China demands special security arrangement for its aircraft in Nepal






>>  China Voice: WTO rare earth ruling is unfair

By Xu Xingtang and Zhang Zhengfu

One with justice on his side doesn’t always win. This is again the case for the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rare earth ruling last week.

The ruling against China’s regulation of its rare earth exports has sparked disappointment and dissatisfaction among the Chinese public, as they hold China has been unfairly treated.

Although the decision was made in accordance with “established rules,” it doesn’t mean that the ruling was reasonable.

On the one hand, Western countries, equipped with the world’s most sophisticated export restriction systems, can, without breaking any rules, restrict exports of high-tech products such as precision machinery and semiconductors, particularly, to China.

On the other, it is against the so-called “rules” for China to manage its exports of rare earth. China does so not to target specific countries, but out of the need to curb environmental disasters caused by excessive mining.

Isn’t this inscrutable or double standards?

Yes, precision machinery, semiconductors and the like are high-tech products. But rare earth is just the kind of commodity most sought after and widely used in high-tech sectors.

They say they prohibit exports of those high-tech products to China because they can be used for military purposes. But rare earth is just the kind of key element widely used in military sectors.

The ruling was made based on rules, but rules should have kept up with the times. For new members of the WTO such as China, many of the old rules masterminded by developed economies are not fair in the first place.

WTO officials are also advised to come to China and have a look at the enormous damage excessive rare earth mining has inflicted on the environment.

China has long been a victim of excessive rare earth mining and has only started to resolve the problems recently.

For decades, China, with about 23 percent of the world’s total rare earth reserves, has been feeding more than 90 percent of the world’s demand for the metals.

China’s domination of the global rare earth market is an unwanted gift from some developed countries led by the United States.

The United States, with one of the world’s largest rare earth reserves, dominated this market from the mid 1960s to late 1980s, and then started to gradually close down mines, citing huge environmental and resource costs.

This dominating status came at a huge price — in some small towns in east China’s Jiangxi Province, where reserves of precious ion-absorbed-type rare earths abound, lavish exploitation of the metals since the late 1980s has not only destroyed local landscapes, but also poisoned streams and crops.

After comparing the environmental disasters caused by rare earth mining in China and the natural sceneries above rare earth reserves in the United States, the WTO would be able to give a fair verdict.







>>  China concerned by “irrational” Japan

By Hao Yalin

China on Monday of March 31 censured an Japanese official’s criticism of recent remarks by President Xi on his European tour.

“We are strongly dissatisfied and opposed to the Japanese side’s irrational attitude,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, commenting the words of Yoshihide Suga, chief secretary of Japan’s Cabinet.

Suga described as “unproductive” Xi’s comments on Japan’s history and the Nanjing Massacre while the Chinese President addressed a think tank in Berlin.

Xi told his German audience that the Japanese invasion, which caused more than 35 million Chinese casualties, still held “bitterly painful memories” for the Chinese people.

“The invasion, including the Nanjing Massacre, is an irrefutable fact. President Xi mentioned this period in his speech to emphasize the importance of maintaining justice and peace, preventing the repeat of historical tragedies and working for a better future,” Hong told a regular press briefing.

Japan invaded China in 1937 and on Dec. 13, 1937, started a massacre in Nanjing, then capital of China. More than 300,000 Chinese people lost their lives in the 40 days that followed.

Hong noted that denying and embellishing history was becoming more frequent in Japan. All peace loving people, he said, should be highly concerned and on their guard.

Hong urged Japan to regain trust of their neighbors and the international community at large by adopting “a correct understanding and attitude” towards its history.







>>  China lodges solemn representation

to Philippines over South China Sea dispute 

By Bai Jie

Chinese vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin on Monday of March 31 lodged solemn representations to Philippine Ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio over the formal plea the Philippines filed to an international tribunal on South China Sea dispute on Sunday.

China expressed strong dissatisfaction at and firm opposition to the Philippine side over the international arbitration it pushed forward unilaterally disregarding China’s stern stance, said Liu.

“China’s stance of neither accepting nor participating in the international arbitration does not change and will not change, ” said Liu.

Forcing the international arbitration is inconducive to the settlement of the dispute on the South China Sea, said Liu.

“The move will not change the fact that China has sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters, nor will it shake the Chinese government’s will and resolution to safeguard territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests, “he said.

It will not affect China’s policy and practice in solving the South China Sea disputes, he added, namely solving disputes through direct talks.

Liu urged the Philippine side to correct its mistake, take bilateral ties and the general picture of peace and stability of the South China Sea into consideration, comprehensively and effectively implement the consensus that has been repeatedly confirmed by both sides and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and come back to the right track of bilateral negotiations.

The Philippines sent a ship to the Ren’ai Reef on Saturday with journalists on board, and on Sunday filed a formal plea with an international tribunal.

Liu also lodged representations with the Philippine side over the trip to the reef.

He stressed that China will never allow the Philippines to occupy the Ren’ai Reef in any form or succeed in building facilities there, urging it to stop all provocation.

The Philippines grounded a warship near the Ren’ai Reef in the South China Sea in 1999 and has refused to retrieve the ship.

In a recent statement, the Philippine side claimed that the stranded warship had served as a permanent installation since 1999.

The Philippines has also repeatedly attempted to deliver construction materials to build on the reef to intensify and expand its military presence.







>>  Philippines must take consequences of provocation: China

By Wang Huihui

China on Monday of March 31 warned the Philippines about escalating provocation, as the Southeast Asian country stepped up confrontation with China on the South China Sea.

The Philippine side must take consequences of its provocation, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

By pushing forward international arbitration, the Philippines are attempting to disguise their illegal occupation of Chinese territory. “It is political provocation based on abuse of international law,” Hong said at a daily news briefing, reiterating that China will neither accept nor participate in international arbitration.

The spokesman reiterated that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters.

He noted that China made a statement in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2006, pointing out that such disputes are not subject to arbitration.

The Philippines sent a ship to the Ren’ai Reef on Saturday with journalists on board, and on Sunday filed a formal plea with an international tribunal.

Taking journalists to the reef was a “deliberate” action to stir up the South China Sea issue in an international court, and another chapter in the Philippines’ illegal attempt to seize the reef, Hong said.

It shows once again the essence of the South China Sea dispute between the two countries is sovereignty over islet and reef, not subject to arbitration by the UNCLOS, said Hong.

China will never allow the Philippines to occupy the Ren’ai Reef in any form. China will never allow the Philippines to succeed in its attempt to build facilities there against the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), Hong said.

In Washington, U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf backed the Philippines’ action, saying “all countries should respect the right of any states party, including the Philippines, to avail themselves of the dispute resolution mechanisms provided for under the Law of the Sea Convention.”

Hong reminded the U.S. to remember its commitment that it is not a claimant in the South China Sea dispute and does not take position. “We urge the U.S. to stick to its commitment and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite.”

The Philippines grounded a warship near the Ren’ai Reef in the South China Sea in 1999 and have since refused to retrieve the ship. In a recent statement, the Philippine side claimed that the stranded warship has served as a permanent installation since 1999. The Philippines have also repeatedly attempted to deliver construction materials and build on the reef.







>>  China demands special security arrangement for its aircraft in Nepal

By Ashok Thapa

The Chinese government has asked its Nepali counterpart to arrange special security for aircraft that are making direct flights from Kathmandu to different destinations in China.

Following the missing of a Malaysian aircraft bounding for Beijing more than three weeks ago, the Chinese government has shown serious security concern about its airlines operating to and from Nepal’s only international airport.

“Sending a letter to the Home Ministry, the Chinese authority asked to arrange special security for the landing and taking off of the Chinese planes that operate from our airport,” a high-level official at Nepal’s Home Ministry told Xinhua preferring anonymity. 

He said that the ministry has already forwarded the letter to the Ministry of Aviation for the consideration.

Sources said in the letter the Chinese authority had demanded security for its diplomatic officials, people visiting to Nepal and its aircraft.

The Aviation Ministry said it has instructed Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), Nepal’s aviation regulatory body, to address the demands of the Chinese government.

“We have initiated some activities to address the concern of the Chinese authority, including stricter screening and thorough inspection of the passengers and their belongings,” CAAN Chief Ratish Chandra Lal Suman said on Monday.

He also said even stricter inspection will be made for all airlines to ensure security in Kathmandu-based Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

Currently, three Chinese carriers including Air China, China Southern and China Eastern are running direct flights to Kathmandu ‘s Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) while another, Sichuan Airlines will soon begin its commercial operation in Nepal.

Of late, there has been immense flow of Chinese tourists to Nepal which has also made it necessary for Nepal to make its air connection with the northern neighbor better organized and safer.







>>  Tajik president meets Chinese defense minister on ties

By Wang Feng

China would like to expand cooperation with Tajikistan and advance the two countries’ diplomatic and military ties, visiting Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said on Monday of March 31.

In a meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, Chang said China would like to explore more potential and expand more areas for cooperation with Tajikistan, following the direction set by the heads of state of the two countries.

The China-Tajikistan relationship had witnessed healthy and smooth development since the establishment of their diplomatic ties in 1992, said Chang.

The political mutual trust between the two countries had been deepened, with both sides achieving fruitful results on pragmatic cooperation both at the bilateral level and within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), he added.

The establishment of a strategic partnership last year opened a new chapter in the ties between the two countries, Chang noted.

Rakhmon, for his part, thanked China’s unselfish assistance and active contribution to the army building of his country. Lauding the military cooperation between the two states, he expressed his wish for further exchanges and collaboration.

There were still many destabilizing factors in Central Asia, which posed risks to countries like Tajikistan and China, noted the president, who thus urged a reinforced cooperation between the two sides to jointly tackle the challenges.

Chang arrived here Saturday for a visit to Tajikistan, where he would attend an SCO defense ministers’ meeting.







>>  Cambodia honors 2 Chinese peacekeepers killed in 1993 blast

Cambodia on Monday of March 31 held a ceremony to honor two Chinese soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers who lost their lives in a blast in the province’s Cheung Prey district on May 21, 1993.

The ceremony was presided over by Gen. Sav Sok, undersecretary of state of the Cambodian Ministry of Defense and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Bu Jianguo, and was attended by some 120 Chinese and Cambodian people.

At the event, Cambodian defense officials, Chinese diplomats, representatives of Chinese community in Cambodia, and provincial authorities laid wreaths to commemorate the dead soldiers.

Ambassador Bu Jianguo recalled that nearly 800 Chinese U.N. soldiers were on a peacekeeping mission in Cambodia in 1992, and a mid-night explosion on May 21, 1993 killed the two soldiers — Chen Zhiguo and Yu Shili — and wounded three others.

“Their sacrifices for the cause of peace have greatly contributed to building closer relationship between China and Cambodia,” she said. “Although they passed away, we all still remember their braveness forever.”

Gen. Sav Sok expressed the deepest condolence to the Chinese government and the bereaved families for the death of the two Chinese soldiers in the engineering unit of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

“On behalf of the Cambodian people, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government for sending engineering forces under the U.N. umbrella to Cambodia for a peacekeeping mission,” he said, “Their sacrifices were in the cause of seeking peace for Cambodia. We pray for them to rest in peace.”







>>  British, Chinese central banks signs MoU

on RMB clearing, settlement in London

By Wu Xintao, Zhang Binyang

The Bank of England and the People’s Bank of China on Monday of March 31 simultaneously announced that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries’ central banks regarding renminbi (RMB) clearing and settlement arrangements in London has been signed.

The agreement will facilitate the use of RMB by banks and other firms in international transaction, supporting global trade and investment, said British central bank on its website.

The People’s Bank of China confirmed the agreement on its website. It said the central bank will announce the clearing bank of the RMB business afterward. The establishment of the RMB clearing in London will benefit the RMB cross-boarder transaction of both countries’ enterprises and financial institutes, thus further promoting the mutual trading, investment liberalization and facilitation.

Jon Cunliffe, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, said that the MoE signed by two central banks represents a key mile stone on the journey of greater internationalization of the RMB.

Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman for the City of London Corporation, commented that the agreement will help to reinforce confidence in London and underlines the close partnership between the British and Chinese authorities. It should encourage more British firms to use the RMB as a currency for international trade.

The MoU was signed on Monday in London by Cunliffe and Hu Xiaolian, Deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China, noted the Bank of England.







>>  Thai Princess Sirindhorn to visit China

By Liang Linlin

Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will visit China from April 5 to 11, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Sirindhorn will visit at the invitation of the Chinese government, spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.







>>  China vows joint efforts on securing cyberspace

By Hou Lijun

A Foreign Ministry spokesman vowed on Monday of March 31 that China will work with the international community to build a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace.

Spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on a speech by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on cyberspace.

“The United States does not seek to militarize cyberspace,” said Hagel at the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland on Friday.

The Pentagon “will maintain an approach of restraint to any cyber operations outside the U.S. government networks. We are urging other nations to do the same,” Hagel said.

He said the United States wants to promote the qualities of the Internet that have made it a “catalyst for freedom and prosperity.”

“We have taken note of the U.S. statement,” said Hong, adding that information and communication technologies are conducive to social and economic development as well as human well-being.

It is in line with the common interests of the international society to safeguard peace in cyberspace and prevent it from becoming a new battleground, said the spokesman.

China hopes the United States can turn its remarks into concrete policies and actions, he added.

Next week, Hagel will begin a tour of Asia with a stop in China, which will be his first as defense secretary.

His speech was seen as an effort to ease strains and shape the dialogue over cyber issues ahead of Hagel’s China trip, which follows reports in The New York Times and Germany’s Der Spiegel that the NSA had secretly tapped Chinese telecom giant Huawei for years.







>>  China’s Huawei introduces new smartphone models in Cambodia 

The world’s third largest smartphone maker Huawei on Monday of March 31 unveiled two newest smartphone models for Cambodia’s fast growing mobile phone market.

The two models are Huawei Ascend G730 and Ascend Y600.

“With the introduction of the two new smartphone models, consumers will get more choice in the fast growing smartphone category in Cambodia,” Cary Yang, Chief Executive Officer of Huawei (Technology) Cambodia, said at the launching ceremony.

“Cambodia is one of our key and fast growing markets and we have lined up exciting plans and new products launching in the coming months,” he said.

He said the company saw huge potential in smartphone demand in Cambodia and set a firm strategy to promote Huawei’s smartphone brand in Cambodia.

“There is great potential in growth of smartphone users here and Huawei wants to encourage consumers to try and enjoy technology of smartphone with Huawei at very competitive prices,” he said.

Cambodia has seen rapid growth in mobile phones market in the last five years. The country has population of 14.8 million, but the number of mobile phone subscribers has reached 20.2 million last year, up 6 percent from 19.1 million in previous year, according to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Huawei is a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider. The firm’s products and solutions have been deployed in over 140 countries, serving more than one third of the world’s population.







>>  China intercepts 143 food shipments in February

By Xu Bo and Zhu Shaobin

Chinese authorities found 143 batches of substandard food imports and rejected them for the domestic market in February, the country’s top quality supervisor announced on Monday of March 31.

Substandard additives, microbial contamination and poor quality were the main problems with the imports from 28 countries and regions, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

The rejected food fell into 16 categories, mostly beverages, seasonings, biscuits and candy, said AQSIQ spokesman Chen Xitong.

AQSIQ also found 29 shipments of substandard cosmetics imported from two countries and regions.

All substandard products were either sent back or destroyed, Chen said.







>>  China’s external debt on the rise

By Cheng Jing

China’s outstanding foreign debt had hit 863.2 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2013, up 17 percent from the figure in the previous year, data from the country’s forex regulator showed on Monday of March 31.

The amount does not include the outstanding external debt of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions or that of Taiwan, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement on its website.

Of the total outstanding external debt, registered external debt reached 526.7 billion U.S. dollars, while the balance of trade credit between businesses amounted to 336.5 billion U.S. dollars.

Most of the debt owed to foreign creditors resulted from short-term borrowing, as outstanding external debt with a term of one year or less amounted to 676.6 billion U.S. dollars, while long- and medium-term outstanding external debt came in at 186.5 billion U.S. dollars.

In terms of currency structure, debt denominated in U.S. dollars accounted for 79.6 percent of the outstanding registered external debt, and that in euros and Japanese yen accounted for 5.54 percent and 5.02 percent, respectively.

Preliminary calculation showed China’s foreign liability ratio of 9.4 percent, debt-to-GDP ratio of 35.59 percent, and debt-service ratio of 1.57 percent were all were within the internationally recognized safety range, the SAFE said.







>>  Chinese president appoints new ambassadors

By Bai Jie

Chinese President Xi Jinping has appointed three new ambassadors, according to a statement issued by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Monday of March 31.

Xi made the appointments in line with decisions made by the Standing Committee of the NPC, China’s top legislature.

Sun Baohong has been appointed ambassador to Ghana, replacing Gong Jianzhong.

Xu Jianguo has been appointed ambassador to Ireland, replacing Luo Linquan.

Li Ruiyou has been appointed ambassador to Papua New Guinea, replacing Qiu Bohua.







>>  CPC official meets Mali delegation

By Zhang Yi

Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Zhao Leji met with a delegation from Mali on Monday of March 31, stressing the good relations between the two countries’ parties.

The delegation was headed by Bokary Treta, General Secretary of Rally for Mali.

Zhao, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, briefed the delegation on the 18th National Congress of the CPC and the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.

He said the CPC will strengthen communication and cooperation with the Malian side on governance, institutional development and cadre training to improve overall bilateral ties and promote peace and development in Africa.

Treta said Rally values traditional friendship between Mali and China and it will make efforts to advance the two nations’ relations as well as the two parties’ ties.







>>  China, Russia to cement coordination in int’l organization

By Tan Jingjing

China’s top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Monday of March 31 called for enhanced coordination between China and Russia in the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (IAESCSI).

Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top advisory body, made the remarks while meeting with Evgeny Velikhov, IAESCSI president and chairman of the Russian Public Council.

Hailing the sound momentum of China-Russia ties, Yu said the successful meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi during the Winter Olympics in February, had strengthened the relationship between the two countries.

China hopes to further enhance strategic cooperation with Russia, to transform the advantages of their political ties into more substantial results to benefit the two peoples, he said.

Yu spoke highly of the coordination between the China Economic and Social Council and the Russian Public Council in the IAESCSI, urging closer exchanges between the two organizations to boost friendship between the two peoples.

Velikhov said Russia was willing to strengthen coordination with China in the IAESCSI.







>>  China launches experimental satellite

By Ren Ke

China successfully launched an experimental satellite into preset orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in its northwestern gobi desert on Monday morning of March 31.

The Shijian-11-06 was boosted by a Long March-2C carrier rocket at 10:58 Beijing Time. The satellite, which was developed by China Spacesat Co. Ltd under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, will be used to conduct scientific experiments in space.

This was the 189th flight of the Long March rocket series.







>>  Chinese provincial official probed for discipline violations

By Li Pengxiang, Tan Yuanbin and Cheng Lu

One official has been sacked and another is under investigation in central China’s Hubei Province for discipline violations, local authorities said on Monday of March 31.

Lu Lijun, deputy director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of Hubei, was removed from his post for a “serious violation of discipline”, according to the website of the discipline watchdog of the provincial committee of the Communist Party.

Lu was also sacked from the party chief of the Hubei Qingneng real estate company.

The website also confirmed that Li Ping’an, deputy chief of the commerce bureau of Huanggang City, was being investigated for serious breach of party discipline.







>>  Rogue journalists use “anti-graft” for blackmail: authority

By Cheng Zhuo

Fake media organizations and journalists have been found to use the term “anti-graft” for blackmail, according to the Chinese authority on press and publications.

China last week announced to launch a nationwide campaign to crack down on fake news and ban journalists and newspapers from extorting money in return for stories.

A document issued by the state authority against porn and illegal publications said that in some cases, fake news organizations used the words such as “rule of law”, “supervision”, “clean governance” and “administration” in their names as a bluff to extort money from grassroots government agencies, enterprises and individuals by threatening to expose their irregular practices. Some of them pretended to be from state media or local newspapers.

According to another statement by the press authority, some licensed media and journalists were also found to have been involved in such schemes.

The recent campaign, jointly launched by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and another eight ministries and offices, seeks to “prevent extortion by news reporting and contain the spread of fake news”.

The authorities also called on the public to report violations.







>>  New rule strengthens Chinese medical equipment safety

By Wang Cong

The Chinese government on Monday of March 31 unveiled a new regulation on the supervision of medical equipment in a bid to enhance its safety and effectiveness and safeguard public health.

The regulation, endorsed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, will come into effect on June 1.

Under the new rule, medical equipment in China will be registered and divided into three categories based on the potential health risks they might pose for the public.

High-risk equipment will be placed under stricter control by the authorities, it said.

Those who manufacture or operate unregistered high-risk medical equipment, or manufacture or operate it without official endorsement will have their illegal gains and production apparatus and materials confiscated, and could face fines up to 20 times as much as the value of the equipment, as well as criminal charges, the regulation said.







>>  Massive China economic stimulus unlikely

By Fang Dong

With further shrinkage in China’s growth on the cards in Q1, reform will be used to fend off economic slowdown rather than an economic stimulus, economists have said.

Given the increasing downward pressure, analysts have projected GDP growth slowing to below 7.5 percent in the Jan.-March period. Zhang Liqun of the State Council’s development research center sees the slowdown as a result of gloomy market sentiment since the final quarter of 2013, when enterprises de-stocked in a pessimistic climate.

Tang Jianwei, a researcher at the Bank of Communications, lowered his growth estimate to 7.3 percent, stressing poor demand at home and abroad.

The latest evidence came from the HSBC’s preliminary manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for March, which dipped to an eight-month low, the third straight month of contraction. Other economic indicators are also bleak, including an unexpectedly large trade deficit in February and the lowest increase in fixed asset investment for 13 years.

The official reading of GDP for the first three months of this year is scheduled for release on April 16.

The slowing pace, although denting market faith, is still in the range set by the authorities. In the annual “Two Sessions” at the beginning of this month, the central government decided to keep the growth target for 2014 unchanged at around 7.5 percent and the target for inflation around 3.5 percent. The government will not step in with strong action, provided the range is not breached.

Zhang calls the expected 7.3 percent growth “normal”, as the rate has been fluctuating around 7.5 percent since 2012, thus taking any massive stimulus out of the reckoning.

Echoing his words, an unnamed economist from the Academy of Macroeconomic Research said the situation is different from those of 1998 and 2008 and the economy has outgrown stimulus measures. Proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy are more sustainable growth modes without the side-effects of a widening deficit and rising inflation.

To tackle the downward trend, China is more likely to rely on reform in 2014. Zhang and Tang expect the government to ease private investment restrictions and simplify administrative procedures for small start-ups, both as part of the mixed-ownership drive and to increase market vitality.

The government will also step up infrastructure construction, renovation of dilapidated residences and development of central and western China, Tang added.

Premier Li Keqiang showed his faith in economic growth at a conference on March 26, citing successful experiences last year and pledging targeted measures soon.

China will walk out of the bleak situation in the second and third quarters of this year, Zhang said, as reform gradually takes effect.  







>>  Alibaba buys into high street

By Zhong Qun, Fang Ning and Zhang Yao

Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba has announced plans to buy 5.3 billion Hong Kong dollars (692 million U.S. dollars) of shares in department store operator Intime Retail Group Co.

Intime’s stocks opened at 10.50 HK dollars on Monday, 16.28 percent up on the previous close.

Alibaba will acquire 9.9 percent of Intime’s shares for 1.6 billion HK dollars, and 3.7 billion HK dollars worth of convertible bonds in the high street retailer. The bonds will be converted into Intime shares in three years time, by which time Alibaba will hold a 26-percent stake in the company.

According to the agreement, the pair will form a joint venture to develop shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets in the online-to-offline (O2O) business. As of the end of last year, Intime ran 28 department stores and eight shopping malls in China.

“Customers are changing their shopping habits with the development of Internet technology. Intime must adapt to the changes and enter cyberspace to cater to customers’ shopping demands,” said Shen Guojun, board chairman of Intime.

Prior to Monday’s tie-up, Alibaba and Intime have seen a variety of high-profile cooperative deals since the end of 2013.

In November, Alipay, China’s largest third-party online payment platform and a subsidiary of Alibaba Group, teamed up with Intime to allow online payment in over 30 stores. In March, Intime joined with Alipay and e-commerce platform for a “festival” when customers could make purchases in Intime’s stores with free or discount e-coupons.

Zhang Yong, COO of Alibaba Group, said that the companies had a detailed “road map” toward an exchange of membership databases to fully integrate virtual and bricks-and-mortar businesses.

Despite high expectations, O2O progress is still slow, as digitalization of traditional sales touches on many factors, not least technology, management and operations. In addition,the People’s Bank of China recently called a halt to transactions via barcode thanks to frequent cases of credit card skimming.

Intime’s Shen Guojun looks at the situation differently, saying that O2O will eventually become popular, as it is in line with the trend and “the customers like it”.







>>  HK retail sales up 6.6 pct for first two month

By Zhao Jinjing

The total retail sales increased 6.6 percent in value and 7.9 percent in volume for the first two months of 2014 over the same period last year, Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department announced on Monday of March 31.

The value of total retail sales in February, provisionally estimated at 40.5 billion HK dollars (5.22 billion U.S. dollars), decreased 2.3 percent over a year earlier.

After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales decreased 2.3 percent.

The department said retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year owing to the timing of the Lunar New Year as local consumer spending normally peaks before the festival.

As the Lunar New Year fell on January 31 this year but on February 10 last year, it is more appropriate to analyze the retail sales figures for January and February taken together in making a year-on-year comparison.

Analyzed by broad type of retail outlet and comparing the total sales in January and February, miscellaneous consumer durable goods’ sales value increased the most, by 46.7 percent. This was followed by optical shops’ sales, wearing apparel and medicines and cosmetics.

Based on the seasonally adjusted series, total retail sales volume increased 3.4 percent in the three months ending in February, compared with the preceding three-month period.

Favorable job and income conditions and sustained growth of inbound tourism will support the retail business in the near term, the department said (1 U.S. dollar equals to 7.76 HK dollar).







>>  HK records 31.8 bln HKD surplus as of February

By Zhang Yashi

 The Hong Kong government announced on Monday of March 31 its financial results for the 11 months ended February 28, 2014, showing a net surplus of 31.8 billion HK dollars (about 4.1 billion U.S. dollars).

The results showed that there was a deficit of 38 billion HK dollars in the month of February, thereby bringing the net surplus down to 31.8 billion HK dollars up to end of February 2014.

Expenditure for the 11-month period reached 388.3 billion HK dollars and revenue 420.1 billion HK dollars.

A government spokesperson said that expenditure in March is expected to exceed revenue, resulting in a deficit for the month and further reducing the cumulative surplus.

The fiscal reserves stood at 765.7 billion HK dollars as at February 28, 2014. (1 U.S. dollar = 7.76 HK dollars)







>>  Mass clean energy discovered in NW China

By Zhong Qun and Xu Wenting

Geologists have found large masses of hot dry rock (HDR), a form of clean energy, in northwest China’s Qinghai Province, local authorities said on Monday of March 31.

The rocks, at least 150 square kilometers in area, were found 2,230 meters under Qiabuqia Township in Gonghe County, in the northern part of the Gonghe basin. It is the first time such a huge amount of HDR has been found in China.

The HDR is usually buried 3,000 to 10,000 meters under the earth’s surface. It can be used to generate clean electricity through its high temperature.

The breakthrough was made by a China Geology Survey geothermal energy project, in partnership with Qinghai’s department of land and resources. The project has been two years in the making.

Yan Weide, dean of the provincial institute of hydrological and geological engineering investigation, said HDR is effective in easing environmental problems caused by the greenhouse effect and acid rain.

The discovery will not only contribute to research on HDR, but could help China’s regional energy restructuring process, said Wu Tingxiang, director of the Qinghai bureau of geology, mineral exploration and development.

The amount of HDR on the Chinese mainland is estimated to equal about 860 trillion tonnes of standard coal, 260,000 times that of China’s current annual energy consumption.

Only a handful of countries have mastered the technology regarding power generation using HDR, including the United States, Japan and Sweden.







>>  China to regulate sea use in 2014

By Liu Lu and Luo Sha

China will issue a policy on regulating the country’s maritime area commercial use via tender, auction or listing in 2014, said the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) on Monday of March 31.

According to a SOA guideline on sea area management in 2014, the SOA will improve the system of maritime property deals and jointly release a mortgage policy on the right of maritime use with the central bank.

The administration will make the utmost efforts to complete the establishment of county-level oceanic functional zones and improve a three-tier oceanic zone system including national, provincial and city and county levels, said the guideline.

The SOA will also tighten implementation of the country’s sea reclamation plan, establish a multi-level coastal protection mechanism, and promote the protection and use of provincial-level coastlines.

In order to reinforce safe seabed use, the SOA plans to improve the administration of seabed cable tunnels this year.

The SOA will also set up pilot zones with dense maritime projects where surveys of current sea area use will be carried out, and accelerate the upgrade of dynamic monitoring.







>>  NE China province bans natural forest logging

By Zhu Shaobin and Liu Yangyang

Heilongjiang Province in northeast China will ban commercial logging of its natural forests from Tuesday of April 1.

Excessive logging over long periods have sharply reduced forest resources and downgraded quality of state forests in the province, said Zhao Shucong, chief of the state forestry administration.

“To protect the ecosystem and insure sustainable development of forests, it is urgent that commercial logging be stopped,” Zhao told a press conference in Beijing on Monday.

“The logging ban ends more than 100 years of excessive exploitation of forests,” the official said, adding the measure was important in restoring the nation’s forest resources and insuring ecological security.

He said that industries such as tourism and green agriculture should be developed as substitutes for logging.

The Heilongjiang province is home to 18.5 million hectares of state forest.







>>  CNOOC produces 66.84 mln tons of crude oil

By Zhang Zhengfu and Xu Bo

China’s biggest offshore oil and natural gas explorer said on Monday of March 31 that it produced 66.84 million tons of crude oil and 19.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2013.

Among the production, 39.38 million tons of crude oil and 10.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas came from offshore, according to a report released by the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC).

CNOOC imported 13.01 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) last year, making LNG refueling a “new growth point” for the company, it said.

CNOOC’s oil and gas production from Chinese waters amounted to 50 million tons of oil equivalent in 2013.

Mainly thanks to its acquisition of Canadian oil and gas company Nexen in February last year, oil and gas production in overseas waters in 2013 doubled from 2012, according to the report.

CNOOC, which ranked 93rd in the Fortune global 500, had a total capital of 1.05 trillion yuan (170 billion U.S. dollars) at the end of 2013.







>>  Harsh road rules bring down violations, deaths

By Cheng Zhuo

A revised traffic regulation which features harsher penalties and stricter driving license exams has effectively brought down traffic violations and deaths in accidents, new data showed on Monday of March 31.

In 2013, the number of recorded cases of people driving at speeds of 50 percent or more above the limit saw a drop of 58.4 percent on a year-on-year basis, according to a statement released by the traffic management bureau of the Ministry of Public Security.

It follows the new regulation on driving licenses taking effect on Jan. 1, 2013,

Accidents and deaths due to speeding also decreased by 61.6 percent and 59.6 percent, respectively, the statistics indicated.

Moreover, accidents linked to drunk driving declined 11.7 percent year on year and the death toll was reduced by 5.7 percent, the statement said.

Also, the number of violations in which passenger coaches were found to be overloaded fell by 70.7 percent and the number in which people ran traffic lights registered a 40.2-percent drop.

Stricter driving license exams with more tests simulating driving on real roads have better polished the candidates’ skills, said Li Jiangping, deputy chief of the traffic management bureau.

In 2013, the number of traffic violations committed by new drivers with driving experience of less than one year witnessed a 72.9-percent drop from the previous year.

Efforts to curb traffic offenses are essential to contain major traffic accidents and maintain road safety, Li said.

The statement said the authorities will further streamline traffic rules and driving exams and enhance law enforcement.







>>  Rain triggers south China landslide, flight delays

By Cheng Lu, Zhong Qun, Fang Ning, Wu Suo, Lu Bo’an, Wu tao, Mao Siqian and Lai Yuchen

Rain and hailstorms since Saturday of March 29 have brought landslides and flight delays to southern China.

In Guangdong Province, authorities confirmed that 11 people had been killed, while three remained missing as of 5:00 p.m. on Monday.

Heavy rain has grounded flights and stranded passengers at major airports in Guangdong since Sunday. More than 300 flights were canceled at the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport over the past two days, and thousands of travellers were stranded. Some anxious and impatient travellers vented their anger in airport offices or stopped other passengers from boarding, airport authorities confirmed, adding that order has been restored.

Schools in Shenzhen suspended classes on Monday when the local weather department warned of severe thunderstorms.

In Ziyuan County, Guangxi, rescuers continue to search for a mine worker buried by a landslide on Sunday. Two giant rocks crashed down on a road on Sunday and as mine workers cleared the roads, a landslide occurred. One miner was injured and another is still missing.

According to the Civil Affairs Department of Guangxi, hailstorms have left two dead and more than 3,000 hectares of crops destroyed.

On Monday morning, the China Central Meteorological Station maintained a blue rain alert for the region, down from red the previous day. China has a four-tier rainstorm alert system, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

The storms that have swept swathes of south China recently had caused 16 deaths, and left two people missing as of 09:00 a.m on Monday, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA). By 5 p.m. the death toll had risen to 21.

Over 830,000 people have been affected by the disaster, according to the MCA website.







>>  5.5-magnitude quake hits Tibet; no casualties

By Li Baojie and Wang Jun

An earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter Scale hit Nyima County of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region at 1:10 a.m. (Beijing Time) on Monday of March 31, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center.

The epicenter was monitored at 31.4 degrees north latitude and 86.5 degrees east longitude with a depth of 10 km, the center said.

There have so far been no reports of casualties or property damage, Migmar Cering, governor of Nyima County, Nagqu Prefecture, told Xinhua by telephone.

He added that the county government has sent two work groups to the epicenter to further check the conditions.

Migmar Cering said the epicenter lied between two townships, but the tremor was strongly felt in the county seat and many residents were awaken from sleep.

Nyima, with an altitude of over 5,000 meters, is a quake-prone region. It administers 14 townships though its northern part is uninhabited.







>>  4 dead in SW China mine explosion

By Zhou Hongpeng and Cheng Lu

Four people have been confirmed dead and four others injured in a coal mine gas explosion in southwest China’s Yunnan Province early on Monday of March 31, local authorities said.

The accident occurred at around 10:30 a.m. at a coal mine in Linfeng Township of Weixin County, according to the county’s information office.

An investigation into the cause of the blast is under way.









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