Posts tagged ‘Bo Xilai’


Enforcing environmental rules: Saving fish and baring teeth | The Economist

ON TAKING over in February as China’s minister for environmental protection, Chen Jining said the country needed an environmental law that was “not a paper tiger” but rather a “sharp weapon with teeth of steel”. Early indications, among them the cancellation of a series of dam projects on the upper reaches of the Yangzi river, are that the former academic and university administrator intends to follow through on his fighting words.

State media have reported that the builders of the Yangzi’s Xiaonanhai dam—expected to cost 32 billion yuan ($5.1 billion) and to generate two gigawatts of electricity—were denied permission to continue because of the harm it would cause to a nature reserve that is the last remaining habitat for many species of rare fish. Work on its foundations began in 2012, but was halted while the environment ministry assessed the project. Two smaller dams on the same stretch of river were also rejected.

Activists in China welcomed the decision, saying it showed a new determination to enforce environmental rules. According to Ma Jin of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a Chinese NGO in Beijing, the firms that applied to build the dams, led by the Three Gorges Project Corporation, had previously won permission for other dams that would endanger fish populations by arguing that the protected nature reserve near the Xiaonanhai project would guarantee their survival. That, he says, makes the project “particularly outrageous”.

via Enforcing environmental rules: Saving fish and baring teeth | The Economist.


Ikea bans customers sleeping on showing beds – China –

Ikea has introduced new rules that forbid store visitors from sleeping on showroom sofas and beds, but the rule is proving hard to enforce, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Monday.

Ikea bans customers sleeping on showing beds

The world’s largest furniture retailer introduced the rule because many customers, both adults and children, have been sleeping in stores, creating a scene and affecting the experience of other customers.

A middle-aged woman said Ikea beds are comfortable so her friends “take a nap” there sometimes, according to the newspaper.

Pictures also show young couples lying on the sofas, their faces covered by pillows.

The newspaper said some customers take off their shoes and lie on the beds as if they were in their own homes.

Ikea encourages customers to sit or lie on beds for a short while to experience their quality, but many sleeping customers occupy the display pieces for too long, a staff member says.

The air-conditioned megastore in Beijing is known for attracting customers in summer who are looking to escape the heat.

Workers in Ikea said it is hard to enforce the no-sleeping rule as many of the perpetrators are often elderly or young children, and some customers simply ignore their requests.

via Ikea bans customers sleeping on showing beds – China –


Exclusive: China seizes $14.5 billion assets from family, associates of ex-security chief – sources | Reuters

Chinese authorities have seized assets worth at least 90 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) from family members and associates of retired domestic security tsar Zhou Yongkang, who is at the centre of China’s biggest corruption scandal in more than six decades, two sources said.

China's Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang reacts as he attends the Hebei delegation discussion sessions at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing in this October 16, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Files

More than 300 of Zhou’s relatives, political allies, proteges and staff have also been taken into custody or questioned in the past four months, the sources, who have been briefed on the investigation, told Reuters.

The sheer size of the asset seizures and the scale of the investigations into the people around Zhou – both unreported until now – make the corruption probe unprecedented in modern China and would appear to show that President Xi Jinping is tackling graft at the highest levels.

But it may also be driven partly by political payback after Zhou angered leaders such as Xi by opposing the ouster of former high-flying politician Bo Xilai, who was jailed for life in September for corruption and abuse of power.

Zhou, 71, has been under virtual house arrest since authorities began formally investigating him late last year. He is the most senior Chinese politician to be ensnared in a corruption investigation since the Communist Party swept to power in 1949.

“It’s the ugliest in the history of the New China,” said one of the sources, who has ties to the leadership, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for speaking to the foreign media about elite politics.

The government has yet to make any official statement about Zhou or the case against him and it has not been possible to contact Zhou, his family, associates or staff for comment. It is not clear if any of them have lawyers.

via Exclusive: China seizes $14.5 billion assets from family, associates of ex-security chief – sources | Reuters.

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* With legal reforms, China wants less interfering in cases, fewer death penalty crimes | Reuters

China has curtailed the power of the ruling Communist Party’s Political and Legal Committee, a secretive body overseeing the security services, to interfere in most legal cases, scholars with knowledge of the situation said – a significant reform at a time of public discontent over miscarriages of justice.

Zhou Qiang, President of China's Supreme People's Court, attends National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

The move, which has not been made public by the party but has been announced in internal meetings, would clip the wings of the party’s highest authority on judicial and security matters.

Interference from the committee has led to many wrongful convictions, many of which have been widely reported in the press and even highlighted by President Xi Jinping as an issue that needs to be urgently addressed.

Part of a package of legal reforms, the move signals a willingness by Xi’s government to reform its court system as long as it doesn’t threaten the party’s overall control.

China’s highest court, the Supreme People’s Court, will delivers its work report to parliament on Monday, which could detail some of these reforms.

But the party would still have final say over politically sensitive cases such as those involving ethnic issues and senior politicians – like the disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, who was last year found guilty of bribery, corruption and abuse of power, and jailed for life – and would use the courts to convict citizens who challenge its authority.

via With legal reforms, China wants less interfering in cases, fewer death penalty crimes | Reuters.

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Xinhua unveils top 10 domestic events of 2013


China’s top ten domestic events in 2013

1. Leadership transition

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, was elected president in the government transition, replacing Hu JintaoLi Keqiang was appointed premier.

2. Giant steps in space

Three astronauts went into space aboard the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft on June 11 and returned to Earth on June 26.

During the 15-day mission, Shenzhou-10 docked twice with the orbiting space lab Tiangong-1; once without any intervention by the crew and once manually. The astronauts conducted medical experiments and delivered a lecture to students on Earth about basic physics.

On Dec. 2, China’s lunar probe Chang’e-3, with moon rover Yutu aboard, successfully landed on the moon, the first time that a Chinese spacecraft has soft-landed on an extraterrestrial body.

3. “Mass line” campaign

The Chinese leadership launched a one-year “mass-line” campaign in June to clean up four undesirable work styles — formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance — to improve interactions between CPC officials, Party members and the people at large.

(Note: this item also includes the anti-corruption campaign to bring sown both “tigers and flies”)

4. A better atmosphere

The State Council issued the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan in September to control PM2.5 (airborne particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns) and reduce the number of smoggy days. The 10 point plan includes limits to pollutant emissions, optimization of energy use and upgrades to technology.

5. Trial of Bo Xilai

Jinan Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Bo Xilai, once secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee and disgraced member of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee, to life imprisonment for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of his power on Sept. 22 after a public trial.

When Bo appealed to a higher court his appeal was rejected and the original sentence upheld.

6. Shanghai FTZ opens for business

On Sept. 29 the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone was launched, as a sandbox for market reform and a boost to economic vitality.

7. CPC draws reform roadmap

The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee from Nov. 9 to 12, adopted resolutions on numerous important issues and promised comprehensively deeper reform, including a decisive role for the market in allocating resources, changes to the one-child policy and an end to he system of reeducation through labor.

8. Death at work

A total of 121 people were killed and 76 injured when a fire ripped through a poultry plant in Dehui City in northeast China’s Jilin Province on June 3.

On Nov. 22, an explosion on a section of Sinopec’s underground pipeline in the eastern city of Qingdao in Shandong Province killed 62 people and injured 136.

9. China establishes air defense identification zone

China announced an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone on Nov. 23, requiring all aircraft to report their flight plans and establish identification communications when passing through the area.

The zone includes airspace within the area enclosed the outer limit of China’s territorial waters and six other points.

The zone does not target any specific country and has not affected flight plans of any other countries’ aircraft.

10. Urbanization picks up the pace

The highest level meeting on urbanization from Dec. 12 to 13, promised a steady push towards human-centered urbanization, balancing urban-rural development and stimulating domestic demand.

Focusing on the quality of urbanization and urban living standards, the meeting made helping migrant workers to win urbanite status the number one priority.

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Supporters of China’s disgraced Bo Xilai set up political party | Reuters

Did you know that there are “eight government-sanctioned non-Communist parties, whose role is technically to advise rather than serve as a functioning opposition.”

“Supporters of China\’s disgraced senior politician Bo Xilai, who has been jailed for corruption, have set up a political party, two separate sources said, in a direct challenge to the ruling Communist Party\’s de facto ban on new political groups.

Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai stands trial inside the court in Jinan, Shandong province, August 22, 2013, in this file photo released by Jinan Intermediate People's Court. REUTERS/Jinan Intermediate People's Court/Handout via Reuters/Files

The Zhi Xian Party, literally \”the constitution is the supreme authority\” party, was formed on November 6, three days before the opening of a key conclave of top Communist Party leaders to discuss much-needed economic reforms, the sources said.

It named Bo as \”chairman for life\”, Wang Zheng, one of the party\’s founders and an associate professor of international trade at the Beijing Institute of Economics and Management, told Reuters by telephone.

\”This is not illegal under Chinese law. It is legal and reasonable,\” Wang said.

A second source, who asked not to be identified but who has direct knowledge of the party\’s founding, confirmed the news.

Calls to the Communist Party\’s propaganda department seeking comment went unanswered.

The party announced its establishment by sending letters to the Communist Party, China\’s eight other political parties, parliament and the top advisory body to parliament, Wang said, adding that no ceremony was held.

It also sent a letter to Bo via the warden of his prison informing him that he would be their \”chairman for life\”, she said. It was not immediately clear if Bo would agree.

The party was set up because it \”fully agrees with Mr Bo Xilai\’s common prosperity\” policy, according to a party document seen by Reuters, a reference to Bo\’s leftist egalitarian policies that won him so many supporters.

Asked if party members included Communists, government officials or People\’s Liberation Army officers, Wang said she could not discuss the matter to protect them because it was politically \”sensitive\”.

China\’s constitution guarantees freedom of association, along with freedom of speech and assembly, but all are banned in practice. The constitution does not explicitly allow or ban the establishment of political parties.

Bo, once a rising star in China\’s leadership circles who had cultivated a following through his populist, quasi-Maoist policies, was jailed for life in September on charges of corruption and abuse of power after a dramatic fall from grace that shook the Communist Party.

History suggests the Communist Party will not look kindly on the establishment of this new party, even more so because its titular head is a former member of its own top ranks.

China\’s Communist rulers have held an iron grip on power since the 1949 revolution, though they allow the existence of eight government-sanctioned non-Communist parties, whose role is technically to advise rather than serve as a functioning opposition.

The Communist Party views the founding of opposition parties as subversion.”

via Supporters of China’s disgraced Bo Xilai set up political party | Reuters.


Chinese inspectors uncover widespread corruption in “shock and awe” probe | South China Morning Post

Ten teams of inspectors sent around the nation four months ago as part of the leadership’s anti-graft drive have wrapped up their field trips, finding “corruption problems” in most places they visited.


They inspected units in Chongqing, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Hubei and Guizhou, as well as the Ministry of Water Resources, the Import-Export Bank of China, the China Grain Reserves Corporation, Renmin University and the China Publishing Group.

The teams have provided feedback to the inspected bodies and alerted the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to signs of possible corruption, according to a statement released on the official website run jointly by the CCDI and the Ministry of Supervision.

The central inspection teams aim to spot corruption and create an atmosphere of “shock and awe” [among officials] to curb rampant corruption, said Wang Qishan, China’s anticorruption tsar, before despatching the teams in mid-May.

The most eye-catching destination was Chongqing, still smarting from the upheavals of the downfall of its former party chief Bo Xilai . Bo was sentenced to life imprisonment for corruption and abuse of power.

In a comment about the new Chongqing municipal government, Xu Guangchun, head of the Fifth Central Inspection Team, said the municipality had failed to impose sufficient checks and supervision over its top leaders, and certain leading cadres did not have firm political beliefs and failed to reach moral standards.

Xu also warned about “corruption risks” in state-owned enterprises in the municipality, pointing to rampant “fly-style” corruption – committed by lower-ranking officials – within the organisations.

via Chinese inspectors uncover widespread corruption in “shock and awe” probe | South China Morning Post.


Bo Xilai found guilty of corruption by Chinese court

BBC: “A Chinese court has found disgraced former top politician Bo Xilai guilty of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The former party chief of Chongqing was sentenced to life imprisonment, but has the right to appeal.

He had denied all the charges against him in a fiery defence at his trial.

Bo was removed from office last year amid a scandal which saw his wife convicted for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The verdict was handed down by the Intermediate People’s Court in Jinan, Shandong province.

Passing sentence the judge told Bo that he had damaged China’s national interests and the interests of its people, wrongfully using his position in power to receive bribes totalling 20 million Chinese Yuan ($3.2m; £2m).

He rejected Bo’s claims that his confession to the crimes was acquired through illegal means such as torture and interrogation, and said it therefore stood.

The BBC’s John Sudworth, outside the court, said that the judge completely demolished Bo’s defence arguments.

During Bo’s trial last month the court took the unprecedented step of releasing details about proceedings on its Weibo microblog.

The curtains appear to have finally dropped on Bo Xilai’s once-glittering Communist Party career.

Bo can appeal against the trial verdict and his life sentence, but it is highly improbable he could engineer a future in which he re-enters China’s political arena. He has been stripped of all political rights for life.

Of course, Bo can apply for release on parole after 10 years. Other convicted politicians were released from prison after serving only part of their original sentences. Chen Xitong, a former Politburo member, was released on medical parole after serving half of his original 16-year prison term.

However, Bo Xilai is 64-years-old. Even before his political downfall, he was moving towards the final chapter in his career. It is difficult to envision a scenario in which he can quickly revive his populist power base, even if he gains an early release from prison.

It is difficult to make predictions in the world of Chinese politics. Two years ago Bo appeared to be poised to move into Zhongnanhai, the government compound in Beijing were China’s top leaders reside.

Now, he will spend the foreseeable future inside a prison cell.

Bo was sentenced to life in prison on the bribery charges, 15 years for embezzlement and seven years for abuse of power – our correspondent says that he has been politically buried. In addition all his personal wealth has been confiscated.

He has 10 days to appeal against his sentence and conviction, but correspondents say that any such move is highly unlikely to be successful.

Although his trial was conducted under an unprecedented degree of openness for China, many analysts say that the guilty verdict was always a foregone conclusion – and many see the process against him as having a very strong political dimension.

Prosecutors had said that Bo accepted the bribes and embezzled public funds from Dalian, where he used to be mayor.

He was also accused of abusing his office by using his position to cover up for his wife Gu Kailai, convicted last year of murdering Neil Heywood in 2011.

In lengthy comments in court, he said he did not illegally obtain millions of dollars or cover up Mr Heywood’s killing.

He also dismissed the testimony of two key witnesses, describing his wife’s statement as “ridiculous” and his former police chief Wang Lijun’s testimony as “full of lies and fraud”.

via BBC News – Bo Xilai found guilty of corruption by Chinese court.


China’s wealthy increasingly attracted to Britain’s elite secondary schools

SCMP: “A decade after Bo Guagua, grandson to a revolutionary hero and son of fallen Communist Party leader Bo Xilai, became the first Chinese to attend Britain’s elite Harrow School, agencies promising access to Britain’s top independent schools are expanding rapidly to cope with rising demand from the growing pool of high-net-worth individuals from China.


The London-based education consultancy Gabbitas opened its first office in Shanghai in 2009. Four years later, it also advises well-off parents in Guangzhou, Wenzhou and Dalian on how to get their children into secondary schools once reserved for British and continental European aristocracy.

Within five years the agency plans to open another 12 branch offices, said Sofie Liao, director of Gabbitas in China. Schools like Eton and Harrow “are getting more and more enquiries from Chinese families,” she said, anticipating annual growth rates of 10 to 15 per cent.

Liao’s biggest challenge is to lower parents’ expectations, she said. Parents “have to be realistic,” she said. They “tend to think, you register with Eton and then you need to pack your luggage and go there next year.”

These schools “have royalty, they don’t care how much money you have in your bank account or how many listed companies you have,” Liao said.

She said parents are signing up their children to join the UK’s exclusive schools at a younger age to increase their chances of being accepted. “The youngest students we have are pre-prep school age, two to three years old. They have to wait another 11 years before they can get in.”

“It’s a very long selling cycle,” said Jazreel Goh, director for education marketing at the British embassy in Beijing, adding that such agencies are unlikely to be challenged by the average Chinese rivals.

“The market is a very niche and specialised service. The bar for being a good boarding school agent is set quite high – you have to have the network of boarding schools and you have to know which might suit the applicant,” she said.

Goh estimated that there are about ten professional boarding school agencies in China. The trend she has seen is more upper-middle-class parents signing up with agencies to send their children to the UK.

Students from China, including Hong Kong, make up by far the largest group of foreign students studying at British independent schools, according to a census in January this year surveying more than a thousand schools by the British Independent School Council. Among the 25,912 foreign secondary school children in Britain, 9,623 or 37.1 per cent came from China.”

via China’s wealthy increasingly attracted to Britain’s elite secondary schools | South China Morning Post.


A Chinese power struggle: Hunting tigers

The Economist: “A DRIVE against corruption? Or a political purge? Or a bit of both? Outside China, not many people noticed the dismissal of Jiang Jiemin, the minister overseeing China’s powerful state-owned enterprises (SOEs). His charge—“serious violations of discipline”—is party-speak for corruption. Officials at CNPC, a state-run oil giant which Mr Jiang used to run, have also been charged. But in Beijing it fits a pattern. It follows on from the trial of Bo Xilai, the princeling who ran the huge region of Chongqing and was a notable rival of Xi Jinping, China’s president. Mr Xi now seems to be gunning for an even bigger beast: Zhou Yongkang, Mr Jiang’s mentor, an ally of Mr Bo’s, and until last year the head of internal security whom Mr Bo once hoped to replace.

Mr Xi vows to fight corrupt officials large and small—“tigers” and “flies” as he puts it. He has certainly made as much or more noise about graft as his predecessors. If Mr Zhou is pursued for corruption, it will break an unwritten rule that the standing committee should not go after its own members, past or present. And there are good reasons for Mr Xi to stamp out corruption. He knows that ill-gotten wealth is, to many ordinary people, the chief mark against the party. It also undermines the state’s economic power.

But this corruption drive is also open to another interpretation. To begin with, the tigers being rounded up are Mr Xi’s enemies. Mr Bo had hoped to use Chongqing as the springboard to the Politburo’s standing committee. The verdict on Mr Bo, expected any day, is a foregone conclusion. His sentence will be decided at the highest levels of the Communist Party, and it can only be harsh. Party politics, as seen by its players, is an all-or-nothing game, and the stakes are even higher when family prestige and fortunes are at stake.

Mr Xi is also open to the charge of being selective about leaving other tigers untouched. His own family’s fortune, piggy-banking off Mr Xi’s career, runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. Even as Mr Xi rails against corruption, he has overseen a crackdown on reformers calling, among other things, for the assets of senior cadres to be disclosed. And although the party makes much of how Mr Bo’s trial is the rule of law at work, many of the moves against Mr Bo, Mr Jiang and Mr Zhou appear to be taking place in a parallel and obscure system of detention for party members known as shuanggui.

Now set out your stall, Mr Xi

So China is entering a crucial period. The optimistic interpretation of all this is that Mr Xi is not just consolidating his own power but also restoring political unity. This will free him to push ahead with the deep but difficult economic reforms that he has promised and that China so badly needs if growth is not to stumble; it would also allow him to drive harder against corruption. The SOEs are bound to be part of both campaigns.

The test will come at a party plenum in November. There, Mr Xi should make it clear that even his friends are not above the law. A register of official interests would be laudable, and a few trials of people from Mr Xi’s own camp would send a message. He should also tie his campaign against graft to economic liberalisation: break up the various boondoggles and monopolies, and there will be far fewer chances for theft. It is still not clear whether Mr Xi’s “Chinese Dream” is a commitment to reform or maintaining the status quo. For China’s sake, it had better be reform.

via A Chinese power struggle: Hunting tigers | The Economist.

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