will forge a long-term and stable partnership in determining indices to gauge China’s oceanic development and releasing reports that provide data support for related departments’ decision-making.

The pact also covers research projects on developing the oceanic economy and the frugal use of oceanic resources and other aspects. A think tank of oceanic and economic experts will offer advice.

Li Congjun, president of Xinhua, said recent major decisions and strategic plans made by the central authorities are in line with the demands of China’s current and future social development, and this partnership will integrate media and administrative resources to back the country’s oceanic development.

“China’s oceanic growth is at a sound stage, and the cooperation will have a positive effect on developing China’s oceanic economy, strengthening oceanic management and safeguarding maritime interests,” said SOA director Liu Cigui.






>>  Guangdong reports 12 H7N9 cases in March

By Lü Qiuping, Ou Dainqiu and Xiao Sisi

Health authorities in south China’s Guangdong Province have reported 12 human cases of H7N9 bird flu this month, with one more reported on Monday of March 24.

The latest case was reported in Shenzhen City, where a 49-year-old man surnamed Zhu was confirmed to be infected with H7N9 on Sunday, according to a written statement issued by the provincial health and family planning commission.

He is in critical condition and receiving treatment at a local hospital, said the statement.







>>  Shanghai Disneyland to feature luxury retail neighbor

By Lü Dong, Xu Xiaoqing and Cao Kai

The Shanghai resort that houses the first Disneyland on the Chinese mainland will add a luxury shopping compound next to the theme park to tap the consumption potential of visitors, the resort’s operator said on Monday of March 24.

Shanghai Shendi Group, operator of the Shanghai International Tourism and Resort Zone (SITRZ), on Monday announced a joint venture with retail outlet developer Value Retail to build a luxury shopping compound next to the Shanghai Disney Resort.

Value Retail’s Chairman Scott Malkin said the shopping compound, called Shanghai Village, will be “the most important tourism outlet shopping location in Asia.”

Covering 50,000 square meters, the compound will boast a number of international and Asian brand stores as well as restaurants and cafes and is expected to open in autumn 2015, according to Value Retail.

The developer has previously opened a similar shopping outlet next to the Disneyland in Paris, France, and is set to open its first shopping compound in China in May, in the tourist city of Suzhou in east China’s Jiangsu Province.

Fan Xiping, chairman of the Shanghai Shendi Group, said the shopping compound will be the SITRZ’s second iconic project after the Shanghai Disneyland.

The group said it pinned high hopes on the shopping compound to generate tourism and retail sales.

Neither the group nor Disney has provided an estimate of the number of people who will visit the park or the revenues these visitors are expected to generate. However, Shendi said the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, another event that brought a large number of visitors from home and abroad, hinted at how the joint venture will boost retail sales in the resort.

The expo attracted 70 million visitors and contributed 4.5 billion yuan (730 million U.S. dollars) in retail sales in six months.






>>  Chinese researchers discover poisonous plant remedies

By Cheng Lu, Huang Xing and Xu Wanhu

Chinese scientists said on Monday of March 24 that they have “tamed” wild poisonous plants on the Tibetan plateau, an achievement that can help protect livestock and prevent desertification.

Researchers with Tibet’s Academy of Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Sciences have developed both drugs against the effects of locoweed, a common name for any plant that produces swainsonine, a phytotoxin harmful to livestock.

Wang Baohai, a researcher with the Lhasa-based academy, said the remedies included therapeutic liquid for oral administration and preventive pills based on Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine respectively.

“According to clinical tests, the liquid can cure 95 percent of livestock poisoned by locoweed,” said Wang Jinglong, another expert with the academy. “China has granted it a national patent.”

The researchers have also figured out a comprehensive mechanism for locoweed prevention and treatment. They removed locoweed in a fenced area of grassland, where poisoned livestock can be isolated and recover.

Herdsmen call locoweed the enemy of grassland because livestock show symptoms of intoxication after eating the plant, which causes animal reproduction rates to drop or even death. Its rampant growth can also lead to grassland degradation.

In Tibet alone, locoweed is distributed across a total area of nearly 100 million mu (about 7 million hectares), leading to economic losses of more than 100 million yuan (about 16 million U.S. dollars) annually.

But it is not a totally useless plant. According to Tsering Dorje, an academic with Tibet’s Academy of Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Sciences, it is a valuable Chinese herbal medicine and can be edible after a detoxication processing. “It enjoys huge economic potential,” he said.  







>>  China reports more signs of a slowdown

By Lin Jianyang and Yue Ruifang

China’s economy which began to soften at the end of last year is showing more signs of a slowdown, with economists arguing that growth in the first quarter might fail to meet the government’s annual target of 7.5 percent.

The latest evidence was found in the HSBC’s preliminary manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), which was one of the earliest available indicators of the manufacturing sector’s operating conditions in China.

The HSBC/Markit China flash manufacturing PMI for March dipped to an eight-month low of 48.1 from a final reading of 48.5 in February, said data company Markit in a statement on Monday.

It meant that manufacturing activity contracted for the third month in a row in March.

According to Markit, data was collected between March 12 and March 20. March’s final PMI data will be released on April 1.

PMI above 50 indicates expansion and below 50, contraction.

January saw HSBC China manufacturing PMI dipping to 49.5 from 50.5 in December, the first deterioration of operating conditions in the country’s manufacturing sector since July 2013.

In March, almost all sub-indexes fell, including output, new orders, employment, backlogs of work, output prices and stocks of purchases.

New orders fell sharply to 46.9 from 48.6. Output declined to 47.3 from 48.8. In contrast, finished goods inventory rose to 51.2 from 50.1.

The encouraging news came from the sub-index for new export orders, which climbed over the 50-mark for the first time in four months.

Commenting on the figure, HSBC’s chief China economist Qu Hongbin said March’s flash reading suggested the country’s growth momentum continued to slow down, and weakness was broadly-based with domestic demand softening further.

“We expect Beijing to launch a series of policy measures to stabilize growth. Likely options include lowering entry barriers for private investment; targeted spending on subways, air cleaning and public housing, and guiding lending rates lower,” Qu said.

Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist with Japan’s Nomura Securities, said the decline in the flash HSBC PMI surprised the market since consensus stood at 48.7.

The positive market expectations were likely due to the seasonal effect and the rebound of another economic indicator — the MNI business sentiment index — to 53.4 in March from 50.2 in February.

In addition, the HSBC PMI has risen by an average 0.6 percentage points from February to March since data became available in 2005 (excluding 2009 due to the global financial crisis). It only fell in two out of the eight years — in 2007 and 2012 — since 2005, Zhang said.

“We maintain our view that growth momentum will slow in the first half of the year, and policy easing will pick up in the second quarter,” he said in a research note.

Zhang also maintained that China is likely to cut the reserve requirement ratio twice in the coming quarters. Fiscal policy will also likely become expansionary in the second quarter to keep GDP growth from dropping below 7 percent.

Nomura forecasts that China’s economic growth could slow down to 7.3 percent in the first quarter and further to 7.1 percent in the second quarter, lower than the government’s annual expansion target and the 7.7-percent growth in the last quarter of 2013, according to Zhang.

Qu Hongbin also said March’s PMI reading indicated that growth in the first quarter could probably be below 7.5 percent, and could even challenge the 7-percent “growth floor” and hit the job market.

In an earlier research note, Qu said almost all economic figures released so far this year were weaker than market consensus.

The HSBC manufacturing PMI for February was 48.5, but the average reading for January to February came in at 49.0. This suggests that China’s manufacturing sector is losing momentum, and the official manufacturing PMI repeated the same message, he said.

Qu said China’s external demand has also been erratic. On the domestic front, industrial production, fixed asset investment and retail sales data for the first two months were all weaker than forecasted.

“This calls for immediate policy action to put a floor on the growth slowdown,” Qu argued.







>>   China progressing in shale gas equipment development

By Li Laifang, Chu Hang and Shi Qingwei

China has made progress in developing shale gas equipment with core technologies, industry insiders said on Monday of March 24.

After three years of research and international cooperation, Northern Heavy Industries Group. Ltd, has developed multiple core technologies for fracking equipment, said Geng Hongchen, chairman of the corporation.

This has provided strong equipment support for the commercialized exploration of shale gas, he said.

State-owned Northern Heavy Industries is based in Shenyang, capital of northeast China’s Liaoning Province. Other domestic companies, including SANY Heavy Industry Co., Ltd in central China’s Hunan Province, are also developing fracking equipment.

China has progressed in shale gas equipment development, said Li Zhibo, head of the design research institute of Northern Heavy Industries.

The company will develop high-end core parts for fracking equipment with an eye on the industrial chains of shale gas development, said Li.

China has the largest recoverable reserves of shale gas in the world, and is targeting 6.5 billion cubic meters of production in 2015, a goal previously deemed difficult to meet due to slow commercial development practices.

China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil producer, now has nine shale gas wells running at its shale gas fields in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, with accumulated production of over 80 million cubic meters. Another 110-plus wells will be put into operation by the end of the second quarter of 2015.

As the world’s largest energy user, China is looking to reduce its reliance on imported oil, coal and gas by tapping its rich shale reserves, but complicated pipeline access procedures and geology make its extraction difficult and expensive.







>>  CNOOC announces natural gas discovery in Bohai

By An Bei and Zhan Yan

A mid-sized natural gas reserve has been discovered in China’s Bohai Sea, China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) Limited announced on Monday.

The discovery, Bozhong 22-1 structure, is in south central Bohai with an average water depth of about 25 meters.

The discovery well Bozhong 22-1-2 is drilled and completed at a depth of 4,611 meters and encountered a gas reservoir about 92 meters thick.

Tests showed that the gas output of the well was around 14.2 million cubic feet per day, said a CNOOC statement.

“The discovery of Bozhong 22-1 demonstrates the good prospects of buried hills for future gas exploration of south slope in Bozhong Sag,” the CNOOC statement said.

Listed in Hong Kong and New York, CNOOC Limited is the largest offshore oil and gas producer in China.







>>  Sinopec to commercialize shale gas production

By Han Qiao and An Bei

China’s top refiner Sinopec Corp. will increase annual production capacity of its Fuling shale gas project to 10 billion cubic meters in 2017, allowing for large-scale commercialization of the new energy.

Production capacity of the gas field in Fuling District of southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality will increase to 1.8 billion cubic meters by the end of this year, and to 5 billion cubic meters next year, the firm said on Monday.

In 2017, it is expected to become China’s first shale gas field with an annual production capacity of 10 billion cubic meters, said the firm. This is equivalent to an oil field with an annual capacity of 10 million tonnes.

Shale gas is a natural gas that is found trapped within shale formations. As a clean and efficient energy source, it has become increasingly important throughout the world.

Fu Chengyu, Sinopec chairman, said the company has achieved breakthroughs in technology and the manufacturing of fracturing equipment during the construction of the Fuling project.

The Fuling field, discovered in 2012, has reserves of 2.1 trillion cubic meters of shale gas, according to Sinopec.







>>  China’s service trade deficit narrows in February

By Liu Xinyong, An Bei and Wang  Peiwei

China’s foreign trade in services saw a deficit of 58.5 billion yuan (9.6 billion U.S. dollars) in February, official data showed on Monday of March 24.

The figure was down from a deficit of 81.4 billion yuan in January, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement.

China’s income from trade in services stood at 94 billion yuan last month, while expenditure in service trade reached 152.5 billion yuan, according to the statement.

The SAFE started to issue monthly data on trade in services in January to improve the transparency of balance of payments statistics.

Although China overtook the United States to become the world’s largest goods trader for the first time in 2013 and boasted a hefty surplus in trade of goods, a large deficit can be seen in its service trade.

Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that service trade deficit reached 118.46 billion dollars last year, up from 89.7 billion dollars in 2012 and 54.92 billion dollars in 2011.







>>  China’s bio-pharmaceutical output exceeds 2 trln yuan in 2013

By Liu Lu and Zhou Tingyu

The production value of China’s bio-medicine industry amounted to 2.1 trillion yuan (338.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013, up about 18 percent year on year, the country’s top economic planner announced on Monday.

Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the country was accelerating its research and development of new medicines, new types of plants and animals and new material products.

“In 2014 and 2015, China should strive to promote biological development including bio-pharmaceutical, bio-agriculture and bio-energy,” said Zhang at a news briefing ahead of a biological industry national conference.

Yang Shengli, honorary chairman of the Chinese Society of Biotechnology, said that annual growth of the country’s bio-industrial output is expected to surpass 20 percent in three years.

Initiated in 2007, the 8th national conference on biological industry will be held in the coastal municipality of Tianjin from June 18 to 20 focusing on “developing bio-industry to benefit people”.







>>  China allows market to deal with overcapacity: official

By Jiang Xufeng

Market forces will reduce China’s industrial overcapacity, Su Bo, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology, said in Beijing on Monday of March 24.

“Overcapacity has become a great challenge for the Chinese economy, and we need to let the market to play a bigger role in cutting overcapacity in sectors including cement and power generation equipment,” Su told the China Development Forum.

Reducing production capacity will help Chinese companies trying to climb the value chain, and provide opprtunities for cooperation between foreign and Chinese companies, he said.

China encourages foreign companies to establish research and development centers in China and collaborate with domestic companies to upgrade industrial production, Su added.

Initiated in 2000, the China Development Forum is a platform for the international business and academic communities to interact with Chinese decision makers and economic planners.







>>  Life sentence upheld on “fake banker” case

By Zhang Heping and Wang Jian

Zhejiang high court in east China has upheld a life sentence for a businessman infamous for his bogus claim to have purchased a U.S. bank, authorities said on Monday of March 24.

The Zhejiang Provincial People’s High Court handed down the appeal verdict to Lin Chunping on March 13, upholding the first trial decision by Wenzhou Intermediate People’s Court on November 19 last year.

Lin, 44, from Wenzhou City in Zhejiang, was sentenced to life imprisonment for making 1,266 false value-added tax invoices worth 520 million yuan (83.7 million U. S. dollars) and selling them to 315 companies across the country between September 2011 and May 2012 for profit, the Wenzhou ruling said. He was also accused of making false tax rebate invoices. All of Li’s personal wealth has been confiscated.

Lin was hailed by the local government and the media as a “financial hero” in Wenzhou after claiming to have purchased the “Atlantic Bank of America” in 2011, which was later found to be nonexistent.







>>  Smog returns to Beijing

By Fang Ning and Luu Chang

A new bout of smog smothered Beijing on Monday, with the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) standing at 294 by 2:30 p.m., indicating serious air pollution.

The Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center said the smog is likely to persist in the coming days, as the weather in the following days will not help disperse it.








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