China gives redundant officials the boot

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China to join search for AirAsia jet black boxes

By Qian Chunxian and Wang Yaguang

China said on Monday of January 5 that it had sent aviation experts and a rescue vessel to join the Indonesian search operation for the black boxes from the ill-fated AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

Responding to a request from Indonesia, China sent an expert team to help in the search, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement on its website without elaborating.

In a separate statement, the Ministry of Transport said the rescue ship “South Sea Rescue 101″, had left the city of Haikou and was expected to arrive at the search site on January 9.

Meanwhile, another vessel, “South Sea Rescue 115,” is on standby, the ministry said.

The plane is believed to have crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28 while en route from Surabaya of Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board. Weather could be behind the accident, as suggested by a preliminary analysis report by Indonesia’s meteorological department.

Indonesia’s search and rescue teams had located a fifth large object on the seabed by Sunday, but the black boxes remain unaccounted for.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Beijing to hand in 2022 Winter Games bidding report

By Ma Xiangfei

Beijing will formally submit the 2022 Winter Olympic Games bidding report to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday of January 6 in Lausanne.

Chinese Olympic Committee president Liu Peng and Beijing 2022 Bid Committee president and mayor of Beijing Wang Anshun headed the team, whose presentation in Lausanne will weigh heavily in Beijing’s bidding process.

The IOC will send an evaluation team to China in March before it elects the host city of the 2022 winter Games from either Beijing or Almaty, Kazakhstan on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur.

Beijing would co-host the Games with Zhangjiakou, a Hebei province city some 200 kilometers northwest of Beijing, if it won the 2022 bid.

Ice sports would be staged in Beijing while snow events would be held in Zhangjiakou.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China urges U.S. to be cautious on Taiwan-related issues

By Liu Hua

The United States should be cautious how it approaches Taiwan-related issues, China’s Foreign Ministry warned after Taiwan’s ” Economic and Cultural Representative Office” in Washington held a “flag-raising” ceremony on January 1.

“We resolutely oppose the so-called ‘flag-raising’ ceremony held by the Taiwan authorities’ organization in the United States and have already lodged solemn representations to the U.S. side,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing.

“We demand the U.S. side strictly abide by the one-China policy and the three China-U.S. joint communiques, and handle Taiwan-related issues cautiously and appropriately to avoid a repetition of such matters,” said the spokeswoman.

The Taiwan issue is the most sensitive and core issue in China-U.S. relations. Principles for correctly handling the issue have been defined in the three China-U.S. joint communiques signed in 1972, 1978 and 1982.

The U.S. has pledged to abide by the one-China policy and the principles set out in the three joint communiques, and to oppose the ideas of “one China, one Taiwan,” “two Chinas,” Taiwan independence, or Taiwan’s entry to the United Nations or other international organizations with membership by sovereign states.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING 

>>  China responds to Japanese leaders’ new year remarks

By Tan Jingjing

China on Monday of January 5 responded to Japanese Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new year remarks by urging the country to remain consistent in its words and actions, and to have a correct understanding about its history of aggression.

“We have taken note of Japanese leaders’ relevant remarks. Only by honestly facing up to history can Japan have a future,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a press briefing.

In his “New Year Thoughts” released on Jan. 1, Japanese Emperor Akihito said Japan should learn from history in 2015, which marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

“It is most important for us to take this opportunity to study and learn from the history of this war … as we consider the future direction of our country,” said the emperor.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will express Japan’s remorse for the war, as well as communicate on its postwar history as a pacifist nation and how it will contribute to the Asia-Pacific region and the world.

“We hope Japan will be consistent in its words and actions, have a correct understanding and attitude towards its history of aggression, and abide by its statements and promises regarding history,” Hua said.

She called on Japan to learn lessons from history and stick to a peaceful development road, and to play a constructive role in regional peace, stability and development.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Commentary: China to inject new vitality into peripheral diplomacy, unveiling more opportunities for neighbors

By Li Li

Despite being surrounded by the largest number of neighbors in the world’s most diversified and complicated political landscape, China will continue the momentum of a good-neighborly foreign policy toward its neighboring countries in the new year.

In 2014, Chinese leaders have traveled extensively and effectively across the country’s vast neighborhood.

From Central Asia to Southeast Asia, from South Korea to Mongolia, China’s proactive diplomacy has manifested its growing engagement and rapport with its neighbors, which aims to create an increasingly secure, peaceful and stable environment for the common development of countries in the region, including China itself.

High hopes have been pinned upon the year of 2015 for China to further cement ties with its Asian neighbors, build up confidence, and defuse misgivings and tensions, thus jointly reinforcing peace and prosperity of the region as a whole.

Among the intricate inter-state ties in Asia, China’s relationship with Japan has always stood out as one of the most delicate and intriguing ties for both historical and current political reasons.

Tokyo’s repeated attempts to whitewash militarist Japan’s World War II atrocities have alienated the country from its neighbors including China and South Korea, and set the whole region’s nerves on edge. Meanwhile, the country’s aggressive moves on the Diaoyu Islands have sent its ties with China to a freezing point.

For the past year, there were both promising signs and frustrating setbacks in the icy China-Japan relations. Hopes of defrosting flickered in November as the two sides reached a four-point consensus and reaffirmed willingness to advance ties during a landmark summit in Beijing.

In view of both political and economic stakes, it is highly advisable for Japan, with Prime Minister Abe Shinzo staying at the helm, to put its promises into practice, reign in its rightist forces at home, and cooperate with China to strive for a more peaceful Asia.

While there is still much uncertainty surrounding the future of the China-Japan ties, by stark contrast, the China-South Korea relationship has embarked on a fast track of development following Xi’s trip to Seoul in July last year.

The two nations, both of which had been ravaged by wars in World War II, share the earnest aspiration for peace. Considered as crucial pillars for peace and prosperity of the region, particularly Northeast Asia, China and South Korea have pledged to make joint efforts to push for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Headway has also been made on the economic front as the two countries concluded in November their two-and-half-year negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement, which is expected to take effect in 2015.

Situated closely on China’s southern perimeter is Southeast Asia, an intensive cluster of a dozen small yet highly diversified nations, whose relations with their giant northern neighbor have, by and large, followed an upward trajectory of development over the past decade.

Just as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang put it, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will upgrade their partnership in an upcoming “diamond decade” following a fruitful “golden decade.”

For Southeast Asian nations, the year of 2015 is promising. The envisioned ASEAN Economic Community, which will bring the bloc one step further in its integration process, is set to be finalized.

However, territorial disputes between China and some Southeast Asian countries, which should and could be handled in bilateral settings, have emerged occasionally to trouble China’s relations with ASEAN as a whole.

It has become a consensus that ASEAN, as the most prominent regional grouping in Southeast Asia, should not be kidnapped by any single country to serve its own purpose and put the interest of the whole bloc at stake.

The China-Vietnam relationship witnessed encouraging signs of improvement after China’s top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng visited the country last month. The two sides agreed to properly settle their maritime disputes and control their differences through dialogue.

As for the Philippines, which has unilaterally sought international arbitration over its territorial spats with China in the South China Sea, its reckless attempt to internationalize a bilateral dispute with its northern neighbor has achieved nothing, only to further complicate the issue and poison its ties with China.

In fact, for the maximum interests of the Philippines, Manila should change its course in its approach to the disputes with China and return as soon as possible to the right track of bilateral negotiations with a greater degree of sincerity, instead of playing the trick of instituting an international lawsuit.

Given China’s tremendous size both geographically and economically, it is understandable that for some Asian countries, living next door to a rising giant could be somehow unsettling. But a review of the historical facts and present reality could easily disperse such worries.

Just as an old Chinese saying goes, a good neighbor is not to be traded for gold. China has proven itself to be such a valuable neighbor.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China calls for caution following new U.S. sanctions on DPRK

By Liu Hua

A Chinese spokeswoman called for caution after the United States imposed new sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday of January 2 signed an executive order, imposing sanctions against the DPRK government in response to what he called Pyongyang’s “numerous provocations,” particularly the latest cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at Monday’s news briefing that the “relatively stable” situation on the Korean peninsula was hard-won and that all sides concerned should act cautiously to avoid an escalation of tensions there.

“(All sides) should work together to safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula,” said the spokeswoman.

The United States has accused Pyongyang of hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment over a comedy film, “The Interview,” that depicts an assassination attempt on DPRK leader Kim Jong Un. But the DPRK has denied involvement, calling such claims “a wild rumor.”

At Monday’s news briefing, Hua also reiterated that China opposes any form of cyber-attack and will not allow any country or person to launch cyber-attacks using Chinese infrastructure or on Chinese territory.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China, India frontier guards celebrate New Year together

By Yang Yijun

China and India organized a New Year celebration near the two countries’ border, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed on Monday of January 5.

The activity, held in the western part of the border area, was carried out in line with an agreement reached by the two sides earlier, spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a routine press briefing.

Both sides sent New Year’s wishes to each other during the celebration, which enhanced exchanges and mutual trust between the countries’ border guards, Hua said.

The activity showed their determination and willingness to safeguard and strengthen peace and stability in the border area, she added.

China is confident in maintaining long-term peace along the border, Hua said, noting the two sides have launched a series of cooperation and communication mechanisms in recent years.

China is willing to work with India to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries to constantly improve and promote relations between the two frontier guards, Hua said.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING 

>>  Bank of China authorized for RMB clearing business in Kuala Lumpur

By Zhu Shaobin and Liu Zheng

Bank of China, a major Chinese state-owned bank, has been authorized to conduct RMB clearing business in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, China’s central bank said on Monday of January 5 .

The authorization came after a mutual cooperation memorandum was reached between the two nations’ central banks, said the People’s Bank of China, China’s central bank.

RMB clearing business in overseas markets has become a major tool in promoting globalization of the RMB, the Chinese currency. So far, such business has been established in China’s Hong Kong and Macao, as well as foreign cities including Singapore, London, Frankfurt, Seoul, Paris, Luxembourg, Doha, Toronto and Sydney, according to the central bank.

Bank of China, which leads in RMB clearing business in overseas markets, said that its cross-border RMB clearing transactions totaled 214.6 trillion yuan (35 trillion U.S. dollars) during the Jan.-Nov. period in 2014, up 88.2 percent year on year.

 

 

 

 

 

BANGKOK

>>  First batch of Chinese-made locomotives delivered to Thailand

By Surasak

A couple of Chinese-made locomotives were delivered to Thailand on Sunday, confirmed officials of the State Railway of Thailand on Monday of January 5.

The two locomotives, shipped from southwest China to Laem Chabang port in Chonburi province, were the first consignment of a fleet of 20 locomotives, the rest of which will be gradually shipped to the Thai railway firm.

The locomotives, manufactured by China’s CSR Corp, were designed for cargo trains with an axle load of 20 tons and a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour, according to the SRT officials.

The CSR locomotives were purchased to replace the General Electric locomotives which have hauled Thai cargo trains since 1995. No other locomotives had been bought since.

Compared to the relatively modern CSR locomotives, the old GE locomotives have an axle load of 14 tons and a maximum speed of 100 kilometers per hour.

The other 18 new locomotives are yet to be delivered from Sichuan province in China where they are being manufactured by CSR Corp, the officials said.

In another development, China recently agreed to build a medium- speed rail system for Thailand as part of a joint effort to promote land traffic throughout the Southeast Asian region.

The Chinese medium-speed rail project is designed to run from Yunnan province in southern China to northeastern Thailand via northern Laos.

The rail system will pass Nong Khai province in northeastern Thailand, from across the Lao capital of Vientiane, and Saraburi province in the central region of Thailand with destinations in Bangkok and Maptaput port in the eastern part of the country.

The medium-speed train will not only carry passengers but also cargoes to Thailand which is joining an ASEAN Economic Community, scheduled to open later this year.

Thailand has planned to become core of the AEC bloc in following years, regarding land-based logistics, rail systems and road traffic linking the Southeast Asian country with its neighbor states including Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Laos.

Besides the expanding rail systems, six-lane motorways will be built to connect Kanchanaburi province in western Thailand with Dawei special economic zone in southern Myanmar and to link eastern Thailand with northwest Cambodia, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

HANOI

>>  Made in China at Hanoi’s oldest market

By Nguyen Thi Thuy Anh, Yang Wei, Zhang Jianhua 

Visiting Dong Xuan Market, the largest and the oldest wholesale market in Hanoi, one can immediately see that most of the products and items being sold there are made in China.

Built by the French in 1889, Dong Xuan Market has been renovated several times, the latest in 1994 after a fire almost destroyed the market.

Currently, Dong Xuan Market is considered the largest wholesale market in Hanoi with some 2,000 shops selling everything from electronics, clothes, household appliances, toys, fashion accessories and foodstuffs.

According Tinh, a 70-year-old female shopkeeper, products made in China, particularly cheap electronics and fabrics, are the favorite of Vietnamese shoppers at the market.

She said almost 80 percent of the products sold in the market come from China.

Tinh, who has been selling fabrics at the market for over 30 years, said unlike before, it is now easy to buy goods from China.

“Years ago, there was a man who bought fabrics from China and delivered them to us, but then my family decided to go to China to buy products ourselves. It is more convenient and we earn more profits,” Tinh told Xinhua.

According to Tinh, her customers patronize Chinese-made fabric not only because they are cheaper but also because of their beautiful design and excellent quality.

Thanh, who owns four shops at the market selling watches, accessories and jewellery for more than 10 years, told Xinhua that he goes to China two to three times a month to buy the items sold in his shops.

“Selling Chinese products is quite profitable as many Vietnamese, especially the young people, like products with beautiful designs at comparatively lower prices,” Thanh said.

Thanh said one time he bought Chinese-made accessories worth about 10 billion Vietnamese dong (472,000 U.S. dollars).

Thanh said he goes to China, orders the goods that he needs and pays for them and the goods are delivered to his shops without much hassles.

Hoa, a 28-year-old male shopkeeper, said if he cannot travel to China, his business partner in China will send him photos and information about Chinese-made products via email or Wechat,

“After I make my order and remit a partial payment, the items will be delivered to me in Vietnam,” Hoa said.

“When I have time, I will go to China’s Guangxi where I can do the purchasing myself. Many people there speak Vietnamese so I need no interpreter. It would be very easy for me to transact business,” Hoa added.

Le Thi D., a 50-year-old textile dealer, said many traders at Dong Xuan have built close business contacts with Chinese partners for a long time.

“About 70 percent of the fabrics in my shop are from China’s Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces. Once a year, traders from China come to meet Vietnamese partners for doing yearend balance sheet. We have kept close relations with them for years. They even took their families here to meet their Vietnamese partners and also to visit Vietnam,” Le said.

According to the latest figures from Vietnam’s General Statistics Office, in 2014, Vietnam imported some 43.7 billion U.S. dollars worth of products from China, an increase of 18.2 percent compared to the previous year.

Among the imports, fabrics posted an increase of 20.7 percent, machinery, tools and equipment up 19.7 percent, while imports of phones and electronic accessories up 9.5 percent year-on-year.

In 2014, Vietnam was estimated to incur a trade deficit of 28.9 billion U.S. dollars with China, up 21.8 percent compared to 2013, said the statistics agency.

“A good relationship between the two countries will make trade and business activities between the two peoples more convenient and stable. As Vietnam and China are neighbors, I hope that the two countries will keep their bilateral relations intact because this will benefit the two peoples,” said Le, who has been selling textile at Dong Xuan Market for nearly 18 years.

 

 

 

 

 

HO CHI MINH CITY 

>>  China’s Hong Kong ranks second among foreign investors in Vietnam in 2014

By Phuong

China’s Hong Kong surpassed other major investors as Japan, Singapore and China’s Taiwan to become the second biggest investor in Vietnam in 2014, local Saigon Times daily reported Monday of January 5, quoting sources from the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

Accordingly, companies from Hong Kong had pledged over 3 billion U.S. dollars for 99 new and 23 operational projects in Vietnam in 2014, with huge investments in the property and textile- dyeing sectors.

Huafu planned 136 million U.S. dollars for a project at southern Long An province’s Thuan Dao Industrial Park to dye 20, 000 tons of cotton and produce 30,000 tons of yarn annually. Meanwhile, Nam Phuong Textile Company has started construction on a 120-million dollars textile project at Viet Huong 2 Industrial Park in southern Binh Duong province.

Hong Kong investors have increased their investments in textile and dyeing projects in Vietnam in anticipation of cashing in on new opportunities when Vietnam joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Infrastructure development also attracted much investment of Hong Kong enterprises. Dewan International’s 1.25-billion U.S. dollars project to develop a major beach resort in coastal central Khanh Hoa province’s Nha Trang City is a typical example.

Phase one of Texhong Hai Ha Industrial Park in northern Quang Ninh province was initiated in November 2014. The project is invested by Texhong Hai Ha Industrial Park Co. Ltd. under the Hong Kong group Texhong with a cost of 4.52 trillion VND (212.74 million U.S. dollars).

According to insiders, Vietnam has turned attractive to investors when there are more signs of recovery in the property market. The property market in Hong Kong is in decline and this is the reason why big names likes Sun Wah, Warburg Pincus and Texhong are pouring hundreds of millions of U.S. dollar into Vietnam’s property market.

As of Dec. 15, 2014, Vietnam’s property sector had attracted 2. 54 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 12.6 percent of the total FDI pledges in Vietnam. In 2013, foreign investors committed only 951 million dollars to fresh and operational projects in the sector.

Statistics of the ministry showed that property was the second most attractive sector to foreign investors in Vietnam in 2014. Some big projects included the 2.5-billion dollars tourism complex of the U.S.-based Rose Rock in coastal central Phu Yen province’s Vung Ro Bay and the 2-billion U.S. dollar hotel and office complex in Thu Thiem New Urban Area in southern HCM City.

Hong Kong investors currently have 869 valid projects in Vietnam with combined registered capital of 15.46 billion U.S. dollars, ranking sixth among 101 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.

A project of Hong Kong in Vietnam costs 17.8 million U.S. dollars on average while the average investment of a foreign project in Vietnam is 14.3 million U.S. dollars.

So far, Hong Kong has invested in 17 out of 21 sectors in Vietnam. Of which, processing and manufacturing made up the largest investments of Hong Kong investors with 409 projects having a combined capital of 7.06 billion dollars while the property sector has 45 projects worth 2.5 billion dollars, according to the ministry.

 

 

 

 

 

HOHHOT

>>  Chinese, US skiers top short-distance freestyle races at FIS China Tour

By Yu Jia

Chinese skier Man Dandan won the women’s 1.2 kilometers freestyle skiing on Monday of January 5 at the Federation International de Ski (FIS) China Tour in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Sweden’s Lisa Swanson finished second and China’s Ma Qinghua third after four rounds of competitions.

In the men’s competition, American Peter Klin finished first, while Chinese skier Sun Qinghai and Sweden’s Robin Brinderson took the silver and bronze respectively.

A total of 70 skiers from China, the United States, Sweden, Norway and other countries and regions will move to northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for a two-day race starting from Thursday.

 

 

 

 

 

SHENZHEN

>>  Halep, Kvitova win season opener in China

By Wang Haoming

World No. 3 Simona Halep and No. 4 Petra Kvitova both enjoyed a winning start to the 2015 season, advancing to the second round in the WTA Shenzhen Open here on Monday of January 5.

Top seed Halep and rising star Annika Beck treated fans with a breathtaking performance. Halep overcame the 20-year-old German in a tight 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 contest.

“That was a very tough match, Beck’s a really good player, I was happy I could win this one,” said the Romanian.

Peng Shuai, China’s top-ranked player, was upset by two-time Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva. Zvonareva recovered from a long time injury to beat Peng 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

“I am happy to have a good start here, it was a tough match, I am exited to get through,” said Zvonareva.

“I will try to stay healthy this year, and then try to perform well in every match,” the 30-year old Russian added.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING 

>>  Samurai Blue eye fifth Asian Cup title

By Wang Chunyan

Nothing but claiming the Asian Cup title for the fifth time will be what defending champion Japan aim for at the upcoming Asian Cup in Australia.

Despite their lackluster campaign in the 2014 Brazil World Cup, the Samurai Blue are still the powerhouse in Asia and have shown top form in warm-up games, beating Honduras 6-0 and Australia 2-1.

Boasting stars like Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki in the squad, head coach Javier Aguirre was confident of his team’s performance.

The Samurai Blue will open the group campaign against Palestine on January 12 in Newcastle, the weakest opponents in group D.

“Results are everything and if we get off to a good start in the group phase then we will be in with a chance of winning the title,” the 34-year-old veteran Yasuhito Endo said.

Two-time quarter-finalists Jordan and 2007 Asian Cup champions Iraq both have a shot at a place in the knock-out stage.

Jordan’s inspiring 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and the runners-up at the West Asian championship both promise a success in January.

Iraq’s historic victory at the 2007 AFC Asian Cup shocked Asia as the war-torn nation edged out Saudi Arabi 1-0 in Jakarta.

A repeat of that success in Australia would not be as much of a surprise although Iraq only secured qualification for a sixth consecutive finals on the final day of qualifying with a 3-1 win over China.

Being labeled the weakest team in group D, Palestine refuse to give up. Head coach Ahmed Al Hassan has said he wanted to bring his team to the next stage in their first AFC Asian Cup campaign.

Palestine made history in 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, defeating Philippines 1-0 in the final to seal their first ever qualification for AFC Asian Cup.

 

 

 

 

 

MALE

>>  Maldives carrier to start flights to 3 new Chinese destinations

By Uditha

Maldives’ national carrier Maldivian has announced that it will be starting flights to three new Chinese destinations in February, the airline said on Monday of January 5.

A tweet from the airline said it will be operating flights to the cities of Nanjing, Xi’an and Changsha.

Maldivian operates flights to the cities of Chengdu and Wuhan, while also operating flights to Trivandrum and Chennai in India, and Dhaka in Bangladesh.

The Chinese tourism market is fast growing, with Chinese tourists representing over 30 percent of all visitors to the Maldives.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING 

>>  20 foreign ministers from CELAC to attend Beijing meeting

By Wang Huihui

Twenty foreign ministers from members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will attend the first ministerial meeting of the China-CELAC forum in Beijing, a Chinese diplomat said on Monday of January 5.

The UN economic commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Bank of America and Development Bank of Latin America will also send representatives to the meeting on Jan.8 and 9, according to Zhu Qingqiao, director-general for the Department of Latin America and Caribbean Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

“This meeting means the vision of Forum of China and CELAC has been translated into reality,” Zhu said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the meeting on Jan.8. Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis, Ecuador President Rafael Correa Delgado, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro Moros will also be present at the ceremony.

Costa Rica currently holds the CELAC rotating chairmanship and Ecuador will be the next. The two countries, together with Cuba and Bahamas, make up the CELAC Quartet.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Costa Rican counterpart Manuel Gonzalez Sanz will co-chair the meeting.

Established in December 2011 in Caracas, Venezuela, CELAC is a block of 33 countries, including all South American countries, some Caribbean states plus Mexico.

During Xi’s visit to Latin America in July 2014, he and CELAC leaders announced the establishment of the cooperation forum and agreed to hold its first ministerial at an early date.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Chinese spacecraft to return to moon’s orbit

By Liu Lu and Yu Xiaojie

The service module of China’s unmanned lunar orbiter is scheduled to return to the moon’s orbit in mid-January for more tests to prepare for the country’s next lunar probe mission, Chang’e-5.

On Sunday of January 4, the service module left the Earth-Moon second Lagrange Point (L2) after circling the point while performing additional tests, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said on Monday of January 5.

A lunar orbiter is a spacecraft that orbits the moon, and its service module contains support systems used for spacecraft operations.

“It was the first time for a Chinese spacecraft to reach the L2 point, and the service module completed three circles around the point, expanding probe missions,” said Zhao Wenbo, vice director of SASTIND’s lunar probe and space project center.

As of Monday, the service module was 445,000 kilometers away from Earth and 57,000 km from the moon. All experiments are operating smoothly.

The service module was separated from the test lunar orbiter’s return capsule on Nov. 1, and the return capsule returned to Earth on Nov. 1 after circling the moon during its eight-day mission.

China’s lunar orbiter program was the world’s first mission to the moon and back in some 40 years, making China the third nation to complete a return mission to the moon after the Soviet Union and the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Xi’s “belt and road” prioritize infrastructure

By Liu Xinyong, Zhang Zhengfu and Liu Huan

President Xi Jinping’s “belt and road” initiatives, reviving the ancient Silk Road, have infrastructure and connectivity as their top priority.

The Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road are a land-based belt from China via Central Asia and Russia to Europe, and a maritime route through the Straight of Malacca to India, the Middle East and East Africa. In 2014, the ideas began to take shape with a focus on infrastructure.

“The belt and road will start with connectivity,” said Chen Fengying, of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, a foreign policy think tank. “Connection is a prerequisite. Only when infrastructure bottlenecks are eliminated can the plan become really effective.”

China has plans for major projects to improve connectivity along the routes. During the Beijing APEC summit, Xi announced a 40 billion U.S. dollars Silk Road fund, declaring that before there could be any resurrection of ancient trade routes, there must be an actual road. “Only when there is a road can people and things flow,” he said.

China is currently in high-speed rail negotiations with 28 nations, most of which are along the routes, with total length of track over 5,000 km on the agenda

Pang Zhongying of the school of international studies at Renmin University of China, believes the connectivity of traffic infrastructure is gradually turning the concept of the initiatives into concrete projects.

During Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Thailand in December, a memorandum of understanding on railway cooperation was signed. and since the global financial crisis, many countries are searching for new growth engines. Expanding infrastructure is a realistic choice for developing countries, said Pang, benefiting both people and businesses.

Apart from the Silk Road fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) advocated by China will also help supply the capital for infrastructure construction. With authorized capital of 100 billion U.S. dollars, the AIIB should be up and running before the end of 2015.

Shi Yinhong of Renmin University of China sees the AIIB as a complement to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, rather than a rival, critical to infrastructure integration.

“Although the belt and road are proposed by China, all countries and organizations are welcome to take part,” said Shi.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING 

>>  Chinese premier stresses farmland protection

By Zhan Yan

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday of January 5 said protecting farmland would ensure the country’s grain supply.

For a country with such a large population, China has a shortage of farmland and the “red line” must be preserved, said Li.

Protected farmland, also known as controlled environmental agriculture, refers to farming with intensive facilities, such as green houses and aquatic farming. Protected agriculture is necessary and supervision should be stepped up and violations on land uses should be punished, Li said.

Local governments should strictly protect farmland alongside rural land reform and urbanization, Li said.

Although the country has a red line on its cultivated area at 120 million hectares, pressure on arable land is still great, mainly due to rapid urbanization.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Senior CPC official calls for better publicity work

By Ren Ke

A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) called for better party publicity to garner more public support on Monday of January 5.

Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, called for better publicity work in order to provide ideological and public opinion support to the Party’s work, including reforms, rule of law and governing the Party with stricter rules.

He made the remarks at a national meeting attended by publicity officials.

Liu urged publicity officials to further learn the spirit of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remarks. He said they should cater publicity work to serve the country’s overall situation and advance decisions made by the central authority.

Their work should promote the socialist core values and consolidate the ideological and ethical basis for the whole Chinese people.

Artist works should not focus on the box office, audience ratings or click rates, rather they should tell Chinese stories, strengthen the soft power of China and build a favorable environment of international public opinions, Liu said.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Austere working practices the “new normal”

By Wang Xiaopeng and Hua Yedi

Chinese central authorities on Monday of January 5 announced that 12 teams have been organized to study how the austere working practice policies were carried out in 2014 in provinces, state organs and state-owned enterprises.

The inspection teams are jointly formed by the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, or the cabinet.

They will cover 16 provinces, regions and municipalities, 6 state organs, and 6 state-owned companies, including financial firms, according to a statement of the two offices on Monday.

The teams will focus on fields including overseas travel, receptions, vehicles, golf courses and high-end clubs.

The statement authorizes inspectors to hold seminars, interviews and field studies to learn about the real situation on the ground.

The “eight-point rules” were introduced on Dec. 4, 2012 to reduce undesirable work practices, minimize meetings, cut spending and follow strict housing and vehicle standards.

A total of 102,168 officials had been dealt with for breaches of the “eight-point” rules by the end of 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China nets over 100,000 officials in frugality campaign

By Guo Likun

December 2014 saw 5,340 officials reprimanded for violating austere working practice policies, bringing the total number of those held to task since late 2012 to over 100,000, the top anti-graft body said on Monday of January 5.

Those punished last month were involved in 4,238 violation cases, the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in its monthly report.

Violations included disobeying workplace rules; overseas travel and personal entertainment financed by public funds; negligence and lazy work practices; excessive spending on receptions and vehicles; extravagant weddings and funerals; and sending or accepting gifts.

A total of 102,168 officials had been dealt with for breaches of the “eight-point” rules as of the end of 2014.

The eight-point rules were introduced on December 4, 2012, with the aim to reduce pomp, ceremony, bureaucracy and other undesirable work practices. Officials were ordered to minimize meetings, cut government spending and follow strict housing and vehicle standards.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China gives redundant officials the boot

By Hu Longjiang and Hua Chunyu

More than 15,800 civil servants were transferred, given early retirement or were simply fired from overstaffed departments last year, the Communist Party of China Organization Department revealed on Monday of January 5.

About 40,000 officials in China at or above deputy county head level were deemed surplus to requirements last year, and the remaining 25,000 are still waiting to be “handled”, according to the organization department statement.

The department began dealing with the overstaffing problem last January, with many superfluous officials simply dismissed. Some were asked to retire, others transferred to vacant posts in other departments.

No new officials can be appointed in overstaffed departments before the current surplus has been eliminated.

The department promised to root out the overstaffing problem and other violations such as ad-hoc promotions and the illegal creation of posts without any clear function within around three years.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Symposium commemorates former vice premier’s birth

By Liu Lu and Wang Jingguo

A symposium was held on Monday of January 5 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late vice premier Chen Xilian.

Vice premier Zhang Gaoli attended the symposium.

Chen was born in 1915 and became a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1930. He was a member of the Standing Committee of the Central Military Commission (CMC).

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Chinese construction workers to get better insurance

By Zhan Yan and Xu Bo

No construction permits will be given to projects in China which fail to provide workers with injury insurance.

The decision was made by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the State Administration of Work Safety and the All China Federation of Trade Unions.

China’s construction sector employs nearly 45 million, including about 36 million migrant workers who are vulnerable to rights violations, said Hu Xiaoyi, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security.

Li Hongkui is one of them. He was hit by a falling object while working at a construction site in Beijing on Sept. 12, 2012. He spent almost a month in hospital and could barely work afterwards. With no labor contract he was unable to claim compensation.

Based on hundreds of construction sites he had visited, Li Dajun, organizer of a migrant workers’ rights group, said nearly 90 percent of construction workers do not have contracts or insurance.

Lu Huilin of Peking University, said another problem is subcontracting to agents who are not qualified, an illegal practice that must be tackled.

 

 

 

 

 

GUANGZHOU

>>  New human H7N9 case in south China

By Yao Yuan and Xiao Sisi

Shenzhen City in south China’s Guangdong Province on Monday of January 5 reported a new human infection of H7N9 bird flu.

A girl aged six has tested positive for H7N9 and is hospitalized, the Guangdong Health and Family Planning Commission said in a statement. Her case is described as “mild”.

Shenzhen reported its first H7N9 human case this winter on December 30. Both victims are residents of the city’s Longhua New District which has now closed its live poultry markets. Most bird flu cases in humans come from exposure to infected poultry.

Authorities in Guangdong and Hong Kong last week culled thousands of chickens after exports to Hong Kong were found to be infected with the virus.

Hong Kong raised its response level in hospitals to “serious” from “alert”, after a 68-year-old woman was hospitalized on Dec. 25 with H7N9, the region’s first case since early 2014. The woman had arrived from Shenzhen two weeks before.

 

 

 

 

 

SHANGHAI

>>  Sentence to be announced in roommate poisoner’s second trial

By Huang Anqi and Bai Xu

The sentence in the second trial of a postgraduate student charged with poisoning his roommate will be announced in Shanghai on Thursday of January 8, local authorities announced on Monday of January 5.

The Shanghai High People’s Court will announce the sentence to the public at 10 a.m.

This will be the final ruling in the case. If the death penalty is upheld, however, it will be subject to review by the Supreme People’s Court of China.

Lin Senhao, a medical student at the prestigious Fudan University, allegedly used N-Nitrosodimethylamine, a deadly chemical compound taken from the university lab, to contaminate a water dispenser in his dormitory on March 31, 2013.

His roommate, Huang Yang, drank from the dispenser on April 1 and died of organ failure days later, despite doctors’ efforts to save him.

Lin was convicted of intentional homicide in the first trial last February. Lin appealed, insisting that the poisoning was intended as an “April fool’s joke,” rather than murder.

The case drew wide attention in China, prompting a nationwide outcry and soul-searching about the moral education of Chinese youth.

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China likely to see 60 pct more IPOs in 2015: PwC

By Li Zhengwei and Li Baojie

China is likely to see 60 percent more initial public offerings in 2015 as the securities regulator improves capital market operations, said international auditor PwC on Monday.

Lin Yizhong, managing partner of PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, said around 200 Chinese companies are forecast to raise 130 billion yuan (21 billion U.S. dollars) on the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses this year.

In 2014, the two handled 125 IPOs with a combined value of 78.6 billion yuan.

The Shanghai stock exchange is likely to deal with 60 IPOs with a value of 48 billion yuan and the smaller Shenzhen bourse will host the remainder.

Sun Jin, another PwC partner, said a new IPO registration system likely to be rolled out this year to replace the existing approval-based system will likely trigger an IPO boom.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING 

>>  China approves new IPOs

By Fang Dong

China’s securities regulator allowed applications for the initial public offerings (IPOs) of 20 companies on Monday of January 5.

Ten firms will be listed on the mainboard of Shanghai Stock Exchange, three on the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Board in Shenzhen and seven on the ChiNext board, according to the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

The move, rare in terms of the number of companies, has prompted fear that the CSRC has acted too hastily. However, the securities regulator announced in June that it would let around 100 companies go public by the end of 2014, and the figure has not be reached.

Xiao Gang, chairman of the CSRC, said the commission will reform IPO approval and ensure new shares enter the market in a proper manner.

Shares closed at the highest level in five and a half years on Monday, the first trading day of 2015, as the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed at 3,350,52 points, up 3.58 percent.

 

 

 

 

 

CHENGDU 

>>  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 16 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, accepting 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 2013 when he was removed from his post.

A 7.0-magnitude quake hit the city in April 2013, leaving 196 dead and thousands injured.

 

 

 

 

 

HOHHOT 

>>  Serial killer stands trial in north China

By Li Laifang and Wu Xian

The trial of an alleged serial killer began Monday in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The case has been reopened more than eight years after his first trial.

Zhao Zhihong stands accused of murder, rape, robbery and larceny, the Hohhot Intermediate People’s Court said.

Zhao was apprehended in 2005 and confessed to 17 rape and murder cases, including one in a public toilet in Hohhot in 1996.

The Hohhot case made headline recently, as a higher court ruled in December 2014 that teenager Huugjilt, who was sentenced to death and executed for the crime, was innocent.

Zhao first stood trial in late 2006 for the rape and murder of 10 women and girls between 1996 and 2005. No verdict has yet been issued.

 

 

 

 

 

GUANGZHOU

>>  Workers rescued from Guangzhou construction site cave-in

By Yao Yuan, Wang Pan and Yue Ming

Rescuers have pulled 14 people alive from a foundation cave-in at a construction site in Guangzhou City on Monday evening of January 5.

The 14 people were buried at about 9 p.m. in Huadu District in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, the city’s fire control authority has confirmed.

They have been taken to hospital, and rescuers are still checking whether there are others who remain trapped.

 

 

 

 

 

SHENYANG

>>  8 missing after ship capsizes in NE China

By Yao Yuan and Feng Lei

Eight people are missing after a sand dredger crashed into a fishing boat and caused it to capsize in northeast China’s Bohai Sea on Monday of January 5, local authorities said.

Nine crew members on board the fishing boat fell into the water after the collision happened at 5 a.m. near Suizhong County, and only one has been rescued, according to the government of Huludao City, which administers Suizhong.

The sand dredger that caused the collision later fled the scene.

The government said 14 boats and one helicopter have joined the search for the missing.

 

 

 

 

 

GUIAYANG

>>  Three bodies retrieved from SW China landslide

By Li Laifang and Li Jingya

Three have been confirmed dead after a landslide covered an expressway in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, rescuers said on Monday of January 5.

Three bodies were pulled from a car buried by the landslide and the search team continue to pick their way through the 80,000 cubic meters of debris.

The landslide occurred at 3:40 p.m. Sunday at a section in Xishui County, blocking the expressway that links Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, to Zunyi City in Guizhou.

More than 700 have been mobilized for the rescue efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China on blue alert for cold wave

By Rong Jiaojiao and Lin Hui

China’s weather observatory issued a blue alert on Monday of January 5 for a cold wave that will sweep central and east China in the coming two days.

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) forecast the cold wave will bring a sharp temperature drop up to 10 degrees Celsius and heavy wind on Tuesday and Wednesday to Jilin and Liaoning provinces and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Heavy snow will freeze Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Shandong provinces and some of the region will see blizzards, said the NMC.

The NMC advised residents to stay indoors and asked local authorities to brace for the heavy snow.

China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe weather, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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