China lifts price controls on 24 commodities, services








>>  Getafe coach Contra confirms Guangzhou move

By Paul Giblin

Getafe coach Cosmin Contra confirmed on Sunday of January 4 that he is leaving the Madrid based club in order to sign for Chinese side Guangzhou.

The operation will mean Getafe are paid an important sum of money in compensation for the departure of the Rumanian, who earlier in the week had appeared to imply he was only leaving Getafe as the deal would be financially positive for the club.

However, speaking in a press conference alongside Getafe President, Angel Torres following the 2-1 home defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, Contra was at pains to stress this was not the case.

“I want to thank the President for giving me the chance to coach in the Primera Liga and also the players. I want to make it clear that there has been a story which said I didn’t want to leave, but that is not true,” said Contra, who had also spent time at the club as a player.

“If I was not excited (at the chance of coaching in China), I would not be leaving,” he insisted.

“I am leaving a great club, which has been my home, but I leave with high hopes for a great experience in a new competition which moves a lot of money.”

“I am young, I want to work hard and to achieve big things,” said Contra.

The Spanish press reports he will earn five times his current salary when he joins Guangzhou, but Contra admitted he hoped to return to Getafe at some stage in the future.

“I have no doubt that I would be delighted to come back to my home and the President (Torres) knows that. If he wants me, we will work together again,” he admitted.






>>  Asian Cup preview: Australia, South Korea to dominate Group A

By Wei Hua

Most people may tend to rate Australia and South Korea as the favorites in Group A to qualify for the knockout stage at the Asian Cup while Oman and Kuwait have little chance to progress.

As the host, the Aussies have bright prospects in front of their home fans. Although Australia has suffered three-game losing streak in 2014 World Cup, in Asian stage they still have advantages.

In attacking line, veteran Tim Cahill is always ready to score. Besides Cahill, Mark Bresciano, Robbie Kruse and Mathew Ryan are set to hit stride.

In 2011 Asian Cup, the Aussies lost to Japan 1-0 in the final. Now, they will try their best to claim the title on home soil.

The South Korea confederation appointed Uli Stielike as the national coach after the sacking of Hong Myung-Bo. But Stielike failed to impress in the team’s friendly matches.

Who is the ace of South Korea after Park Ji-Sung? The answer is Son Heung-Min. The 22-year-old prolific striker now has scored 5 goals from 16 appearances for Bayer Leverkusen in German Bundesliga.

As a top team in Asia, South Korea is far more than one-man team, the midfielder Ki Sung-Yong from English side Swansea will give full support for Son Heung-Min, and Kim Young Gwon who played for Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club will provide solid defence.

And the third game between Australia and South Korea is likely to be a decisive game for the first place in the group.

The other two teams, Oman and Kuwait, are hardly to cause upsets. It looks difficult for them to enter the next round, winning a game may be a realistic plan for them.







>>  Chinese skiers win long-distance freestyles at FIS China Tour

By Yu Jia

Chinese skiers Sun Qinghai and Ma Qinghua won the men’s and women’s long-distance freestyle skiing races respectively at the Federation International de Ski (FIS) China Tour in West Ujimqin banner (county), located in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Sunday of January 4.

Sun clocked 13 minutes 24.8 seconds to grab the title in men’s 5.7km freestyle race, and Ma snatched the women’s 3.8km competition in a time of 9 minutes 58.2 seconds.

Another two Chinese skiers Li Xin and Man Dandan finished second and third in the women’s race. The American skier Peter Klin and Norway’s Eric Bruland took the silver and bronze in the men’s contest.

The event, sponsored by FIS and organized by China’s Association for Skiing and the local government, attracted 70 skiers from seven countries or regions including Sweden, Norway, the United States.







>>  Chinese airlines to cut fuel surcharges

By Rong Jiaojiao

Chinese airlines will cut fuel surcharges for domestic flights due to a decline in fuel prices, airlines announced on Sunday of January 4.

Starting from Jan. 5, major airlines, including Shandong Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, announced that surcharges for domestic routes of 800 kilometers or less will be reduced to 10 yuan (1.63 U.S. dollars) from the current 30 yuan.

The surcharges for routes longer than 800 km will be cut to 30 yuan from 60 yuan.

It is the fifth time Chinese airlines have cut fuel surcharges since September 2014 and prices are now at a five-year low.

China has cut the retail prices of gasoline and diesel ten times since July 2014 in line with reductions in the prices of crude oil.







>>  New year to see strengthened counter-corruption measures

By Cheng Zhuo

China’s top disciplinary watchdog has hit the ground running in 2015, through measures that underscore its commitment to rooting out corruption.

The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) on Sunday of January 4 released the contact details and websites of the CCDI and its provincial-level agencies, and invited the public to come forward with information.

“Clean governance and strict management of the Party matter to you and to me. You are invited to take part [and] supervise us,” a short statement by the CCDI read.

Looking ahead to the new year, the CCDI has outlined a series of new measures to catch high-ranking “tigers” and low-ranking “flies”.

In a bid to reach more people, the CCDI on Jan. 1 launched a mobile application that will release up to date information on corruption investigations.

The app also details how the CCDI handles reports as well as interactive features related to letters submitted from across the country.

The CCDI updated its website to include advanced report and tracking sections, so the public can be kept up to date with the progress of investigations.

These measures show that the CCDI is willing to modernize in line with the contemporary environment, by ensuring transparency and encouraging public participation.

In a new year message published on its website, the authority said “our first sentence for 2015 is that the construction of clean governance and the combating of graft will continue.”

Later this month, the CCDI will convene its fifth plenary session.







>>  China issues action plan to fully implement national IPR strategy

By Wu Chen

China has issued an action plan on further implementation of the country’s intellectual property rights (IPR) strategy.

The plan, released by the State Council General Office, highlighted the goals and measures for IPR generation, use, protection and management from 2014 to 2020.

China issued an outline of the national IPR strategy in 2008, planning to increase self-directed IPR, improve protection and the country’s IPR awareness over five years. It also set goals for 2020.

The first five-year goals set by the outline have essentially been realized, the latest plan said.

Further enforcement of the strategy is an important support and guarantee for deepened overall reform and a significant move to help promote economic adjustment.

It detailed actions taken for the full implementation of the IPR strategy, including promotion of IPR creation and use, strengthening protection, intensifying management and extending international cooperation.

Three fundamental projects will be carried out in IPR information services, statistics and monitoring, and talent training, according to the plan.

IPR information will be open to the public for free or at low cost.

To further education, the national accounts system will begin including IPR performance score and more IPR-related content will be brought into school curriculums and other forms of law education, it said.







>>  China launches website on military weaponry procurement

By Liu Lu, Li Qinghua and Zong Zhaodun

A website on military weapon procurement was officially launched on Sunday of January 4.

Under the General Armament Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), provides information on the country’s weapon and armament needs, relevant policies, procurement notices, enterprise lists and technology.

Private enterprises, military armament-purchasing departments and military industry groups as well as personnel can register on the website for consultation and further information.

According to the PLA General Armament Department, the new platform was established to cement military and civilian integration and aims to accelerate steps in armament procurement system reform, break procurement barriers, improve competitiveness and promote efficiency.

Since 2014, a series of policies have been issued to improve military and civilian integration, market access, information exchange, supervision, and security.

In May, 2014, the first “military and civilian integration forum” released around 200 items on weapon procurement, which attracted more than 100 private enterprises and scores of cooperation agreements were subsequently signed.







>>  PM2.5 density in Beijing falls slightly in 2014

By Li Laifang and Ni Yuanjin

Beijing’s average PM2.5 density in 2014 dropped by four percent compared with 2013, but some pollutants rebounded, said the municipal environmental protection bureau.

The average density of PM2.5, airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, was 85.9 micrograms per cubic meter in 2014, compared with 89.5 micrograms per cubic meter in 2013, the bureau said in a statement Sunday.

The reading was still 1.5 times higher than the national standard of 35, which was set by the State Council in 2012.

The city witnessed 93 days of “excellent air quality” in 2014, or 22 days more than in 2013. The number of heavily polluted days dropped by 13 to reach 45.

Air concentrations of sulfur dioxide fell 17.7 percent. But nitrogen dioxide and PM10, or particles under 10 microns in diameter, grew 1.3 percent and 7.1 percent respectively, said Zhang Dawei, director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center.

As part of efforts to curb pollution, Beijing reduced coal use by 2.6 million tonnes to keep it below 19 million tonnes. The capital also removed 476,000 outdated vehicles from roads and shut down about 375 factories in 2014.

In 2015, Beijing aims to cut PM2.5 index by around five percent and reduce the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by six percent.

The city will try to keep its coal consumption under 15 million tonnes and further phase out 200,000 vehicles as well as more than 300 polluting factories, according to Yu Jianhua, an official of the bureau.

Beijing will cut its cement capacity to 5 million tonnes, Yu added.

With a population of more than 20 million, Beijing has been plagued by smog in the past few years due to industrial pollution and vehicle exhaust.

In Beijing and surrounding areas, PM 2.5 should fall by about 25 percent from 2012 levels by 2017, according to government plans.







>>  China’s Hainan appoints acting governor

By Fu Yongtao and Li Baojie

Liu Cigui was appointed deputy and acting governor of China’s southern-most island province of Hainan on Sunday of January 4.

The Standing Committee of the Hainan Provincial People’s Congress, the local legislature, made the appointments at a session held Sunday in Haikou, capital of Hainan.

At the session, it also accepted the resignation of former provincial governor Jiang Dingzhi.

Liu was director of China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA) between January 2013 and December 2014. He then was appointed deputy secretary of Hainan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Liu, 59, is a native of Quanzhou in southeastern Fujian Province.







>>  Former CPC chief of quake-hit city jailed for corruption

By Yao Yuan, Wu Guangyu and Xue Yubin

The former Party chief of a city struck by an earthquake in southwest China’s Sichuan Province has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption, the local government said.

Xu Mengjia, former secretary of Ya’an municipal committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), was convicted and imprisoned by Dazhou Municipal Intermediate People’s Court on Dec. 31, the city government confirmed on Sunday of January 4.

Xu had helped others obtain benefits by taking advantage of his post in accepted bribes worth 5.5 million yuan (898,000 U.S. dollars) from many companies between 2009 and 2013. During the period, Xu was found to have abused his power in several land development projects.

Xu worked in Ya’an from June 2006 to mid-November last year when he was removed from his post.

A 7.0-magnitude quake hit the city in April last year, leaving 196 dead and thousands injured.







>>  Four Chinese officials arrested for alledged bribery

By Liu Tong and Chen Fei

Four local officials in north China’s Shanxi Province have been arrested over suspicions of corruption, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) said on Sunday of January 4.

Yan Gangping, former Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of Lishi District in Lyuliang City and former member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Lyuliang Municipal Committee, has been accused of accepting bribes.

The other three officials are Tian Yubao, former deputy head of Taiyuan Municipal People’s Congress; Fang Zhiyou, who formerly headed several state-owned coal and gas enterprises; and Guo Xiancheng, former deputy head of a local college.

The arrest warrants were approved by the Shanxi Provincial People Procuratorate.







>>  Nanjing party chief probed for graft

By Fu Shuangqi and Zhang Xiaosong

Yang Weize, the Party chief of the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, is being investigated for suspected serious violation of party disciplines and laws, said the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in a statement on Sunday of January 4.

Yang is also member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Jiangsu Provincial Committee.







>>  China lifts price controls on 24 commodities, services

By Fang Dong, Zhan Yan, Zhao chao and Qian Chunxian

China will lift controls on prices of 24 commodities and services, said the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Sunday of January 4.

Market will decide the price of tobacco leaves, the last agricultural product to be freed from government price control, said a statement on the commission website.

The NDRC said businesses will be allowed to decide how much they want to pay for tobacco leaves, but a minimum price will be set to protect farmers.

China began to liberalize the farm produce market in 1978, and tobacco is the last remaining controlled price.

The government has retained its regulatory role through state storage programs, by maintaining minimum prices and giving subsidies on some products.

Prices of railway bulk cargo, parcels and privately funded cargo and passenger transport will also be allowed to float.

Railway passenger and cargo prices have been decided by the government, but lag far behind changes of road and water transportation prices, which has impeded the development of the railway sector, said Sun Zhang, a professor with Tongji University.

In April rail freight prices were freed up on the Zhunchi Railway, a short private railway in north China, as a pilot.

Shi Lixin, a researcher at the Institute of Economic Systems and Management under the NDRC, said the pilot had shown that private investors could participate in railway construction and set an example for price reform.

Prices of domestic air cargo will be freed, as well as prices of passenger transport of some airlines.

Wu Tongshui, deputy director of China Air Transport Association, said the move will help activate the market, attract more private investment and enhance the competitive edges of carriers.

Limits will be removed on port service fees, including fees on container loading, ship rubbish treatment and water supply.

Limits will be removed on factory prices of explosives for civil use.

The NDRC will prevent high price volatility and keep a close eye on market order after controls are lifted.







>>  China to upgrade fire control in schools

By Fu Shuangqi

China’s education authorities on Sunday of January 4 instructed schools nationwide to upgrade fire prevention measures before and during the winter vacation.

Schools are asked to check their facilities in dormitories, canteens, libraries, labs, meeting halls and boiler rooms, said the Ministry of Education in a notice.

They must stop misuse of electricity or fireworks and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from coal stoves for heating, the document said.

China was shocked by a serious fire on Friday in the northeastern city of Harbin that killed five firefighters and injured another 14.







>>  Xiaomi smartphone sales triple in 2014

By Lü Qiuping, Li Zhengwei and Wang Yaguang

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc. sold 61.12 million smartphones in 2014, up 227 percent year on year, company founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Lei Jun said on Sunday of January 4.

Total sales revenue with tax reached 74.3 billion yuan (12 billion U.S. dollars), up 135 percent year on year, Lei said in an open email to the company’s employees.

Sales of the brand expanded to six countries and regions over the past year, including Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

The company was valued at 45 billion U.S. dollars in the new round of financing late December.

The announcement comes as the company released its new model, Redmi 2, on Sunday for 699 yuan, considerably cheaper than its other models.

Xiaomi, which means “millet” in Chinese, was founded in April 2010 by Lei and his friends in Zhongguancun, Beijing’s technology hub, which has been called “China’s Silicon Valley.” Xiaomi’s first smartphone debuted on August 16, 2011.







>>  Lock-up shares worth 254 bln yuan eligible for trade in Jan.

By Han Qiao and An Bei

Lock-up shares worth 254 billion yuan (41.5 billion U.S. dollars) from 115 companies will become eligible for trade on China’s stock markets in January.

This month’s figure is an increase of 9.81 percent over December, according to the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

Under China’s market rules, major shareholders of non-tradable stocks are subject to one or two years of lock-up before they are permitted to trade the shares.

On the ChiNext Board, 44 companies will see non-tradable shares worth 42.2 billion yuan become tradable this month, the highest value in a single month since the board, which tracks hi-tech firms and growth companies, was launched in October 2009.

On the Shenzhen SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) Board, 36 companies will see lock-up shares worth 50 billion yuan released to the market this month, the highest since June 2013.

Analysts said an increase in new stock supply this January is expected to add pressure to the capital market.

China’s capital market is experiencing a near five-year high as strong market sentiment propelled the key Shanghai index up 53 percent in 2014.







>>  China IPOs hit 12.7 bln USD in 2014

By Zheng Juntian and Li Baojie

Chinese companies raised 78.7 billion yuan (12.7 billion U.S. dollars) through initial public offerings (IPOs) on the country’s two stock exchanges last year, said a report on Sunday of January 4.

According to the report released by Deloitte, a leading international accounting and consulting firm, 125 Chinese companies launched IPOs in Shanghai and Shenzhen last year.

The number and value of domestic IPOs were 19 percent and 24 percent lower from 2012, it said.

Chinese securities regulators resumed IPOs in late April last year after a 18-month-long halt.

The report noted 43 percent of the IPO proceeds last year were raised from the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the rest from the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Wu Xiaohui, a partner of Deloitte China, said securities regulators might speed up the approval process this year as more than 600 companies are lining up for IPOs.

But market liquidity continues to be in the focus of the stock regulator, making the IPOs likely to be small or medium-sized, said Wu.

As for the companies which wish to raise a large amount of money, many might choose to list in Hong Kong, he said.







>>  Landslide in southwest China covers expressway

By Li Jingya and Bai Xu

At least one vehicle has been swallowed up by a landslide in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, local authorities confirmed on Sunday of January 4.

The incident occurred at 3:39 p.m. in Erlang village, Xishui County, Zunyi, with debris covering vehicles on a nearby expressway.

More than 30 soldiers and three fire-fighting teams have already discovered a van beneath the rubble. The driver is seriously injured and efforts to extract him from the vehicle are still ongoing.

A rescuer told Xinhua that more people may be trapped. He estimated that there had been at least four vehicles on the expressway.









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