Archive for ‘State Council’

29/05/2019

Xi meets representatives of overseas Chinese

CHINA-BEIJING-XI JINPING-OVERSEAS CHINESE-REPRESENTATIVES-MEETING (CN)

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, meets with overseas Chinese representatives who are in Beijing to attend the ninth Conference for Friendship of Overseas Chinese Associations and a plenary session of the board of directors of the China Overseas Friendship Association at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 28, 2019. Other Chinese leaders including Wang Yang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee, were also present at the meeting. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

BEIJING, May 28 (Xinhua) — President Xi Jinping on Tuesday met with overseas Chinese representatives who are in Beijing to attend the ninth Conference for Friendship of Overseas Chinese Associations and a plenary session of the board of directors of the China Overseas Friendship Association.

On behalf of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, expressed a warm welcome and sincere congratulations to the representatives and extended greetings to overseas Chinese around the world.

Source: Xinhua

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24/05/2019

A pollution crackdown compounds slowdown woes in China’s heartland

ANYANG/SANGPO, China (Reuters) – For years, China’s industrial heartland has been cloaked in smog, its waterways choked with pollution pumped from enormous clusters of factories churning out the mountains of cement and steel needed to build the Chinese economy.

Aiming to tackle what has become a huge public health problem, the authorities have cracked down on polluting industries, targeting provinces like Henan, which has a population of 100 million people and hundreds of factory towns.
According to interviews with factory and business owners, and consumers and workers across Henan, that crackdown – conducted with often heavy-handed local enforcement – is crippling the economies of towns and cities that depend on polluting industries.
Manufacturers across Henan have been particularly hard hit by the new environmental regulations, compounding the pressures the province faces from China’s slowing economy and a grinding trade war with the United States.
It also highlights the trade-off China faces between providing a healthier environment for its citizens and maintaining economic growth in a province whose climb from poverty has lagged that of coastal regions.
China does not provide statistics on the costs of the environmental crackdown, but it has said that short-term pain will lead to long-term growth through an economic “upgrade”.
The information office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, did not respond to a faxed request for comment on the economic effects of the new restrictions.
It’s difficult to get a full picture of Henan’s economy from unreliable official figures, as it is for the whole country. Henan’s official growth rate was 7.6% in 2018, higher than the national rate and down 0.2 of a percentage point from 2017.

But the interviews conducted by Reuters across Henan suggest consumers are spending less, cities are struggling to retool their economies and the pollution crackdown is hurting businesses and employment.

STEEL TOWN PAIN

The steel-producing centre of Anyang, which has long had some of the worst air in China, is one place that has been hit hard by the anti-pollution campaign.

The city of more than 5 million people, dominated by the infrastructure and insignia of the state-owned Anyang Iron and Steel Group, has forced local industry to upgrade equipment and curb pollution, and shut down companies that were unwilling or unable to comply.

Li Huifeng, president of Baoshun High-Tech Corporation, a coking coal company founded by his parents in 1983, said the cost of compliance had been painful.

Baoshun’s huge plant, built in the hills in the west of Anyang, was forced to implement production cuts last winter even though it had installed low-emissions equipment that exceeded required standards.

“Last year, business was really good but this year it is full of uncertainties,” said Li. He added that new efficiency guidelines were likely to result in the closure of many producers of coking coal, which is used in steel production.

Li Xianzhong, the owner of the Xinyuan Steel Mill in Anyang’s western outskirts, said he was facing curbs on production as well as spiralling costs because of the new environmental regulations.

According to industry estimates, environmental costs per tonne of steel produced have risen to around 150 yuan per tonne, up from less than 50 yuan per tonne when the war on pollution was launched in 2014.

“All this equipment needs a lot of capital, and after you’ve invested, the operation costs are also higher,” said Li. “If you don’t meet the standards, you aren’t allowed to operate.”

Near the sprawling Anyang steel plant in the city centre, residents and workers complained that the new environmental inspection rules had made it harder to make a living.

Many small workshops, which often use small metalworking furnaces, have also been targeted.

“Before we would just give them a pack of cigarettes or treat them to a meal and you’d then be fine for a year, but now it’s no use,” said a bicycle repairman, identifying himself by his surname Zhang, whose workshop near the plant was shut by inspectors.

Over the past years, Anyang has tried encouraging new and cleaner forms of economic growth. It has shut hundreds of small polluters in sectors like ceramics and cement, and tried to attract industries like solar panels and electric vehicles by offering incentives and building sprawling new industrial parks.

However, it has struggled to compete with numerous Chinese cities making similar bets, especially as China’s economy slows.

And the results of the anti-pollution efforts have been mixed.

Steel still accounts for more than half of Anyang’s economy – unchanged from a decade ago – and the environment is still bad. The taste of brimstone hangs in the air, and the fairy lights festooned on hundreds of cranes on the city’s skyline could only be dimly seen during a recent visit.
Part of the problem, according to Liu Bingjiang, who heads the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s air pollution office, is that smog is also blowing in from neighbouring industrial regions, undermining local cleanup efforts.
“All these measures, all these plans are in place, but it still can’t solve the smog,” said Li, the steel mill owner.

SHUTTING DOWN THE BOOTMAKERS

The anti-pollution campaign is also hitting much smaller industrial centres.

Sangpo, a dusty two-street village in northeast Henan, used to live off scores of sheepskin processing factories cranking out winter boots modelled on UGG, the American brand with Australian roots.

While the industry was the main employer in the village, that came with a heavy environmental cost: treating the raw sheepskin consumed copious amounts of water and contaminated the local water supply.

Last July, the government moved to close most of the factories, sending dozens of police cars into Sangpo with sirens wailing to enforce the shutdown.

Government inspectors were installed to keep watch at each factory to ensure compliance with the order. Three factory owners were arrested for violating environmental regulations.

During a visit to Sangpo by Reuters, most factories were idle during what should have been peak production season. Hundreds of workers had left town in search of work elsewhere, leaving behind shuttered shopfronts and deserted roads.

“The village is at a tipping point,” said a former factory owner who only wanted to be identified by his surname, Ding. Most businesses were mostly “more dead than alive,” he added.

Before the factories were shut, the village of 6,500 people, mainly from the Hui Muslim minority, had been punching well above its weight.

It achieved national recognition as a thriving model of e-commerce, winning glowing write-ups in national newspapers after it was named in 2015 by the tech giant Alibaba as central China’s very first “Taobao village” – a designation for top rural sellers on the company’s internet retailing platform.

But that all changed last year as China’s pollution crackdown intensified. The top county-level official, factory owners said, held a town hall meeting and threatened to shut everyone down permanently. A deal was made for 19 of the 135 factories to remain.

Those wanting to stay open agreed to upgrade their businesses and invest in equipment to ensure they met water treatment standards. Factories that opted out were shut, their boilers and processing equipment destroyed.

The government of Mengzhou, which oversees Sangpo, declined to comment when reached by phone. But Mengzhou’s mayor said last year that the crackdown was necessary and in accordance with the popular will, according to a statement on the Mengzhou government website.

Sangpo village’s party chief declined to comment when reached via the Chinese messaging app WeChat. Calls to his cellphone went unanswered.

The county government’s plan is to corral remaining factories into a new industrial zone by the end of the year. But remaining business owners are worried about the slow pace of construction and fear they will be forced to shut.

Ding, the former factory owner, said business owners didn’t expect the crackdown – which has also discouraged lending from banks – to be so harsh.

“Everyone in the village was moaning and sighing but no one thought it would be this extreme,” Ding said.  “We are at our wits’ end.”

Source: Reuters

16/04/2019

Premier Li signs revised regulation on gov’t information disclosure

BEIJING, April 15 (Xinhua) — Premier Li Keqiang has signed a revised regulation on the disclosure of government information to better respond to public concerns.

The revision, based on the 2008 version, is aimed at increasing the openness of government affairs and resolving prominent problems in government information disclosure.

It also represents the headway and achievements made in this field over the past years and clarified the scope of government information disclosure, calling for constantly expanding information disclosure.

Stressing the need to improve the legal rights and interests of the applicants and related parties when applying for information disclosure in accordance with procedures, the revision also made necessary stipulations on the improper exercise of application rights by a small number of applicants affecting the normal conduct of government information disclosure.

Efforts should be made to improve the effectiveness of government information disclosure by using information technology, to enable government information to play its due role in serving the people, it added.

The regulation will go into effect on May 15.

The Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council have attached great importance to the disclosure of government information, and the new conditions and problems that emerged in the implementation of the 2008 version made it necessary to revise the regulation, an official with the Ministry of Justice told the media.

For instance, while the people’s enthusiasm in participating in public policy-making and protecting their own rights has grown, the information disclosed by some administrative organs was not comprehensive, accurate or specific enough, according to the official.

The official said that some would also file repetitive or excessive applications for information disclosure to administrative organs, taking up too many administrative resources.

Moreover, the 2008 version of the regulation was issued when the disclosure of government information in China was still in the early stages, which occasionally led to disputes during its implementation, the official added.

Source: Xinhua

15/04/2019

China unveils guideline for improving natural resource asset management

BEIJING, April 14 (Xinhua) — Chinese authorities on Sunday unveiled a guideline on reforming the country’s property rights system for natural resource assets.

By 2020, a system featuring confirmed ownership, clarified rights and responsibility, strict protection, smooth transfer and effective supervision should have been basically in place, reads the guideline released by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.

The efficiency of natural resource development and use, as well as resource protection, should have been significantly enhanced by then, providing strong support for improving ecological civilization, and guaranteeing national ecological security and resource security, the guideline says.

The system should play a fundamental role in strictly protecting resources and promoting ecological functions, and also play a key role in optimizing resource allocation, improving the efficiency of resource development and use, and promoting high-quality development.

China will explore more effective ways to realize the rights and interests of natural resource assets owners by giving play to the decisive role of the market in allocating resources, the guideline reads.

Meanwhile, the country must strengthen government supervision and administration, and promote the reasonable use of natural resources by natural resource rights holders, it says.

The country will improve the legal system for property rights over natural resource assets, protect the rights and interests of property rights holders on an equal footing, and give better play to the role of the property rights system as both an incentive and restraint in promoting ecological progress.

Local governments are encouraged to carry out bold explorations in accordance with local conditions to accumulate sufficient practical experience for reforming the property rights system, according to the guideline.

China will accelerate the formulation of unified classification standards for natural resources, and establish a unified investigation, monitoring and evaluation system.

It will make a balance sheet for natural resource assets, establish a dynamic monitoring system and keep track of changes in all types of natural resources in a timely manner, the document reads.

Efforts will also be made to accelerate the confirmation and registration of natural resource ownerships, with a focus on major ecological space including national parks, key state-owned forests, wetlands and major rivers.

The country will compile and implement a plan for the ecological restoration of natural space, and establish and improve a mechanism of restoration and comprehensive management of mountains, forests, land, lakes and grassland.

China will improve the system of compensation for damages to the ecological environment, with the persons liable taking the responsibility for restoration or compensation, according to the document.

Source: Xinhua

08/04/2019

China pledges to remove ‘unreasonable barriers and restrictions’ to help SMEs amid trade war

  • The mainland government will also seek to create a level playing field for businesses, most of which are privately-owned, in terms of market entry and regulation
  • Small and medium-sized firms are vulnerable to trade disputes and an economic slowdown even though they contribute the majority of growth and employment
China plans to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to access credit through subsidies and certain bank loans, according to a comprehensive policy guidelines jointly released by the Central Committee and the State Council on Sunday. Photo: Alamy
China plans to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to access credit through subsidies and certain bank loans, according to a comprehensive policy guidelines jointly released by the Central Committee and the State Council on Sunday. Photo: Alamy
China will “remove all sorts of unreasonable barriers and restrictions” to help small and medium-sized enterprises which are seen as vital to help employment and economic growth amid the trade war with the United States.
Beijing plans to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to access credit through subsidies and certain bank loans, according to a comprehensive policy guidelines jointly released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Sunday.
The mainland government will also seek to create a level playing field for businesses, most of which are privately-owned, in terms of market entry and regulation.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises is an dynamic power for national economic and social important and is critical for expanding employment, improving people’s livelihood, and to foster innovation,” the guidelines said. “For now, they are facing problems of rising production costs, difficulty in obtaining credit and insufficient capabilities to innovate – these issues demand high attention.”

China will “remove all sorts of unreasonable barriers and restrictions, trying to ensure fair competition and provide sufficient market in terms of market entry, licensing, bidding and the military-civil infusion,” it added.

While most of the policies are not completely new, the move to pull them together into a larger policy document, which will serve as a guideline for local authorities, shows China’s intention to stabilise the domestic economic situation as its trade disputes with the US continues.

Beijing has also designed a variety of financial policy tools, including targeted required reserve ratio cuts and the use of small and medium-sized enterprise loans as collateral for medium-term lending facilities granted by the central bank, meaning banks will have more incentives to offer financing.

To further boost lending, it will also offer some exemptions for interest received from value added tax, while also providing tax breaks for small firms and start-ups, a lower social security contribution ratio and an increase in government procurement, according to the guidelines.

Small and medium-sized enterprises is an dynamic power for national economic and social important and is critical for expanding employment, improving people’s livelihood, and to foster innovation.New guidelines

The need for the Chinese government to support small businesses became even more obvious last summer when it began its trade was with the US. Small private businesses are more vulnerable to trade disputes and an economic slowdown than state-owned enterprises, which are often bigger and enjoy favourable treatments from the government and banks, even though they contribute the majority of growth and employment.
Employment is the top priority on the agenda of Premier Li Keqiang this year, as shown in his government work report revealed last month. China has vowed to create 11 million new urban jobs this year and cap the surveyed urban unemployment rate at 5.5 per cent.
Morgan Stanley economists noted that China’s real gross domestic product growth may slow to 6.2 per cent in the first quarter.
“The main drag is slower investment growth, led by property construction and manufacturing [capital expenditure] amid still-subdued export and business sentiment,” Morgan Stanley economists Robin Xing, Jenny Zheng and Zhipeng Cai said.
The National Bureau of Statistics is due to release the first quarter economic data on April 17.
Source: SCMP
21/02/2019

China to further cut red tape to invigorate market

BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) — China’s central government will eliminate or delegate to lower-level authorities more items that require government approval and implement nationwide the reform of the construction project reviewing system, the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Wednesday.

The Chinese government has put high importance on transforming government functions by streamlining administration, delegating powers, enhancing oversight and providing better services. Premier Li stressed the importance of deepening the reform in transforming government functions, especially by delegating administrative powers.

He called for a thorough evaluation of all government review items to see that all existing review items that can be eliminated or delegated to lower-level authorities be duly dealt with except for those involving national security and major public interests.

“Streamlining administration is as important as tax cuts in stimulating market vitality as we tackle the current downward economic pressure. The key task for the government is to foster a better business environment to energize all market players,” Li said at the Wednesday meeting, “This will be our important measure for sustaining steady economic growth this year.”

It was decided at the meeting that 25 administrative approval items including pre-approval of corporate names before business registration and preliminary review of domestically-produced medicines will be canceled. Six administrative approval items including the practising registration of some professions will be delegated to government departments at or below the provincial level.

“Our reform to transform government functions affects the vested interests of government departments. However, administrative streamlining is a must as excessive and cumbersome reviewing requirements would drive up institutional transaction costs and dampen market vitality,” Li said. “Meanwhile, the government must enhance oversight and improve services. Its focus should shift to setting rules and standards.”

It was also decided at the meeting the pilot reform of the reviewing system for construction projects will be rolled out across the nation.

Under unified requirements, an inter-agency reviewing process with a single department acting as the lead agency and clear reviewing timeframes will be adopted. Practices such as pledging of notification, district-wide evaluation, and joint drawing review and project inspection upon completion will be implemented. In a word, there will be “a single blueprint” overseeing the implementation of a project, “a single window” providing multi-agency services, “a single checklist” for preparing application materials and “a single set of mechanisms” for regulating the permitting processes. The goal is to halve the time required for reviewing construction projects to 120 working days in the whole of the country within the first half of this year.

“Market players must assume their due responsibilities and recognize that they take primary responsibility for the projects they undertake, and that they will be held accountable for them on a lifetime basis,” Li said, “As for the government, it must not interfere in things that do not fall within its purview, and focus on exercising oversight in all the areas necessary. This kind of oversight will help ensure fairness and efficiency.”

Source: Xinhua

14/02/2019

State Council releases vocational education reform implementation plan

BEIJING, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) — China has vowed to cultivate more quality laborers and skilled workers by reforming its vocational education systems, according to a plan for implementing the reform issued by the State Council, or China’s cabinet.

Vocational education and training systems will be reformed to match with science and technology development trends and market demands and to promote economic modernization and higher quality employment, the official documents note.

All sectors of society, especially enterprises, are encouraged to support the country’s vocational education, it says, adding that major companies are welcome to run vocational schools and offer high-quality programs.

The plan details measures to improve national systems and policies relating to vocational education and lift the quality of both secondary and higher vocational education in the country.

Moreover, China will establish national standards for vocational education and ensure standards regarding teaching, education materials and teachers are well met, aiming to nurture and pass down “craftsmanship,” according to the document.

Under a trial system set to be implemented from 2019, students at vocational colleges, as well as universities that mainly offer undergraduate programs in applied areas, will be awarded an academic certificate plus diplomas of vocational skills of various levels.

In five to ten years, operators of China’s vocational education institutions, which are now mostly government-run, will be diversified and include more entities or personnel from non-government sectors, according to the plan.

Source: Xinhua

12/02/2019

China to lift another ten million people out of poverty in 2019

BEIJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — China will continue to work vigorously to reduce poverty and lift no less than ten million people out of poverty in 2019, to lay a solid foundation for winning the battle against poverty, the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Monday.

The year 2018 saw China launch its three-year actions in fighting the battle against poverty. Premier Li Keqiang vowed to reduce the poor population by ten million each year in all his government work reports over the past five years. He gave specific instructions on ways to push forward this work and to better manage the poverty alleviation funds.

According to the progress update at the Monday meeting, 13.86 million people were lifted out of poverty in 2018, thanks to the dedicated efforts by local authorities and competent departments in implementing the decisions made by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.

Figures from the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development show that the new approach of poverty relief by developing emerging industries in poor areas such as e-commerce, photovoltaics and country tourism has paid off. Infrastructure development in poor areas has been accelerated. Some 208,000 kilometers of rural roads were built or renovated in 2018. New progress was made in upgrading the power grid in poor areas. And 94 percent of the poor villages are now covered by broadband internet services.

“We must strive to meet the poverty alleviation target for this year. Making poverty history by 2020 is the solemn commitment our Party and government have made to the people. We must fulfill this commitment by ensuring full delivery of all related policies and consolidating the progress we have made,” Li said.

It was decided at the meeting that efforts will be intensified this year to help the deeply poor areas. Increase in the poverty alleviation fund under the central government budget will be mainly channeled to these areas. Projects under the 13th Five-Year Plan that help enhance the weak links of poor areas will be prioritized.

The meeting urged to stick to current standard, and the cross-regional pairing arrangements for poverty alleviation will be enhanced. The difficulties poor people face in meeting the five essential needs of food, clothing, compulsory education, basic healthcare and a place to live will be tackled down to every household.

Counties that have emerged from poverty and their populations shall remain eligible for related policy incentives by 2020, the final-stage year in fighting poverty. Records of those who fall back into poverty and the newly discovered poor will be promptly established to provide them support. The meeting urged to cut the poor population by another ten million this year to lay a solid foundation for winning the final battle against poverty.

“We must strictly enforce the poverty criteria involving the five essential needs of food, clothing, compulsory education, basic healthcare and a place to live,” Li said, “Every penny of the poverty alleviation funds must be used effectively and transparently.”

Source: Xinhua

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