China opens key economic meeting to plan for 2014
>> China warns U.S. against judicial interference
By Tan Jingjing
China on Tuesday of December 10 responded to a U.S. call for the release of Liu Xiaobo by reiterating its firm opposition to external interference in its judicial sovereignty and internal affairs in any form.
“China and the United States are working together to build a new type of major-country relationship. We hope the United States will bear in mind the overall interests of bilateral ties and contribute more to enhancing trust and cooperation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
In a statement released on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced concern over Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong, and urged Chinese authorities to release Liu.
Hong said China is a country under the rule of law, all people are equal before the law and no one is above the law.
“Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong are Chinese citizens. They violated Chinese laws and should be punished by law,” Hong told a regular press briefing.
“I want to reiterate that only the 1.3 billion Chinese people are qualified to speak on China’s human rights situation,” the spokesman added.
>> China rejects latest U.S. hacking accusations
By Wang Huihui
China on Tuesday of December 10 rejected a U.S. computer security firm’s accusation of Chinese hacking against European countries before the G20 Summit in September.
According to recent media reports quoting research by FireEye Inc., Chinese hackers infiltrated the computer networks of five European foreign ministries by sending emails containing tainted files to staff.
“U.S. computer security firms have been keen on playing up the so-called cyber threat from China. But their so-called evidence is never solid but widely doubted by professionals,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing.
“They are trying to gain attention with fake facts, which will neither be conducive to international cyber security cooperation nor the professional qualifications and reputation of the firms involved,” Hong said.
He reiterated that China will firmly safeguard cyber security and oppose hacking in all forms.
China has formulated laws to combat such behavior and is also working with the international community on tackling cyber crimes, the spokesman added.
>> U.S. environment chief calls for U.S.-China cooperation on air quality
By Hou Lijun
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy said on Tuesday of December 10 that air quality challenges could be an opportunity for cooperation between the U.S. and China.
“Climate change is a significant public health and environmental challenge, but it is an opportunity as well for cooperation between our countries,” she said in a speech to the School of the Environment, Tsinghua University.
McCarthy, who is on a four-day visit in China, said China’s air pollution challenges bore some similarities to the United States in the 1950s and 1960s and that the U.S. could share its experience with China in this regard.
During her visit, McCarthy met with Chinese Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian and Vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission Xie Zhenhua.
The two sides discussed the work of the U.S.-China climate change working group.
“China has taken additional significant steps to strengthen the emission standards for vehicles and industries, to create cleaner fuels and to address air pollution from coal fired power plants,” she said.
During her stay in Beijing, she visited the Beijing air monitoring center and was impressed by China’s work to develop air quality management infrastructure, which is “centrally organized but locally implemented”.
“That is how you are going to have long-term success when you clearly engage the provinces in these activities,” she said.
She called on the two sides to face challenges together and build a clean energy economy of the future.
“Improving air quality and expanding public health protection can be done in a way that improves and expands economic opportunities,” she said.
This is McCarthy’s second trip to China in three years.
>> Trade disputes involving China on the rise
By Zuo Wei, Wang Xi and Gao Jing
China was embroiled in 80 trade dispute cases during the January-November period, up 12 percent from the same period last year, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) revealed on Tuesday of December 10.
The cases involved 18 different countries and regions, said MOC spokesman Yao Jian at the ministry’s regular press conference.
Yao said the recently-concluded solar panel dispute with the European Union (EU) indicates that negotiation was a main tool to resolve future disputes.
He said the 121 Chinese solar makers involved in the price undertaking deal with the EU reached in July accounted for 79 percent of China’s total solar exports to the bloc.
Last week, the EU decided to impose punitive tariffs on some Chinese solar exporters, but companies signing the deal will continue to export their products to the EU, although at prices and volumes that reduce their previous dominant positions on the European market.
Chinese solar makers should seize this opportunity to boost manufacturing ability and profitability, instead of following the old practice of excessive resource consumption and underselling, Yao said.
>> APEC summit to focus on “shaping the future”
By Yang Yijun
The 22nd informal leaders’ meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to be held in Beijing next year will be themed “Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership,” the organizers said in Beijing on Tuesday of December 10.
The main topics of the summit will include advancing regional economic integration, promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth, and strengthening comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry press release.
With 21 member economies, the APEC is the most influential economic cooperation mechanism in the Asia-Pacific region.
The 2014 APEC summit will be the second of its kind hosted by China.Shanghai hosted the APEC summit in 2001.
Addressing the APEC 2014 Informal Senior Officials Meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China hopes APEC members will jointly deal with challenges and seek long-term development of the Asia-Pacific region by building a closer partnership across the Pacific.
China will use the APEC meetings as an opportunity to promote long-term development, progress and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
A series of meetings, including the leaders’ meeting, will be held in China in 2014.
>> U.S. soybean exports to China to reach new high
By Wu Yu and Zhang Yi
About 26 million tonnes of soybeans will be exported from the United States to China for the period from September 2013 to August 2014, U.S. Soybean Export Council said on Tuesday of December 10 in Shanghai.
The amount will be a record for China’s soybean imports from the U.S., the world’s largest soybean producer.
Zhang Xiaoping, the council’s chief representative in China, said the record demonstrated China’s strong buying power.
During the period, China will import nearly 70 million tonnes of soybeans while producing 15 million tonnes domestically.
Soybeans yield a bigger sum than any other commodity exported from the U.S. to China.
>> Dagong maintains Poland credit ratings
By Li Yanxia and Zuo Wei
Chinese credit rating agency Dagong Global Credit Rating Co., Ltd. announced on Tuesday of December 10 that it will maintain the local and foreign currency sovereign credit ratings for the Republic of Poland as A and A- respectively, each with a negative outlook.
Dagong said the solvency of the Polish government is basically stable but the downward pressure is comparatively large, weighed down by fiscal austerity in the short term and an unfavorable external environment.
Under the pressure of domestic fiscal consolidation and the sluggish economy in the euro zone, Dagong expects Poland’s growth rate to drop to 1.3 percent in 2013 and 2.2 percent in 2014.
Since it is hard to resolve issues such as weak domestic investment and insufficient labor market flexibility, the country’s longer-term economic growth will be around 3 percent, Dagong added.
Amid a domestic economic slowdown and strong opposition against the austerity measures, Dagong predicted Poland’s deficit rates in 2013 and 2014 will fall to 3.4 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.
But the general government debt ratio will increase accordingly, a hindrance for improvement of government solvency in the longer term, the agency warned.
>> China’s top legislator meets Thai Princess
By Zhang Yi
Chinese top legislator Zhang Dejiang met in Beijing on Tuesday of December 10 with Thai Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol who is here to attend the sixth youth musical evening between China and Thailand.
Zhang, chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, hailed the efforts by the Thai royal family to develope the two countries’ relations and he wished success for the musical evening.
The two sides have maintained sound development of bilateral ties since they were established 38 years ago, Zhang said, adding that the two sides need to further promote traditional friendship, enhance cultural exchanges and pragmatic cooperation, consolidate public opinion foundation for bilateral ties.
Chulabhorn Mahidol voiced hope for cultural exchanges between the two sides and played Gu Zheng, a traditional Chinese musical instrument, during the meeting.
>> China hopes for Thai election success
By Yang Yijun
A Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday of December 10 said China hopes the Thai general election set for February is successful.
Hong Lei’s comments came after Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej approved the House dissolution and the holding of the next election slated for February 2, 2014.
As a friendly neighbor of Thailand, China hopes parties in Thailand can properly handle differences through dialogue and consultation under the framework of the Constitution and the law so as to restore national stability and order as soon as possible, Hong said.
Thai caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday morning pledged to continue to perform caretaking duties in accordance with the Constitution until a new prime minister is elected.
On Monday night, anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban asked Yingluck and cabinet ministers to resign as caretakers within 24 hours.
>> China opens key economic meeting to plan for 2014
B y Lin Jianyang
China’s Central Economic Work Conference opened on Tuesday of December 10 to review the country’s economic work in 2013 and map out economic plans for 2014.
This year’s meeting comes about one month after the the Communist Party of China Central Committee unveiled a landmark plan to comprehensively deepen reforms.
The meeting is expected to put forward overall requirements and major tasks for economic work in 2014.
At the meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Dec. 3, China’s top leaders highlighted the role of reform in planning economic development for 2014.
A statement following the meeting said China will stick to the policy tone of seeking steady progress, and reform should be integrated into all sectors of China’s economic and social development in 2014.
China should press ahead with reforms in order to facilitate innovation and development. It should improve means of macro-economic control and boost momentum from within the Chinese economy for transformation of the economic growth pattern, the statement said.
China should also speed up economic restructuring and public service infrastructure development to enable more people to share the fruits of reform and development, it said.
China should maintain consistent and stable policies, and actively push forward with reforms in key sectors, it added.
The latest figures indicate that China will be able to meet the government’s targets for 2013 on economic growth rate, consumer price index and new jobs, which are set to create favorable conditions for next year’s economic planning.
Earlier in 2013, the government said China’s growth rate should be around 7.5 percent, the CPI should be capped at around 3.5 percent and at least 9 million new jobs should be created in 2013.
Analysts with the State Council’s Development Research Center, a government think tank, maintained that the most important task of next year’s economic work lies in reform.
China should manage economic and social development through reform in 2014, and sweeping reforms are set to inject strong impetus for China’s economic and social development in 2014, they said.
Reform should first target areas for which the Chinese public has the most expectations for reform, and focus on problems that have hindered the country’s economic and social development, they added.
>> FACTBOX: China’s central economic work conferences in recent years
By Huang Xin
An annual central economic work conference to analyze current domestic and international economic situations and map out plans for economic work in 2014 started in Beijing on Tuesday.
About a month after the the Communist Party of China Central Committee unveiled a landmark plan to comprehensively deepen reforms, the meeting is expected to put forward overall requirements and major tasks for economic work in 2014.
Following is a review of the central economic work conferences held in the previous five years.
December 15 to 16, 2012
Basic tone: enhancing quality and efficiency of economic growth
Major tasks: China vows to take enhancing quality and efficiency of economic growth as a central task; fully deepen reforms in its economy system and firmly promote opening up; take expanding domestic demand as a strategic basis for the country’s development; continue to implement the proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy; continue its control policies on the property market; actively and steadily push forward urbanization; continue to protect foreign investors’ rights and interests and their intellectual property rights; avoid pomp and circumstance and take concrete actions to serve the people wholeheartedly; encourage and increase both private and public investment.
December 12 to 14, 2011
Basic tone: making progress while maintaining stability
Major tasks: China vows to enhance and improve macroeconomic regulations to maintain steady and relatively fast economic growth; boost farm produce supplies through the development of agriculture; accelerate economic restructuring to make economic development more self-initiated and coordinated; deepen reforms in key areas and open up to the world; improve people’s living standards and innovate the social management mechanism.
December 10 to 12, 2010
Basic tone: ensuring stable and relatively fast economic development while maintaining social stability
Major tasks: China plans to enhance and improve macroeconomic regulations to maintain steady and healthy economic growth; boost farm produce supplies through the development of modern agriculture; accelerate strategic transformation to make economic growth more coordinated and competitive; improve basic public services and innovate the social management mechanism; intensify reforms to promote a shift in the economic growth mode and maintain a mutually beneficial opening-up strategy to broaden international economic cooperation.
December 5 to 7, 2009
Basic tone: promoting the transformation of economic development pattern while maintaining stable and comparatively fast economic growth
Major tasks: China vows to improve macroeconomic regulations in 2010 to ensure stable and relatively fast economic growth and advance structural economic adjustments; lift the quality and efficiency of economic growth; boost rural development; deepen reform and opening up; enhance the momentum and vigor of economic growth; promote a stable increase in exports; improve people’s living standards and maintain social stability.
December 8 to 10, 2008
Basic tone: maintaining stable and relatively fast economic growth
Major tasks: China plans to enhance and improve macroeconomic regulations and implement a proactive fiscal policy and moderately eased monetary policy in 2009; step up efforts to increase farmers’ incomes and strengthen the development momentum of the agriculture industry and rural economy; speed up the transformation of economic development pattern and structural adjustments; deepen reform and opening up and maintain social stability.
>> Cash to help disaster-hit people through winter
By Li Huizi and Tao Ye
China plans to allocate 7.3 billion yuan (1.19 billion U.S. dollars) in relief funds to help people in disaster-hit regions through the winter.
The first batch of 5.84 billion yuan has been sent to affected regions, Xinhua learnt on Tuesday of December 10 from a teleconference held by the ministries of civil affairs and finance.
More natural disasters, such as flooding, droughts, earthquakes and typhoons hit China in 2013. The disasters caused more losses than last year, affecting people’s access to food, clothes and heating services, Vice Minister of Civil Affairs Jiang Li said at the conference.
The ministry urged more funds to support regions hit hard by disasters, old revolutionary base areas, ethnic minority regions, as well as border and poor areas, according to a statement released after the conference.
It also ordered “funds must reach the county level within a month and reach individuals within six weeks,” the statement said, adding that the allocation process should be transparent and fair, and supervision and management of relief funds should be strengthened.
Housing reconstruction in disaster-hit regions should be completed before the Spring Festival which falls on Jan. 31, it said.
>> China further simplifies administrative approval procedures
By Jiang Guocheng and Cheng Jing
China’s cabinet has decided to exempt another 68 items from central government approval as part of its efforts to reduce intervention in the economy.
The list released on Tuesday of December 10 includes the canceling or dissolving of power to lower levels on coal production approvals, permission of setting up foreign commerce chambers and checks on returning imported cargoes.
Facing a complicated global landscape and pressure from an economic slowdown at home, the central government has made transforming government functions a top priority to spearhead broader reforms.
The latest decision followed similar steps earlier this year that saw the removal of more than 300 administrative approval items, which helped to drive a notable rise in the number of business registrations.
>> Voting starts to select top ten heroes
By Yang Hui and Guo Shiyu
China’s web users on Tuesday of December 10 started voting for 60 grassroots individuals or groups vying to be named as one of the country’s top ten local heroes.
Forty of the candidates were selected as quarterly winners, with the remaining being recommended by the panel of judges.
Initiated and sponsored by Xinhua News Agency, netizens selected the heroes via the agency’s official website, microblogs and mobile applications.
The heroes selected in the fourth quarter include father and son, Shen Kequan and Shen Changjian, who tried on more than 1,000 occasions to cultivate high-quality rapeseed varieties.
Other winners include Liu Daming, who has osteogenesis imperfectness and is regarded as the “Chinese Hawking.”
Although he has had 11 major operations, Liu has won 12 national level literature prizes and is the youngest writer under contract with the People’s Publishing House, a national publisher.
Xinhuanet.com, the official website of Xinhua, will profile the candidates from Tuesday.
Stories will also run on Chinese social websites Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo.
The local heroes of 2013 will be selected based on voting by netizens and judging from experts and the media.
The voting will last until Dec. 20 and the heroes will be unveiled in January.
The vote, held since 2010, is conducted quarterly to promote ordinary people’s good deeds and improve moral awareness.
>> No H7N9 mutation: health authority
By Hu Longjiang
No mutation of H7N9 bird flu has been monitored yet and transmission from animals remains the only way in which humans have picked up the virus, China’s health authority said on Tuesday of December 10.
Speaking at a press conference, Yao Hongwen, spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, noted that there have continued to be sporadic reports of H7N9 infections.
China confirmed three new cases this month, with two in Hong Kong and one in east China’s Zhejiang Province, and Yao said that local authorities have tightened prevention measures.
The spokesman promised that the commission will continue to strictly control infection sources and release relevant information on a timely basis.
The mainland has so far reported a total of 140 H7N9 cases, including 87 patients who have recovered.
>> China to improve school conditions in poor regions
By Han Xiaojing and Cao Guochang
Zhang Shengli is optimistic about the future of the school he built in north China’s Hebei Province after hearing a central government announcement on improving school conditions in China’s poverty-stricken areas
“We will have a 1300-square-meter classroom building with computers in every classroom. And we will even have our own school bus,” said Zhang, vice president of Dongtuanbao central primary school in Hebei’s Laiyuan County, as he imagined the school’s future.
According to a document unveiled on December 4, China will move to improve basic schooling conditions for compulsory education in poverty-stricken areas.
“Schools in poor areas are a weak link in China’s education cause,” said a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council, the country’s cabinet, which was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.
Central and provincial governments will adjust the structure of education expenditures to improve weak links in compulsory education in poor areas, according to the statement.
In three to five years, school buildings must meet safety requirements, such as earthquake resistance and fire control standards. Facilities should be able to meet basic education and living needs, and the quality of teachers should meet the basic needs of compulsory education.
Improvement of rural education is essential to overcome poverty, the document said.
Laiyuan county is one of the poorest areas in the country. The average per capita income in Dongtuanbao town is only 1800 yuan (296.3 U.S. dollars), according to Zhang Changle, the head of the town.
Zhang Shengli built the Dongtuanbao central primary school in 1997 after he graduated from Shanghai Normal University with financial help from the country’s Hope Project.
Zhang was among the first 13 students to benefit from the Hope Project, which was launched in 1989 by the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF) and the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China to help children in poverty-stricken areas gain greater access to education.
After his graduation, Zhang gave up the opportunity to stay in the big city and came back to his hometown to provide better education conditions for the children there.
The school now has 427 students and 36 teachers. It has 12 teaching locations near several villages for students whose homes are far away from the central school.
“Education should be considered the top priority for the development of poor regions,” said Zhang Shengli. “Knowledge can change destiny. It’s the hope for the children here.”
>> China to publish dictionary on Nanjing Massacre
By Lü Qiuping and Pan Ye
A dictionary on the history of the notorious Nanjing Massacre in 1937 is being compiled and is expected to be published next year, academics announced on Tuesday of December 10.
The dictionary, featuring more than 18,000 entries so far, will reveal the historical facts on the crimes of the Japanese troops in Nanjing from late 1937 to early 1938, said Zhu Chengshan, curator of the Memorial Hall for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders.
Experts on the massacre from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Philippines, and Bangladesh have contributed to the compilation.
“The participation of foreign experts on the massacre manifested the international significance of the dictionary,” Zhu said.
Jing Shenghong, one of the compilers from Nanjing Normal University, said the dictionary will not only serve as a reference book for historians, but also help spread historical truth to Chinese and foreign people, considering some right-wing forces in Japan are trying to deny the facts about the invasion, massacre and sex slavery instigated by Japanese troops during World War II.
Japanese troops occupied eastern China’s Nanjing on Dec. 13, 1937, and began a six-week massacre. Chinese records show more than 300,000 people — not only disarmed soldiers, but also civilians — were brutally murdered and thousands of women raped.
>> Taipei Palace Museum to expand
By Cheng Zhuo
Taipei’s Palace Museum on Tuesday unveiled an expansion plan to develop an exhibition area and cultural park covering 6.8 hectares to accommodate the growing number of visitors.
At a meeting held by Taiwan’s environmental authority, a representative of the museum said the number of visitors has increased from 2.24 million in 2008 to 4.3 million last year, thanks to the island’s policy of opening to mainland travellers.
The tourist number is expected to top 4.5 million this year, the representative said.
The expansion plan includes a new two-hectare exhibition building with four floors above ground and three floors underground as well as a 4.8-hectare art and cultural park.
However, the environmental authority said the plan needs to be further examined, particularly of the impact on traffic and flooding risks.
Taipei’s Palace Museum, boasting more than 600,000 pieces of cultural relics, was built in 1965 and has been expanded five times.
>> Ancient dragon kiln unearthed in China
By Lü Qiuping and Shen Yang
Archaeologists have excavated a dragon kiln over 1,200 years old in Jingdezhen, once the center of China’s ceramics industry, in the eastern province of Jiangxi.
The Tang Dynasty (618-907) kiln is 78.8 meters long and is the longest ever found from that period, according to Xu Changqing, head of Jiangxi cultural relics and archaeological institute.
The kiln, in the ruins of Nanyao Village, was unearthed by a team from Xiamen, Northwest and Nankai universities and Leping City, between March and November, Xu said at a press conference on Monday.
Dragon kiln is a long, sloping chamber, with a firebox at one end and a flue at the other. Dozens of tonnes of tools and ceramic fragments were also found at the ruins which cover around 1,000 square meters, said Zhang Wenjiang, a researcher with the institute.
The ruins were first discovered in 1964, but not excavated as conditions for preserving unearthed relics were very poor back then. In recent years, during debate as to precisely when Jingdezhen started firing porcelain, it was decided to examine the Nanyao ruins.
>> China improves law enforcement supervision
By Yang Hui, Yang Weihan and Chen Fei
China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) on Tuesday of December 10 pledged to resolve imprudent law enforcement via stricter supervision of the entire law enforcement and case handling procedure.
Procurators-general and deputy procurators-general at various levels will direct investigation and interrogation, and support public prosecutions when handling major or important cases, according to a SPP’s five-year plan on grassroots procuratorate building.
Leaders of local procuratorates are encouraged to learn more skills to enrich their knowledge. At least two thirds of them should have a law background and hold a bachelor’s degree by 2018.
The statement also asked local procuratorates to detail procedures and clarify standards to eradicate imprudent law enforcement.
According to the plan, local procuratorates will carry out standardized supervision and perfect the judical guarantee system for human rights.
>> Environmental watchdog urges transparent assessment
By Yang Hui and Gu Ruizhen
China’s environmental watchdog on Tuesday of December 10 asked for transparent environmental assessment and vowed to show zero leniency to organs and staff involved in falsifications.
Environmental assessment organs must publicize their environmental assessment reports in full text in order to solicit more suggestions and receive more supervision from the public, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
It asked local governments to make public their promises on environmental protection, enabling the public to press authorities to better fulfill their commitments.
Environmental assessment materials, both approved and disapproved by environmental authorities, should be made public in their entirety, according to the statement.
It added that qualifications, credit records and punishments of all environmental assessment organs and environmental assessment practitioners should also be made public.
It has become common for residents to criticize local authorities for damaging the environment and endangering public health by approving new construction projects that are believed to pose environmental risks.
Thousands of people gathered in the city of Shifang in southwest China’s Sichuan province in July 2012 to demand the local government halt construction of a copper smelting plant that many feared would harm the city’s water and air.
The project was duly scrapped.
A separate circular issued by the ministry called for tighter supervision of environmental assessment organs and practitioners, saying that qualification certificates of such organs and practitioners will be revoked if falsifications are found.
>> Wild animals double in Tibetan nature reserve
By Li Laifang and Li Yuan
The populations of wild Tibetan antelopes, donkeys and yaks in a nature reserve in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region have roughly doubled thanks to effective protection efforts in the past 20 years, showed figures released on Tuesday of December 10.
The number of Tibetan antelopes in the area has increased to 150,000 from 80,000 when the Qiangtang Nature Reserve was established in 1993. Wild yaks and Tibetan donkeys have increased to 40,000 and 90,000 respectively, compared with 20,000 and 50,000 at the establishment of the reserve.
However, the strengthened protection efforts have also meant more cases of injuries to humans or property losses caused by wild animals in the nature reserve and its surrounding areas.
But government departments have offered timely compensations to local herdsmen for the losses, which have boosted their environmental protection awareness, according to a wildlife protection official with the Tibet Forestry Department.
Forestry authorities have also stepped up law enforcement among residents in the reserve and confiscated hunting equipment such as rifles to prevent poaching and smuggling, he added.
With an average altitude of more than 5,000 meters, the Qiangtang Nature Reserve has an area of 298,000 square km. It became a state-level nature reserve in 2000. It is a habitat for wild animals such as Tibetan antelopes, donkeys, yaks and snow leopards on the state protection list.
>> New chromosome abnormality discovered in China
By Cheng Lu and Liang Saiyu
Chinese doctors reported on Tuesday of December 10 the discovery of an abnormal karyotype in human chromosome 5, the world’s first such case, in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.
Baoji City’s maternal and child care service center diagnosed a girl with dwarfism, because of her lacking a sex chromosome and the long arm in chromosome 5 has a kink.
Tang Kai, director of the center’s genetics and heredity lab, said the abnormality was first of its kind seen.
Clinical manifestations of the girl’s disease are growth retardation and insufficient development of gonads.
The case was reported to the State Key Lab of Medical Genetics, and entered the Database of the China Human Chromosome Abnormality Catalogue.
“Gene analysis on the mutations should be complete to have a clearer view of their clinical effect,” Tang added.
>> China’s farm produce prices slightly higher
By Wang Xi and Cheng Jing
Farm produce prices in 36 major Chinese cities rose slightly in the week ending December 8 compared with the previous week, according to a Ministry of Commerce statement.
The wholesale price of pork went up 0.3 percent, while the cost of beef and mutton rose 0.5 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
The average wholesale price of aquatic products gained 0.6 percent and the cost of rice and peanut oil went up 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
The price of vegetables and eggs dropped slightly last week. The average wholesale price of 18 kinds of vegetables dipped 2.3 percent from a week earlier and that of eggs down 0.2 percent.
Food accounts for about one third of China’s consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation.
The CPI grew 3 percent year on year in November, down from 3.2 percent in October, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday of December 9.
>> Mainland banks issue renminbi bonds in Taiwan
By Tian Yiang, He Zili and Ren Ke
Four mainland-headquartered banks on Tuesday of December 10 issued bonds in renminbi worth 6.7 billion yuan (1.1 billion U.S. dollars) in Taiwan.
The bonds were issued on the GreTai Securities Market by Bank of Communications (BCM), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), Bank of China (BOC) and China Construction Bank (CCB).
BCM issued 1.2 billion yuan in bonds, ABC 1.5 billion, while BOC and CCB issued 2 billion each.
It took the total bonds issued in renminbi in Taiwan to 10.6 billion yuan (1.67 billion U.S. dollars). The first bonds, 3.9 billion yuan, were issued in March.
Adam Chan, head of global market of the HSBC Bank (Taiwan), said renminbi deposits in Taiwan totaled 123.2 billion yuan in October, compared to 3.9 billion yuan worth of bonds that month, which suggested a sizable market for renminbi bonds in Taiwan.
Wu Soushan, chairman of GreTai Securities Market, said issuing yuan-denominated bonds is a crucial step towards building Taiwan into a RMB offshore center.
Wu added that after the renminbi flow-back mechanism is fully established, financial support to industries from both sides and trade between the two sides will be boosted.
>> China moves to clear blockades for unified market
By Wang Xi and Cheng Jing
Chinese authorities on Tuesday of December 10 released a work plan on the removal of regional blockades across the country in an effort to build a unified and open market system.
The plan, jointly issued by 12 departments including the Ministry of Commerce and State Administration of Taxation, outlined six tasks for the move, including improving taxation rules for trans-regional business operators and addressing discriminatory pricing practices for non-local products and services.
This is the government’s latest effort to integrate the country’s regionally fragmented domestic market — in which local authorities’ obsession with regional prosperity has fueled a rise in protectionism — into a unified market with free flow of capital, labor and goods.
China aims to build a united and open market system with orderly competition that allows the market to play a “decisive” role in allocating resources, according to a reform decision released last month after the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.
>> Chinese Yuan strengthens to new high against USD
By Wang Yaguang
The Chinese currency Renminbi, or the yuan, rose to a new record high against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday of December 10.
The yuan strengthened 16 basis points to reach 6.1114 per U.S. dollar, the strongest since July 2005, when the country launched reforms of the exchange rate mechanism, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trading System.
The People’s Bank of China on Monday set the dollar-yuan central parity rate at 6.1130, stronger than Friday’s 6.1232. This was in line with broad dollar weakness despite better-than-expected U.S. job data released on Friday.
In China’s foreign exchange spot market, the yuan is allowed to rise or fall by 1 percent from the central parity rate each trading day.
The central parity rate of the yuan against the U.S. dollar is based on a weighted average of prices before the opening of the market each business day.
>> China’s fixed-asset investment growth cools
By Huang Xin and Wang Xi
China’s urban fixed-asset investment growth cooled to 19.9 percent year on year in the Jan.-Nov. period, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on Tuesday of December 10.
The country’s urban fixed-asset investment growth expanded 19.9 percent year on year to 39.13 trillion yuan (6.4 trillion U.S. dollars) in the Jan.-Nov. period, down 0.2 percentage points from the growth rate in the first ten months, according to the NBS.
In November, urban fixed-asset investment grew 1.47 percent from the previous month, the NBS data showed.
From January to November, investment from the private sector, which accounted for 63.5 percent of total fixed-asset investment, grew 23.2 percent year on year to 24.84 trillion yuan. ( From January to November, investment in primary industry hit 850.9 billion yuan, up 31.7 percent year on year, while investment in secondary industry amounted to 16.7 trillion yuan, up 17.3 percent year on year. Investment in tertiary industry expanded 21.5 percent year on year to 21.6 trillion yuan.
Investment in China’s western regions grew by 23.1 percent year on year, followed by 23 percent in the central regions and 18.4 percent in the east.
The NBS said the property sector attracted 7.74 trillion yuan of investment in the first eleven months, up 19.5 percent year on year. The growth rate increased 0.3 percentage points from that of the first ten months.
Residential housing investment accounted for 68.6 percent of the total property investment, up 19.1 percent year on year to 5.3 trillion yuan.
Sales of commodity housing surged 30.7 percent year on year to 6.99 trillion yuan, but the growth rate dipped 1.6 percentage points from the rate registered in the first ten months.
>> China’s auto sales, output hit record highs
By Liu Xinyong, Zhao Qian and Zhang Yi
China’s automobile sales and output both hit new highs in November, according to official data released on Tuesday of December 10.
Sales rose 14.1 percent in November year on year to just over 2 million units, while production rose 21.2 percent from a year earlier to 2.13 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said in a statement.
Both figures were all-time highs for the industry, showing momentum for continued strong growth, according to the CAAM.
In the first 11 months of 2013, auto sales in China rose 13.5 percent year on year to 20 million units, while total output increased 14.3 percent to 20 million units.
The combined sales and output from January to November have both topped the total units for the full year of 2012, the statement said.
The strong growth last month was mainly driven by passenger vehicles. The sales and production of passenger cars in November climbed 14.1 percent and 21.2 percent year on year, CAAM said.
In the first 11 months, passenger car output and sales growth both topped 15 percent, it said.
“The auto industry got back on track of double-digit growth and entered a stage of steady growth, after transformation of the sector over the past two years,” said Dong Yang, executive vice president of the CAAM, forecasting that the industry would grow between 8 and 10 percent in the following five to 10 years.
Almost 6.5 million Chinese passenger cars were sold in the first 11 months, representing 40 percent to total passenger car sales in China, down 1.3 percent.
Auto exports in the first 11 months dropped 7.35 percent from a year earlier, narrowing from a drop of 7.5 percent in the first 10 months, the statement said.
>> Shanghai to contain car-plate price surge
By Lu Wenjun and Zhang Yi
The Shanghai municipal government will set a ceiling for first-round bids of car license plates in 2014 in a move to contain the surging prices that have sparked public outcry.
The government office in charge of plate issuance said on Tuesday of December 10 it would set a “warning price” at 72,600 yuan (11,950 U.S. dollars) per plate. Any first-round bids higher than the price would be rejected by the system.
Buyers will have to go through two rounds of bidding. The first-round of bidding will produce a minimum price for the second-round bidding.
Shanghai government will issue 100,000 license plates next year, according to the issuance plan.
To curb the growth in the number of cars, China’s three biggest cities will only allow a certain number of vehicles to be registered each year.
Shanghai uses a bidding scheme, while Beijing issues plates through a lottery. Guangzhou adopts both systems, half issued through bidding, the other half through a lottery.
>> China’s auto sales, output hit record highs
By Liu Xinyong and Zhao Qian
China’s automobile sales and output both hit new highs in November, according to official data released on Tuesday of December 10.
Sales rose 14.12 percent in November year on year to 2.04 million units, while production surged 21.17 percent from a year earlier to 2.13 million units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said in a statement.
Both figures were all-time highs for the industry, showing momentum for continued strong growth, according to the CAAM.
In the first 11 months of 2013, auto sales in China rose 13.53 percent year on year to 19.86 million units, while total output increased 14.34 percent to 19.99 million units.
The combined sales and output from January to November have both topped the total units for the full year of 2012, the statement said.
China remained the world’s largest auto market and producer for the fourth consecutive year in 2012, with sales and production at 19.31 million and 19.27 million units, respectively.
>> Tibet wind farm starts turning
By Lü Qiuping, Li Hualing and Zhang Jingpin
World’s highest wind farm at 4,700 meters has gone into operation in Nagchu prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, the last region in China to utilize wind power.
The five turbines of the first phase have a capacity of 7.5 megawatts, an official said on Tuesday of December 10. The completed project will have 33 wind turbines capable of putting out 49.5 megawatts.
Deng Changlin, of the Tibet energy administration office, said Tibet is a very windy place which receives a lot of sunlight. Developing new, green energy sources will play a big part in protection of the frail ecosystem of the region.
It is estimated that annual wind energy reserves in Tibet reach 93 billion kilowatt-hours, or 34 million tonnes of coal equivalent, ranking seventh in China.
>> Police starts railway ticket scalping crackdown
By Cheng Zhuo
Chinese railway police on Tuesday of December 10 started a crackdown on illegal scalping of train tickets.
The police will strengthen patrols at train stations and ticket offices and will pay special attention to suspicious repeat buyers and group ticket purchasers, according to a railway police authority statement.
The police will investigate illegal tickets sold online and will form a blacklist of dubious websites, sellers, phone numbers and bank accounts, the statement said.
The crackdown will last for 80 days until the end of February, covering the Spring Festival period, a traditional Chinese holiday for family reunions.
Due to large-scale migration ahead of the festival, people working far from their hometown scramble for a ticket home to be with their families.
>> China-Nordic Arctic Research Center set up in Shanghai
By Hu Tao and Wang Wei
The China-Nordic Arctic Research Center was set up on Tuesday of December 10 in Shanghai.
Ten research institutions from China, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden signed an agreement to boost mutual cooperation in Arctic research, according to the center.
The center is an expansion of a previous cooperation mechanism between China and Iceland.
The joint platform of China and the five Nordic countries will help boost studies and understanding of global and regional issues relating to the Arctic Pole, targeting its sustainable development, said Yang Huigen, director of the Polar Research Institute of China.
The center will also focus on international cooperation on climate change, resources, shipping, economic cooperation, as well as policy and legislative issues in the Arctic.
Yang said that global warming has accelerated ice melting in the Arctic region, opening opportunities to develop its abundant resources and open new navigation routes.
The center will organize research on chosen topics, host seminars, offer scholarship and allowance to researchers and promote exchanges and information sharing between China and Nordic countries, Yang added.
>> China recruits six aquanaut cadets for deep-sea exploration
By Guo Likun and Luo Sha
China has recruited six aquanaut cadets, including two women, as a reserve force for its future submersible missions, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) announced on Tuesday of December 10.
The newly recruited cadets, who are between the ages of 23 and 28, have been selected from candidates across the country in a public recruitment campaign that kicked off on July 2.
The cadets are China’s second cohort of aquanaut cadets. They will begin a two-year training program in 2014 and graduate as aquanauts if they pass evaluations in 2016, according to the SOA.
Liu Feng, director of the National Deep Sea Center, said the selection criteria for male and female candidates were the same.
“One thing I worried most about during the selection was seasickness, but my habit of doing physical exercise helped me to pass the test,” said Zhao Shengya, a woman and the youngest among the cadets.
“I believe age and gender are not problems,” Zhao said. “I’m quite confident to become a qualified aquanaut after two years.”
“China’s training for aquanauts has become more systematic and mature compared with the first round,” said Liu, noting that the aquanauts from the first group have grown up together with Jiaolong, China’s first manned deep-sea submersible.
Apart from comprehensive training on deep-sea submersibles, the cadets will also attend courses on culture, etiquette and deportment, according to Liu.
“We hope these aquanauts can serve as examples of the country’s marine sector and convey marine consciousness to the public,” Liu said.
Jiaolong reached a record 7,062 meters in the Pacific’s Mariana Trench during a dive in June 2012. During a trial and exploration voyage from June to September this year, Jiaolong explored the South China Sea and the northeast and northwest of the Pacific, accomplishing 21 dives.
>> Chinese judge probed over extramarital affairs
By Wang Yongkang
A senior judge in Central China’s Hubei Province is being probed for maintaining an extramarital affair, the Hubei Higher People’s Court said late on Monday of December 9.
Zhang Jun, head of the court’s third division of criminal cases, has been suspended from his duty and his position will be removed upon approval by relevant authority, the court said in a statement.
Investigation against Zhang was launched by the court and the Communist Party discipline inspection authority of Hubei after alleged video footage showing Zhang buying sex appeared on the Internet.
The investigators discovered that Zhang has maintained an improper relationship with an identified woman for a sustained period.
>> 6 sentenced over fatal Sichuan bridge collapse
By Jiang Yi and Hu Tao
Six people deemed responsible for a deadly bridge collapse in July in southwest China’s Sichuan Province were sentenced by a local court to jail terms from two and a half to 14 years on Tuesday of December 10.
Zhang Pengjv, former director of the urban construction office of Qinglian Township of Jiangyou City, was sentenced to 14 years for malpractice and bribery concerning the Panjiang Bridge maintenance project, said the Jiangyou Municipal People’s Court.
Zhang failed to fulfill his duties of supervision on construction quality during the project, which was started last June by an unqualified construction contractor.
Panjiang Bridge’s collapse on July 9 sent six vehicles plunging into the river below, killing five people and leaving seven others missing.
Zhou Xing and Liu Guoxue, former heads of traffic management authorities in Mianyang, the city overseeing Jiangyou, were also each sentenced to four years in prison on crimes of power abuse and dereliction of duty linked to the tragedy.
Three people with the project contractors also received sentences from two and a half to seven years in prison on charges of offering bribes.
The Miangyang city government invested more than five million yuan (823,500 U.S. dollars) in repairing the bridge, but the structure collapsed during a flood only five days after the project was finished.
An investigation has indicated that multiple irregularities in the bridge repair project, such as illegal subcontracting, unlicensed operations, slack supervision and improper inspection, had led to shoddy construction that did not strictly follow the initial design.
>> Man sentenced to death for fatal bus attack
By Han Xiaojing and Shuang Rui
A court in central China’s Henan Province sentenced a man to death on Tuesday of December 10for a knife attack on a bus which left three dead and 16 injured in August.
Zhou Jiangbo, 24, was convicted of intentional homicide and “endangering public security” by the Anyang Intermediate People’s Court.
On Aug. 18, Zhou attacked three neighbors with a shovel following a dispute and then fled. The next day, wrongly believing two of his seriously injured neighbors had died, Zhou bought two knives and a steel bar, and planned a killing spree at public venues such as bus stations and hospitals in Anyang.
Zhou boarded a public bus in Baibi Township, Anyang County. He tried to snatch the steering wheel as the bus was running, which caused the vehicle to collide with a truck.
He then stabbed the bus driver, ticket seller and passengers, leaving three dead and four seriously injured. Twelve others sustained slight or minor injuries. The dead included a 10-month-old baby girl and two boys aged 10 and 18. Zhou was caught by police on Aug. 20.
Zhou said in court that he will not appeal.
>> Man on trial over fatal bus attack
By Li Laifang and Shuang Rui
A 24-year-old Chinese man stood trial on Tuesday of December 10 at a court in central China’s Henan Province over a crazed knife attack on a bus which left three dead and 16 injured in August.
Zhou Jiangbo, a native of Neihuang County, Henan, was charged with intentional homicide and “endangering public security by using dangerous means,” according to the Anyang City Intermediate People’s Court.
On Aug. 18, Zhou injured three neighbors at home with a shovel following a dispute and then fled, said the prosecutors. They alleged that the next day, wrongly believing two seriously injured neighbors had died, Zhou bought two knives and a steel bar, planning a killing spree at public venues such as bus stations and hospitals in Anyang.
Zhou boarded a public bus in Baibi Township, Anyang County. He tried to snatch the steering wheel as the bus was running, which caused the vehicle to collide with a truck, prosecutors said.
He is then alleged to have stabbed the bus driver, ticket seller and passengers, leaving three dead and four seriously injured. Twelve others sustained slight or minor injuries. The dead included a 10-month-old baby girl and two boys aged 10 and 18. Zhou was caught by police on Aug. 20.
The brutal attack shocked the nation. Police offered an award of 100,000 yuan (16,363 U.S. dollars) for tips leading to an arrest.
>> Suspect arrested in Shanghai baby killing case
By Hu Tao and Huang Anqi
A suspect was arrested on Tuesday of December 10 after a the body of an infant boy was found in a washing machine in Shanghai in November, said local procuratorate authorities.
The suspect Lei, 22, was arrested on suspicion of the intentional homicide of her nephew, said the Songjiang District People’s Procuratorate.
Shanghai police on Nov. 24 received a report saying a four-month-old boy was missing from his home. On Nov. 27, the body of the boy was found in a washing machine in his own home. Police confirmed that Lei was the major suspect.
Lei married in May 2012 and then gave birth to a baby girl. In July of this year, her husband’s sister-in-law, who lives in the same house, gave birth to a son. Lei became psychologically imbalanced and transferred her anger to the four-month-old baby.
“I just wanted to let my anger out on her baby. I carried him into the washroom when I heard my father-in-law come home,” said Lei’s confession:”In panic, I covered his mouth and nose with my hands and soon after, I found the baby was still. I felt i was such a cruel person.”
>> 24 killed in natural disasters in November
By Zuo Yuanfeng and Cui JIng
Natural disasters across China in November claimed 24 lives and caused direct economic losses of 6.81 billion yuan (1.12 billion U.S. dollars), according to official figures.
Disasters affected more than five million people and forced the relocation of 330,000, said a statement jointly released on Tuesday by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Commission for Disaster Reduction.
More than 7,000 houses were toppled and over 247,000 damaged to varying degrees. Disasters affected 661,900 hectares of farmland, with over 67,600 hectares yielding no crops at all.
Natural disasters last month were mainly earthquakes and typhoons, while droughts, floods and snowstorms also played their part. The overall damages were heavier than those from the same period last year.