Posts tagged ‘National People’s Congress’

19/12/2014

China’s Animal Rights Movement Makes Gains – Businessweek

It’s getting a little easier to be an animal in China. The country’s fledgling animal-rights movement this week received a double boost, with a animal-welfare law in the works and a prominent zoo taking action to stop animal performances.

A tiger performs at Chongqing Safari Park in China

On Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Global Times, the tabloid affiliated with the official Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, reported that that the National People’s Congress is moving ahead on a plan to pass landmark legislation to protect animals, both in the wild and in captivity. Lawmakers have just completed a draft of the proposal, Chang Jiwen, vice director of the Research Institute of Resources and Environment Policies under the Development Research Center of the State Council, told the newspaper.

There’s still a long way to go before the proposal becomes law: China’s parliament isn’t likely to take up the amendment until late in 2015. But given China’s track record, we should take progress wherever we can get it. Or, as the Global Times reported, “Shi Kun, director of the Wildlife Institute at Beijing Forestry University, told the Global Times that China has long been criticized for not treating wild animals humanely, but with legal recognition of animal welfare, the country should be able to make progress on curbing phenomenon like overtime performance by zoo animals and harsh living conditions for wildlife on farms.”

via China’s Animal Rights Movement Makes Gains – Businessweek.

27/10/2014

China considers abolishing death penalty for nine crimes | Reuters

China is considering trimming nine crimes from the list of offences punishable by death, state media said on Monday, as the ruling Communist Party considers broader reforms to the country’s legal system.

Rights groups say China uses capital punishment more than any other country, raising public concern of irreversible miscarriages of justice.

A draft amendment to China’s criminal law, which includes the use of the death penalty, was submitted for initial review to the country’s National People’s Congress, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Crimes that would be exempt from capital punishment under the amendment include “smuggling weapons, ammunition, nuclear materials or counterfeit currencies; counterfeiting currencies; raising funds by means of fraud; and arranging for or forcing another person to engage in prostitution”, Xinhua said.

The crimes of “obstructing a commander or a person on duty from performing his duties” and “fabricating rumors to mislead others during wartime”, are also under review, the news agency said.

Officials had previously said that China would review the application of the death penalty, which applies to 55 offences, including fraud and illegal money-lending.

China guards the number of people executed every year as state secrets.

The San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, which seeks the release of political prisoners in China, estimated that 2,400 people were executed in 2013. By comparison, 39 people were executed in 2013 in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The reduction in death penalty crimes, however, is not expected to greatly reduce the number of executions per year, scholars have said.

The Communist Party, worried about rising social unrest and anger over land grabs, corruption and pollution unveiled legal reforms aimed at improving judicial independence at a key meeting last week.

The Party has stressed that it will remain in overall control of the judiciary, and despite the move to implement legal reforms, few analysts expect significant political change any time soon.

via China considers abolishing death penalty for nine crimes | Reuters.

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.

04/09/2014

China Fights Local Budget Corruption With ‘Economic Constitution’ – Businessweek

Revising a budget law, as China’s National People’s Congress just did, sure doesn’t sound very sexy. But Sunday’s move is a crucial step toward fixing some of China’s biggest economic challenges: controlling runaway local debt; curbing rampant official corruption, and stemming the spread of socially destabilizing land seizures.

The Shanghai skyline

The amended law that now requires local governments to publicize their annual budgets is so important that some are calling it the “Economic Constitution,” the China Daily reported on Sept. 1. The revision “will prove a milestone in China’s fiscal history, as it will make the government’s collection of taxes and fees and distribution of its fiscal money to become more law-based and transparent,” the English-language paper reports.

Until now, the finances of China’s tens of thousands of counties, townships, and villages have been split into budget and extra-budgetary funds. With much of the financing falling in the murkier off-budget category, “government departments have a great leeway in managing government funds, which can possibly lead to corruption and abuse of public funds,” the newspaper explains.

via China Fights Local Budget Corruption With ‘Economic Constitution’ – Businessweek.

01/09/2014

China imposes harsher punishment to ensure workplace safety – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China’s top legislature on Sunday adopted a revision to the Workplace Safety Law which imposes harsher punishment on offenders.

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted the revision through a vote at the bi-monthly legislative session held from Monday to Sunday.

The amendment further increased fines for enterprises involved in serious workplace accidents from the maximum of 5 million yuan (810,000 U.S. dollars) proposed in its original draft to 20 million yuan.

The quadrupled fine cap is stated in an added article which stipulates fines ranging from 200,000 yuan to 20 million yuan, depending on the losses incurred in the accident.

Under the old Workplace Safety Law, fines for enterprises violating the law were no more than 100,000 yuan or below five times the income earned from illegal operation.

Managers in charge of such enterprises who are found to have failed in their duty to ensure safety will also now be fined between 30 and 80 percent of their annual income corresponding to losses in the accidents.

This is a massive raise compared with the former law, under which managers faced fines between 20,000 yuan and 200,000 yuan.

The revised law states that managers responsible for “serious” and “extremely serious” accidents will be banned from serving as principals in enterprises in the same industry.

The regulation on work safety issued by the State Council in 2007 defines “serious accidents” as those causing 10 to 30 deaths, 50 to 100 serious injuries, or direct economic losses of between 50 and 100 million yuan.

via China imposes harsher punishment to ensure workplace safety – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

05/03/2014

How Committed Is China to Reform? A Tip From ‘The Old Perfessor’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

One of the most important questions in the global economy is the commitment to reform by China’s new leaders. Are they more reform-oriented than the last crew, who talked a lot about economic reform but often didn’t carry through?

China Real Time did a quick analysis based on the philosophy of Casey Stengel, the garrulous former manager of the New York Yankees and Mets known by the nickname “The Old Perfessor.” As Stengel often said, “You can look it up.” So we did.

In his just-delivered 2014 work report, Premier Li Keqiang, used the word “reform” 84 times in his lengthy address.  Last year, former Premier Wen Jiabao used “reform” a mere 51 times.

“Transformation?” Mr. Li, 17; Mr. Wen, 5.

What would Mr. Li like to reform? Among many other things: socialism, markets, government, agriculture, science, investment, taxes, finance and schools.

And what would he transform? Industry and foreign trade mostly.

It won’t be easy to do all this, Mr. Li warned:  “China’s reform has entered a critical stage and a deep water zone,” he told delegates to China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress. “We  must rely fully on the people, break mental shackles and vested interests with great determination.”

Or as  Mr. Stengel reportedly said: “Without losers, where would the winners be?”

via How Committed Is China to Reform? A Tip From ‘The Old Perfessor’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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25/04/2013

* Xi Jinping orders generals and senior PLA officers to serve as privates

SCMP: “Chinese generals and senior officers will have to serve as the lowest-ranking soldiers for at least two weeks under a measure by President Xi Jinping to shake up the military and boost morale.

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Xi, as the nation’s commander-in-chief, issued the order over the weekend, which the Ministry of National Defence publicised on its website.

It dictates that officers with the rank of lieutenant-colonel or above must serve as privates – the lowest-ranking soldier – for not less than 15 days. Generals and officers will have to live, eat and serve with junior soldiers during the period.

They need to provide for themselves and pay for their own food. They must not accept any banquet invitation, join any sight-seeing tours, accept gifts or interfere with local affairs

“They need to provide for themselves and pay for their own food. They must not accept any banquet invitation, join any sight-seeing tours, accept gifts or interfere with local affairs,” said the directive, which covers both the People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police.

Leaders of regiment- and brigade-level units have to serve on the front line once every three years. Division- and army-level commanders must serve once every four years. Top leaders from army headquarters and military districts will do so once every five years.

The measure recalls a similar shake-up launched by Mao Zedong in 1958. Mao at the time famously said all military leaders should serve as foot soldiers for a month every year.

He used the chance to strengthen his control of the military and forced many powerful marshals and generals into retirement or exile.”

via Xi Jinping orders generals and senior PLA officers to serve as privates | South China Morning Post.

22/03/2013

* As Pollution Worsens in China, Solutions Succumb to Infighting

NY Times: “China’s state leadership transition has taken place this month against an ominous backdrop. More than 16,000 dead pigs have been found floating in rivers that provide drinking water to Shanghai. A haze akin to volcanic fumes cloaked the capital, causing convulsive coughing and obscuring the portrait of Mao Zedong on the gate to the Forbidden City.

So severe are China’s environmental woes, especially the noxious air, that top government officials have been forced to openly acknowledge them. Fu Ying, the spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress, said she checked for smog every morning after opening her curtains and kept at home face masks for her daughter and herself. Li Keqiang, the new prime minister, said the air pollution had made him “quite upset” and vowed to “show even greater resolve and make more vigorous efforts” to clean it up.

What the leaders neglect to say is that infighting within the government bureaucracy is one of the biggest obstacles to enacting stronger environmental policies. Even as some officials push for tighter restrictions on pollutants, state-owned enterprises — especially China’s oil and power companies — have been putting profits ahead of health in working to outflank new rules, according to government data and interviews with people involved in policy negotiations.

For instance, even though trucks and buses crisscrossing China are far worse for the environment than any other vehicles, the oil companies have delayed for years an improvement in the diesel fuel those vehicles burn. As a result, the sulfur levels of diesel in China are at least 23 times that of the United States. As for power companies, the three biggest ones in the country are all repeat violators of government restrictions on emissions from coal-burning plants; offending power plants are found across the country, from Inner Mongolia to the southwest metropolis of Chongqing.

The state-owned enterprises are given critical roles in policy-making on environmental standards. The committees that determine fuel standards, for example, are housed in the buildings of an oil company. Whether the enterprises can be forced to follow, rather than impede, environmental restrictions will be a critical test of the commitment of Mr. Li andXi Jinping, the new party chief and president, to curbing the influence of vested interests in the economy.”

via As Pollution Worsens in China, Solutions Succumb to Infighting – NYTimes.com.

15/03/2013

* China confirms Li Keqiang as premier

BBC: “China’s leaders have named Li Keqiang premier, placing him at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy.

Mr Li, who already holds the number two spot in the Communist Party, takes over from Wen Jiabao.

Mr Li was elected for a five-year term but, like his predecessor, would be expected to spend a decade in office.

On Thursday, Xi Jinping was confirmed by legislators as the new president, completing the transition of power from Hu Jintao.

Li Keqiang’s widely-signalled elevation was confirmed by 3,000 legislators at the National People’s Congress, the annual parliament session, in Beijing. He received 2,940 votes to three, with six abstentions.

From humble beginnings, Li Keqiang has risen high in politics, but his career has not been without controversy. During the mid-1990s a scandal of stunning proportions devastated many rural communities in Henan. Thousands of farmers and their families contracted HIV after receiving contaminated blood transfusions. Most infections in the government-backed blood-selling scheme happened before Li Keqiang became the province’s party boss. But he was widely criticised for silencing those speaking out.

Many villagers still travel to Beijing every year to protest about the issue. One demonstrator told the BBC she hoped Li Keqiang would pay more attention, saying she had still not received any compensation. But others have seen a different side to the politician. One gay-rights activist told the BBC that Li Keqiang was very “easy-going” during a recent meeting. “He didn’t act at all like a government official,” said Kong Lingkun. “During the discussion he wanted everyone’s opinion and he encouraged us to speak freely.”

China’s new premier likes to project an image that he’s modern, sophisticated and ready to listen. But he has also shown he can be ruthless when the party’s reputation is at risk.

As premier, he will oversee a large portfolio of domestic affairs, managing economic challenges, environmental woes and China’s urbanisation drive.

The appointments seal the shift from one generation of leaders to the next. A raft of vice-premiers and state councillors will be named on Saturday, before the NPC closes on Sunday.

Mr Li, 57, who is seen as close to outgoing leader Hu Jintao, speaks fluent English and has a PhD in economics.

He has called for a more streamlined government, eliminating some ministries while boosting the size of others.

The son of a local official in Anhui province, he became China’s youngest provincial governor when he was tasked to run Henan.

But his time there was marked by a scandal involving the spread of HIV through contaminated blood.

Mr Li is expected to end the NPC with a press conference on Sunday, given by Wen Jiabao in the past.

via BBC News – China confirms Li Keqiang as premier.

14/03/2013

* Xi Jinping named president of China

BBC: “Leaders in Beijing have confirmed Xi Jinping as president, completing China’s 10-yearly transition of power.

Mr Xi, appointed to the Communist Party’s top post in November, replaces Hu Jintao, who is stepping down.

Some 3,000 deputies to the National People’s Congress, the annual parliament session, took part in the vote at the Great Hall of the People.

The new premier – widely expected to be Li Keqiang – is scheduled to be named on Friday, replacing Wen Jiabao.

While votes are held for the posts, they are largely ceremonial and the results very rarely a surprise.

Mr Xi, who bowed to the delegates after his name was announced but made no formal remarks, was elected by 2,952 votes to one, with three abstentions.

He was named general secretary of the Communist Party on 8 November and also given the leadership of the top military body, the Central Military Commission.

China’s parliament engaged in a political ceremony that involved all the hallmarks of a real election: a ballot box, long lines of delegates queuing to vote, and a televised announcement of a winner. However, no-one was surprised to hear the results: with a whopping 99.86% of the vote, Xi Jinping was anointed President of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman of the People’s Liberation Army.

In November, Mr Xi was elevated to the top spot in China’s Communist Party. However, he did not become the country’s official head of state until his candidacy was approved by China’s parliament.

According to China’s constitution, almost 3,000 NPC delegates are allowed to “elect” candidates for the state’s top positions. However, in practice, delegates merely endorse the names put forward by the party.

Perhaps the only interesting result of the election is that Mr Xi did not receive 100% of the ballot. One person voted against him and three people abstained. The result leaves some in China to wonder: perhaps, in an act of modesty, Mr Xi voted against himself.

This vote, handing him the role of head of state, was the final stage in the transition of power to him and his team, the slimmed-down, seven-member Standing Committee.

The largely symbolic role of vice-president went to Li Yuanchao, seen as a close ally of Mr Hu and a possible reformist.

The 61-year-old, who is not a member of the Standing Committee, has in the past called for reforms to the way the Communist Party promotes officials and consults the public on policies.”

via BBC News – Xi Jinping named president of China.

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