China unveils unified pension system








>>  China pursues “rationality” in nuclear safety

By Ren Ke

China’s nuclear safety program was based on a foundation of “rationality, coordination and advancement”, a joint administration statement announced on Wednesday of January 14.

The statement — issued by the National Nuclear Safety Administration; the National Energy Administration; and the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence — is the first of its kind issued by China.

China has 22 nuclear power generating units in operation and another 26 units are under construction, the most in the world. China’s nuclear history has not seen any incidents of Class II level or above.

Over 110,000 radioactive sources and almost 130,000 ray devices are in operation across the country, making China a huge player in the use of nuclear technology.

In recent years, incidents involving radioactive sources have decreased gradually, the statement said.

Nuclear power construction, which was put on hold following the Fukushima nuclear incident in 2011 in Japan, is seeing good momentum.

Guo Chengzhan, deputy director of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, said the statement showed that great attention was being given to nuclear safety, calling for improved awareness of those employees in the industry.







>>  China voices concern over Japan’s record-high military budget

By Hou Lijun

China on Wednesday voiced concern over Japan’s annual military budget.

Japan’s Cabinet on Wednesday of January 14 approved 4.98 trillion yen (about 42.46 billion U.S. dollars) of defense budget for the 2015 fiscal year, which starts in April, the country’s largest ever and a 2 percent increase year on year.

Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012, Japan’s defense budget has seen an uptrend and could top 5 trillion yen in 2016, said media reports.

Japan’s military and security policies have long drawn the attention of the international community, for it indicates Japan’s future plans for peaceful development, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a routine press briefing.

“We hope Japan will reflect on its history, follow the path of peaceful development and play a constructive role in promoting regional peace and stability,” he said.

The Japanese Cabinet will submit the budget to the parliament. Since Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito have majorities in both houses of parliament, the passage of the budget is almost certain, local media said.







>>  35 Chinese troops arrive to attend Brunei International Skill at Arms Meet

By Zheng Jie

After four and half hour flight, 35 troops of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) arrived at Brunei’s Rimba Air Base on Wednesday afternoon of January 14 to attend the 11th Brunei International Skill at Arms Meet (11th BISAM).

In this international arms meet, which is hosted by Royal Brunei Armed forces, the Chinese soldiers will compete in professional shooting skills in a way to display the strength of their arms industry and the achievements of their forces in real- combat training, which in turn, will promote China’s military transparency and friendship with ASEAN members and other Asia- Pacific countries.

About 600 servicemen from 18 contingents, 16 countries including China, Brunei, the United States and Australia, will take part in this competition.

Senior Colonel Yu Kuangming, the commander of the Chinese contingent said”We are invited here in this event to learn the best theories and practice of other countries. I believe this competition will also serve as a platform for us to show the best part of PLA.”

The Chinese contingent was formed temporarily by Beijing Military Zone. Twenty-two young non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and junior officers, mostly born after 1985, will meet with their counterparts in 12 matches or 37 practices in total in late January.







>>  Malaysia’s Defense official hails Malaysia-China cooperation

By Hu Guangyao

The military cooperation and close bilateral relations between Malaysia and China would help combat terrorist activities in the region, Malaysia’s Deputy Defense Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said on Wednesday of January 14.

“Malaysia and China are cooperating in espionage and other fields to combat militant activities which has seen a surge recently,” he said.

“We extend cooperation with almost every country in regards to the issue of terrorism because it is a global issue,” he told reporters after attending the Malaysian Institute of Defense and Security (MIDAS) Talk in Kuala Lumpur.

Abdul Rahim said diplomatic relations between the two countries since 40 years ago not only impacted positively on the economy and society but also on regional security.

He said cooperation with other countries was crucial to ensure the region is safe from threats of terrorists.

Malaysian Institute of Defense and Security (MIDAS) Talk, which is held three or four times a year, discusses the latest developments on defense and security in the region, he said.







>>  Malaysian gov’t to look into visa exemption for Chinese tourists

By Zhao Bochao

Malaysian government will study the visa exemption for Chinese tourists in order to attract them to visit the Southeast Asian country, Bernama, Malaysia’s state news agency, reported on Wednesday of January 14.

Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said that this issue had been discussed at the cabinet meeting Wednesday.

“The cabinet should have discussed the visa fee exemption for tourists from China but we discussed a bigger issue, that is to exempt visa for tourists from China,” he was quoted as saying.

Nazri said that his ministry and the Home Ministry had been directed by the cabinet to conduct studies on the implications of the exemption.

The Malaysian government has agreed in principle to ease visa requirements for tourists from China, reports said.






>>  Ford explains Smart Mobility Experiments for China’s megacities

By Xu JingAt Ford’s premiere event of the year, the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields showed a map of Ford’s Smart Mobility experiments which are designed to envision how transportation will work in the year 2025 and beyond.

The map Fields showed included two dots in China, which represent the Urban Commuter program in Shanghai and the Mobility Integration program in Chongqing, respectively. Both were competitions open to the public.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Ken Washington, vice president of Research and Engineering at Ford Motor Company, gave additional details about the two experiments in China and the overall goals for the Smart Mobility experiments.

Washington highlighted China’s extensive public transportation system, and the ways that Ford could supplement its use.

“With applications that enable people to use public transportation with greater ease, those experiments are excellent candidates for megacities in China,” he said.

The Urban Commuter program in Shanghai challenged competition entrants to find a way to make commuting in Shanghai more pleasant.

“One of the things we’re looking for is solutions for mobility in areas that are densely populated. When you consider what’s going on in populations in what we call megacities, one of the biggest challenges is just getting around,” Washington told Xinhua.

“The mobility solutions that we’re trying to develop are to help people be mobile. Owning a car, parking a car, driving a car is increasingly extremely challenging,” he said.

Shanghai’s population of 24 million was targeted by Ford to improve their quality of life through apps that help increase mobility and overcome traffic congestion.

The experiment winner, Parkopedia, designed an app for Shanghai that allows users to find parking near their favorite destinations, which has become increasingly difficult as downtown areas grow.

Meanwhile, the Mobility Integration program in Chongqing challenged competition entrants to find ways to tackle cities that require multiple modes of transportation to move people into, out of and through the city quickly and efficiently.

The winner, Kewill, designed an app called the MultiModal Transportation Platform. It combines city-based mass-transit options, including buses and trains with bicycle rentals and rickshaws to get people where they want to go.

The app finds high-traffic areas and calculates alternative routes, then provides contact information for services, pricing, line changes for buses, subways, and railways.

But Washington’s vision exceeds supplementing public transportation in China.

“If you have the ability to bring a vehicle to you and to relocate it to the same or near the same location as that vehicle, you are prone to use an on-demand service,” he said.

But before Ford can bring on-demand vehicles to China, Washington says he needs to study and then operationalize the data collected from the experiments.

“Behind all of the experiments is a commitment to bring the information together in a way that we can use to bring value back to our customers,” he said.







>>  SGX-registered Ying Li to develop retail hub in Chongqing

By Ma Yujie

Singapore Exchange-registered Ying Li International Real Estate Limited (“Ying Li”) announced on Wednesday of January 14 that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU” ) to develop a one-stop hardware and electrical appliances retail hub in Jiangjin District in China’s city of Chongqing.

Ying Li is a developer of high-end commercial and residential properties in China.

The hub, known as Ying Li International Hardware and Electrical Mall, will comprise high-grade retail shops, hotels, residential and a logistics distribution centre. The planned total gross floor area of the project is 1.6 million square meters and the initial investment is estimated to be around 1.8 billion Yuan.

The project is expected to kick-start in first quarter of 2015, with the whole construction to be completed in phases over 2-3 years, Ying Li said.

“We are adopting a creative and low risk business model for this project. As this project will be tailor-made to our buyers’ requirements, we will be securing buyers and customising the project to cater to their needs before developing the project. This also allows cash generated from deposits to be used in our construction phase.” Said Fang Ming, chairman and CEO of the Group.

The project is in line with Chongqing government’s intention to relocate more than 180 medium and large sized enterprises from Chongqing’s Central Business District to the secondary ring of the city. It is also part of the group’s new plan to expand into more first-tier and leading second-tier cities.

“We continue to see opportunities available in Chongqing as the local government continues to lay out plans to further develop and restructure the city. We will leverage on our strong presence and track record to strengthen our foothold in Chongqing city while venturing into other first and leading second-tier cities,” Fang said.







>>  Myanmar, China sign MoUs on educational exchange

Myanmar’s University of Yangon and Yangon University of Foreign Language (YUFL) signed Memorandums of Understanding(MoUs) respectively with the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) of China here on Wednesday of January 14 on educational exchange and strengthening ties between the two nations.

The MoUs included the exchanges of students, faculty members, scholars and administrative staff as well as research cooperation in the fields of mutual interest and sharing of academic materials and information.

Dr. Aung Thu, Rector of the University of Yangon said the signing of the MoUs will bring mutual benefits to universities of both countries and promote joint research of two countries.

In an interview with Xinhua, Dr. Yan Guohua, Vice President of BFSU, said the Chinese delegation’s visit to Myanmar will explore the education cooperation between the two countries, adding that the signing of the MoUs is a new start for the future exchange programs.

The BFSU has been one of the prestigious higher education institutions in China. As the first foreign university in China offering 64 kinds of foreign languages, BFSU excels in the teaching of foreign languages, foreign literature, overseas sinology, and also serves as an important base producing qualified professionals with language competence and global vision.

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s YUFL has been offering Chinese language programs since 1965, ranging from language proficiency courses to doctoral degree programs that encompass the teaching of Chinese to Myanmar students.







>>  Hearing of USC Chinese student murder case held in LA

By Zhang Chaoqun

A hearing of Chinese student murder case was held here on Tuesday of January 13 to determine whether the defendants should stand trial for the crime.

Jonathan Del Carmen, 19, along with 17-year-old Alberto Ochoa and 16-year-old Alejandra Guerrero, is charge in the murder of Xinran Ji, an electrical engineering graduate student in the University of Southern California.

Ji, 24, was targeted and beaten to death near campus while walking home around 12:45 a.m. on July 24, 2014.

The fourth defendant, 19-year-old Andrew Garcia, suspended criminal proceedings for his mental competence to stand trial need to be evaluated next month.

Matthew Courtney, a Los Angeles police detective, told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar in the hearing that he went to an apartment building after having been notified of a suspicious death and found Ji dead in bed.

Courtney said he saw potential blood droplets near the front door of the apartment building, near the elevator, as well as in the living room, bathroom and bedroom of Ji’s unit.

The evidence also included sneakers covered with potential blood evidence, Courtney testified.

Along with murder, the defendants face a special circumstance allegation that the murder occurred during an attempted robbery. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Del Carmen and Garcia, both of whom are 19 years old. Ochoa and Guerrero will not be sentenced to death as they are under 18.

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also charged with one count of robbery each, attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for an alleged attack on a man and woman at Dockweiler Beach later that day. They allegedly robbed the woman, while the man escaped and flagged down the police.







>>  China’s Ding upset by Perry in snooker Masters

By Wang Zijiang

China’s Ding Junhui suffered his fourth successive first-round defeat at the snooker Masters as he was upset by 14th seed Joe Perry 6-3 on Wednesday of January 14.

Perry made his debut in the tournament in 2003 and lost his opening match in his first six appearances. But he finally got past that hurdle tonight with a fine display against world number two Ding.

Ding, who won a record-equalling five ranking tournaments last season, was in poor form this term and made too many unforced errors in the day’s fight.

Perry took the opening frame with a break of 79 before Ding, the 2011 Masters champion, levelled with a run of 80. Perry went all the way ahead then, leading 2-1, 4-2 and 4-3 before finishing off the match by 6-3.

“Maybe the only reason is that Alexandra Palace doesn’t like me,” said Ding jokingly. “It wants an English player to win.”

“It doesn’t matter. I am looking forward to the next tournament,” he added.

Perry was excited with the win.”I’m so pleased to win. I’ve always been one of the bottom eight seeds in the tournament so I’ve got to pull off a shock to win. But I’ve managed to do that now.

“It was a good match. There were a couple of tense frames – I stole one then he stole one. I didn’t miss too many balls and we both played a lot of good safety. I was pleased to finish it off with a century.”







>>  Apple gears up for bumper China harvest

By Huang Yan

Apple Inc. is greatly speeding up market expansion in China by opening five new stores in roughly five weeks.

“We are opening five new stores before the Chinese New Year this year. Four of the stores are in brand new cities for us,” Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and online stores, told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

The first of the five was in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province, last Saturday. West Lake Apple Store in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, near Shanghai, is scheduled to open on January 24.

The Spring Festival, or the Chinese lunar New Year, falls on February 19 this year. It is regarded as the most vibrant shopping season for 1.3 billion Chinese people.

The new stores will bring the number in China to 20, a great leap since the first store opened its doors in Beijing in 2008.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said last October that the company will increase the number of retail outlets in China to 40 within two years.

Ahrendts said Apple is hiring in China. The biggest challenge she sees is keeping up with demand while providing the same global customer service standards. She would not say where the other three other stores will be, but Apple’s China website lists store jobs in 15 places, including Anhui, Guizhou, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Shanxi and Tianjin, none of which currently have Apple stores. One store in Shanghai is the busiest globally, receiving more than 25,000 visitors a day.

Apple China has increased its service staff by 75 percent since 2012 with over 3,700 retail employees now in Greater China. ( Expansion in China, Apple’s second largest market, is testament to the Apple’s commitment. As Ahrendts put it, “China is a huge and important market for every global company today.”

Apple is exploiting the Chinese market in both physical and virtual ways: Online orders were up more than 80 percent in 2014.

“The fastest growing store for us is the Apple Online Store in China,” she said.

Almost half of China’ s population, 632 million people, are Internet users. Theoretically all of them could be visitors to Apple’s online store.

Apple is expected to report its quarterly returns on January 27. Estimates from some institutional investors show that more than one third of total shipments went to China.







>>  China announces appointment of senior officials

By Tian Ying

The State Council, China’s Cabinet, said on Wednesday of January 14 that it had appointed and removed some senior government officials.

Wang Xiaotao was named deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, while Liu Limin became inspector-general of the Ministry of Education.

Jin Xiaotao was named deputy head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, replacing Chen Xiaohong. The National Bureau of Statistics had Zheng Jingping and Jia Nan as vice directors, who replaced Xu Yifan and Li Qiang.

The State Council also appointed Huo Ke as vice director of the National Tourism Administration, and Xu Zhanbin as deputy chief of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

Yan Shujiang was named vice director of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, replacing Wu Gang. Cao Yu was appointed as vice chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, replacing Yan Qingmin.

Xiong Weiping was named chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Key Large-Sized State-Owned Enterprises, replacing Shi Dahua. Jin Zhongxia was appointed as International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive director for China, replacing Zhang Tao.

Lai Ceyi was replaced by Saimati Muhammad as deputy commander of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps., and Yu Youjun was relieved of his position as deputy head of the State Council’s Office of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project Commission (SNWDPC).







>>  China to enhance court trial openness: official

By Hu Longjiang and Luo Sha

China work to make court trials more open, a senior judge said on Wednesday of January 14.

Courts should actively innovate the manner of publicizing trials and trial processes through video, audio, pictures, text and microblogs, Liu Xuewen, a senior official of the Supreme People’s Court, said at a meeting. Videos of trials should be comprehensively promoted, he added.

Courts at all levels should keep working on the litigation system, which he said is decisive for confirming evidence, establishing facts and reaching fair judgements. All litigation should focus on the trial, he said.

Liu asked courts to better guarantee the rights of all litigants, reminding judges to adhere to judical etiquette and dress and behave appropriately in court.







>>  China unveils unified pension system

By Shi Hao and Liu Xinyong

Measures on old-age insurance for workers in government agencies and public institutions were unveiled on Wednesday of January 14.

Insurance will now be paid by both workers and organizations, instead of just by organizations or central finance as in the past. Workers will pay 8 percent of their monthly salary into the scheme, while the organization will pay 20 percent of the salary, according to a statement by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

China has nearly 40 million such workers in government agencies and public institutions. Most of them are civil servants, doctors, teachers and researchers.

In the past, corporate employees had to pay for their own old-age insurance, while government staff enjoyed pensions without making any contribution at all.

China introduced the pension system in 1955 and it started to diverge in the early 1980s as three decades of planned economy ended. Businesses were allowed to assume sole responsibility for their profits and losses and gradually developed their own old-age insurance requiring both employees and employers to contribute. The previous pension scheme remained for public employees and dual systems came into being.

Pensions without worker contributions have become a huge burden on the government and are unsustainable. The dual system also hindered free flow of staff between private and public agencies. In addition, public outcry about the inequity has been mounting.

The unification will help create a fair environment for people in different walks of life, said the ministry statement.

Government staff have so-called “iron bowls”: They can not be fired at will as private employees can. The ministry said the new system will allow government agencies and public institutions to hire and fire workers just as enterprises do.







>>  2015 monetary policy, prudent with fine-tuning

By Zhang Xu, Liu Zheng, Wu Yu and Li Yanxia

Analysts may be divided over possible rate cuts in China’s future, but they agree the country’s monetary policy going forward will be cautious, with only minor adjustments being made.

China will maintain prudent monetary policies in 2015 with better coordination of tight and loose monetary measures and proper fine-tuning, said the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) at a 2015 work meeting on Friday of January 9.

The central bank will strengthen support for the real economy, cut fund-raising costs and boost financial reforms, including reforms on interest rates, the yuan exchange rate and foreign exchange management.

Zeng Gang, researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said monetary policy should support the real economy and structural adjustment amid increasing downward pressure. He expects more liquidity in 2015.

The growth of M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, slowed to 12.3 percent year on year by the end of November.

The PBOC implemented new tools to tackle 2014′s changing economic landscape, including Medium-term Lending Facility (MLF) and Pledged Supplementary Lending (PSL).

According to China Securities Journal, on Tuesday several large state-owned banks said the PBOC extended the terms of a 280-billion-yuan MLF that was due, so as to ease tight liquidity.

The new tools are more flexible and targeted to ensure sufficient liquidity, support the real economy and facilitate structural adjustment, Zeng said. Traditional measures like adjustment in interest rates and reserve requirement ratio (RRR) still remain an option.

Zhao Xijun, deputy director of Finance and Securities Institute under Renmin University of China, expects the scheme to be carried out this year and lower risk while improving banks’ capacity to serve the real economy.

“The macro data are weak, but not collapsing,” Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist with Deutsche Bank, said, “It seems to us there is no urgency to roll out stimulus.”

He expected policy easing in the form of an RRR cut, interest rate cut, a rise of total social financing or even an official statement indicating policy shift.

“We forecast the first RRR cut in Q1 and first rate cut in Q2, more likely to start in March,” Zhang added.

J.P. Morgan’s chief China economist Zhu Haibin said weak domestic demand and low inflation will create a loose trend for the monetary policy.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, growth in the consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, rebounded slightly to 1.5 percent in December from November’s 1.4 percent, its slowest increase since November 2009.

The producer price index (PPI) slumped 3.3 percent in December from one year earlier, the sharpest fall in more than two years, and dropped 1.2 percent year on year in 2014.

Easing inflationary pressure will give the central bank more room to initiate measures to support growth.

“Our forecast looks for average CPI at 1.5 percent and PPI at -1.5 percent in 2015,” Zhu said, “Low inflation and PPI deflation will become the bigger concern.”

He also believes one interest rate cut and two RRR cuts will happen, and are more possible in Q1 and Q2, which will likely be accomplished by other quantitative measures like MLF and PSL.

In the first 10 months of 2014, the PBOC refrained from traditional monetary easing like rate cuts and RRR cuts, but an unexpected rate cut was announced in November.

On Nov. 21, 2014, the central bank cut benchmark interest rates for the first time since the summer of 2012, fanning speculation that further moves like RRR cuts would follow in the coming months as 2014′s growth figures are likely to register at the slowest pace in more than a decade.







>>  China to build diversified housing rental market in 3 years

By Du Yu and Cheng Jing

China will establish a diversified and standardized residential rental market within three years, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

With home prices increasing, more people, especially transmigrants, are choosing to rent accommodation and the market needs proper regulation, the ministry said on Wednesday of January 14.

The ministry said it would build a government-led service portal for rental information, and encourage estate agents to either lease or purchase social housing apartments to rent to the public.

Meanwhile, the ministry will support developers who wish to rent property to the public and pilot specific funds to bring in social capital to the market.

The ministry asked local authorities to step up policy support of the scheme.







>>  Beijing to scrap taxi fuel surcharge

By Kong Xiangxin and Wang Ruoyao

Beijing will stop charging the taxi fuel surcharge following an oil price drop, the municipal commission of development and reform said on Wednesday of January 14.

Starting from Thursday, passengers will not pay the one-yuan (0.16 U.S. dollar) per trip fuel surcharge that is added to taxi fares, said a statement from the commission.

Adjustment of taxi meters will take place from Thursday to Jan. 21. During the period, passengers still must pay the surcharge if the taxi’s meter has not been adjusted.

The retail prices of gasoline and diesel have been cut by 180 yuan and 230 yuan per tonne, respectively, since Tuesday. This was the 12th retail fuel price cut since July 2014 as the government reacts to lower global crude oil prices.

With 67,000 taxis, Beijing introduced its fuel surcharge policy in late 2009 in order to counteract the effects of rising fuel prices. The extra fees have been adjusted based on oil price fluctuations.

Some other cities have already lowered the taxi fuel surcharge. In Nanjing, capital city of Jiangsu Province, many taxi drivers suspended their services last week to protest a decrease in the fuel surcharge.

Taxis gathered near the city’s bus stations, train stations and airport, refusing to take passengers on Jan. 8 and 9. They called on other drivers to join them through taxi-hailing apps and platforms.

According to taxi drivers, the protest was directly triggered by the local government’s decision to cut the fuel surcharge from two yuan to one yuan last month. In addition, many drivers have been calling for an increase in the base fare and lowered franchise fees via the government complaint hotline.







>>  China to create 40-bln-yuan fund to spur innovation

By Cheng Jing

China’s State Council on Wednesday of January 14 announced it would create a 40 billion yuan (6.54 billion U.S. dollars)capital fund in its latest effort to spur innovation.

The government-initiated scheme aims to eventually attract social capital investment, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.

After an open bidding process, several fund management companies will be selected to manage the fund and be given the authority to make investment decisions.

The initiative intends to boost industrial development and optimization.

Wednesday’s meeting also pledged to promote service trade growth, with the gradual opening up of the finance, education, culture and healthcare industries, the statement concluded.







>>  China to foster equal access to basic cultural resources

By Tian Ying

China will strive for equal access to basic cultural services for all, according to an official guideline released on Wednesday of January 14.

A “modern public cultural service system” will accentuate basic cultural services and equal access by 2020, according to the guideline issued by the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council General Office.

Authorities will foster equal access to cultural resources by both urban and rural residents. For instance, rural folk art, publications and radio & TV programs catering for rural residents’ needs will attract greater support from the state.

Radio and TV signal reception equipment is needed in some rural areas along with public cultural venues such as libraries. Each township-level cultural station will be staffed with at least one officer who is familiar with radio and TV production techniques and can organize cultural activities.

The guideline also proposed “leap-frog development” of public cultural infrastructure in underdeveloped areas, including ethnic and border regions.

China wants to reduce “cultural poverty” with work focused on radio & TV, digital services. The guideline identified primary groups in need of service, including the elderly, minors, the disabled, migrant workers, “left-behind” rural women and children, the poor and needy.

The government will subsidize ticket prices and encourage performers to make commercial performances, movies, and cultural venues affordable to all.

Social organizations will be given encouragement to invest in public cultural sectors and procure more of their services.

The guideline also touches on other proposals, including keeping “square culture” healthy and orderly. Town and city squares are popular venues in China for spontaneous, regular and organized cultural events.







>>  China beefs up efforts to help underprivileged children

By Liu Lu, Tan Zhe, Zhang Yaya, Liu Yizhan and Wang Lili

When 23-year-old Yu Runhan first began teaching at a remote middle school in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, educating the students proved a daunting challenge.

Her school, in Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Chuxiong, was comprised of students from the Yi ethnic minority who commonly speak the minority language instead of mandarin. With her lesson plans primarily in mandarin, Runhan found her students could not understand what she was teaching and quickly lost interest in study.

“I noticed that many students disliked school. Some even gave up on high school in order to return home for agricultural work or manual labor in cities,” said Yu.

Language and education barriers are just one of many problems faced by children in poverty-stricken areas.

According to the Enhancing Underprivileged Children Development Plan (2014-2020), approved by the central government in November 2014, 40 million children have lower development in health and education than the national average.

The plan aims at bettering development for underprivileged children in 680 impoverished counties by providing benefits from prenatal care to effective and affordable education until they finish compulsory school.

It also pledges to help underprivileged children live in conditions as close as possible to the country’s average level in terms of health, water, sanitation, nutrition, education, among others.

It set a goal for the maternal death rate related to childbirth in these regions to be decreased to 30 per 100,000.

Death rate of newborn babies and children under the age of five will drop to 12 per 1,000 and 15 per 1,000 respectively. Free vaccines as listed in the national immunization program will also be provided.

China will build more child welfare institutions, send more teachers to rural and remote areas and increase the allowances for special education and rural teachers, it added.

Yu, in the meantime, has figured out a way to help her students cultivate self-study. She set up a “reading corner” filled with old books and magazines in her class, drawing students interest by letting them select materials that interest them. .

“The students like reading a lot although they are not so into going to school. The books and magazines get borrowed as soon as I put them on the shelf,” said Yu.

Dang Guoying, an agricultural expert with the China Academy of Social Sciences, said lack of early education and skills acts a barrier for many Chinese people to escape poverty.

“The plan is a key step to promote the development of underprivileged children,” Dang said.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute in Beijing, suggested increasing financial support from provincial level governments as financial security plays an important role in the implementation of the plan.







>>  China to boost service trade

By Shi Hao

China’s State Council on Wednesday of January 14 announced a string of measures to accelerate the development of trade in services.

China will open up business in finance, education, culture and medical treatment in an orderly manner, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.

The statement said China will speed up service trade liberalization between the mainland and Hong Kong, Macao.

China will nurture enterprises in transportation, telecommunication, research and design, ecological protection and try to boost the export of cultural and art products.

Enterprises are encouraged to invest in the service sector in overseas markets by establishing new or acquiring local companies.

The country aims to build a new-type platform for service trade based on big data and internet of things.

The State Council meeting also adopted a draft regulation to lay down rules for the establishment, change and termination of museums.

Museums are asked to carefully conserve and manage their collections, prohibited from taking illegal objects and encouraged to open to the public for free.







>>  North China to slash coal consumption for better air quality

By Zhu Shaobin, Zhao Chao and Teng Fei

China’s top economic planning body said on Wednesday of January 14 that cities of Beijing and Tianjin as well as Hebei Province in north China must slash coal consumption to reduce air pollution.

Total coal consumption in 2017 will be reduced by 63 million tonnes from the level in 2012 in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement.

Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province will respectively see coal consumption reduced by 13 million tonnes, 10 million tonnes, and 40 million tonnes in 2017 from the 2012 level.

The reduction will involve elimination of outdated production capacity and use of cleaner energy such as hydro, nuclear, wind and solar.

Hebei Province cut coal consumption by 15 million tonnes in 2014, the first time that coal consumption in the province dropped year on year.

With coal being substituted by cleaner energy such as gas, key air pollution indicator PM2.5 dropped 4 percent last year in Beijing.

An air pollution guideline issued in 2014 aims to cut the share of coal in total energy consumption to below 65 percent by 2017.







>>  750 websites shut down amid piracy crackdown

By Hu Longjiang and Zhang Yi

China’s copyright and Internet watchdogs have shut down 750 websites for rights infringement in a campaign launched in June 2014, the National Copyright Administration revealed on Wednesday of January 14.

Authorities uncovered 440 violation cases, of which 66 have been sent to courts. Violators were fined 3.52 million yuan (about 575,000 U.S. dollars) in total.

The administration also strengthened supervision over the country’s 20 major video websites regarding their obtaining and use of copyright, it said. Local authorities are responsible for the copyright management of another 1,826 websites.







>>  Beijing police investigate 7,398 terrorism tip-offs last year

By Cheng Lu and Lu Guoqiang

Beijing police investigated 7,398 tip-offs related to terrorism and detained 426 people last year, local authorities said on Wednesday of January 14.

The 426 detainees include suspected terrorists, rumormongers and those who disseminated terrorist propaganda online.

In addition, police ran 11 anti-terror drills in 2014, a spokesperson of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said at a press conference.

As terrorist activity is on the rise, the police have improved their capability in intelligence, in handling emergencies and in the chain of command.

The number of robberies and murder hit a decade low last year with nearly 72.1 percent of such cases brought to a satisfactory conclusion. There were over 3,400 drug cases, up 51.7 percent and 148.6 kilograms of illegal substances were seized.







>>  Tibet’s urbanization rate expected to exceed 30% by 2020

By Cheng Lu, Wang Jun and An Na

Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region plans to push its urbanization rate over 30 percent by 2020.

During Wednesday’s urbanization conference, Tibet decided to increase the permanent urban population by nearly 280,000 by the year of 2020, with three cities or towns with populations up to 500,000, and two cities or towns with populations up to 100,000.

The number of towns and cities in the region has increased from 31 in 1990 to 140 in 2013. The urban population has hit 740,000 in 2013 against 287,000 in 1980. In the process, transportation, energy supplies and communications have also improved. The biggest city and regional capital Lhasa currently has a population of less than 300,000.

Tibet’s urbanization still lags behind many regions, said Losang Jamcan, chairman of the regional government.

In 2014, urbanization in the region hit 25.7 percent, much lower than the national average of 54 percent.

Tibet wants to improve public services in small cities and towns to attract more talent and to boost local economies without ignoring environmental issues, said Losang Jamcan. The region can slow its pace, but cannot sacrifice the environment.

Last March, China unveiled national urbanization plan (2014-2020) to steer urbanization onto a more human-centered, environmentally friendly path.







>>  Xinjiang farmers report solid income growth

By Guan Qiaoqiao and Li Baojie

Farmers in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region saw per capita annual income grow by 13.7 percent last year with the help of government support efforts.

The per capita net income rose to 8,296 yuan (1,340 U.S. dollars) for 2014, Bai Zhijie, a member of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China, told an agricultural conference in regional capital Urumqi on Wednesday of January 14.

This was the fourth year the annual income grew by around 1,000 yuan.

With more rural laborers working in non-agricultural sectors over the past few years, the income earned from non-agricultural work accounts for more than 30 percent of the total, the official said.

The regional government has set the target of raising the annual income by another 1,000 yuan this year, Bai said.

To meet the target, the local government will step up vocational training and encourage young rural laborers to go to seek jobs in towns and cities, he said.

Meanwhile, the authorities will roll out preferential policies including tax cuts and easier credit to encourage rural cooperatives and other businesses to hire more local rural workers, the official added.







>>  China’s Jiangsu joins trillion-dollar club

By Chen Gang and Zhang Yi

East China’s Jiangsu Province has joined the trillion-dollar GDP club, the second province in China, the provincial government said on Wednesday of January 14.

Jiangsu’s GDP is estimated to have grown 8.6 percent to more than one trillion U.S. dollars in 2014, the government said.

The province collected fiscal revenue of 720 billion yuan (116 billion U.S. dollars) last year.

The incomes of urban and rural residents increased 9 percent and 10.5 percent respectively in 2014.

The economic growth was mainly driven by a 12.3 percent increase in consumption and a 15.5 percent rise in investment.







>>  Guangdong wins 21st straight as Liaoning stays atop

By Wang Haoyu

Guangdong extended its winning streak to 21 games after defeating Tongxi 125-112 while Liaoning smashed Zhejiang 130-101 to maintain its leading position of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league on Wednesday of January 14.

Zhu Fangyu, the first player to score more than 10,000 points in CBA, led Guangdong with 34 points and Yi Jianlian finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Both of them were named as starters of the South in the 2015 CBA All-Star game.

Guangdong shot out to an 18-point lead in the first quarter and extended the advantage to 92-64 in the third quarter. Tongxi, who suffered four-game losing streak, never found a way to close the gap all the night.

Liaoning won the game almost in the same way as Guangdong. The league leaders crushed Zhejiang after one quarter by scoring 41 points to built a 19-point lead and made 16 3-pointers in the whole match.

Liaoning had six players in double figures. Lester Hudson scored 33 points, 8 assits and 8 rebounds while Li Xiaoxu and Deon Thompson bagged 21 points and 20 points respectively.

League scoring leader Errick McCollum, who averaged 38.1 points per game, contributed 41 points for Zhejiang.

Defending champion Beijing revenged Shanxi 126-101 to taste the fifth winning streak. Stehpon Marbury and Radolph Morris combined 47 points while Sun Yue scored a career-high 27 points with 7-of-8 shootings from outside the arc.

Other matches on Wednesday, Foshan lost to Qingdao 125-115, Jilin beat Chongqing 113-103, Tianjin downed Bayi 106-98, Xinjiang defeated Guangsha 110-96, Shanghai edged Fujian 103-100, Dongguan upset Jiangsu 130-119,Shandong overwhelmed Sichuan 100-78.







>>  Former senior Chinese military leader dies

By Hu Longjiang

Former senior Chinese military leader Zhang Wannian passed away on Wednesday in Beijing at the age of 87.

Zhang, former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, died after an illness at 5 p.m. on Wednesday of January 14.

He joined the army in 1944 and the Communist Party of China (CPC) a year later. He was promoted to the rank of a general in 1993.

Zhang was also a member of the Political Bureau and Secretariat of the 15th CPC Central Committee.







>>  Foot-and-mouth disease confirmed in Hubei Province

By Yu Wenjing and Shi Hao

Foot-and-mouth disease has infected 54 cattle in a district of Wuhan City in central China’s Hubei Province, the Ministry of Agriculture announced on Wednesday of January 14.

The outbreak was first reported on Jan. 8 in Huangbei District and confirmed by the national foot-and-mouth disease reference laboratory on Wednesday.

A total of 1,190 cattle were culled and properly disposed of, including all those in the same herd, said a statement from the Ministry.

The disease is under control now, the statement said.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal epidemic that can affect cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, pigs, sheep and goats.







>>  China’s Guangdong reports two new human H7N9 cases

By Lü Qiuping and Xiao Sisi

Health authorities in south China’s Guangdong Province on Wednesday of January 14 reported two H7N9 human infections.

Both cases were in the city of Dongguan. A 52-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man receiving treatment at local hospitals were both confirmed as infected on Tuesday, the provincial health and family planning commission said in a statement.

Both are in a serious condition, and the woman is critical.

Besides Guangdong, Shanghai Municipality and Fujian and Zhejiang provinces have reported human cases of H7N9 this winter.







>>  11 injured after 5.0-magnitude quake in SW China

By Yu Li, Zhang Yi and Hu Longjiang

Eleven people were injured when a 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit southwest China’s Sichuan Province on Wednesday of January 14, according to the provincial civil affairs authority.

The quake struck Jinkouhe District in Leshan City at 1:21 p.m. Wednesday. The epicenter was monitored at 29.3 degrees north latitude and 103.2 degrees east longitude. The quake struck at a depth of 14 km, said the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

About 11,000 people were affected with more than 2,000 houses were damaged. Traffic and telecommunications in the quake zone have been restored to normal.

The People’s Hospital in Jinkouhe received two calls for assistance, with both regarding slight injuries, said a spokesman with the hospital.

Many Leshan residents rushed into the streets and students assembled in school playgrounds. “I felt strong tremor and then ran out of the office,” said Peng Tao, a tobacco company employee in downtown Leshan, about 68 km from the epicenter.

Tremors were also felt in many other parts of Sichuan, including the provincial capital of Chengdu, Ya’an, Yibin, Suining as well as Mount Emei, a famous scenic spot.

Railway authorities have ordered four passenger trains and 10 cargo trains near the region to stop in safe sections and railway workers are checking the rails.

Covering an area of 598 square kilometers in southwestern Sichuan, Jinkouhe District is home to about 60,000 people, including many of the Yi ethnic minority.







>>  China parking shed fire victims identified

By Cheng Lu and Wang Junlu

Eight victims of a parking shed fire early Wednesday morning of January 14 in east China’s Zhejiang Province have had identities confirmed, local authorities said.

Electric bikes caught fire around 4 a.m. at an outdoor shed in Jiefangtang Community in Yuhuan County, Taizhou City, leaving eight people dead, according to the city’s fire department.

The victims include a four-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, the department said.

They escaped to the corridor of a building while the choking smoke spread, according to the department.

A survivor surnamed Yu said he, his wife and his daughter were sleeping when the fire happened.

“I was woken up by a loud noise and got out of bed immediately,” he said. “I looked through the window and saw big fire in the parking shed.” Yu and his family jumped out the building with help of others.

Local media reported most people living in the community are migrant workers.

Some 38 firefighters, with seven fire engines, arrived at the site after the accident. The injured were rushed to a nearby hospital. The blaze was put out by 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Further investigation is under way.







>>  Wetland in north China shut after swan deaths

By Fang Ning and Wang Feihang

A scenic wetland resort in north China’s Shanxi Province was temporarily closed on Thursday of January 15 , after the death of a dozen swans, according to the local forestry authority.

The swans, as well as an undisclosed number of wild ducks, have been found dead on wetland property since January 4.

The Pinglu Wetland on Yellow River, the country’s second longest, is a major winter habitat for swans that migrate from Siberia in Russia.

Wang Tian’en, a patrol warden with the wetland preservation administration, said more than 10,000 swans flocked to the wetland every winter.

Wang played down suggestions that the birds had died from avian flu, instead saying it was more likely to be intentional poisoning by poachers, as bird flu would result in higher casualties.

However, as a cautionary measure, the local forestry authority decided to close the 600-hectare wetland park.

A team including experts from the national forestry body have started to investigate the deaths, and the dead birds have been disposed of safely.

Wang said that to support the birds’ survival through winter this year, the local forestry department had allocated 30,000 kilograms of corn and cabbage to supplement their diets. It was possible, he said, that some poachers may have poisoned the feed in a bid to kill the birds for their meat.







>>  Beijing sees first winter snow amid heavy smog

By Fang Ning and Lu Chang

Beijing on Wednesday of January 14 saw its first snow this winter while the city was enveloped by heavy smog.

Many Beijingers complained online that the scattered light snow was too small to be captured on camera.

The city’s meteorological station recorded snowfall of less than 1 millimeter in the morning, with the snow likely to continue into the evening.

Beijing issued its first smog alert of the year on Tuesday. Stagnant and humid air has aggravated the city’s air pollution, causing the smog to linger.

Yu Bo, chief weatherman with the Beijing Municipal Meteorological Station, said a cold front can be expected on Thursday evening to disperse the smog. This round of smog has affected much of north China.









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