Archive for January, 2013


* Less is more at annual meets

China Daily: “Fewer staff, shorter speeches, modest dinners and less printing ― meetings of local legislators and political advisers across China are getting slimmer, simpler and greener.

Less is more at annual meets

Having cut down on the number of staff members involved in the Shanghai People’s Congress by 20 percent from last year’s meeting, the organizer also reduced spending on food and accessories.

“The budget for the first meeting of the 14th Shanghai People’s Congress was nearly 18 percent lower than last year,” said Ni Yinliang, a senior officer of the organizing office of the congress.

The suggested length of speeches is eight minutes in most regions of the country.

“I’ve noticed that the majority of deputies gave shorter speeches in discussions with better quality advice, which enables us to finish the meetings on time and leaves more time to submit our written comments and proposals,” said Zhuang Shaoqin, a Shanghai lawmaker and head of the city’s Fengxian district.

Similarly in Shanxi province, the number of attendees for this year’s two sessions decreased by 144 and the number of staff members was cut by 295, and the length of the congress was reduced from eight days to six and half days, said Ma Wei, director of the organization department of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference‘s Shanxi committee.

Decorations for meetings across the country have been simplified.

Fewer fresh flowers were seen, and red carpets were not rolled out to welcome meeting participants in many regions including Shanghai and Guizhou province.

Shanghai and Shanxi suggested participants use public transport and arranged 15 direct shuttles to travel between subway stations and meeting venues.

No police cars were deployed to escort vehicles carrying meeting participants, and traffic was not suspended to make way for them.

“I’ve taken the subway since the first day of the congress, and I’ve found a great many of deputies have done the same thing in the past four days,” said Wu Jiang, a Shanghai lawmaker.

Many provinces and cities are using online systems to reduce printing.

Shanghai continued its operation of the online submitting system and sent out e-copies of documents to the deputies instead of printing them out.

Wu added that he is very satisfied with the online submitting system of written comments and proposals, which is convenient and saves energy and resources.

The online system has also been applied in other places including Tianjin and Guizhou.

In Tianjin, more lawmakers and political advisers have become aware of using both sides of a piece of paper while taking notes, reported.

In addition, dining expenses have been reduced.

The organizer of Shanghai People’s Congress session offered only six hot dishes served buffet style.

“The buffet allows us to choose what we like and avoid the unnecessary waste of food, which is a very wise decision,” said Shanghai lawmaker Zhuang.

In Guizhou, meeting participants are served with hot water instead of tea.

“Replacing the tea with hot water will definitely minimize the costs of labor and materials,” said Wang Shaoer, a member of the provincial political advisory body.

Hebei province has come up with another way to save resources.

Passes that are valid for five years were given to deputies and committee members.

Passes will be kept by the organizers after the first-year congress and be reused for the following four years. Lawmakers and political advisers serve five-year terms. They used to be given a new pass each year.”

via Less is more at annual meets |Politics |


I wonder if the map is complete. It seems to indicate there are no major military units to the West of 100 degrees East, namely none in Xinjiang, Tibet, Qinghai and Gansu; nor any in the far north, namely none in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang. Some Muslims in Xinjiang and Tibetans in Tibet, Qinghai and Gansu have been known to be anti-central government. And, in the past, there have been confrontations with Russian army units up north.

Of course, I am forgetting the 1.5m People’s Armed Police.  Maybe that’s where they are mainly posted.

China Daily Mail

Chinese ArmiesSince 1949, the People’s Republic of China has made a big secret about their PLA military units. Now the Chinese leadership reveals exact details – in the middle of the escalating island dispute with Japan.

Neither the state security nor the counter intelligence intervened. For the first time since 1949, The Beijing newspaper “Beijing Wanbao” was allowed to reveal uncensored where China’s 2.3 million soldiers are stationed. It printed a map showing the names of all 18 locations and the number codes of all 18 armies.

Since the founding of the People’s Republic, such statements fell under state secrets. Newspapers had to write “Army unit XX.” During the Korean War in 1952, the People’s Liberation Army numbered five million soldiers in 70 army organisations. It remained secret during the early eighties, when only 36 army sites were left.

Then reform architect Deng Xiaoping cut the forces to their present 2.3 million soldiers in 18 armies…

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* Indian Rupee at Over 3-Month High

Indian rupee collection

Indian rupee collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WSJ: “The Indian rupee rose to its highest level in more than three months against the U.S. dollar Wednesday, tracking strong gains in the euro.

At 1005 GMT, the dollar was trading at 53.37 rupees, after falling to 53.35 rupees–a level not seen since Oct. 23. The dollar was at 53.76 in late Asian trade Tuesday.

The euro touched a fresh 13-month high of $1.35367 Wednesday.

The rupee benefited also from hopes of more monetary-policy easing by the central bank in 2013 to help boost economic growth which has slowed to its weakest in nearly a decade.

Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of India trimmed its key lending rate by a quarter-percentage point to 7.75%–the first rate cut in nine months–and said “it is critical now to arrest the loss of growth momentum.”

The RBI said its policy stance intends to “provide an appropriate interest rate environment to support growth as inflation risks moderate.””

via Indian Rupee at Over 3-Month High –


* Panicked property fire sale in China amid corruption fight

Sydney Morning Herald: “Thousands of Chinese communist officials have been panicked into a fire sale of their illicit properties and billions of pounds have been smuggled overseas as the country’s new leaders intensify a campaign to root out corruption.

Corruption-fighter Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan in Beijing, China.

Luxurious properties are being dumped on the market in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou for anyone able to pay in cash as officials try to cover their tracks. A report by the party’s anti-corruption unit, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said “a wave of luxury home sales began last November and has accelerated since December”.

It said the volume of deals had intensified by “a hundred times” after Xi Jinping, the incoming Chinese president, warned that corruption could kill the party and put one of the country’s most vigorous and resolute politicians, Wang Qishan, in charge of stamping out graft.

Fu Zongmo, an estate agent in Sanya, Hainan, said his colleagues had sold two houses recently for government officials. In recent years, the tropical beaches and golf courses of Sanya have attracted plenty of speculators but recently the market has stalled.”

via Panicked property fire sale in China amid corruption fight.


* China could prove ultimate winner in Afghanistan

SCMP: “China, long a bystander to the conflict in Afghanistan, is stepping up its involvement as US-led forces prepare to withdraw, attracted by the country’s vast mineral resources but concerned that any post-next year chaos could embolden Islamist insurgents in its own territory.


Cheered on by the US and other Western governments, which see Asia’s giant as a potentially stabilising force, China could prove the ultimate winner in Afghanistan – having shed no blood and not much aid.

Security – or the lack of it – remains the key challenge: Chinese enterprises have already bagged three multibillion dollar investment projects, but they won’t be able to go forward unless conditions get safer. While the Chinese do not appear ready to rush into any vacuum left by the withdrawal of foreign troops, a definite shift towards a more hands-on approach to Afghanistan is under way.

China is the only actor who can foot the level of investment needed in Afghanistan to make it succeed and stick it out

Beijing signed a strategic partnership last summer with the war-torn country. This was followed in September with a trip to Kabul by its top security official, the first by a leading Chinese government figure in 46 years, and the announcement that China would train 300 Afghan police officers. China is also showing signs of willingness to help negotiate a peace agreement as Nato prepares to pull out in two years.

It’s a new role for China, as its growing economic might gives it a bigger stake in global affairs. Success, though far from guaranteed, could mean a big payoff for a country hungry for resources to sustain its economic growth and eager to maintain stability in Xinjiang.

“If you are able to see a more or less stable situation in Afghanistan, if it becomes another relatively normal Central Asian state, China will be the natural beneficiary,” says Andrew Small, a China expert at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, an American research institute. “If you look across Central Asia, that is what has already happened. … China is the only actor who can foot the level of investment needed in Afghanistan to make it succeed and stick it out.””

via China could prove ultimate winner in Afghanistan | South China Morning Post.


* Grandparents without borders

Another aspect of the on-going migrant workers issue that needs resolving by the government soon – before it blows up in their faces.

China Daily: “Migrant grandparents who leave their homes to live in the cities and take care of their children’s children are a growing demographic. Liu Zhihua highlights changes they have to face in adapting to their new lifestyles.

Grandparents without borders

In villages across China, grandparents have set aside their dreams of retirement to raise children left behind by their reluctant parents, who migrate to the cities in pursuit of making more money than at home. At a totally different level up the economic pyramid, in urban households, grandparents are now migrating from their homes to take care of their grandchildren in cities hundreds and thousands of miles away – as families scatter across a rapidly transforming China. Their children need to work, and are reluctant to hire a full-time babysitter, either due to distrust of a stranger, preference for family, or financial restraints.

As a result, grandparents, especially grandmothers, shoulder the responsibility of being primary caregivers, when they could be at their leisure after retirement.

But it’s not always easy to adapt, especially at what may be a relatively advanced age.

While staying in Shanghai last year to take care of her pregnant daughter, and later, her newly born grandson, Deng Chengying, 55, felt as if she was in a prison.

Xiong Jiayi enjoys quality time with his grandmother. [Provided to China Daily]

The Jingzhou native of Hubei province doesn’t understand the Shanghai dialect, but in the community where the family lives, nearly all the elderly neighbors speak only Shanghai dialect.

Deng does have one frequent visitor, a friendly old woman who is an empty nester , but conversation is difficult because she speaks only the Shanghai dialect.

If it wasn’t for the traders in the morning market speaking Mandarin, Deng would have few opportunities to speak her native tongue with those in her community.

When her daughter and son-in-law go to work and the housework is finished, she generally stays in the apartment and plays online games.

“I’m so thrilled I just jump if I meet someone whose language I understand,” Deng once confided to her relatives at home in Jingzhou during a phone call.”

via Grandparents without borders |Society |

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* China’s mobile phone users reach 1.11 billion

China Daily: “The number of Chinese mobile phone users reached 1.11 billion as of the end of 2012, according to official data unveiled Thursday.

China's mobile phone users reach 1.11 billion

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in a statement that mobile phone users represent 80 percent of all phones users in the country.

A farmer in Huojiatai village, Yongdeng county, Northwest China’s Gansu province, receives a text message on his phone from the local agricultural technician about growing vegetables, Jan 22, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]

The number of mobile phones owned by every 100 people reached 82.6 by the end of 2012, up by nine from a year earlier, according to the statement.

Last year, the country recorded 125.9 million new mobile phone users, among whom 104.38 million were 3G mobile phone users, bringing the total number of 3G users to 232.8 million, the MIIT said.

The ministry said the number of Internet users rose by 51 million to 564 million people, among whom 74.5 percent, or 420 million people, surf the Internet with their mobile phones.

The Internet penetration rate reached 42.1 percent by the end of last year, up 3.8 percentage points from a year earlier.”

via China’s mobile phone users reach 1.11 billion |Economy |

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* India wary of China’s telecom forays in Nepal, Maldives

Times of India: “The growing presence of Chinese telecom companies in Maldives and Nepal has put security agencies on alert over fears that equipment used for infrastructure development there might be bugged and misused for intercepting any communication between India and the two countries.


The concerns by the central security agencies which have been conveyed to the telecom department here came against the backdrop of about $5.70 crore loan given by China to Maldives to implement its information technology (IT) infrastructure project, according to official sources.

The Huawei Technologies (Lanka) Co. Ltd, China enterprise business group and the National Centre for Information Technologies, Maldives have already signed an MoU to develop the IT Infrastructure in Maldives under the ‘Smart Maldives Project’, they said.”

via India wary of China’s telecom forays in Nepal, Maldives – The Times of India.


* China’s jumbo air freighter test flight a success

Xinhua/Reuters: “China has conducted a successful test flight of its first domestically developed jumbo air freighter, the official state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday.

The Yun-20 during its first test flight. (Photo/Xinhua)

The Yun-20, or Transport-20, is designed for long-distance air transport of both cargo and passengers, Xinhua reported.

“The successful maiden flight of Yun-20 is significant in promoting China’s economic and national defense build-up as well as bettering its emergency handling such as disaster relief and humanitarian aid,” Xinhua said, adding that further test flights are scheduled.

China is determined to reduce dependency on foreign firms such as Boeing (BA.N), Airbus (EAD.PA), General Electric (GE.N) and Rolls Royce Plc (RR.L) for the country’s soaring demand for planes and engines.

Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the country’s dominant military and commercial aviation contractor, has lobbied for Beijing to back a multi-billion dollar plan to build a high-performance engine.

Meanwhile a host of design flaws has delayed approval by the Civil Aviation Administration of China for the country’s homegrown 90-seat ARJ21 regional passenger jet.

English: Model of the Comac C919

English: Model of the Comac C919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At last November’s China Airshow, China unveiled 50 new orders for its COMAC C919 passenger jet which is designed to challenge Airbus and Boeing in the largest segment of the $100 billion annual jetliner market.

The orders for the 150-seat jet boosted the official tally to 380, reaching the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China‘s declared breakeven point of 300-400 orders.

However, analysts say it will be some time before the aircraft, due to make its maiden flight in 2014, proves both its technical worth and its financial viability.”

via China’s jumbo air freighter test flight a success: Xinhua | Reuters.


* China to expand rural medical insurance coverage

Xinhua: “China will include more serious diseases in its existing rural medical insurance system in 2013, the Ministry of Health said in an annual work agenda published on Friday.


Insurance (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)

According to the agenda, pilot programs will be launched to ensure that rural children with two types of severe urine disorders, among other diseases that the plan did not elaborate on, have their medical expenses reimbursed under the rural cooperative medical cooperative program.

China launched the rural insurance scheme in 2003 to ensure that the country’s vast number of rural residents have access to affordable medical treatment and to reduce disease-triggered poverty. Under the program, both governments and individuals contribute.

As of 2012, the scheme covers 20 serious diseases, up from two in June 2010, when serious diseases were first included in the reimbursement plan.

According to the ministry’s agenda, the annual government subsidy for participants in the rural health care scheme will be raised by 40 yuan(6.43 U.S. dollars) to 280 yuan in 2013.

Participants will have 75 percent of their inpatient expenses reimbursed under the rural cooperative medical program and coverage for outpatient costs will be boosted, it said.

The ministry requires that the minimum annual reimbursement for rural inhabitants subsidiary should be no less than 80,000 yuan.

In 2013, individuals will each pay a 60-yuan premium, bringing the total funds pooled for each person to 340 yuan, up from 290 yuan in 2012. In 2003, the average fund pooled for each person was 30 yuan.

Official statistics show that the number of people covered by the program skyrocketed from 80 million in 2003 to nearly 900 million in 2012.”

via China to expand rural medical insurance coverage – Xinhua |

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