China plans to expand visa-free scheme

 

 

 

 

 

RIO DE JANEIRO

>>  Brazil can learn from China to open up for competition: expert

By Bruna Gama

Brazil can learn a lot from China to open up for competition and boost growth, a U.S. expert said Wednesday of August 20.

Brazil “can open up for competition, little by little,” much like China did in the past, Ann Lee, an economics and finance professor with New York University, said at a seminar here.

Lee, an expert on Chinese economy, praised the Chinese model, which, according to her, is based on concrete experiences.

She said Brazil can learn from China’s experiences in special economic zones and be more open, even if in just a few sectors at first.

“Forty years ago, China had a 100-percent state-owned economy, with no private industry whatsoever. And they had to learn how to integrate themselves into the current global order… where private industry played a role. They had to figure out how to move from their then state to a different state, when they had no real market economy, and there were not rulebooks or blueprints,” Lee said.

“China realized they had to do things step by step through trial and error,” she added.

Brazil is going through a presidential campaign and general elections will be held in October.

Lee aid she believes Brazil can get more dynamism and increase its global presence, adding that in order to achieve more growth, the country needs a plan to advance, as well as a political figure with a strategic vision to conciliate different interests and gather them around the same policy.

Again, that is a strategy that has worked for China. “China has strategic plans that they have announced to the whole world; it is like a goal setting exercise for them, where they say ‘this is where we would like to be,’ and ‘these are our aspirations.’ And then they try to align all the government officials to carry them out,” she said. “By having hard targets like that, they help attract the right kind of talent and businesses to China to help them reach those goals.”

According to Lee, Brazil has a lot of potential to achieve more growth like China did, while China, which is developing onto a new level, can help Brazil achieve that goal.

At this new phase of development, China will focus on its domestic economy and boost its service sector, which represents a big opportunity for a number of countries including Brazil, Lee said.

In addition, the fact that China is now focusing on the environmental area provides an opportunity for Brazil to invest in the sector, she added.

“There are many more opportunities for opening up, if Brazil chooses to latch onto them,” the expert said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WELLINGTON

>>  Chinese visitors staying longer in New Zealand: tourism chief

By John Macdonald

The number of overseas visitors to New Zealand last month hit 196,900, the highest ever for a July month, driven by holiday-makers from Indonesia, Australia and China, the government statistics agency announced on Thursday of August 21.

The figure surpassed the previous July high of 183,700 last year, Statistics New Zealand population statistics project manager Susan Hollows said in a statement.

In the year to the end of July, visitor arrivals numbered 2.8 million, up 6 percent from the July 2013 year, and the top four sources of visitors were Australia, China, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Total visitor arrivals from China were up 7.8 percent in the year ending July to 243,472.

“We are continuing to see a positive change in the visitor mix from China, with most of the growth coming from independent travellers, rather than short stay group tours, which is an encouraging trend,” said Kevin Bowler, chief executive of the government’s Tourism New Zealand agency.

This was supported by an increase in the length of stay, with Chinese visitors staying almost a day and a half longer than they did last year, lifting average stay to 8.5 days compared to 7.1 days in July 2013, Bowler said in a statement.

Strong growth was seen across Asian markets with visitors from Singapore up 18.4 per cent, Malaysia up 20.9 percent, Indonesia up 39.4 percent and India up 14.3 percent for the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIANJIN

>>  China’s integrated gov’t unit experiment sets efficiency example

By Li Laifang, Liu Yuanxu and Li Kun

A pilot to streamline administrative approvals by combining government departments has proven a success after a three-month trial in Tianjin.

The Binhai New Area Administrative Approval Bureau in Tianjin, the first of its kind in the country, was inaugurated on May 20 when integration of 216 administrative approval items and staff from 18 different government departments were folded into one unit.

By Tuesday, the bureau had handled 38,348 administration-related items and completed 97.9 percent of them, with the registration of 1,812 new companies.

The bureau re-arranged the 216 administrative approval items and canceled 43 items, or one fifth of the total, said Zhang Tiejun, director of the bureau on Wednesday.

The Chinese government has been trying to streamline administrative procedures in order to reduce market barriers and boost economic vitality.

The Binhai New Area Administrative Approval Bureau is a local experiment in line with the reform and has shown its high efficiency.

It only takes one day to complete the registration of a new firm, which is the shortest time nationwide, said Zhang.

The approval of each government investment project reduces from 45 to 25 work days and that of an enterprise investment propjet from 30 work days to 20, according to Zhang.

To facilitate investment and companies’ smooth operation, 87 items that previously required sophisticated government approval procedures will be removed or delegated to lower-level authorities, said the State Council, China’s cabinet, Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIANJIN

>>  “Summer Davos” to include more China topics

By Zhong Qun and Li Kun

The upcoming Summer Davos in north China’s Tianjin will feature more Chinese topics, as local organizers take a more active role in the annual event.

Zhang Jun, a coordinator for the 2014 forum, said that a number of local topics, including Confucius and Chinese pop music, will be discussed at this year’s event.

“We took a more active role this year by submitting topics about China in advance so we can present what Chinese people care about on an international stage,” Zhang said.

In the past, local organizers regarded themselves as a hosts rather than participants, Zhang said. “But now we know the importance of getting the world’s elites to talk about China and help us tackle our problems.”

Five Tianjin high-tech companies have become eligible to take part in this year’s forum, where the world’s best converge. It is an opportunity for international exchange and for foreign companies to get a better understanding of their peers in China.

“It’s very important for China to be talked about in this way. It will be beneficial in many ways,” said Wang Hezhen, another government coordinator.

Since the first Summer Davos meeting, or the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, in 2007, the Chinese port cities of Dalian and Tianjin have been hosting the event every other year.

The three-day meeting will open in Tianjin on September 10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NANJING

>>  IOC President enjoys great sporting moments at Nanjing 2014 Sports Lab

By Gao Peng and Liu Weiwei

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach paid a visit to the Nanjing 2014 Sports Lab on Thursday of August 21, where he met young athletes and officials from the sports of roller skating, skateboarding, sports climbing and wushu.

The Sports Lab has welcomed large crowds every day since the start of the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games on August 18, and the IOC President said he was impressed with what he saw.

“It is exciting to see how the Sports Lab is appreciated by the people of Nanjing. This was the idea that the people of the host city cannot only watch the Youth Olympic Games but that they can also participate,” said Bach. “For the four sports, it is a great opportunity to present themselves in an Olympic environment.”

The Nanjing 2014 Sports Lab is a unique concept that allows the four IFs to showcase their sports during a series of two-hour sessions twice daily. Top athletes from each of the sports are given 30 minutes each to entertain onlookers with their world-class athletic abilities. Following each session, spectators are invited to try out the sports themselves while the athletes provide tips and advice.

“Each sport is fascinating,” said Bach, talking to the press at the end of the visit. “Wushu is a great traditional Chinese martial art with a dynamism that you would have not necessarily expected and a great balance between body and mind. Climbing is displayed in a very exciting form and presents a high level of technical skills. Skateboarders are using the city as a field of play and it is just breath-taking to see what they are doing on the halfpipe. Each kid at some stage has practised roller sports but what we see here is close to perfection. Roller sports is really breath-taking.”

As part of Nanjing 2014′s legacy plans, the Sports Lab facility will remain in place after the Youth Olympic Games close on August 28 and will be made available for use by the local public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

KUALA LUMPUR

>>  Malaysian PM calls on businessmen to help strengthen economic ties with China

By Zhao Bochao

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that he had called on the country’s businessmen to help promote the economic ties between his country and China.

“I urge you to tap the opportunities offered by expanding your business and investments in China, and to encourage your Chinese partners to explore new opportunities here in Malaysia,” he said Wednesday night at a dinner in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations.

Najib asked the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCIM), the country’s largest chamber of commerce representing the Chinese community and the organizer of the event, and all the corporate leaders present to continue to work with the Malaysian government to encourage more investment from China.

The prime minister said the seeds of the two countries’ relations sown 40 years ago have indeed blossomed, adding that the relationship is set to grow stronger over the next four decades.

On May 31, 1974, Najib’s father, then Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, signed a Joint Communique with then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai during the former’s historic visit to China, launching a new era for bilateral ties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHENZHEN

>>  Official lists HK universal suffrage requirements

By Zuo Yuanfeng and Cheng Yunjie

Senior legislature official Li Fei has stressed patriotism, adherence to law and local prosperity as musts in practicing universal suffrage in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) by 2017.

Li, deputy secretary-general of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, made the remarks at a symposium on Hong Kong’s universal suffrage on Thursday of August 21.

Some 220 political advisors and lawmakers from the mainland and Hong Kong attended the meeting. Many expressed their hope that the NPC Standing Committee can map out the necessary rules to put HKSAR universal suffrage on the right track so that the region can focus on the economy and people’s livelihoods.

Participants from Hong Kong said that implementing the universal suffrage of the chief executive in line with laws in 2017 was an established goal of the NPC Standing Committee and the common expectations of the Hong Kong society. This work must be carried out within the framework of the HKSAR Basic Law as well as the decisions made by the top legislature.

They said that chief executive elected through universal suffrage must be able to secure the good relations between Hong Kong and the central government, safeguard state sovereignty, security and ensure the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. Institutional arrangements must be made to ensure future chief executive love both Hong Kong and the country.

Quite a number of participants from Hong Kong voiced their worries that if differences over some significant issues were not reconciled, they might prevent the establishment of an early agreement or even blow the plan of practicing universal suffrage in 2017 and correspondingly elicit more political disputes.

They suggest the NPC Standing Committee making provisions for core issues to lay a solid foundation for more rational discussions and consensus building.

Some of them maintained that the nominating committee for the chief executive election should be built upon the existing election committee and that the four different sectors must be equally represented. Moreover, the democratic procedures and the number of the nominees must be stipulated.

There were other opinions and suggestions made at the symposium.

Promising to pass these opinions to the top legislature, Li, also director of the Standing Committee’s HKSAR Basic Law Committee, called the universal suffrage “a historic progress in Hong Kong’s democracy” and “a significant reform in HKSAR’s political system”, which concerns not only the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong but also state sovereignty, security and the interests of national development.

Li said that it was unprecedented that Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, came to Shenzhen in person to listen to the opinions of Hong Kong people of various circles from July 18 to July 21.

It was equally unprecedented for the General Office of the NPC Standing Committee to have held three symposiums to solicit the views of the Hong Kong people from various circles.

Such arrangements manifest the resolution and sincerity of the central government to advance universal suffrage of chief executive and its serious concern over the opinions of the Hong Kong people, Li said.

The top legislature plans to deliberate next week on a report from HKSAR Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on whether to revise election methods for the region’s chief executive in 2017 and its Legislative Council in 2016.

The current chief executive was elected by an election committee in 2012. Hong Kong plans to introduce universal suffrage in the election in 2017.

Stressing unity and cooperation, Li said universal suffrage must be implemented with a focus on the responsibility to ensure Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity as well as the obligations to abide by and safeguard the Basic Law.

“The central government holds the unwavering standpoint to fulfil universal suffrage in the region by 2017, and the SAR government has determination and confidence in successfully realizing this. With the responsibility and obligations shouldered by Hong Kong citizens, I believe all obstacles can be overcome,” Li said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HONG KONG

>>  Hong Kong’s secretary for home affairs to visit Taipei

By Wang Xiaoni

Hong Kong’s secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing will depart for Taipei on Friday morning to attend the Fourth Hong Kong-Taiwan Cultural Co-operation Forum, the city’s government news website said here on Thursday of August 21.

The first Hong Kong-Taiwan Cultural Co-operation Forum was jointly organized by the Cultural Co-operation Committees of Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2011.

The forum is then held annually and Hong Kong and Taiwan hold the forum in turn. The forum aims to foster interaction within the cultural sector between Hong Kong and Taiwan and promote cooperation in culture, art and creative industries.

During his stay in Taipei, Tsang will also meet Hong Kong representatives joining a youth cultural and creativity camp and visit performing arts groups.

He will return to Hong Kong on Sunday morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAIPEI

>>  Taiwan begins biggest ever local elections

By Han Miao, Chen Jianxing and Du Bin

Taiwan’s electoral authorities on Thursday of August 21 launched the island’s 2014 local elections, in which over 10,000 public officials will be elected on November 29.

The island will for the first time concurrently elect seven levels of local government officials, ranging from mayors of the six municipalities of Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Taoyuan to village chiefs.

People from certain minority areas will also vote for their new leaders and delegates at the year-end elections.

According to the electoral authorities, a record high of 11,130 positions are up for election, making it not only one of the island’s most important political activities since the 2012 leader election, but also its biggest local elections in history.

Registration of candidates will be carried out from September 1 to 5, and over 15,600 polling places will be set up across the island on election day, the authorities said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Chinese atomic clock given international recognition

By Zuo Wei, Dong Jun and Xu Qingsong

A Chinese atomic clock has been accepted by international authorities as a primary basis for high-precision international atomic time, announced the National Institute of Metrology (NIM) on Thursday of August 21.

The cesium atomic clock, known as NIM-5 and developed by the institute, is a kind of extremely accurate time-keeping device. It can be accurate to within one second over 20 million years, according to Chinese media.

The nod from the Paris-based Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, the authority for international time and frequency standards, has made China the eighth country to calibrate the international atomic time, after France, the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and Russia.

Insiders said the clock could define a Chinese atomic time independent from GPS signals or other international time-keeping data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Chinese political advisors discuss Silk Road Economic Belt

By Wang Xiaopeng

Chinese political advisors discussed ways to promote construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt at a bi-weekly consultation here on Thursday of August 21.

The session was presided over by Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

According to a statement issued after the session, advisors agreed that the Silk Road Economic Belt, the modern international trade network proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping last year, had attracted extensive attention and a positive response.

They suggested that the construction of the belt should be advanced with a focus on economic cooperation and that the market should be given full play regarding resources allocation.

There must be more cooperation in sectors including energy and ecological environment, it was concluded at the meeting.

The advisors also suggested that a multinational industrial chain should be established and cultural exchanges be strengthened to bring benefits to the nations along the Silk Road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAIYUAN

>>  State-level heritage site sees lake dry up overnight

By Sun Liangquan, Yuan Yue and Lü Qiuping

A lake at a cultural heritage site in north China’s Shanxi Province has become a focus of public attention since it dried up overnight for no clear reason.

Local government has called in experts to investigate the mystery and return the situation to normal as soon as possible.

Located in Guangling County in the northeast of Shanxi, the Temple of the Water God, or Shuishentang, features a Ming dynasty (1368-1644) temple in the middle of a lake which once covered about 24,000 square meters.

The picturesque site has had state-level protection since 2006, but local residents declared online last week that the lake had “disappeared” overnight. It has never dried up before, according to Liu Zhong, head of the site’s management office.

Documents released by the local government say the water began to recede around July 10, in the midst of a drought. Now, the lake is nothing more than a small puddle, surrounded by cracked mud and lots of dead fish.

“There used to be water flowing out of the spring all the time,” Jiao Xianggui with the county’s water bureau told Xinhua.

The difficulties of the temple have crystallized the feelings of local residents.

“Here, the temple is more than a scenic spot. It is part of our heritage,” said local man Qi Zhanbin, 42. “We grew up around the temple and it is hard to accept this harsh reality.”

Apart from being a cultural heritage site, the lake also provides irrigation for surrounding fields and the water feeds two reservoirs.

“The reservoirs can hold 8.58 million cubic meters, which is used for irrigating around 700 hectares of fields,” said Jiao.

With the desiccation spread over the internet, netizens have speculated that unsupervised drilling by local people might be the culprit.

“It may have something to do with the drought the county is suffering,” said Song Zhanxiang, head of the water bureau. “This year’s rainfall is only 40 percent of last year’s.”

The northern part of China has suffered a severe drought this summer. In Shanxi, 54 rivers have run dry, and 225 reservoirs are nearly empty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China’s academy of science to lead reform

By Fu Shuangqi

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), China’s top science think tank, plans to put itself in the vanguard of the reform of scientific research, said Bai Chunli, CAS president, on Thursday of August 21.

The CAS rolled out a complete restructuring program for more than 100 subordinate institutes on Tuesday of August 19, sorting them into four functional categories – applied technology for industry; academic research; engineering; and basic research that requires long-term investment.

The changes are not simply a reshuffling of institutes, but an attempt to manage each differently. Different functions require different setups, rules, assessment standards and fundraising, Bai said in an interview with Xinhua.

The goal is efficient management of scientists and research because, compared with the world’s leading research institutes, the CAS has a number of weaknesses.

“We have tried to make changes before, but none of them really got to the heart of the matter,” Bai said. “Research areas of some of our institutes overlap and a number of projects repeat one another unnecessarily. The quality of research is not satisfactory.”

The CAS has a staff of more than 50,000, 12 sub-academies, more than 100 institutes directly attached to it, about 100 state labs and 212 field stations.

Wan Gang, minister of science and technology, told Xinhua that, compared with developed countries, China’s science sector is poorly managed and inefficient, with less information sharing and communication; problems that have held back scientific development despite increased investment.

The government hopes more commercial enterprises will work with research institutes, but for that to happen, institutes need to be more open and flexible, Wan said. At least 25 companies listed on China’s A-share market are controlled by universities and research institutes with a total market value of about 187.8 billion yuan (30.49 billion US dollars)

On Monday, a report on innovation was discussed at a meeting of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, headed by President Xi Jinping and attended by Premier Li Keqiang.

Xi asked for concrete policy on innovation-driven development; national science and technology programs; and breakthroughs in projects that demonstrate the nation’s strategic intent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China plans to expand visa-free scheme

By Shi Hao and Qian Chunxian

China may expand its 72-hour visa-free policy for foreigners in a bid to boost the country’s tourism.

Chinese authorities are mulling over measures to expedite visa processing and will gradually optimize visa-free stays for international transit passengers, the State Council, China’s cabinet, said in a guideline published on Thursday of August 21.

The policy is already in place for foreign visitors to cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Guilin and Xi’an.

China hopes expanding the program will help bolster tourism to and from Asia, central and eastern Europe and Africa.

The State Council said it also aims to make it easier for foreign-funded travel agencies to get business certificates from local tourism authorities.

Chinese travelling abroad are among the fastest growing tourism population due to steadily increasing incomes. This has resulted in a huge spending deficit with foreign tourists coming to China. According to China Tourism Academy the gap in money spent by Chinese tourists overseas versus foreign tourist spending in China is estimated around 100 billion U.S. dollars.

The preferential policies laid down in the guideline are expected to lure more foreign tourists to China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China stops anti-dumping duties on phthalic anhydride

By Chen Siwu

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday of August 21 it would stop imposing anti-dumping duties on phthalic anhydride imported from the Republic of Korea, Japan and India as of August 30.

The ministry said it has received no expiry review request from Chinese industries to extend the anti-dumping duties that will expire on Aug. 30 and it won’t start an expiry review itself.

In 2009, the ministry extended the anti-dumping duties on phthalic anhydride imports from the three countries one time, extending it for another five years after a review investigation, saying such imports would cause damage to Chinese industries.

Phthalic anhydride is an important industrial chemical mainly used in the mass production of plasticizer for plastics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING 

>>  China imposes anti-dumping duties on India TBHQ imports

By Chen Siwu

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has imposed an anti-dumping duty of 49.8 percent on Indian companies after they were found to have dumped Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) products in the Chinese market.

The anti-dumping duties on the TBHQ imports from India will begin Friday and last five years, the ministry ruled on Thursday of August 21.

TBHQ can be used as antioxidant in cooking oil or as additives in the pharmaceutical and animal feed industries.

The ministry’s final ruling came four months after it launched temporary anti-dumping measures against such imports from India.

According to the ministry’s one-year investigations, TBHQ imports from India have been dumped in the Chinese market and such imports have caused substantial damage to China’s domestic industry.

However, the anti-dumping duties will not be retroactive to imports before April 30 this year, according to the ministry. Enditem

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Four officials investigated by prosecutors for graft

By Liu Yang and Liu Tong

Four former Chinese officials are under investigation for abuse of power and bribery allegations, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) said on Thursday of August 21.

Liu Qingcheng, former president and deputy party chief of the East China Institute of Technology, is being investigated for alleged bribe taking.

At least 19 officials from China’s institutions of higher learning system have been investigated so far this year. Most of them are university presidents or college deans.

The other three officials published by the SPP on Thursday are Ma Weiling from Guangdong Province, Liu Hongtao from Henan Province and Song Shigang from Gansu Province. All the three are provincial department level officials.

Ma, Liu Hongtao and Song are probed for suspected violations of law, including bribe taking, abuse of power and bending the law for personal gains.

SPP said in a statement that investigation work carried out by provincial procuratorate authorities is still underway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Hunan election fraud a harsh lesson: legislature

By Cheng Zhuo and Mou Xu

The prison sentence of a former official in Hunan for election fraud was seen as a harsh lesson to government officials with China’s top legislature vowing “zero tolerance” to similar violations.

Earlier this week, Tong Mingqian, a former senior official of the province, was sentenced to five years in prison for neglect of duty by failing to properly oversee and stop election frauds in the province’s city of Hengyang.

“We must not take corruption and violations in election procedures lightly and such offenses must get serious punishment,” said a statement from the General Office of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee on Thursday.

The statement described the election fraud case as a challenge to China’s people’s congress system, the socialist democracy, as well as the country’s law and the discipline of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

It also noted that some local legislature, officials and CPC members have failed to perform their due duties to ensure fair election with some receiving bribes for skewing election results.

Moreover, some candidates view fraud and corruption as “unspoken rules” during elections, brazenly using bribes to buy votes, the statement said.

“Such practices are a serious violation of law and ethics,” it said.

China’s fundamental political system, the people’s congress system, is the best way to guarantee the people’s position as masters of the country, the statement read.

The election fraud in Hengyang should be taken as a hard lesson and further efforts should be made to prevent similar violations, ensure honesty and fairness in elections and maintain the authority of the people’s congress system.

The statement also vowed “zero tolerance” to any case of this kind and pledged closer supervision over the election procedures.

The legislators’ awareness of the rule of law should be promoted, it added.

The fraud in Hengyang is one of the largest case in China in terms of people and money involved.

Investigations showed 56 candidates from Hengyang bribed 518 lawmakers and 68 staff at the Hunan provincial people’s congress. The amount of money involved in the bribery exceeded 110 million yuan (18 million U.S. dollars).

Local courts in Beijing and Hunan this week convicted and sentenced 69 people in the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JINAN

>>  Cult members stand trial in east China

By Liu Lu, Liu Tong, Luo Sha, Wu Shuguang and Sun Xiaozheng

Five cult members stood trial on Thursday of August 21 on murder charges at Yantai Intermediate People’s Court in east China’s Shandong Province.

Zhang Fan, Zhang Lidong, Lyu Yingchun, Zhang Hang and Zhang Qiaolian were indicted for murder, while Zhang Fan, Zhang Lidong and Lyu Yingchun were also charged with breaching law enforcement by cult activities.

Zhang Hang and Zhang Qiaolian confessed and expressed regret in court.

According to the indictment, Zhang Fan, Zhang Lidong and Lyu Yingchun should be handed down combined punishments for several offenses.

A woman surnamed Wu was beaten to death on May 28 at a McDonald’s outlet in Zhaoyuan City, Shandong, after she refused to give her cell phone number to the suspects, who were allegedly trying to recruit new members for the quannengshen (almighty god) cult.

First coming to light in the 1990s in central China’s Henan Province, quannengshen claims that Jesus has been resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, wife of the sect’s founder Zhao Weishan, also known as Xu Wenshan. The couple fled to the United States in September 2000.

The sect has been widely criticized for using rumors to confuse people and coercing others to join the cult. In late October and early November 1998, numerous robberies and assaults connected with the cult were reported over 12 days in Henan’s Tanghe County, with victims’ limbs broken and ears cut off.

According to Chinese law, a cult is an illegal organization that tries to control people by deifying the sect leader, deludes members under the guise of religion, and engages in activities that harm society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China’s service trade deficit grows

By Shi Hao and Wang Peiwei

China’s deficit from trade in services expanded in July to 15.3 billion U.S. dollars, its greatest level in 2014, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said on Thursday of August 21.

The July deficit was 6.3 billion U.S. dollars more than in June and it brought the total deficit from January to July to 74.2 billion U.S. dollars, the SAFE figures showed.

Distinct from merchandise trade, trade in services refers to the sale and delivery of intangible products such as transport, tourism, telecommunication, construction, advertising, computing and accountancy.

China is the world’s largest merchandise trader but weak in the service sector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China’s manufacturing activity at three-month low: HSBC

By Cheng Jing

China’s manufacturing expanded at a slower pace in August, a sign of weak momentum in its ongoing economic recovery.

The HSBC/Markit China flash manufacturing PMI for August dipped to 50.3 from a final reading of 51.7 in July, making the lowest rate in three months as both output and new orders slowed, according to HSBC’s preliminary purchasing manager’s index (PMI), released on Thursday of August 21.

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

“The data suggests that the economic recovery is still continuing but its momentum has slowed again,” noted HSBC chief China economist Qu Hongbin.

After a shaky start this year, Chinese policymakers have pinned hopes on accelerating investment on railways and infrastructure, quickening fiscal spending, and selectively easing monetary policies to support faltering growth.

Helped by these efforts, China’s economic growth showed more recovery signs in the second quarter, with growth accelerating to 7.5 percent from the 7.4-percent expansion in the first.

But as the latest data pointed to still weaker recovery rates, Qu said more policy support is needed to help consolidate the trend.

“Both monetary and fiscal policy should remain accommodative until there is a more sustained rebound in economic activity,” he said in a research note.

Reacting to the news, Chinese stocks headed downward in the morning session, with both the Shanghai and Shenzhen Component Index experiencing loss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUANGZHOU

>>  Eight injured in S China knife attack: Police

By Cheng Yunjie, Ma Xiaopu and Chen Ji

A man whose relatives claimed he had a history of mental illness slashed eight people with a knife in Guangzhou City of south China’s Guangdong Province on Thursday night of August 21, local police said.

The man surnamed Fan, 32, is from Shaoyang City of central China’s Hunan Province. He attacked eight people with a kitchen knife at Lanyuan Street and Lanyuan New Street.

Local police said they received a report of the attack at 7:28 p.m. and seized the assailant with the help of people on the scene.

At the Guangzhou Armed Police Hospital where five of the injured were being treated, doctors have stitched the wounds of the patients, mostly on the head, shoulder and wrist, and put them in observation wards.

Witness Luo Xianggui, whose husband is among the injured, said the assailant lived across the street and showed no oddness during daily contacts.

The other three of the injured were receiving treatment in the Longdong People’s Hospital. Police said their injuries are not life-threatening.

The assailant, whose motive remains unknown, was also hospitalized.

Investigation into the case is under way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHENYANG

>>  NE China drought leaves 330,000 thirsty

By Li Laifang, Xu Yang and Sun Renbin

Drought in northeast China’s Liaoning Province has caused drinking water problems for nearly 330,000 people and 82,000 head of livestock, said authorities on Thursday of August 21.

The worst drought since 1951 has also affected 28 million mu (1.8 million hectares) of crops, 56 reservoirs and 427 rivers, said the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters.

Liaoning received only 102mm of rain from July 1 to Aug. 17, 60 percent less than normal. The dry and hot weather will continue through late August.

Artificial rain has failed to relieve the situation.

“We have more than ten mu of crops. I am afraid the planting costs will not be earned,” said Dong Yuxia, a farmer in Sijiazi Village, Kazuo County.

Feng Lichen, a grain expert, said the current drought has a limited impact on crops, especially corn, but a lingering drought through the autumn will have a greater impact in affected areas.

Liaoning has mobilized more than two million people and invested 527 million yuan (85 million U.S. dollars) to fight the drought.

Severe drought has also hit other Chinese provinces such as Henan, Jilin, Inner Mongolia and Hubei this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

KUNMING

>>  4.2-magnitude quake jolts SW China

By Li Laifang and Hou Wenkun

A 4.2-magnitude earthquake struck China’s Yunnan Province on Thursday of August 21.

The earthquake occurred in Binchuan County, Bai Autonomous Prefecture of Dali at 12:11 a.m. Thursday with its epicenter 12 km deep, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center.

Residents in the county seat felt the earthquake with many rushing out of their homes, said Zhao Zhizhen, a county official.

There have been no reports of casualties or damage. Local authorities are checking into the situation.

Yunnan is prone to earthquakes. A 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Ludian in the northeast of Yunnan on Aug. 3 killed more than 600 people and destroyed 80,000 homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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