Archive for ‘Social & cultural’

30/10/2014

180 economic fugitives back in China to face trial[1]|chinadaily.com.cn

Authorities in China have succeeded in getting extradited or persuading 180 economic fugitives to return to China and face trial since launching a campaign called “Fox Hunt” in July.

180 economic fugitives back in China to face trial

US, Canada, Australia top spots for fugitive Chinese officials

Australia to help in returning fugitives

The number of the fugitives being repatriated during the first 100 days of the “Fox Hunt” is more than that of the whole year of 2013. The returned suspects include many alleged corrupt officials who fled to more than 40 countries and regions, including the US, Canada, Australia and Southeast Asian nations.

Among the fugitives, 104 were hunted down by the police and 76 were persuaded to return. Forty four are suspected to be involved with ill-gotten assets over 10 million yuan ($1.6 million).

China’s Public Security Ministry initiated a six-month operation called “Fox Hunt” to target economic fugitives, especially corrupt officials, who fled abroad with their illicit assets. A special unit was set up by the ministry to oversee the operation. It comprises experienced police officers from the Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau and local public security departments.

According to the ministry, some corrupt Chinese officials have fled to the US, Canada, Australia and Southeast Asian countries in recent years, transferring assets worth many billions of dollars overseas through money laundering and underground sources.

Police in Australia and China recently pledged to cooperate on the extradition of Chinese economic fugitives, including many corrupt officials, in an effort to tackle the difficulties over the return of suspects due to a lack of bilateral extradition treaties.

Four of China’s top governmental departments released a statement this month urging fugitive economic criminals to surrender themselves to justice.

The announcement is another move to reinforce the “Fox Hunt 2014″ campaign.

via 180 economic fugitives back in China to face trial[1]|chinadaily.com.cn.

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29/10/2014

China Tries to Track the Corrupt Officials Fleeing Abroad – Businessweek

China’s government estimates that the number of corrupt officials who have moved abroad to sidestep the law and safeguard personal fortunes ranges from 4,000 to 18,000 people. The government charged with corruption nearly 7,000 officials whom it suspected were plotting to flee the country from 2008 to 2013,  according to Cao Jianming, vice president of the Supreme People’s Court.

Cao, the People's Republic of China's top prosecutor and investigator

Government data in an online report from the People’s Daily names the U.S. and Canada as the top destinations–dubbed “corrupt paradises”–for emigrating officials. Records from authorities in Toronto and Vancouver show that Canadian customs officials seized $13 million in undeclared cash from arriving Chinese emigrants and tourists from April 2011 to June 2012.

In July, meanwhile, China launched “Operation Fox Hunt” in an effort to locate and prosecute corrupt officials who have moved abroad. Beijing does not have an extradition treaty with Washington. “We face practical difficulties in getting fugitives who fled to the U.S. back to face trial, due to the lack of an extradition treaty and the complex and lengthy legal procedures,” Liao Jinrong, an official at China’s Ministry of Public Security, earlier told China Daily.

via China Tries to Track the Corrupt Officials Fleeing Abroad – Businessweek.

28/10/2014

Britain’s PM David Cameron Unveils Encyclopedia of Hinduism – India Real Time – WSJ

British Prime Minister David Cameron held a Diwali party in London to launch the new Encyclopedia of Hinduism, as his Conservative Party attempts to strengthen relations with the country’s large Indian community ahead of national elections next year.

The encyclopedia, which took 25 years to compile, contains 11 volumes and is published by the India Heritage Research Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, head of the largest ashram in Rishikesh, a town in northern India.

More than 1,000 guests attended the unveiling of book in Westminster, near the Houses of Parliament. The event was organized by the United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative Party and the Conservative Party Friends of India among others.

Mr. Cameron and his wife Samantha lit a diya, or lamp, at the Diwali party that coincided with the book launch.

Andrew Feldman, chairman of the Conservative Party, said that the book, a product of research by 1,000 scholars, was a “phenomenal achievement.”

“The party wants to deepen and broaden our links with the British Indian community and with India and this event is one important step on our journey,” Lord Feldman said, according to a statement released after the event.

via Britain’s PM David Cameron Unveils Encyclopedia of Hinduism – India Real Time – WSJ.

26/10/2014

Height discrimination: The rise of China | The Economist

WHEN two security guards in Dalian in north-east China got their first month’s pay packet earlier this year, they questioned why each received different amounts for identical work. The company responded that one man was 5cm (two inches) taller than his peer. Workers over 180cm earn more, they said, because bigger guards make people feel safer.

Stature is often a desirable attribute of guards, but in China height requirements are routinely specified for jobs which seem to have no need of them. To study tourism and hotel management at Huaqiao University in Fujian province, men topping 170cm are favoured, and women over 158cm. A post as a female cleaner in Beijing is advertised to women of at least 162cm. Many companies are less explicit about such demands than they used to be, but candidates often list height (and weight) on their curricula vitae.

The height premium is most pronounced for women, according to a study from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. It found that each centimetre above the mean adds 1.5-2.2% to a woman’s salary, particularly among middle- and high-wage earners. A group at China University of Political Science and Law is working on a draft law against employment discrimination for height and other physical characteristics.

Ever more Chinese are rising above such constraints, however. A 45-year-old man in China today is around 5cm taller than 30 years ago, according to the RAND Corporation, a think-tank. Soldiers are growing too tall for the diminutive tanks favoured by the People’s Liberation Army; in 2010 the government raised by 10cm the height under which children in China travel free on trains (a rare scheme that benefits the small).

Greater heights mostly reflect greater incomes. Richer people tend to eat more and live in cleaner, better homes. Meat consumption per person has increased more than fourfold since 1980. Infant mortality is less than a tenth of what it was 60 years ago. Household size has also helped. Historically people from big families have been shorter (not just in China) because food supplies must stretch further. In China the birth rate fell sharply from the 1970s nationwide.

But there are differences across the country which partly reflect the uneven benefits of the economic boom. Eighteen-year-olds from the richest cities are on average 7-8cm taller than those from the poorest ones. The height gap between prosperous and impoverished rural areas is similar. Southerners have long been shorter than northerners. Although the difference between rural and urban heights has narrowed since 1975, other discrepancies persist. The World Health Organisation says around 20% of children in poor rural areas are “stunted”, a common indicator of chronic malnutrition. This compares with 2.5% of city children. Employers’ preference for high and mighty staff exacerbates that inequality. It is time they grew up.

via Height discrimination: The rise of China | The Economist.

22/10/2014

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Gets a Toehold in China – Businessweek

In its quest to dominate the social media industry worldwide, Facebook (FB) has long hankered after China, where the company been been banned since 2009. Facebook may have just gained a foothold to help it infiltrate the Chinese market: the appointment of Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to the board of one of China’s top business schools, the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.

Tsinghua University in Beijing

Tsinghua University announced Zuckerberg’s appointment on Monday to the school’s board, a meeting ground of sorts for Western corporate higher-ups and Chinese officials. In addition to Zuckerberg and top brass from IBM (IBM) , Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), and other multinationals, it includes Chinese government officials and entrepreneurs tasked with advising Tsinghua SEM’s development.

To the business school, Zuckerberg is an impressive name to add to a cadre of corporate superpowers. To Zuckerberg, who will fly to Beijing this week to attend the school’s annual board meeting, the appointment could provide an additional way for Facebook to make its case for reentering China, analysts say.

via Facebook’s Zuckerberg Gets a Toehold in China – Businessweek.

21/10/2014

China likely to close ‘gift’ loophole in corruption fight | Reuters

China’s largely rubber stamp parliament is likely to close a loophole when it meets next week to ban officials from getting around corruption allegations by claiming money received was simply a gift, a state-run newspaper said on Tuesday.

Currently, officials can defend themselves from accusations of receiving bribes by saying money or other goods received, like luxury watches or bags, were just a present from a friend, the official China Daily reported.

It is only considered a crime if a link can be made to some sort of abuse of power, it said.

President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping campaign against deep-seated graft since assuming office last year, warning, like others before him, that the Communist Party’s very survival is at stake.

Xi has vowed to take down high-flying “tigers” as well as lowly “flies” in an anti-graft campaign that has felled Zhou Yongkang, once the powerful domestic security tsar, as well as Jiang Jiemin, the former top regulator of state-owned firms.

The gift rules will probably be changed at a regular meeting of the National People’s Congress opening on Oct. 27, the newspaper said.

“The draft is likely to deem that accepting gifts or money of a considerable amount would be punishable for all government officials,” it added.

“The draft proposal will discuss the possibility of handing down punishment to public servants for accepting goods or money of a certain amount without a direct link to misconduct.”

The amendment is almost certain to be approved as state media generally does not flag such changes if they are not going to be passed.

Under the present system, gifts are meant to be handed over to the government within a month of being received, and some provinces have even set up special bank accounts to handle such money, the newspaper said.

via China likely to close ‘gift’ loophole in corruption fight | Reuters.

21/10/2014

China’s reform tally since November 2013 policy meeting | Reuters

China’s leadership unveiled a blueprint for some of the most comprehensive economic and social reforms in nearly 30 years in November 2013.

Implementation since then has been slow but steady. China has eschewed riskier, game-changing reform but the incremental steps aim to reach enough critical mass to sustain momentum and help the world’s second-largest economy shift down fairly smoothly after decades of investment-fueled growth.

The following are some of the significant steps taken since the Communist Party Central Committee’s Nov 9-12 policy conclave:

OCTOBER, 2014

Oct 16 – The top economic planner is considering tightening rules for bond issues, according to traders and a leaked document.

Oct 11 – The State Council says it will institute a resource tax on coal while eliminating other taxes to simplify the tax structure.

Oct 9 – China levies tariffs on coal imports in a move to reduce the country’s dependence on the polluting energy source.

SEPTEMBER, 2014

Sept 9 – Domestic firms in many areas no longer require government approval to invest overseas but must register their investments with authorities starting Oct 6.

Sept 1 – The budget law is revised to allow local governments to issue bonds directly.

AUGUST, 2014

Aug 29 – The Politburo approves salary cuts for top officials at big state-owned firms to counter graft and income inequality.

Aug 26 – China cuts on-grid prices of thermal electricity from Sept. 1 to reflect a fall in coal prices.

Aug 20 – The government cuts taxes on high-tech companies, abolishes the need for firms to seek approvals in 68 further areas and additionally allows lower levels of government to approve business projects in 19 other areas.

Aug 15 – China eliminates 21 approval processes for a list of industries and lower levels of government are given the right to approve certain projects in an effort to cut red tape.

Aug 12 – China will raise natural gas prices for bulk buyers and non-residential use from Sept. 1 in an effort to reform pricing.

Aug 4 – Foreign firms in China are allowed to use their registered capital to buy stakes in other Chinese companies.

JULY, 2014

July 15 – The state-owned enterprise regulator chooses six state firms to test out reforms expanding the role of private capital in China’s state sector.

July 14 – China loosens currency controls to make it easier for domestic companies and individuals to set up special purpose vehicles (SPVs) for investments overseas.

July 2 – Banks are allowed to set their own exchange rates for the yuan against the dollar in over-the-counter deals with clients.

JUNE, 2014

June 27 – Regulators lower the threshold for banks to enter the foreign exchange market and removes a layer of approvals.

June 25 – China gives the greenlight to three banks wholly funded with capital from private firms, to be the country’s first private lenders.

MAY, 2014

May 21 – The experiment for China’s first municipal bond market is launched.

May 21 – Private firms are invited to invest in 80 major projects in the energy, information and infrastructure sectors.

May 16 – Financial regulators tighten oversight of interbank loans.

May 16 – China sets up international energy trading center where crude oil futures will be traded for the first time.

May 15 – Securities firms get the go-ahead to expand into new businesses such as the online financial services market.

May 6 – State-owned enterprises to increase dividend payouts by 5 percentage points to up to 25 percent of their profits.

APRIL, 2014

April 23 – Premier Li Keqiang says China will allow private investment in 80 projects in energy, information and infrastructure.

April 22 – Changes to the environmental law seeking stiffer penalties for polluters submitted to parliament.

April 11 – Chinese firms can invest up to $1 billion overseas without seeking approval, China’s top planner says.

April 10 – China allows cross-border stock investment between Shanghai and Hong Kong.

April 9 – The government relaxes price controls over non-public hospital services.

April 2 – The government says will fast-track some spending and cut taxes for small firms, as a way of supporting the weakening economy.

MARCH, 2014

March 31 – Britain and China sign an agreement to set up a clearing service for offshore yuan trading in London. That follows a similar agreement with Germany.

March 24 – China simplifies review procedures for mergers and acquisitions.

March 21 – The securities regulator issues rules for a pilot program allowing listed companies to issue preferred shares.

March 20 – The foreign exchange regulator relaxes curbs on foreign investment in China’s stock market.

March 20 – PetroChina, China’s biggest oil and gas producer, is welcoming private investment into oil and gas pipelines in China, according to chairman Zhou Jiping.

March 20 – China lifts ban on equity financing for listed property developers after four years.

March 16 – China sets 2020 targets for urban population growth and registered urban residents.

March 15 – The central bank doubles the yuan currency’s daily trading band against the dollar.

March 11 – Central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan says China’s deposit rates should be liberalized in one to two years.

March 11 – Development of 3-5 privately-owned banks to be tested in Tianjin, Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong, bank regulator says.

March 11 – The cabinet outlines its healthcare reform plan.

March 7 – Loss-making solar equipment maker misses interest payment in China’s first domestic bond default.

March 5 – Premier Li Keqiang promises to wage a “war” on pollution and reduce the pace of investment to a decade-low.

March 1 -Simplified corporate capital registration comes into force. Government data later show 309,500 new firms were registered in March, up 46 percent from a year earlier.

FEBRUARY, 2014

Feb 26 – Beijing details pension reform that seeks to decrease urban-rural economic divisions before 2020.

Feb 21 – The central bank gives operational details for cross-border yuan deals made through Shanghai free trade zone.

Feb 20 – Sinopec Corp, Asia’s largest oil refiner, says it will sell up to 30 percent of its retail business to private investors in a multi-billion dollar revamp.

JANUARY, 2014

Jan 29 – The cabinet sets up a cross-ministry group to boost development of three service zones in Guangdong province.

Jan 22 – Six teams to supervise economic reforms are set up, with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in charge.

Jan 17 – China’s wealthy eastern province of Zhejiang became the first to implement changes to the one-child policy.

Jan 6 – The cabinet publishes guidelines strengthening regulation of off-balance lending.

DECEMBER, 2013

Dec 11 – Beijing strips 82 powers away from central government ministries. Over 200 administrative approvals are set to be abolished or delegated to local authorities in 2014.

Dec 10 – New standards on performance ratings of officials break the obsession with growth and include such criteria as work safety, innovation, environmental and resource costs.

Dec 8 – The central bank sets guidelines for issuing of interbank certificates of deposit, a step towards allowing markets to determine interest rates.

Dec 4 – The government expands its value-added tax trial to rail transport and the postal service.

Dec 4 – The central bank announces details of financial reform test runs in the Shanghai free trade zone.

NOVEMBER, 2013

Nov 30 – The stock market regulator announces IPO reforms.

Nov 12 – Anhui province, which spearheaded land reform in 1978 announces pilot land reforms, including accelerating the development of large-scale farming, completing land use rights registration before end-2015 and simplifying land transactions.

via Factbox: China’s reform tally since November 2013 policy meeting | Reuters.

19/10/2014

Jayaram Jayalalithaa Granted Bail – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s Supreme Court Friday granted bail to Jayaram Jayalalithaa, the influential leader of one of India’s biggest regional parties, as she appeals her conviction nearly three weeks after she was sentenced to four years in jail for corruption.

In September, a court in Bangalore found Ms. Jayalalithaa and three of her aides guilty of having accumulated wealth beyond their known sources of income.

On Friday, the Supreme Court granted her “conditional bail on grounds that she is unwell and needs to rest at home,” her party’s spokesman Aspire K. Swaminathan told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.

After a case that lasted close to two decades, Ms. Jayalalithaa had to step down immediately from her position as chief minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu after the September verdict. Her party – the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam– quickly named O. Paneerselvam as her successor as chief minister, she remains the leader of the party and has been in jail in Bangalore since Sept. 27.

Ms. Jayalalithaa denied wrongdoing and appealed for bail in the Karnataka High Court earlier this month on health grounds. But the court rejected her bail plea saying there was no reason to suspend her conviction.

Subramanian Swamy, a petitioner in the case against Ms. Jayalalithaa and a leader in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party said the top court has asked Ms. Jayalalithaa to submit her appeal within two months in the Karnataka High Court, “failing which her bail would be cancelled.”

via Jayaram Jayalalithaa Granted Bail – India Real Time – WSJ.

30/09/2014

Education in China: Online learning is becoming more popular | The Economist

NEARLY 7m students began their courses at Chinese universities at the start of a new academic year this month. In line behind them, a new cohort is already cramming for next year’s university entrance-examination, the notorious gaokao. But some young Chinese see drawbacks in bricks-and-mortar tuition in China because of a rigid style of teaching, the funnelling of students into courses they do not enjoy, the cost and dim job prospects for many graduates. Small but growing numbers are considering options online.

Internet-based methods of teaching, known as Massive Online Open Courses or MOOCs, are already gaining in popularity in other countries. Typically, MOOCs offer students free access to instructional videos but charge for certificates showing satisfactory completion of coursework. In China, despite deeply ingrained reverence for traditional institutions, the trend is also beginning to catch on.

One startup in the field is a non-profit organisation in Beijing calling itself One-Man University. It is not officially recognised as a university, but it has gained a big leg-up with backing from non-state companies that see MOOCs as a potentially large new market. To attract viewers, 56.com, a video-streaming website, is distributing the service’s instructional videos without advertisements. Since it opened in 2011, One-Man University has acquired 130,000 registered members.

The organisation’s 27-year-old founder, Tong Zhe, studied physics at Peking University. He decided to offer online courses because he felt that the Chinese approach to higher education was too formulaic. Mr Tong’s 15-minute videos are prepared by professional teachers whose delivery is livelier than what is usually experienced in the dour lecture-halls of Chinese universities. Within three years Mr Tong aims to offer all university and high-school subjects. (The service’s name in Chinese, Wanmen Daxue, is a pun on the English that also means “ten thousand subjects”.)

Universities do not seem opposed to the idea. The principal of Southern University of Science and Technology, Zhu Qingshi, has said of One-Man University: “Education in the internet age can make everyone equal. I believe it will bring a revolution to education.” They are also getting into the business themselves. The government has allowed a first wave of open online courses—such as those provided by Xuetang, a MOOC supported by Tsinghua University—to be hosted on EdX, a non-profit platform, which is sponsored by Harvard and MIT. In May Chen Jin, Nanjing University’s president, said the university intended to work with Coursera, an American MOOC provider which has signed a deal with NetEase, a Chinese distributor, to host online courses.

via Education in China: Online learning is becoming more popular | The Economist.

30/09/2014

Mental Illness in China: Still a Stigma – Businessweek

Of the approximately 173 million people in China estimated to suffer from “a diagnosable psychiatric disorder,” only about 15 million have ever received medical treatment, according to a 2012 paper in the British medical journal Lancet. The country of 1.4 billion people has only about 20,000 psychiatrists, just 4,000 of whom are adequately trained and qualified, according to the journal.

Beijing Begins to Pay Attention to Mental Health Care

Awareness of mental health as a public health issue is still nascent in China, and great stigmas still attach to acknowledging that oneself—or a close family member—may suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, or another condition. At the same time, the massive changes associated with China’s rapid urbanization—including millions of children separated from parents who go to work at distant factories—adds enormous psychological strain, according to the journal.

In May 2013, China’s first law to safeguard the medical privacy of people seeking health for mental treatment went into effect. The law also prohibited involuntary treatment of mental illness without the consent of a guardian. In the past, Chinese political dissidents were sometimes labeled as “mentally ill” by authorities, who used this excuse to confine them; human rights activists say this practice has not been totally abolished. Still, despite its flawed enforcement, the American Journal of Psychiatry hailed the new law as “a high-water mark for Chinese psychiatry, and potentially for global mental health.”

via Mental Illness in China: Still a Stigma – Businessweek.

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