China issues more airline pilot licenses









>>  China’s “two sessions” to look for further reform under new normal: experts

By Gao Pan

The much-anticipated annual parliamentary sessions of China, dubbed as “two sessions”, is expected to lay a foundation for further reforms as the world’s second-largest economy actively adapts to the “new normal” of slower growth but higher quality economy, experts say.

As the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the top legislature, and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top political advisory body, will kick off Tuesday, China’s economic policy and implementation of the reform agenda is watched closely by experts from around the world.

This year is “particularly important” because it marks the final year of China’s twelfth five-year plan, Scott Kennedy, deputy director of the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank, told Xinhua.

“They (Chinese policymakers) need to come to sum some conclusions about how successful the twelfth five-year plan has been and think about the goals of the thirteenth five-year plan, which will be published next spring when they hold the Fourth Plenum of the NPC,” Kennedy added.

As a leading expert on Chinese business and political economy, Kennedy said he usually looks at four things during the “two sessions” to grasp a general picture of China’s political and economic landscape – the personnel, general discussions about the economic policy, proposals being considered by the NPC and foreign policies.

The focus would be on economic policies whereas there would be no major changes in other three areas, Kennedy said. “I expect this NPC meeting to focus on the efforts to bring the debt problem under control, and lay the foundation for additional reforms, and encouragement for pushing reforms out this year to have implemented,” he said.

Kennedy believed China will stick to the reform agenda although the country’s economic growth rate fell to a 24-year low of 7.4 percent last year. “I think the government’s primary focus is implementing economic reforms, not just simply making people feel less pessimistic in the short term. If you overstep addressing the growth concerns now, that makes it harder for general economic reforms.”

“I also hope that the government moves more quickly to implement important reforms,” David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, another U.S. think tank, told Xinhua. “The moves in 2014 to simplify business registration have helped. These could be complemented by efforts to open up the service sectors to international trade and investment.”

Dollar said he didn’t expect Chinese government to announce a new big stimulus program at the upcoming “two sessions”, because “that would spur investment and create more problems of debt and over-capacity”.

The Chinese leadership has pinned much hope on more decisive reforms to counter the downward pressure on its economy, which is transitioning to a “new normal” of slower growth but higher quality.

“I don’t think we’ll see a high economic growth rate this year. We’re seeing estimates between 6.5 percent and 7.3 percent. I think that’s probably a reasonable range,” Kennedy said of China’s economic growth forecast.

Saying farewell to the “old normal” of over three decades of miraculous double-digit growth, experts still believe that China will continue to function as a vital ballast for the world economy.

“Even with lower economic growth, China will be such a profound presence that it’s hard to imagine some degree of change that really undermines their centrality in the global economic future,” Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.

Looking back at last year’s reforms, Kennedy said one of the challenges is that there were so many to do, and Chinese policymakers had a hard time prioritizing them. “They have done a little bit of everything.”

Kennedy said he expected China to take the local government financing reform as the top priority this year if policymakers want to really focus on one of the reforms compared with others.

In terms of his personal impression of China’s “two sessions”, Kennedy said it does reflect some amount of engagement with broader Chinese society, and it’s a useful exercise to force the government to go through the process. “It’s a good measuring stick. You can see the votes by members for different reports to go up and down.”

“It does provide some barometer on the performance of the government. But it could become much more influential if they could meet more often and reform other elements of the NPC system, and its relations with the State Council and the party,” he said.








>>  China ends Security Council presidency after fulfilling tight agenda

By Shi Xiaomeng

China on Saturday  of February 28 officially concluded its presidency of the Security Council for February after fulfilling a tight agenda, passing it on to France.

This month the Security Council held 35 meetings to consider over 20 agenda items, including Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and Ukraine, with seven resolutions adopted and two presidential statements as well as 15 press statements issued.

Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the UN, noted in his end-of-presidency briefing that there was a move this month to encourage members to be more focused on analyzing the situations, pinpointing the problems and finding solutions to these key problems. The move aims to use the council time more efficiently and throw in the weight of the Council behind solutions.

Also in February, China held the 70th anniversary themed debate, “Maintaining international peace and security: Reflect on history, reaffirm the strong commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The Security Council presidency rotates monthly among members. France will serve presidency in March.

In March, the Council will hold an open debate on children and armed conflict and a briefing on cooperation between the EU and UN.








>>  Chinese diplomat clarifies China’s policy on N. Myanmar conflict

By Yang Yijun

A senior Chinese diplomat on Sunday of March 1 clarified China’s policy toward its neighbor Myanmar since conflict in northern Myanmar has triggered rumors.

In a written interview with Xinhua, Kong Xuanyou, director-general of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, denied any Chinese local authorities’ involvement in the conflict.

China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, Kong said.

No organization or person using Chinese territory would be allowed to undermine the China-Myanmar relationship and stability in border areas, according to Kong.

He stressed that China respects Myanmar’s sovereignty, territorial integrity.

The conflict near the border areas has had an impact on China’s border control and social security, Kong said, noting that the two countries maintain close contacts in various levels in dealing with the issue.

He called on relevant parties to achieve a nationwide ceasefire through peace talks to create favorable environment for national development.

Mutual understanding and respect are significant in the China-Myanmar friendship, Kong said, affirming that China will stick to its current policy toward Myanmar and is willing to make joint efforts to implement consensus between the two countries’ leaders on partnership.

China is also willing to work with Myanmar to ensure the peace, friendship, development and cooperation of their border areas, to create better conditions for the two peoples’ livelihood and economic, social development, according to Kong.








>>  Kenyan official hails China’s ban on ivory carvings imports

By Deng Yaomin

China’s one-year ban on imports of African ivory carvings will boost the fight against wildlife crimes in Kenya, a senior wildlife official said late on Saturday of February 28.

Julius Cheptei, an assistant director at Kenya Wildlife Service, said China’s decision to ban on imports of ivory carvings marked a significant milestone in the fight against poaching of elephants.

“The recent ban by the Chinese government is a strategic decision that will rejuvenate the fight against poaching in the country and the region. We have been inspired by China’s global stewardship to stem wildlife crimes,” Cheptei told Xinhua.

He spoke on Saturday evening at the United Nations offices in Nairobi during a major concert to sensitize the public on the value of protecting elephants.

The Chinese government on Thursday announced a one-year ban on imports of African ivory carvings in a bid to protect African elephants whose survival is at stake due to poaching and environmental pressures.

The wildlife official said that China has supported anti- poaching initiatives that have borne fruits.

“Sino-Kenya cooperation in wildlife protection is blossoming. Both the Chinese and Kenyan political leaders have agreed on the need to forge cooperation to strengthen the fight against poaching, ” Cheptei said.

China has supported Kenya’s wildlife agency with state-of-the- art equipment to enhance its capacity to combat poaching.

Cheptei said that the equipment donated by the Chinese Embassy in Kenya to the wildlife agency in August last year has contributed to a 50 percent reduction in elephant poaching.

“We are witnessing greater political commitment from China to help us eradicate poaching. Other bilateral partners should follow suit to end this menace,” Cheptei remarked, adding China’s import ban on ivory will revitalize global response to wildlife crimes across Sub-Saharan Africa.








>>  Japanese rightists’ denial of Nanjing Massacre devoid of humanity

By Liu Tian

It is inhumane that a Japanese rightist daily recently released a four-day reports in which it denies the occurrence of the horrendous Nanjing Massacre during WWII, at a time when the world gears up to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

In attempt to deny the massacre, the Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese rightist loudspeaker, rabbled several Japanese veterans, who claimed to be in the then Chinese capital after its fall in 1937.

With the headline “An empty city with no army or resident” and the subject heading “No people, no massacre,” the paper even flammed that the captured city was “so peaceful”, quoting the few veterans.

Its outrageous subversion of the ironclad historical facts, which have been repeatedly proved by the international community, has impudently stripped the dignity of over 300,000 Chinese victims massacred in Nanjing by Japanese invaders.

In fact, it is not the first time the newspaper has released such disgraceful stories. It recently carried a column praising apartheid policy as a reference for Japan’s immigration issue, drawing protest from South Africa. Besides, last year it ran a deplorable anti-Semitic advertisement and was later forced to apologized for it.

Worse still, Tomomi Inada, policy chief of Japan’s ruling party, questioned on Thursday the legal basis of the Tokyo Tribunal, which described the atrocities committed in Nanjing as an unprecedentedly brutal record in modern history, based on abundant testimonies and material evidence.

It is utterly regrettable that many ultra-right-wing politicians and figures like Inada, who denies the occurrence of the Nanjing Massacre, and president of Japan’s public broadcaster NHK Katsuto Momii, who doubts the comfort women issue, are becoming increasingly powerful and influential under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration.

The international community has hailed the pacifist road Japan pursued in the postwar period, with its high-ranking officials reiterating the point and admitting that it has been based on profound remorse for the war.

However, notable foreign leaders and authorities have urged Japan to conduct a thorough self-examination on the whitewash of its wartime history by rightists, including Abe, a well-known historical revisionist reluctant to uphold previous and internationally-accepted official statements to offer an apology to China and other invaded countries.

It is high time for the Japanese government to stop any right-wing speeches which undermines Japan’s reputation in the international arena. Compared to European countries, Japan has been left far behind on the crackdown of attempts trying to whitewash or deny its war crimes.

Japan should learn that it is not about freedom of speech, but about the protection of and respect for human dignity.

For starters, the Abe administration should abandon its attempts to gloss over past villainies and stop Japan from sliding further along an alarmingly right-leaning and even militaristic path.

Tomiichi Murayama, then prime minister who offered the benchmark apology for Japan’s wartime atrocities in 1995, warned Saturday that if Japan breaches its commitment to reflecting its wartime past, it will lose credit worldwide and face isolation internationally.








>>  Chinese diplomat refutes opinions on China’s coming war with Asia

By Sun Yi

Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Qu Xing has recently said that there would be no logic to put the core interests and peaceful development against each other, refuting some scholar’s opinions on so-called China’s coming war with Asia.

Qu made the remarks in a face-to-face debate on Friday of February 27 at a launch event of the book “China’s Coming War with Asia,” which was written by a Belgian scholar Jonathan Holslag.

“Since the gist of the book is about whether China’s core interests are compatible with its idea of peaceful development, we should first and foremost make clear about what China’s core interests are,” he said.

He said that China has a clear definition in its “White Paper on China’s peaceful development”of its core interests, namely, “state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity and national reunification, China’s political system established by the Constitution and overall social stability, and the basic safeguards for ensuring sustainable economic and social development.”

No country in the world would tolerate infringements from foreign countries on their sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, the constitutional system and social stability, he said, arguing that otherwise, no country in the world will be able to achieve peaceful development.

Moreover, Qu also refuted the author’s illogical allegation that China’s territorial disputes with some neighbors would be the “danger from where war will arise.”

“Since Professor Holslag studies diplomatic history of China, he should know that in 1949 when the CPC replaced Kuomintang as the ruling party, China had territorial disputes with all its neighbors on lands. The PRC government has managed to settle disputes peacefully through diplomatic negotiations with 12 neighbors out of 14 in total,” he said, adding that “there is no proof in history to say that China is not able to resolve territorial disputes but will have to resort to war.”

“No matter from the perspective, either historical facts or from China’s position over disputed territory, it will be too arbitrary to argue that China’s core interests will inevitably cause conflict with neighboring countries, let alone with Asia,” he said.

Qu also added that the situation in Asia is more peaceful and stable than many other regions in the world, and the economic cooperation between China and other Asian countries are more effective.

For paradigm shift and the tragedy of great power politics, Qu said he was more optimistic than Professor Holslag, as people were living in an age featured by globalization and high-technologies, which is entirely different from the age of World War I and World War II.

“The ‘new type of great power relationship’ which was proposed by President Xi Jinping charts a course where emerging powers and established powers can achieve a win-win scenario through cooperation. Xi Jinping’s initiatives are endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama,” he said.

During the debate, Qu considered the “eye-catching” and “sensational” book title was made in order to have a better promotion of his book, even though the title is far from the truth.

“Therefore, out of pure goodwill, I would suggest Professor Holslag put a question mark to the title when his book will be reprinted for a second edition. It will be a more objective and value free attitude which is the most precious quality of a scholar,” Qu said.

The book launch drew dozens of scholars and officials from both Chinese and European sides. And the author also briefed on the book content during the event.








>>  Xinhua officially launches global social media presence

By Zhang Yi

Xinhua News Agency officially unveiled its global social media presence on Sunday of March 1, after rebranding its Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts under the unified name “New China.”

From today, following a year of testing, Xinhua will share China and world news around the clock on its social media accounts. Content will also include Xinhua photographs and videos.

The social media drive was launched in response to a wider global trend of media transformation.

Xinhua will use these online channels to better communicate the voices of China, while establishing the agency as a figurehead that can respond to the concerns of the international community, a high-level Xinhua executive said.

The three accounts carry the new branding “NC,” which stands for “New China.” The logo’s “N” takes the form of a pen, representing the innovation of the media, while the “C” is shaped like an olive branch, expressing vigor and hope. The two intertwined letters are reminiscent of a belt, alluding to the news agency’s role as a conduit of ideas that bring China and the world together.

As a global media organization, Xinhua must not only develop its traditional business, but also build an “online news agency” to enhance its influence through new media, the executive said.

Xinhua’s global social media accounts are managed by a specialized team of about 100 journalists and editors, who were hand picked from Xinhua’s departments at the organization’s headquarters and bureaus across the world.

Xinhua is China’s official press agency and a global news provider. Headquartered in Beijing, it maintains 31 domestic provincial bureaus and operates about 180 overseas bureaus. Xinhua has built news gathering network across the world.

Follow Xinhua on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube:








>>  Backgrounder: Xinhua’s presence on global social media

By Liang Xizhi

Xinhua News Agency on Sunday of March 1 launched its unified official account “New China” on three overseas social media platforms — Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, releasing news 24 hours a day in English.

With the rise of social media across the world, Xinhua started its presence on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube at the end of 2013, expanding its influence with the help of the platforms and actively exploring the way to promote international communication.

As of January 2015, Xinhua opened a total of 30 accounts in different languages on the three platforms, of which the most influential are the official accounts on Twitter and Facebook, with 1.3 million and 740,000 followers respectively. These accounts have played a role in promoting understanding between China and the outside world.

However, the parallel operation of multiple accounts and the lack of overall planning at the initial stage made it difficult for Xinhua to catch up with the world’s leading media.

Based on the original official accounts, Xinhua decided to pool its resources and operate only one account on each of the three platforms with a new brand “New China” (“Xinhua” literally means “New China” in Chinese) as from March 1, which marks a new phase for Xinhua’s presence on global social media.

Xinhua plans to transform its official accounts into influential news distribution channels, turning them into a flagship of Chinese media on global social media.

Following the launch of the English accounts, Xinhua also plans to open accounts in other languages later.

Xinhua News Agency, founded in 1931, is China’s national news agency as well as a global news and information provider.

Headquartered in Beijing, Xinhua has 31 domestic provincial bureaus and 180 branches overseas, which forms an extensive news gathering network that covers almost all corners of the globe.








>>  Chinese national missing in Nepalese river

By Santhosh Ghimire

A Chinese man has gone missing since late last month when he was rafting in the Kaligandaki river in Nepal’s western Baglung district, police said.

Qu Yang, who is from Beijing, went to Baglung for rafting in the river along with his five fellow countrymen and four Nepalese.

Deputy Inspector General of Nepal Police at the Pokhara-based Western Regional Police Office Pankaj Shrestha said they were making efforts to ascertain his whereabouts.

Of the two Chinese nationals, who were swimming in the river, some 250 km from the capital of Kathmandu, one was able to manage come out, the police officer said.

A team of lifeguards, police and local residents have been launching a search operation.

“There is a slim chance to find him alive; now we are searching his body in the river,” Deputy Inspector General Shrestha told Xinhua over the phone.

The Kaligandaki river is famous for rafting in Nepal. As part of their trip, the Chinese left for rafting in the river through a local company.








>>  China’s fashion creations grace Milan Fashion Week stage

By Marzia de Giuli

Chinese fashion emerging onto the world stage is attracting the attention of international visitors at the ongoing fall-winter 2015-2016 women’s fashion week in Italy’s Milan.

The exhibition “A touch of China fashion,” taking place at the Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle) in the heart of the Italian fashion capital, features 16 Chinese stylists teamed up by ELLE China magazine.

The launch party on Saturday was attended by a number of international guests.

Besides supermodels such as Emma Pei (Pei Bei) and Yin Wang (Wang Zhuxiaoyin) and fashion icons including actress Ady An and it girl Sayo Akasaka there were professionals eager to have a glance at China’s creations.

“I find these models to be cutting-edge, but at the same time they suggest very slightly the Chinese tradition,” an Italian-German advertising producer, Nina Angeleri, told Xinhua while watching the exhibition.

Victor Zhu, Alex Wang, Nicole Lin, Judy Hua and Li Wei were among the stylists on stage.

Asked by ELLE China to design a dress for a contemporary woman who is both feminine but also full of energy, they interpreted the exhibition’s guiding concept of the art of paper cutting with a variety of patterns.

“Some of the used materials, such as silk, as well as the classic cuts of suits remind me of China’s culture, but at the same time I can see a clear touch of modernity in these creations,” Angeleri noted.

Emma Xu, who works for Italian fashion house Ermanno Scervino and came from China to attend the Milan Fashion Week which ends on Monday, said she found it “very familiar” but not surprising to see so many Chinese designers on stage in Milan.

“Chinese stylists are now emerging internationally. Their destination is the global market,” she told Xinhua commenting on the “A touch of China fashion” exhibition.

In fact ELLE China, the first high-end international women’s magazine to enter the Chinese market in 1988, over the years has been steadfast in its support for Chinese designers.

“There is a new generation of promising Chinese stylists. Looking at their creations, you can see they have studied at the best fashion schools in the world,” Valentina De Giorgi, fashion strategy consultant at the Leonor Cypriano Showroom in Milan, told Xinhua.

“I particularly like the approach to the feminine body of Chinese fashion designers. I find they are very able to play with forms and mix up materials to exalt genuine femininity,” she highlighted.

“China has detached itself from the image of being a country typically of manufacture and is showing to the world its desire to emerge onto the fashion stage,” De Giorgi stressed.








>>  Guangzhou Evergrande extend contract with Brazilian strike Elkeson

By Wang Haoming

Brazilian striker Elkeson signed a new four-year contract with Guangzhou Evergrande, the club announced on Sunday of March 1.

The new contract will expire on Feb. 28, 2019.

Elkeson, who joined the Chinese champions in 2012, scored 24 goals to become Chinese Super League (CSL) top scorer in 2013. The Brazilian netted a CSL record 28 goals in 2014 season and won the MVP of the league.

“I am very happy to sign a new contract with Guangzhou, this city is like my home. I will be with you in the next four years and I hope we can win more titles with your support,” the 25-year-old said on the club’s website.








>>  Seasonal flu causes more deaths than 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong

By Jiang Tingting

The number of people dying of seasonal flu in Hong Kong continued to rise, surpassing the death toll from a SARS outbreak in 2003, the Center for Health Protection said on Sunday of March 1.

As of noon, the total number of deaths related to flu stood at 306 adults and one child, with 415 adults and 17 children having required intensive care.

The seasonal flu has stirred worries in Hong Kong, as the epidemic reminded local residents of the SARS outbreak which killed 299 people in 2003.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said the number of flu cases was decreasing, according the data monitored by the Center of Health Protection, but the figures could be misleading.

“The decrease may be a result of less people visiting a doctor during the Lunar New Year,” Ko said on Saturday.

He asked the public not to lower guard against the flu, adding it would take another week or two to determine whether the infection numbers go up again.

The Center of Health Protection urged people to stay vigilant, get vaccinated early, and maintain good personal and environmental hygiene.








>>  HK reports this winter’s first death from H7N9

By Jiang Tingting

A 61-year-old bird-flu patient from Hong Kong died on Sunday of March 1 after contracting the virus during a visit to nearby Guangdong province.

He was Hong Kong’s third confirmed human bird flu case this winter, and the only fatality.

The patient is believed to have caught the H7N9 strain of avian flu after buying freshly-slaughtered chicken from a wet market across the border in the city of Dongguan, Guangdong province.

Another patient, a 69-year-old woman, remains critically ill in hospital. Over 150 human infections have been reported in the mainland since October.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man reminded the public to remain vigilant.

“If any citizens feel unwell after visiting the mainland, they must report to doctors on where they have been, and whether they have had contact with live poultry,” Ko said.








>>  Xi Jinping’s quotes of classics published

By Hu Longjiang

China has published a book featuring President Xi Jinping’s quotations from ancient stories and classics in his speeches and articles.

The compiling of the book was led by Yang Zhenwu, head of the Communist Party of China’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily.

It selected 135 classic stories most quoted by Xi, which also reflected the president’s thoughts on state governance.

The book is suitable for Party and government officials, staff of government-affiliated agencies, teachers and people interested in Chinese classic culture, according to the compilers.








>>  Chinese VP meets women representatives before women’s day

By Hu Longjiang

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao on Sunday of March 1 met with women representatives from various walks of life ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.

Li greeted all Chinese women in a ceremony, calling on them to promote and uphold Chinese family virtues and to continue to contribute to the nation’s rejuvenation.

Vice Premier Liu Yandong also attended the ceremony.








>>  China issues more airline pilot licenses

By Shi Hao and Qian Chunxian

China’s valid licenses to fly civil aircraft grew 12.3 percent to reach 39,881 at the end of 2014, alleviating the lack of airline pilots, official data showed on Sunday of March 1.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a report that most licensed pilots work for airlines, sports clubs or government agencies.

Female pilots increased 45.3 percent to 449 by the end of last year and 2,976 overseas pilots held valid license granted by the CAAC.

Airbus A320 and Boeing737 are the top two aircraft that licensed pilots register to fly.

China is the world’s fastest growing aviation market. Mounting air traffic requires more planes and qualified pilots.








>>  79.8 bln USD infrastructure program begins in Gansu, China

By Lü Qiuping and Wang Heng

A huge infrastructure project kicked off in China’s northwest province of Gansu, which will facilitate trade and people exchanges between China and central Asia.

Though the province does not share its borders with any central Asian countries, it will be an important stretch of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

The six-year, 500-billion-yuan (79.8 billion U.S. dollars) development project will add more than 60,000 kilometers of road, including 4,070 km expressways, and improve the connectivity of the existing transportation network.

The provincial authorities have not released the funding source, but officials told Xinhua local government-backed financing vehicle Gansu Provincial Highway Aviation Tourism Investment Group had invested in the project. Road construction receives fiscal support from the central government.

The province is also expected to build 12 civilian airports in the next six years, expanding the reach of its air service to 82 percent of the province’s population, at 25.57 million in 2010.

Since the third quarter of last year, China’s top economic planner has approved a slew of transportation projects to boost regional connectivity. It also launched a 40 billion U.S dollar fund backed by the country’s foreign reserves to support infrastructure building in countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.








>>  More reforms expected from legislative sessions to bolster growth

By Wang Zichen, Zhang Yi, Li Yunlu and Han Miao

China’s upcoming annual legislative session is expected to see more reforms as economic weakening calls for renewed efforts of reviving growth engines.

A slew of disappointing data at the start of the year — when indices measuring industrial activity, consumer prices and trade for January slumped — resulted in uncertainty weighing on economic sentiment.

The official factory activity purchasing manager’s index (PMI) slumped below the boom-bust line for the first time in more than two years, while inflation dropped to a 5 year low and trade sank beyond expectations.

Despite multiple analysis saying January’s figures were incomplete because of the base effect of the Lunar New Year, which fell on Feb.19 this year, considerable concerns remained, which sparked renewed calls for monetary easing.

More recent statistics are yet to be released, with the exception of a preliminary reading of manufacturing by HSBC showing marginal improvement in February.

“However, domestic economic activity is likely to remain sluggish, and external demand looks uncertain,” said HSBC chief China economist Qu Hongbin last week.

This outlook has prompted economists, including Qu, to call for more policy easing.

“China should ease its monetary policy to avoid passive tightening and reduce risk,” wrote UBS economist Wang Tao in a research note Thursday.

Indeed, China’s central bank cut the benchmark interest rate by one fourth of a percentage on Saturday.

Experts agree, however, a fundamental solution to the economic woes lie in far-reaching reforms the country has embarked upon, and widely expect the upcoming session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, to be essential to produce concrete results.

As usual, the Chinese premier is expected to deliver a government work report, which Asian Development Bank economist Zhuang Jian believes would “comb through reform measures undertaken in 2014″.

Last year saw a fiscal reform program, designed to improve the taxation and local government financing systems within two years; the liberalization of the household registration system; and revisions to lending interest rates, which gave commercial banks more freedom.

The government also abolished registered capital and administrative registration requirements for new businesses, and slashed red tape blamed for stifling private investment.

The economy grew at its lowest pace in 24 years, expanding by 7.4 percent, signaling that China was indeed on the “new normal” path forward.

China will strive for solid economic development and push forward unwavering reform and opening up measures, President Xi Jinping said at the annual Lunar New Year greeting dinner.

“The Chinese leadership has determined that reform is the way to bolster economic development, which set the tone for this year and beyond,” said Chi Fulin, director of the China (Hainan) Institute for Reform and Development.

Barclays’ China economics team expects the NPC to show more commitment to structural reform with a focus on strengthening market-oriented resource allocation, economic rebalancing and growth sustainability, according to a research note Thursday.

The team is upbeat over future policy and implementation details related to reforms of state-owned enterprises, fiscal and local government debt management, financing mechanisms, income distribution and the “Belt and Road” initiatives.

“The NPC will also signpost priorities on the long term reform agenda,” said two Bloomberg economists in a note Friday.

They said a national plan for transforming ownership and operation of state-owned enterprises, following pilot schemes in 2014, is imminent. There are also signs of progress on the intractable issue of rural land rights, important to raising rural incomes and driving urbanization.

The Chinese leadership has defined the year 2015 as “the key year of comprehensively deepening reforms”, “the first year of comprehensively promoting rule of law” and “the final year of the 12th Five Year Plan”. As the first significant political events in 2015, the annual “two sessions” are also expected to address social,legal and judicial aspects.

The reforms will be wide ranging and better coordinated, to ensure a stronger environment for economic development,” said Wang Xiaoguang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Governance.








>>  China’s manufacturing PMI rebounds in February

By Fang Dong, Zhao Wenjun, Sang Tong and Wang Xi

Chinese manufacturing business activity rebounded slightly in February but remained in contracted territory after falling to a 28-month low in January, official data showed on Sunday of March 1.

The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), a key measure of factory activity in China, posted 49.9 in February, up from 49.8 the previous month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP).

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 represents contraction.

The index last month ended a losing streak that had lasted for four consecutive months since October and showed China’s manufacturing contraction has narrowed.

The PMI dropped below the 50-point mark in January, the first time since October 2012, marking looming downward pressure on the economy.

The marginal improvement was attributable to rising market demand and confidence boosted by recent pro-growth policies, such as a reserve ratio cut and tax breaks, and steady global commodity prices, said Zhao Qinghe, a senior NBS statistician.

The subindex of new order rose to 50.4 in February from 50.2 in a month earlier, while the subindex for raw material inventories climbed from 47.3 to 48.2.

But sub-indices for production, employment and delivery time dropped month on month to 51.4, 47.8 and 49.9 respectively.

“Although the PMI was slightly below 50, the production and demand continued to expand,” Zhao said. He forecast the manufacturing market will see a dynamic trend soon as factories have started to resume operation after the holiday.

However, Cai Jin, vice president of the CFLP, said uncertainties existed despite encouraging signs.

China’s non-manufacturing PMI, which tracks the business activities of service and construction sectors, recovered to 53.9 in February from 53.7 in January.




Despite rebounding factory activity data, economists said downward pressure on the world’s second largest economy had not decreased and further policy easing measures would be still needed to support slowing economic growth.

China’s manufacturing PMI usually retreats when a new year begins due to the Spring Festival holiday, but the latest figures showed an anti-seasonal rebound boosted by surging consumption. This reflects the same trend showed earlier by the HSBC flash PMI, which improved slightly to a four month high of 50.1.

Steven Zhang, vice president of Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities, said he was far from optimistic about the economic situation despite the mild PMI improvement.

The holiday affected recovery was too slight to prove an overall economic pick up with more evidence from other indicators needed and the latest rate cut by the central bank also showed concerns from policy makers on the continued slowdown, Zhang said.

The People’s Bank of China slashed benchmark deposit and loan interest rates by 25 basis points on Saturday, the second such cut in three months amid high market expectation.

HSBC chief China economist Qu Hongbin said the economy would likely remain sluggish confronted with external uncertainties even with the improvements in manufacturing, forecasting more easing measures to prevent further slowdown.

Sharing this view, both Zhang and Chu Jianfang, chief economist of CITIC Securities, said they expected to see more monetary easing measures to prop up the economy given the current economic climate.

China’s economy grew 7.4 percent in 2014, the weakest annual expansion in 24 years, and a string of economic indicators for the new year, including manufacturing and trade data, all suggested continued weakness.








>>  China’s rate cut tackles exorbitant financing, disinflation risk

By Fang Dong

China’s earlier-than-expected interest rate cut will reduce funding costs for enterprises and tackle looming disinflationary risk amid the continued economic slowdown.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Saturday announced it would cut the lending and deposit interest rates by 25 basis points (bps) on March 1, the latest easing measure by the world’s second largest economy.

Lian Ping, chief economist of the Bank of Communications (BOCOM), one of China’s five leading banks, described the exercise as a way to relieve financing pressure and to fend off deflationary risk.

“Under the current circumstances, this will help reinforce effects from the last cut, lower the loan rate and social financing cost, lighten burdens on enterprises and stabilize growth,” Lian said.

China lowered interest rates in November, the first such action in more than two years, and slashed the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for banks in early February to stimulate economic growth.

China’s GDP posted its weakest growth rate since 1990 in 2014. Consumer inflation in January came in at its slowest pace since November 2009, and the producer price index (PPI), which measures wholesale inflation, declined for the 35th straight month.

“The decline in inflation has pushed up real interest rate by 0.6 percent since the last rate cut,” said a HSBC research note, “The move is highly warranted by the need to lower borrowing costs for the real economy.”

The rate cut will help stabilize growth by anchoring infrastructure investment and property, according to the note.




After a string of measures including the rate cut and other short-term money-pumping operations, the market still anticipates more as the economy has not yet shown any signs of bottoming out.

Economists and analysts with varied institutions have agreed on one forecast that more easing measures could be expected this year.

“In light of slowing growth and falling inflation, we expect the PBOC will continue to step up easing through further rate and reserve ratio cuts as well as other quantitative tools in the coming months,” the HSBC research note said.

Monetary easing will also likely be accompanied by more fiscal spending to contain disinflation, according to the note.

Lian predicts that the central bank will likely cut RRR one or two times given rising pressure from foreign exchange (FX) outflow as yuan funds outstanding for FX have shrunk in the last two months.

But there will not be much room for further rate lowering as the one-year deposit rate has approached its lowest level in ten years, Lian said, adding that China would stick to a prudent monetary policy that featured moderate easing.

Sharing Lian’s sentiments, Wu Qing, researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council, a national think tank, added that policy makers had no plans to conduct massive easing like the U.S., Japan and the European Union.

He predicted that there was a probability this year of the authority carrying out aggressive reform measures to stimulate growth in the long run.

A BOCOM report predicts the looming downward pressure will likely be alleviated after March as pro-growth policies take effect.








>>  Lock-up shares worth 19.1 bln yuan become tradable

By Shi Hao and Hua Yedi

Lock-up shares worth about 19.1 billion yuan (3.11 billion U.S. dollars) will become eligible for trade on China’s stock market in the coming week.

Nearly 1.2 billion shares from 14 companies will become tradable on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges from Monday to Friday, data compiled by Southwest Securities showed on Sunday of March 1.

Joyson Electronics, a Zhejiang-based electronic devices manufacturer, will see 5.4 billion yuan of non-tradable shares unlocked on Monday, the largest volume to be released next week.

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

Over 380 billion yuan of non-tradable stocks from 90 companies will be unlocked in March, the biggest amount on a monthly basis since August 2013.

A rise in newly unlocked shares will put some downward pressure on the market due to the increase in stock supply.








>>  Guangdong beat Beijing to take one game back in CBA Semifinals

By Wang Haoming

Emmanuel Mudiay and Zhou Peng both scored team-leading 24 points as Guangdong upset defending champions Beijing 110-99 at the semifinals of Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) here on Sunday of March 1.

Despite the defeat, Beijing still lead the best-of-five series 2-1 and one win away from their third CBA finals in four years.

Zhou Peng scored 11 points to help Guangdong lead 26-19 in the first quarter. The 25-year-old was unstoppable as he made three out of four three-point shots. Mudiay took the scoring relay for Guangdong in the second quarter having 13 points and Will Bynum added seven points to see Guangdong lead 61-38 at halftime.

Beijing cut the deficit to 16 at the end of third quarter as their foreign duo Landolph Moris and Stephon Marbury combined 19 points, but they could not overturn Guangdong’s momentum trailing in double figure all through the second half.

“As Mudiay rejoined us today, we shared and passed the ball more frequently than last match, so we created more chances and played a easy and comfortable match,” said Guangdong coach Du Feng.








>>  Another H7N9 human case reported in E. China

By Lü Dong and Bao Xiaojing

February’s fourth human case of the H7N9 strain of avaian flu has been confirmed in East China’s Anhui Province, the provincial health authorities said on Saturday of February 28.

All four patients are confirmed to have had contact with live poultry, according to local authorities.

H7N9 is a bird flu strain first reported to have infected humans in March 2013. Humans are most susceptible to the virus in winter and spring.

So far at least 60 cases have been reported in south China’s Guangdong Province. Several other Chinese localities including Shanghai, Fujian, Guizhou and Zhejiang have also reported human cases of H7N9 through this winter.








>>  Death toll rises to 9 in Shenzhen airport car accident

By Cao Bing, Peng Yong, Zhao Ruixi and Mao Siqian

A car accident at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport in south China’s Guangdong Province has left nine people dead as of 11 p.m., local police said on Sunday of March 1.

At 3:32 p.m., a red sedan ran over several pedestrians near Terminal 3 of the airport, killing five on the scene and injuring 27 others, local police said on its verified microblog. Four died later in hospital.

The city’s emergency center said the injured have been rushed to five hospitals. Five are still in a critical condition and another one is badly wounded.

The driver, a 24-year-old female who allegedly lost control of her vehicle after a honking car made her nervous, has been taken in for questioning by the police.

Initial investigation showed some 30 people were standing on a platform to view takeoffs and landings of planes and take photos when the car rammed into them. The platform is part of a driveway, not designed for pedestrians.

Huang Jiangtao, a witness who narrowly escaped the accident, told Xinhua that he did not realize pedestrians are banned from the area because there were neither signs nor staff workers to caution them.

However, a spokesperson of the airport said their guards patrol the area and disperse people on daily basis. The airport will add warning signs and increase patrols in future, the spokesperson said.








>>  5.5-magnitude quake hits China’s Yunnan, casualties unknown

By Cao Bing and Hou Wenkun

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake jolted southwest China’s Yunnan Province on Sunday afternoon of March 1.

The number of casualties was unknown as of 7 p.m..

According to the China Earthquake Networks Center, the quake hit Cangyuan, an autonomous county where many of China’s Wa ethnic group live, at 6:24 p.m..

The epicenter was monitored at 23.5 degrees north latitude and 98.9 degrees east longitude, the epicenter was 11 kilometers underground.

Residents of Lincang City said they felt the tremor and their homes “shook from side to side”. A civil servant in the city told Xinhua that his pot fell off the stove by itself when the earthquake occurred.

An official with Cangyuan county’s publicity department said the earthquake was strongly felt for over ten seconds.

A total of 1,000 tents, 1,000 tarpaulins and 2,000 quilts sent by the provincial disaster-relief office are on the way to the quake-stricken area.

An emergency team led by a deputy director of the provincial seismology bureau has been dispatched to evaluate disaster conditions and losses.

According to local authorities, Cangyuan is a sparsely populated county that borders Myanmar. But houses in rural areas have poor shock-resistance capability.

A 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit Yunnan’s Ludian county on Aug. 3, 2014, claiming more than 600 lives and destroying over 80,000 homes.








>>  Coach accident kills 4 in NE China

By Lü Dong, Xu Zheng and Liang Shubin

A coach lurched to the side on an expressway in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province on Sunday morning of March 1, leaving four people dead and many others injured, local transportation authorities said.

The accident occurred at 6:40 a.m. due to slippery road condition. The coach hit the median strip and turned over.

The injured are all in a stable condition.








>>  One confirmed dead in E China colliery gas outburst

By Lü Dong and Wu Zhonghao

A miner has been confirmed dead after a coal and gas outburst at a colliery in east China’s Jiangxi Province Saturday, trapping four miners, local authorities said on Sunday of March 1.

The rescue team has found the dead miner’s body while the other three miners were still trapped in the pit, awaiting rescue.

A 110-meter-shaft in the colliery has been clogged by cinder. More than 40 meters has so far been cleared, the rescue team said.

The outburst occurred at around 11:57 a.m. on Saturday at Yongshan coal mine in Leping, a county-level city, according to the provincial coal mine safety watchdog.








>>  China on blue alert for dusty weather

By Shi Hao and Yu Wenjing

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) on Sunday of March 1 issued a blue alert for dusty weather that will choke northwest China.

The NMC forecasted that a strong cold front will sweep northwest China on Monday, bringing strong wind and dusty weather to Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Ningxia and Shaanxi. Some regions will even see sandstorm.

The weather observatory advised residents to stay indoors and asked local authorities to brace for it.

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








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