China home prices fall as trends diverge among cities








>>  Chinese leaders congratulate Vietnamese counterparts on anniversary of diplomatic ties

By Wang Shang

Chinese leaders on Sunday of January 18 sent a joint congratulatory message to their Vietnamese counterparts to mark the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China; Premier Li Keqiang; and top legislator Zhang Dejiang jointly signed the message addressed to Nguyen Phu Trong, the party leader; Truong Tan Sang, the state president; Nguyen Tan Dung, the prime minister; and Nguyen Sinh Hung, the top legislator.

The Chinese leaders said that China and Vietnam are friendly neighbors and that friendly cooperation has always been the mainstream of interactions since the two countries established formal relations 65 years ago.

In recent years, the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Vietnam has maintained momentum with frequent high-level contacts and great achievements in various cooperation fields, bringing tangible benefits to the two countries and peoples, they said.

Against the background of profound changes in international and regional arenas, good-neighborliness and friendship, enhanced political mutual trust and deepened cooperation are in line with the aspirations of the two peoples and their fundamental interests. They are also conducive to regional peace, stability and development, said the Chinese leaders.

The Communist Party of China and the Chinese government, they said, attach great importance to China-Vietnam relations and stand ready to work with Vietnam to carry forward strategic cooperation, bearing in mind a strategic and long-term perspective and the need to steer bilateral relations in the correct direction







>>  Li’s presence at Davos forum to bolster int’l confidence in Chinese economy: envoy

By Liu Meichen

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming presence at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) will surely strengthen the international community’s confidence in China’s economic outlook, a Chinese envoy has said.

The WEF meeting, scheduled for January 21-24 in Davos, Switzerland, will explore solutions to major global challenges under the theme “The New Global Context”.

Over 2,500 participants from more than 140 countries representing governments, international organizations, businesses, academia, civil society and the media are expected to attend this year’s meeting.

According to the WEF, more than 40 heads of state and government will participate in the four-day meeting featuring 280 sessions and workshops.

Wu Hailong, China’s ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva, told Xinhua in a recent interview that China always attaches great importance to the annual meeting.

He said that in 2010, Li attended the annual meeting in his then capacity as vice premier, adding that it will be not only Li’s second attendance to the gathering of global elites this year, but also a major diplomatic activity for a Chinese leader since the beginning of 2015.

During the forum, Wu noted, the Chinese premier is expected to share his views on the international situation and the current state of global economy, as well as possible solutions to challenges.

Li will also expound China’s domestic and foreign policies, respond to other countries’ concerns on China, and boost the international community’s confidence in the prospects of the Chinese economy, he said.

The ambassador stressed that the international community is paying close attention to China’s development, including its economic prospects and ensuing global influence, the Chinese economy’s “new normal” and comprehensively deepening reforms, as well as the trend of Chinese foreign polices.

Meanwhile, people around the world are closely watching China’s response to various global challenges, in particular its role in promoting international economic cooperation and its contribution in that respect, he said.

Speaking of this year’s Davos forum theme, he said that amid ongoing significant and rapid changes in the world’s political, economic, social and technological aspects, there is a close link between China’s development and “The New Global Context”, since the country is getting closer and closer with the world.

He said while these changes have profound implications on China, the country’s development also has crucial influences on “The New Global Context”.

Since China is widely regarded as a major economic, trade and investment power for its market, capitals and tourists, its foreign policies always draw global attention, said the diplomat.

With its recent proposals and initiatives on global economy, hot-spot issues and global governance, China will make positive contribution to the world’s response to “The New Global Context”, Wu added.







>>  New round of Iran nuclear talks broadened consensus: Chinese official

By Liu Meichen

The new round of negotiations over Iran’s long-standing controversial nuclear program broadened the consensus, said the head of Chinese delegation to the talks on Sunday of January 18.

Wang Qun, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that this round of talks was intensive, practical and in-depth.

Wang said that China hopes all sides to seize the valuable historic opportunity, and show the political will and determination to facilitate a package solution and a win-win comprehensive agreement.

Wang added that parties involved agreed to hold the next round of talks in early February.

The P5+1 group, namely China, France, Russia, Britain, the United States, plus Germany, and Iran held talks over Iran’s nuclear issues, the second one after the failure to meet a Nov. 24 deadline in 2014 for a comprehensive nuclear deal.

The Sunday negotiations were premised on prior bilateral engagements between the United States and Iran during the past four days which started with a one-day talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad-Javad Zarif on Wednesday.

According to Iranian state-run IRIB TV, Zarif on Saturday expressed optimism about a solution to his country’s nuclear issue despite the fact that wide gaps between Tehran and the world powers remain.

He said that “serious, accurate and clear discussions” over the disputed nuclear topics were held over the past days, and “we are seriously doing our job and believe that the solution is within reach.”

Iran has been a target of UN sanctions due to its alleged attempts to build nuclear weapons. The West accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian nuclear programs, which Iran has denied, insisting that its nuclear programs are for peaceful purposes only.

Sides agreed in November 2014 to extend the deadline for another seven months and aimed to reach a political agreement within the next four months.

How much nuclear capability Iran can keep, and the steps to lift West-imposed sanctions against Tehran are the main sticking points for the on-going negotiations.







>>  China-ROK FTA to enhance market connectivity

By Zhang Xu, Wang Youling and Zhang Heping

Building a free trade area (FTA) between China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will enhance bilateral market connectivity and all-round communication, officials said on Sunday of January 18.

The two countries started FTA talks in May 2012 and substantively concluded the negotiations in November 2014.

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has said the agreement will be signed in 2015 and take effect in the second half.

Yang Yihang, an official of the MOC, said the two sides have reached agreements in dozens of sectors, including service, investment, finance and communication.

“Those agreements provide fresh opportunities for bilateral enterprises and market connectivity,” Yang said at a forum focused on China-ROK industrial cooperation held in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou.

“The MOC will continue to promote bilateral investment in advanced manufacturing, film and TV production, cultural creativity and medical care,” Yang said.

Hong Chang-pyo, a senior trade official with the ROK side, said establishing a bilateral FTA will help the two sides share market, reshape work division and change investment models of each other.

Hong expected “new normal” in bilateral investment scale, tourism and logistics storage, as well as more cooperation in renewable energy, environmental protection and automobile.

“The FTA will push for the combination of bilateral value chains,” another MOC official Chen Ning said. “That will benefit the entire East Asia.”

The FTA will also strengthen economic cooperation between local governments, as the governments of a few Chinese cities — such as Changzhou, Weifang, Weihai and Yantai — have expressed intention to set up ROK industrial parks, Chen added.








>>  New direct flight links NW Chinese city and Bangkok

By Han Xiaojing and He Chenyang

China Eastern Airlines launched on Sunday of January 18 a regular direct air route between Yinchuan, capital of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Bangkok, Thailand.

The 4 hours and 20 minutes two-way trip will be conducted by Airbus A320, and it’s scheduled to operate every five days, the Ningxia Airport Company said.

The flight takes off from Yinchuan at 11:55 p.m. and arrives in Bangkok at 4:15 a.m. the next day. The returning flight departs from Bangkok at 5:15 a.m. and lands in Yinchuan at 9:20 a.m.

The new route is the first direct route linking the two cities. ‘ According to the company, the new airline is expected to boost economic exchange and tourism of the two cities.







>>  China’s security hardware firms seek to boost Mideast business

By Liu Yuqian

Chinese security equipment firms tried to promote their business in the growing Middle East market at one of the world’s largest annual security congress Intersec opened here on Sunday of January 18.

According to the organizers, this year’s Intersec attracted 1,237 exhibitors from 54 countries, while a total of 204 Chinese companies have brought their products to the exhibition.

“We realized that keeping places under control is very important in the Middle East,” said Andy Wu, overseas sales manager at camera producer Unique Vision from Shenzhen, China’s Guangdong Province.

Wu said it is the first time for the company to come to the show and they hoped to expand their export market in the fast growing region.

Also present at the Chinese pavilion in the Dubai world trade center exhibition halls is Wenzhou Haian Electronic Appliance Company from Zhejiang province.

Sales manager Qinmei Chen told Xinhua that the firm has been to the exhibition many times, and have sold LED light equipment for the Dubai police cars and ambulance.

Joe Qiao, sales manager with a labor protection appliance company of China’s Hebei province, said his company aims to use Intersec as a launchpad to boost its global export markets.

The Middle East’s security market is growing at 11 percent per year, double than the world’s 5.5 percent due to the worsening security situation in some Arab countries in the region.

By 2016, the global market for security cameras, disaster recovery technology, equipment for police and fire brigades and electronic security items is expected to reach 116 billion U.S. dollars.

Among demands for all security hardware, network surveillance equipment is expected to hit new record high of 89 percent on year-on-year basis, according to the research firm Frost and Sullivan.

“Safety in buildings design is a topic of vital importance in the six Gulf countries Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman as the region forge ahead with new real estate and infrastructure developments,” said Ahmed Pauwels, chief executive of EPOX Messe Frankfurt.







>>  Senior SW China official to stand trial for corruption

By Yao Yuan and Chen Chen

A court in northwest China will hear the corruption case of Liao Shaohua, a former senior official in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, on January 22.

The Intermediate People’s Court of Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, said in a statement that it will hear the trial of Liao, former Communist Party chief of Zunyi City in Guizhou.

Prosecutors have filed bribery charges, accusing Liao of taking advantage of his position to seek profits for others and accepting large amounts of money or gifts in bribes.

Liao was also charged with abuse of power resulting in huge losses to public property.

Liao is among a number of senior officials brought down after the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC) dispatched inspectors to scrutinize local governments, large state-owned enterprises and public institutions last year.

After taking the helm of the CPC in November 2012 and later as the country’s top leader in March 2013, Xi Jinping vowed to fight corruption and harmful work styles, calling on the entire Party to stay on full alert against corruption.







>>  N China official sentenced to 10 years for crimes

By Sun Xiaozheng and Bai Lin

An official with the human resources department of Hengshui City in north China’s Hebei Province was sentenced to 10 years for abuse of power and accepting bribes, authorities said on Sunday of January 18.

Wang Gaoyang, deputy head of the endowment insurance department of the city’s human resources bureau, was found guilty of helping 280 people retire early from 2008 to 2009 by faking their medical records, according to the court verdict.

He was also convicted of accepting bribes worth more than 431,500 yuan.

Wang was taken into custody in November 2013.

The proceeds from Wang’s crimes were returned to the state, the court said.







>>  Tibet maintains ambitious growth target with strong investment

By Cao Kai, Wang Jun and Zhang Chen

While several Chinese provinces have lowered their growth targets amid an economic downturn, the plateau region of Tibet has maintained a 12-percent growth target for 2015 with strong investment from the central government.

Tibet’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to hit 92.5 billion yuan (15 billion U.S. dollars) in 2014, maintaining its double-digit growth since 1994, according to an annual government work report delivered by Losang Jamcan, chairman of the regional government, at the opening of the annual regional congress session on Sunday of January 18.

Unlike the robust growth in Tibet, the Chinese economy slowed overall in 2014. Analysts estimate that China’s GDP could grow 7.3 percent over 2013.

A number of provinces, including Zhejiang, Gansu and Hebei, lowered their 2015 growth targets by 0.5 to 1 percentage point at earlier provincial economic work conferences due to dampened optimism.

Hebei, which borders Beijing, cut its 2015 growth goal by one percentage point to 7 percent under unprecedented pressure from air pollution controls.

Investment has been the major contributor to growth in Tibet, which has poor infrastructure and a small population.

In 2014, investment from the central government, state-owned enterprises and the private sector reached 35.3 billion yuan, 10 billion yuan and 30 billion yuan, respectively. The combination of the three accounted for 81 percent of Tibet’s 2014 GDP, according to the work report.

Operation of the 251-km Lhasa-Xigaze railway and the Zangmu Hydropower Station in 2014, at a cost of 13.28 billion yuan and 9.6 billion yuan respectively, greatly boosted economic growth in Tibet.

The chairman said fixed-asset investment in the region is expected to surpass 130 billion yuan in 2015, up 20 percent year on year, covering a wide range of infrastructure projects including railways, roads and airport renovations.

The large number of people living in poverty, poor infrastructure and weak industrial development have made the investment-driven approach a reasonable choice for Tibet, said Du Jie, a member of the regional political advisory body and Communist Party chief of the Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Sciences.

Tibet still has more than 320,000 people living under the national poverty line of 2,300 yuan per year, about 10 percent of the regional population. Urbanization in the region hit 25.7 percent in 2014, much lower than the national average of 54 percent.

Although the per capita net income of farmers and herdsmen in the region continued its double-digit growth in the past decade and hit 6,578 yuan in 2013, it is still only 73 percent of the national average.

Another reason for maintaining a high growth target is Tibet’s urgent need to catch up with other provinces to fulfill the national goal of building a well-off society by 2020, said Lian Xiangmin, a researcher with the China Tibetology Research Center.

Only by keeping a fast pace of development can Tibet catch up with others, said Lian.

It is hard for Tibet to achieve the same level of development as developed regions, but the central government has demanded that per capita income of farmers and herdsmen and basic public services in Tibet approach the national average, said Losang Jamcan at the regional economic work conference in late December.

It is impossible to fulfill the central government’s demands without a 12-percent growth target, said the chairman.

However, experts warn the regional government to reduce its dependence on investment while taking advantage of the massive investment from the central government to cultivate Tibet’s own industries to achieve sustainable development.

Tibet should accelerate development of industries particular to the region, including highland barley, natural mineral water, Tibetan medicine, animal husbandry and tourism, to transform its resource advantages into an engine of economic growth, said Tubdan Kezhub, head of the School of Economics and Management with the University of Tibet.







>>  China expects investment surge in tourism sector

By Zhu Shaobin and Qian Chunxian

China’s tourism industry will play a growing role in the country’s economic growth, with direct investment in the sector expected to hit three trillion yuan (490 billion U.S. dollars) in the coming three years, according to a tourism official.

Li Jinzao, head of the National Tourism Administration, predicted that the 3-trillion-yuan investment would attract additional investment projects worth 15 trillion yuan during the period.

“China’s tourism will play an increasingly important role in boosting investment, consumption and exports,” Li said at a national tourism work conference held last week in Nanchang City in east China’s Jiangxi Province.

“Tourism is not just about consumption. Investment is also an important contributor to growth, and the tourism sector has a large demand for investment,” Li said.

Official data showed that direct investment in the tourism industry reached 650 billion yuan in 2014, up 22 percent year on year.

The growth rate for tourism investment surpassed the general investment growth rate for the tertiary industry by 5 percentage points.

Li predicted that rural tourism, small townships, large scenic spots, holiday resorts, and online business would be among the key areas for investment during the next three years.







>>  China expects 8-pct rise in holiday airline passengers

By Qian Chunxian and Zhu Shaobin

China’s top aviation authority forecast on Sunday that the number of airline passengers during the upcoming holiday travel period, or “chunyun,” will rise eight percent year on year to 47.52 million.

Chunyun, the peak travel season during the Spring Festival, starts on Feb. 4 and lasts until March 16 this year.

To cope with the anticipated surge in passenger numbers, airline companies are expected to add 12,000 flights per week, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.

State-owned China Southern Airlines, the country’s largest carrier by fleet size, said it plans to add 8,000 flights during the 40-day chunyun, bringing its total flights during the period to 85,000, up 27 percent year on year.

The CAAC said that first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou will see the busiest passenger flows during the period.







>>  China home prices fall as trends diverge among cities

By Zhu Shaobin, Guo Xinfeng, Wang Xi He Zongyu

China’s real estate market has extended its slump with new home prices in December registering month-on-month declines in a majority of surveyed cities.

Of 70 large and medium-sized cities surveyed, 66 saw new home prices drop in December from the previous month, according to data released on Sunday of January 18 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Meanwhile, new home prices were flat in Zhengzhou, Wuhan, and Ganzhou last month, while Shenzhen saw prices rise 1.2 percent from November, the NBS data showed.

For existing homes, prices in 60 cities fell in December from the previous month, while eight cities recorded gains, with the first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou seeing prices gain 0.2 percent, 0.4 percent, and 0.2 percent, respectively. Nanjing and Urumqi were flat in price growth, the data showed.

On a year-on-year basis, 68 cities saw new home prices decline in December. Meanwhile, 67 cities reported price drops for existing homes.

Despite widespread price drops, the rates of decline have narrowed for both new homes and existing homes on a monthly basis, according to analysts.

“On average, prices of new homes and existing homes in December in the 70 cities fell 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent respectively from a month ago,” said NBS statistician Liu Jianwei.

The rate of price decline fell by 0.2 percentage point compared to November for both new and existing homes, Liu said.

Kuang Xianming, director of the research center for economy under the China Institute For Reform and Development, said that downward pressure has remained in China’s property sector based on December’s figures. However, some changes, though minor, should not be ignored, he said.

“Analyzing the market based on price changes, the market has largely maintained a similar trend as seen in November. But if this situation continues, and especially when prices start to recover in some cities, we might be able to conclude that home prices in Chinese cities are bottoming out,” Kuang said.

The NBS data showed that home price trends in first-tier cities and smaller cities diverged last month, with the nation’s four biggest cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen seeing average prices rise by 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent from the previous month for new homes and existing homes, respectively.

Liu said that the price rebound came amid a sales recovery in first-tier cities, all of which saw the number of homes sold surge more than 15 percent in December from a month ago, Liu said.

He said that the recovery was boosted by government policy changes intended to avoid a sharp slowdown in the sector out of fear of jeopardizing the broader economy.

Those moves included fewer restrictions on home purchases, eased mortgage rules, and an interest rate cut in November.

China’s property market began a downturn in 2014 after a years-long boom that catapulted home prices to record highs. The downturn has also weighed negatively on the economy, with third-quarter growth sliding to 7.3 percent, the lowest level since the 2008-09 financial crisis.

The NBS is scheduled to release major economic data, including gross domestic product and home sales, on Tuesday.







>>  Two knife-wielding stowaways shot dead in south China

By Zhang Xu and Tan Xingxing

Chinese police shot and killed two stowaways who attacked them with knives late on Sunday of January 18 in southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, local authorities said Monday.

Police found a group of five stowaways at about 8:20 p.m. in Guangxi’s Pingxiang City, which borders Vietnam, but they resisted being captured by assailing the police with knives.

Two of them were shot dead, two others were apprehended and one another is still on the run, local police said, adding that a manhunt has been launched.

The Ministry of Public Security waged a special campaign on cracking down on organized human smuggling activities in April last year in the country’s southwestern border regions, as such cases had been on the rise in those regions since the beginning of last year.

To date, police have busted 262 human smuggling cases, seizing 352 suspects who allegedly organized such activities and 852 suspects who attempted to cross the border illegally.







>>  Drug gang busted in central China

By Han Xiaojing and Liu Jinhui

Police in central China’s Henan Province announced on Sunday of January 18 they have busted a drug gang and apprehended 23 suspects.

Police have also seized three tonnes of raw materials for manufacturing ketamine, seven vehicles and 500,000 yuan (81,967 U.S. dollars).

The ring had produced and sold drugs in Henan, Jiangxi and Shandong provinces, police said, adding that they are further investigating the case.







>>  Shanghai reports another human H7N9 infection case

By Sun Xiaozheng and Qiu Yi

Shanghai on Sunday of January 18 reported a new case of human infection of the H7N9 avian flu.

The patient, surnamed Zhang, is a 69-year-old Shanghai citizen, the city’s health and family planning commission said. He was confirmed to be infected with the virus on Saturday and is being treated at a local hospital.

So far, Shanghai has reported two human H7N9 cases this winter.







>>  China’s Guangdong reports two H7N9 cases, one recovers

By Yao Yuan and Xiao Sisi

Guangdong Province in south China on Sunday of January 18 reported two patients infected with H7N9 bird flu, one of whom has recovered.

Among the two confirmed cases is a 66-year-old man surnamed Chen, a resident of Shenzhen City, which borders Hong Kong. He is in a hospital in critical condition, the provincial health and family planning commission said in a statement.

Another, a one-year-old girl surnamed Huang from Shanwei City, has recovered after medical treatment. She tested positive for H7N9 on Friday, the statement said.

A series of human infection reports has led to the culling of thousands of chickens in Guangdong and Hong Kong since the start of this year. Most bird flu cases in humans come from exposure to infected poultry.

Food safety authorities in Guangdong said Sunday that they would expand restrictions on live poultry sales that so far apply to some parts of the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Foshan.







>>  Five killed in drunk driving accident in NE China

By Sun Xiaozheng and Wang Kai

Five people were killed when their speeding car rammed into a tree at high speed in Luobei County of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province on January 2, police said on Sunday of January 18 following an initial investigation into the accident.

The driver, Meng, was an auxiliary police officer at the Public Security Bureau of Luobei County. He was driving a police car without authorization and was drunk at the time. Meng was driving four of his friends home from a barbecue restaurant.

The car hit a tree near the side of the road at high speed. Four people died on the spot, and another died after emergency treatment failed, police added.

Further investigation into Meng’s unauthorized access to the police car is under way.







>>  Cold front to sweep N China

By Zhang Xu

A cold front will sweep the northern parts of China from Sunday to Wednesday, bringing temperature drops and snow, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) forecast on Sunday of January 18.

The center said some parts of north China and northeast China will see temperatures drop 4 to 10 degrees Celsius in the next three days.

From Sunday to Monday, sleet and snow will hit some parts of Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia, the NMC said.

Meanwhile, rainfall will moderate and move eastward from southwest China to the regions south of the Yangtze River and some other parts of south China.

The center warned of cold, gales and slippery roads, and suggested keeping warm.









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