Archive for November, 2013


BBC News – Why China is fixated on the Moon

The Moon could be a \”beautiful\” source of minerals and energy, a top Chinese scientist has told the BBC.

Exotic materials including helium-3 and the potential for solar power could prove invaluable for humankind, he says.

The comments come from Prof Ouyang Ziyuan of the department of lunar and deep space exploration.

His first interview with the foreign media provides insights into China\’s usually secretive space programme.

Prof Ouyang was speaking ahead of the first Chinese attempt to land an unmanned spacecraft on the lunar surface.

The Chang\’e 3 lander is due to launch imminently, perhaps as soon as Sunday evening, UK time.

It will be the first to make a soft touchdown on the Moon since an unmanned Russian mission in 1976.

No humans have set foot on the lunar surface since America\’s Apollo missions ended in 1972.

via BBC News – Why China is fixated on the Moon.


Sales of postcards drop amid push for austerity |Politics |

Printers claim SOEs scrapping orders of gifts

Companies making calendars and greeting cards say they have seen a huge drop in orders after the Party\’s top discipline body banned officials spending public money on their products.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced the ban on Oct 31, forbidding Party organs, government departments, State-owned enterprises and public institutions from buying, printing, mailing and handing out New Year cards, postcards and calendars.

The move was seen as the latest attempt to promote frugality and curb extravagance among officials.

In recent years, local governments and institutions have bought, printed and given away a large number of cards and calendars at the Spring Festival holiday, the commission said, adding that as the materials have become more luxurious, the waste in public funds has become more serious.

On Oct 14, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission issued a notice saying the authority will strengthen supervision and inspection as well as strictly prohibit State-owned enterprises from buying, printing, mailing and giving away New Year cards.

While figures on the amount of public money spent on greeting cards, postcards and calendars every year are unavailable, a county official in Jiangxi province, who gave only her surname, Li, said her government purchases 40,000 New Year cards or postcards every year for about 5 yuan (80 cents) each.

While civil servants can each get 10 cards, some officials may ask for more than 150, she said.

\”Some cards are sent in the name of individuals, some are sent in the name of departments to higher level governments or officials,\” Li added.

Xinhua News Agency also quoted another county official in Central China as saying, \”the money used (in his county) to buy cards is more than 300,000 yuan, equivalent to the money needed to build a Hope Primary School\”.

There are more than 2,800 county-level administrative regions and more than 300 city-level administrative regions in China, as well as thousands of State-owned enterprises and public institutions.

The Bank of China\’s Zhejiang branch has scrapped a plan to purchase 73,900 wall calendars, 52,600 desk calendars and 26,000 postcards, Xinhua reported.

The ban, however, is potentially a disaster for companies that make postcards and calendars.

via Sales of postcards drop amid push for austerity |Politics |


China in Numbers: Children pay deadly price for attitude to car seats | The Times

51 . . . is the number of children under the age of 14 killed every day in traffic accidents on the roads of China. That’s 18,500 deaths every year, according to China’s top government research body, a figure that has pushed accidents ahead of disease as the primary dispatcher of young Chinese lives.

A woman holds a child on a bus in Hami, China

By any measure, it is a gruesome tally, but the parental calculations behind it are, if anything, more disturbing. A proportion of those deaths involved child pedestrians, but in all too many cases the victims were passengers.

On paper, China is creating a large, financially potent and emotionally nervous middle class, one that sees the perils of 21st century China and is protective of its little emperors. Yet, curiously, this emerging middle class doesn’t bother much with infant car seats.

Some affluent parents of Beijing and Shanghai may stuff their cars with Maxi-Cosi and the like, but most do not believe in wasting valuable room on the back seat with a cumbersome lump of plastic that meets solely the needs of the smallest bottom in the car. Not when there are grandparents, nannies and other claimants to seat space. Once you get to China’s tier-2 and tier-3 cities, it is hard to find a baby seat in the shops, even if you want one. Most Chinese, when surveyed, believe firmly (but wrongly) that a child is safest in a car when cradled in the arms of an adult.

The grisly result is that just one in every 100 children being whisked around China’s roads is enjoying the ride in any kind of protective seat.

The child deaths are even more poignant for the fact that China’s factories produce millions of high-quality baby seats every year, the overwhelming majority of which are exported.

via China in Numbers: Children pay deadly price for attitude to car seats | The Times.


China Takes Away Civil Servants’ Official Cars in Anticorruption Crusade – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The perks of being a civil servant keep dwindling.

As part of new anticorruption regulations announced by China’s cabinet Monday lower-ranking civil servants will no longer be allotted official cars for general use,  excluding vehicles needed for law enforcement or emergency-response services.

A security officer stands next to a Chinese made Hongqi car outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Reuters

The move is one of several Beijing has made in recent years to step up scrutiny of its official fleets. It has previously urged governments to buy Chinese-made brands and earlier this year cracked down on other auto-related perks enjoyed by the country’s leaders, including the military.

Cars no longer needed because of the new rules will be disposed of via a public bidding process or other forms of auctions, the guidelines said. In the future, civil servants will be allowed to select their preferred mode of travel and will be reimbursed under a transportation-allowance system.

UBS Securities estimated the value of auto sales to governments in China at about 120 billion yuan, or roughly $20 billion, a year, which looks set to decline given the ongoing fleet-reform regulations, said Andreas Graef of management-consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

While governments will continue to procure some cars for official use, there will be greater centralization of purchasing procedures for cars and related products and services such as car insurance, maintenance services and gasoline, he said.

via China Takes Away Civil Servants’ Official Cars in Anticorruption Crusade – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


Talwar couple found guilty of killing daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj – The Times of India

A special CBI court on Monday convicted dentist Rajesh Tawlar and his wife Nupur Talwar for killing their daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj.

Aarushi Talwar

Special CBI judge Shyam Lal held the couple guilty of murder and destruction of evidence under section 302 and 201 of Indian Penal code (IPC) respectively. Rajesh Talwar was also separately held guilty, under section 203, of registering a false FIR. Soon after the judgment, Talwars issued a statement saying they were deeply disappointed and hurt by the verdict.

The two were taken into custody immediately after the verdict.The court will hear the arguments on the quantum of sentence on Tuesday.

The verdict comes almost five-and-a-half years after the sensational double murder was committed.

The CBI had accused the parents — Rajesh and Nupur Talwar — of being the killers, going by circumstantial evidence, testimony of witnesses and forensic reports.

The Talwars had all along claimed that \”they have been framed\” on the basis of conjectures and tutored witnesses.

When the Noida police first came to know on May 16, 2008 that the 14-year-old daughter of prominent dentist Dr Rajesh Talwar had been murdered at their residence in Jalvayu Vihar allegedly by their servant, Hemraj Banjade, it appeared as a regular murder case.

But things changed dramatically the very next day when Hemraj\’s body was found on the terrace of the house. The Noida police and two CBI teams investigated the case, which saw many twists and turns.

From Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar going to jail and allegations of tampering of evidence to witnesses turning hostile, police officers getting shifted, closure report being filed, parents coming out on bail and then a trial – the case has kept both the media and people transfixed.

The latest trial got over on November 12 after almost 19 months during which CBI used testimony of close to 90 witnesses in order to prove that it was only the parents who could have committed the murders and there was no possibility of an outsider entering the house.

via Talwar couple found guilty of killing daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj – The Times of India.


Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark arrives in the Philippines – Xinhua |

China\’s navy hospital ship Peace Ark arrived in typhoon-hit Philippines on Sunday night and is the first foreign vessel of its kind that has reached there, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang confirmed.

Peace Ark, the first 10,000-ton-class hospital ship in the world, with 300 beds and over 100 medical professionals on board, has been put into use in the Philippines, Qin told a daily news briefing on Monday.

Doctors onboard Peace Ark, together with an emergency medical team sent by the Chinese government and an international rescue team dispatched by the Red Cross Society of China have treated hundreds of patients, the spokesman said.

Chinese medical workers will work closely with their Philippine and international counterparts during the rescue process, Qin said.

Qin also announced that the Red Cross Society of China has delivered a new batch of relief supplies worth 5.4 million yuan, including 2,000 tents and drugs, to the Philippine National Red Cross.

Typhoon Haiyan has killed 5,235 people and injured 23,501 others,the Philippine government said. Another 1,613 people remain missing.

via Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark arrives in the Philippines – Xinhua |


No. 2 Most-Wanted Tiananmen Dissident Wu’er Kaixi Tries to Turn Self in, Gets Sent Home – China Real Time Report – WSJ

In his fourth attempt to surrender himself to Chinese authorities, exiled Tiananmen Square dissident Wu’er Kaixi on Monday flew to Hong Kong to seek extradition to mainland China. But Hong Kong officials denied his request, and quickly put him a plane back to Taiwan.

Mr Wuer, a former student leader of the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square who now resides in Taiwan, boarded a Cathay Pacific Airways flight from Taipei on Monday morning to Bangkok, with a stopover in Hong Kong. He made use of the stopover to turn himself into Hong Kong authorities. He believes he remains on a wanted fugitive in China for his role in the 1989 student protests.

In the immediate aftermath of the June 4 crackdown on the protests, he was No. 2 on China’s list of most-wanted dissidents.

In an online statement posted on his blog, Mr. Wu’er urged the city’s government to arrest and extradite him to the Chinese authorities during. However, Hong Kong officials chose to deport him back to Taiwan Monday afternoon, according to Kenneth Lam, a Hong Kong-based solicitor who assisted Mr. Wu’er at the Hong Kong airport.

A spokesman at Hong Kong’s Immigration Department said it won’t comment on individual cases but said immigration officers may examine any visitor on arrival to the city to determine whether the person meets standard immigration requirements.

Mr. Wu’er has tried several times to attempt a re-entry to China. In 2009, he flew to Macau but was detained at the airport and deported. In 2010, he tried to enter the Chinese embassy in Tokyo and in 2012, he entered the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C., but both attempts to turn himself in were unsuccessful.

Mr. Wu’er said Monday the latest move was a “last resort” as Chinese authorities have refused to issue passports for his family members to visit him since he fled into exile shortly after the Tiananmen crackdown.

“I miss my parents and my family, and I hope to be able to be reunited with them while they are still alive ,” Mr. Wu’er said in the statement, noting that his parents are old and in ill health.

via No. 2 Most-Wanted Tiananmen Dissident Wu’er Kaixi Tries to Turn Self in, Gets Sent Home – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


China to launch two new carbon trading exchanges | Reuters

China will launch two new pilot carbon trading schemes this week in Beijing and Shanghai as it strives to cut soaring rates of greenhouse gas, reduce choking smog and determine the best system for a nationwide roll-out.

China, the world\’s biggest source of climate-changing carbon emissions, is under domestic pressure from its population to counter air pollution and has pledged to cut the 2005 rate of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP growth by 40-45 percent by 2020.

As U.N.-led climate talks stumbled in Warsaw last week, the country\’s chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua was keen to push the country\’s CO2 cutting credentials, challenging developed nations to match the efforts being made by China to tackle global warming.

The new platforms, which will force industrial firms to buy credits to cover any CO2 they emit above allocated quotas, also underscore Beijing\’s commitment to \”market mechanisms\” to slow emissions growth, in line with an ambitious raft of reforms outlined earlier this month.

\”It is definitely a move in the right direction, but there are concerns about activity — these are pilot schemes and are used as a learning experience, and local governments might not be particularly concerned by volumes,\” said Shawn He, a climate lawyer with the Hualian legal practice in Beijing.

Trading is likely to start slowly as the government treads cautiously and tries to learn lessons from Europe, where an excess of credits has left carbon prices in the doldrums.

Hualian\’s He said there were concerns how effective the pilot schemes would be, as no binding carbon caps would be imposed on enterprises and there were no legal means of forcing them to participate.

via China to launch two new carbon trading exchanges | Reuters.


Shinzo Abe: China new air defence zone move ‘dangerous’ – BBC News

Japan\’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has described China\’s move to create a new \”air defence identification zone\” over disputed waters as \”dangerous\”.

Islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese

China\’s action had \”no validity whatsoever on Japan\”, Mr Abe added.

China has voiced anger at Japanese and US objections to the new air zone, and lodged complaints with their embassies.

The zone covers disputed islands that are claimed and controlled by Japan. China says aircraft entering the zone must obey its rules.

Mr Abe told parliament on Monday that the zone \”can invite an unexpected occurrence and it is a very dangerous thing as well\”.

\”We demand China revoke any measures that could infringe upon the freedom of flight in international airspace,\’\’ he added.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has called the move a \”destabilising attempt to alter the status quo in the region\”.

\”This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations,\” Mr Hagel said in a statement.

\”This announcement by the People\’s Republic of China will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region,\” he added.

via BBC News – Shinzo Abe: China new air defence zone move ‘dangerous’.


Between a desert and a dry place: Beijing’s green projects drain scarce water resources | South China Morning Post

Smog-plagued Beijing is anxiously awaiting its first batch of synthetic natural gas – a material converted from coal and piped 300 kilometres from Heshigten Banner in northeastern Inner Mongolia.


The gas will power some of Beijing\’s central heating systems in the harsh winter months, replacing coal to cut harmful emissions of particulate pollutants.

When the pipes are fully pumping next year, Beijing will receive 4 billion cubic metres of synthetic gas a year – nearly half of last year\’s natural gas consumption – a step towards switching all the city\’s heating systems and industrial boilers from coal to gas.

But there is an ominous tinge to the seemingly green investment: environmental experts say the water-intensive conversion process could drain already scarce water resources in the country\’s drylands in the northwest, eroding land and causing more sandstorms.

\”If water depletion continues … not only will the local people suffer, the environmental impact could be profound,\” Chinese Academy of Sciences ecology researcher Xie Yan says.

Nationwide, replacing dirty coal with cleaner natural gas is a key measure in reducing the choking smog that spreads over more than a quarter of the country and is inhaled by nearly 600 million people. Because of the country\’s limited conventional natural gas and abundant coal reserves, converting coal to natural gas seems a convenient choice.

Beijing\’s demand for natural gas is expected to rise rapidly, reaching 18 billion tonnes in 2015 and 28 billion tonnes in 2020, as all its heating systems and industrial boilers make the switch from coal to gas. Beijing Gas Group, which is fully owned by the municipal government, has invested in the coal-to-gas project in Inner Mongolia to meet the demand.

The coal-to-gas industry, which had been sputtering for several years, received a boost in September when the State Council released a national action plan to fight air pollution, giving the sector explicit support.

But ecological experts have voiced concern for the unintended environmental consequence of coal-to-gas plants. The conversion requires vast quantities of water not just for production, but also for cooling and the removal of contaminants. On average, one cubic metre of synthetic natural gas needs six to 10 tonnes of freshwater.

\”Freshwater is a key raw material for turning coal to gas, so it\’s impossible to reduce water demand in such projects,\” Wen Hua, an associate at the US-based World Resources Institute (WRI), says.

To make things worse, the coal-abundant northwest, where the gas projects are based, already experiences chronic water shortages. Five provinces – Shanxi , Shaanxi , Ningxia , Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang – which possess 76 per cent of the country\’s coal reserves, have just 6.14 per cent of its total water resources.

via Between a desert and a dry place: Beijing’s green projects drain scarce water resources | South China Morning Post.

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