China’s first circuit courts in full operations

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China rejects Philippine protest over ship ramming

By Wang Huihui

China dismissed protests by the Philippines over a Chinese coast guard ship allegedly ramming and damaging three Philippine fishing boats last week in the South China Sea.

The Philippine Foreign Ministry protested to Beijing on Wednesday of February 4 after the alleged incident off the Huangyan Island, claiming it endangered the lives of the fishermen on the boats.

Huangyan Island is an inherent part of Chinese territory. China’s coast guard ships are there on duty to maintain order on the waters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing on Thursday.

“On Jan. 29, a number of Philippine fishing boats illegally stayed in shallow waters off the Huangyan Island and refused to comply with the commands of the Chinese side,” Hong said.

“Chinese coast guard then sent a small boat to drive them away in accordance with law and there was minor friction with one of the three boats,” he said.

He urged the Philippines to strengthen discipline and education of its fishermen to prevent similar incidents.

 

 

 

 

 

COLOMBO

>>  Sri Lankan gov’t gives green light to 1.4 bln USD Chinese port city project

By Unitha

Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday of February 5 approved a 1.4 billion U.S. dollar port city project earmarked as the largest Chinese investment project in the country to date, an official said.

Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senarathne told reporters that the project, which was being reassessed for its environmental feasibility by the new government, had received approval. “We are satisfied with the environmental feasibility study done by a local university. We may require a second feasibility for the second phase of construction but there is more time to get that done. So Cabinet has approved the project to continue,”he said.

The project was initiated by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was ousted from power early last month.

The new government had insisted it wanted to re-evaluate the project over environmental fears.

 

 

 

 

 

COLOMBO

>>  Maldives gov’t begins technical discussions with China on FTA: report

By Uditha

The Maldivian government has started technical discussions with China regarding the feasibility of a free trade agreement between the two nations, local media reported on Thursday of February 5.

A technical committee consisting of experts from both countries engaged in discussions over what would be the Maldives’ first free trade agreement with a single country.

Local media outlet Haveeru quoted Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed as saying that the committee is tasked with determining the feasibility of such an agreement and identifying any potential difficulties.

“The truth is we want to set up the free trade agreement as soon as possible,” he told the paper.

Saeed said the two main reasons in pursuing a free trade agreement with China were duty-free exports of fisheries products, and an increase in air travel between the countries which will bring more Chinese tourists to the Maldives.

Fish accounts for 98 percent of the Maldives’ exports, while Chinese tourists make up 30 percent of all visitors to the Indian Ocean nation.

Minister at the President’s Office Mohamed Shareef has previously said free trade talks were initiated by the Maldives, and that China has taken a flexible approach with regards to the final agreement.

The government’s decision to engage in free-trade with China was stated in December 2014 after the cabinet’s economic council visited China to hold discussions on Chinese-assisted projects in the Maldives.

December also saw the Maldives officially sign up to the Maritime Silk Road project, which will provide a trade route between China and east coast of Africa and the Mediterranean.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China, Maldives launch feasibility study on FTA

By Zhang Zhengfu and Wang Youling

China and Maldives have begun a feasibility study on a free trade area (FTA) between the two countries, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Thursday of February 5.

Officials from the two countries held the first feasibility study meeting on Wednesday and Thursday in Male, capital of the islands, said the MOC.

The meeting discussed the methodology of the study, division of tasks, the framework and main contents of the feasibility report, and the next steps of the joint working group.

They reached agreement on the the study scope and the responsibilities of both sides.

As two friendly neighbors, China and Maldives have stable and smooth relations.

In 2014, trade between the two countries reached 104 million U.S. dollars, up 6.7 percent from 2013, official data showed.

 

 

 

 

 

ACCRA

>>  Hijacked Chinese fishing boat returns to Ghana safely

By Lin Xiaowei

A hijacked Chinese fishing boat, Lu Rong Yuan 917, arrived safely in Tema, the largest port of Ghana, on Wednesday evening of February 4.

The boat, when operating in the waters of Ghana with six Chinese and more than 20 Ghanaian nationals on board, was hijacked on Jan. 28 by a group of pirates whose identities remain unknown, according to Xinhua’s source from the Chinese Embassy in Ghana.

Two of the six Chinese on board jumped into the sea and were later rescued by a passing-by ship, while the other four Chinese fishermen were detained by the pirates.

On Feb. 3, the ship was abandoned by the pirates for untold reasons and returned to Tema safely.

Sun Baohong, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, greeted the boat at Tema and expressed gratitude toward authorities of Ghana and other countries for their assistance on this matter.

She also told Chinese fishing companies to be more careful and vigilant during their operations in the waters of Ghana.

The Ambassador expressed her sympathy and solicitude for sailors and assured them that Chinese embassies and consulates abroad will continue to provide quality services for overseas Chinese citizens.

 

 

 

 

 

KUALA LUMPUR

>>  Malaysia to take special visa policy to attract Chinese tourists

By Hu Guangyao

Chinese tourists travelling to Malaysia via Singapore will be issued with visa on arrival, a Malaysian government official said on Thursday of February 5.

Tourism Promotion Board chairman Dr Ng Yen Yen was quoted by local media report as saying that she hopes travel trade operators in Singapore will take the opportunity to make use of Malaysia’s special policy of visa on arrival to attract more Chinese tourists. “Chinese arrivals are very (much) linked to the Singapore market. If they don’t come to Malaysia, they will not come to Singapore. So, we are trying to do our best to develop both,” she said during a luncheon event with travel trade operators in Singapore.

When Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on March 8 last year, Malaysia experienced a big drop in tourist arrivals from China to the tune of almost 10 percent.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  BRICS prospect remains promising amid global headwinds

By Li Li

The current economic hardship detected in some developing countries has dampened confidence in the prospect of BRICS. But it requires wisdom and far-sightedness to see that the emerging-market bloc is still an essential engine driving forward the world economy.

EMBRACE “NEW NORMAL” 

Economic slowdown in almost all five BRICS countries in the past year have unfortunately given rise to the “Broken BRICS” rhetoric, which has further gained popularity in the West with the recently-revealed 7.4 growth of the Chinese economy last year, slowest in 24 years.

What have also added to the concerns are the major setback experienced by the Russian economy under Western sanctions, as well as the deceleration or even stagnation registered in India, Brazil and South Africa.

In fact, there is no need to make a fuzz about the cooling-down of the BRICS economies, as it only mirrors a gloomy global landscape.

The world economy is still undergoing profound adjustment as a fallout of the 2008 financial crisis.

With continued structural reforms, the Chinese economy is embracing the “new normal” featured by milder growth but higher quality. Similar efforts are being made in other BRICS economies such as Russia and South Africa.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced confidence to go through economic difficuties, as external restrictions have prompted his country to carry out structural changes to inject vitality into the economy.

The Russian government revealed last month that there were some “visible signs” of stabilization in the country’s economy after a month of violent turbulence.

As for India, the World Bank has projected that its economy, expected to grow 6.4 percent this year and even faster in 2016, will be a “bright spot” in an medium global economic outlook.

UPGRAD COOPERQTION

Coined by the Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neil in 2001, BRICS is an acronym referring to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which happen to be the world’s largest and most populous developing countries.

In recent years, there are clear signs that the emerging-market bloc is being upgraded from a mere assembly of economic powerhouses to a community of common destiny and common interests.

William Gumede, BRICS specialist from South Africa, highlighted the huge potential of inter-BRICS trade cooperation, which he said will help its members tide over their respective economic quagmires.

Data showed trade value among the BRICS nations totaled 350 billion dollars in 2013, which was 2.5 times the value six years ago. Currently, China is the largest-trading partner with Brazil, Russia, and and South Africa, and the second-largest trading partner with India.

At the end of last year, China’s accumulative investment in the other four countries exceeded 55 billion dollars.

In a major cooperative move last year, BRICS countries announced plans to establish a development bank and a contingent reserve arrangement (CRA) in July, aiming to help the five countries and other developing economies fully tap their market potential while averting global risks.

PUSH FOR NEW ORDER

The BRICS, with roughly one third of the world’s total population and more than a quarter of the world’s land area, had a combined GDP accounting for almost one fifth of the world total in 2013.

Each member of the bloc is the most powerful emerging economy in its respective region, and their willingness to participate in international affairs has been constantly growing.

With the BRICS countries as pioneers, the emerging economies as a whole, which account for half of the world’s economic output, have grown to be a crucial driving force behind the global trend of economic multi-polariation.

The just-concluded trilateral regular meeting for foreign ministers of India, China and Russia has sent the world a clear message that the three BRICS countries are committed to making joint efforts to promote coordination and cooperation among emerging economies.

Noting that the BRICS economies have consolidated their position as the main engines for sustaining the world economy as it recovers from the recent crisis, the ministers called for improved global economic governance so as to magnify the voice and increase representation of developing countries.

The BRICS countries are seeking to make a change to the West-dominated economic order,which no longer meet the demands of the global economic recovery and development, noted Russian BRICS expert Georgy Toloraya.

The BRICS cooperation, analysts say, has emerged to be an exemplary part of South-South cooperation. It is helping push for a more open and fairer international order and rebalance the world economy.

 

 

 

 

UNITED NATIONS

>>  Chinese dance drama promotes “Maritime Silk Road” at UN HQ

By Shi Xiaomeng

“I thought the story was very powerful. It was about family, love, adventure, friendship, and inheritance,” Maria Kucinski said after watching a traditional Chinese dance drama “Dream of the Maritime Silk Road.”

Admitting that she has never learnt anything before about Maritime Silk Road — a sea route of the economic and cultural exchanges between ancient China and the rest of the world, Kucinski told Xinhua that she can get the concept and images of interactions in trade and culture in that period after enjoying the drama performed at UN headquarters on Wednesday night.

“There is a marketplace where everybody came…where they are able to purchase silk, tea, porcelain…” Kucinski recalled a specific scene showing the hustle and bustle of the trade and commerce 800 years ago.

The dance drama, through distinctively Chinese classical dance, tells a story of a commercial fleet in China’s Quanzhou port, Fujian Province: The captain of the fleet was invited by a Persian prince to together develop a new sailing route. During the voyage, the fleet was struck by a storm and the captain sacrificed his life to save the Persian prince.

“That’s really wonderfully portrayed,” said Alice Chen, a Chinese American who works in the UN. “I think it’s really great that the UN was able to showcase all the culture, all the celebrations and all the great values that Chinese people have.”

“You see the Chinese really look out for other cultures,” she added.

The performance is put on by the Permanent Mission of China to the UN on the occasion of China’s presidency of the Security Council for February. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also joined the crowds to watch the show.

Addressing the event, Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the UN said today’s world calls for a new type of international relations centering on win-win cooperation.

“China is working with numerous countries to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” Liu mentioned, saying that the initiative is making good headway and will bring new vigor and vitality to the development and prosperity of the countries concerned and the world at large.

The Silk Road Economic Belt is to be established along the ancient Silk Road trade route, stretching northwest from China’s coastal area through Central Asia, the Middle East and on to Europe, while the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will run through the country’s south to Southeast Asia.

Echoing with the concepts of the initiative, the show is expected to act as a symbol of cultural exchanges, Xie Nan, executive director of the drama told Xinhua, adding that he hopes it can help to deliver China’s friendliness and passion to the whole world on the UN’s platform.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Chronology of China’s “Belt and Road” initiatives

By Li Yan

China prioritized tasks for the future of the “Belt and Road” initiatives during the Conference to Promote the Construction of the Belt and Road on February 1.

The list of planned actions includes consultations with countries involved, construction of international economic cooperation corridors and ports, as well as infrastructure projects.

The Silk Road Economic Belt is to be established along the ancient Silk Road trade route, stretching northwest from China’s coastal area through Central Asia, the Middle East and on to Europe, while the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will run through the country’s south to Southeast Asia.

The following are the major events in the development of China’s “Belt and Road” initiatives so far.

September 2013 — The “Silk Road Economic Belt” concept was initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Kazakhstan. In a speech delivered at Nazarbayev University, Xi suggested that China and Central Asia join hands to build a Silk Road Economic Belt to boost cooperation. It was the first time Chinese leadership mentioned the strategic vision.

October 3, 2013 — President Xi Jinping proposed to build a more closely-knit China-ASEAN community following a common destiny and provided guidance for constructing a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to promote maritime cooperation. In his speech at the Indonesian parliament, Xi also proposed to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to finance infrastructure construction and promote regional interconnectivity and economic integration.

November 2013 — The Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), a milestone along China’s reform path, called for accelerating the interconnection of infrastructure among neighboring countries, and facilitating the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

December 2013 — President Xi Jinping urged strategic planning of the “Belt and Road” initiatives to promote the interconnection of infrastructure and build a community of common interests at the annual Central Economic Work Conference.

February 2014 — President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, reached a consensus about the construction of the “Belt and Road”, as well as its connection with Russia’s Euro-Asia Railways.

March 2014 — Premier Li Keqiang highlighted acceleration in building the “Belt and Road” in the government work report. The report also promoted balanced development of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

May 2014 — The first phase of a logistics terminal jointly built by China and Kazakhstan went into operation in the port of Lianyungang in east China’s Jiangsu Province. The terminal, with a total investment of 606 million yuan (98 million U.S. dollars), is seen as a platform for goods from central Asian countries to go overseas and a boost to the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

October 2014 — Twenty-one Asian countries willing to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as founding members signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing AIIB. As agreed, Beijing will be the host city for AIIB’s headquarters. The 21 countries are Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. It is expected that AIIB will be formally established by the end of 2015.

November 2014 — President Xi Jinping announced China will accelerate the construction of the “Belt and Road” and strengthen cooperation with the countries involved. When presiding over the eighth meeting of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, Xi announced that China will contribute 40 billion U.S. dollars to set up the Silk Road Fund. During the Beijing APEC meetings, Xi announced that the fund will be used to provide investment and financing support to carry out infrastructure, resources, industrial cooperation, financial cooperation and other projects related to connectivity for countries along the “Belt and Road”.

December 2014 — The Central Economic Work Conference sketched out priorities for the coming year, which include the implementation of “Belt and Road” initiatives. Earlier in the month, Thailand approved a draft memorandum of understanding between Thailand and China on railway cooperation.

January 2015 – The number of AIIB founding members, many of whom are important countries along the Silk Road routes, rose to 26, after New Zealand, Maldives, Saudi Arabia and Tajikistan officially joined.

February 1, 2015 — A conference focused on the “Belt and Road” initiatives was held in which Chinese leaders sketched out priorities for the initiatives, highlighting transport infrastructure building, investment and trade facilitation, financial cooperation and cultural exchanges.

 

 

 

 

 

NEW PLYMOUTH

>>  New Zealand volunteer charts rising global contribution of young Chinese

By John Macdonald

China’s Generation Y the so-called millennial children born the early 1980s to the early 2000s are coming of age as a generation and helping to create a better world, according to one of New Zealand’ s leading global entrepreneurs.

Dan Radcliffe, executive director of the world’s biggest volunteer tourism agency, told Xinhua that China has now become the industry’s biggest growth market as a new generation combine seeing the world with helping others.

His firm, International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), matches travelers with volunteer work programs that are mostly run in developing countries around the world.

IVHQ had seen business from China surge by about 300 percent since starting a campaign on Chinese social media last year, he said.

GIVING BACK

“While we’re seeing Chinese travel internationally and across the board, they’re also doing that in volunteer travel so they’re also looking to travel abroad and help out in places and give back as part of their traveling,” Radcliffe said in an interview in his company base in the North Island city of New Plymouth.

“Ninety-five percent are aged 18 to 25 it’s that younger generation coming through. They are reasonably altruistic so for all the tough time that Generation Y get, they are actually a generation that is quite into giving back and thinking a little bit more than just about themselves,” he said.

“I think it bodes really well for China that we’re seeing this younger generation of Chinese starting to come through and starting to give back while they’re traveling, that they’re willing to travel and volunteer internationally.”

Last year, about 700 Chinese signed up for volunteer travel packages far short of the 8,000 from the United States but Radcliffe said IVHQ was aiming for 1,000 Chinese this year.

GAP IN MARKET

The most popular destinations for the Chinese volunteers were Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bali (Indonesia), Thailand and Cambodia, and they mostly worked on volunteer programs for one to two weeks.

“They’re doing a combination of work. They’re doing childcare working in childcare facilities such as day care centers, creches, orphanages, after-school care centers. They’re also teaching,” said Radcliffe.

“The construction and wildlife programs are also really popular with Chinese working with turtles, with the elephant program in Sri Lanka wildlife conservation is really popular.”

Radcliffe, 31, holds a masters degree in finance and management and started his working life at a finance firm, but he ditched this job three days after deciding the corporate life was not for him.

He joined a volunteer program in Kenya while he decided what to do next and he spotted a gap in the market.

He set up IVHQ while living with his parents on their farm outside New Plymouth in 2007 and since then it has helped almost 40,000 volunteers find work in 26 countries.

Last year he was named New Zealand’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the awards sponsored by global accounting giant Ernst & Young.

UNIQUE CHALLENGE

But China, said Radcliffe, was proving a surprisingly unique market for IVHQ.

The company offered one volunteer program in China, which involved childcare and teaching in Xi’an, the capital of northwestern Shaanxi Province.

“China’s the only country we see where people travel within that country on our volunteer programs we don’t see it in any other country in the world,” said Radcliffe.

He attributed that to the vast size of China and many Chinese still wanting to travel within their own country, as well as to possible language barriers.

“The biggest challenge we have is around their level of English. A lot of the programs require a basic level of English, or Spanish in the South American programs, to participate,” he said.

“On the whole, they’re really good workers and they make a big contribution to the countries they travel in.”

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Chinese state councilor to attend Munich Security Conference

By Yang Yijun

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi will attend the 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Germany and visit Algeria, Zimbabwe and Uganda from February 6 to 11.

Yang is invited by MSC Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger and the governments of Algeria, Zimbabwe and Uganda, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement released Thursday night.

 

 

 

 

 

BANGKOK

>>  Thai PM meets with Chinese security official

By Zhang Chunxiao

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o- cha met with Meng Jianzhu, a senior Chinese security official here on Thursday of February 5.

Meng, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and a special envoy of President Xi Jinping, conveyed an oral message from Xi to Prayut.

As the two countries are about to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties this year, China is willing to maintain close high-level exchanges with Thailand, strengthen strategic dialogue, and steadily promote bilateral cooperation in key areas including railway, trade, energy and education, Meng noted.

The two countries have conducted fruitful cooperation in law enforcement and security in the Mekong River basin, based on which China is willing to deepen information exchanges and pragmatic cooperation with Thailand in drug control, transnational organized crimes and cyber security, establish a comprehensive cooperation mechanism and jointly cope with global and regional security challenges, Meng added.

Prayut expressed gratitude toward President Xi’s message and asked Meng to convey his best wishes. He said that the two countries should take the opportunity of the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic ties and vigorously boost bilateral cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure construction and tourism.

Thailand is grateful to China for its support for its reform and development, Prayut said, adding Thailand will actively participate in the China-proposed initiative of building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Thailand wishes to further its collaboration with China in the area of security, he said.

During his visit, Meng also met with Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and other Thai political leaders.

 

 

 

 

 

HANOI

>>  China consumes nearly 57 pct of Vietnamese coal in 2014

By Zhang Jianhua

China continued to be the largest importer of Vietnamese coal in 2014 consuming 56.9 percent of the total export volume, said Vietnam Industry and Trade Information Center (VITIC) under the Ministry of Industry and trade on Thursday of February 5.

In 2014, Vietnam exported 4.1 million tons of coal to China, earning 244 million U.S. dollars, down 58.05 percent in volume and 58.15 percent in value year-on-year.

China was followed by South Korea on the list of top coal importers of Vietnam. South Korea bought 1.3 million tons of coal from Vietnam worth 92.4 million U.S. dollars, up 23.72 percent in volume and 12.36 percent in value year-on-year.

In 2014, Vietnam witnessed drop in exports of coal in over half of its markets. The sharpest fall could be seen in coal exports to Malaysia with a drop of 81.03 percent in volume and 82 percent in value year-on-year, said VITIC on its website on Thursday.

Meanwhile, exports of Vietnamese coal to Indonesia saw remarkable year-on-year hikes with 402.19 percent in volume and 198.41 percent in value. The country earned 12.3 million U.S. dollars from exporting 151,600 tons of coal to Indonesia in 2014.

Last year, Vietnam sold 7.2 million tons of coal abroad to pocket 556.4 million U.S. dollars, down 43.25 percent in volume and 39.25 percent in value year-on-year, reported VITIC.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China announces first head of permanent mission to AU

By Pan Jie

China on Thursday of February 5 announced that Kuang Weilin has been appointed the first head of its permanent mission to the African Union (AU).

Kuang, a veteran diplomat, told a press briefing that the mission to AU headquarters in Addis Ababa will open soon.

“The mission will have political, economic, cultural, peace and security departments, which will benefit comprehensive cooperation and exchange between China and the AU,” Kuang said.

Since 2005, the Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia has also been the representative to the AU. The establishment of the mission was announced during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to AU headquarters in May 2014.

“China is ready to strengthen cooperation with the AU to push the new China-Africa strategic partnership to a new high,” Kuang said.

Kuang will explore new channels of cooperation such as poverty alleviation and human resource development, while advancing the AU as the central strand of the China-Africa relations.

The sixth ministerial conference of the forum on China-Africa cooperation will be held in the fourth quarter in South Africa and map out China-Africa cooperation for the coming three years.

Kuang, began his career in the Foreign Ministry in 1982, and has worked in China’s missions to Britain, the United Nations and the United States, and was ambassador to Sierra Leone.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Chinese vice premier meets IMF senior official

By Yang Yijun

Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai on Thursday of February 5 met with David Lipton, the first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

They exchanged views on the current global economic situation, reform of the IMF, as well as enhancing China-IMF cooperation.

Ma and Lipton had meetings in Beijing in May 2013 and June 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China political advisors’ proposals take effect

By Zuo Yuanfeng

A huge proportion of proposals raised by China’s political advisors last year for improved policy making have been accepted or responded to, said the country’s national political advisory body.

About 5,052 out of 6,101 proposals raised since the second session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) held in March 2014 were deemed useful and passed over to authorities, said Sun Gan, chief of the subcommittee for handling proposals of the CPPCC National Committee, at a press conference.

Among all proposals filed for further handling, about 99.84 percent received feedback or were accepted.

Nearly 1,500 of them are about economic development or ecologic protection, some 1,100 concerned comprehensive reform and more than 800 were on improving the rule of law, according to Sun.

Also, more than 1,000 proposals concern people’s livelihoods, mainly on education, health care, housing and employment. The remaining 600 focused on ethnic work, religion, national defense and the work related to Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and overseas Chinese.

“Last year’s proposals have been handled with improved efficiency, with many suggestions and ideas adopted and implemented,” Sun said, citing that 20.6 percent of all proposals handled have been solved or accepted and 63.8 percent are in the process of being solved or adopted.

The rest mostly involved far-sighted plans that cannot be implemented in the short term, and departments responsible for carrying out them have fully explained the situation to those who made the proposal, Sun added.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China’s first circuit courts in full operations

By Zuo Yuanfeng

Two circuit courts recently inaugurated by China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) have experienced huge demand with staff working full-time to work with visitors filing lawsuits.

The two courts, one in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen opened on January 28 and one in Shenyang, capital of northeast China’s Liaoning Province, on January 31, aim to bring justice to the doorsteps of ordinary people.

According to an SPC statement released Thursday, on February 2, their first official workday, the Shenzhen court received 79 parties involved in various cases while the Shenyang court interviewed 54 people.

“In order to relieve reception pressure, both courts took immediate actions to send in extra staff to guide visitors and communicate with them,” the statement said, adding that appointments were made via phone with those failing to get a chance to file in their requests.

“Court workers maintained meticulous, elaborate and discreet communications with visitors in a bid to ensure their right to appeal. No disorder was reported at either court,” it added.

The establishment of the circuit courts, seen as a crucial step in China’s judicial reform, aimed to help the public file cases in local communities and get their disputes solved more quickly and locally. They will also free up the SPC headquarters to concentrate on judicial policies and try more complex cases.

The two courts, whose locations were chosen for the two regions’ advanced economic status and greater demands for judicial trials, will primarily handle major administrative, civil and commercial cases filed locally and from neighboring regions.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China’s graft-busters reveal corruption in state-owned firms

By Wang Di

China’s anti-corruption watchdog on Thursday of February 5 described collusion between business figures and officials and corruption in state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) launched the third round of inspection for 2014 in November, targeting major SOEs, including China State Shipbuilding Corporation, China Unicom, China Huadian Corporation, Dongfeng Motor Corporation, Shenhua Group and Sinopec.

The CCDI said some officials with China Unicom “collude with contractors or suppliers, using their power to seek money or sex” in a statement released on its official website.

According to the latest inspection results, certain leaders of energy company Shenhua Group manipulate their power in the coal trade to gain “black gold”.

Other issues including buying and selling of official positions, wining and dining at public expense, and helping relatives open business to obtain illegal profits, were discovered in China Huadian Corporation, Dongfeng Motor Corporation and other enterprises.

Apart from SOEs, other state organizations were targeted in the third round: the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, China Association for Science and Technology, All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce and China Radio International.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the CCDI has carried out five rounds of inspections.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China pledges to promote well-being of disabled people

By Cheng Zhuo

The Chinese central government has issued a new document aiming to promote the well-being of the country’s 85 million disabled people.

Issued by the State Council, the document was published on the government website, www.gov.cn, on Thursday of February 5.

It said China will take measures to better their livelihoods and employment opportunities while ensuring public services for disabled people to allow them a prosperous life at the earliest date.

It pledged to better social assistance, allowance, pension and basic medicare insurance programs for the disabled and help both the individual and their families in employment to increase their income.

The document urged to reinforcement of services for disability prevention and rehabilitation. The government will formulate an action plan to prevent disabilities and improve its basic public health services to control the incidence or development of disabilities caused by genetic factors, diseases, accidental injuries and environment, the document said.

The government will work to promote education among the handicapped and make special education available for disabled preschoolers, it noted.

It said construction of public infrastructure will be intensified to provide rehabilitation and services for the disabled. Public libraries should be encouraged to set up reading rooms equipped with braille books or audio devices for visually impaired people.

The government will further advance the construction of barrier-free facilities at public venues such as government institutions, schools, community centers and public transport. Construction of such facilities in rural areas will also be expanded, according to the document.

It noted that social charities and volunteers should also be encouraged to take part in helping the disabled people, urging development of industries of services for this group.

China has about 85 million disabled people, with 12.3 million of them living below the poverty line in rural areas while 2.6 million of them are urbanites classified as having “life difficulties.”

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Gaokao shake-up gives students choice of subjects

By Fang Ning and Zhao Wanwei

Students in central Beijing will soon be allowed choice in their subjects for the first time, under a scheme announced by the city’s education commission on Thursday of February 5.

The pilot scheme, to be launched in nearly 100 schools in Dongcheng District when the new semester begins in September, will see primary- and secondary-school students choose subjects to study alongside their regular compulsory classes.

They will be able to take the classes in any of the schools involved, and in any grade according to their ability, said the commission.

In a shake-up of China’s controversial college entrance exam system, the “gaokao”, the students involved in the pilot will have their scores in their chosen courses considered in a “comprehensive academic assessment” that will replace the exam as the main evaluation reference for college enrolment, according to a blueprint for education reform in Beijing.

You Na, deputy head of the Education Commission in Dongcheng, said that the list of subjects open to students will include sciences, art and sports.

One school day each week will be freed up for students to take their chosen classes. The curricula of the classes in every school will be available on the commission’s website, You explained.

Beijing’s education commission will oversee the establishment of a body responsible for assessing students’ performance in their chosen classes.

The gaokao has been criticised as an academic treadmill that confines students’ creativity and interests.

In December, China’s Ministry of Education announced measures to reform the national exam, asking universities not to base their selection of candidates purely on the tests of students on math, Chinese and English, but on their broader academic achievement, as well as morality standards, physical health, artistic ability and their social practices.

Also in December, a number of high schools in east China’s Zhejiang Province and Shanghai announced that they would allow senior students to select from classes including politics, history, geography, physics, chemistry and life sciences, and have their scores in three of these subjects included in their gaokao scores.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Beijing’s public transit on the “smart” way

By Zhong Qun and Ding Jing

Functions of Beijing’s public transportation card will soon be incorporated in a wearable device, as local authorities aim to adapt to the “smart” era.

Working with a local technology company, the Beijing Municipal Transportation Card Co. Ltd, which issues the city’s transit cards, will allow the card functions to be incorporated in a wrist strap, which can be connected to mobile phones wirelessly.

Passengers can charge their cards and inquire about their card balance via their mobile phones, saving them the time spent waiting in long queues at ticketing offices.

In addition to public transit, the device’s paying function will extend to supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, vending machines and restaurants.

The strap, which will be available following the Chinese Lunar New Year, will also help monitor the user’s health status, and provide suggestions based on the statistics it obtains.

The strap will be priced at 168 yuan (26.9 U.S. dollars), and a subsidy program will also be implemented to reward passengers who prefer walking to taking public transports.

The “smart” move is expected to be rolled out in more than 400 cities in the country in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

URUMQI

>>  Cave tombs discovered in Xinjiang

By Cao Bing and Xu Li

Chinese archaeologists have identified a cliff cave burial site in Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County on the Pamirs Plateau in farwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Three cave tombs were found in high cliffs in the county after a region-wide heritage survey in 2014, said Ai Tao from the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute.

Besides human bones, infant corpses were found sealed inside niches in the walls and covered by rocks or earth.

Ai said such a custom was rare in China, but local Tashkurgans did bury stillborn babies in this way until a few decades ago.

A cluster of 102 tombs, 40 percent of which were made for infants, were unearthed in nearby Kezilesu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture in 2013.

It is believed that cave burial, which can also be found in China’s southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou, was practiced as far back as 4,000 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China Telecom eyes 100 mln 4G customers in 2015

By Rong Jiaojiao and Gao Kang

China Telecom, one of China’s biggest phone companies, expects to have 100 million new 4G customers in 2015.

China Telecom ranked second in the 3G and 4G markets in December by taking 20.5 percent of the market share, general manager Yang Jie told a meeting on Thursday of February 5.

China’s 4G users topped 90 million at the end of December, almost a year after 4G licenses were issued to China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The 4G licenses allow the use of homegrown Time-Division Long-Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology. TD-LTE is one of two major international standards in mobile telecommunication technology.

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  China sees difficulty in bloated steel industry in 2015

By Zhang Xinxin and Cheng Jing

China’s bloated steel industry will continue to experience tough times this year despite years of government efforts to address overcapacity in the sector, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Thursday of February 5.

“Overcapacity in the steel industry can hardly improve, the steelmakers’ profitability is hardly positive, and the market will remain weak,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The Chinese government has been at pains to digest production gluts from an investment boom spawned by generous subsidies in the past that saw producers in “favored” sectors, including steel, expand rapidly with little regard for real market demand.

To gradually solve the problem, a ban of new projects in steel, cement, electrolytic aluminum, flat glass and shipbuilding industries before 2017, and a gradually elimination of existing substandard projects are underway.

But the ministry said with previous construction projects still in operation, crude steel output may continue to rise in 2015.

Earlier data showed China produced 823 million tonnes of crude steel last year, up 0.9 percent. The China Steel Price Index stood at 83.1 at the end of December, down 16.2 percent year on year.

 

 

 

 

 

ZHENJIANG

>>  Zhang Jike, Ma Long to fight for one ticket for 2015 table tennis worlds

By Su Bin and Wang Hengzhi

Three months after their World Cup singles final, Chinese star paddlers Zhang Jike and Ma Long will fight for the second ticket through men’s team scrimmage for 2015 World Table Tennis Championships.

In the men’s World Cup singles final in Dusseldorf last October, Zhang edged Ma in the seven-game thriller, before he controversially put his foot through two plates around the court.

Zhang kept his hot momentum in Thursday’s quarterfinals and semifinals, where he beat Hao Shuai and Fang Bo in five-game matches.

“Two five-game matches against Hao and Fang. We all played at a high level today,” said Zhang. [ The result of another semifinal between Ma Long and Xu Xin went beyond some people’s expectation, where Ma saw a comfortable 3-0 win over Xu.

Fan Zhendong has got the first ticket among Chinese boys for the worlds through stage one of scrimmage here.

In the women’s matches, after beating Chen Meng 3-1, world No. 1 Ding Ning will meet Mu Zi in Friday’s finals. Mu Zi beat Feng Yalan 3-0 in another semifinal.

“As the match went on, I became more and more aggresive. I was satisfied with my play today,” said Ding.

 

 

 

 

 

GUANGZHOU

>>  One more H7N9 case reported in China’s Guangdong

By Han Xiaojing and Xiao Sisi

The number of H7N9 human cases in south China’s Guangdong Province reached 34 since the start of the year with one more case reported, local health authorities said on Thursday of February 5.

A 51-year-old man surnamed Jiang in Guangdong’s Shenzhen city was confirmed infected with the bird flu on Wednesday, the provincial health and family planning commission said in a statement. The man is in critical condition.

Health experts have warned Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong, has entered the high-incidence period for bird flu, which usually crops up in winter and spring seasons.

A series of human infection reports and the belief that most cases come from exposure to infected poultry have led to the culling of thousands of chickens in Guangdong and Hong Kong this year.

Several cities in Guangdong have also taken measures to restrict live poultry trade to curb the spread of the disease, raising concerns about the impact on the industry.

In addition to Guangdong, Shanghai, Fujian, Jiangxi and Zhejiang in east China have all reported human cases of H7N9 this winter.

H7N9 is a bird flu strain first reported to have infected humans in March 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

XI’AN

>>  Fourth panda dies from virus in NW China

By Li Hua and Li Baojie

A fourth giant panda died in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province on Wednesday of February 4 from canine distemper virus (CDV).

The panda, 6-year-old Feng Feng, died from heart failure after days of treatment, Shaanxi rescue, breeding and research center for rare wild animals said in a statement.

The virus affects a wide variety of animals including dogs, primates and large cats. Feng Feng was diagnosed on Dec. 26 and fell into a coma on Jan. 8.

Three giant panda in the center have died from the virus since December. Another four have recovered and no more are infected.

CDV affects the gastrointestinal system, the respiratory tract and central nervous system. Infected animals usually exhibit symptoms that include coughing, diarrhea, eye inflammation, fever, lethargy and vomiting. It is very contagious with a high fatality rate and usually commonly spread through contact with infected body fluids or contaminated food and water.

Prior to the epidemic, the center was home to 25 giant panda. After the outbreak, the center sent its healthy pandas to reserves elsewhere in the province.

Giant pandas are one of the world’s most endangered species. About 1,600 of the animals live in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, south west China, while more than 300 live in captivity.

 

 

 

 

 

SHANGHAI

>>  2.4 tonnes of crystal meth seized in China

By Han Xiaojing and Zhu Hong

Shanghai police have busted a drug gang operating in Shanghai and south China’s Guangdong Province, with about 2.4 tonnes of methamphetamine seized, Shanghai police said on Thursday of February 5.

The biggest drug seizure by Shanghai police ever led to the arrest of 28 suspects. A huge methamphetamine lab has been broken up and a large amount of raw materials and equipment seized. Two guns, four vehicles and 1.5 million yuan (240,000 U.S. dollars) were also seized, police said.

In August last year, Shanghai police began tracking a man called Hu from central China’s Hunan Province who was known to sell drugs in Shanghai and Guangdong. On Jan. 20, police arrested three suspects and found 40 kilograms of methamphetamine in Shanghai. The whole gang was taken down in Guangdong on Jan. 30.

 

 

 

 

 

GUANGZHOU

>>  Over 10 trapped in fire-ravaged China marketplace

By Wang Pan, Ma Xiaocheng and Li Baojie

More than ten people were believed to remain trapped in a wholesale market that had been ravaged by fire in south China’s Guangdong Province on Thursday afternoon of February 5, witnesses said.

The fire broke out at about 1:51 p.m. in a warehouse on the top floor of a four-story small merchandise wholesale market in Huidong County, the county government said in a statement.

It said 120 local fire fighters with 20 fire engines arrived soon at the site and later another 150 fire fighters from nearby cities joined the rescue operation.

The fire had been put under control by 7:35 p.m. to prevent it from spreading to nearby buildings.

Fire fighters have rescued five people after storming into the fire site three times. During the rescue operation, four fire fighters were injured, including one in serious condition.

The rescued recounted that more than 10 people were trapped in a cinema on the fourth floor. The rescue operation for the trapped is under way.

As the fire has ravaged almost all the fourth floor, experts said the marketplace runs against the risk of collapse after on-the-site evaluation.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING

>>  Passenger dies after falling on subway track in Beijing

By Wang Jian, Ding Jing and Lu Guoqiang

A passenger died after falling on the track at a subway station in Beijing on Thursday morning of February 5, the rail authority said.

The accident happened at 10:42 a.m. at Muxidi Station on Subway Line 1. The train attempted an emergency stop and the passenger was lifted onto the platform, according to the subway company.

Transportation on the line resumed as of 10:55 a.m.

The cause and details of the accident are still unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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