Nobel laureate Mo Yan to write anti-graft novel








>>  Russia-China ties see breakthrough amid global unrest: diplomat

By Liu Hongxia

Cooperation between Russia and China in 2014 has seen breakthrough in numerous spheres despite global economic and political unrest, a senior Russian diplomat said on Wednesday of December 31.

“The two countries have enhanced mutual understanding and trust … The presidents met five times this year,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told Xinhua.

Pragmatic cooperation between the two sides was also impressive, he said, citing improvement in cooperation mechanisms as well as the record high of 14 meetings at the vice premier level.

Official estimates have shown that the bilateral trade volume in 2014 could exceed 90 billion U.S. dollars, Morgulov said, recalling both leaders’ pledge to raise the volume to 100 billion dollars in 2015 and 200 billion dollars in 2020.

“We are more than confident to reach the goals,” he said.

Hailing major deals and agreements reached this year, Morgulov noted that “it’s no exaggeration to say the two countries have taken a historic step in energy cooperation.”

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to China in May, the two sides signed a 30-year gas supply contract that will see the East-Route Pipeline start providing China with 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from 2018. In November, the two countries reached a framework agreement on the West-Route Pipeline project.

“For Russia, the implementation of such major projects remains a priority in the future,” Morgulov said.

Cooperations in financial, aircraft manufacturing, space and hi-tech spheres have also been accelerated in 2014, he said, adding the two countries have broadened the scale of local currency settlement.

China is not only a major strategic partner for Russia in economy, but also in politics, the diplomat noted.

Speaking of the unsettled Ukraine crisis and Western sanctions against Russia over the issue, Morgulov said it’s evidential that “successful economic cooperation and stable pragmatic interaction could fall into the cost of geopolitical ambitions.”

Russia has been waiting for the West to take concrete measures to resume equal dialogues, and is ready to jointly overcome current disputes based on principles of mutual benefit as well as international law, he said.

The diplomat also praised China for its “prudent” approach to the Ukraine issue, and both Moscow and Beijing stand for peaceful and political ways to resolve the problems in a comprehensive, stable and balanced manner.

“The diplomatic coordination between Russia and China is a major stability factor in world politics, with both sides supporting reasonable and pragmatic ways to address international affairs,” Morgulov said.







>>  China’s active peacekeeping role shows rising influence in world affairs: Argentine diplomat

By Mao Pengfei

China’s contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the conflict-torn South Sudan signaled Beijing’s growing role in world affairs, Argentina’s former ambassador to the UN said.

“China’s presence on the international stage is increasingly evident. Its leading role and influence are clearly on the rise in the most diverse corners of the globe,” Emilio J. Cardenas said in an article published on Wednesday of December 31 on the daily La Nacion.

Cardenas said China’s pledge to send 700 combat troops to help the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan was the clearest sign yet that the Asian giant is taking a more active role in international matters.

Cardenas noted that it’s not the first time that China takes part in such peacekeeping missions, but previously the country limited its input mainly to support personnel, such as engineering or medical corps.

The 700-strong battalion includes 121 officers and 579 soldiers. An initial group of 180 soldiers will fly to South Sudan in January and the remaining troops will fly or travel by ship in March.@ As a UN Security Council member, China has contributed the most manpower to peacekeeping missions around the world.







>>  China makes clean sweep in 1.6 km freestyle of FIS cross-country skiing

By Chen Chen and Wang Haofei

Vasaloppet China 2015 and Elite Competition of Cross-country Skiing race of the International Ski Federation (FIS) kicked off here on Thursday of January 1.

China’s Sun Qinghai and Man Dandan won the first place in the men’s and women’s 1.6 km freestyle races.

A total of 102 skaters from 15 countries and regions including China, Germany and Norway took part in today’s competition. The final results of this round competition will not be concluded in annual accumulated points of FIS.

Chinese skiers occupied the top four places in the women’s race, while the men’s race featured a tough battle between China and Northern Europe.

Bryntesson Robin from Sweden rallied in the second half of the final and ranked second at the heels of Sun Qinghai. China’s Tang Jinle finished third and Reistad Petter from Norway fourth.

“Today’s race is a warm-up for all the skiers,” said Bryntesson. “I will do my best in the following competitions.”







>>  Mass winter sports activities held in China’s Jilin Province

By Chen Chen and Wang Haofei

To send a tailwind toward Bejing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and also to implement the outline of the nationwide body-building plan, “winters sports activities amid entire society” of the year 2015 started here on Thursday of January 1.
Nearly 3,000 citizens took part in jogging, winter swimming and skiing.

“I remembered last time we named it ‘national fitness goes along with Olympics’ for biding the 29th Olympic Games,” the 62-year-old man Zhang Aijun said. “I also wish Beijing success in the Winter Olympic Games biding, so as to attract more Chinese to participate in winter sports.”

Today’s activities were mainly held in South Lake Park, where people took part in jogging, winter swimming, China invitational ice hockey amateur tournament, football and kite flying.

Wei Xiuyun, Deputy Director of Administration of sports of Jilin Province, said that this was the third time that Jilin held the activities consecutively.

During the event, ice stadium and snow pack which runs outdoors will be open to the public for free at regular intervals, while professional sports instructor will train the citizens how to play ice hockey and ski.







>>  Taiwan’s Ma stresses cross-Strait peace

By Wang Di, Chen Binhua and Xu Xueyi

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou on Thursday of January 1 urged efforts to strengthen cross-strait peace, saying “achievements made over the past six years stand as proof that seeking peace in this way is the right way to go.”

Achieving reconciliation within Taiwan society is only part of the picture, and cross-strait peace must also be strengthened, Ma said in his New Year address, titled “Reconciliation, Cooperation, and Peace” and released by his office.

“As I see it, we seek three goals in conducting cross-strait relations. The first is peace. The second is also peace. And the third, once again, is peace,” Ma added.

Ma pledged to adhere to the principle of “putting Taiwan first for the benefit of its people” on the basis of the 1992 Consensus, and to push forward follow-up economic and trade talks and the establishment of cross-strait representative offices in order to facilitate more peaceful relations.

He noted that everyone in society, including in small and medium-sized enterprises, ought to share the dividends generated by cross-strait peace, especially the benefits that come from stronger economic and trade ties.

Ma praised the gradual institutionalization of cross-strait relations for its concrete results over the past six-and-a-half years, citing increased direct flights, closer trade and investment ties, and more frequent cultural and educational interactions.

“And even more encouraging than all of that is the fact that young people from both sides are much more broadly and deeply engaged with each other, all the time,” he said. “This is going to lay the foundations for peace among the next generation of ethnic Chinese.”

As the new year unfolds, Ma urged officials to bear in mind the lessons that have been learned, including better handling of issues related to youth, labor relations, the needs of the disadvantaged and urban-rural disparities, and on adopting more effective fiscal, economic, and social policies for more equal distribution of wealth.

He also promised to support any dialogue or cooperation between the ruling and opposition camps that would help to ease political tensions.

“The world is changing drastically and it won’t stop for Taiwan,” Ma said.








>>  Mainland travelers granted landing permits to Taiwan’s outlying islands

By Wang Di and Chen Binhua

Visitors from the Chinese mainland are allowed to travel to Taiwan’s outlying islands of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu starting on Thursday of January 1, without applying in advance for Taiwan-issued entry permits.

The landing permit enables mainland visitors to stay in the offshore counties for up to 15 days. They are still banned from traveling to other parts of Taiwan without an entry permit.

According to figures released by the Kinmen County government, more than 1.5 million passengers have traveled by ferry in 2014 from Kinmen to the mainland’s Fujian Province, 10.8 percent higher than in 2013.

Kinmen is about 10 kilometers away from Fujian’s Xiamen City, making ferries the most convenient way to commute between the two destinations.

The landing permit is the latest measure to attract mainland residents to Taiwan. Taiwan began to open the door to individual tourists from mainland cities on June 28, 2011, and the mainland is currently the largest source of tourists to the island.







>>  Nobel laureate Mo Yan to write anti-graft novel

By Li Huizi

Chinese Nobel laureate Mo Yan said on Thursday of January 1 that he is preparing to write a novel about the ills of corruption.

The well-known Chinese writer made the remarks in an interview for the website of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The novel is about people, he said, as “power, money and other temptations are tests to everyone” and “touchstones of every soul.”

He said the book could have a “penetrating and profound” effect, as it would put people under the microscope of morals and laws, adding that China’s problems should not be avoided in his work.

Mo has not yet started writing, saying he hopes to produce a deep and satisfactory piece, adding that it could be a novel or a play.

The 59-year-old has harshly criticized corruption and bureaucracy in his novels “Garlic Ballads” and “Republic of Wine.”

Mo won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012 for his works, which “merge hallucinatory realism with folk tales, history and the contemporary,” according to the Swedish Academy.






>>  Three Gorges breaks world record for hydropower generation

By Cao Kai, Liang Jianqiang and Li Siyuan

China’s Three Gorges Power Plant generated 98.8 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity in 2014, beating the world record for hydropower generation set by Brazil’s Itaipu hydroelectric plant, according to the China Three Gorges Corporation on Thursday of January 1.

Though with a much smaller installed capacity, Brazil’s Itaipu hydroelectric plant has long been the champion of world hydropower generation. It generated 98.6 billion kwh of electricity in 2013.

The China Three Gorges Corporation said 98.8 billion kwh is the equivalent of saving 49 million tonnes of coal consumption and preventing the emissions of carbon dioxide by 100 million tonnes.

The Three Gorges Power Plant, the world’s largest hydropower station, has an installed capacity of 22.5 million kw. The Itaipu hydroelectric plant has an installed capacity of 14 million kw.







>>  Beijing APEC venue opens to public

By Yao Yuan and Yang Na

Beijing’s Yanqi Island, the host site of this year’s APEC meetings, opened to the public on Thursday of January 1.

The islet on the scenic Yanqi Lake is the site of an international convention center where Chinese and foreign top leaders met during the 2014 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November.

The event has made the site the latest must-see in Beijing, with its around-the-islet boat trips particularly popular among tourists who hope to gain a view of the APEC venue.

The islet has opened the convention center and the surrounding gardens, while the VIP villas and the Yanqi Pagoda are not yet available for sightseeing, according to the lake’s operators.

The islet will only be open from Wednesday to Sunday, with the daily number of tourists capped at 400 people. Visitors must book tickets in advance via phone or the lake’s website.

Yanqi Lake, located in the suburban Huairou District in northeastern Beijing, has undergone an overhaul since 2013, when it was chosen to host the APEC meetings.

APEC, short for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, is a summit for leaders of its members, including the United States, China, Japan and Russia, to discuss economic development of the Asia-Pacific region.

This year’s APEC meetings featured meetings between Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others.







>>  China Development Bank lends 409 bln yuan for shanty town renovation

By Zhu Shaobin

China Development Bank, a wholly state-owned policy bank, granted 408.6 billion yuan (66.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2014 in financial loans to support shanty town renovation projects, according to the bank.

Lending exceeded its target of 400 billion yuan for 2014, covering renovation projects in nearly 30 provincial regions, the bank said.

The bank’s financial support last year was used to renovate homes totaling 860 million square meters and benefiting 8.75 million households, according to the bank.

Data showed the bank’s accumulated lending for shanty town renovation projects reached 804.7 billion yuan at the end of 2014.

The bank said it will continue its financial support for renovation projects in 2015.







>>  Beijing increases housing credit ceiling

By Cao Kai, Kong Xiangxin

With a stagnant housing market, Beijing has increased the ceiling of housing public accumulation fund loans from 800,000 yuan (130,000 U.S. dollars) to 1.2 million yuan, local authorities announced on Wednesday of December 31.

The housing pubic accumulation fund consists of long-term housing savings deposited by both employers and workers every month. It can only be used for workers to purchase a house and, if unused, is returned to workers when they leave office or retire.

The current interest rate for housing pubic accumulation fund loans over five years is 4.25 percent, compared with 6.15 percent offered by commercial banks.

The 1.2 million yuan Beijing ceiling is currently the highest in China. In the capital, a 100-square-meter apartment can costs more than 3 million yuan.

First home buyers who acquire a property not exceeding 90 square meters can apply for as much as 1.2 million yuan from Jan. 1 in 2015, according to local fund administrators. For second home buyers, the upper limit is still 800,000 yuan.

The new policy should help the moribund housing market. After years of double-digit increases, housing prices in China started to cool in late 2013. The downturn continued in 2014 and spread to most big cities.

The number of new apartments sold in Beijing this year was less than 93,000, down 21 percent. The number of second-hand apartments was just over 94,000, down 37 percent, according to real estate agencies.

To avoid a sharp slowdown in the property market, on Sept. 30 a joint announcement by the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, and the China Banking Regulatory Commission eased mortgage measures for home buyers. Mortgages on second homes have since been treated as a first mortgage if the buyer has no outstanding mortgage.

Before the easing of rules, 41 out of the 46 cities that had home purchase restrictions removed them. Beijing still bans residents from buying a third home and non-Beijingers can only own one.

The latest monthly data shows new home prices fell in 67 out of 70 cities in November, with 68 cities reporting price drops from the levels of a year before.







>>  China’s box office sales surge 36 pct in 2014

By Li Huizi, Zhang Zhengfu and Sui Xiaofei

China’s box office sales totaled 29.6 billion yuan (about 4.84 billion U.S. dollars) in 2014, up 36 percent year on year, the country’s film bureau said on Thursday of January 1.

Domestic films raked in more than 16.15 billion yuan, accounting for 54.5 percent of last year’s box office revenues in the Chinese mainland, said Zhang Hongsen, head of the film bureau under the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

Facing pressures from Hollywood, Chinese films still gained major market share and were welcomed by audiences, he said, citing “The Taking of Tiger Mountain,” “Coming Home” and “Dearest” as outstanding domestic films.

A total of 618 Chinese films were produced in 2014, while 638 were made in 2013.

More people went to see movies in 2014, with viewers taking 830 million trips to the cinema, up 34.5 percent year on year, the administration said.

Earnings of 66 films surpassed the 100-million benchmark last year, including 36 domestic productions. In 2013, 60 films surpassed that figure.

China gained 1,015 cinemas and 5,397 screens last year, bringing the total number of screens to 23,600.

“On average, 15 more screens were added each day,” Zhang said.

Chinese films grossed 1.87 billion yuan overseas, up 32 percent, the official said.

As the second-largest film market after the United States, China saw its film industry balloon in 2010, when its annual box office sales surpassed 10 billion yuan for the first time. In 2013, it took only six months for ticket sales to reach 10 billion yuan.

Although box office revenues alone cannot fully reflect the state of China’s film industry, attracting larger audiences and increasing domestic market share will help promote the country’s soft power, experts said.

Zhang said Chinese filmmakers should be aware of pressures and challenges and enhance filmmaking quality in 2015.








>>  China’s December manufacturing PMI retreats

By Zhan Yan, Wang Xi, Zhao Wenjun and Sang Tong

Chinese manufacturing activity waned slightly in December but is still expanding, official data showed on Thursday of January 1.

The manufacturing purchasing manager’s index (PMI), a key measure of factory activity in China, posted 50.1 in December, down from 50.3 in November, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP).

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 represents contraction.

The PMI of large manufacturers posted 51.4, down from 51.6 in November.

That of medium enterprises stood at 48.7, up from 48.4 in November, but still contracting.

The PMI of small manufacturers slumped to 45.5, down from 47.6 in November, and remained in the contraction territory, the NBS said.

The production sub-index posted at 52.2 percent, down from 52.5 in November.

The sub-index for new orders slipped to 50.4, down from 50.9 in November. The employment sub-index was 48.1, down from 48.2 in November.

The slumping PMI showed the manufacturing sector does not have great upward momentum, though it is running stably, said Zhao Qinghe, a senior NBS statistician.

China is experiencing industrial restructuring, and the prices of industrial products have been slumping, affecting the production and order sub-indices, Zhao said.

Deflation is showing up with signs of weak market demand, slumping industrial product prices and dropping profits, said Cai Jin, CFLP vice president.

China’s “new normal” of slower but higher quality growth will bring a moderate slowdown, but it does not mean the growth rate will continue to shrink for long, and it will stabilize in the second quarter of 2015, Cai said.

A cooling manufacturing sector and property downturn dragged China’s economic growth to 7.3 percent in the third quarter in 2014, down from 7.5 percent in the second quarter and 7.4 percent in the first quarter.







>>  China’s non-manufacturing PMI rises in December

By Zhan Yan and Wang Xi

China’s service sector activity rose in December for the second month running, an official monthly survey showed on Thursday of January 1.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the non-manufacturing sector rebounded to 54.1 in December from 53.9 in November, according to a report released jointly by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.

The index was 53.8 in October and 54 in September.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 represents contraction.

The sub-index for the construction industry fell to 57.1 in December from 58.9 in November, while the sub-index for services rose to 53.3 in December from 52.6 in November.

The new order sub-index for the entire non-manufacturing sector rose to 50.5 in December from 50.1 in November.

NBS analyst Zhao Qinghe said the non-manufacturing sector has been improving since the country mapped a series of measures to boost the service sector and upgrade industries.

Wu Wei, an analyst with China Logistics Information Center, said the service sector has been running in a healthy way and playing a more important role in providing jobs.

He said construction activities will continue to climb in 2015 with China’s urbanization efforts and the “Belt and Road Initiatives” to revive the ancient Silk Road from China to other countries.

But Wu warned against deflation, believing falling prices of service products and slumping international commodity prices may cause deflationary pressure.

A cooling manufacturing sector and property downturn dragged China’s economic growth to 7.3 percent in the third quarter in 2014, down from 7.5 percent in the second quarter and 7.4 percent in the first quarter.

The PMI samples 1,200 non-manufacturing enterprises of various sizes nationwide. It tracks activity in sectors including services, construction, software, aviation, railway transport and real estate.









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